Ezra Klein


Can we spell recipe-for-total-fucking- disaster ? As impressed as I am by retired accountants forming militias to patrol the border, it's not exactly the best idea. The first time they meet with a coyote expedition and start shooting at the fleeing smugglers will be the last time the gangsters who run the coyote operations forget to bring heavy arsenals along for the journey.

Why National Security Matters

Some friends and I went by SF MOMA this weekend, the idea being to soak up some culture and decompress from hectic weeks. But I'm not so good at turning off the political part of my brain, and so I found myself browsing the old newspapers strewn about Robert Goder's superb installation . One of them had an Anthony Lewis op-ed from the 1992 GOP Convention that I thought was good enough to Nexis and excerpt here: "GOP Needs a Kremlin to Bash," the lead headline in The Chicago Tribune said the day before the convention. It neatly stated the seeming dilemma of a Republican Party that for 40 years had made a theme of denouncing the Democrats as soft on Communism. But the collapse of the Soviet Union did not faze Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson or the others who speak for the Republican Party today. They bashed the un-Christian and the un-straight. They bashed Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. And they even managed to flog the Red menace. If the Democrats won this election, Republican chairman...

Set Phasers on Mock

Can I just say how excited I am to read the critiques of this " wherefore art the female intellectuals " piece? It's going to be great fun.

Who Triangulates?

Over at The Washington Post, Dan Balz has a slightly alarmist article on the leftward drift that Dean's chairmanship, and the party's new reliance on grassroots donors, might provoke. Standard stuf, to be sure, but he makes an interesting strategic point midway through: As Dean takes the helm as party chairman, Democrats now face a competition between what might be called the Dean model and the Clinton model, between confrontation and triangulation. This amounts to a contest between a bold reassertion of the party's traditional philosophy that fits the polarized environment of the Bush presidency vs. a less provocative effort to balance core values with centrist ideas that proved successful in the 1990s but has since produced a backlash within the party. This is a total, and very dangerous, misread. Triangulation is not a strategy for parties to implement, it's a playbook for individual politicians seeking to transcend party status. For them, it's a good idea. The generally...

"W" Is For Women (When Convenient)

You owe it to yourself to read Riverbend's wrenching post on what the constitutional codification of shari'a law means for Iraqi women: “And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public. It’s not about a Sunni government or a Shia government- it’s about the possibility of an Iranian-modeled Iraq. Many Shia are also appalled with the results of the elections. There’s talk of Sunnis being marginalized by the elections but that isn’t the situation. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s moderate Shia and secular people in general who have been marginalized. ... It’s...


Does anybody else think Ben Nelson sounds like he's one close election away from switching parties? Would you ever consider becoming a Republican? Somebody said not long ago that people don't always leave the party; the party leaves the people. So, recognizing that you never know what the future's going to hold, what might happen, you never say never. But am I considering it right now? No. If you run for re-election in 2006, then, you're absolutely committed to running as a Democrat? I have every intention, if I run again, to run as a Democrat. Speaking of "Democrats", does anyone else think Lieberman's revived interest in private accounts is connected to the revived talk of him replacing Rumsfeld? Yeah, me neither.


Yes, that's smart Republican strategy -- enrage AARP: Taking its cues from the success of last year's Swift boat veterans' campaign in the presidential race, a conservative lobbying organization has hired some of the same consultants to orchestrate attacks on one of President Bush's toughest opponents in the battle to overhaul Social Security. The lobbying group, USA Next, which has poured millions of dollars into Republican policy battles, now says it plans to spend as much as $10 million on commercials and other tactics assailing AARP, the powerhouse lobby opposing the private investment accounts at the center of Mr. Bush's plan. "They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts," said Charlie Jarvis, president of USA Next and former deputy under secretary for the interior in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. "We will be the dynamite that removes them."

Off With His Head!

Garance Franke-Ruta gets this exactly right : Succumbing to faculty pressure, Harvard University president Larry Summers finally released the transcript of his controversial comments on women in the sciences, made at an MIT conference in January, proving rather conclusively that those who gave him the benefit of the doubt about the nature of his remarks were mistaken in so doing. Read the rest of her post. I thought Summers was ham-handed and wrong before, now I believe he should resign.

Sign Me Up For The Fainthearted Faction

As Kevin noticed last week, there are two magazines packed into every issue of The Economist . There's the smart, savvy magazine that doesn't let its ideology get in the way of informing you, and then there's the magazine that talks about George W. Bush. That magazine, in stark contrast to its world-weary housemate, views the president with a combination of excited optimism, twice-burned shyness, and more excited optimism! This, from last week's issue , was simply too good not to quote: There is no reason to believe the horror stories that Wall Street is about to fleece helpless savers: learning from other privatisations overseas, Mr Bush's people want the new retirement accounts to be managed in a way that will keep costs low. Really truly!? Consider me convinced -- I had no idea that, unlike the Thatcher administration, President Bush's folks didn't think fleecing the elderly was a good idea! But now that I know, well, I'm going to start blast-faxing my senators right this instant!...

Last post

This is Ezra writing -- thanks to Chris for doing such a wonderful job in my absence. He gets 50 blog points, redeemable for poorly constructed prizes at the counter. Well, it has been fun. I want to thank Ezra for the opportunity to make a fool of myself for fourty eight hours. And, like every bad house guest, I stayed longer than expected, made a lot of long-distance calls and drank all the liquor. Thank you, Ezra, and I'm sorry again for ever recommending you read Hugh Hewitt's book so you can make fun of it. A couple of things before I leave. I had been an admirer of Mr. Thompson's and found his Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail one of the finest books of campaign literature I have ever read. This is a fine tribute , I think. If you're in the Kansas City area, feel free to send me an e-mail . I'll leave you with some thoughts on something that probably interests only me (the Kansas City Royals) below the jump. I'll see you in the comments section. - Chris R

It's Not The Sinner But The Sin

Matt Yglesias and Julie Saltman are having words over whether or not George W. Bush is a real live homophobe or a closet, opportunistic, tolerant. I'm going to throw in with the latter view not only on instinct, but on evidence from Lanny Davis, former counsel to Bill Clinton and classmate to George W. Bush (the LA Times article it originally appeared in is offline, this comes from Kevin Drum's excerpts ): One of my most vivid memories is this: A few of us were in the common room one night. It was 1965, I believe — my junior year, his sophomore. We were making our usual sarcastic commentaries on those who walked by us. A little nasty perhaps, but always with a touch of humor. On this occasion, however, someone we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was "queer." Someone, I'm sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by. George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: "Shut up." Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim...

Is it profitable to inform, part one

I think the current debate concerning the mainstream media entirely misses the point. And yes, I’m about to channel Howard Beale. I’m going to break this in three sections. Some conservatives seem to think that the media fails society because it is too “liberal” and that the media promotes an agenda to discredit conservatives (anti-religious, too focused on bad news out of Iraq, etc…). The strategy by some conservative bloggers of attacking the BBC, CNN, or other outlets for their terminology or their choice of stories or even their recent “scalp hunting” is a way of either intimidating the media or, worse, discrediting the MSM so people on their side will only follow news that promotes a conservative viewpoint. Some liberals seem to think that the media fails society because it is owned by large corporations and those corporations will not report negatively on the Administration or some businesses. I think the cause for the media’s decline is correct (that the media is corporately...

Is it profitable to inform, part 2

We face three current problems: 1) Television news outlets, in particular cable news outlets, try to receive higher ratings not by reporting the news, but by reporting news that they think the audience wants to hear. In order for a network news program to run in prime time, it invariably focuses on celebrities, diet tips, crime stories, or something similarly titillating. Cable news focuses on the same: for those who doubt, how on Earth would any news organization (granted, CNN Headline News isn't known for their brilliance, but bear with me) give Nancy Grace an hour of a network’s time every night if they cared about informing the public? 2) In the past, news anchors and reporters were primarily hired from print journalism. Ed Murrow, for example, hired William Shirer as his Berlin correspondent not because he had a terrific voice (by all accounts, he didn’t) but because he was a talented and brave reporter with sources throughout Berlin (not just the Berlin Hilton). Now, the farm...

Is it profitable to inform, part 3

What’s missing? We no longer have news coverage that actually informs our citizenry. The market seems to be promoting two things: unintelligent news coverage concerning events that has little or no effect on people’s lives but are titillating (high-profile trials, celebrity news, etc…) or news coverage that panders to their audience’s already existing political views. Is it too much to ask that with thousands of news outlets that there is not a market for an intelligent news network that challenges the audience rather than pander to it? Is it unprofitable to inform the public? Is this inevitable? And if it is inevitable, it isn’t the media’s fault; it is the fault of our citizenry. If that’s true, the next thirty years of political discourse, where people receive news from those who condescend to their prurient interests or pander to their political beliefs, will be much more divisive and destructive than the last twenty. I’m interested in what you have to think. Honestly, I don’t...

McDonalds Bathroom Attendant

Yep. This is incredibly brilliant stuff. Am I the only one who hasn't heard of these folks? - Chris R