Archive

  • THE GOOD SPIN....

    THE GOOD SPIN. Notwithstanding earlier positive remarks about the Post opinion page, they've chosen to run another David Ignatius column in which he simply repeats, utterly uncritically, whatever Zalmay Khalilzad told him yesterday afternoon. Spencer Ackerman gets at some of the issues, but I don't even understand why it's a good thing that new boss Jawad Maliki doesn't enjoy Ibrahim Jafari 's close relationship with Iran. Unless you believe a priori that it's always better to ratchet-up tensions with Iran, isn't a deteriorating Iraq-Iran relationship merely going to further destabilize Iraq and further reduce the chances of finding a diplomatic resolution to the controversy over the Iranian nuclear program? --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHO IS THE...

    WHO IS THE BLOGOSPHERE? Chris Bowers 's analysis of the demographics of the progressive blogosphere is well worth a read. In sum, "Active readers of Democratic political blogs are very highly educated, highly politically active, quite well-to-do, voracious consumers of media, not very young, and skew male." Bowers thinks this runs contrary to stereotype, but to me the only surprising thing about this was the median age (46.4 years) which was quite a bit higher than I would have expected. This is, interestingly, more or less the demographic profile of professional journalists, which perhaps accounts for the mutual antagonism (narcissism of small differences and all that). --Matthew Yglesias
  • CROOKS AND LEAKERS....

    CROOKS AND LEAKERS. The Post editorial page often disappoints, but yesterday's missive on Porter Goss 's zealous pursuit of CIA employees who blow the whistle on illegal torture and detentions is a good one. The only thing I would say is that it's past the time to drop the pretense that the administration's problem is, say, an objectionable nonchalance about torture or an unwillingness to take the problem seriously. They're just for torture and secret, illegal detentions. That said, things are getting so bad for the administration that even Robert Samuelson is making good points, observing, in regard to the White House personnel shakeup, that "if you're driving in the wrong direction, or not driving at all, changing chauffeurs doesn't help." --Matthew Yglesias
  • Arctic Oil Nonsense

    Proponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are happy to make whatever outlandish claims are convenient to advance their cause. A few years ago, they were pushing the line that drilling in the Refuge would generate 500,000-750,000 jobs, citing a study by WEFA, one of the country's leading economic forecasting firms. We did a short analysis showing the faults of this study. When WEFA refused to stand behind its study, this outlandish job claim quickly disappeared from the debate. But the nonsense continues. President Bush claimed today that the country would be producing another million barrels of oil a day if President Clinton had allowed drilling in the refuge. He presumably meant this claim to impress his audience, implying President Clinton's opposition to drilling in the refuge is a major factor behind today's high oil prices. A few simple facts indicate otherwise. First, there is a world market for oil. What matters in determining the price of oil is how much...
  • THE TROUBLE WITH...

    THE TROUBLE WITH JAY. Regarding Greg 's apt calling-out of Jay Rockefeller for once again indulging Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts ' partisan shell games, it's worth revisiting Laura Rozen 's reported piece on the Rockefeller-Roberts dynamic from our November issue. Rozen paints a complicated picture of both the real constraints Rockefeller faces and the ways in which he constrains himself unduly in his capacity as the opposition leader on the Intel committee. The description of Rockefeller offered by one source -- �a wimp � not confident of his own judgments� -- certainly seems significant. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • BUSINESS INTERESTS OVER...

    BUSINESS INTERESTS OVER NATIONAL SECURITY, PART 84. The top story in this morning�s CongressDailyAM (subscription only) began: A coalition of industry groups is mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign to persuade House Homeland Security Committee Republicans to oppose an amendment that would require all cargo to be scanned at foreign ports before being shipped to the United States. Then, just a few hours later, in this afternoon�s CongressDailyPM : Senior Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee said today that they did not believe it would be practical to require all U.S.-bound cargo to be inspected at foreign ports� Told to jump, and you can practically hear them ask �How high?� Democrats ought to take full advantage of this and exploit it for all it�s worth. --Alec Oveis
  • HOW MASS IS...

    HOW MASS IS YOU DESTRUCTION? Jonah Goldberg replies apropos our earlier disagreement. There seem to be two points of contention. On the question of chemical and biological weapons, I'd say this: There's no doubt that you can kill a lot of people through aerial bombardment with toxic chemicals (see the case of Saddam Hussein and "special envoy" Don Rumsfeld versus Iraqi Kurdistan), but by the same token you can kill a lot of people through aerial bombardment with conventional explosives (everything from the United States bombing Dresden to the Serb forces shelling Sarajevo). A single nuclear weapon, by contrast, can destroy a substantial chunk of a big city -- or maybe more. Poison gas and most biological weapons (things like anthrax) are much closer to conventional weapons in their destructive force than they are to nuclear weapons. Lumping them together with nuclear weapons is, per se , a seriously misleading way of talking about the situation. (It should also be added that there's...
  • IMPORTANT COJONES FOLLOW-UP....

    IMPORTANT COJONES FOLLOW-UP. I�m going to lower the level of discourse here for a moment, but following up on Ezra �s mention of cojones earlier in the day, I thought it only appropriate to offer up this Reuters piece . --Alec Oveis
  • PRICE GOUGING FOR...

    PRICE GOUGING FOR FUN AND POLITICAL PROFIT. Let's get something straight: the President's proposed investigation into gasoline price gouging is straight theatre. Not just because, as Matt noted, the Bush White House and the Republican Congress are funded by (and composed of) oilmen, but because gouging simply isn't the issue. At best, an investigation into unfair pricing practices will turn up a handful of malicious station owners jacking up the price. That, however, isn't what's driving high oil costs. Fears about peak oil, about Iraq, about Iran, about Venezuela, and all the rest are doing most of the work forcing prices upwards (if we so much as touch Iran, pump prices will shoot skyward). In addition, India, China, and others are requiring more and more crude, further inflating prices. Worse yet, the light, sweet crude -- the easily-pumped, low-sulphur, cheaply-refined oil the industry prefers (see this for more) -- is becoming harder to find and trickier to extract. Take a look...
  • YET ANOTHER DELAY...

    YET ANOTHER DELAY IN PROBING BUSH'S PREWAR DECEPTIONS. Can this be true? From The Hill : Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he wants to divide his panel�s inquiry into the Bush administration�s handling of Iraq-related intelligence into two parts, a move that would push off its most politically controversial elements to a later time.... An aide to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), the panel�s ranking Democrat, said that Democrats are aware Roberts is mulling a decision on whether to divide the inquiry and that Rockefeller is unlikely to oppose such a move if Roberts goes through with it . But one Democrat who has followed the probe said separating the controversial elements would relieve pressure on Roberts to complete the entire inquiry soon... Roberts would like to wrap up work quickly on three relatively less controversial topics of the second phase of the inquiry... Left unfinished would be a report on whether public statements and...

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