Archive

  • 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.
  • Fighting Bolton

    Steve Clemons, who's playing doing the Josh Marshall thing and becoming your one-stop shop for anti-Bolton organizing, has an action alert today: Please immediately call the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Majority Staff) office at 202-224-4651 and state that while you are not opposed to the Bolton Hearings themselves, you are asking Senator Lugar NOT TO ANNOUNCE THE DATE OF THE HEARINGS TODAY . The committee staff is now aware that this is a matter of contention. If Lugar does not announce the Bolton Hearings today -- then they cannot be held next week. The first opportunity would then be during the week of April 4th. This is important. Please call today -- Friday -- TODAY. 202-224-4651. Quick background -- the right is trying to fast-track the Bolton hearings, which'll mean there's no time for the opposition to mass and thus no opportunity to make Bush pay for nominating an anti-UN ideologue. Considering America is broadly supportive of a good relationship with the UN, and even...
  • Labor's LA Mistake

    Nathan's wondering why labor is spending a boatload of cash in LA to oppose the candidate they backed four years ago. A bit of background -- Villaraigosa, the current challenger (and favorite) who lost in the runoff last time around is a former union organizer, the guy bleeds labor. Hahn is a progressive dude, but didn't have the same history, so Villaraigosa got the endorsement in 2001. So four years ago, Labor went all-out for one of their own and lost. Hahn proved himself a pretty good friend to Labor in the aftermath, though, so Labor really didn't pay for the defeat. Fast forward a few years and, despite all the challengers massing to take a shot at the incumbent, the smart money was on Hahn's easy survival. And so Labor, stung from their recent misjudgement, took the good odds. But their endorsement was delivered in an almost ironic fashion, with federation head Miguel Contreras cautioning that he couldn't guarantee the rank-and-file would follow the recommendation. Everybody...
  • Can't Follow Privatization Without a Program

    I have to imagine that a large portion of blog readers want to jump off a cliff every time a new Social Security post pops up. It seems, at least it did to me, that one day Matt, Kevin, and Brad awoke, having undergone a Matrix-style download of Social Security data ("I know kung-fu bend points."), forcing the rest of us to read a slew of killer-dull material on the subject. But for those who haven't and are still a bit lost, this NY Review of Books article by Krugman is far and away the best introduction I've seen to the subject. Read it and feel caught-up.

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