Archive

  • Gulag Gulag Gulag

    EJ Dionne blasted Amnesty International in his column today for choosing the word "gulag" and letting the president obscure the issue with faux-indignation. Dionne misses the point. Amnesty's report didn't contain anything particularly new and stunning, at most it was a more comprehensive rundown of the situation than we've yet seen. Normally framed and delivered, it would've elicited a few articles, a quick flurry of blog posts, a McLellan obfuscation, and finally faded into obscurity. But the word gulag threw the Bush administration into such a tizzy that the news is still talking about the article, its contents, and whether or not America's actions have truly reached "gulag" levels. And that's why they used the word. Now TNR is writing snotty comparisons between Stalinist Russia and America, Republicans are loudly trying to discredit Amnesty, and lefty columnists are condemning the word choice but endorsing the content. On the bright side, they're all talking about Guantanamo. In...
  • The Charms of McCain

    I appreciate Greg's graphical proof that McCain is, as he constantly asserts, a conservative, but I think it's missing the point. Democrats don't like McCain on policy grounds. Indeed, except for fuel efficiency and campaign finance reform, a liberal would be hard-pressed to find anything approaching common cause with the successor to Barry Goldwater's seat. What they do like, and what moderates like, is McCain the person. They like the idea that someone could begin healing the partisan divide, that someone would enter office willing to listen to ideas from across the aisle, that someone would be willing to flout interest groups and ideological demands in order to work independently for what he believes to be the best interests of the country. That's why, when these bimonthly eruptions of posts proving McCain's a conservative occur, they seem so out of touch to me. Folks don't support McCain because of his ideology, they like him because of his demeanor, for what he represents in a...
  • A Message from the Liberal Media

    Oh liberal media, when will you learn? The President, contrary to widely-held beliefs, is not to be deified at all costs. So -- and yes I'm looking at you Janet -- if you really must write an article titled " He's Not Walking Like a Lame Duck ", this sort of lead doesn't quite capture the tone around here: When President Bush first latched onto mountain biking as his favored form of exercise, he plowed over rough terrain with a distinctive technique: Even when he pedaled uphill, he refused to shift to a lower gear. The message there, the unmistakable, grossly explicit, heavily delivered message, is that the president is a tough, no-nonsense, never-say-die kinda guy. It's a campaign commercial in a print paragraph. If you seek to continue receiving checks from the LA Times, you will have to stop writing like you are receiving checks from Karl Rove. You won't actually have to write like a progressive -- we like our liberal bias shockingly watered down around here -- but paeans to the...
  • Against Incrementalism

    A few days ago, Matt made a point I've seen elsewhere, and long meant to comment on. Call it the 50%+1 theory: Democratic performance in the past few elections has been good enough that one could envision a lot of difference paths to victory. Indeed, there's always a temptation to oversell defeats. After the Pistons last two losses to Miami, I've read a lot of articles about how Detroit needs to figure out how to contain Dwayne Wade. Certainly that would be a nice thing to do, but the reality is that they would have won with Wade uncontained if they'd just hit more free throws. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with their game -- they're just messing up some little things. That strikes me as exactly the wrong way to look at recent defeats. For one thing, our electoral coalition, which is already proving inadequate, is marching in the wrong demographic direction. The states that are growing vote Republican, in a few years, the same votes that brought us within a stone's throw of a...
  • Journalistic Heroes

    NRO's Claudia Rosett has won a prize : She should have a Pulitzer and maybe even a Nobel on her desk, but today Claudia Rosett has a true truth-teller's prize in her possession — the Eric Annual Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Journalism. The $10,000 prize, given by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in honor of former New York Post columnist and editor Eric Breindel, is awarded to "the columnist, editorialist or reporter whose work best reflects the spirit of the writings by Eric Breindel: Love of country and its democratic institutions as well as the act of bearing witness to the evils of totalitarianism."... Very confusing. Rosett's work on the Oil-for-Food issue may have been good, even groundbreaking -- but how does it bear witness to the evils of tyranny or prove a love of country? Is the worst you can say about Saddam Hussein that he parceled out oil contracts so as to bolster relations with sympathetic countries? Tyranny, now, is low-order corruption? More to the point, is there...
  • So Do I get Ben Stein's Money Now?

    Via Sam Rosenfeld , Ben Stein's article arguing that Deep Throat somehow brought the Khmer Rouge to power and was thus responsible for a genocide is just about the craziest thing I've ever read. The first portion of the piece is hamfisted hagiography, like: That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton -- a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon's kharma. The problem with that formulation is you're taking one aspect of his presidency and blowing it into the guy's singular mission. By that standard, Kennedy was a lying, conniving economy-grower, Johnson was a lying, conniving enemy of poverty, and Clinton was a lying, conniving harbinger of the information age. It doesn't even make sense. I, by the way, am pretty sympathetic to Nixon. His economic policies were stupidly formulated and a major cause of...
  • A Thought

    A fair number of presidents get called forth from the dead when commentators need an appropriate historical predecessor to Bush. Wilson is invoked for his foreign policy instincts, FDR for boldness, Reagan for ideological agreement, but you rarely hear the one guy who fits: Johnson. Lyndon, after all, presided over the country in almost exactly the same way as Bush, although his domestic programs had, err, slightly different aims. His massive spending to support the Great Society erased our financial flexibility, but he nevertheless kept the outlays up while embroiling us in the ever-more costly morass of Vietnam. And indeed, the Great Society was bold, visionary, and crazily expensive. After pancaking Goldwater in 1964, enough liberal Democrats swept in on his coattails that he could, for awhile, pass most any program he wished. At least he could until the end, until the end when the country's deficit and the international gold crisis forced him to pull troops from Vietnam and...
  • Sigh

    Silly Brooks . If Western Europe has discredited liberalism, than the Gilded Age discredited conservatism. And saying that single-payer health care -- what with its lower cost, universal coverage, and better outcomes -- has been proven unworkable is particularly absurd. So, for that matter, is blaming Western Europe's stagnation of social policies rather than, for instance, on the fact that they work many fewer hours than we do. Anyway, egregious column. Think we can get Brooks behind the subscription wall early?
  • How Much is Hybrid?

    Matt's post on the new, highly-publicized study proving that hybrids aren't actually cheaper overstates the case a bit: A lot of people I know seem to feel that car buyers irrationally underestimate the financial impact of fuel economy when making their purchasing decisions, and that this gives us reason to fear that market mechanisms alone won't make everything balance out in the long run. The fact that people are, in fact, buying hybrids even though they aren't worth the additional money seems to indicate the reverse -- consumers either irrationally overestimate the financial benefits of fuel efficiency, or else have non-monetary preferences (about, e.g., the environment or national security) that factor in favor of buying fuel-efficient cars. The Edmunds study does not, in fact, say that hybrids are more expensive than other cars, just that they're more expensive than their non-hybrid models. So a Hybrid Civic is more expensive than a normal Civic, and a Hybrid Escape is more...
  • Guest-Bloggers

    Thousand thanks to my backup bloggers who kicked so much rhetorical and intellectual ass for the last week. Neil can be found at the Ethical Werewolf and Paperwight makes his home at Fairshot . I suggest you find them.

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