Archive

  • 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
  • A DARFUR JIHAD?...

    A DARFUR JIHAD? As a rule, when Osama bin Laden speaks, it is best that we listen. Back in October 2003, Bin laden called for attacks on specific European countries supplying troops for the American lead coalition in Iraq, including Great Britain, Italy, and Spain. Since then, radicals have attacked Italian barracks in Iraq, killing 17; the Madrid rail station, killing nearly 190; and the tube and busses in London, killing 52. So following OBL�s directive that militants use Darfur�s rainy season �to prepare all that is needed for a long-term war against the Crusaders and thieves in western Sudan,� including �stocking a large amount of landmines and anti-armor grenades such as RPGs,� it�s fair to say that any future intervention force in Darfur will quite likely experience a number of casualties. And when you combine bin Laden�s call with the fact that many Sudanese radicals will rotate out of the Iraqi theatre well trained in the black arts of terrorism, the result for any future UN...
  • WHAT GUARANTEE? ...

    WHAT GUARANTEE? Now this is weird. The Wall Street Journal published an editorial blasting Mitt Romney 's health care plan for sidestepping the big problems, namely "Guaranteed Issue," a Massachusetts law that forces insurers to offer coverage to everyone, even -- get this! -- the sick. The Journal rightly notes that this creates some strange incentives, including the possibility that folks will wait until they're ill to seek coverage, a sort of peculiar strategy considering how high premiums will then be, but whatever. What's weird about the Journals ' line is that Romney's plan specifically addresses Guaranteed Issue through the individual mandate, which demands that nearly all citizens get health insurance right this minute. If insurers don't want to offer insurance (unlikely, considering that Blue Cross/Blue Shield deserves heaps of credit for formulating and passing the plan), they can pack up and leave. Now, the Journal may not like Massachusetts�s strategy, but it'd look a bit...
  • DEMOCRAT V. DEMOCRAT....

    DEMOCRAT V. DEMOCRAT . Last week, I mused over the difference between the Democratic Party's internal disagreements -- which are broadcast at maximum volume, countless times -- and the Republican Party's internal rifts, which go basically ignored. That, I suggested, and not any substantive incoherence or lack of focus, explained why Americans think Democrats don't stand for anything. But what accounts for the differing coverage? Why are Democratic disagreements so loud, and Republican arguments so silent? Here's one, slightly counterintuitive, hypothesis: the media actually is liberal. And that's bad for Democrats. A University of Connecticut survey found that 68 percent of journalists polled voted for Kerry , 25 percent for Bush , and the rest either refrained or went with a third-party candidate. Let's be clear, I'm not saying the media's coverage is biased, just that those who end up in journalism, particularly newspaper journalism, tend to slant leftward in their personal opinions...
  • SECRETS AND LIES....

    SECRETS AND LIES. Mark Kleiman has a great rundown of the hawkosphere's lunacy on Mary McCarthy spilling the beans on the secret illegal torture prisons business. Less crazed figures on the right are mostly restricting themselves to throwing around hypocrisy charges. But, of course, if you think that leaking classified information in order to expose illegal conduct by high government officials is the same thing as high government officials selectively releasing classified information in order to bamboozle the public into supporting a strategically daft invasion, then you're out of your mind. The issue, though, is that a certain number of people think that bamboozling the public into supporting the Iraq War was a good and noble thing to do, and a largely overlapping group of people think that arbitrary detention and torture are so vital to American national security that a little lawbreaking and secrecy is a small price to pay to ensure that the job gets done. Others of us hue to an...
  • More Fact Checking Problems at the Washington Post

    Last Tuesday, I pointed out that a front page Washington Post article had overstated Mexico's growth in the post-NAFTA era by a factor of five ( Mexican Deportee's U.S. Sojourn Illuminates Roots of Current Crisis , 4-17-06:A1). It appears that the Post's problems with arithmetic are continuing. The front page of the Sunday Outlook section had an article that refers to the rise to power of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia ( Old States, New Threats , 4-23-06;E1). The article comments that "social tensions have exploded as a result of the unleashing of market economies that create rapid but uneven growth." Growth in Venezuela and Bolivia may have been uneven, but it certainly was not rapid. According to data from the Penn World Tables and the World Bank, per capita GDP in Venezuela was more than 10 percent lower when Hugo Chavez took office in 1998 than it had been in 1980. In Bolivia, per capita GDP had fallen by almost 15 percent between 1980 and 2005 (see also "...
  • "Protectionist," a Four Letter Word?

    In many economic policy debates, the worst possible adjective is "protectionist." All right thinking people know that protectionism is bad. According to the economic in-crowd, only ignorant and reactionary people support protectionism measures. (The Post gives a nice example of this thinking in a piece explaining how the IMF will act to prevent protectionism in an economic crisis: " IMF Calls for Cooperation Ahead of Imbalances Meeting .") The image of hoary protectionism lurking on the horizon can be very effective for powerful interests seeking to push their agendas, but it has nothing to do with real world economic policy. The United States has all sorts of protectionist barriers, the most important of which apply to professional services like physicians' services and lawyers' services. These barriers take the form of licensing requirements that are deliberately designed to make it more difficult for foreign professionals to practice in the United States. If the United States was...
  • KARL ROVE'S IMMINENT...

    KARL ROVE'S IMMINENT FROG-MARCH? Atrios and Think Progress have both noted that the Plame grand jury met this morning, and a frisson of excitement has rippled through the liberal blogosphere at the prospect that Karl Rove might be indicted. In that regard, a few things are worth keeping in mind: 1) Rove had motive to mislead the grand jury. In the summer of 2003, Rove was petrified that the truth about President Bush 's pre-Iraq war deceptions would come to light, and thought that evidence of them could destroy Bush's reelection prospects-- or so Murray Waas has told us. If true, that's a critical piece of this puzzle. As I argued here , it provides a possible motive for misleading the grand jury about Plame . Before, it never quite made sense -- why risk perjury charges to cover up what may not have been a crime to begin with? But now it seems perfectly plausible that Rove worried that if the truth about the administration's role in outing Plame came out, the resulting firestorm...

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