Archive

  • Don't Bless Us, We'll Bless You

    More from TNR : Gregg Easterbrook has a nice, if awkwardly premature, obituary for Pope John Paul II . I’ve always liked JP2, and the article contains some interesting facts about his life, including this: Born in 1920, Wojtyla was a university student when the Nazis invaded Poland; he joined an underground movement that kept learning alive during the Nazi darkness by holding university classes in secret and sometimes performed as an actor in plays staged in secret. I did not know that. It certainly explains his modern-seeming attitudes towards acknowledging Holocaust victims, advocating against the USSR, etc. But there was one aspect of the Pope’s modernizing influence that just leapt out at me: John Paul II moved the Church toward rationalism and reconciliation with science; he was the first pope to say that he believed Darwin’s theory of evolution. Huh. Is it me, or did this sort of coincide with religious conservatives’ attempts to inject creationism into public schools? Obviously...
  • The Hegel Factor

    I think Ezra gets it just about all right in his attempt to understand the mystery that is Chuck Hagel. As far as I can tell, Ezra thinks that Hagel’s biggest challenge will be finding a "constituency for a sober foreign policy realist." This may be true, but I think it’s part of a much bigger problem for Chuck Hagel: G.W.F. Hegel. Of course, Hegel won’t be running for president. But his shadow will be hanging all over the GOP primary. A while back, TNR’ s Jeffrey Herf explained how Condi Rice in particular, and the Bush admin in general, have adopted a troublingly Hegelian view of history : The idea that a decision cannot be judged at the moment but only retrospectively opens a slippery slope of justification. The future Secretary of State was indulging an understanding of politics favored by advocates of a Hegelian view of history—most of whom have, in the last century, been communists. … The capacity of history to absolve political actors is a cynical and immoral doctrine. No one...
  • The Times They Ain't A-Changin'

    The post Brad Plumer's trying to link to was originally on Pandagon, but since he's unearthing it for the latest round of NYT subscription stories , might as well reprint it here: I've been meaning to say a word about the reports that the New York Times might move towards online subscriptions. And the word I've been meaning to say is: bull. None of the major papers can move to subscription based reporting first. If the New York Times does it, newly-locked out infojunkies will seamlessly switch to trolling the LA Times, or the Washington Post. Aside from their columnists, the Times offers little in the way of exclusive content, and what they do offer isn't of significantly higher quality (if, indeed, it is of higher quality) than what's proffered by their competitors. To erect a wall when the same product is being distributed for free across the street just isn't smart business. As an addendum, the Times doesn't necessarily need to switch to subscriptions. I know we're supposed to...
  • Affirmative Agenda, Sure, But Still No Bill

    Garance Franke-Ruta's argument that the Democratic advantage on Social Security might be enough to save the program, but might also lose us seats if we don't take the next step forward and create a compelling narrative that protects us from the obstructionist label. I've been arguing this for awhile , but to support it with everybody's favorite historical parallel (I just read 640 pages on that goddamn fight, you better believe I'll turn to it at every opportunity), there's possibly never been so clearly-defined a party as the resurgent Republicans were during 1994. They didn't rest on the health care battle, but instead used it to inform their affirmative agenda. We need to do the same. That does not, by the way, mean pushing an alternate Social Security plan. We need to win that battle, not reengage it. Rather, we should use the capital amassed in that fight to bolster a progressive philosophy of government with the President's well-killed plans for privatization and benefit cuts...
  • DeLay in Short

    Damn that Sam Rosenfeld . Here I was planning to digest the in-depth coverage of the DeLay scandals and summarize the excellent work being done by The Stakeholder, The Daily DeLay , and Think Progress so you could all keep score at home. But he got there first . Sigh. Go read. But remember, it would've been me getting the links if not for that meddling kid...
  • Estrogen 08

    All the speculation on Rice is just weird. Is there some natural constituency for her that I'm unaware of? Even assuming support from the Black community, it's not like African-Americans swarm Republican primaries (nor find themselves particularly influential in Iowa or New Hampshire) or Dobson's group is going to warm to a "mildly pro-choice" candidate. I know the speculation is fun and all, but the woman has never campaigned in her life. She's never been elected to public office. She's never dealt with domestic issues. She seems like a perfectly competent Secretary of State, and God knows I'm glad that she's injected some sanity into the Administration's foreign policy, but it's a smidge irritating to watch her get hyped up for being a BLACK person who's WOMAN and a REPUBLICAN, as if the reason that's amazing isn't that Republicans have historically discriminated against blacks and fought the advances of feminism. There's no doubt that it'd be a real step forward for the GOP if they...
  • The Hagel Factor

    In fighting the Bolton nomination, the guy to watch on the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee is Chuck Hagel. Unlike most Republican internationalists, who've found the ideal out of necessity, and most Democratic internationalists, who've arrived there through convenience, Hagel's got a real commitment to the philosophy. That should make Bolton's nomination anathema to him and, indeed, he's already sounding cautious notes on the guy. But an independent's misgivings would rarely translate into a "no" vote on a presidential nominee, particularly in committee. I think Hagel may be different. The real question with him is how he figures the vote will affect his 2008 aspirations. If he holds out hope of attracting Republican support, he'll probably fall back on some trite "deserves an up-or-down vote" boilerplate and be done with it. And, two or three weeks ago, I'd have bought that scenario. But the conservative forces massing against Hagel's run are pretty unprecedented. Witness, for...
  • Not A Plan

    Since I failed once again to sleep during the night, I’ll be taking a brief nap, and will resume blogging in the early afternoon. In the meantime, here’s a question to ponder: The Bush strategy for fighting terrorism, at least in theory, relies on the idea that free countries will breed and export fewer terrorists. I’m open to this idea. But in a world where it takes maybe 50 guys with a modest-to-large bankroll to pull off something like 9/11, is creating fewer terrorists really going to help appreciably? Even if the Bush strategy convinces 95% of potential Al Qaeda recruits not to join up, isn’t it that really, really crazy top 5% that gives us the most (visible) trouble? Discuss. - Daniel A. Munz
  • u hav no privacy OMG lolz!!1!

    Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in! Ezra has graciously asked me to mind the shop today, and I've gladly obliged. (I guess this is what it's like to be an Army reservist.) Anyway, I want to direct your collective attention to a startling development on the privacy front. Apparently, AIM is Big Brother : America Online, Inc. has quietly updated the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging application, making several changes that is sure [sic] to raise the hackles of Internet privacy advocates. The revamped terms of service , which apply only to users who downloaded the free AIM software on or after Feb. 5, 2004, gives AOL the right to "reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote" all content distributed across the chat network by users. I can't remember the last time I wrote something on AIM that could be "performed." Still, it's a vaguely alarming trend. It doesn't seem that bad at first, but consider this: Personally, I communicate with friends,...
  • Wrong Again, Dan

    I'm going to once again be a rude host and directly contradict my guest-blogger. His post below, while cleverly written, is wrong. I've asked him to stay on through tomorrow to help me out, and he's agreed. Considering the bang-up job he's done, you should all be stoked. As a general explanatory note, I'm currently in a long-distance relationship. My girlfriend and I met during my first two years at UC Santa Cruz, and are currently doing the telephone thing while she finishes up at UCSC and I do my thing at UCLA. As the distance isn't too bad and the Southwest fares amenable, we see each other every week or two. That, in large part, is why I've been leaning so heavily on guest-writers, so I can spend more time with her on the weekends. Tomorrow I'm driving back, starting at 3am, and have class all day, so penning more than three or four posts is going to be tough. With Dan helping out, you guys get a different, and absurdly talented, voice, not to mention more content. That, of course...

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