Archive

  • GENOCIDE APPEASEMENT WATCH....

    GENOCIDE APPEASEMENT WATCH. In mid-February, I obtained a confidential annex to a United Nations report on Sudan�s progress -- or more accurately, lack there of -- towards peace in Darfur. The annex named the 17 men most responsible for keeping Darfur in a state of perpetual violence and misery, and recommended that they have their assets frozen and be placed under an international travel ban. Of the 17, many were high level Sudanese government officials. One name in particular, Sallah Abdala Gosh , stood out. Gosh leads Sudan�s Security and Intelligence Services and is the Himmler -esque organizational mastermind of the Darfur genocide. He is also a known US intelligence asset. So when I obtained the annex and saw his name, I argued that whether or not the US pushes to include his name on a final list of officials to be sanctioned would be a test for how seriously this administration takes the genocide in Darfur. Last night, the administration failed that test, horribly. Evelyn...
  • DON'T LET A...

    DON'T LET A THOUSAND COMPROMISES BLOOM. The Senate's "compromise" bill on immigration is pretty bad, in addition to being poorly labeled. It's really a compromise thrice removed, as the proposed law it's supposedly compromising on was itself already a compromise bill fashioned by Republican Arlen Specter from the bipartisan McCain-Kennedy legislation and passed with a bipartisan majority out of the Judiciary Committee. Why we needed to compromise further right is a little unclear. Semantics aside, the new bill Frist 's pushing allows illegal immigrants who've been here five plus years to apply for citizenship, three to five years to leave the country and reapply for citizenship on some sort of fast track, and those here less than two years to simply leave. That, of course, won't happen, and the distinctions based on time rather than, say, income or language mastery or work status, make no sense. Given that any bill passed by the Senate will have to be reconciled with the House's...
  • EYE ON MA....

    EYE ON MA. With the Massachusetts health care plan passed, my inbox has been subject to a great hue and a cry over my relatively superficial treatment of it. And I am nothing if not a man of the people (particularly when they subscribe to the magazine), so let's get to it. If you need a refresher on what the bill looks like, see my post from yesterday. If you want an in-depth look, see Leif Wellington Haas 's excellent overview . And if you want my verdict, a thousand apologies, but it's just too early. The MA plan, of course, is not my ideal. It's an individual mandate, which is better than an employer mandate, but worse than instituting government-sponsored health care. The subsidization scheme looks sound and relatively generous, but that'll depend on funding from year to year. As Nathan Newman notes , it's a bit odd to have the penalty for an individual refusing insurance rest at $1,000 while a negligent employer is docked under $300. But to some degree, that's all optics: MA...
  • THE HIGH PRICE...

    THE HIGH PRICE OF IDEALISM. Joe Stiglitz says the Iraq War will cost about $1 trillion if you're optimistic. Jeff Sachs says that ending poverty worldwide would, if other countries followed America's lead, require US government expenditures of about $60 billion per year. Even if other countries refused to up their foreign aide in response to an America-led poverty-eradication campaign, it only would have cost about $130 billion a year. In other words -- yes, Virginia, there are better ways of advancing global humanitarian goals than dropping huge quantities of high explosives. If you subcribe now , you'll get to read the long version of this argument in the print magazine in a few months. --Matthew Yglesias
  • POSTCARDS FROM MARS....

    POSTCARDS FROM MARS. I was going to call the scenario for Iraq outlined in today's column by David Ignatius a fairy-tale fantasy, but the column does specifically assure me that the bargains he has in mind "are not a fairy-tale fantasy, as some critics argue." So who's right? Well, I am. As my mid-March Iraq column pointed out, one part of the plan is to check the power of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq by taking the Interior Ministry out of its hands. The other part of the plan is to . . . put a SCIRI man in as prime minister. That reporters with enough clout to get Zalmay Khalilzad to return their calls find this credible is a testament to our ambassador's apparently considerable powers of persuasion, but it still doesn't make any sense. For a person to quote a loyal servant of the Saudi Arabian despotism as an authority on (simultaneously!) abstract political morality, how to build a democratic Iraq, and how to advance the American national interest is...
  • CNN VS. TPM....

    CNN VS. TPM. This is really something. First Josh Marshall catches CNN swiping the photo TPM Muckraker posted of Brian Doyle 's mugshot. Seems CNN accidentally left the "TPM" logo in the picture. Then, when TPM called out CNN on it, CNN posted a new version of the picture on their home-page-- apparently scrubbed clean of the logo. But there was just one problem: CNN forgot to clean up the photo on the story's site. TPM called CNN out on that, too. Well now, guess what? CNN has gone back in again and cleaned up the version on the story's site, too. You gotta ask -- wouldn't it have been easier for CNN to just credit the source, rather than keep scrubbing away any and all evidence of where the picture came from? I mean, wouldn't it have taken less effort? This type of thing seems niggling, but it's a big deal for bloggers who are trying to inject reporting into the opinion-dominated medium of blogging. Getting credited by the big news orgs for breaking a story gives bloggers credibility...
  • THE AMERICAN CONSUMER...

    THE AMERICAN CONSUMER IS NOT A GENIUS. Given the sheer variety and innovation Andrew Sullivan exhibits in an average day's adjective choices, there's little doubt that he's a bright guy. But his understanding of health economics could use a little work. Today, he's been purring with pleasure over Mitt Romney 's bill, and doing so for all the wrong reasons : One reason we have a healthcare cost crisis is that the genius of American consumers is kept at arm's length in the healthcare universe. If you establish a base minimum of insurance, subsidize individuals who need financial help, and mandate a universal requirement, you then force everyone to pick and choose from a variety of insurance plans in an insurance "exchange". Inevitably, in such an exchange, you're going to have intermediaries trying to sell various policies, market them, and provide clear consumer advice about what's in them. You get a real market, in other words, where consumers can see trade-offs and make sane...
  • A MORAL IMPERATIVE,...

    A MORAL IMPERATIVE, INDEED. To add to Matt 's point about John Kerry 's op-ed today, I expected that there would be far more interest throughout the liberal blogosphere in the current Los Angeles Times series on wounded soldiers. The series has been extraordinary, a powerful and graphic illustration of Kerry's insistence that keeping the soldiers there without a serious effort to resolve the politics is "immoral." The series is reminiscent of the televised images of Vietnam that eventually eroded public support for that war -- a type of imagery that the Bush administration has largely been successful in suppressing, with its efforts to bar photographs of returning coffins and so on. The liberal web rightly jumped all over Bush and company for those efforts, and so now that more horrifying and unvarnished imagery of the war is getting through -- now that the truth is getting through, in other words -- you'd think more liberal commentators would be all over it. After all, this was a...
  • BETTER THAN KIDDY...

    BETTER THAN KIDDY PORN! This wouldn't be much of a liberal blog if we didn't note the arrest of DHS press secretary Brian Doyle on various child sex and kiddy porn charges. Obviously, if you're looking to stay out of hot water with the law you won't want to be subscribing to any kiddie porn publications -- there's apparently a new crackdown in effect. Save your $19.95 and spend it on an American Prospect subscription instead. --Matthew Yglesias
  • GOOD FOR HIM....

    GOOD FOR HIM. No doubt this is far too late to save his 2008 presidential campaign, but today's op-ed on Iraq from John Kerry is very good. Read it yourself if you want to know the policy details. I especially like that he's tapped into the old-school Kerry and brought a little outrage: "Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion." This is true, and most of the establishment pundits and policy types left-of-center in this town don't seem to me to be grappling with it: There's a real moral imperative here. If, as most liberals now believe, the odds of meaningful success in Iraq are tiny, then it's wrong -- seriously, deeply wrong -- to keep our troops their indefinitely and it's wrong -- seriously wrong -- to be nonchalant about the issue. --Matthew Yglesias

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