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  • PHILOSOPHICAL CLEAN-UP. Tom...

    PHILOSOPHICAL CLEAN-UP. Tom Friedman says the Bush administration "tried to make history on the cheap. But you can't will the ends without willing the means. That is Strategic Theory 101, and ignoring it is not just some 'tactical error.'" It's not Strategic Theory 101, it's Philosophy 101 (or, in my case, Philosophy 168 ) -- Friedman's quoting Immanuel Kant here, not a military strategist. Moreover, the upshot of that doctrine is to cut against Friedman, not Rumsfeld. The point is that if you will an end -- the liberation of Iraq by force of American arms -- you're committed to taking responsibility, morally, for the means your end necessarily entails. Meaning, in this case, the unilateral invasion of Iraq overseen by the actual government of the United States deploying the resources that were actually at its disposal. Subscribers will recall Harold Meyerson 's Friedman section in his war pundits article spelling how far off this mark Friedman's been. --Matthew Yglesias
  • A LEAK ISN'T...

    A LEAK ISN'T REALLY A LEAK. GOT THAT? The White House appears to have adopted a novel approach to spinning their way out of yesterday's explosive revelations about Scooter Libby 's testimony that President Bush authorized the leaking of classified intelligence. From today's Washington Post : A senior administration official, speaking on background because White House policy prohibits comment on an active investigation, said Bush sees a distinction between leaks and what he is alleged to have done . The official said Bush authorized the release of the classified information to assure the public of his rationale for war as it was coming under increasing scrutiny. (Emphasis added.) In other words, a leak isn't really a leak. Or it isn't really a leak when President Bush authorizes it. Or it isn't really a leak when President Bush is caught authorizing it. Or something. --Greg Sargent
  • CAN'T WIN IF...

    CAN'T WIN IF YOU DON'T DISAGREE. I'm sensitive to concerns that there are some districts out there where a robust anti-war stance would create problems for Democrats in the fall. On the other hand, as this story indicates there are some GOP incumbents -- like Chris Shays -- for whom the war is their major vulnerability. But you can't take full advantage of that weakness unless you're really prepared to differentiate yourself with an anti-war message. For more on fake moderate Shays, visit Midterm Madness. Also, be sure to see the incomparable "Fraud Caucus" article I co-wrote with Mark "Fast Leon" Goldberg . And, of course, subscribe so you can read this sort of awesome print content when it actually comes out. --Matthew Yglesias
  • MAN...They're biting my...

    MAN... They're biting my style, yo. Show 'em what's what and subscribe here , instead. --Ezra Klein
  • MOVING THE DEBATE...

    MOVING THE DEBATE LEFTWARD. And this, via Jon Cohn , is why I'm enthusiastic about Mitt Romney 's presidential candidacy: Still, Mitt Romney will say this law makes him a worthy candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. And he's right. Politics should reward officials who accomplish something in office. And while it will undoubtedly annoy some progressives who don't love the plan or think he's taking credit for an idea (and favorable circumstances) that fell into his lap, they should be thankful for this development. Thankful, because nationally the most important impact of this new law may be on politics, not policy. Once Romney starts boasting about how he achieved universal health coverage in Massachusetts, it will become that much harder for conservatives to demonize the very concept as "big government." Oh, they'll try--and they'll have at least some success. But now Democrats will have this retort: If a Republican governor and leading presidential contender with...
  • 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...

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