Clear (Conservative) Thinking On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
March 10, 2010
Max Boot is among the conservative columnists I esteem the most. One reason is that he has to be more than a bit brave because the right is not ordinarily cordial to those who dissent on its keystone issues. Of course, he is not the only conservative to be sensible on gay matters. Still... In his latest blog post on ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Boot points us to a previous entry that provoked considerable consternation among those who usually claim to want the government out of our private lives.
The Party Of Ideas
March 03, 2010
Congressmen Mike Pence and Jeb Hensarling co-author a Wall Street Journal op-ed today proposing a new Constitutional amendment to limit federal spending to 20% of the economy, on the grounds that spending is bad. Apostate Republican Bruce Bartlett, who agrees that spending is bad, dismantles the proposal. Let me pick out three of Bartlett's objections: 5. An even bigger problem is that both the administration and Congress must necessarily develop the budget based on forecasts of GDP, which can sometimes be tragically wrong. For example, the budget for fiscal year 2009, which ended last Sept.
The American Awakening
March 01, 2010
In The Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan By Seth G. Jones (W.W. Norton, 414 pp., $27.95) I. With the war in Afghanistan hanging in the balance, it is useful, if a little sad, to recall just how complete the American-led victory was in the autumn of 2001. By December, the Taliban had vanished from Kabul, Kandahar, and much of the countryside. Afghans celebrated by flinging their turbans and dancing in the streets. They dug up TV sets, wrapped in plastic, from hiding places in their gardens.
Terrorists Without Borders
February 23, 2010
Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field Edited by Antonio Giustozzi (Columbia University Press, 318 pp., $40) My Life with the Taliban By Abdul Salam Zaeef Edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn (Columbia University Press, 331 pp., $29.95) After several hours of driving down one of the two-lane asphalt roads that wind through Pakistan’s tribal areas, our kidnappers entered the territory of Baitullah Mehsud, the widely feared leader of the Pakistani Taliban. It was the middle of March in 2009.
The Baby Lottery
February 17, 2010
As someone who has long believed that there is something morally repellant about living in a country that prides itself on being the greatest democracy in the world but where the top one-tenth of one percent of the people "earn" as much money per year collectively as the entire bottom fifty percent of working people, I would like to offer a modest proposal that might "level the playing field," as the popular saying has it, and thus provide a foundation for a democracy worthy of the name.
Rahm Thinks Reform Can Wait a While
January 29, 2010
Rahm Emanuel thinks health care reform can wait. In an interview with the New York Times, Emanuel suggested that Congress would deal first with jobs, then banking regulation, and then circle back around to health care reform. As Ezra Klein observes: The timetable Emanuel is laying out makes little sense. The jobs bill will take some time. Financial regulation will take much longer. Let's be conservative and give all this four months. Is Emanuel really suggesting that he expects Congress to return to health-care reform in the summer before the election?
If Health Care Dies, Who Will The Murderer Be?
January 29, 2010
Is health care reform dead? Megan McArdle says so, offering two arguments -- one persuasive, the other not. Her unpersuasive argument is that Democrats are going to walk away from health care reform because it's unpopular: Health care's popularity drops any time Congress discusses it. With respect to Nate Silver, who argues that the bill would be popular if they ever passed it and could discuss what's in it, you cannot "prove" that voters like a bill because various bits of it poll well on their own.
The Furrows of Algeria
January 27, 2010
The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.
January 27, 2010
On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Pakistan: A True Ally, or Not?
January 22, 2010
Health care is still a disaster. But with Jon away, how about a little foreign policy to start the morning? This morning's topic is Pakistan's reliability as an ally against al Qaeda and the Taliban--a critical question when gauging our chances of success in Afghanistan. Yesterday Defense Scretary Robert Gates visited Pakistan, where he became the latest in a parade of U.S. officials to urge that country's army to step up its offensive against Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda elements now enjoying safe haven in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas.