Archive

  • OCCAM�S RAZOR EXPLANATION....

    OCCAM�S RAZOR EXPLANATION. I think, Ezra , it�s all simpler than that. They invaded Iraq. They didn�t expect a problem. They got a problem. Now they want out. But they want out provided two conditions are met in the process: 1. They can do it in such a way to make the Democrats look weak; 2. They can time it so as to maximize electoral benefit from announcement of withdrawal. Ezra and Matt are making the mistake of discussing substantive factors. You�ve surely learned by now that there is no substance with these people. There is only politics. We will start to get out of Iraq, bit by bit, this September and October. By the end of 2007, a plan will be announced to ensure we�re substantially out (i.e., a 75 percent draw down or some such) by October 2008. You can set your watch by it. Yardsticks of civic stability will be manipulated, just as intelligence was manipulated three and four years ago, to �prove� that Iraq is becoming a stable society at whatever moment the administration...
  • BFF. ...

    BFF. To follow-up on Matt 's point that the Bush administration not only missed, but actively subverted our opportunity to withdraw from Iraq, it's really worth stating the implications of this clearly. For years, the sector of the left concerned with the appearance or existence of imperalist tendencies was mocked and pilloried -- remember Zell Miller foaming over hearing our troops called "occupiers" rather than "liberators"? But they were right. The Bush administration is actively working against the wishes of the elected Iraqi government and the expressed preferences of the American public to pursue an indefinite occupation of Iraq. This is a perpetual deployment on behalf of no stated goals, no wish-list of accomplishments, and no obvious purpose. I can't say whether we want the military bases, the oil, the regional foothold, or anything else; but invading a country, overthrowing their government, and then remaining against the wishes of the elected successors is the very...
  • EVANGELICALS FOR MITT?...

    EVANGELICALS FOR MITT? After noticing an incoming link yesterday from Evangelicals For Mitt , I headed over to the advocacy site to take a look for myself. Unfortunately, the place is barred and shuttered, password protected and closed to the masses. Yet it has been built -- Feedster picked up plenty of text behind the wall, including active links. In my experience, few personal web pages are locked until they're ready, but most all official political organizations keep their door tightly shut until the last possible moment. So I'd guess -- though on the basis of rather flimsy evidence -- that this is a professional site, either sponsored by the campaign or operatives near to it. The "WhoIs" information on the domain name backs up my suspicions; the information is hidden, a Utah-based hosting company being the closest thing you get to a name. Given all the talk that Mitt Romney will find his Mormonism a huge barrier in collecting evangelical votes, it's perhaps not surprising that the...
  • A DESERT WIND...

    A DESERT WIND AND A PERVERSE DESIRE TO WIN. For a while over the weekend, it looked like the Bush administration stumbled into a golden ticket out of Iraq -- a draft national reconciliation plan written by Iraq's prime minister that, among other things, called on the United States to develop a timetable for withdrawal. Rather than embrace this opportunity, however, the administration worked to water down the reconciliation proposals, including the requests for the United States to withdraw. That little saga tells you what you need to know about the vague noise about troop draw-downs emanating from the White House and the Pentagon. As I said last week , the administration doesn't have a real plan to leave Iraq because it doesn't want to leave Iraq . Duncan Black (pseudonyms are a sign of blogofascism) reminds us that we've been here before. Rather than whining that -- shockingly! -- the other political party is being mean to them in an effort to win elections, Democrats need to keep...
  • ASSYMETRICAL WARFARE. I...

    ASSYMETRICAL WARFARE. I wanted to highlight something Ezra passed along from the breakfast with Grover Norquist : "The left, he argued, shouldn't seek to simply mimeograph the right's structure -- CAP for Heritage, Media Matters for Media Research Council, etc. 'You don't have to have the same weapons in politics because both aren't structured the same.'" When you think about it, this seems both obvious, important, and unduly neglected. And it goes beyond institutions -- the progressive and conservative coalitions in America simply aren't mirror images of one another, and so while there are obviously lessons to be learned from looking at the right's rise, you can't simply imitate things that worked for conservatives and hope they work for liberals. In his Los Angeles Times column yesterday , Jon Chait dealt with an important example: "Conservatives venerate the free market and see smaller government as an end in itself. Liberals do not venerate government in the same way, and we do...
  • Trade Nonsense in the NYT

    For reasons that I will not pretend to understand, newspaper editorial boards are huge proponents of trade agreements as a remedy to world poverty. They endlessly promote these agreements on their editorial and oped pages. Papers like the New York Times and Washington Post are as likely to print an oped critical of recent trade agreements, as Pravda would have been to print an anti-communist diatribe back in the days of the Soviet Union. Today's piece in the NYT is a great example. It touts a new W.T.O. agreement which would raise world income by $54 billion annually. Even better, the piece tells us that the lowest income countries, which have just 1.2 percent of world income, would get 1.9 percent of the gains. Before anyone celebrates this prospect, let's have some context. World income is approximately $50 trillion. So, the prospect of $54 billion in annual gains comes to 0.1 percent of world income. If the poorest countries get 1.9 percent of these gains, that comes to just over $...
  • The Minimum Wage and Doctors' Pay

    Since there have been some interesting comments on two separate posts from last week, I thought I would pull them together. To get up to speed, NPR ran a piece last week which decried (slight exaggeration) the low pay of doctors. I also commented on the failure of reporting on a minimum wage hike to note the extensive research showing that modest increases in the minimum wage (like the ones being debated) have no significant effect on employment. The responses have raised issues about the appropriate wages for doctors and people who work at the type of jobs that get the minimum wage. The point that I wanted to make is that these two are linked. The wages of people working at low paying jobs are a cost to doctors, and doctors' pay is a cost to those earning low wages. The logic of this is simple. While some wage increases may be absorbed in lower profits, and may also be offset by higher productivity, at least some part of any wage increase will be reflected in the prices of the goods...
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    IN DEFENSE OF HRC. Hillary Rodham Clinton , lately keeping us safe from burning flags and Grand Theft Auto, gets one right in a big way with this speech . In a general way, defending privacy is the most important issue in domestic politics, both in and of itself, and as a way to attack the Human Growth Hormones that John Yoo execrably injected into the Executive Branch by dressing Alexander Hamilton up as one of the Plantagenets. People like privacy. Respecting someone's privacy is a virtue; otherwise, nobody ever would have invented Venetian blinds. Most people could care less whether the Sixth Amendment applies to some poor sod swept up by the Northern Alliance and packed off to Botany ... er... Guantanamo Bay. But they believe their personal privacy is something the government is supposed to protect. I think you might even be able to chip off some of the libertarian right with this one. My one quibble, and it's largely a personal one, is that there doesn't seem to be any mention of...
  • BAUER, MEET CHERTOFF....

    BAUER, MEET CHERTOFF. Thanks to the redoubtable, and ludicrously well-married, Mr. TBogg for finding this bit of comedy gold. If you missed Bruce Springsteen 's little gavotte with Soledad O'Brien this morning on CNN, you missed his making the point to Sunshine that no network on which Ann Coulter ever has appeared can credibly ask musicians about being qualified to speak out on politics. Seriously, do you think Coulter -- or for that matter, Ken Mehlman -- knows more than Springsteen does about any pressing issue of the day? Mehlman's an automaton, and Coulter's from the Planet Of The UltraVixens. Yes, Soledad, better we leave the serious stuff to you guys and to those deep thinkers at places like the Heritage Foundation who, I'm sure, are going to look positively darling in their Savile Row suits and Jack Bauer t-shirts. Send the bill for the Chee-Tos to the Olin Foundation. --Charles P. Pierce
  • A METAKOS MOMENT....

    A METAKOS MOMENT. Though part of me thinks Matt treated the outbreak of open war between TNR and Daily Kos with the appropriate level of seriousness (for now) below , there's still some actual points to be made, rather than scored, about what's been happening over the past few days as this flamewar writ large has escalated. Two analytic points made by other bloggers over the past few months come to mind. Chris Bowers of MyDD had a great insight into how poorly some online dynamics, such as the flamewar, translate into real life, which he talked about at the Yearly Kos conference in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, on a panel called "MetaKos." After the opening remarks, an audience member asked him if he thought that blogs served as models for offline communities. Bowers' reply: I would say no. [audience laughter] That would be a very dark and disturbing place....where someone jumps into a room and says something that makes everyone mad, and then a mob starts chasing them...I can't...

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