I am continually amazed by the apparent need that reporters feel to describe the trade agreements negotiated by the U.S. government as "free trade" agreements. (See the Timesarticle on the Colombian elections for the current target of my wrath.) What possible additional information do reporters and editors believe that they are conveying by including the word "free?"
REVOLT OF THE NEOCONS, CON'T.Danielle Pletka and Michael Rubintake Bush to task in the Los Angeles Times today for -- fancy that! -- not living up to his pro-democracy rhetoric:
LAST WEEK, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced resumption of full U.S. diplomatic relations with Libya, citing Tripoli's renunciation of terrorism and intelligence cooperation. This ends a quarter-century diplomatic freeze. It also marks an effective end to the Bush doctrine.
COINCIDENCE? The gunfire-in-Congress story is obviously still developing but thankfully so far it appears possible that no one (including one aide who was seen being taken out of the Rayburn office building to the hospital) was injured. Subcription-only Roll Callcites a witness reporting that "Capitol Police were told over their radios to look for 'a white male in a black shirt with a handgun.'" In unrelated news, Ezra never came to the office today for some reason.
NEEDED: MORE SPORTS UNION MILITANCY. If you just read Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker review of the new book The Wages of Wins, about the economic analysis of sports, you'll miss the important American Prospect-y angle. The book clearly indicates that professional sports unions ought to be more militant. It argues that, contrary to what team owners tell you, imposing salary caps has very little impact on competitive balance.
WHAT LEAVING MIGHT LOOK LIKE. Lefty stalwart In These Times, which has become increasingly provocative and readable under its dynamic new leadership, is generating controversy in anti-war circles with Chris Toensing's new piece, "Why Leaving Iraq Won't Be Easy." It's well worth reading, and the kind of clear-eyed assessment of the complex facts on the ground one might more readily expect to find in The New Republic, if TNR had a less complicated relationship to the Iraq War, than in a publication I long thought of as being not so far to the right of Z magazine.
CAN'T TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF WAR.The New Republic is the kind of magazine that can run a series of ridiculous articles on Darfur and then publish this week's brilliant and devastating critique of the very same articles by David Rieff. It's a subscriber only piece, so I'm looking for a good excerpt and I think I'll go with this one because it has the most general importance:
DID YOU KNOW...? General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner has an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times making the case that GM matters, not just as a car company or employer, but as a protector of Americana and a canary in the globalizational coal mine. It's a strange piece of work, most of all because it highlights GM's problems without offering anything beyond vague promises that said problems are being addressed. It doesn't suggest anything Americans should do to protect this storied firm, nor does it lay the blame anywhere in particular. One wonders why Wagoner wrote it.
STILL LOOKING. The embarrassing search for a new Treasury Secretary continues with today's news being that Donald Evans is apparently under consideration for the job. Evans was Commerce Secretary in the first term, a job that traditionally goes to a Presidential crony unqualified for a real job. Obviously, they put lots of unqualified cronies in important jobs, so being the crony so cronyish that you had to get the post actually designed for a crony is a real achievement. Putting him in charge of the Treasury Department would be ridiculous but, hey, you never know.
HELP HER HELP YOU. I think Matt sort of misses the point there. Hillary Clinton, realizing that America's youth are lazy, helped start this war in order to build character. After you've jogged around the sands of Mesopotamia with a rations pack on your belt and a rifle on your soldier, being a middle manager in the HR department doesn't seem so bad. Remember too that this occupation has forced lots of interpersonal interactions with hostile "clients" angered by our "practices." As the commercials say, these are skills for life, particularly in the coming, service-oriented economy. Clinton's just trying to prepare us.