Archive

  • WHO TO BELIEVE?...

    WHO TO BELIEVE? I read with interest today's Washington Post report 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. But over at The Corner this morning, Kathryn Jean Lopez assures us that "there's good news in Iraq," citing Bill Crawford 's latest good-news-in-Iraq round-up . Crawford touts the promising news in Kirkuk as "Iraqis [take] the lead in security operations and intelligence gathering" there, linking to dispatches released by the U.S. State Department and � the U.S. Defense Department . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • MORE ON SABRI....

    MORE ON SABRI. Jonah Goldberg links to this earlier NBC news report on the Naji Sabri issue. Jonah and his readers seem to have two points to make. One is that the NBC account allegedly contradicts the CBS account. The other is to mock CBS for being "a month behind" on the story. Both claims are false and, indeed, somewhat contradictory. The NBC story is different from the CBS story. This, however, is exactly why CBS wasn't "late" with their account. Rather, building on previously reported information, they added new information to the story. NBC reported that Sabri told the CIA that they were all wrong about Iraq's WMD programs. What CBS added is that this didn't just vanish into some CIA black hole but, according to Tyler Drumheller , the administration's top officials were apprised of Sabri's information and chose to ignore it. Jonah's readers also want to make a big deal out of the fact that Sabri apparently did say that Iraq had stocks of chemical weapons. Thus, in a semantic...
  • FAKE CONSERVATISM. Can...

    FAKE CONSERVATISM. Can there be anything more silly looking than the oil industry's bought-and-paid-for GOP servants in Congress and the White House pretending to crack down on alleged price-fixing in the oil industry? No doubt some of this is going on (probably at the level of retail gas stations rather than the big business end of the deal), but the whole thing is obviously a red herring to avoid the real questions in energy policy. Why, to take one, does the government dole out generous subsidies to an industry that's both profitable, bad for the environment, and increasingly bad for our foreign policy? Why not a windfall profits tax? For that matter, why not a real energy policy aimed at increasing fuel efficiency, decreasing reliance on oil as a fuel, and, for the long-run, decreasing overall dependence on cars? National Review at least has the courage of its convictions and says the government should do nothing, but the GOP doesn't really want to do anything; they're just...
  • The Housing Bubble: Why Did the Media Miss It?

    As the housing bubble starts to unwind people will be looking for villains in this economic disaster. There are many, with the list including Alan Greenspan, the bulk of the economics profession, and of course, the reporters covering the housing market. As was the case with the stock bubble, there was very little attention paid to the underlying fundamentals in the market. Anyone who bothered to look at the data could have quickly recognized that the run-up in home prices in the years after 1997 had no historical precedent . From the early 1950s until 1997 (the years for which we have good data), house prices largely followed the overall rate of inflation. In the years since 1997, house prices have increased by 50 percent after adjusting for inflation. If housing prices have tracked the overall price level for 50 years, and then suddenly take-off relative to other prices, this is a fundamental change in a key sector of the economy. Fundamental changes in the economy are not impossible...
  • WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHES...

    WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHES AN OPINION PIECE BY AN OPERATIVE FOR RIGHT-WING HATE GROUPS. Did anyone else notice this? Over the weekend, Fred Hiatt and other Washington Post editors allowed their paper to be used as a platform for an "opinion" piece written by a GOP operative who gets paid to help right-wing hate groups spread their messages and advance their agendas. On Saturday, it published an Op-ed by Craig Shirley , in which he argued that the GOP's pro-immigration "elites" would do well to listen to "Reagan populists," who were key to the right's ascendance and are now "concerned about lawlessness on our border." At the end of the piece came this rather odd disclaimer about Shirley: "His firm has clients concerned with immigration issues." But that disclaimer is so understated and benign as to be almost misleading. According to the Web site of Shirley's PR firm, Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, the company counts among its clients groups who think the US should be able to kick...
  • KEEP THE SUNLIGHT...

    KEEP THE SUNLIGHT OUT. House Republicans' latest bout of watering down the already-anemic lobbying ethics bill is genuinely funny. As subscription-only Roll Call reports , "Republican leaders have stripped out language forcing lobbyists to provide detailed disclosure of fundraising activities and contacts with lawmakers." What's funny here is that the standard, baseline position of all anti-reformers and defenders of lobbying practices is precisely a devotion to better disclosure -- to "letting the sunlight in" and arming voters with information rather than directly curbing any actual activities of lobbyists or officials. Given the limited degree to which voters actually do avail themselves of the public finance and lobbying data already existing, serious reformers consider that kind of focus on sunlight to be basically a cheap dodge. And yet even that has proved a bridge too far for House Republicans. Some readers may know that I'm generally a skeptic of reform and more than a bit...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: THE POLITICS OF DEFINITION, PART II. John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira discuss progressive weaknesses in the latest installment of our series on closing the �identity gap.� --The Editors
  • BUSH LIED, THOUSANDS...

    BUSH LIED, THOUSANDS DIED. It's almost banal to keep harping on the lying point, but this 60 Minutes story about pre-war intelligence really deserves blockbuster status. Tyler Drumheller was the CIA's top covert man in Europe. He turned Naji Sabri , Iraq's Foreign Minister, and got him working as a CIA asset. Drumheller told George Tenet who told George W. Bush , Dick Cheney , and Condoleezza Rice . They were excited, naturally, and wanted to know what Sabri had to say. Sabri, they were told, said that Iraq did not, in fact, have an active WMD program. They chose to . . . just ignore this. Then, as Josh Marshall points out , there was a big post-war effort to blame the whole thing on the intelligence community. Commissions were appointed. They interviewed Drumheller. He relayed all this to them. And they chose to . . . just ignore it. Can't have too many inconvenient facts in your assessments, I guess. --Matthew Yglesias
  • MONEY, MEET MOUTH....

    MONEY, MEET MOUTH. It doesn't involve invading anyone, or kicking any ass that's evolved beyond the microbe stage, but if we could spur the pharmaceutical companies or the NIH to put a bit of money into the anti-HIV microbicides currently nearing breakthrough status, we'd save a lot of lives. As Kate Steadman points out , the primary driver of HIV infection in the third-world are patriarchal sexual arrangements where a lone male, with his many wives, mistresses, and prostitutes, can contract HIV from one source and spread it far and wide. Sadly, condom use is taboo under the best of circumstances and, thanks to funding and support from the Christian Right, officially discouraged in many countries (like Uganda). An anti-HIV microbicide would give women a discreet way to protect themselves, one whose application and use they could largely control. Unfortunately, poor women in third world countries command neither financial power nor international attention, so there's been precious...
  • LISTEN TO ZBIG....

    LISTEN TO ZBIG. Zbigniew Brzezinski , who people should have listened to before the Iraq War, had a great column on Iran in yesterday's LA Times . Brzezinski was one of a relatively small minority of recognized Democratic Party foreign policy experts who opposed the Iraq War in a clear and forceful manner, and I can't help but notice that, today, younger national security experts types who might be hoping for jobs in the next Democratic administration have been curiously silent on the leading issue of the day. This is really kind of unfortunate, since it obviously doesn't do progressives very much good to have a progressive foreign policy establishment if that establishment is too timid to address the big, controversial questions. --Matthew Yglesias

Pages