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  • THE ULTIMATE. I...

    THE ULTIMATE. I was relieved to see that, amidst the current rehashing of Richard Cohen 's greatest hits, Digby had the presence of mind to mention what is, without a doubt, the most insanely Cohen-esque Cohen column of them all. I mean, I don't think its preeminence is seriously disputable. It inspires in me something genuinely close to awe. Reading it now is heartening in a way, for it reminds one of the distance that has been covered, and the progress made, over the last six years. There was a time when wankery truly ruled in a way it just doesn't today. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • GOP FUNDRAISING APPEALS....

    GOP FUNDRAISING APPEALS. Speaking of The New Republic , Michael Crowley has a very good post over at The Plank where he excerpts a chunk of text from the latest National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraising letter. It has an astounding eight paragraphs sounding the alarm about the investigations and imminent impeachment proceedings the GOP says Dems will launch if they take back one or both houses of Congress. As Crowley notes, "it's pretty clear what Republicans--who, after all, have no other good choices--want this election to be about." Obviously this is meant to get the bucks flowing in from the conservative base, but the question is, Will it? When it comes to sending checks, conservatives are unpredictable and aren't always willing to be snookered by the latest con hatched by GOP fundraisers. Last year, Republicans loudly predicted that an avalanche of money from the right would descend on New York to stop Hillary from winning reelection and, hence, from subsequently...
  • HAYDEN AGONISTES. On...

    HAYDEN AGONISTES. On the question of how a more John Negroponte -influenced CIA under Michael Hayden influences the struggle over intelligence resources between that agency and the Defense Department, reports still differ fairly dramatically. (It's somewhat remarkable how uncertain the press's accounting still is for basic issues surrounding Porter Goss 's departure and the likely future direction of the CIA.) As for congressional Republicans' notably tepid initial response to the announcement of Hayden's nomination, the default expectation should still be that Republicans will coalesce in sufficient numbers behind the nominee after some initial grumbling. And this of course means that Democrats are not going to be able to avoid a nomination fight that in part consists of a fight over the President's illegal NSA spying program, however much the Republicans are puffing their chests with confidence that such a fight will redound to their political benefit. For the little it's worth, I'd...
  • THE PARTY OF...

    THE PARTY OF IDEAS. If there's any justice, today's New York Times article chronicling the intellectual vibrancy now on the left will finally kill the crusty charge that Democrats lack ideas. If you'll remember, that was the word shortly after Bush won reelection. It was the primary talking point during the GOP's aborted campaign to privatize Social Security, and even though their big, new idea proved an embarrassing failure, its implosion did nothing to dislodge the new swipe against the Democrats from the media's mind. The claim became so ubiquitous that Jon Chait (yes, that Chait) penned my favorite ever TNR article, " The Case Against New Ideas ." But if the worth of "new ideas" is questionable, the worth of the appearance of new ideas is undeniable. And as the Times article shows, the left is almost over-accessorizing with them. Our Supreme Leader Mike Tomasky , of course, has stepped forward with his case for the "common good" as an organizing principle. Ruy Teixera and John...
  • MORE CIVILITY. Ramsey...

    MORE CIVILITY. Ramsey Clark 's obviously a bit 'round the bend, and I have a personal grudge against Howard Zinn , but at least here on the left we don't toss around unsubstantiated allegations of treason as a once-a-week rhetorical gambit against folks we don't like. --Matthew Yglesias
  • THE NEW COPYRIGHT....

    THE NEW COPYRIGHT. Warner Brothers is going to sell movies over the Internet , which seems sensible. Sadly, once you download one of their movies, you won't be able to burn it to DVD. Of course, it's the studio's right to sell a product that works that way if they're so inclined. But here's the rub. Suppose you wrote a program that converted the files to a format that could be watched on a standard DVD player. Well, as Tim Lee explains , that would be a federal crime. Similarly, building a DVD player capable of playing the movie is illegal. Most strangely of all, both of these activities are prohibited by . . . an aspect of American copyright law even though watching a movie you bought on your television obviously isn't a copyright violation in any sense. --Matthew Yglesias
  • MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD IS...

    MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD IS MAKING SENSE. It's probably contrary to interest to point this out, but I think Iran's president is making a lot of sense in at least this portion of his letter: If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on issues including health and aid to the poor, he wrote, "would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American governments?" This is curiously similar to my TAP Online column from last week. At any rate, say what you will about Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitism and the whole dictatoring business, he's still right about this. The White House, apparently, is dismissing the peace overture as a "ploy" to avoid U.N. sanctions. But of course the point of a diplomatic opening would be to forestall punitive action. That's the whole idea. Obviously, it would be dumb to just assume that that entering into talks would result in an acceptable agreement, but the Bush plan of simply assuming that a...
  • TAP IN THE...

    TAP IN THE TIMES. Be sure to check out this charming front page profile today in The New York Times of Supreme Leader Mike Tomasky and the accompanying article about the debate heralded by his May cover story . --The Editors
  • JON CHAIT'S GENERALIZATIONS...

    JON CHAIT'S GENERALIZATIONS ARE BENEATH HIM. I have a good deal of respect for Jon Chait , and I hope this time he'll show me -- not to mention his readers -- some in return by actually engaging my argument, instead of deliberately oversimplifying it to make it easier to knock down. In response to my contention that by describing Joe Lieberman foes as "fanatics" he was throwing down the gauntlet and being uncivil, Chait wrote : Ah, I see. So before I wrote my column last Sunday, the left-wing blogospere was a placid realm of civilized discourse. The relentless, juvenile name-calling, the imagining of conspiracies between the Democratic Leadership Council, The New Republic, and various corporate lobbies, the fervent belief that monolithic motivations could be imputed to all who were associated with those sinister, back-stabbing institutions--these things all began with my column on Sunday. I see. Please. Obviously I meant that Chait threw down the gauntlet in the context of this...
  • THE NEW NEW...

    THE NEW NEW LEFT? After reading two rather similar complaints from Richard Cohen and Jon Chait about, in essence, people on the internet being mean to them, it occurs to me that it might be worth pointing out that blogosphere luminaries like Duncan Black and Markos Moulitsas don't actually resemble their online personae Atrios and Kos all that greatly. For Duncan you'll sort of just have to take my word (or that of others who've met him, I doubt you'll see much disagreement on this). For Markos, one can clearly see that when he decided he wanted to write a calm, analytical book, he came up with a calm, analytical book . All of which is by way of saying that one shouldn't infer from the fact that a certain strain of internet commentary has a very different writing style from traditional punditry that the root cause of this phenomenon is a drastic characterological difference between the writers. The other thing is that the comparisons between the stridency and vulgarity of some blog...

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