• Citizen-Journalists

    Well Garance knocked that one out of the park.
  • Democracy Freestyle!

    Over the last weeks, an interesting back-and-forth kind of dialogue has developed over the situation in Syria. It's gone roughly like this: Good News: Democracy may, in fact, be on the march in Syria. Bush's strategy worked! Bad News: Pro-Syrian, explicitly anti-American counterprotests dwarfed those staged by the opposition. Bush's imperalist-tinged adventurism in the Middle East has complicated a reform that could otherwise have gone relatively smoothly. It didn't work! Good News: At least the anti-American protesters protested, and didn't resort to violence . Spreading democracy has worked, after all. These are often presented point-counterpoint style, but I'm not sure why any of them are mutually exclusive. They seem to me to be the obvious consequences of Bush's confused policies. He deserves applause for adopting a "forward strategy" on democracy in the region, although it's unclear whether he decided to adopt one until it became obvious that WMD would not be found. But reading...
  • Iron Candidate: Battle African-American

    Political Wire reports that Paul Sarbanes is getting out of the legislating business . It's too bad; Sarbanes is a very good Senator. He's a strong liberal (he voted against Iraq, both tax cuts, and Ashcroft), but he works harder behind the scenes than Barbara Boxer does in front of the cameras. (Don't get me wrong: I love Barb. But she's not exactly a workhorse.) He was a lawyer, a Rhodes Scholar, and an economic adviser to Kennedy. I'll be sad to see him go. In terms of replacing The Sarbanator, both parties have deepish benches. For the Dems, there's Reps. Elijah Cummings and Chris Van Hollen, and Montgomery County Exec. Doug Duncan. Republicans have Reps. Roscoe Bartlett and Wayne Gilchrest, '04 Senate candidate and "The Hobbit" character E.J. Pipkin, and maybe even Gov. Bob Ehrlich. But there are two candidates who would produce by far the most interesting race: Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele , and recently-retired NAACP President (and former Democratic Congressman) Kweisi...
  • A Talent for Torture

    With many thanks to commenter Nick, I finally found that Jim Talent quote , and she's a doozy: But a Republican panel member, Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, signaled that, as far as he is concerned, little if any blame rests on American shoulders. "If our guys want to poke somebody in the chest to get the name of a bombmaker so they can save the lives of Americans, I'm for it," Talent said, according to The Associated Press. "I don't need an investigation to tell me that there was no comprehensive or systematic use of inhumane tactics by the American military, because those guys and gals just wouldn't do it." Set aside for a moment the fact that torture is wildly ineffective at procuring information. Set aside that 70-90% of those we tortured were non-combatant civilians. Set aside the fact that Iraqis knew about Abu Ghraib long before we did, and our failure to acknowledge and deal with it seriously only added fuel to the insurgency's fire. And certainly, set aside Talent's gut-...
  • Defense Savings Accounts

    This week's TNR features dueling pieces on Social Security. The second, by Jon Chait, is a principled case for obstructionism, hitting all the points you blog-readers have now committed to memory. The first , however, is by Greg Mankiw, former Chair of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, and it argues -- I'm not making this up -- that Social Security privatization is a good thing because he and his colleagues at Harvard have similar pension plans (also known as 401(k)s and they like them fine. Excuse me? Putting aside the ivory-tower elitism that should have O'Reilly rushing to retch, can conservative arguments reach any lower? Maybe we should stop funding defense, just for a single year, and give each American an equal share of the savings, which would mean everyone gets a check for $1,332.43. With that money, they can invest in stocks, weapons, whatever they want. It'll be an enormous economic boost, allow consumers to make wise decisions for the future (defense or assets? Hmmm...
  • The Kids Aren't All That Interested

    DHinMI is wondering whether young voters, who seem to support private accounts, will help Karl Rove create the enduring Republican majority he seeks. Nope. Young voters barely care about politics, Social Security excites them about as much as Golden Girls cliffhanger. From 15 years ago. Seriously -- whether or not my generation likes Bush, and the election results resoundingly proved we don't, we're not going to flock to his side because he'll grant the opportunity to transfer 4 percentage points of payroll taxes into private acZZZZZzzzzzzzzz. I like my peers, and I don't mean to feed the stereotype that we're apathetic, but most of us are and, even among those who aren't, the idea that pension plans are going to spark some sort of realignment is absurd. It ain't* going to happen. * See? I'm a populist , sho' nuff.
  • Truth in Subheading

    John Judis's article on the AFL-CIO's need to replace Sweeney makes a lot of excellent points, none of which relate to replacing Sweeney. Read the piece for an all-too-rare counterpoint concerning SEIU's Andy Stern and his restructuring proposals, but don't go looking for the argument it claims to contain -- why the AFL-CIO needs to dump Sweeney.
  • It's Not the Size of the Government, It's the Motion of the Leaders

    Matt Welch has an idea so crazy it just might work : There's a better and arguably more attractive ideological option than being anti–"pro–free market," and it's sitting right in front of the Democrats' noses. When the party you despise controls most of the levers of government, it's an excellent time to run against government. Disparate threads of limited-government rhetoric have begun to pop through the seams of the New Old Left unity. In the wake of the gay marriage wipeout and unpopular federal laws concerning the environment and medical marijuana, many Blue Staters are rediscovering the joys of federalism . "Fiscal responsibility" has cemented itself as boilerplate Democratic rhetoric, and not just as an excuse to jack up tax rates: Rising Democratic star Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, has been drawing praise from Cato for slashing his state's income taxes, and pushing his fellow Democratic governors to follow his lead. I couldn't disagree more. (I tried, and sprained...
  • The New Guy

    Hello, fellow Klein enthusiasts! I'm Daniel A. Munz, and I run things down the road at Politics and War . Continuing his admirable experiment in editorial altruism, Ezra has given me run of the place for the weekend. I am, as they say, pleased as punch. I've admired Ezra's writing for a sight longer than he's known about mine. I'm looking forward to posing some questions that have been on my mind to you, his predictably insightful cabal of commenters; there's nothing more instructive than arguing in front of an audience. I'm going to start in very poor form, however, by issuing a bleg: Does anyone know where to get transcripts of Senate committee hearings? (Specifically, the Senate Armed Services Committee.) The normally mild-mannered Jim Talent said something on C-SPAN the other day that just about turned my milk sour, and paraphrasing just wouldn't do it justice. Anyhow, thanks very much for having me. I hope I will vindicate Ezra's generous belief that I'm worth listening to. -...
  • Weekend Backup

    Daniel Munz will be pitching in this weekend. I'll be posting as well. Enjoy the show.