Tuesday, October 31, 2006

# Posted 11:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY MORNING, PART II: Would you believe that Bob Schieffer got rough with one of his guests? Just take a look at the transcript. Schieffer's four guests were John Murtha, House Armed Services Chair Duncan Hunter, and party chairmen Ken Mehlman and Howard Dean.
Murtha: B-. I'm tempted to say it was the usual Murtha, but actually he was fairly coherent and said nothing outrageous. The closest he came to absurdiy was with his relentless optimism about how much better Iraq will be without the US military. it's an appropriate counterpart to some of the strange bastions of optimism about Iraq in the GOP.

Hunter: C. He speaks well and with conviction. But you really have to wonder which Iraq and which war he's talking about. His comments were pretty much an extended version of the President's unfortunate statement that "Absolutely, we're winning."

Ken Mehlman: B. Mehlman is the one who got a tongue-lashing from Schieffer, who was outraged by a recent ad attacking Harold Ford for his dalliances at the Playboy mansion. I haven't looked at the issue closely, but my limited knowledge of campaign finance law coincides with Mehlman's assertion that the RNC couldn't control the content of the ad. Those with more knowledge of the subject are welcome to comment below.

Howard Dean: C. As Kevin Drum (yes, the liberal Kevin Drum) noted before, Dean has a remarkable ability to reinforce the notion that Democrats have no real interest in security and only want to attack big business. Dean obliged once again by saying that the real war we need to talk about is the "Republican war on the American family." Then he said that people are too worried about the consequences of withdraw form Iraq the same way they were too worried about the consequences of withdrawing from Vietnam. My best guess is that Dean let Mehlman write up his note cards.
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Monday, October 30, 2006

# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PARTIAL SUNDAY ROUND-UP: There was a glitch that held back the CBS podcast, so this post will only cover the other two networks. Perhaps I should be thankful. That glitch saved me from hearing the latest rant from John Murtha. Anyhow, NBC featured a Senate debate between Maryland canidates Ben Cardin and Michael Steele. ABC had John Boener followed by Michael J. Fox.
Steele: C-. It would be hard to come up with a more incoherent position on Iraq if you tried. From cheerleading one day to posing as a critic the next. You get the sense Steele will say anything he has to to please the audience of the moment. That's not unusual for politicians, but most hide it better. On domestic issues, Steele made some good points and actually showed an ability to engage both Russert and Cardin instead of reading a script. But the damage was already done.

Cardin: C+. Cardin also has serious problems when it comes to coherence and Iraq. When confronted by Russert, he tried to dance away from his suggestion that he might try to stop the war by cutting off funding for the troops. Dance away, but not disavow. Cardin also shared most of the usual Democratic pathologies on Iraq. He somehow managed to come out both for and against a set timetable for withdrawal. He refused to acknowledged there might be total chaos or worse in Iraq after a US withdrawal. He declared that engaging Iraq's neighbors would help stabilize the country. Cardin's personal twist was his continued belief that it is imperative for the US demonstrate that it doesn't want to occupy Iraq permanently, because that contributes to the violence and chaos. Yup, that's why Sunnis bomb Shi'ites and Shi'ites send in the death squads. Because what they really fear is American imperialism.

John Boehner: C. It was a pretty good interview, except for one glaring absurdity. Boehner declard that "Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing that has happened to the Pentagon in the past twenty five years." Sort of like Michael Dukakis is the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic party. He was the one who gave the party hope, because there was nowhere to go but up.

Michael J. Fox: B+. Sincere emotion is hard to come by on Sunday morning. Sure, Stephanopoulos mostly threw him softballs. But the man has a serious case of Parkinson's, so I guess he deserves a break. Then again, part of Fox's message is that you don't help people by giving them pity. If he decided to get actively involved by doing TV commercials in high profile Senate races, then he probably deserves to be cross-examined just as harshly as anyone else who's trying to influence national politics. But when you listen to him, it just so hard not to think that he's a real example of fortitude for all of us.
I'll update this post with comments for CBS once podcast comes through. Otherwise, hats off to Tim Russert for being a superb moderator in all of the Senate debates on Meet the Press. I often give Russert a hard time, but I think he really earned this one.

See ya next week.
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

# Posted 5:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SAFE SEAT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE NOW VULNERABLE TO DEMS: Liz Mair has an interesting post on how GOP incumbent Charlie Bass went from 20 points up to fighting for life against Democratic challenger Paul Hodes.

Even though New Hampshire is basically Red and Bass is a moderate conservative, the national climate is hurting him. Some polls have shown Bass tied with Hodes, although others show him with a substantial lead. According to Evans & Novak, Bass has run a disorganized campaign.

But some still think Bass' seat is safe. RCP ranks his district as only the 38th most likely to change hands. Similarly, the National Journal puts the district as 40th most likely to flip. But the simple fact that the seat is in play tells you a lot about how much trouble the GOP is in.
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# Posted 9:56 AM by Taylor Owen  

IN CASE THERE WAS ANY DOUBT: I suppose this is what the bottom of the barrel looks like.

FURTHER: on This Week this morning, Michael J Fox proved himself the exact opposite. Game. Set. Match.
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

# Posted 3:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REPUBLICANS ABANDON DeLAY'S DISTRICT: Liz Mair reports that the GOP has given up hope of holding onto Tom DeLay's district, the Texas 22nd.

The race is especially tough because there is no GOP candidate on the ballot, only a write-in supported by the Texas state party. Her name is Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a name that will surely be mangled often enough to invalidate a lot of votes.

However, there is a Libertarian candidate running as well, by the name of Bob Smither. and Liz recently sat down to talk with him about taxes, warantless wire-taps and other subjects of interest to libertarians. You may conclude, as Liz already has, that Smither would make a much better congressman than the arch-conservative Sekula-Gibbs.

Also of libertarian interest, Liz takes a closer look at the New Jersey court's recent ruling on gay marriage. She thinks it was not just the right decision, but one that in no way constitutes judicial activism. Liz argues that social conservatives may not like the ruling, but should recognize that their position is the one which relies on the support of activist judges.
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Friday, October 27, 2006

# Posted 7:25 PM by Taylor Owen  

IN THE SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK DEP’T: UK-based Egyptian mobile phone tycoon (and presumably rather wealthy) Mo Ibrahim has one of the better development ideas ever. He is going to give $5 million to African heads of state who leave office democratically and act that way while in power. Just to insure they don't get any post-award-coup ideas, they will also get $200,000 a year for life.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, as it will be called, will be judged by a team at Harvard, based on the democratic delivery of security, health, education and economic development to their constituents. It will now be the world's biggest prize, well in front of the measly 1.3 million noble peace prizes are good for. Clinton, Mandela and Kofi have all indorsed it.

As Patrick B would say - 'well done you!'
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# Posted 7:23 PM by Taylor Owen  

I AGREE WITH TED TURNER: hmm, that felt odd. But seriously, Ted Turner on the UN:
The fact is that the UN works - for the world's poor, for peace, for progress and for human rights and justice.

And we need it to go on working if we're going to deal with the serious and sometimes frightening challenges facing us in the 21st Century.

I'll admit that cooperating through the UN can be difficult at times; and I'll admit that the UN can be improved. But anything worthwhile is hard - and frankly I can't think of a more worthwhile endeavor than what the UN does to foster peace and prosperity on a global scale.

Let's look at the reality.

The reality is that the UN has succeeded in its essential mission of preventing World War III.

The reality is that UN peacekeeping is an incredible value for the United States and the rest of the world.

In fact, UN peacekeeping is one of the great bargains of all time, ensuring that no one country has to pay all the bills or take all the risks for peace and security around the world. The RAND Corporation has estimated that UN peacekeepers can do the job at a fraction of the cost of U.S. troops. The U.S. does not contribute any of the almost 100,000 UN peacekeepers deployed around the world. Financially, the U.S. share of the UN's 17 peacekeeping operations is about $1 billion this year -- equivalent to about 5 days of the U.S. deployment in Iraq. In the world of business, we call that a bargain.

The reality is that the UN handles humanitarian emergencies skillfully. When the Asian tsunami struck, the UN was there immediately, they got the job done - food, water, health shelter - and they are still on the scene helping those communities rebuild. The people of New Orleans would have been lucky to have had such an efficient and effective response after Katrina.

The reality is that there are dozens of unrecognized ways that the UN helps make our complicated world work. The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization makes possible the system of international air traffic. The Universal Postal Union makes it possible to put an American stamp on an envelope and send a letter that will arrive in an Australian mailbox. The World Meteorological Organization monitors global weather patterns. The Food and Agriculture Organization helps keep the world fed. And the World Health Organization and other health agencies help research, monitor and contain diseases that transcend borders.
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# Posted 7:19 PM by Taylor Owen  

COOL: Or a cheap stunt...but the geologist on CBC yesterday said it was real...cool

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# Posted 8:24 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT TO SAY ABOUT WEBB AND ALLEN? This morning, the WaPo has an in-depth profile of Jim Webb, the candidate and the man. Yesterday it had an in-depth profile of George Allen, the candidate and the man. The current issue of the New Yorker also has a profile of the Virginia senate race as a whole.

The strategy of all three profiles is to burrow deeper into the established storyline rather than to break new ground. Jim Webb the warrior and Jim Webb the sexist who humiliated women at the Naval Academy. George Allen the friendly faux cowboy and George Allen the racist bully. Hitting those points is obligatory, but I think there's still new ground to be covered.

For example, I know very little about anything George Allen did as governor of Virginia or as a member of its Senate delegation. As for Webb, he was Secretary of the Navy for about a year and spent three additional years in a position of significant authority at the Pentagon. Although character and psychology certainly matter, I would be interested in a much closer look at how the two men actually performed in office.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

# Posted 11:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BRING BACK SADDAM! I'm pretty sure this article from The Nation was meant to be sarcastic, but it's sort of hard to tell. Either way, its comparison of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Rwanda and Darfur seems to be serious.
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# Posted 10:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE IRAQ DEATH TOLL: Richard Miniter of Pajams Media recently interviewed Prof. Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins, author of the study that placed the death toll at 655,000. Burnham has good answers for all of Miniter's questions.

However, researchers at Oxford and Royal Holloway, writing in the current issue of Science, argue that Burnham's methodology is profoundly flawed. According a press release from Science:
Sean Gourley and Professor Neil Johnson of the physics department at Oxford University and Professor Michael Spagat of the economics department of Royal Holloway, University of London contend that the study’s methodology is fundamentally flawed and will result in an over-estimation of the death toll in Iraq.

-> The study suffers from "main street bias" by only surveying houses that are located on cross streets next to main roads or on the main road itself. However many Iraqi households do not satisfy this strict criterion and had no chance of being surveyed.

-> Main street bias inflates casualty estimates since conflict events such as car bombs, drive-by shootings artillery strikes on insurgent positions, and market place explosions gravitate toward the same neighborhood types that the researchers surveyed.

-> This obvious selection bias would not matter if you were conducting a simple survey on immunisation rates for which the methodology was designed.

-> In short, the closer you are to a main road, the more likely you are to die in violent activity. So if researchers only count people living close to a main road then it comes as no surprise they will over count the dead.

During email discussions between the Oxford-Royal Holloway team and the Johns Hopkins team conducted through a reporter for Science, for an article to be published October 20, it became clear that the authors of the study had not implemented a clear, well-defined and justifiable methodology. The Oxford-Royal Holloway team therefore believes that the scientific community should now re-analyze this study in depth.
I'm in no position to evaluate this kind of thing, but the criticism sounds sensible enough. For lots more discussion, check out this post by A Second Hand Conjecture.
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# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DEMOCRACY ON AN EMPTY STOMACH: Tomorrow, the PostGlobal's "The Question" will focus on democracy in the West Bank and Gaza:
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said bread is more important than democracy, and he may be preparing to dissolve the Hamas-led Palestinian parliment.

Does a leader have a right to bypass democratic institutions to ensure his people are fed and secure?
You can weigh in on the The Question at PostGlobal.com.

Here's my two cents: Dictatorship has only reinforced the poverty and suffering of the Palestinians. Democracy has yet to prove itself in the PA, but it deserves a serious chance. The Palestinians are not starving nor will they starve while Europe and the UN stand by, ready to help. Abbas is treading a dangerous path.

It is harder to say whether sometimes democracy ought to be bypassed to ensure security. Historically, this tends to be little more than a pretext for aspiring dictators to take power for themselves.
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# Posted 10:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHICH OBAMA? The buzz is growing. Who can resist the senator from Illinois? Apparently, Maureen Dowd can. She wrote a nasty column last week accusing Obama of being self-centered, superficial and in love with his own publicity. Perhaps MoDo is jealous of the handsome, younger man who can make more Democrats swoon with his warmth than she can with her hard-bitten cynicism?

The more substantive questions for Obama, came from Tim Russert. This one should not have been any kind of surprise, but Obama wasn't sure how to handle it:
MR. RUSSERT: Well, nine months ago, you were on this program and I asked you about running for president. And let’s watch and come back and talk about it.

(Videotape, January 22, 2006):
MR. RUSSERT: When we talked back in November of ‘04, after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your full six-year term as a United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”

SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things, but my thinking has not changed.

MR. RUSSERT: But, but—so you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: I will not.
(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: You will not.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the—that was how I was thinking at that time. And, and, you know, I don’t want to be coy about this, given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility. But I have not thought it—about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required. My main focus right now is in the ‘06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After oh—after November 7, I’ll sit down and, and consider, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.
Big deal. Every candidate plays down his or her ambition before deciding to run for president. But most candidates dance around the question instead of committing unequivocally to serving out their current term of office. They look silly when they do, but their dance is soon forgotten. But if Obama can make a personal promise with such certainty only to go back on it nine months later, perhaps he needs to know himself better and place less emphasis on saying what others want to hear.

But running for president wasn't the only question that Obama tripped on:
MR. RUSSERT: Two years ago in September of ‘04, this is what you told the Associated Press: “Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama ... opposed invading Iraq ... but pulling out now [he said] would make things worse.

“A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it ‘an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity,’ he said. It would also damage America’s international prestige and amount to ‘a slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there.” So two years from now—from then, you no longer believe pulling out would damage our prestige or slap our soldiers in the face?

SEN. OBAMA: I—at the time, as you know, I, I thought this whole venture was, was poorly conceived. Not just poorly executed, but poorly conceived. I think it was a mistake for us to go in. I felt that once we had gone in, it made sense for us to try to make the best of the situation. And my hope was is that the Iraqi government could in somewhat—some ways, bring about some sort of stability in the region.

What we’ve seen is such a rapid deterioration of the situation...it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we’ve been in right now.
Again, Obama seems forced to retreat from a position he took that was convenient at the time. There is a certain amount of sense to saying that things are worse now than they were in 2004. But the real issue is tone. "A slap in the face" to our soldiers? Those sound like the words of either a GOP hack or a Democrat acting tough when the polls say that tough is good. Now that tough is bad, Obama has softened his tone.

To be fair, neither of the gaffes I've pointed out are of major significance. But they do provide an important contrast to the adoring press coverage that presents Obama as nothing short of the next JFK (who himself was no JFK until after he was dead).

Moreover, Obama seemed genuinely surprised at being confronted with what he himself had said not too much earlier. Perhaps he will learn the lesson of consistency now, when he can afford it.
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# Posted 9:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP: Barack Obama made news with his presidential ambitions on NBC. Chuck Schumer and Liddy Dole offered party-line spin on CBS. And ABC almost matched Barack Obama's star power with its exclusive interviews of President Bush and Senator Kerry.
Obama: B. His combination of warmth, balance and candor are what have made him a political star. But Russert (see above) caught Obama tilting with the wind, changing his positions to fit the political moment.

Schumer: B+. He reads out the party line, but I am continually impressed with his incorporation of sharp details and barbs that make him better than most.

Dole: C. First, she sounded like a robot. Then she got thrown on the defensive and began to fish for talking points that had nothing to do with the discussion.

Bush: B-. A natural he ain't. But his manner has developed to the point where his deer-in-the-headlights candor has been replaced by a candor that reflects a struggle with hard issues. Bush also seemed sullen and almost vulnerable, in the emotional sense of the word. At certain moments he was brusque, insisting for example he won't read any books about himself as president. But mostly, he seemed to have submitted to the reality of being one of the last advocates of an unpopular that no amount of speechifying can make popular.

Kerry: B-. He seems to be going through the same angry phase that Al Gore was two years after he lost to Bush. Kerry called Bush a liar again and again, something Kerry was afraid to do while running for president. Kerry also made a point of expliciting attacking John McCain twice by name, as if he wants to make a name for himself by standing up to the GOP golden boy. Otherwise, Kerry offered his usual bit about how negotiating with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia can help resolve the situation in Iraq. As Stephanopoulos asked his guest, why would Syria or Iran do anything to help us when they benefit so much from the chaos?
See ya next week.
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Monday, October 23, 2006

# Posted 11:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE ROOT CAUSES OF TERRORISM: Some on the left denounce Peter Beiart as a traitor. If so, it's hard to tell from his relentless denunciation of the Bush administration in his recent book, and especially in Chapter 5, entitled "Reagan's Children".

Beinart advances two fundamental propositions about why Bush, Cheney & Co. are conceptually incapable of fighting the war on terror as it should be done. The first is that they are heirs to the dangerous conservative tradition of willingly blinding oneself to America's ethical failures and hypocrisy. The second is that Bush, Cheney & Co. are in deep denial about the economic causes of jihadism.

Beinart writes that:
Salafist terrorists may not all be poor, yet salafism feeds on economic despair. It takes deepest root where states cannot offer their citizens opporunity or hope. (p.118)
Beinart immediately recongizes that this formulation is problematic, since it is very hard to explain why Saudi Arabia is the spiritual homeland of Al Qaeda. If economics were the root cause of terrorism, the 9/11 hijackers and Bin Laden himself should've been Pakistani.

To resolve this dilemma, Beinart introduces a second principle to modify his first:
Economic despair doesn't just stem from absolute depriviation; it stems from the gap between expectations and reality. And nowhere is that gap greater than in Saudi Arabia, where per capita income has dropped by more than half since the 1980s. (p.119)
First of all, I think Beinart's description of the data is very wrong. Second of all, his argument has some very important conceptual flaws.

With regard to the data, it's very easy to find. The remarkably easy use to IMF website lets you produce customized charts with time series data going back around 30 years. In the early 1980s, Saudi per capita income skyrocketed along with the price of oil, hitting almost $19,000 in 1981. Then oil prices collapsed, forcing Saudi income below $7,000 per capita for the latter half of the 1980s. Saudi income then gradually recovered to $11,000 by 2004, before skyrocketing once again as a result of the recent oil crisis. For 2007, the IMF estimates Saudi income at $16,612.

In light of this data, Beinart's hypothesis makes no sense at all. Saudi income may have fallen from its artificial high in the early 1980s, but was increasing at a respectable rate for the entire decade before 9/11. Where are the disappointed expecations that supposedly drive terorrism?

Saudi does have a number of serious economic problems, including unemployment, but if an economy like the Saudis' is what causes terorrism, than there should be a dozen more Arab states generating even greater terorism.

Of course, aggregate economic statistics never tell the whole story. What about the background of individuals such as Osama bin Laden and Mohammad Atta, the former a multimillionaire and the latter with a degree from a German university? If disappointment is the problem, why are the most successful individuals becoming the terrorists (a pattern also observed in the West Bank and Gaza)?

In theory, one could add a third principle to Beinart's argument, namely that successful elites embittered by the suffering of their countrymen are more likely to lash out with violence. But adding one principle after another is just a convenient way of overlooking the simple and compelling argument that violent Islamic extremism is the direct cause of terror. Beinart accurately quotes George Bush as saying about Al Qaeda that "These aren't a bunch of poor people that are desperate in their attempt. These are cold, calculating killers." That's an oversimplification, but Bush's argument makes a lot more sense than Beinart's.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that fighting poverty and disappointment is no less integral to the war on terror than hunting down terrorists. What should America do about it? Beinart's answer is that we need a new Marshall Plan. According to Beinart, the great merit of the Marshall Plan, beyond its incredible magnitude, is that it respected the autonomy of those in need of help. According to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations, aid recipients want the same today:
Asked what they wanted from the United States, the people interviewed [by the study] requested almost exactly what the Marshall Plan once provided: generosity without hubris, economic and educational development guided by local knowledge, not American fiat. "Dear President Bush," said one Jakarta woman, whom the study said spoke for many: "Please help us with our economy, but let our manage our country!" (p.123)
Actually, that is exactly the wrong idea. Beinart is presumably familiar with the recent history of the IMF and the World Bank, which have increasingly conditioned their help on effective governance because it is impossible to separate economics from politics. Corrupt governments waste the aid they are given. The advice of the Indonesian woman is especially ironic, since Indonesia and many of its neighbors suffered terribly when their corruption-riddled and unregulated economies melted down in 1997. In fact, the East Asian crisis of 1997 is one of the most important reasons that the IMF and the World Bank, as well as other development programs -- such as Bush's Millenium Challenge Program -- put so much stress on good governance.

Indonesia is relevant for another reason as well. Along with its neighbors, it has prospered to a remarkable extent not because of economic aid, but because of its consistent support for export-oriented free-market capitalism. The history of development aid also tends to show that this is not something that can be forced very easily on an unwilling government. But without reforms, anything more than humanitarian aid is pointless. In short, helping someone with their economy is no different than managing their country, unless they already have the same ideas as we do about economic policy.

This principle was no less true in 1947 than it was today. Fortunately, many of the European nations who benefited from the Marshall Plan had relatively similar ideas to our own about economic policy, although conflicts were still frequent. But the United States did impose its political will on Europe in a way that Beinart would have to condemn as being characterized by American hubris and American fiat. For example, the US often conditioned its aid on the exclusion of Communist parties from Western European governments, even if they had legitimate won enough seats in the legislature to merit inclusion. In short, the Marshall Plan was not the fantasy that today's multilateralists wish it were.

And this is a good point to end on, since I am going to reserve for my next post an evaluation of Beinart's argument that conservatives have blinded themselves to America's hsitory of moral shortcomings. As I pointed out yesterday, Robert Kagan's new book is built around an appreciation of precisely those shortcomings. In contrast, Beinart is the one who seems unable to reckon with what the Marshall Plan really was.

To be continued...
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# Posted 12:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AMERICA THE DANGEROUS: Robert Kagan has a new book out. I've known for seven years it was going to be a good one. I worked for Kagan as a research assistant right after I graduated from college and had the privilege of reading some early drafts of his chapters on the age of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison.

I believe this will be the book that establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kagan is the kind of original thinker who transcends partisan or ideological labels. I believe that Dangerous Nation will be the kind of book that liberals don't just read because they want to know what conservatives are thinking, but because it is a book that can educate any reader, political disagreements aside.

At a moment when 'neo-conservative' has become something of a slur on both sides of the aisle, it is especially fitting for a book to come out that demonstrates not just how powerful neo-conservative thinking can be, but also how subtle -- or dare I say "nuanced"?

Yes, that is the right word. That nuance is on display in the cover story of the October 23 edition of The New Republic, which is Kagan's four-page digest of his book's main argument. The essay's sub-title summarizes its purpose quite effectively: "Against the myth of American innocence."

Earlier this year, Peter Beinart constructed an entire book around the premise that the most dangerous thing about conservatives is their inability to recognize America's moral failures. Yet a recognition of such failures is at the very heart of this work by Kagan, arguably the most important neo-conservative thinker today on the subject of foreign policy.

If the byline were removed from Kagan's essay in TNR, it might be mistaken for a polemic from the far left. Kagan writes:
Far from the modest republic that history books often portray, the early United States was an expansionist power from the moment the first pilgrim set foot on the continent; and it did not stop expanding--territorially, commercially, culturally, and geopolitically--over the next four centuries. The United States has never been a status quo power; it has always been a revolutionary one, consistently expanding its participation and influence in the world in ever-widening arcs. The impulse to involve ourselves in the affairs of others is neither a modern phenomenon nor a deviation from the American spirit. It is embedded in the American DNA.
More unusual is Kagan's paying attention to what Europeans think of the United States -- not now, but 200 years ago:
From the beginning, others have seen Americans not as a people who sought ordered stability but as persistent disturbers of the status quo. As the ancient Corinthians said of the Athenians, they were "incapable of either living a quiet life themselves or of allowing anyone else to do so." Nineteenth-century Americans were, in the words of French diplomats, "numerous," "warlike," and an "enemy to be feared." In 1817, John Quincy Adams reported from London, "The universal feeling of Europe in witnessing the gigantic growth of our population and power is that we shall, if united, become a very dangerous member of the society of nations."
This passage begins to suggest how a straightforward reckoning with American history can serve as the foundation for a conservative worldview rather than a liberal one. It was not the well-behaved, mythical America that rose from obscurity to greatness. By extension, the often arrogant and ideal-driven unilateralism of today won't bring down the "postwar international order".

One all-important reason that Kagan's writing transcends the partisan divide is that he is capable of seeing things from a perspective often reserved for liberals. (The same is true of Max Boot.) It isn't just that Kagan can recite his opponents' talking points, but that he can focus their interpretive lens on American history. For example, Kagan writes that:
By expanding territorially, commercially, politically, and culturally, Americans believed that they were bringing both modern civilization and the "blessings of liberty" to whichever nations they touched in their search for opportunity. As Jefferson told one Indian leader: "We desire above all things, brother, to instruct you in whatever we know ourselves. We wish to learn you all our arts and to make you wise and wealthy." In one form or another, Americans have been making that offer of instruction to peoples around the world ever since.
Yes, even in Iraq. How many critics of the occupation wish that they could have discovered that Jefferson quote for themselves in order to highlight some of the brutal ironies of our democracy promotion efforts?

Yet Jefferson's words also point to the less common conclusion that we have become far more humane in the pursuit of liberty. Native Americans feared white Americans. But Shia mainly fear Sunni, and Sunni, Shia. You won't hear Democrats say it, but we really are fighting for a noble cause in Iraq, however ineffectively.

But isn't there still a profound hypocrisy at the heart of an effort to promote democracy that entails horrors such as Abu Ghraib? Kagan's history provides insight into that question as well:
John Quincy Adams had noted with pride that the United States was the source of ideas that made "the throne of every European monarch rock under him as with the throes of an earthquake." Praising the American Revolution, he exhorted "every individual among the sceptered lords of mankind: 'Go thou and do likewise!'"

A Russian minister, appalled at this "appeal to the nations of Europe to rise against their Governments," noted the hypocrisy of Adams's message, asking, "How about your two million black slaves?" Indeed. The same United States that called for global revolution on behalf of freedom was, throughout its first eight decades, also the world's great defender of racial despotism.
As Kagan further illustrates, some Americans fiercely opposed Quincy Adams' zealousness, sensing the dangers of an ideological crusade:
The conservatives of the slaveholding South were the great realists of the nineteenth century. They opposed moralism, rightly fearing it would be turned against the institution of slavery. As Jefferson Davis put it, "We are not engaged in a Quixotic fight for the rights of man. Our struggle is for inherited rights. ... We are conservative."
To the chagrin of Mr. Davis, the moralists won out. And the lesson to be learned from this brand of aggressive idealism?
The result has been some accomplishments of great historical importance--the defeat of German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and Soviet communism--as well as some notable failures and disappointments. But it was not as if the successes were the product of a good America and the failures the product of a bad America. They were all the product of the same America. The achievements, as well as the disappointments, derived from the very qualities that often make us queasy: our willingness to accumulate and use power; our ambition and sense of honor; our spiritedness in defense of both our interests and our principles; our dissatisfaction with the status quo; our belief in the possibility of change.
I look forward to a very impressive book.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

# Posted 11:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

McCAIN IGNORES POLLS, WON'T FLINCH ON IRAQ: Talk about saying exactly the opposite of what the polls tell you. Here's the relevant press release from McCain's office (with a hat tip to PH):
Washington D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement in support of General Peter J. Schoomaker’s announcement on the Army’s long-term plans for Iraq:

“Today, Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Schoomaker announced that the Army has plans to keep the current level of soldiers in Iraq through 2010. Currently there are 141,000 troops in Iraq, including 120,000 soldiers. Earlier this year we heard reports that the Army would begin reducing the number of troops in Iraq to 100,000 by the end of the year. I support General Schoomaker's comments and believe we must increase troop strength if we are to win this war,” McCain said.

“The announcement also reveals how imperative it is to begin immediately to increase the end strength of the Army and Marine Corps. We are overstretched at a time of widespread and very serious challenges. Congress has authorized increases in recent years that the Defense Department has not acted upon with the urgency Congress intended, and events so clearly warrant.

“Senior officers from National Guard units and Reserve Centers across the Nation report the signs of strain on National Guardsmen and Reservists as they prepare for additional deployments to Iraq. Soldiers and Marines are reporting for their third tours in Iraq. We must begin now to increase substantially the troop strength of the Army and Marine Corps by at least 100,000.”
There's no question we need a major expansion of the Army and Marine Corps' end strength. I'm just still getting my head around the notion of keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq until 2010. A seven-year occupation. Four more years of bitter debate about the war. And can McCain win in 2008 with that approach to the war? Well, it certainly is straight talk.
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# Posted 11:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

McCAIN ALLY BLOGS TO DEFEND HER SEAT IN THE HOUSE: Heather Wilson's Arizona New Mexico district is one of the 20 or so most vulnerable in Congress. Last week, she did a guest posting on GOP Progress on the subject of wiretapping reform.

From what I know, Wilson seems like a solid rep. But like most pols, she has long way to go before figuring out how to do a blog post that doesn't sound like a press release. Of course, my first few posts weren't so great either, so who am I to talk?

On a related note, PBS NewsHour recently did a segment comparing House campaign commercials from a number of districts, including Wilson's. Wilson's commercial consisted of John McCain giving his endorsement. Here's what McCain said:
We live in dangerous times. We're fighting a war on terror, and it's unlike any before it. An Air Force Academy grad and fellow veteran, Heather Wilson has the experience these times require and the integrity our country needs.

Heather Wilson is an independent, principled leader who will stand up to anyone when it's right for New Mexico and America. I'm proud to have Heather Wilson as an ally in Washington, and I ask you to send her back.
The commercial from Wilson's opponent branded her as a rubber stamp for an endless war:
The war in Iraq. Three and a half years. Still no plan, and America's less safe. Heather Wilson is on the Intelligence Committee, but she never questioned George Bush on the war, and she never said a word about how we've spent $300 billion there.

Heather Wilson even missed a vote on setting a timetable for withdrawal so she could attend a fundraiser with George Bush. That's not independence, not by a long shot.
That strategy seems to be working.
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# Posted 10:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FIRST-HAND REPORT FROM BATTLEGROUND CONNECTICUT: Liz Mair from GOP Progress is reporting from the Nutmeg State. (Couldn't anyone come up with better nickname for it?)

More importantly, Liz provides a close look at three important races for the House, in which moderate Republicans are trying to hold on in a very Blue State. According to RCP, those seats are vulnerable, but none of them are in the ten most likely to become Democratic.

On a related note, RCP's poll-watching formula now predicts that the Democrats will take back the Senate. The key number responsible for putting the Democrats in the lead is Harold Ford's miniscule lead in Tennessee. But Ford may not be the clincher, since Jim Webb is just a few points behind George Allen.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

# Posted 9:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

GOODBYE, TOWER RECORDS: It was a Greenwich Village institution, as well as having a presence on the Upper West Side and even in Los Angeles. I grew up three blocks from the flagship store on the corner of West 4th St. and Broadway. Now it is gone. (Hat tip: MHM)

Tower Records was where I bought my first albums. On audio cassette. With a gift certificate I got as a present for my Bar Mitzvah. I hesitate to admit this additional, but I bought an album by Paula Abdul.

My last memory of Tower will be a fond one. I spent the summer of 2002 as an intern in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the middle of the summer, I returned to the US for a week. My friend and Spanish tutor Silvio asked that I buy him an album by American jazz artist John Zorn, which simply could not be found in Argentina.

Of course I went to Tower. Not knowing much about either jazz or Jon Zorn, I asked a salesman which of Zorn's albums I ought to buy. The salesman said, "Why don't you ask him?" Standing there, browsing records in the jazz section, was none other than Jon Zorn. I bought an album and he autographed it. Silvio was stunned when I gave him his gift. And I smiled.

Tower Records, you will be missed.
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# Posted 8:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF A WRITER FOR THE NATION: I swear I didn't make this up. Nor is anything taken out of context. It's all on the Nation's website, in a post by William Greider:
Okay, I admit it. As the election approaches, I am feeling a creepy sense of paranoia. My right brain reads the newspapers, studies the polls and thinks we are looking at a blow-out next month--Dems conquer at last. My left brain hoots in derision. Get real, sucker...

Yet the least little thing jerks away my optimism, like ripping off a scab that's not quite healed. When I heard the news flash that a plane had crashed into a Manhattan apartment tower, I didn't think, how horrible. I said to myself: those rotten bastards in the White House.
I wasn't thinking terrorists. I was thinking the Bush regime had gone to new extremes in its search for a believable "red alert." That tactic is worn out, it's been used so many times in election seasons. Instead, why not blow up a chunk of New York City to remind folks how scary life can be in these United States? Okay, that thought is irrational (also slanderous). But office conversations the next day told me I was not alone.
That's a very unusual office, to the say the least.
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# Posted 5:49 AM by Patrick Belton  

Let me tell you about my mother.
With like words have I entertained drinking companions, cemented friends and frightened second dates. No acquaintance of mine has passed into friendship without their utterance, nor sojourn far from these walls lacked for their bardic mention.
In an equation of existence, we defined each other, a trope of art and religion, my mother-Penelope to and from whom my own odysseys arced.

These days and more have I been hearing of the pride my mother nursed in me her son. Well, I believe it time to let everyone know, to announce to the very arches of heaven, how proud I am of my mother. So let me tell you about my mother.

Let me tell you about my mother, who was a stunner. Those who had at any point in her life seen her will agree, mothers the like of mine are an apology for Oedipalism. Her glories, May Courtdom, regnance as homecoming monarch amongst a court of lesser butterflies, a youthful modelling career, have been rehearsed already. Yet it is a Newtonian truth, a matter of first principle in scientific charting and exploration of my mother's life, of my mother's self-effacement before others. Like charity itself, to which word my mother in herself gave flesh, she suffereth long, [and] is kind; she envieth not; she vaunteth not herself, is not puffed up.

Let me tell you about my mother, who was loving, and who was generous. When the last time she and I would speak, I suspecting the time for such professions not far off, exhausted my universe of reference recounting for her my love for her, she replied simply, 'I love you more.' What was Fred, my teddy ursine become signature stroke for which mother was known, heart worn upon still better yet his nose, but an icon of love. She left, as ciphers of her affection, about her garden, stone bunnies for me, cats for her sister Laura, to discover after she was gone and read, correctly, as love letters. I have, these days and more, been hearing tidings of secret generosity from employees, friends, beneficiary associates within this their, and my, church, let[ting] not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret. Let me tell you about my mother who was love. Yes, let me tell you about my mother.

Let me tell you about my mother, and her mischievous sense of fun and humour, who was not only a Saint, to her den-maternal status within my second cherished school community next door, but could laugh heartily with such sinners as me.

My mother, who in her tenure as executive secretary to the aluminium stars of Reynolds Metal, chanced once during a lunch break upon what I believe in consecrated space I must refer to as a lad's mag, property of her immediate employer, which by the end of the heretofore referenced lunch break had received gift of paper lingerie, handcrafted with discretion and pasted in appropriate points on to each page.

She loved plastic bags. And for the incognescenti, unaware of their numerous pleasures to the appropriately educated, such as they will not recognise the manifold difference between the resealable (uses: sandwiches, crownies (an idiosyncratic mix of brownies, and cakes), green drinks dispensed during St Patrick's Day parades), those sealable with green twisty-ties (uses: pineapple juice and raisin cartons for St Bridget's school lunches, and really a terribly handy one as most things found around a house can be inserted into it, with profit), and for special occasions, the black hefty bin liner (uses to include disposal of curiously uneaten Veal Scaloppini, conveyance of ghost costumes in a pinch and ones of St Patrick, Bishop, for St Bridget's All Saints Days, and into which most household items and guests not fitting into the green twisty-tie version may also be placed, to profit).

She made my father sandwiches each day for 34 years, which I calculate a net yield of 12,410 sandwiches. Miraculously, they still maintained that - what I like to think of as freshly untutored style of cooking, that generally not displayed outside the world of the unusually undomesticated male freshman dorm rat, and as such worthy of culinary as well as zoological inspection.

Laughter is the final act of rebellion of life against the dark, breaking the silence of the grave. Let us think of mum, and laugh heartily. Mum, you who spent some not inconsiderable portion of your life deriding chrysanthemums as beastly frightful funereal flowers, have had the jocular fortune to have your own funeral during the height of chrysanthemum season. You would, I am sure, laugh. I shall nurse its echoes in my ears, mum.

Mother had no truck with funerals. Would that we could truly have followed your wishes, mother, we would today have sung the Hallelujah Chorus, soul would have clapped hands and dance, your ashes, with a minimum of bother and a bit of fun, disposed discreetly in an envelope by post to an unsuspecting postal customer.

Let me tell you about my mother, who was zealous that those whom she loved rest. Mum, I am your son, sprung of your loins, and today I am zealous that you rest. That your heart, so loving, rest now from its strenuous exertions of a lifetime. That your body, so wearied from unstinting quiet, quiet service to others, and your final illness, rest in the embrace of a loving earth which spawned you. Requiem, rest. Requiem aeternam dona matrem meam, Domine. Eternal rest, o God, to whom all flesh comes. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.

In the casket of Charlotte Valdrighi Belton, until the end of the present age rests a letter. On it are written these words, which shall remain the companion of her body.
My dear, beautiful mother,
With a heartbroken heart I will always love you. I am not ready to be without you, but if I must then I will endeavour always to be heir to your virtues as well as your body. You have given me a lifetime of love, for which I shall always be in your debt. You shall always be my best friend; and I, proud to be your son. I love you, mother. Sleep well. Your heartbroken son, Patrick Belton, son of Charlotte Ann Marie Valdrighi Belton, who here rests

I have told them about you, mother. May they inscribe you within their heart, emulate your selfless love and humour, so that you shall live on through them too.

You who wished those you loved to rest, rest gently now.

You who died alone, to be discovered at the bottom of a staircase by your sister whom you loved, receive now the love with which we could not surround you in the moment you breathed your last.

You who inwardly kept to high lustre the blessed memory of two Italians whom you cherished, Charles your father and Evelyn your mother who like you her daughter was imparted to her rest at 63, your genes of which I am sole heir have today become my most prized patrimony, and mother, upon your casket I shall repay my debt for your service as consummate parent to your grandchildren whom you shall not know.

Mother, you often sang to me. May I now sing you to rest.

May the Angels lead you into paradise:
may the Martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city, Jerusalem.
May choirs of Angels welcome you,
and with Lazarus who is poor no longer
may you have eternal rest.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli:
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam, Jerusalem.

Charlotte Ann Marie Valdrighi Belton, Carlata, Chicky, Charlotte Ann, my cherished best friend, mother, mama, mum, rest gently.
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# Posted 12:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

655,000 DEAD IN IRAQ? What is one to make of the recent study in The Lancet, a prestigious journal of medicine, claiming that the war has resulted in the death of 655,000 Iraqis? I don't know. I haven't had to time examine the evidence yet.

Yet strangely enough, even the mendacious anti-American propagandists over at Iraq Body Count are rejecting the figure of 655,000 as absurd. (Hat tip: Glenn again) IBC's arguments seem sensible, but they are so untrustworthy I still won't believe them even when they seem to have no political motive.

In addition, I'd like to respond to IBC's statement that:
Totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.
No, not a strategic tragedy. A strategic success. The insurgents and their foreign allies sought to murder as many Shi'ites as possible in order to provoke a brutal reaction, a civil war, and ultimately an American withdrawal. The brutal reaction has begun. So has something akin to a civil war. Pressure for an American withdrawal continues to mount.

IBC's references to the "invasion" and "occupation" as the problem are a distraction. The insurgents and their allies decided to make Iraq this way, just as Saddam made it before the invasion. That is the human tragedy.

No back to the study for a moment: Have you had a look at it, Taylor? You seem to share my somewhat morbid interest in the subject of mass casualties (and how, in an ideal world, we might prevent them). Any thoughts?
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# Posted 12:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NOTE: THIS POST WAS A DUPLICATION OF THE ONE ABOVE IT. I HAVE NOW DELETED ITS CONTENTS. The comment appended to this post has been reposted in the comments section of the post above.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

# Posted 11:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE DUKE LACROSSE SCANDAL? Beats me. I figure if there were any evidence of a crime, we'd be hearing a lot more about it. K.C. Johnson provides an in-depth round-up that argues passionately for the innocence of the defendants and the incompetence of the police and the prosecutor. (Hat tip: Glenn)
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# Posted 11:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY MORNING KABUKI ROUND-UP: It was one helluva week on the talk shows. The Bush team spoke in solemn tones of its commitment to diplomacy and avoiding war, while Russert, Schieffer and Stephanopoulos all asked question after question designed to show that the UN is powerless, China is selfish and negotiation with North Korea is pointless.

So what are we to make of these pervasive role reversals? Is everyone a hypocrite? No, that's not fair. Circumstances do matter. The critics can argue that North Korea is far more dangerous than Iraq ever was. The White House can argue that it tried to get the UN to get serious about Iraq, but it wouldn't. Now, they're giving the UN its chance on North Korea.

Personally, I think the administration has the better argument here, but the margin is not enough to win over any of the critics. So let's get down to grades. John Bolton went first on NBC, followed by dueling Minnesota Senate candidates Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar. Condi led off on CBS, followed by John Warner and Sam Nunn. Bolton was number one again on ABC, followed by duelling Tennessee Senate candidates Harold Ford and Bob Corker (who appeared separately).
Bolton on NBC: A-. Where was the monster I've been led to expect? I think he answered every question exactly as Condi would have, and with the same calm resolve. Although he could learn something from her about hairstyles.

Kennedy: B. Relentless but never vicious with his attacks. There was no way to look good when Russert confronted him with some of his very optimistic statements about Iraq, but Kennedy was still pretty candid. In terms of substance, he just had party-line talking points.

Klobuchar: B. Less agressive on both offense and defense. But Klobuchar is sitting on a decisive lead, so she doesn't need to get tough. Could she get tough if she had to? Who knows. In terms of substance, Klobuchar just had partly-line talking points.

Condi: B+. Ahh, the absurd rituals of diplomacy. While negotiating at the UN and with North Korea's neighbors, our Secretary of State must pretend that this approach has a good chance of working. But so far she's running the best diplomatic effort I think anyone could expect. I'll forgive her for having to protect it with this bit of Kabuki.

Warner and Nunn: B+. Reasonable and fair-minded. Long retired, Nunn has no need to play games. And Warner couldn't be bothered.

Bolton on ABC: B. Basically the same performance, but I'll only give him 'A-' to reward him for others' low expectations. What I want to know is whether his observation that North Korea's nuclear test "humiliated" China was carefully planned or if it was a bull-in-the-China shop moment.

Ford: B-. Ford struck me as profoundly manipulative. The only way he could exploit his faith more shamelessly would be to shoot his campaign commercials in a church. Oh wait, he did that.

Corker: B-. His attacks on Ford fell flat and he doesn't seem to have much to offer as a candidate.
I should just note, it was another solid performance for Russert as Senate debate moderator. I think the scrutiny that comes with explicit political showdowns forces moderators to do their best.

See ya next week.
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# Posted 10:34 PM by Taylor Owen  

THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: Canada currently has a lot of problems in Afghanistan - shifting support to the Taliban, rising casualties in Kandahar, ineffective counterinsurgency strategies, bad poppy crop irradiation polices, the list goes on. But 10 ft high heat absorbing, Taliban hiding, impenetrable marijuana plants? mon dieu...things are worse, well maybe better , ok worse , no definitely better than I thought...this one's just too close to call...

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

# Posted 9:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LAST WEEK'S MISSING ROUND-UP: Is the content of the Sunday morning talk shows of no more than fleeting significance, or does it have a measure of lasting value? If one judges it to be little more than self-serving spin, then there is no reason to revisit it once the next media cycle has begun.

But perhaps the half-life of such material is greater than just a few days in duration. For example, last week's debate on Meet the Press between Missouri Senate candidates Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill will remain relevant at least until election day. And Tim Russert's discussion with Bob Woodward reflected an interesting development in the journalistic profession's sense of itself.

Of course, you could always just say that I'm too set in my ways to miss a round-up. If so, then forgive me and keep on scrolling. Otherwise, let me say that Reps. Ray LaHood (R-IL) and Tom Davis (R-VA) were on CBS, while ABC had Reps. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) and Adam Putnam (R-FL), followed by Jim Baker talking about the Iraq Study Group.
Talent: B. Aggressive. Reasonably well-spoken. But little to offer beyond talking points from the Republcian play book.

McCaskill: B. More eloquent than her opponent. Yet she seemed to bend before the force of Talent's attacks, even though they were wholly predictable. Her talking points were also straight out of the party play book, resulting in the expected confusion re: Iraq.

Woodward: B. When Russert talks to journalists, he usually treats them as colleagues who are implicitly to be trusted, so no tough questions. But not this time. Russert kept confronting Woodward with criticism of his book by adminstration spokesmen and others. No question was particularly tough, nor was any of them in Russert's voice, rather than taking the form of verbatim quotations. But the simple length of Russert's list made Woodward's constant denials seems just a mite less than 100% credible.

LaHood: C. A friend of Hastert, and committed to the hopeless cause of defending the GOP leadership's handling of the Foley scandal. Good grades were simply out of reach.

Davis: B. He's one of those Republicans who has chosen, if only because of self-interest, to carefully distance himself from the leadership without burning any bridges. Regardless of the motive, that's better than defending incompetence.

Putnam: C. Aggressive and well-spoken. As a rising member of the GOP leadership, he may have felt he had no choice but to spin for a hopeless cause. But perhaps this was a lost opportunity to demonstrate some independence.

Baker: B. Said nothing and basked in the glory of being a Republican who once had the chance to overthrow Saddam and occupy Iraq, but decided to it wasn't a good idea. That's good politics. And it helps that Stephanopoulos didn't come up with a single tough question to ask him.
Although soft on Baker, Stephanopoulos was very good about challenging Emmanuel, even though Democrats have almost nothing to apologize for in relation to Foley. Steph asked how it's possible that twenty years ago, when Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA), was discovered to have sex with a page, the party did nothing more than censure him. Whereas Foley had to resign immediately even though he never touched a page (although I'm sure he would have), Studds served 14 more years with the full support of his party.

Emmanuel couldn't explain. I'd suggest the Democrats could afford to protect their own when they had a huge majority in Congress. In addition, the fact that GOP congressmen Dan Crane (R-IL) also had sex with a page meant the Democrats didn't have to worry about being the focus of public anger.

On a related note, Studds died yesterday. It is unfortunate that the first openly gay congressman had to undermine such a notable achievement by sleeping with a page.
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# Posted 9:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AT A LOSS FOR WORDS: All of us here at OxBlog are greatly saddened by Patrick's loss. There are no words I have that can match the eloquence of Patrick's brief statement and photographs. Somehow it seems unfair that they should ever descend from the top of our homepage, replaced by sentiments far less profound. Yet in the face of it all, we must go on.
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

# Posted 9:57 PM by Patrick Belton  

IN MEMORIAM. Charlotte Ann Marie Valdrighi Belton, 15th June 1943 - 12th October 2006, and my mother. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

# Posted 2:44 AM by Patrick Belton  

LA TRAHISON succès des clercs: A frightfully quick roundup before I bugger off on the Piccadilly Line for this morning's dose of suicide by Arabic.

Rushdie, one of my favourite crafters of words, intones on the Today programme that veils suck.

In France, the forces of Chiraquie are indicating that if Sarkozy stands as UMP candidate, they shall stand aside to support Mme Royal.

In Israel, there's a chance Avigdor might get into cabinet as Labour's leader indicates his party can no longer deliver its whip on the budget vote. Also, a new tungsten-based weapon, delivered by drone, has appeared in the military equation in Gaza, where there was also an air strike upon the building of legislator Umm Nidal.

In a move urged upon them for months by TGA and this blog amongst others, the BBC and Foreign Office announce plans to stand up a Farsi language news network on the heels of BBC Arabic. And 35-year old Kiran Desai takes home a Booker.

As the grateful guest of Toynbee Hall, I was able to meet Tony Benn yesterday, who was charming, witty, eloquent, and spot wrong of course on all issues where we differ, yet delightful to be able to spend time with. I'll write up a few notes after I become more fully acquainted with the Arabic accusative. (I shall try somehow to include spurious use of 'j'accuse')
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

# Posted 11:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OBAMA EYES THE WHITE HOUSE: At least according to David Brooks, in discussion with Ray Suarez of PBS Newshour:

DAVID BROOKS: ...we've been hearing rumors that Barack Obama has been more seriously considering running for president. He told Jonathan Alter of Newsweek that it was almost 50-50. And I think one of the factors in his decision is this race. Can Harold Ford, can a black candidate win in the upper south?

RAY SUAREZ: Why is that? Explain that a little bit more.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, as you know, there's a lot -- Barack Obama is the dream candidate. He's the only guy in the country among Democrats who really generates genuine enthusiasm.

But there are a whole series of questions -- I think, probably in his own mind, but certainly in a lot of people's minds -- about his viability. One is the age issue. But second is, can a black candidate win and carry enough of these swing states that he would need to?

And the thinking is, if Harold Ford can carry Tennessee, then Barack Obama could probably carry a state like Tennessee. And that really does open up all sorts of possibilities for the party.

Obama might find the attraction of the White House even more compelling if mainstream Democrats continue to turn on Hillary Clinton.
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# Posted 11:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHERE IS THE SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP? Due to a federal holiday and a technical glitch, I still haven't listened to the latests editions of MTP, FTN and TWWGS. ("TWWGS"? This Week with George Stephanopoulos.) My intention is to do a round-up on Saturday as a prelude to the Sunday shows, then the usual round-up next week.
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# Posted 11:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A LIBERAL IN SEARCH OF HILLARY’S SOUL: Republicans have a partisan interest in branding Hillary Clinton as yet another liberal with no sincere beliefs or real values.

Democrats resent the way John Kerry was labeled as a flip-flopping pol and bristle at the thought of letting Republicans apply that to any Democrat again. But when it comes to Hillary, more and more Democrats are genuinely concerned that the Republicans are right.

The cover story [sub. req'd] in this month’s Atlantic is a very long profile of Hillary’s development since her election to the Senate in 2000. Its author is Joshua Green, a senior editor at The Atlantic who is often sympathetic to Clinton but just can’t bring himself to believe in her. The final paragraph of Green’s profile expresses his disappointment:
It is fair to wonder if Clinton learned the lesson of the [1994] health-care disaster too well, whether she has so embraced caution and compromise that she can no longer judge what merits taking political risks. It is hard to square the brashly confident leader of health-care reform – willing to act on her deepest beliefs, intent on changing the political climate and not merely exploiting it – with the senator who recently went along with the vote to make flag-burning a crime.

Today Clinton offers no big ideas, no crusading causes – by her own tacit admission, no evidence of bravery in the service of a larger ideal. Instead, her Senate record is an assemblage of many, many small gains. Her real accomplishment in the Senate has been to rehabilitate the image and political career of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Impressive though that has been in its particulars, it makes for a rather thin claim on the presidency. Senator Clinton has plenty to talk about, but she doesn’t have much to say.
Those are scathing words from an author, who best I can tell, is a liberal Democrat but hardly a partisan of the anti-war, anti-Hillary left. Instead, these seem to be the words of a potential supporter who could not find what he was looking for.

Green begins his profile with a long passage that describes Hillary’s remarkable ability to convert the most hard-bitten, conservative Republicans into her friends and admirers. In a private prayer session, Sam Brownback mournfully told his worshippers,
“I’m overcome now with only one thought.” He confessed to having hated Clinton and having said derogatory things about her. Through God, he now recognized his sin. Then he turned to her and asked, “Mrs. Clinton, will you forgive me?” Clinton replied that she would.
That moment seems almost magical, as if Hillary had a charisma far more profound than her husband ever could hope for. Yet in spite of her ability to be at one with the most spiritual conservatives, she seems to be afraid of liberal ideals and has a hard time telling the truth about where she stands.

Again and again, The Atlantic profile emphasizes that everything Clinton says reflects calculation instead of candor. Green writes that:
Clinton told me she never considered pursuing elected office until 1998 until 1998, after [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan, New York’s senior senator, announced he would retire at the end of his term. The official version of how it happened, presented in her book and repeated with eerie word-for-word precision whenever she’s asked about it publicly, is a saccharine tale in which Clinton attends an event to promote an HBO special on women in sports and finds herself standing alongside a young woman so excited by rumors of her possible candidacy that she leans into Clinton and repeats the day’s fortifying slogan: “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton! Dare to compete!”
It may seem unfair to attack Hillary for being precise and consistent at the same time as attacking her changing with the wind. But even loyal Democrat might find it cloying for someone as intelligent and ambitious as Clinton to suggest that she never thought about running for Senate until a wholesome stranger suggested it to her.

Although saccharine denials of ambition may be par for the course in the Senate, Hillary is also ruthless. To illustrate this point, Green describes her approach to funding an AIDS care program first passed in 1990, when “AIDS was ravaging cities, which properly received the preponderance of assistance.”

In the years since, urban areas—often with help from the states—have worked to bring AIDS cases under control. In New York, all patients who qualify under the act have access to the drug cocktails that can prevent HIV infections from becoming full-blown AIDS—with enough money left over to pay for quality-of-life services like dog walking and massage therapy.

Now AIDS is exploding across the rural South, especially in black areas, leaving some states unable to afford even the basic life-saving drugs. Some experts believe that the funding formula needs to be rewritten to address where the disease is newly spreading. In August, news accounts revealed that Clinton was holding up the writing of legislation.

I was leaked documents from her office stamped CONFIDENTIAL showing Clinton’s proposed funding formula, which maintained New York’s high level of funding. When I asked her about entreaties from pastors’ groups and rural-state governors, who were concerned that their citizens would not receive essential medication, Clinton assured me that she hoped funding would be increased wherever it was needed—knowing how implausible this hope might be. She would not sacrifice her state’s allotment of money.

This, it seems fair to say, is not the same woman who once fought for equality in healthcare.

For the sake of brevity, I will leave for tomorrow The Atlantic's discussion of Hillary's thoughts on terrorism and national security. But the message is the same. She has betrayed the trust of those who once believed in her.
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Monday, October 09, 2006

# Posted 7:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHY RED SOX FANS SHOULD STILL LOVE JOHNNY DAMON: Because he's speaking out on behalf of wounded vets.
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# Posted 6:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

GEORGIA ON HIS MIND: Vladimir Putin's intentions with regard to his Southern neighbor are anything but benevolent. But with Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea crowding Page One, Georgia has a hard time getting much attention. However, Dan McKivergan has been following the situation carefully.

Why bother, you might ask? Because Georgia had a peaceful democratic revolution made possible in part by peaceful US democracy promotion efforts. And now Georgia is strongly pro-American.

Recently, Moscow cut off transportation and postal links to Georgia after it arrested four Russians as spies.

Thanks to geography, Georgia faces an unpleasant choice. Accept subordination to Moscow, or cultivate Western support and suffer Moscow's wrath. Georgia has chosen the latter and deserves our help.
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# Posted 5:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE PASSION OF THE DEMOCRATS: Quick. Name a national security issue about which all Democrats feel passionate -- and agree on what to do about it.

I didn't think so.

Coming from yours truly, this kind of criticism may sound fairly predictable. But Peter Beinart has enough credibility as a liberal to make this kind of criticism interesting when it comes from him. (Well, maybe not for the Kossacks who denounce Beinart as a traitor, but for most Democrats.)

In his latest column [sub. req'd], Beinart asks why liberals have been so quiet about the assault on free speech in Europe and around the world by radical Muslims who shut down their critics with the threat of violence.

Surely, Beinart suggests, this is the kind of bread-and-butter issue that should give Democrats an opportunity to demonstrate that they, too, have moral clarity and are willing to get tough with the enemies of freedom. Admittedly, the timing isn't great. Beinart writes:
I know, I know. Bush is a horrendous president. The United States is on the verge of a midterm election that could strip him of much of his power. And liberal blogs are focused on trying to make sure that happens. That's all well and good.

But it's not enough. There are liberal causes that have nothing to do with opposing Bush and his Republican henchmen. In fact, some of those causes might even place liberals and Republican henchmen on the same side. And liberals must be passionate about them nonetheless. Partisan militancy may be necessary to combat Republican power. But it cannot define what it means to be a liberal in the United States today.
The key word here is "passionate". In order to re-establish themselves as credible on the subject of national security, Democrats must demonstrate a passion for taking the war to the terrorists.

A lot of Democrats are passionate about withdrawal from Iraq. Some of them say it demonstrates their passion for the war on terror, because they want to fight the actual terrorists, not the insurgents in Iraq. But when you listen to Democrats who favor withdrawal (or just resent how Bush has handled the war), you don't hear very much about how violent Islamic fundamentalism is evil and how their life's mission is to destroy it.

Peter Beinart wants to change that. The fourth chapter of his book, The Good Fight, is all about passion. In that chapter, Beinart traces the history of Sunni jihadism from its birth in Egypt in the early 1950s to its current incarnation in the form of Al Qaeda. (For commentary on earlier chapters, see here.)

Beinart's message is simple: Democrats must recognize that jihadism is just as much of a threat to everything they cherish as Communism once was. Bush must be defeated, but jihadism must be destroyed. Stopping attacks on the United States and our allies is only the first step. Then the ideas that make terrorism possible must be destroyed.

Beinart deploys two strategies designed to inspire his readers with his own anti-jihadist fervor. The first is to emphasize how vulnerable America still is to terrorists attacks and how little the Bush administration has done about it.

I think vulnerability is an important issue, but given how much Democrats are concerned about validating the Republicans' rhetoric of fear, will they ever sign on to an approach that demands we be afraid of terrorism?

Hence Beinart's second approach. Nothing makes Democrats more passionate than Abu Ghraib, eavesdropping, Guantanamo and the Geneva conventions. In political terms, this passion is often a liability because it is directed at other Americans, not at our enemies.

But Beinart tries to turn that equation around by telling Democrats that if they don't get passionate about destorying our enemies, Republicans will keep winning elections, keep aggravating the terrorist threat, keep giving Americans more to be really afraid about,
And the more entrenched that fear cycle grows, the less free America will become. Which is why a new generation of American liberals must make the fight against this new totalitarianism their own. (p.111)
Even if Beinart is right, his argument may be too clever by half. Can a fear of how Republicans might curtail our civil liberties really make Democrats hate terrorists instead of Republicans?

I don't have the answer for how to inspire Democrats, but I think kind of passion necessary is clear. Its direct target must be the enemies of freedom. Liberals must learn to use phrases like "the enemies of freedom" without irony or shame. They must also learn to use the word "evil". Because until you believe that violent fundamentalism is truly evil, you cannot truly want to destroy it.
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

# Posted 12:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A SINGLE, UNIFIED YGLESIAS: After an extended period of writing for at least three blogs, Matt has now consolidated all of his production on a single site, appropriately named MatthewYglesias.com.
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# Posted 12:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE OPPOSITION. THEY HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO PROPOSE AN ALTERNATIVE POLICY FOR IRAQ. This is an emerging meme in the liberal blogosphere. It is a response to the standard assertion, well-summarized by David Ignatius, that:
A mismanaged occupation has created a breeding ground for terrorists, so we should withdraw and let the Iraqis sort out the mess...Even among mainstream Democrats, the focus is "gotcha!" rather than "what next?" That is understandable, given the partisanship of Republican attacks, but it isn't right...

[Democrats] act as if all those America-hating terrorists will evaporate back into the sands of Anbar province if the United States pulls out its troops.
In response, conservatives such as Bill Kristol have suggested that it is not the White House, but rather the Democrats, who are in a state of denial. Personally, I agree with Ignatius and Kristol that most Democrats stubbornly refuse to recognize the dangers of an Iraq left to the whims of the insurgents and the death squads.

The rebuttal to this accusation is made by Kevin Drum:
Various luminaries in the liberal foreign policy community have been proposing Iraq policies right and left for over three years now...But to blame Democrats now for not being aggressive enough in trying to trisect this angle is like blaming Gerald Ford for losing Vietnam. George Bush fought this war precisely the way he wanted, with precisely the troops he wanted, and with every single penny he asked for...The result has been a disaster with no evident solution left.
The point being that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do worse than Bush, so it is completely irrevelant whether Democrats have polished arguments and well-developed plans. (Peter Howard makes a similar point.)

That strikes me as as an effective argument for a midterm election. The president will be staying on anyhow, so it doesn't matter if the Democrats would actually do a better job of running the war. But giving them control of Congress may force some accountability on this administration.

Personally, I'm not sure that Democratic control of Congress will result in much oversight, as opposed to just anti-Bush grandstanding, but given what voters are saying, I don't think Democrats need to worry much about having a policy for Iraq.

In 2008, voters may react very differently. In 2008, they will face a clear choice between two individuals. If the Democrat is blind to the dangers of an Iraq run by insurgents and death squads, it may be a real strike against him. If the Republican (say John McCain), has a reputation for competence and original thinking, it may not matter that the previous Republican in the White House got us into a mess in Iraq.

If Democrats want to establish enduring credibility on the national security front, they need a positive and persuasive agenda.
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# Posted 11:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FROM THE ANNALS OF ACADEMIA: Prof. Payne of U. Louisville (KY) has instructed his students to watch Red Dawn as part of their effort to better understand the dilemmas of counterinsurgency. The good professor observes:
Those who have seen it know that "Red Dawn" is not an especially good movie. So why did I select it? Well, I wanted a film that highlights the great difficulty of counterinsurgency warfare -- and I wanted a movie that would make students sympathize with the insurgents. Obviously, "The Battle of Algiers" is a better movie with similar themes and plotlines.

In recent weeks, the class has been viewing films about liberal idealism and humanitarian intervention, all from the point-of-view of the great power(s) or their proxies involved in the situations. Though the protagonists in "Red Dawn" are American, they are the victims. The Soviet Union and its Cuban allies have attacked and a small Colorado hometown is under occuption (as part of a larger war). The film focuses on the nationalist impulses that motivate the high school student insurgency.
A good choice for the curriculum, Prof. Payne. Let me add one thing. Red Dawn is really a film about Vietnam. It is a fantasy in which Americans play the victorious insurgents instead of the much-resented intervention force. The defining film in this genre is Rambo.

Although Red Dawn does emphasize the difficulty of counterinsurgency, it radically underestimates the difficulties of insurgency. Unsurprisingly, only a handful of the good guys get killed in Red Dawn, while Soviet and Cubans get picked off like sitting ducks.

But successful insurgents must be ready to suffer horrific casualties. This is no less true in Iraq than it was in Vietnam. Since Vietnam taught us not to use body counts as a measure of progress, coverage of the war in Iraq almost completely ignores the question of how many insurgents are getting killed. But reporting from battle suggests that we are killing many, many Iraqis for every GI lost.

It may not do us any good in the end, but in case any of Prof. Payne's students are thinking about starting insurgencies of their own, they should remember that Red Dawn makes it look much easier than it really is.
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Saturday, October 07, 2006

# Posted 4:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT KIND OF G.O.P. HACK WOULD DOWNPLAY FOLEY'S ABUSE? I don't know, but Nation columnist Katha Pollitt seems glad to do the Foley the favor:
Did Mark Foley really deserve to be drawn and quartered for engaging in lubricious instant messaging with male former Congressional pages?...

Given that by law Senate pages must be 16 years old or more, and that 16 is the legal age of consent in Washington (and most states), to call him a "child molester" (Tucker Carlson on MSNBC) and "child predator" (various pundits) seems rather severe.
Impressively, Pollitt then has the chutzpah to criticize Republicans for making light of Foley's behavior:
Unlike White House press secretary Tony Snow ("naughty e-mails"), I don't minimize Foley's behavior. It's wrong for middle-aged men to come on to teenagers, even if they're of legal age and even if, as some of the IM exchanges suggest, the young person seems willing to play.
Finally, here's the key insight Pollitt has to offer:
Men with power: It's not a pretty sight.
Ahh, nuance.
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# Posted 3:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BLEEDING HEART CONSERVATIVES: The Daily Standard has published my review of Jackass 2, a film of profound signifiance.

The WaPo film critic actually wrote that there is no "significant moral difference" between the Jackass crew and "dedicated ballerinas who damage their feet in the highfalutin interests of art." Hmmm. I'm not so sure about that. But what I can say for sure is that ballerina won't make you laugh so hard that your stomach hurts.
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# Posted 3:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WILL CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES NOMINATE A MORMON? James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family says maybe not:
"I don't believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon but that remains to be seen, I guess."
Left unstated was the presumption that some Christian conservatives still see Mormonism as heretical. Yet earlier this year, Jerry Falwell came down on the side of tolerance (surprisingly enough):
"If he's pro-life, pro-family, I don't think he'll have any problem getting the support of evangelical Christians."
Some might say that anything bad for Romney is good for McCain. But I disagree. First, I stand for the principle that a candidate's faith should never stand in the way of his winning an office. (Rare exception: If Al Qaeda put up a candidate for office, religion would be an issue.)

Second, and more importantly, any effort to malign Romney because of his faith will create a climate of intolerance that may hurt McCain as well. In addition, this kind of intolerance will hurt the GOP in 2008. (Hat tip: PH)
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# Posted 3:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"DO [WE] REPUBLICANS DESERVE TO LOSE OUR MAJORITY?" That's the question Liz Mair asks. She writes:
To those of us who were paying attention in 1994, it feels a lot like the way the Democrats had behaved for years in the run-up to that election--as if they were somehow entitled to be in power indefinitely; as though they weren't the paid servants of the populace; as if they didn't have to work to ensure their continued control of the legislative branch...

If some responsibility for allowing the Foley affair to occur, and indeed, spiral out of control, is shown now, then maybe, just maybe, voters will return us to control, albeit with a reduced majority--which is probably appropriate in the circumstances.

But if that does not occur, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. As one reader suggested a few days back, if you walk around with a sign on your back that says "Kick Me," you shouldn't be surprised, and you're not entitled to gripe, when someone does.

That someone will likely be the average American voter, come November 7.
I find it hard to disagree.
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# Posted 9:57 AM by Taylor Owen  

HITCH ON KISSINGER: Takes a swing, not surprising. Also not surprising is that I am sympathetic to the past paragraph:
Of course, Woodward's book has handed a free gift to those who cannot engage their minds on any foreign-policy question without using the word "Vietnam." I have written all that I can on the ahistorical falsity of this analogy, but if Kissinger really does have anything to do with the conduct of Iraq policy, then what we should fear is not just another attempt at moral blackmail of those who call for withdrawal. For the analogy to hold, we should have to find that while this militant rhetoric was being deployed in public a sellout, and a scuttle was being prepared behind the scenes. We are not fighting the Viet Cong in Iraq but the Khmer Rouge. A bungled withdrawal would lead to another Cambodia, not another Vietnam. It would be too horrible for Kissinger to live to see two such triumphs. (emph. mine)
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Friday, October 06, 2006

# Posted 9:27 AM by Taylor Owen  

HOW TO LOSE AN ESTABLISHMENT POPULARITY CONTEST: I am sure that there are American and British equivalents to Warren Kinsella, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. He was a Chrétien strategist, is in a punk band, and now has an enormously popular Canadian political blog and column in the National Post. His role in the Canadian political debate, however, hinges on a wonderful irony; he is the ultimate insider who ruthlessly mocks the establishment. (Imagine if John Stewart had spent ten years as Clinton’s chief of staff prior to doing the Daily Show. Or, if Carville actually turned on the establishment that still looks to him for salvation.)

In any case, his column this week is a truly superb example of this irony, and is just as applicable internationally as it is in Canada. In it he mocks the use of polling data by the major media outlets, and the associated punditry. All of which predicted a very close race between Rae and Ignatieff in the delegate selection process last week. The results were roughly Ignatieff 30% (will be closer to 35% once said and done), Rae 19%, Kennedy 17%. Dion 16.5%, and, Dryden/Volpe/Brison all under 5%. Here, however, is his skewering of what the polling/punditry predicted:

However, if you relied upon a mid-September poll of the Gandalf Group -- as did the Parliamentary tabloid called the Hill Times -- you can be forgiven for being gobsmacked. There, the newspaper and Gandalf reported that Dryden was supported by approximately 20% of Liberals (and Canadians) nationally -- with Michael Ignatieff running a distant third. Um, wrong, by a factor of 400%, 19 times out of 20.

Next up for a trip to the woodshed: the Globe, with another mid-September poll, this one by Allan Gregg's Strategic Counsel. In front-page story accompanied by a large headline (to wit, "Ignatieff clings to slight lead"), Gregg said: "If you had money to put on it, you'd bet Rae right now." Uh-huh. Sure. And then you'd lose your money, Allan.

By a unanimous decision of our panel of judges (me, myself and I), the Chicago Daily Tribune Foul-up Finalist is the Toronto Star, for the paper's Sept. 25 page one headline fumble: "Rae now poised to become Liberal leader." In Linda Diebel's accompanying news story, Ekos Research asserts that Bob Rae has "emerged as the leading candidate in the Liberal leadership race." Said Ekos president Frank Graves: Liberal poll respondents underwent a "very careful screening process." Apparently not careful enough.

There were a smattering of other wince-inducing boners, such as the Toronto Sun's Peter Worthington ("conventional wisdom" is that Rae has the "momentum," wrote the veteran columnist), or the Vancouver Sun's Barbara Yaffe (Ignatieff is "a long shot ... he should get himself a good set of worry beads, pronto").

So who is to blame? The media organizations (with some justification) will blame the pollsters. The pollsters (again, with some grounds) will pin it on the folks responding to their polls, who are increasingly unenthusiastic about confessing their innermost thoughts to complete strangers on the telephone.

The loser, naturally, is the reader. The reader deserves better. And if polling mistakes keep getting made, then the media needs to re-examine its enthusiasm for polls.

Ask Harry S. Truman. He knows.

Wonderful. Seriously though, the Canadian media is going to have to take a real look at how they use the crack that political polling data has become leading up to the next federal election.

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