Archive

  • ARE COMPUTERS TO...

    ARE COMPUTERS TO BLAME? This morning's breakfast with Chuck Schumer was...different. The focus was, surprisingly, not on Schumer, but on Joe and Eileen , his decidedly fictional median couple, who he insisted on running every issue by in extended and questionable imaginary dialogues. It was a bit odd. It wasn't clear whether Joe and Eileen were deciding how Schumer votes, what the DSCC emphasizes, how Democratic senatorial candidates frame, or merely keeping him company when he zones out during committee hearings, but the obsession with them proved a bit discomfiting. That, however, is a discussion for another day. During the talk, Schumer kept repeating that the central political fact of our era was that technology had transformed our world and neither political party had yet understood how to respond. Constant references to the "information age" (see Klein, Joe ) are a pet peeve of mine, particularly when they're just dropped in as a conversation-killer, proof that every policy a...
  • UH-OH. The past...

    UH-OH. The past 36 hours have had a bit of a clash of civilizations feel to them, what with Russia killing Shamil Besayev , India pointing the finger at Pakistani "militants" for yesterday's bombing in Bombay, and Israel invading Lebanon after Hezbollah captured some soldiers. Meanwhile, Yossi Klein Halevi informs me in The New Republic that: The next Middle East war--Israel against genocidal Islamism--has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago, with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim; now, with Hezbollah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. Ultimately, though, Israel's antagonists won't be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites. The...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DOCTRINAL ERRORS. TAP talks to Ron Suskind , author of the widely hailed new book about America's war on terror, The One Percent Doctrine . Suskind discusses secrecy, torture, Hamdan , and more. Here he is on the most important, and scariest, relationship in government: I think the book provides the clearest rendering of the key relationship in terms of the American ship of state, which is between Bush and Cheney. Cheney essentially creates an architecture, a kind of platform, in which George Bush can be George Bush and still be president and indulge or embrace his gut, his instinct, a kind of man-of-action posture. Bush is quite active in the book. For some folks on the left, that will be a bit of a change or a deepening of their view of Bush. Certainly it�s not the caricature of Bush that�s been out there, but you do see, for better or for worse, who the president is. He is quite engaged operationally in how we fight the war on terror, though he is not...
  • SPEAKING OF DATA......

    SPEAKING OF DATA... The Young Turks' Cenk Uyger has an amusing post over at The Huffington Post where he points out that the median age of a viewer of Bill O'Reilley �s FOX News show is 71 years old. (Via The NYT .) So if you ever wondered which is the official newshour of cranky old men, now you know. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • SO 15 MINUTES...

    SO 15 MINUTES AGO. In a sure sign that Da Vinci Code madness is winding down to a mere cultural tic, the most public member of the very secretive Opus Dei yesterday stepped down from his post as the pope's spokesman. Joaquin Navarro-Valls , the Spanish layman credited with crafting the late Pope John Paul II �s communications juggernaut, has handed in his resignation, most likely at the request of Pope Benedict XVI , who is installing his own guy, an Italian Jesuit named Federico Lombardi . In addition to making a rock star out of a Polish pope, Navarro-Valls is also seen as the force that brought the right-wing Opus Dei to legitimacy in the Vatican, giving it a direct line to the pontiff. --Adele M. Stan
  • ARMY TO HALLIBURTON:...

    ARMY TO HALLIBURTON: NO MORE ONE-STOP SHOPPING. Halliburton is no longer to be the U.S. Army's favorite contractor son, according to Griff Witte of The Washington Post . The Army, he reports, is going to open up the logistics contract for reconstruction in Iraq to actual bidding. Halliburton, however, will be eligible to bid, despite its massive overbilling of the government (more than $1 billion in questionable costs according to the Government Accountablity Office and government audits) and its well-known failure to cough up certain deliverables. Usually missing amid the criticism of lax oversight of such contracts is the effect the Pentagon's new personnel system would have, if implemented, on whatever checks and balances remain in that arena. Currently battling a coalition of unions led by my former employer, the American Federation of Government Employees, the Pentagon has appealed the decision of a federal judge who put a stop to the so-called labor-relations plan that DoD...
  • HOTSOUP!!!!!!! Matt's...

    HOTSOUP!!!!!!! Matt 's already talked a bit about the new social networking site where you get to -- gasp! -- meet Carter Eskew , or a variety of other washed-up, establishment operatives, but I just want to point out Gawker's comment , which seems to get the venture just right. HOTSOUP.com: "[Because] what the Internet needs more than anything right now is a junior varsity version of The Huffington Post." --Ezra Klein
  • BOMBAY/MUMBAI: ENGLISH IS...

    BOMBAY/MUMBAI: ENGLISH IS ENGLISH. In light of the recent bombing in India , I've been looking into the whole Bombay versus Mumbai question a little. Here's the story : The city was founded by the Portuguese, who originally called it "Bom Bahia," which later degenerated to "Bombaim." The British took the territory over and started calling it by an Anglicized version of that name: "Bombay." At the same time, speakers of Marathi and Gujarati called it "Mumbai," while Hindi speakers called it "Bambai." Then, in 1995, the Shiv Sena party which controlled the local provincial government proclaimed that it would henceforth be "Mumbai" in all languages. I see no reason for Americans to follow this diktat . It's totally normal for places to have different names in different languages. Germany is "Deutschland" in German, "Germany" in English, and "Allemagne" in French. We use the German word for Prague, while Czechs call it "Praha." This "Mumbai" business just confuses people. There's a city;...
  • THE LIFE YOU...

    THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN. There�s an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal on the trend of millionaires giving their money away when they're young rather than when they're old. The piece focuses on medical charity -- grants to cancer foundations and disease research -- as do, I assume, the actual donations as well. That's because these gifts aren't charity in the traditional sense. They're investments, and their ultimate beneficiary is often the millionaire themselves. Cancer, for instance, is largely indiscriminate in its victims, as pleased to attack the rich as the poor. And while current medical technology can occasionally put up a good fight, just as often, it's useless before the assault. So pumping cash into research that could cure, detect, or mitigate certain forms of the disease, particularly those you're vulnerable to, is a deeply logical spending decision, one that may save or extend your life. That it'll do the same for many others is a wonderful, though...
  • BLOG POWER! ...

    BLOG POWER! Continuing his welcomed crusade to infuse blogospheric filibustering with actual data, Scott Winship has some additional information on the size and potential power of the Netroots. A few caveats, though: cross-comparisons of group numbers only work so long as the average member of each organization exerts an equal amount of influence. The reason interest groups matter, after all, is because they're pockets of frenetic activity in an otherwise apathetic landscape. So when comparing the size of the Netroots to, say, the size of the Sierra Club, it's not enough to merely look at how many claim membership, but what membership means, how much direct action it entails, and how sustainable that is. Indeed, my sense is that if you take into account the wider number of actions and tactics deployed by active Netroots participants, you'd return with an impression of strength that is disproportionate to its numbers. Some of that is attributable to the blogosphere's superior ability...

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