• When The Life of the Mind Becomes the Size of the Pecs

    This is crap. A travesty. A crime. Nick Confessore, of TAPPED, The Washington Monthly , and now The New York Times , is down to 4th place in Gawker's "Hot Men of the Times" contest. He deserves better. And you can make it happen . Incidentally, where's the "Hotties of the blogosphere contest?" Matt Yglesias v. Josh Chafetz. Josh Marshall vs. Andrew Sullivan. Kevin Drum vs. John Derbyshire. Michael Berube vs. Daniel Drezner. Roxanne vs. Malkin. Jeralyn Merrit vs. Eve Tushnet. Me vs. Someone Like Me. All proceeds go to charity. Then we can make a calendar, travel to America, have a big fight, return, make up, and sell the movie rights . This is gonna be great. And, in case you forgot the original point here, go vote.
  • Rarely is the Question Asked: Is Our Auto Industry Learning?

    Watching Japan rocket past our auto industry was bad enough, but is China poised to follow suit? they have initiated new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks sold in China. The first phase of the standards went into effect this year and range from 38 miles per gallon for the lightest cars to 19 miles per gallon for heavier trucks. In 2008, the standards will increase to 43 miles per gallon and 21 miles per gallon, respectively. Because the Chinese standards apply to each individual vehicle, rather than a vehicle class average as in the United States, American automakers may struggle to sell their vehicles, especially oil thirsty trucks, in the Chinese market. China is not stopping with efficiency requirements. They are also purchasing hybrids from abroad for immediate use and developing their own hybrid and fuel cell designs and manufacturing capabilities for the future. If this goes as promised, American automakers may lose their ability to effectively compete in China's market...
  • The Rove Affair is Dead. Long Live the Rove Affair!

    As I was hoping yesterday, Rove's back. The Washington Post has a front-pager explaining that the file detailing her relationship to Wilson was marked, very conspicuously, "Secret", and so there's no longer doubt about whether her status was classified. There's some doubt as to whether Rove knew her status was classified (he could've heard about her from another source), but one way or the other, someone committed a crime here. The article, for its part, has very good timing, as it'll surely come in handy tomorrow, when Senate and House Democrats hold public hearings on the situation. Reid, Dorgan, Waxman, Holt and others will be leading the proceedings, and scores of CIA officers and analysts will be testifying. A good time will be had by all including, I bet, the reporters. Lastly, I agree with Greg . If the White House thought the nomination of such an uncontroversial and essentially acceptable (barring, at least, revelations during his testimony, which is still months away)...
  • Insert Painfully Lame Movie Quote Here

    Poor Arnold. Homeboy just can't catch a break. Weeks of bad news and sagging poll numbers seemed close to reversing with the budget deal, but then came news that Arnold's been making $8 million from muscle magazines while simultaneously signing legislation that helped their advertisers. Ouch. Before the story broke, Arnold's approval rating was dismal 34%, 4% behind President Bush which, in California, is a real trick. After the scandal broke? God knows. The bottom line is that the Republican's Great Austrian Hope hates governing. He doesn't like crafting bills, working with legislators, balancing interest group, or anything else. He likes appearing in front of people. He likes cutting commercials. He likes giving interviews. So he's attempting to create some weird, quasi-direct democracy in California that'll allow him to simply sidestep the legislative process altogether. Of course, you can't do that, the results don't work. Michael Hiltzik, in a great post , gives voice to the...
  • Group Hug

    I'm reading through some of Roberts' Senate testimony from his appellate court nomination (you can find the whole thing here but, be warned, it's the pdf to end all pdf's) and, while this part is totally unimportant, it's still worth excerpting. As context, Warner said he'd be attending his 50th reunion that week: Senator LEAHY. I was impressed, the 50th reunion, so you graduated at the age of 10? Senator WARNER. I beg your pardon? Senator LEAHY. You graduated at the age of 10? I was very impressed, your 50th reunion. Senator WARNER. No, I was not a child prodigy. [Laughter.] Senator WARNER. Nor am I a senior prodigy. I am just one of your fellow Senators. Senator LEAHY. And a good friend and highly respected on both sides of the aisle, I might add. Senator WARNER. I thank you. Chairman HATCH. We are grateful to have you here, Senator Warner. We appreciate that. How can these guys be throwing nuclear options at each other? It's a total lovefest up there. Frivolity aside, Greg has...
  • Uh-Oh

    Looks like more bombings in London .
  • Saber's Quiet

    I tend to agree with Brad on this. Roberts is the pick. He'll most likely be confirmed. He most likely won't be filibustered. In any case, nothing will progress on that front for weeks yet, not until the Senate hearings start. So drop it. Don't spend the next month or two saber-rattling and talking about arrested kids with french fry breath. There'll be plenty of time for that later. For now, the Roberts announcement was moved up a week two knock Rove out of the news. Had Bush chosen a nutball, we could've wailed and beaten our breasts for the next six weeks. But in their rush for good press, the President chose a guy that there's nothing much to say about. So let's not say anything. Let him drift out of the news cycle and, in a day or two, make it all Rove, all the time. That's where their weak spot is, let's not lose focus and attack at the only smart thing they've done in months.
  • A Question

    I've been puzzling this out all day. If not for Rove, would Bush have picked Roberts? Which is to say, if not for Rove, would Bush have been spoiling for a long, protracted battle that could end with more public disapproval of his administration and priorities (even as the Justice eventually won confirmation), or would he have still wanted the lovefest Roberts created? Because the pick, all things considered, has given an Administration desperately in need of some good press an avalanche of positive coverage and sunny photo ops. Even Democrats are having trouble mustering much more than resignation. But was this weakness on their part or what they wanted all along? What do you guys think?
  • Smart Subsidies

    Yesterday, Matt pointed to a Times article saying that new hybrid technologies were being pumped into the acceleration side of things rather than going to increase fuel efficiency. That's not going on everywhere, sure, but the Accord hybrid and a few others are using the increased power to, well, increase power. This is essentially what happened in the 80's when the advances that had been going to cut fuel consumption were, with Reagan's freeze on CAFTA standards, plowed into engine muscle, at least by American companies. The Japanese kept going for efficiency and, well, you know how that turned out. Matt uses this as evidence for why we should let the market take care of oil or, if we insist on meddling, have something straight forward like a gas tax. I'm not so sure. As I've said in the past , gas taxes are enormously regressive, hurt those who (for reasons of employment or whatever) can't change their transportation patterns, and will make all manner of good more expensive because...
  • Bits n' Pieces

    I don't know if other writers are experiencing the same thing, but there's really nothing left to write about Roberts at the moment. Nevertheless, I feel I should be writing about Roberts now. It's all very confusing. So, while I try to mentally segue into other subjects, here are some bits that got buried: • Matt Holt wrote an excellent piece on the failure of Clinton Care yesterday that everyone should read. If you missed it, correct the mistake. Correctly understanding what happened there is crucial if we want to move forward. • I wrote a less-excellent, but still rather interesting (or so I thought) piece arguing against the predictions that HSA's and the collapse of employer-based health care will necessarily lead to single-payer. Worth a look, I hope. • My soon-to-be colleague Mark Goldberg notices Obama has picked up genocide-expert-extraordinaire Samantha Powers as an advisor. That's very good news for all of us concerned with humanitarian crises and interventions. • And...