Archive

  • Democracy Fever -- Catch It!

    With Lebanon's government resigning en masse, it's worth revisiting David Brooks's much-mocked (but then, aren't they all?) column from this weekend, where he identified the question "why not here?" as being the preeminent query in today's world. As he saw it, Ukrainians looked at the peaceful revolution in Georgia and though, hell, we can do that! And they did. And Arabs are looking at the elections in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, and thinking they should have those too. And so they are. What Brooks misses is that the really interesting transformation isn't occurring among the citizenry, but with the monarchs. The death of Arafat, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the two peaceful revolutions in Europe -- democracy, it seems, is in the air, and these guys will be damned if they're going to cause a revolution by choking it off. That explains the Saudis' tentative first step towards elections as well as their recent assurances that women will gradually be given the...
  • Choose No Choice

    It's sad to say, but the US has begun acting like a freshman fraternity pledge in international meetings, clinging desperately to some absurd point that their frat brothers insisted they promote. Only the US isn't an annoying freshmen, it's the world's superpower. And it's not being controlled by fraternity officials, but by the Christian Right. And we're holding up and even derailing international summits along the way. Like this conference , arranged on the 10th anniversary of the historic U.N Women's Conference in Beijing in order to evaluate progress towards female equality. We've decided that the summit can't take another step until the attending delegates pass a resolution declaring that women have no right to an abortion. No, I'm not kidding. 10 years ago, the delegates agreed that abortion was a public health issue and where it was legal it should be safe. That's it. But the US, and more to the point, this Administration, wants a resolution affirming that choice is not a human...
  • Bleg

    I'm participating in a quarterly right-left debate tomorrow. Format is three people each side doing the debate, with each responsible for a two minute statement on a topic besides. I've got secularism. I don't know much about it, so if you guys have any resources on church-state separation plus founding fathers stuff, it'd be a big help. Also, UCLA (or LA) folks are welcome to come -- just e-mail me for the info.
  • Turncoat Joe

    Hate to say it, but I think we're remarkably close to getting screwed by Bush and Holy Joe, and we're not even thinking about why. Lieberman found himself ignominiously rejected during the 2004 primaries, basically ignored during the election, branded a traitor during the Gonzales vote, and then viewed as an enemy on Social Security. The sum total of all that has been a marked uptick of interest among Democrats in finding and funding a primary challenge against him. Worse, Joe's got nowhere left to go, it's unlikely that Democrats are going to retake the Senate anytime in the near future (which would give him a committee chairmanship) and it's damn near impossible that he'll be on another presidential ticket or in a hypothetical Democratic cabinet. With all that in mind, I see no real reason he'd want to languish in the Senate, condemned to a future of intraparty battles and partisan marginalization. Cutting a deal on Social Security might be his way out, because it might bring with...
  • But al-Qaqaa is so....Quaint

    Brad Plumer, in a post on the nauseating Hilla bombing , notes that a car bomb has to be pretty fucking big to push the death toll over a 100 people, and so there's probably an al-Qaqaa connection here though, he says, there's probably not much point in revisiting the issue. True enough, but wouldn't it have been nice if, at some point, we had actually visited the issue? I mean, I know we parachuted in and mixed it with the rest of the election's final week feces-throwing, but that seems to have worked to divert attention from it, not interest anyone in a full-fledged investigation. Indeed, we seem to have written it off as part of the 2004 election warfare, and once the polls closed, everyone agreed to leave it in the past. Everyone, I guess, save the insurgents.
  • All Head, No Heart

    Ouch. Deleting 900 words that took you an hour to write is never fun. But when you're approaching a thousand and you're still not sure if anyone will catch what you're talking about, it generally means your point is muddled and it's time to put the kill on it. So I did. Suffice to say that I'm not a big fan of the Goldwater debate swirling around the blogosphere. I like that Brad and Matt have donned their contrarian capes and swooped down to reality-check Barry's legacy, but I think they're taking a very narrow view of what Goldwater meant. Goldwater emerged at a very strange moment for the Republican party. They had spent the past 30 years ceding domestic issues to the Democrats and running their campaigns on a combination of red-baiting and, well, more red-baiting. They had no real domestic critique, instead, government was almost a joint custody arrangement, with liberals taking the home-front and moderate Republicans setting the terms of the foreign policy debate. But Kennedy and...
  • How To Not Vote on the Count Every Vote Act in Three Easy Steps

    Julie Saltman is wondering how Republicans will oppose the obviously-popular provisions of the Count Every Vote Act . The answer is through the magic of Congress! If every piece of introduced legislation had to face an up-or-down vote at polls, CEVA would pass in a landslide. But not only won't it find itself in front of voters, it's not going to find itself in front of congress critters either. With no Republicans jumping on board and the Democrats firmly in the minority, that bills never going to make it out of committee, and sure as hell won't find itself on the floor. Indeed, the bill is basically dead until its sponsors -- Kerry and Clinton -- run for president in 2008. Why the bill hasn't attracted any Republican cosponsors is, however, an interesting question. Nothing so self-evidently popular can be ignored by politicians lest they find themselves similarly shunned by voters. So Republicans have created a counter-bill which, under the guise of tamping down on fraud, makes it...
  • Why Does Dashboard Confessional Hate the Children?

    Michelle Malkin thinks emo music exists to promote the "cutting culture". That's awesome. Michelle Malkin has got to be the most unintentionally hilarious pundit in America, and I'm an enormous fan of her continuing efforts to outpace pretenders to the throne. Jonah's dorkiness is too self-aware while David Brooks's pop-sociology too easily parodied -- they don't hold a candle on Michelle "internment was a good thing" Malkin. She's less a boring pundit with a recognizable shtick and more an avante-garde goddess who defies parody, I often believes she's just a particularly daring performance artist obsessed with seeing how far her gig can be pushed. And I, for one, enjoy the act immensely.
  • Thanks!

    Thanks, of course, go out to Shakespeare's Sister for the wonderful job she did this weekend. If you're not already, you should be reading her blog regularly.
  • Wacky Republicans

    Sometimes my initial reaction to condemn conservative idiocy as pernicious and malevolent and dangerous is just overcome by awe at the weird hypocrisy of it all. This is one of those times: The government has told a federal appeals court that a suit by an F.B.I. translator who was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude should not be allowed to proceed because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." Lawyers for the government said in a brief filed with the court on Thursday that the suit could not continue without disclosing privileged and classified information. The translator, Sibel Edmonds, was a contract linguist for the bureau for about six months, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. Ms. Edmonds was dismissed in 2002 after complaining repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11, 2001,...

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