MILTON FRIEDMAN, RIP. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and ardent advocate of unfettered markets died today at the ripe old age at 94. I can't say that I agreed with his cold economic philosophy (expressed most succintly in Capitalism and Freedom ), but I respected his intellect and influence. --Blake Hounshell
  • THE 50 STATE...

    THE 50 STATE STRATEGY. I'm very committed to the James-Carville- is-a-wanker interpretation of his current assault on Howard Dean . But I think folks need a bit more precision in discussing what's at issue here. The 2006 election, as Matt likes to point out, wasn't a test of the 50 State Strategy. It was nearer to Chris Bower 's 435 race concept, where every seat is challenged. The 50 State Strategy relies on funding state parties to put down infrastructure and staff to create long-term change. It simply couldn't have worked yet, not in any meaningful way. That's a feature, not a bug. It's an actual long-term vision, not a next-election gambit. Insofar as Carville is attacking Dean, it's a question of resources: Dean both didn't raise as much as some Democrats thought possible and didn't devote as much to 2006 as some -- like Rahm -- thought necessary. There's an argument to be had there. But it's a different one. The conversation going on now obscures this. David Sirota , for...

    HOYER WINS. 149-86. This was all in all a pretty bizarre screw-up on Pelosi 's part, but the saving grace of this leadership fight is how quickly it all happened, without dragging on for too many more days or weeks. It's still very early for the incoming majority. Time to kiss, make up, move on. Sidenote: Truly, is there a more bombastic congressman than Jim Moran ? UPDATE: See more from Mike Crowley , who certainly sees no silver lining for Pelosi in this whole thing. --Sam Rosenfeld

    RIM SHOT. Oh, Mitt , Mitt, Mitt. What are we to do with you? Here we are, nice folks all, who were more than happy to elect you and your hair. If we hadn't, you wouldn't be out there now, running around and eating chicken-based food products with the various racists, kooks, and mountebanks that make up what's left of the national Republican Party. And how do you pay us back? First, you hire this jamoke and nobody points out that there is apparently no boot you wouldn't lick for three points in some Rasmussen poll six months down the line. And how do you pay us back? You start telling jokes like this one here in front of an audience made up of people who have to be watered before they go to work every morning. Come home, Willard, before you hurt yourself. --Charles P. Pierce
  • HUG-A-BEAR. Jonah...

    HUG-A-BEAR. Jonah writes : It seems to me that if A) we believe that man is responsible for the dire plight of polar bears (or even if he's not) and B) we think the polar bears are worth saving and C) we think that doing so won't have outsized negative consequences elsewhere in the ecosystem, Why not intervene to save polar bears? Would building big, free floating docks help? Would moving polar bears and their families to different areas do the trick? That seems about right. I've little expertise on the severity or reversability of the Coca-Cola mascot's plight, but this sort of thing has worked quite well in other contexts, like the replacement of destroyed of natural reefs with sunken ships reefs. Additionally, the latter are more likely to contain hidden treasure chests. It's really win-win. As a more general point, the environmental movement, for completely correct reasons, tends to focus on stopping bad human behaviors. But given that such solutions are often implemented too late...

    REDUCING UNWANTED PREGNANCIES AND THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN. Brother Ezra links to a good article by Reason 's Julian Sanchez about demands for compromise in the abortion debate. Readers who are familiar with my work on the subject will know that I agree entirely with Sanchez' opposition to trying to find "middle ground" on the abortion debate. Both of the general lines of "compromise" being advanced -- insisting that abortion is icky and women who get abortions are immoral, and passing a series of regulations that end up creating a highly inequitable regime of abortion-on-demand for affluent women and highly restricted abortion for poor and many rural women -- are very bad on the merits, and represent a practical victory for the forced pregnancy lobby rather than true compromises. I'm not willing to claim that fetuses are "persons," not only because I think it's nonsense but because the vast majority of pro-lifers don't seem to believe it, or at least are not willing to advance policies...

    JEROME AGAINST HIMSELF. My argument for building a non-southern majority continues to confuse and befuddle some otherwise smart people. Perhaps frustrated by the fact that MyDD�s Chris Bowers pronounced me �utterly vindicated� by the 2006 election results, Jerome Armstrong now argues that Democrats should not single out and criticize �southern conservatives� because when Republicans make hay -- and they have made plenty of hay over the last three decades -- by criticizing �northeastern liberals,� supposedly everyone knows that the GOP adds the �liberal� clarifier just for political cover.

    MONSTER SUCCESS. Now that O.J. Simpson is publishing his quasi-confession If I Did It , I'm looking for a forthcoming memoir by former Rep. Mark Foley that ought to be called My Back Pages . It's no longer true that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. The last refuge now is the best-seller list. --Paul Starr

    CRYSTAL BALL. It's not often that you get a very clear glimpse of the future so, when you do get it, you should pay attention to it. Now, assuming that the McGyver Solution to the Iraq debacle proves ineffective -- watch Jim Baker make a peace plan out of two paper clips and a flashlight! -- and that, one day, C-Plus Augustus will stop listening to Henry Kissinger talking about the importance of "will" (something I had hoped I would never see again in my lifetime and a concept that the president probably should bounce off his hosts in Vietnam this week just for fun), blame is going to get parceled out pretty thickly. So, in case you folks in the media elite were wondering whether or not all that early cheerleading was going to be enough to immunize y'all, you can stop wondering . It's not. --Charles P. Pierce

    CRUELTY AND SILENCE. The New Republic fired me before it published its Iraq symposium. Oh well -- it had been made clear to me that I wouldn't have been invited to contribute anyway. So now I take up my new role: foul-weather critic of its latest spineless Iraq editorial. (In TNR-speak, a "lede.") Among the most annoying of TNR tropes is the flight to meta-analysis as soon as the recognition dawns that the magazine can't win an argument. And here, it pains and saddens me to say, TNR embraces it like a security blanket. First, TNR concedes that nothing it can possibly desire is likely to occur: "The U.S. presence in Iraq will not last long. Perhaps this new political reality will serve as shock therapy, scaring Iraq's warring factions into negotiations that can prevent the worst sectarian warfare. But perhaps not." The "perhaps not" is an intellectual prophylactic: it changes the subject before one can ask what in the world the U.S. could tell the Sunnis and the Shiites that could make...