Friday, May 16, 2003
TOM DELAY DOING THE HURT
TOM DELAY DOING THE HURT DANCE: This has not been the best of weeks for the House Majority Leader.
First, Josh Marshall, smelling blood in the water, is all over DeLay's role in locating Texan Democratic state legislators -- click here for some background. Andrew Sullivan keeps it simple: "TOM DELAY IS A MANIAC."
Meanwhile, from today's Chicago Tribune:
Thursday, May 15, 2003
CONFESSION: I FIRST THOUGHT THIS
CONFESSION: I FIRST THOUGHT THIS WAS SPANISH: For those readers dying to see a Portuguese translation of my latest New Republic Online essay, click here.
Democrats for national security
Liberals like Michael Totten, Dr. Joshua Micah Marshall, and Heather Hurlburt have acknowledged that Democrats face a credibility gap on foreign policy issues vis-a-vis the Republicans. Today, Josh Marshall links to Democrats for National Security, organized by one Timothy Bergreen, an ex-State staffer during the Clinton years. Here's a great quote from Bergreen from a Jonathan Rauch story that explains why such an organization is necessary:
I wish Bergreen luck. So should all of you. [Ahem, aren't you a Republican?--ed. I'm also a firm believer in the two-party system, and I get really uncomfortable when one party seems incapable of competently discussing matters of grand strategy.]
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE: Kieran
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE: Kieran Healy's post on Krispy Kremes is a must read for anyone who recognizes that doughnuts are the most addictive substance on the planet -- next to chocolate-frosted Pop-Tarts®.
And Bill Amend of Foxtrot comes up with a devastating comeback for geeks everywhere.
RACE AND THE NEW YORK
RACE AND THE NEW YORK TIMES: Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus are writing and linking like crazy on the role that race played in the Jayson Blair affair. And it now appears that even Howell Raines admits race may have played an unconscious role in Blair's swift ascension through the Times ranks:
Two other must-read essays on this topic. The first is Eric Boehlert's discussion in Salon -- it's worth seeing the ads to get to it. The piece does a nice job of pointing out the combustible mix of elements -- Blair's ability to schmooze, Raines' management style, and yes, race -- that led to the scandal. Here's the money quote:
Read the whole thing -- and, if you're wondering where Boehlert is coming from, read his previous Raines piece from last December.
A closing note. Those readers suspecting me of schadenfreude are mistaken. Well, OK, I experienced about five minutes of it reading the story on Sunday. And yes, I like to critique the Times coverage of foreign affairs from time to time.
However, I also link to it a fair amount. Compared to any other American paper -- with the partial exception of the Christian Science Monitor -- their international coverage simply covers more ground than anyone else. The Times gets more criticism than any other paper because it's more widely read than any other paper.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
CONSPIRACY SECRETS REVEALED!!: The origins
Click here for an online version of Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in World Politics."
Here's a link to the Washington Post story quoted in the essay.
As for the Straussians, the Boston Globe had a story this past Sunday on Strauss' influence on world politics. Here's Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article -- and here's an interview with Hersh that touches on Strauss as well. Le Monde also ran a piece on the Straussians that pre-dated both the NYT and Hersh -- here's a translated version. Josh Cherniss has a series of excellent posts -- here, here, here, here and here -- that provides considerable background on Straussian thought and its relative incompatibility with neoconservatism.
Finally, for those conspiracy-mongers reading this a looking for some way to dismiss my claims, let me provide some ammunition. I teach in the very same political science department where Leo Strauss taught and Paul Wolfowitz studied forty years ago. In 1994, I briefly worked with Abe Shulsky, one of the Straussians highlighted in the New Yorker article. Last night, I attended a talk that my overlord -- I mean, respected commentator William Kristol -- gave for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
Oh, and I'm Jewish.
UPDATE: Justin Raimondo provides a traditional conservative rebuttal. Man, that guy can link.
THE LIMITS OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES:
THE LIMITS OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES: My latest TNR Online essay is up. It's on the latest round of foreign policy conspiracy theories. Go check it out.
Elsewhere in Iraq
While the administration scrambles to improve order and security in Baghdad, it's worth noting that post-war reconstruction is progressing in other places -- like Mosul. This Chicago Tribune story does an excellent job of contrasting the situation in Mosul with Baghdad:
Read the whole story, and it's clear that a big reason for this is the sage leadership of Major General David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. The story notes the following
I don't mean to suggest that training in international relations improves one's ability to engage in post-war reconstruction. [Yeah, right--ed.]
Seriously, it seems pretty clear that Petraeus's actions should be a template for Baghdad and elsewhere.
GOODBYE, STRONG DOLLAR: Looks like
GOODBYE, STRONG DOLLAR: Looks like the Bush administration has decided on one strategy for jump-starting the economy -- kissing the strong dollar goodbye. From today's Chicago Tribune:
Then there's this from Reuters:
I have decidedly mixed feelings about this strategy. There is some logic to it. Letting the dollar slide simultaneously increases aggregate demand in the economy, as our exports are cheaper and Americans substitute away from more expensive imports). This move simultaneously helps to alleviate the Fed's fears of deflation, as a devaluation raises the price level of imports.
In terms of foreign economic policy, however, this is a dangerous game that's being played. There was nothing in the last G-7 statement to indicate that this slide in the dollar is being coordinated with our major trading partners. Without multilateral coordination, this move smacks of beggar-thy-neighbor -- and our neighbors are Canada, Japan and the European Union, none of which is a real engine for growth right now. Japan does not want the yen to appreciate too much, and let's just say I don't see the EU willing to absorb costs to get the American economy moving again.
It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the G-7 reacts to this.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
THE WHEEL TURNS BACK A
THE WHEEL TURNS BACK A LITTLE: I've been churning out some optimistic posts about the Middle East as of late, so let's get to the bad news.
First, there's the Riyadh bombing. The death toll is now estimated at 20, but it will probably rise.Josh Marshall is all over this story, and the Saudi government's inability to provide reliable information. The parallel here to China's early handling of the SARS virus is telling.
Then there's the "Baghdad in Anarchy" headline. This Washington Post story sums up the problem:
This failure of U.S. forces to engage in active peacekeeping goes back to a problem I discussed last month. It's not going to be solved anytime soon.
Monday, May 12, 2003
SOUTH ASIAN TERRORIST WEB SITES:
SOUTH ASIAN TERRORIST WEB SITES: While the media is focused on the Mideast road map for peace -- not that there's anything wrong with that!! -- attention has drifted from other flash points -- like South Asia. Alyssa Ayres writes in the Wall Street Journal that although recent trends are positive, Pakistani support for -- or benign neglect of -- terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba will remain a sticking point:
Read the whole thing.
MORE WHEELS TURNING IN THE
MORE WHEELS TURNING IN THE MIDDLE EAST: The Washington Post suggests that Syria is now discussing serious domestic and foreign policy reforms in the wake of U.S. successes in Iraq:
Sunday, May 11, 2003
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S DREAM SUNDAY:
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S DREAM SUNDAY: The Bushies' two most tenacious foils over the past two years -- France and the New York Times -- are facing a world of hurt this week.
Meanwhile the New York Times' credibility is hemorrhaging badly, as Jayson Blair's web of deceit is put on full display [Doesn't the Times deserve credit for putting the results of its investigation so prominently on Page 1?--ed. Yes, absolutely -- although one could argue that this was merely a pre-emptive strike that prevented other news outlets from breaking the magnitude of the story behind Blair's dismissal.]
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias takes this post a bit too seriously: