Archive

  • HOW TO ARGUE...

    HOW TO ARGUE LIKE A HAWK. As you may recall, a little while back Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad sent George W. Bush a somewhat rambling letter. One passage in the letter noted that if the billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War had instead been spent on fighting global poverty and improving worldwide public health, the United States would be liked instead of hated. This is, as best I can tell, entirely true. When I read that, I did a blog post noting the passage's existence, noting its accuracy, and saying that Iran's president was "making a lot of sense" in that particular passage. That blog post is now the subject of a denunciatory half-page front-of-the-book item in The Weekly Standard that doesn't even do me the service of using my name. But more to the point, it doesn't even try to argue that I'm wrong . Apparently, since Ahmadinejad is a bad guy, it's categorically out of the question to point out that he's right about something, even when he is, in fact, right about...
  • European Union Enlargement and Mexico

    Both the Clinton and Bush administrations were eager proponents of European union expansion, calling on the EU to quickly admit the former Soviet bloc countries, as well as Turkey. The media have typically presented resistance to rapid expansion as reflecting perverse European fears of globalization. The Post had another piece in this vein this morning. In assessing this resistance to expansion, it would be helpful to point out that the EU is more than just a NAFTA type trading bloc. It is a quasi-state, that in principle allows free movement of people and workers across borders and provides for substantial subsidy flows from richer regions to poorer ones. In this context, the people who oppose rapid ascension of the considerably poorer countries of east Europe and Turkey are showing the same sort of perverse fears as those people who oppose free entry of Mexican workers into the United States and a committment to use federal tax revenue to quickly bring Mexico up to U.S. living...
  • GATOR GONNA GETCHA....

    GATOR GONNA GETCHA. Now this is alarming . From 1948 to 2005, 17 people have been killed by alligators in Florida -- about 0.30 deaths per year. In 2006, so far three alligator-related fatalities have occurred -- a tenfold increase over the trend. If this keeps up, 30 people will die next year, 300 in 2008, and so forth until in the year 2013 the United States experiences a shocking 300 million deaths by alligator. At that point, we'll be begging for immigrants. --Matthew Yglesias
  • PAGING DR. CLOONEY....

    PAGING DR. CLOONEY. If Robert DeNiro purchases the New York Observer , does this mean that it�s only a matter of time before George Clooney acquires the Prospect ? We were on record calling Clooney "a great American" way before it became fashionable for right wingers to rag on him. Heck, Clooney and I were even quoted next to each other in a Mark Steyn screed against the U.N. A Clooney- Prospect merger would certainly be a match made in heaven. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • THE FILIBUSTER: GOOD...

    THE FILIBUSTER: GOOD FOR CONSERVATISM. The Hill has an article today about conservative trepidations over exercising the nuclear option and perhaps kickstarting the process of eliminating all filibusters outright. ('Winger activist Jim Boulet, Jr. has been articulating this warning to fellow conservatives for a while now.) I have my doubts that the nuclear option will be emerging as a seriously live issue again soon (though the Brent Kavanaugh showdown might provoke something), so I'm a bit dubious of the topical relevance of this piece, but it does nicely harken back to an old debate from last year about the filibuster. The correct side of that debate, you'll recall, is that the filibuster is bad for liberalism and should be eliminated. Meanwhile, elsewhere in The Hill , as Atrios noted , we see ace moderate Arlen Specter cave to Republican demands on a weighty and high-profile issue for the nine bajillionth time. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • WHAT THE MARXISTS...

    WHAT THE MARXISTS USED TO CALL �CONTRADICTIONS.� Over at the Corner, JPod is excited about this CNN poll showing that 79 percent of people who watched last night approved of the President�s speech. Actually, that number doesn�t shock me. It tracks with lots of recent polling showing that Americans very broadly support a) tougher border enforcement and b) some kind of realistic amnesty deal for illegals already here, which is exactly what Bush called for. Heck, if they�d called me last night, and I wasn�t in a fighting mood, even I might have said I approved of the speech. The media chatter tends to be dominated by the poles -- reporters seek out the guy from the Minutemen, the woman from La Raza, etc. What�s interesting here is that Bush, generally speaking, came out in favor of the Kennedy-McCain bill and against the tougher House version. The magazine that has been most critical of Kennedy-McCain? By an Arizona-Mexico border mile, it�s been National Review . The mag did a huge cover...
  • JUST TUCK IT...

    JUST TUCK IT AWAY. Have others pointed this out? My eagle-eyed and long-memoried pal Bill in Albany sends along this piece from the San Francisco Chronicle , February 9, 2005. Headline: �Bush Scraps 9,790 Border Patrol Agents.� It seems that one act passed by Congress in late 2004 and agreed to by the administration called for 10,000 more agents. But Bush �s budget in early 2005 funded only 210 additional agents. Just a fact worth knowing these days. --Michael Tomasky
  • THE BUMILLER TREATMENT....

    THE BUMILLER TREATMENT. Greg makes plenty of good points about Elisabeth Bumiller 's piece . Even leaving aside the fact that Bush is currently shifting from the rosy pro-immigration stance Bumiller wants to highlight here, I'd add that it's also pretty remarkable -- or, I should say, not remarkable at all -- that she can write an entire explanatory article on the origins and context of Bush 's personal views on immigration and never once mention that Bush's outlook also happens to be the outlook of American business interests . It's not exactly unprecedented to see Bush hewing to a position on a public policy issue that is similar to the position taken by big business. (Of course on this particular issue the business position is one that happens to overlap in several respects with many liberals' views, with guest worker programs being a major point distinguishing the two camps.) On a more positive note, though, it is nice to see Bumiller refer to Bush's attempts to speak Spanish as "...
  • IF BUSH WELCOMES...

    IF BUSH WELCOMES IMMIGRANTS, WHY PANDER TO THEIR ENEMIES? In today's Times , Elisabeth Bumiller offers a rather remarkable take on President Bush 's immigration speech. She basically said that because his rhetoric was more accommodating than his actual policy proposals , it meant that his approach is "more subtle" than his proposed real-world solutions suggest. She tells us that "what was remarkable to people in Texas was how much he still believes in the power of immigration to invigorate the nation," and adds paragraph after paragraph about Bush's embrace of immigrants while in Texas. Why, he even likes to joke with Hispanic people! (Or maybe not, as Atrios notes .) Look, Bush probably does think immigration is a positive force. But that only makes Bush's speech more cynical, not less. In the real world -- as opposed to the alternate universe of Bush's welcoming rhetoric -- his speech moves us away , not toward, a solution that fully acknowledges this. The largest policy proposals...
  • FUN WITH SCIENCE....

    FUN WITH SCIENCE. In answer to Mike 's motion sensor query, the reason the border has been largely bereft of such Flashdance -era technology is that motion sensors aren't very smart. Separating a person from a squirrel, or a bird, or a tumbleweed is tricky. The number of false positives, which would force our already understaffed border guard to constantly dart out into the desert, would be staggering, and would probably lead to less effective enforcement than we have currently. To be sure, there are better systems out there, capable of separating man from marsupial, but they're expensive and we're cheap. --Ezra Klein

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