• Competing Discourses

    In context of a post on post-war Japan, Steve Clemons writes: Bush needs to be careful of trumpeting too much about our experience democratizing Japan -- as we were frequently on the side of the anti-democrats. To some degree, Japan democratized despite our promotion of a profound model of structural corruption there -- and the Japanese public and civil society institutions deserve credit. But Bush, as of late, has been warping this history. Read that first line again -- "Bush needs to be careful of...". I've used it myself, Bush better watch for this or that, because he's flagrantly rewriting history/ignoring evidence/contradicting reality. I was wrong. Bush needn't be careful at all. Who in our press is going to stand up and correct the historical record? Is it you, Nedra Pickler? You, Ron Fournier? You, Dana Milbank? You, Judith Miller? Of course not. As Digby is fond of saying, we've entered a full-fledged Foucaultian state of competing discourses, and Steve's -- ours -- takes...
  • Do You Want More?

    I probably shouldn't admit this, but the Linkin Park/Jay-Z mashups are really much better than they have any right to be. Every time I listen to Numb/Encore I either have to write a polemic or punch someone in the face. Fear of jail time is probably going to mean more posting this week.
  • Who's Their Graphic Designer?

    The iconography of dissent.
  • Hold It

    WaPo calls bullshit on the President's budget: The spending plan does not include future expenses of the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor does it include upfront transition costs of restructuring Social Security as Bush has proposed. The administration will submit a separate supplemental request largely for Afghanistan and Iraq operations in the current fiscal year, which will be reflected in the budget charts, officials said, but war costs in 2006 and beyond will not be. Nor will be the cost of Bush's Social Security plan, which would begin in 2009 and result in $754 billion in additional debt over its first five years.
  • Food Stamps Stay

    Tactically, eliminating food stamps through a farm subsidies " bumper shot " would be brilliant, but not really necessary. The attack on the subsidies is a symbolic shout-out to Bush's conservative base, the CATO's and Stephen Moore's of the world. To let that die while simultaneously kidney-punching the poor would win neither the President nor the party any friends, and let's not forget a farm industry plenty able to support Democrats in the '06 midterms. If Bush is taking them on, my hunch is he's doing it for real. And if he loses, food stamps is one of those programs with sacrosanct symbolism, retaining a facade of compassionate conservatism has been important to this bunch and I can't see them sacrificing it for such slight budgetary gain.
  • Making His Move

    One more time, let's have no question of what Edwards is staking his next run on: In what appeared to be an early start for the 2008 campaign cycle, John Edwards told New Hampshire Democrats on Saturday that poverty was "one of the great moral issues of our time," and he pledged to help fight it. "It may seem like an impossible goal to end poverty, but that's what the skeptics said about all of our other great challenges," said Mr. Edwards, the former vice-presidential candidate. "If we can put a man on the moon, conquer polio and put libraries of information on a chip, then we can end poverty for those who want to work for a better life." Not bad. For a variety of reasons, I'm no fan of Edwards, but I'm all for a Democrat planting himself on stage and demanding an end to economic injustice. That he's doing so can only be good for the debate.
  • Gambling is a Virtue (Just Like Bill Bennett Thought)

    I won't be watching the Superbowl today. Like Steve Clemons , I just can't get excited about big dudes chasing each other up and down the field. It's weird, I love football -- played it for four years -- but, like with all other sports, I have no interest in watching others do the deed. And since my girlfriend isn't around this weekend, there's nobody present to force me in front of the television (take that , traditional gender roles!). Nevertheless, this is the sort of thing I can get excited about. Over at Duncan's place they're doing some gambling -- if your team loses, you donate to one of the predefined charities. I do realize that you're betting money with no hope of making any, but that's okay, think of it as role-playing for Social Security privatization.
  • The Birds

    Be afraid. Be very, very afraid .
  • "I Actually Voted For the Farm Subsidies Before I Voted Against Them"

    5/13/2002 : President Bush on Monday signed a 10-year, $190 billion farm bill that promises to expand subsidies to growers. "This bill is generous and will provide a safety net for farmers, and it will do so without encouraging overproduction and depressing prices," Bush said at a signing ceremony. "It will allow farmers and ranchers to plan and operate based on market realities, not government dictates." 2/5/2005 : President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday. The bill, by the way, is a good one aimed at ending one of America's most disgraceful economic policies. But it really should end the discussion on whether or not Bush is a man of principle. It reverses legislation he supported and signed three years ago in the name of political expediency, and that shouldn't be forgotten.
  • A Brave Old World

    Is Iran the future of Iraq? With religious Shiite parties poised to take power in the new constitutional assembly, leading Shiite clerics are pushing for Islam to be recognized as the guiding principle of the new constitution. ... At the very least, the clerics say, the constitution should ensure that legal measures overseeing personal matters like marriage, divorce and family inheritance fall under Shariah, or Koranic law. For example, daughters would receive half the inheritances of sons under that law. ... Shiite politicians, recognizing a possible backlash from secular leaders and the Americans, have publicly promised not to install a theocracy similar to that of Iran, or allow clerics to run the country. But the clerics of Najaf, the holiest city of Shiite Islam, have emerged as the greatest power in the new Iraq. They forced the Americans to conform to their timetable for a political process. Their standing was bolstered last Sunday by the high turnout among Shiite voters and a...