Archive

  • Wheel of Regime Change

    Reading recent Matt Yglesias posts on Tapped, I wonder if there's a Wheel of Regime Change located in the basement of some right-wing think tank. The game is to spin it and write an article about how we should invade the country whose name comes up. (Occasionally a writer spins it too many times , and has to write about all the countries.) While this may be fun, it is not the way to generate good advice on foreign policy. Apparently, some basic points about the way invasions go are being widely missed. When you invade a country and remove the head bad guy, that doesn't mean you win. You just create a power vacuum which every other random thuglord in the country wants to fill. Al-Qaeda's influence rises, as they generally aren't looked on well by stable governments anywhere, and they grow unchecked in times of chaos. You also have to tangle with nationalistic/religious types who are suspicious of your motives and don't like being invaded. ( Robert Pape , who knows more about suicide...
  • Who is Alberto Gonzales?

    Scott points out that we have no reason for thinking he's a moderate. Mark smells a plot to dress him up in a false reputation for moderation and sneak him through the Senate. Julie says that he's a Bush henchman first and anything else second, which I completely agree with, and it's this point that interests me the most. Sure, for the next 3.5 years, he'll do Bush's bidding on the Supreme Court. But he'll be 53 when Bush retires, and being a Supreme Court Justice isn't exactly asbestos removal. What happens to the servant when he spends decades without his master? I have no idea. One can see his slipshod work on Texas death penalty cases not as an expression of any pro-death-penalty principle, but as an attempt to make a politically popular position more comfy for Bush. His work on torture strikes me pretty much the same way. On a related note -- I suppose it's a sign of good taste that the media doesn't write too much about the age and health status of SCOTUS candidates. These...
  • Dilemma of the Nice Guy

    After seeing Lindsay , Matt, and Scott discuss the issue, I'm convinced that the central dilemma faced by nice guys has been missed. This constitutes a blogospheric emergency of such importance that I must use my position as Ezra's guestblogger to make the problem clear. It's a necessary condition for being a nice guy that you apply high standards to your behavior with women. You deny yourself recourse to strategies that don't meet these standards. Minimally, you don't hit on girls impolitely or in inappropriate contexts, and you don't try to pressure girls into doing things that they might not want to do. You make sure they have an easy way to say no if they're not really interested -- strategies that don't leave the other person an out are rejected. Further, as Lindsay points out, "nice guys don't feel compelled to tell you how nice they are." Genuine nice guys will be sensitized to the immodesty of boasting about their niceness, and to the subtle ickiness of many other behaviors,...
  • Prado Optimality

    Thanks to Ezra for inviting my wolfy self back for another guestblogging run! About a month ago, Ezra made us aware of the good folks pushing Ed Prado for Supreme Court. Ezra saw the movement as a bit naive -- Bush isn't looking for independent, fair-minded consensus candidates in the Prado mold. He wants to drive wedges and pay off special interest groups that support him. I actually think that the Draft Prado movement -- and other movements to get the media to include moderate candidates in their "who replaces O'Connor?" stories are a big help. Republicans must not be allowed to define the political spectrum so that Alberto Gonzalez is a liberal, Luttig is a moderate, and only Janice Rogers Brown counts as a conservative. Putting genuine moderates on the map and calling them moderates is a good way to do this. It's something that I wish we could do more in other political contexts, but it works especially well here. Unlike most policy issues, Republicans can't respond to our...
  • Health care: more expensive here because of higher prices

    This is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog doing a bit of guesting while Ezra is away
  • We're Off to See Podesta...The Wonderful Podesta of Oz...

    In about two hours, I'll be boarding a plane to DC for CAP's Campus Progress conference . I'll be there for three days and I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be able to do during the trip. That's why I've asked Neil Sinhababu to come on for the duration and offer some backup. So I'll be around, but so will he. As always, expect wacky hijinks to occur.
  • Doing Bad in Conflicting Ways

    Matt is probably correct , I should be a bit more cautious about gleefully predicting a split between Big Business and the Christian Right on Bush's pick for the Court. But Matt too should be careful: just because both groups want bad things, doesn't mean they want bad things in the same way. And while Bush can most likely find someone inconsistent enough to promise bad things in multiple ways, there are times when ill intentions use conflicting means. The Christian Right's strategy has long been State's Rights warfare: they know the majority of the country is oriented against their agenda, so they try to enact it in ways that sidestep federal judgment. They change a few state curriculums, ban gay marriage on state ballots, ban civil unions on other state ballots, implement piecemeal abortion restrictions where they can, etc, etc. They want the Supreme Court to overturn the precedents that make doing this so tricky (In Utah, Delaware, and Minnesota, for instance, partial-birth...
  • New Get a Job

    This week's profilee was Democracy Arsenal's Heather Hurlburt. Take a look .
  • 32 Flavors of Conservatism

    As we all shake and shiver over whatever Dark Spirit Dobsen has summoned and Bush is going to nominate to the Court, it's worth remembering that, though the Christian Right is the loudest member of the GOP's coalition choir, they're not the only one. Hell, they may not even be the most important one. That plaudit probably goes to Big Business. And what business wants, the Church may not. The religious movement is emphatic on States Rights, they desperately want the authority to outlaw all manner of liberal hedonism in the legislatures they own. Business, however, is just the opposite: they want uniformity in the federal code. They want a Court that won't allow significant changes in the current law. As John Engler, CEO of the National Association of Marketers Manufacturers (an uber-powerful business loby), said, ""what [we] want is a judicial climate that's predictable and certain". The Christian Right wants one ready and eager to massively rewrite laws and precedents. The two are...
  • The War on Terror (Michael Ledeen Mental Remix)

    Via Matt, Michael Ledeen is talking crazy: As of 9/11, the terror masters were five: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Today they are three, which is certainly good work on our part. But it isn’t nearly good enough. We cannot possibly have decent security in Iraq unless we end the murderous tyrannies in Tehran and Damascus, and convince or compel the Saudi royal family to shut down the global network of terrorist brainwashing centers they spend billions of dollars to operate. All this should convince us that it is a mistake to microanalyze the London operation. It is just another event in the terror war, one of many, with many more to come. Its real significance should be seen as a further wake-up call to us and our allies. Our enemies know they are at war, and they are attacking us everywhere they can, in every way they can. Do we really know we are at war, and that we cannot win it within the parameters we have set for ourselves? This sort of lunacy fascinates me...

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