Archive

  • A MAN, A...

    A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL, IMPERIALISM. I hate to ruin a good suggestion about political messaging with a lefty observation that Democrats should arguably refrain from making, but I think Josh Marshall is mistaken about this: Let's work through a bit of this. If the president had a plan for success he would say, 'I plan to get X, Y and Z done and then we're going to bring American troops back home. I expect those three things will be accomplished by the middle of 2007.' Or maybe he'd say 2008 or the beginning of 2009. But he doesn't say any of those things. When he says we're staying in Iraq as long as he's in the White House he makes clear that he doesn't have any plan other than staying in Iraq. Other than staying their indefinitiely or basically forever. Isn't it possible his 'plan' could work and have us out in 2008? Obviously, he's discounted that possibility because, again, he has no plan. Bush has a plan for Iraq all right, and it's trouble with a capital "T" and that rhymes with...
  • CONSERVALOVE. This...

    CONSERVALOVE. This is why it's impossible to hate TNR for very long. Sour as I felt after this morning's Lee Siegel post on blogospheric fascists (who gave him the keys to a blog anyway?), I nevertheless found it impossible not to love this just-posted article where one of their writers, my friend Eve Fairbanks , signed up for a conservative dating site and went out with three of the guys -- political sociology in action. The piece, which could've been cruel, elects not to dynamite its barrel o' fish, and instead surfaces with some genuinely interesting observations on the nature of conservalove. The most fascinating, which tracks with my observations, is that: The women on ConservativeMatch--at least the women of Washington, Virginia--are both much rarer and more quintessentially "conservative" than the men are. Out of the 40 profiles I considered, only ten were women. Several of these described themselves as "simple," even "prudish" girls with "old-school" values, looking for a "...
  • GROVER SPEAKS, WE...

    GROVER SPEAKS, WE LISTEN. The Prospect hosted a breakfast with conservative enforcer and liberal bogeyman Grover Norquist today and, let's just be honest -- the man gives good quotes. No wonder reporters like to call him up. He also took an obvious delight in taking on a room full of liberals. Some of his answers were insightful, some informative, some nuts, some the utterances of a man deep in denial. Which is to say, you could hardly have hoped for a livelier breakfast guest. A few notes: Grover on political coalitions : "If you keep everyone happy on their primary issue but disappoint them on their secondary issue, everyone grumbles, but no one walks out." This is Grover's way of reconciling what is a tolerant, pro-immigrant, pro-gay worldview with his partisan electoral concerns. He's convinced, or at least hopeful, that gays and immigrants are a second-tier issue, subordinate to taxes and regulations. The trick is figuring out "when you are talking to somebody on a vote moving...
  • INORDINATE FEAR OF...

    INORDINATE FEAR OF COMMUNISM. The harder I think about it, the less I understand why Bill Perry and Ashton Carter want to bomb North Korea to stop them from testing the Taepodong 2 missile. They say we don't need to worry that the DPRK will retaliate since "an invasion of South Korea would bring about the certain end of Kim Jong Il's regime within a few bloody weeks of war, as surely he knows." But by the same token, he surely knows that launching a nuclear missile at the United States would bring about the certain end of his regime. So what are we worried about? It seems to me that we shouldn't let the North Koreans send us into these states of periodic panic -- it only serves to encourage them to keep acting up to get a rise out of us. Their technology is crappy, their country is dirt poor and militarily inferior to South Korea, to say nothing of Japan or the United States. There's nothing in North Korea that we could conceivably want (cabbage? starving people? the world's weirdest...
  • PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT....

    PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT. Don't use your cellphone during a lightning storm. Contrary to popular belief, getting struck by lightning isn't nearly the worst that can happen to you. Generally, the high resistance of your skin works to ground the blast, leaving you little more than singed. According to a new study , however, the presence of a phone disrupts the transmission process, vastly increasing the likelihood of serious internal injury. The findings are particularly on the mind this morning as D.C. experienced an absolutely epic thunderstorm last night. Being a naive Californian who'd only experienced irregular bolts in the past, the constancy of the light led me to believe, for the first half hour, that there were sirens outside. When Zeus nailed my street a few times, though, I revised my opinion. Impressive stuff, but not the sort I want to describe from outside on my LG. --Ezra Klein
  • HOUSES, POX ON....

    HOUSES, POX ON. The really great thing about the Daily Kos versus New Republic war is that the more each side opens their mouths, the worse you think of them. Markos 's initial impulse to stay silent in the face of Chris Suellentrop 's allegations seemed sound. Suellentrop didn't really have the goods. Let some time pass and the goods would either surface or not and there was nothing worth saying about it. But then Jason Zengerle started spinning a rather implausible conspiracy theory. Folks were rising to Kos' defense, but then Kos chose to ruin everything by penning a laughably self-regarding response (as I've been muttering around the office, the only real scandal in Kosland is that Markos is a bit of an egomaniac, but I assume you'd have to be in order to succeed in creating a massive online community) in which the key metric for judging TNR 's degree of progressivism isn't their warmongering, but . . . their opinion of Markos. As of late afternoon yesterday, I was ready to...
  • SOFT BALANCING. In...

    SOFT BALANCING. In an important post on the TNR soccer blog, Alex Massie notes that it's not just the World Cup we're losing , American performance in international athletic competitions generally has been poor in recent years. He asks, "So what, fellow Goal Posters, is it about the United States that makes this country so apparently and congenitally hopeless at team sports?" In a later post Brian Sinkoff observes that, among other things, we were beset by very unfortunate officiating. The same thing happened to USA Basketball in the 2004 olympics in Athens. Coincidence? I think not. Welcome, friends, to the exciting world of "soft balancing" in international relations: Soft balancing occurs when weaker states decide that the dominance and influence of a stronger state is unacceptable, but that the military advantage of the stronger state is so overwhelming that traditional balancing is infeasible or even impossible. In addition to overwhelming military superiority, scholars also...
  • NPR's Sob Story for Struggling Doctors

    NPR did a piece this morning on doctors' pay that leaves you wondering why they get taxpayers dollars. The basic point was that doctors, especially primary care physicians, are struggling. The news hook was a new survey that showed that doctors' net (after malpractice) pay is not keeping pace with inflation. The survey showed that average net compensation for all physicians in 2003 was just over $220,000 a year (in 2006 dollars). This is down by 7.1 percent (adjusted for inflation) from the 1995 level. Of course there are big differences by specialty. (The decline in pay is partly explained by a 4.1 percent shortening of the average workweek.) While the survey found that surgeons average almost $300,000 a year, primary care physicians average just $160,000 a year. The NPR story chose to focus on the latter, highlighting the difficulties of making ends meet. However, instead of finding a typical primary care physician, NPR found a doctor who claims to be making just $50,000 a year,...
  • Reporting Nonsense on the Minimum Wage

    Suppose that the senators who support a quick withdrawal from Iraq got in the habit of saying that the United States should get out of Iraq because losing 100 U.S. soldiers a day is an unacceptable price for the occupation. Would the media simple report this claim without comment? Or, would they point out that these senators apparently don't realize that the fatality rate is approximately 2 per day? My guess is that every story that noted the claim that 100 soldiers a day are being killed would correct this assertion based on an authoritative source on the causality count. The media would probably also run numerous stories that reported on the fact that the proponents of a hasty withdrawal have no idea what they are talking about. This would be good journalism. The question is why it is not applied to the debate over the minimum wage. Reporters routinely quote claims from politicians opposed to raising the minimum to the effect that it would lead to a large loss of jobs and will slow...
  • I COME NOT...

    I COME NOT TO BURY TNR ... Consider this a "before we get too far" post. It should be said, amidst Markos 's assault on TNR , that no magazine where the publisher just penned a Gore 2008 endorsement should really be considered "on the other side" or the " Joe Lieberman " weekly. Ryan Lizza 's recent work on George Allen 's neoconfederate sympathies has been superb, anyone on the left who has the slightest interest in Iraq should be reading Spencer Ackerman 's every word, and the magazine is, in general, a strong and forceful advocate for progressive domestic policies. I do, like Jon Chait , worry about the "with us or against us" overtones of Kos's riposte -- the left should judge its allies on more than friendliness and tone. That said, I was unimpressed with Jason Zengerle 's post yesterday and said so. It's simply untrue that Markos commands fealty by dangling advertising revenue. But I take no joy in the accelerating split between "the netroots" and TNR . The basic issue, it seems...

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