• The Nature of the Mission

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf In an email to his weekend blogging team, Ezra asked the following: I'm interested in the idea that, if Bush asked for sacrifice, a one time tax increase, a something -- if he said he and his VP and his cabinet would lead it by foregoing salaries for the year -- his numbers would skyrocket. Why, then, doesn't he do that? Why is this admin so allergic to sacrifice, to tax increases, to all of it? I don't think it's ideology -- they're more craven, and have proved themselves to willing to contradict conviction for that. So what is it? Just an ethical failure? There's a bunch of things to say here. The first is that once you've given over your soul to fiscal nihilism, you're not going to see any need for tax revenue of any kind to deal with the problem. More deficit spending will work just fine. In fact, if you're clever enough, you might be able to use Katrina as political cover for extra tax cuts, just like you used 9/11 to cover the tax cuts earlier in your...
  • Edith Brown Clement

    Interesting comment on today's Meet the Press : MR. RUSSERT: There's a list left over... MR. WILLIAMS: Yeah. MR. RUSSERT: ...from when John Roberts was selected... MR. WILLIAMS: Right. MR. RUSSERT: ...only a few months ago. One of those names was Edith Clement of New Orleans. MR. WILLIAMS: Right. MR. RUSSERT: How fitting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that one of the top contenders may be a woman from New Orleans. Filling Rehnquist's spot with a woman from New Orleans would be some powerful, powerful politics. It'd give the city something to be proud of, give Bush a sort of second chance to craft his public image on the hurricane, and prove a very tough nomination to oppose. We'll see...
  • Rehnquist Dead

    Because the news cycle was just too slow... Okay. Thoughts: • RIP. Rehnquist was a dedicated public servant, was well-liked by the rest of his Court, and did a great job holding the Court together through troubled times. May he rest in peace. • This means there are three balls in the air. 1) The Roberts confirmation, with hearings beginning on Tuesday. 2) The nomination of Rehnquist's replacement. 3) The hearings for the next chief. 2 and 3 could potentially be combined if Bush decides to make Roberts or Rehnquist's replacement Chief Justice, but elevating a current member of the Court -- Scalia? -- will mean more hearings. • My instant read of the nomination landscape is that this makes the appointment of an extremist harder , not easier. Because Roberts is basically sailing towards confirmation, he can be used as "acceptable contrast" with a nutcase. Since Dems are already confirming one nominee, terming them obstructionist would be almost impossible. • I wouldn't be surprised to...
  • Ways to Donate

    Via Kevin , BeliefNet will donate $1,000 for every 100 people who give through their site. If you can only offer a little bit -- a dollar, a fiver -- this is probably the best way to give. Now off you go !
  • I'm Stumped

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Can someone explain this to me ? I'm not looking for hysterics. I'm looking for a calm, collected, calculated reason why it would be a bad idea for the American Red Cross shouldn't be allowed into New Orleans to deliver services. I'm even willing to accept an answer along the lines of "the government doesn't want the liability exposure if a Red Cross volunteer gets shot".
  • What Do We Do Now?

    By Ezra The aftermath of Katrina will be expensive . We're talking huge funds to house, to feed, to clothe, to rebuild, to refit, to paint, to restore, to recreate a city and protect its inhabitants. This is a humanitarian disaster on a massive scale, and bringing New Orleans back into the light is going to require an almost unimaginable amount of cash. But where are we going to get it? Iraq isn't proving cheap, health costs are exploding, the deficit is soaring, and the administration's fiscal management philosophy has, up till now, been from the Crackhead School of Accounting. So how're we going to pay? Tony Blankley, speaking of Left Right and Center yesterday, said doing so would force some very serious tradeoffs in America life. Health care, he noted, might have to be cut. Urban spending can't coexist with entitlements if we're going to rebuild the drenched areas. Tony Blankley, you should all know, is a douche. Because what he didn't mention is that taxes can, and should, be...
  • Fatal Flaw

    Shakes here… In his post A Small Man , Ezra notes: George W. Bush is not up to the task of leadership. That's not said as a criticism, actually -- I am not up to the task of dancing, or running marathons. We all have failings, and Bush's essential flaw is an inability to project himself, an inability to grow in dimension during a crisis, an inability to sense that catastrophes serve as opportunities for strengthening the American community. It will probably come as no surprise that Ezra is being kinder than I will be.
  • A Few Things

    Ezra • There's one hell of a book waiting to be written about the evacuation, the chaos and social disintegration in the Superdome, the biblical deluge that demolished Louisiana, and all the rest. If any penetrating, evocative writers ended up in it, it could be one of the most amazing stories of our times. If none were there, some smart freelancer should contract to tell a participant's story. There are just amazing, heartbreaking, stories in here, and the anarchy we've seen rarely breaks into America's generally orderly life. • John Edwards has put up a perfect post on TPM Cafe. I said yesterday that this flood proves we need effective government. and some former business executive like Warner could go far on that theme. What it also proves -- what you see in stories like this (and you really must follow that link) -- is that we do have Two Americas, one who this could happen to, and one who this could never happen to. Whether the dividing line is class or race I can't tell you, but...
  • Incompetence 2.0

    By Pepper The terror in NOLA has taken incompetence to a new level. First, the response to the disaster is pathetically slow, and, second, the levees and pumps weren't strong enough to withstand a hurricane in the first place. Incompetence is the weak backbone of this story. If the levees hadn't burst, the damage would be significant, but not catastrophic. What went wrong? TPM Cafe has some answers, but there's a grand old tradition of shabby engineering in America. In a passage I've had highlighted for years, Paul Fussell writes, The American achievement [in engineering] - I know it's bad taste to mention this - is the Challenger, brought to you by faulty manufacture, inept and dishonest quality control, and lying and evasion for the sake of big bucks.
  • Anti-Government Governance

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Robert Farely points out the fundamental contradiction in Republican governance: The Republicans have managed a nifty trick over the last twenty-five years. They have worked ceaselessly to make government less effective, while at the same time deriving political benefit from inadequate government. It is a nifty trick, but it's starting to run out of steam. Even in the 2000 election, the GOP had started to tone down it's anti-government rhetoric; essentially, he promised the public the same government as the Clinton Era, only smaller and with a bigger tax cut . Yes, in the debates, he railed against the specter of big government medicine, but not with the vitriol of Reagan in the late 1980s. By 2004, Bush had stopped using the word "bureaucrat" and started talking about all the "hard work" of the government employees in Iraq. That said, this is a point Democrats ought to make more forcefully: there's no...