The American Staff

Recent Articles

Up Front

Under the Rug The U.S. military says it's conducting a thorough investigation of the alleged November 2005 massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha. Skepticism may be in order. It's not that such investigators don't expend effort trying to get to the bottom of things. But one pattern of military and Pentagon self-examinations is worth noting. The most carefully examined incidents of abuse at Abu Ghraib were those that appeared in the notorious photographs. Some incidents, such as the mysterious deaths of two Afghan detainees in December 2002, have caught the serious attention of military investigators only after they've been described in The New York Times . And Haditha wasn't investigated until a story appeared in Time in March. “It is another example of how the military is not very good at policing itself,” says John Sifton of Human Rights Watch. “They act once the media has done a story.” Moreover, the outcomes of past investigations cast doubt on the prospects of many...

The Doable Dozen

National health care? Demolition and reconstruction of the tax code? A comprehensive war on poverty? Well, maybe not -- yet. But if the pollsters are right and Election 2006 proves to be a dark day for the right and a bright dawn for the left, there's plenty that a renewed progressive majority could enact immediately. Herewith are a dozen doable ideas, most of them languishing in Congress right now, many of them poised to tip onto the floor and into the lawbooks if a more liberal leadership began scheduling votes. * * * Watch Your Assets The Problem: Income inequality The Solution(s): Savings accounts at birth, mandated 401(k)s Social security privatization is dead, and rightly so, but the general idea of using public policy to broaden the ownership of assets is still a good idea and, if done right, could help keep a lid on America's burgeoning income inequality and comically low savings rate. The ASPIRE Act, a modification of Tony Blair's “baby bonds” idea developed at the New...

Up Front

“W” as in Wonk In May, the New York Times reported the semi-surreal news that George W. Bush, mulling his legacy, is hatching plans to “create a public policy center with his presidential library after he leaves office in 2009.” No other presidential library has such a policy center, and the notion that Bush would be the first President to become a think tank maven struck many as a bit odd. Even leaving aside Bush's own personal intellectual curiosity (or lack thereof), his administration has something of a well-earned reputation for aggressive skepticism regarding the analyses of policy experts. Bush is likely less interested in starting a number-crunching policy wonk lab than a big-think salon. In a then-undernoticed aside back in January, he mused to CBS News' Bob Schieffer about leaving behind “a think tank, a place for people to talk about freedom and liberty, and the de Tocqueville model.” What Bush means by “the de Tocqueville model” remains a bit unclear. But the Frenchman...

New Issue PDF

To download the May issue in PDF format, click here . The Vote-by-Mail Special Report is also available here .

Up Front

Card Shuffling It's a season of “staff shake-ups” and “new directions” at the beleaguered Bush White House. In late March, Bush announced the replacement of Andy Card with Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten as White House chief of staff. This has prompted speculation of further retirements to come, centered particularly on Treasury Secretary John Snow and the White House's hapless press secretary, Scott McClellan. There's a quality of unreality to recent press obsession with these changes -- they not only amount to a faux shake-up, but are perversely unrelated to the actual problems underlying the president's cratering approval numbers. Bush replaced the dogged loyalist Card not with a high-powered and respected outsider but with … another dogged loyalist. Meanwhile, the deficiencies that Bushies have long attributed to Snow have nothing to do with substance. Instead, he's blamed for failing as a cheerleader, as if a more skilled spokesman could convince Americans...