Archive

  • A REAL WHITE...

    A REAL WHITE HOUSE SNOW JOB. Unless President Bush wants to face headlines cracking jokes about "snow jobs" and "getting snowed" for the next three years, selecting FOX News' Tony Snow to be the new White House spokesman doesn't seem like the best idea. I don't particularly think the identity of the White House spokesman matters all that much given how the job is constructed under Bush, but I do think Snow would be flash-point for controversy, given his roots on FOX and his rather vehement, self-confident style. If he acted in as self-satisfied and sneering a matter in the White House post as he does on television, he'd be certain to exacerbate the administration's problems, and especially the perception that it is arrogant and uncaring and untrustworthy -- and I somehow suspect that's not what the administration is going for with this staff change. Snow might appeal to a certain segment of the Republican base, but that's not the constituency he'd have to serve as White House...
  • COOL TO GLOBAL...

    COOL TO GLOBAL WARMING. I'm fairly puzzled by the emerging conservative line on global warming. Realizing they've lost the debate on whether it will happen, they've begun turning to the difficulties of stopping it. Pushing that line today is Ross Douthat , who's frustrated by Al Gore 's insistence on energizing the issue and adamant that "the kind of economic reforms necessary to do anything significant about the accumulation of carbon dioxide would be immediately and decisively disastrous." Well, maybe so. They certainly wouldn't do much good for our economy or developing economies. But if there's a sick patient on your table and you decide surgery might kill 'em, that doesn't erase the fact that there's a sick patient on your table. If Douthat and others think that massive reductions in CO2 emissions -- reductions I judge fairly impossible -- are a bridge too far, where's the counterplan? After all, he's very concerned about the economic prospects of the poor under Gore's plan, but...
  • VOTER TARGETING VS....

    VOTER TARGETING VS. MOVEMENT BUILDING. One of the peculiarities of this moment in progressive movement building is the way progressive interest groups are being asked to put aside their interests in favor of building a smooth, unified political party that can win elections at the very moment that some rather compelling evidence has begun to emerge arguing for the enduring political utility of defending those interests. For example, Jonathan Singer argued over the weekend , the Republican assault on choice may well have begun to backfire in a way that opens up new opportunities for Democrats to win by defending it. He notes a "whopping 30-point gender gap" in last week's Los Angeles Times /Bloomberg poll (PDF) "on the generic congressional ballot question, with women overwhelmingly preferring to see a Democratic Congress by a 58 percent to 30 margin while men narrowly prefer a GOP Congress by a 41 percent to 39 percent margin." The Cook Political Report poll for RT Strategies (PDF), he...
  • FIRE EVERYONE, HIRE...

    FIRE EVERYONE, HIRE LA TIMES COLUMNISTS INSTEAD. Max Boot offers up the right-wing version of the incompetence dodge -- Don Rumsfeld should be fired for his mismanagement of the war, and the professionals in the officers' corps should be slammed for their own mismanagement of the war. Apparently, the only people fit to run the U.S. foreign policy are neoconservative journalists. Boot repeats the canard that "the president and his top aides blundered by not sending enough troops," though, in fact, we sent all the troops that we could send consistent with a long-term deployment. In response to General Anthony Zinni 's observation that "containment worked remarkably well," Boot offers the stirring rebuttal that Zinni's "is a highly questionable judgment, and one that is not for generals to make." Everything's "questionable" if you live in fantasyland, but since the goals of containment were to stop Saddam Hussein from building WMD, stop him from rebuilding his conventional military...
  • WHICH MCCAIN IS...

    WHICH MCCAIN IS WHICH? Jon Chait has responded to my criticisms of his liberal McCain meme. As befits two folks who disagree, he found my rebuttal unconvincing, and I found his defense similarly so. Reading Chait, it seems that his case rests on two primary pieces of evidence: 1) McCain felt out a party switch in 2001-2002. 2) McCain was notably liberal during those years. And that's true enough. Since Chait doesn't like ACU rankings (and he accuses me of cherry-picking Bush's liberalism, which, in the context of McCain's "progressivism," was precisely my point), we can look at The National Journal 's scores, which shows a post-2000 election tumble for McCain, who goes from around 70 percent conservative in the years preceding (and 80 percent a few years before that), to 60 percent or so in the years after. Which may prove that Garance is onto something here ... To me, this tells a story of pique and opportunism: the Republican Party rejected John McCain, smeared him, humiliated him...
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH....

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. If you're interested in getting a taste of the burgeoning grass-roots support for a quasi-fascist understanding of American politics, take a gander at this email sent to Jonah Goldberg . It starts with the sentiment that "Analyzing a war, especially publicly, right in the middle of the fight is a terrible thing to do," and continues from there. Can you imagine that -- analyzing a war , and not just analyzing it, but doing so in public not after the fight, but while the war is happening ! Why, it's almost as if we're living in some kind of "democracy" wherein policy decisions are subject to criticism and debate. He'll have none of that; after all "Our enemies see our own pop culture criticize the war. Our enemies see Senators, Congressmen, and politicians question why we are still there and if it is still worth it." Yes, it's true, not only conservative pundits but cultural figures and even the people's elected representatives in Congress and aspirants to...
  • HECKUVA JOB, SCOTTIE....

    HECKUVA JOB, SCOTTIE. One thing you can say in George Bush 's favor is that he's exactly the sort of boss you'd like to use as a reference when you look for your next job. Scott McClellan 's tenure as White House press secretary has been objectively disastrous -- a giant step down from the psychopathically smooth lying of Ari Fleischer who's turned the briefing room into a perennial train wreck. Liberals and conservatives really ought to be able to agree on this -- there's no policy implications whatsoever. So McClellan steps down today and Bush remarks, "I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity. It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days." Not bad at all. And I have to say that McClellan arguably did handle his assignment with class, once you control for the fact that the assignment was, basically, to stand...
  • MORE SHAKEUP! The...

    MORE SHAKEUP! The hapless Scott McClellan resigned this morning as White House press secretary. The conventional rap on McClellan has long been that, in stark contrast to the near-sociopathic unflappability with which his predecessor Ari Fleischer could lie and stonewall on behalf of the president, he always showed the flop sweat and strain when doing the same. If that reflects a bit better on McClellan's personal humanity, I suppose we can all wish him well. The rogues' gallery of rumored possible replacements is genuinely frightening, however: former Pentagon flak and current CNN contributor Victoria Clarke , former CPA flak and current Fox News contributor Dan Senor , and longtime Fox News fixture and Rush Limbaugh pinch-hitter Tony Snow top the list. Really, if they wanted to install a Fox News anchor that could make me love the president, they'd appoint Steve Doocy . It's a bit refreshing to have the ongoing "White House shakeup" story now shift focus to the inherently substance-...
  • Surprising News on Mexico at the Washington Post

    Readers of the Washington Post might have been surprised to read that since the passage of NAFTA, "Mexico's gross domestic product has ballooned, multiplying nearly seven-fold, from $108 billion in 1993 … to $748 billion in 2005" (" Mexican Deportee's U.S. Sojourn Illuminates Roots of Current Crisis ," 4-17-06:A1). This amounts to a world record 17.5 percent average annual rate of growth in the 12 years since NAFTA was implemented. Readers should be surprised to read this in a front page story in the Washington Post because it is not true. Mexico's economy has not "ballooned" since NAFTA. According to the IMF's most recent World Economic Outlook, Mexico's GDP grew by just 40.2 percent over this period, an average annual rate of 2.9 percent. This translates into per capita GDP growth of 1.3 percent a year. This is weak growth for any country, but it is especially weak for a developing country. (Mexico sustained per capita GDP growth of almost 4.0 percent annually from 1960-80.) This...
  • TODAY'S MUST READ...

    TODAY'S MUST READ ON IRAN. A great deal of ink has been spilled on Iran of late, but very little of it on proposing any kind of US action other than engagement through the United Nations or (futile and probably self-destructive) air strikes. Slate 's Fred Kaplan has started to close that gap , arguing: The military option is so manifestly impractical that the Iranians don't seem to believe it. Their top officials dismissed Hersh's article as "psychological war." Even Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani�who has criticized the current regime's harsh anti-Western stance�said in Kuwait today, "We are certain the Americans will not attack Iran because the consequences would be too dangerous." The one thing that Iran's leaders genuinely seem to fear is economic sanctions. They sprinted to the bargaining table, and opened more facilities to international inspectors, only after France, Britain, and Germany�which had always tolerated Iran's nuclear deceptions in order to protect...

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