When the outgoing Republican Congress failed to enact appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1, all of their difficult spending decisions were left squarely on the shoulders of the new Democratic majority. Journalists and their sources invoked apt metaphors of sabotage. As David Rogers of The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Like a retreating army, Republicans are tearing up railroad track and planting legislative land mines to make it harder for Democrats to govern when they take power in Congress next month."
The New America Foundation's Robert Wright made a compelling case in Sunday's New York Times for a foreign policy paradigm that he labeled “progressive realism.” The approach he outlined entailed actively leveraging a more robust system of international institutions, adaptable to both new threats and economic opportunities, in pursuit of U.S. national self-interest through intrusive weapons inspections, enforcement of new environmental and labor standards, humanitarian efforts, and so on.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed last week headlined “Why The Democrats Are Losing The Culture Wars” by Dan Gerstein, the former communications director for Senator Joe Lieberman, set the progressive blogosphere abuzz over the extent to which liberals should express concern about the impact on children of the entertainment industry's output.
President George W. Bush's decision to make Social Security privatization his top second-term priority is proving to be an extraordinary gift to liberals. At the very least, his plan to fundamentally transform the nation's most successful governmental program has unified and energized a progressive community that otherwise seemed destined to be fractious and despondent after a crushing electoral defeat. While the outcome of the Social Security debate in Congress is far from certain, public-opinion polls and the dynamics on Capitol Hill at this early stage indicate that liberals have a solid chance to defeat privatization and earn their first big win since, well, a very long time ago.
Last week Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine issued a 198-page report documenting a variety of abuses committed against illegal immigrants who were jailed during some initial sweeps after September 11. The report provides a rare public glimpse into the largely secret domestic war against terrorism. Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock reacted to the report by saying, "We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks." And Attorney General John Ashcroft testified that "we make no apologies" for holding suspects as long as necessary to determine whether they have links to terrorism.