Archive

  • Women Fall Through the Cracks in Iraq

    By Pepper Now that I'm seeing more and more conversation about withdrawal and withdrawal-lite, I want one thing to happen before the United States goes anywhere. I want women to have rights in Iraq, or at the very least for the constitution to be secular, but it looks like our administration is more than willing to throw that away in favor of having their constitution gift-wrapped and topped with a red ribbon. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported dismaying news that women's rights will be sacrificed in favor of polishing off the constitution: U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spent Saturday shuttling among Iraqi political leaders ... Kurds also contend that provisions in the draft would allow Islamic clerics to serve on the high court, which would interpret the constitution. That would potentially subject marriage, divorce, inheritance and other civil matters to religious law and could harm women's rights, according to the Kurdish negotiators and some women's groups. Khalilzad...
  • Hitting Where It Hurts

    By Ezra So how about that Merck case ? Jurors deliberated more than 10 hours in Angleton, Texas, before awarding $24.4 million in actual damages and $229 million in punitive damages to the family of Robert Ernst. Shares of Merck, the third-largest U.S. drugmaker, fell to a six-month low, erasing $5.2 billion from the company's market value. $229 million in punitive? As my girlfriend noted, this was a white male jury in Texas, for them to side so harshly against the company means bad things a-brewing for the drug industry. The damages aware were almost unquestionably excessive which makes them seem more like an expression of anger at Big Pharma (and maybe Big Business in general, particularly post-Enron) than anything else. And while it'll be reduced on appeal, if the environment has shifted in such a way that juries simply want to stick it to corporations, the slew of suits in the offing will give them plenty of chances to do so.
  • What Falls In Between

    Shakes here... Standing out back behind my office, a cool breeze cut through the warm, heavy air, and for a moment I could smell mulberries, the scent of which always takes me back to a time that I recall without words or much meaning at all—when I was still a toddler, and the tiny house we lived in had a backyard with a big mulberry bush. The moment got me thinking about memory, which is, perhaps strangely, one of my favorite topics of directionless, daydreamy contemplation. From the moment I was old enough to look backwards at a definable period, and realized there seemed to be a particular feeling with which I associated it, I began to wonder occasionally how I would remember the time I was in at the moment. I’d even make predictions, but of course by the time I was looking backwards, the predictions had faded, not to be recaptured. I kicked off my sandals and walked barefoot in the grass while I smoked a cigarette, and I started to think about how I might recall this time, five or...
  • Withdrawal-lite

    By Ezra Brad Plumer, in answer to last week's question du jour, makes a fairly convincing case against timed withdrawal. Read it . It remains my position, though, that there's a softer form withdrawal can take, one that I think would carry most of its assumed benefits and few of a timetable's weaknesses. If we publicly disavowed bases, loudly proclaimed our intention to leave as soon as the Iraqi government and security forces was complete, and created a timed drawdown in troop strength, much of what we want withdrawal to prove might actually get across without a full abandonment of the project. We should, at this point, have a general idea of how quickly the Iraqi army is coming online. If we tagged the withdrawal of the first, say, 10,000 troops to the date when we thought there'd be 20,000 (or whatever) Iraqi troops to replace them, we could create the symbolic first step towards withdrawal without seriously losing troop strength in the country. If we then kept doing that, bit by...
  • How Can You Live for 50 Years ...

    by Pepper ... and leave no trace of your existence? John G. Roberts, I'm talking to you. How did you do it? How did you set it up so that all we have to know about you is a stack of musty documents from the Reagan era? In fact, that's one of the questions I'd like our senators to ask of Roberts at the hearings. Even the Right has to dig way back to gain insight on this guy. Guy Taylor at the Washington Times writes a fanboy-style portrait of the girl-fearing Roberts ... back when he was in high school.
  • On Roberts

    This piece of Jeanne's , (via Kevin ) on Roberts and women strikes me as exactly right. It's worth prefacing it with the disclaimer that the 20-some year old opinions and character traits of a brash young lawyer may not be the same ones held by the older, hopefully wiser, John Roberts who's actually up for nomination. And it's certainly true that you could look two years back in my writings and find plenty I disagree with and would be fairly ashamed of today. But the truth is, Roberts is a tabula rasa , we just don't know. We're mining what he wrote in the 80's because there's so shockingly little he's penned independently since then. In the absence of evidence, all we've got is speculation and telepathy. If only 1-800-Psychics hadn't gone out of business... With information as lacking as it is, if Democrats want to strike an open-minded, conciliatory tone at the hearings, that's fine, they can use whatever adjectives or qualifiers they want. But it's really imperative that their...
  • One Small Step for Readers, One Giant Leap For Vending Machines...

    France has now debuted vending machines for books. Awesome. This means we're one step closer to the future of books .
  • We Don't Do Perfect

    Matt, in a post about how Kevin Drum echoes his thinking on Iraq, pens a terrific explanation of where I've landed in recent months: That said, I've sort of been shifting away from the "had no chance of working even if it had been competently executed" view in favor of a more sophisticated one. Here's how I would put it. In Iceland, they often need to close a road or two to traffic because it's too dangerous. That doesn't mean it would be literally impossible to drive safely across it. If you drove perfectly, you could probably make it. But the road is closed precisely because it's so rare for someone to drive perfectly in difficult conditions. A dangerous undertaking that can only be done successfully if you never make a mistake, is something you ought to avoid doing. After all, it's not as if the United States won the second world war, or the civil war, because our strategy was flawlessly executed. There were plenty of mistakes and errors along the way. There are always mistakes and...
  • Cohen's Column

    Paul Krugman, in a column on Ohio's voting irregularities, says: But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever. I like that "tender concern for the nation's feelings" line. Not because of it's context in the Krugman column, but because of its applicability to one of Richard Cohen's. After Digby gave it an offhand reference the other day, a friend with Nexis access dug up and sent me the Cohen piece he was referencing. And, honestly, it's worse than you can imagine. I'm going to reproduce it below the fold, and I highly recommend you make the jump. The degree to which our pundits sold us out was pretty amazing. While reading, see if you can imagine George Will or David Brooks putting the same sort of column-...
  • What Is Success?

    So here's my question for those who oppose conditional withdrawal from Iraq: what is success? We're there now, we will, someday in the future, not be there. What is gained through prolonging the interim period? All I ever hear is that we must "finish the job", "win the peace", "not cut and run", and do a variety of other platitudinous things that don't tell me anything. So when is the job finished? When is the peace won? Do you think we'll somehow crush the insurgency, all evidence of the last few years to the contrary? Will Iraq solve its ethnic conflicts if the US just looks over its shoulder long enough? Assuming we don't set conditions for withdrawal and just remain indefinitely, what are we looking for that'll allow us to wake up one day, judge the war a success, and mosey on back home to ticket tape parades? This is a serious question. And I'd like some serious, thoughtful answers. I don't want to hear from withdrawal supporters telling me how hopeless the situation is, I want...

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