Thursday, August 31, 2006
Olbermann uses one of my favorite points: these people in Washington are our employees, not our "leaders."
That truth something that I haven't heard expressed in the media until now.
Friday, August 25, 2006
This blog ain't dead, although it's not been helped by Blogger's weird interface issues of late.
Certainly if this site looks blank, come visit my area at Kos.
Incidently, this attack piece on Markos by the Repugs is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Evidently the Repugs simply can't figure out the blogs, and don't realize that scaring isn't going to work anymore...
Monday, August 21, 2006
1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"
A minimally viable central government is built on at least three foundations: the coercive capacity to maintain order, an administrative apparatus that can deliver government services and directives to society, and the resources to manage these functions. The Iraqi government has none of these attributes -- and no prospect of developing them. It has no coercive capacity...
2. There Is No Iraqi Army
The "Iraqi Army" is a misnomer. The government's military consists of Iraqi units integrated into the U.S.-commanded occupation army. These units rely on the Americans for intelligence, logistics, and -- lacking almost all heavy weaponry themselves -- artillery, tanks, and any kind of airpower. (The Iraqi "Air Force" typically consists of fewer then 10 planes with no combat capability.) The government has no real control over either personnel or strategy...
4. Most Iraqi Cities Have Active and Often Viable Local Governments
Neither the Iraqi government, nor the American-led occupation has a significant presence in most parts of Iraq. This is well-publicized in the three Kurdish provinces, which are ruled by a stable Kurdish government without any outside presence; less so in Shia urban areas where various religio-political groups -- notably the Sadrists, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wa , and Fadhila -- vie for local control, and then organize cities and towns around their own political and religious platforms. While there is often violent friction among these groups -- particularly when the contest for control of an area is undecided -- most cities and towns are largely peaceful as local governments and local populations struggle to provide city services without a viable national economy.
This situation also holds true in the Sunni areas, except when the occupation is actively trying to pacify them. When there is no fighting, local governments dominated by the religious and tribal leaders of the resistance establish the laws and maintain a kind of order, relying for law enforcement on guerrilla fighters and militia members.
All these governments -- Kurdish, Shia and Sunni -- have shown themselves capable of maintaining (often fundamentalist) law and (often quite harsh) order, with little crime and little resistance from the local population. Though often severely limited by the lack of resources from a paralyzed national economy and a bankrupt national government, they do collect the garbage, direct traffic, suppress the local criminal element, and perform many of the other duties expected of local governments.
5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army
The portrait of chaos across Iraq that our news generally offers us is a genuine half-truth. Certainly, Baghdad has been plunged into massive and worsening disarray as both the war against the Americans and the civil war have come to be concentrated there, and as the terrifying process of ethnic cleansing has hit neighborhood after neighborhood, and is now beginning to seep into the environs of the capital.
It's kinda like conservative religious wingnut heaven: government is highly decentralized, and controlled at the local level by religious conservatives.
It's exactly the kind of government Bush's religious cronies would bring to the United States if they were to exercise "the crown rights of King Jesus," except in a Muslim paradigm.
So, it looks like we've got victory here as far as religious righties ought to be concerned, so why the heck don't we bug out?
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Now it seems, both Matthew Iglesias at the Prospect and Patrick Smith at Salon have started on a similar take. First Yglesias:
Precisely zero people have been killed in liquid explosive attacks on airplanes. The historical record indicates that we're pretty secure as things stand. But perhaps that's too flip. British law enforcement and intelligence services might not have done such a good job and hundreds could have died as a result of this bomb plot.
Nevertheless, people have been allowed to carry liquid onto planes since time immemorial and we're clearly not awash in exploding aircraft. What's more, inconveniencing air travelers isn't simply a matter of inconvenience. The more hellishly annoying you make it to fly, the more people will drive, either by switching methods of getting to the same destination or by choosing closer destinations. And air travel remains -- despite the risk of a bomb disguised as perfume -- enormously safer than driving. Despite our best intentions, in other words, security can kill.
It's not even clear how many lives can be saved by bomb-proofing airplanes. The dangerous thing about a guy with a bomb on a plane is primarily the fact that the guy has a bomb. Put him on a crowded rush-hour subway platform and he could kill a bunch of people with the blast and let the ensuing stampede do further damage. Or he could derail an Amtrak train. Most likely, such attacks would be less deadly than an exploding plane, but they'd still be pretty deadly. The ultimate number of lives saved could be quite small.
Indeed, as John Mueller pointed out in his seminal article, “A False Sense of Insecurity,” there's good reason to be very skeptical of terrorism-prevention schemes in general. Terrorism is exceedingly rare. We're blessed to live in a world where the actual number of people inclined to murder Americans in terrorist attacks is very small. As Mueller writes, "The number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (which is when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of Americans killed over the same period by lightning, accident-causing deer, or severe allergic reaction to peanuts."
News of last week's foiled London terror plot had finally begun to drop from the headlines, but not before spring-loading us to act like fools, and touching off massive changes in airport security that are destined to serve no real purpose. Liquids, gels and even certain cosmetics are no longer permitted aboard commercial flights in the United States. Prescription medicines and infant formula are exempt, but the list of contraband includes everything from drinking water to hairspray. Among the forbidden materials: mascara and liquid-filled baby teethers.
On flights to and from the U.K., hand baggage was banned entirely for several days. Passengers may now bring aboard one small parcel no larger than 17 by 13 by 6 inches -- roughly the dimensions of a laptop case. Computers and music players are allowed, but they must be removed from luggage for separate inspection.
It's difficult to tell how long the new prohibitions will last, or to what scope they might be expanded, but the rumblings are ominous. According to officials at TSA, the ban on liquids and gels is set to last indefinitely. Rumors have surfaced that laptop computers and other electronic devices could soon be restricted as well. Is airport security about to experience another, even more powerful paradigm shift than we saw in the aftermath of Sept. 11, resulting in even greater hassle than we're already used to? It's disheartening to think so, but certainly the stars are lining up that way.
To properly get our arms around the folly of it all, we need to look back at what happened in 1995. I'm referring to the notorious "Oplan Bojinka" -- which I wrote about last week -- a conspiracy linked to al-Qaida that was broken up by Philippine police only days before 11 U.S. jetliners were targeted for destruction. The parallels between the Bojinka and London operations are truly remarkable, involving similar explosive materials and a strikingly similar modus operandi. Yet on the heels of Bojinka, airports remained calm. Passengers were free to step aboard with their cups of coffee and bottles of shampoo. This forces us to wonder: If it is truly in the interest of air safety to stop passengers from bringing the most basic and commonplace personal items on board, why was it not done the first time?
Mostly because authorities then had sense enough to understand such rules would be highly disruptive, tediously work-intensive, and in the end not very useful. Ban what we may, it doesn't take the world's smartest criminal to realize there are an unlimited number of ways to smuggle a potentially dangerous item onto a plane: be it an improvised knife hewn from plastic, or explosives or flammables made from many different substances -- solids, liquids and powders. A person could spend all day concocting nefarious, and ultimately undetectable, instruments of destruction.
"We can't keep weapons out of prisons. How can we hope to keep them out of airports?" poses Bruce Schneier, a prominent security expert and the author of "Beyond Fear."
Eleven years ago we were sensible enough to accept this -- and it's not as if terrorism was something new, with the Lockerbie bombing and '93 World Trade Center attack still fresh in our minds. Lo and behold, no American planes were bombed with liquid explosives -- or any other kind -- in the interim. The true nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes, meanwhile, was going on out of view -- the responsibility of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, not part-time screeners at the airport. Numerous intelligence failures were brought to bear on Sept. 11, certainly, but unfortunately our initial reaction was to scapegoat airport security, whose role in the attacks was all but irrelevant. At the time, box cutters were not prohibited items. If they had been, the hijackers would have fashioned some other weapon.
The X-ray machine and metal detector are what they are: a serviceable final line of defense, chiefly helpful for keeping obvious weapons -- a handgun, for example -- away from commercial aircraft. They are not, and we should not expect them to be, front-line anti-terror tools.
"Terrorism needs to be stopped at the planning stages. That's where our security can do the most good," Schneier says. "By the time the terrorist gets to the airport -- or the shopping mall, or the crowded movie theater -- it's too late."
To wit, neither the Bojinka plotters nor the London cabal ever made it to the airport. They were outfoxed ahead of time through the hard work of behind-the-scenes investigators.
Really, this has gotten past the point of absurdity. If you're flying, and you're doing that St. Vitus dance at the security checkpoint, there's only one reason, and one reason only: Bush failed to head the Aug. 6 2001 presidential daily briefing, and has failed to address the real issues involved in 9/11...other than caving into al Qaeda's demand and removing almost all troops from Saudi Arabia.
Anybody who's seen a prison drama knows that you can't make something 100% secure. So let's give up the damn illusion that we can. Or let's stop the "power play" with the passengers. We're the ones who're supposed to be in power anyway, in this country.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The world’s main growth engine, the US, is slowing. That is the verdict from the labour market, with job growth in the past four months running 35 percent below average since early 2004. It is the verdict from the housing market, where an emerging downturn in residential construction activity is knocking at least 1 percentage point off the GDP growth trend of the past three years. And notwithstanding July’s temporary bounce-back in retail sales, it is a message from the consumer, whose inflation-adjusted spending growth fell to 2.5 percent in the spring period – one percentage point below the heady trend of the past decade.
America’s slowdown represents an important transition in the sources of economic growth, away from the vigorous wealth creation of asset bubbles – first equities, then housing – and back towards more subdued labour income generation. The delayed impact of higher interest rates is also taking a toll. Even though the Federal Reserve has put its two-year monetary tightening campaign on hold, there is a risk it has already gone too far. The confluence of higher energy prices, rising debt-servicing burdens, and negative personal saving rates reinforces the possibility of a pullback in discretionary US consumption and GDP growth.
This is an equally critical transition for the global economy. The world is about to lose significant support from the key driving force on the demand side of the equation – the American consumer. In a post-bubble climate, US households will be unable to save through asset appreciation, prompting America to increase income-based saving and reduce its claim on the pool of global saving. That points to a long-awaited reduction in the big US current account deficit – initially painful for export-dependent economies elsewhere in the world but ultimately a welcome resolution for global imbalances.
But who ill fill the void as the US consumer pulls back? The simple answer is; maybe no one...
I'll take Roach until after the elections...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
CALLER: Right on. Hey, this is an honor, man, seconded only if I could shake the hand of President Bush.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Yeah, you're a great guy. Love the show, I've been listening since the nineties.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: Hey, I'm a typical out-for-himself Irish mick from the highest lands in North Dakota and I am insane. I've had enough of this. I call for a reverse jihad. The next American that dies, I want 10,000 towel heads gone. The next Israeli that dies, 10,000 gone. I'm just so sick of how we're pussyfooting around these people. They want us dead. My father, let me segue here, Air Force colonel retired in the 1980s, sold some aircraft to the Israelis back in the mid-seventies and he came back with these stories of the Israelis saying, "My God, I'm glad they're on our side, they're tough, they will not take it, and their motto of the Massad is, 'Never again,' and we have got to develop that mind-set, I swear to God, we have got to do this, or we're going to be done.
RUSH: True on most of what you said, except that we're not there. There's a certain sizeable percentage of the country that is not there.
CALLER: Who are these people, Rush? Come up to North Dakota once, man, you know, we're an oxymoron here, we're a very conservative people. We put liberals and Democrats into -
RUSH: I'll tell you who they are.
CALLER: The only state of the union that has a state bank but yet we're as conservative as they get. We come from the mind-set, Rush, of "you screw me a dime, I'll screw you a dollar." And why is the rest of the nation not like this?
RUSH: Well, let me try and explain this to you, and if you've listened since 1990, you've probably heard this. Pardon the redundancy. There are many, many factors. One of the factors is our affluence in this country. We don't have to take this seriously because since 9/11, an attempt to us, I mean, we stop the port deal, gasoline prices are a little bit high but besides that, hey, everything's pretty cool. Baseball games are being played, the NFL starting up, had a little heat this summer, that's pretty normal, but what the hell should we care about all that stuff going on over there? It's been going on since biblical times! Why is it our job to stop it and care about it? Because most people haven't yet arrived at the point of view that you have about this, and it's just going to take more such incidents. It's going to take a little bit longer. Look, when you get down to brass tacks, I have full faith in the American people, but they're last to act. When signal goes out, it's unmistakable that there is a genuine threat that we face, that threatens this affluence, threatens our way of life. Then the American people en masse, well, not en masse, we got a lot of libs, that's factor number two. You got people in this country, Jason, who actually don't like this country, blame this country. I've got a piece in the stack, the LA Times -- I'll have to find it before the show ends -- what are we doing to deserve this? Why do they hate us?
CALLER: I don't care. I don't care why.
RUSH: I don't either but the point is you asked why people are not like -- there's more than you care to think that think all this is our fault and if we would just change the way we live and change the way we act and change who we elect, why, then we wouldn't be threatened, and the world wouldn't hate us.
CALLER: I look at this tongue-in-cheek, but this is beyond fun, this is beyond good times from noon to three, we've got to convince America that they hate us. When they yell "death to America," they're talking about me and you, they're talking about my kids and they would love to see every one of us hanging by piano wire off street poles. I'm baffled. Your grandfather said, "surreal people and surreal environments make surreal decisions," and I'm convinced that the east and west coasts are just so far removed from reality, from, hey, bread comes from grain which is grown in the ground and not a store, that some of these ideas that come out of these people's minds are beyond insanity, they're dangerous!
RUSH: I agree totally.
CALLER: -- (unintelligible) man, thank you.
CALLER: I don't know what I'd do without you. I really wouldn't.
RUSH: We need more like you. There's only one of me, but we need more like you.
CALLER: Come to Fargo, come to North Dakota, shake hands with anybody I see during my day, and you will see there's a lot more of us --
RUSH: By the way, is Fargo really where that big statue of Paul Bunyan is?
CALLER: No, that's in Bemidji, Minnesota.
RUSH: Yeah, okay.
CALLER: Yeah, you betcha, I've heard all that crap my whole life. You know, the Cohen brothers, I would love to line them up and give them a good kick in the nads. They did nothing for Fargo, nothing. By the way, everybody from the cereal state in California, I was born in LA, fruits, nuts, and flakes. Stay out. We don't need you in North Dakota, stay out, but thanks to you.
RUSH: Jason, you bet, thanks for the call. One more thing about this. I cannot emphasize this enough, ladies and gentlemen. I mentioned this at the top of the program. When you do see these militant Islamists shouting "death to America" and all that, it's easy to turn off the television and just think, "Well, they're thousands and thousands of miles away." They're really not. They're much closer than you think, and for all this talk about "peaceful Muslims," and I know there are some, I really have to tell you I'm stunned when things like this happen there isn't any condemnation of it from them. For example, let's talk about London for just a second. In London, in the latest attack, we're told that 24 Muslims -- British citizens, Pakistani natives, they're still Muslims -- were involved in this plot.
These folks are simply nuts; there's no other way to put it. Peace is always better than war. There is at least now the opportunity to obtain political objectives without killing people.
Plus, Israel wasn't exactly doing any blitzkrieg-like victories.
And, as I noted on Kos yesterday, the real problem may be that Bush has jinxed the whole Middle East with another "Mission Accomplished"-like utterance.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
In the aftermath of the primary, Democrats settled on the idea that Lieberman fell because of his support for the Iraq war. This was technically true, in the same way that a 95-year-old man might technically be said to die from pneumonia; there were, to say the least, underlying causes. The war was a galvanizing issue, but Lieberman's loss was just the first major victory for a larger grass-roots movement. While that movement is identified with young, online activists, it is populated largely by exasperated and ideologically disappointed baby boomers. These are the liberals who quietly seethed as Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to reform welfare and pass free-trade agreements. After the ''stolen'' election of 2000 and the subsequent loss of House and Senate seats in 2004, these Democrats felt duped. If triangulation wasn't a winning strategy, they asked, why were they ever asked to tolerate it in the first place? The Web gave them a place to share their frustrations, and Howard Dean gave them an icon.
Iraq has energized these older lapsed liberals; for a generation that got into politics marching against Vietnam, an antiwar movement is comfortable space. But it was the yearning for a more confrontational brand of opposition on all fronts, for something resembling the black-and-white moral choices of the 1960's, that more broadly animated Lamont's insurgency. Connecticut's primary showdown (which now appears to be headed for a sequel in November) marked an emphatic repudiation not just of the war but also of Clinton's ''third way'' governing philosophy - a philosophy not unlike the Republican ethos of ''compromise'' and ''pragmatism'' that so infuriated Reagan conservatives.
If history were to repeat itself, this outpouring of new liberal passion would portend trouble for the party's establishment candidates in 2008 (especially one possible candidate whose last name happens to be Clinton). But there is at least one crucial difference between insurgents of the 1970's and today. When Bell ran for the Senate in 1978, he was so obsessed with his plan to slash taxes that he went to the extraordinary length of bringing in Arthur Laffer, the renowned conservative economist, to draw his famous Laffer Curve at a news conference in Trenton. By contrast, Lamont's signature proposal as a primary candidate - and the only one anyone cared to hear, really - seemed to be the hard-to-dispute notion that he is not, in fact, Joe Lieberman. He offered platitudes about universal health care and good jobs and about bringing the troops home but nothing that might define him as anything other than what he is: an acceptable alternative.
Leaders of the Netroots, as the Internet activists have been named, will tell you that big ideas are way overrated in American politics - that you first have to master the business of getting elected before you can worry about how to govern. (Most powerful Democrats in Washington now believe this too.) But even with legions of outraged conservatives at his back, Reagan would not have taken over his party in 1980 - let alone the White House - had he not articulated an affirmative and bold argument against his party's status quo, vowing to devolve the federal government and roll back détente with the Soviets. Passion and fury started the revolution, but it took a leader with larger vision to finish the job.
Friday, August 11, 2006
As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in "a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club." He "married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.
Let's be clear - I'm a capitalist, so I have no problem with people doing well or living well, even Tom Friedman. That said, this does potentially explain an ENORMOUS amount about Friedman's perspective. Far from the objective, regular-guy interpreter of globalization that the D.C. media portrays him to be, Friedman is a member of the elite of the economic elite on the planet Earth. In fact, he's married into such a giant fortune, it's probably more relevant to refer to him as Billionaire Scion Tom Friedman than columnist Tom Friedman, both because that's more descriptive of what he represents, and more important for readers of his work to know so that they know a bit about where he's coming from.Mind you, I don't think everyone needs to publish their net worth. But Friedman's not everyone. He's not just "doing pretty well" and is not just any old columnist. He's not just a millionaire or a multimillionaire - he's member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and is one of the most influential media voices on the planet, who writes specifically about economic/class issues. If politicians are forced to disclose every last asset they own, you'd think at the very least, the New York Times - in the interest of basic disclosure - should have a tagline under Friedman's economic columns that says "Tom Friedman is an heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire."
You'd think that the NY Times would have more columnists representative of its readership, and less addicted to the current power structure.
Really, "full disclosure" ought to be a tight requirement for all major media columnists, pundits, and talk radio hosts.
The shocking thing to me is only 51% of Dems get that right now: if Bush were to "succeed," we'd be unemployed, poor, with no security in our old age, with no health care, with no education, with born humans equated legally to blastulae and brain dead popele and constantly in "fear" of "terrorists."Which is a repsonse to this.
The depths to which the modern Republican party have sunk never lose their ability to shock me. In the 1990s, I - and many other progressives- couldn’t stand Bill Clinton but I didn't root for him to fail, although some Republicans - Jesse Helms comes to mind- made the equivalent of death threats against him.
I wish Harper's would put "The Last of England" from the November 2005 issue up.
As the blurb on the cover web page puts it, "Churchill gave Londoners courage, Blair is serving them fear."
Indeed, and how much more so the Bush regime vs. Roosevelt.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. - Democrats in the state's three hot U.S. House races have been largely overshadowed by the party's U.S. Senate primary, but they're hoping Ned Lamont's victory will help them in November.
oe Courtney, who is running for the second time against Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in the 2nd District, pointed to record voter turnout in Tuesday's primary as evidence that Democrats are motivated to vote this year.
"If we can get the turnout above 60 percent on Nov. 7, that's a good thing for me," he said. "If the three-way race continues, you're still going to have a tremendous amount of noise and energy and interest, and I think that's something we can feed off."
In the 4th District, Democrat Diane Farrell is waging a rematch of her close 2004 battle against U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), a Republican. In the 5th District, Democrat Chris Murphy is challenging 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson (news, bio, voting record). Both Democrats said in statements Wednesday that Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman has energized voters.
U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Lamont's victory shows incumbents in both parties are vulnerable and "should be a flashing red light to the Republicans in Connecticut about the energy on the Democratic side."
But Republicans hope to capitalize on any lingering Democratic division over the bitterly fought primary. State Republican Chairman George Gallo said Lamont's victory came out of the extreme left wing of the Democratic party and sent a message that moderate Democrats aren't welcome.
"I'm saying that from a Republican standpoint, because, quite frankly, that's where our candidates are. We're independent, we're moderate," Gallo said.
Gary Rose, a professor of politics at Sacred Heart University, said Lamont's victory will embolden and empower the Democratic challengers and force the Republican incumbents to downplay any associations withPresident Bush. Lamont painted Lieberman as too close to Bush and Republicans.
Back on July 2, I wrote over at Dailykos:
Take a look at one race, for example: Lieberman versus Lamont. Lieberman and his drones claim that the Lamont fight will hurt down-ticket and Congressional races, but it should be obvious to all by now that the exact opposite is true. Where does Lieberman get his funding? Maybe he does have a couple of union endorsements, but you can be sure that whoever's corporately funding him is getting their money sucked out from potential Republican challengers. Therefore, regardless of whether Lamont wins this aspect alone helps down-ticket and Congressional races! And I haven't even mentioned the fact that by getting the base out for Lamont, it gets them out for the other races.
On the other hand, it wouldn't suprise me if this were a hoax, either.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The NY Times editorial page, for once, nails it:
The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman at the hands of a little-known Connecticut businessman is bound to send a message to politicians of both parties that voters are angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq. The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House.
Ned Lamont, a relative political novice, said he ran against Mr. Lieberman because he was offended by the senator’s sunny descriptions of what was happening in Iraq and his denunciation of Democrats who criticized the administration’s handling of the war. Many other people in Connecticut may have felt that sense of frustration, but no one else had the money and moxie to do what Mr. Lamont did. Mr. Lieberman was stunned to find himself on the defensive, and it was only in the last few weeks that the 18-year veteran mounted a desperate campaign to reclaim his party’s support.
Senator Lieberman says he will run as an independent in November, taking on Mr. Lamont and the Republican, Alan Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger is a very weak candidate, but Mr. Lieberman should consider the risk of splitting his party if the Republicans are able to convince Mr. Schlesinger to drop out of the race in favor of a stronger nominee.
Mr. Lieberman’s supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it’s hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.
The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.
Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- BP Plc's shutting down its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, taking some 400,000 barrels a day of crude oil off world markets, in the aftermath of the discovery of a corroded pipeline and a small leak.
The shutdown ordered by the British energy giant, one of the three major operators in the North Slope, was disclosed Sunday night and is expected to take several days to complete. The reduction represents almost half the total daily production from the North Slope, and about 8% of daily U.S. output.
Mr. Lieberman said that while he believed his vote to authorize the war in 2002 was correct, he now felt a “heavy responsibility” to end the war quickly. He said he wanted to withdraw American troops “as fast as anyone,” yet insisted that leaving Iraq now would be a “disaster” that could worsen the sectarian violence there. And while President Bush may share that view, he added, Connecticut voters were free not to.
“I not only respect your right to disagree or question the president or anyone else, including me, I value your right to disagree,” he said at a community center in East Haven.
I never liked Joe Lieberman.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Ayres, as the book notes mentioned, was too much of a coward or too centered on his career to try to get out of going to Iraq as a war correspondent.
The reviews of the book were quite a bit out of kilter with what was inside; while Ayres's book is a great read, with lots of Gen-X type references, what strikes me as odd is the cover reviews that tout this book as "hilarious" ( from Michiko Kakutani of the NY Times), and "laugh out loud" (Time). There was one place where I caught a chuckle, but what strikes me is the extreme naievete and almost stupidity of Ayres. This is a guy who aparently did virtually no meaningful research on how a modern army is put together, logistics, and so forth.
That said, there are some themes in this book worth pursuing; among them, Ayres (somewhat dully) figures out that he's embedded to create propaganda, and understands and appreciates the military.
His take on Iraq is equally naieve, with no conception of the tribal nature of the Iraqis, the history of the region in the last century, the relationship to oil, etc. It is apparent that Ayres simply wasn't using the same set of information that those of us who opposed the war did, and that's the big shocker: this "media dude," intelligent, articulate, and connected, was hopelessly clueless when it came to the geopolitical strategic circumstances and implications of the invasion of Iraq.
That's the type of folks that make the mainstream media today.
All that said, Ayres is indeed a damned fine writer, and you could do far worse with other books.