Proponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are happy to make whatever outlandish claims are convenient to advance their cause. A few years ago, they were pushing the line that drilling in the Refuge would generate 500,000-750,000 jobs, citing a study by WEFA, one of the country's leading economic forecasting firms. We did a short analysis showing the faults of this study. When WEFA refused to stand behind its study, this outlandish job claim quickly disappeared from the debate.
THE TROUBLE WITH JAY. Regarding Greg's apt calling-out of Jay Rockefeller for once again indulging Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts' partisan shell games, it's worth revisiting Laura Rozen's reported piece on the Rockefeller-Roberts dynamic from our November issue. Rozen paints a complicated picture of both the real constraints Rockefeller faces and the ways in which he constrains himself unduly in his capacity as the opposition leader on the Intel committee.
BUSINESS INTERESTS OVER NATIONAL SECURITY, PART 84. The top story in this morning�s CongressDailyAM (subscription only) began:
A coalition of industry groups is mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign to persuade House Homeland Security Committee Republicans to oppose an amendment that would require all cargo to be scanned at foreign ports before being shipped to the United States.
Then, just a few hours later, in this afternoon�s CongressDailyPM:
Senior Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee said today that they did not believe it would be practical to require all U.S.-bound cargo to be inspected at foreign ports�
HOW MASS IS YOU DESTRUCTION?Jonah Goldbergreplies apropos our earlier disagreement. There seem to be two points of contention. On the question of chemical and biological weapons, I'd say this: There's no doubt that you can kill a lot of people through aerial bombardment with toxic chemicals (see the case of Saddam Hussein and "special envoy" Don Rumsfeld versus Iraqi Kurdistan), but by the same token you can kill a lot of people through aerial bombardment with conventional explosives (everything from the United States bombing Dresden to the Serb forces shelling Sarajevo). A single nuclear weapon, by contrast, can destroy a substantial chunk of a big city -- or maybe more.
IMPORTANT COJONES FOLLOW-UP. I�m going to lower the level of discourse here for a moment, but following up on Ezra�s mention of cojones earlier in the day, I thought it only appropriate to offer up this Reuters piece.
PRICE GOUGING FOR FUN AND POLITICAL PROFIT. Let's get something straight: the President's proposed investigation into gasoline price gouging is straight theatre. Not just because, as Matt noted, the Bush White House and the Republican Congress are funded by (and composed of) oilmen, but because gouging simply isn't the issue. At best, an investigation into unfair pricing practices will turn up a handful of malicious station owners jacking up the price. That, however, isn't what's driving high oil costs. Fears about peak oil, about Iraq, about Iran, about Venezuela, and all the rest are doing most of the work forcing prices upwards (if we so much as touch Iran, pump prices will shoot skyward).
YET ANOTHER DELAY IN PROBING BUSH'S PREWAR DECEPTIONS. Can this be true? From The Hill:
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he wants to divide his panel�s inquiry into the Bush administration�s handling of Iraq-related intelligence into two parts, a move that would push off its most politically controversial elements to a later time....
LESS COMMON, MORE GOODS.Ed Kilgore's remarks on the Supreme Leader's "common good" article inspires some thoughts of my own. I certainly agree that the interest-group model of party and movement organization is ill-serving progressive politics.
HEADING TO THE SOURCE. It's a rare day when I give George W. Bush credit for political courage, but traveling to my hometown of Irvine, California, and forthrightly saying that "massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic. It's just not going to work," takes some cojones. Orange County is second only to San Diego in its xenophobic sentiment, so it's a meaningful place for Bush to take a stand. Or at least kinda take a stand, because he refused to actually endorse any legislation, lay down any principles (save an opposition to deportation), or explain what he wants a compromise to look like.
WHO TO BELIEVE? I read with interest today's Washington Postreport on the growing (if still limited) presence of Shiite militias -- Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, SCIRI's Badr Brigade -- in the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. With Kurdish forces digging in and insisting on solidifying Kurdish control of the city, the potential for a genuinely disastrous conflict is obvious.