• Annan to Constructivism: "Drop Dead!"

    Ever since I posted this longish quote from Dick Holbrooke about the U.N., I’ve been thinking about it. Particularly, the part where he says: The large number of disputes and wars that the U.N. has been unable to prevent or solve since 1945 are a clear demonstration of the limits of the organization. But this is a result of the actions of the member states themselves, not something called “the U.N. ” What happens in the U.N. is simply a reflection of the positions of its 191 members, whose ambassadors take positions under instructions from their capitals. Every time I read that paragraph, it kind of got caught in my mental throat (ew!), and I think I only just now realized why. Holbrooke is right. The reason he’s right is the reason the U.N. isn’t working now, and the reason that I’m highly optimistic about Kofi Annan’s planned reforms . The problem with the U.N. is that, although it was conceived in the sweet afterglow of democracy’s triumph on the European continent, it’s a...
  • Me Again

    Well, it happened again. Ezra's off for the weekend (it's 67 in L.A.!) [Ezra's note -- not off, I'll be around too] , and he's graciously asked me to fill in. So, here I am. I have a few things I plan to post about, but if there's anything you'd specifically like me to publicly meditate on, please do feel free to drop it in the comments. I blog to please. Thanks for having me again. - Daniel A. Munz
  • Why No Wide-Angle?

    James Wolcott wants a wide-angle shot of the protesters outside Schiavo's hospice. I don't blame him. But though the cameramen seem unwilling to comply, NPR's nameless voice-on-the-scene did better as I drove to lunch this morning. The Christian Right, he said, had sent out an alert to its faithful, imploring them to come stand vigil and warning the media that the grounds would soon be flooded with hundreds, even thousands of jobless white folks hellbent on inserting themselves into a private matter. So how many showed up? A few dozen.
  • Right On

    This bit from Garance Franke-Ruta is so good I'm going to excerpt it at length: I've been exceptionally impressed with the quality of the comments on this blog over the past week, which have been wonderfully intelligent, thoughtful, and polite. One question that's come up over and over, however, is why this topic mattered, or should matter, to those outside of elite media circles. ... Take what is, I believe, the single most important issue facing middle-class families: the rise of the 50-80 hour work week and the disappearance of the weekend. Anne Applebaum wrote about this recently. I bring the issue up in story meetings at the Prospect at every available opportunity. And I’m regularly surprised by the number of young, progressive women I know who tell me that the thing they dislike most about the Democratic Party is its obsessive focus on abortion instead of the question of how to combine work and family and not go crazy. They want to be approached as mothers and potential mothers...
  • Leave it to Fox

    If you've not yet seen John Stewart on the Schiavo case, you're missing out.
  • I Have Bad Taste

    Interesting post by Marshall Whittman noting the distinctly pre-9/11, peace-and-prosperity turn our politics have taken: American politics seems eerily similar to the period prior to 9/11. Before that horrible day, the focus of political discussion was a "culture of life" issue - stem cell research. A celebrity scandal surrounding the death of an intern and a Congressman was the fixation of all the television networks. And the President's domestic agenda was floundering. And then the world was transformed. We entered a new twilight struggle. The entire nation was on edge about another terrorist attack. We were at war. While our brave troops are making daily sacrifices in Iraq, our domestic politics has returned to "normalcy" - or what passes for that condition these days. The President is publicly more focused on privatizing social security and one tragic medical case than the war on terror. Our attention is consumed by Terri Schiavo, the Michael Jackson case and the horrible crisis...
  • Brad on Wolf

    Read Brad Setser's comments on the Wolfowitz nomination, they're the best I've read on the subject by far. If I was a normal person, I could leave it at that. But no, I'm a blogger, so here are some thoughts: • Brad's right that it makes little sense for the Europeans to block the Wolf. It'll just piss us off and, even if it worked, the next nominee would be no more palatable to them. Nor does it strike me as smart for Democrats to make an issue of him. There's not really an upside to nailing Bush's nominee for the World bank. Americans are not particularly interested in developmental economics and they don't quite care if some high-level Pentagon functionary is going to be taking care over in the area, at least he won't be mucking up Iraq anymore. That stands in contrast to the Bolton nomination, which really does place the Bush administration in flagrant, extreme opposition to a relatively popular institution. Americans generally think we should be working with the UN, so nominating...
  • Nominations

    So the Deserves More Attention category of the blogroll is stagnating, I think it's time to update. I'm probably going to take four or five of the folks there out and move them into the normal categories -- any traffic help they've gotten from that spot has probably exhausted itself. But who to put in? That's where you come in, rational blog consumers. Nominate your favorite smaller blogs in the comments and I'll go take a look. Remember too that these are the folks I draw from for weekend guest posters.
  • Pass Me The Pencil, Pardner

    Ed Kilgore sez : For the Big Papers, though, the problem is that there are so few editorial spots available, and, unlike their smaller competitors, no real market pressure to turn things over. I don't want to name names, but in my judgment, nearly half of the columnists in the Big Papers, most of them white men, are just filling up space with Left-Right CW that could be, and for all I know, may be written by a computer. Yep. I'm continually stunned that the big boys don't find themselves some edgier, funnier, more controversial writing. I can't stand Dowd, but she's the most popular of the Times op-ed columnists. Want to know why? Her prose doesn't make you want to kill yourself. My dislike for her exempts her skill with the pen, which is really considerable. But she's not the only one able to wield ink, and it'd be nice if the op-ed sheets would hire a few more bic-slingers to liven things up. Say what you will about them, but Wolcott, Hitchens, Sullivan -- these folks know how to...
  • The Problem With Santa Cruz

    Michael Schreiber makes a good point on the weird Santa Cruz phenomenon of being too at ease. When I mention I'm heading in that direction, I usually get a bunch of astonished comments of the "why'd you leave?" and "why don't you stay?" variety. And yes, it's true, I traded trees for traffic when I transferred from UCSC to UCLA. But it was worth it. Santa Cruz breeds a very certain sort of complacency. It's a beautiful enclave packed with rational liberals, adorable mystics, and restaurants where tofu is a viable culinary option rather than an ascetic sacrifice. That's all comfortable, no doubt, but it's hard to grow there, or it was for me. If you can afford it, when you're ready to relax and be satisfied, by all means, move to SC. But before that, vacations are your best bet. Living too easily can be its own sort of hardship. If you never have to argue a point, your mental muscles atrophy. If a place is so specifically set to your comfort zone, it becomes harder and harder to...