Lightning Round: The Chivas Regal Theory of Bipartisan Policy-Making.

  • The significance of the Obama administration removing the designation "Islamic radicalism" from the current National Security Strategy is readily apparent when one reads the 2002-era proclamation: "The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century." The obvious question is "what ideological conflict?" Does this suggest that the United States could somehow lose in this great war of ideas? How? Amputating ideology from terrorism is the first step toward treating it as a manageable problem, not the great Orwellian temptation of our time. And not that anyone remembers, but the Bush administration already laid the groundwork for this two years ago.
  • David Boaz has a piece in Reason that questions the mythology of a lost golden age of American liberty when men were free from the yoke of the state. Boaz points out the obvious omissions to this false nostalgia, women and slaves, and wisely asks of his fellow libertarians to have a little historical perspective: "Libertarians have not opposed those appeals for freedom, but too often we (or our forebears) paid too little attention to them. And one of the ways we do that is by saying 'Americans used to be free, but now we're not' -- which is a historical argument that doesn't ring true to an awful lot of Jewish, black, female, and gay Americans." It's all well and good to have a conversation about whether taxation and the federal bureaucracy are infringing on freedom. But compared to the struggle to simply gain equal recognition as human beings -- there's simply no contest.
  • Jennifer Senior has written an account of the U.S. Senate's procedural crisis that works from the perspective of its members, who are tired, locked into the 24-hour news cycle, and engaged in daily partisan warfare. It's a fun account, one that looks back somewhat nostalgically -- again, through the eyes of the body's more senior members -- to a time when no legislative deal was too thorny that it couldn't be worked out over a round of whiskeys. Senior isn't naive -- she knows Dixiecrats made these deals possible -- but it's clear that there's no way to re-create the peculiar ideological and partisan scramble of the late 1950s-early 1970s Senate. Institutional reform is the only way to transform a legislative body that already behaves like the House, to one that legislates like the House.
  • It's a small matter, but this article in The Hill on the "deal" Harry Reid struck with Arlen Specter to give the latter the Judiciary gavel when Patrick Leahy moves on should use the word Specter himself uses: "arrangement." At no point in the article is a specific quid-pro-quo discussed, which leaves the reader wondering, "What did Reid get in return?" Simple partisan loyalty is implied (Specter has voted with his new caucus 95 percent of the time since his switch), but I want details!
  • Remainders: Obama might be "committed" to net neutrality, but it's unclear what he can do about it with a powerless FCC; CNN thinks America's Mayor has something rational to say about our new nuclear weapons policy; is neither free nor ethical; leave George Bush alone!!!; and why is Obama lagging on judicial appointments?

--Mori Dinauer