What Exactly Is Our "broken System"?
December 12, 2007

  On October 17, 2007, John Edwards told an audience in Keene, New Hampshire the following :  Here’s the truth: the system in Washington is broken. Money is corrupting our democracy. Lobbyists and the special interests they represent are pouring millions of dollars into the system, and stopping the change we need dead in its tracks. Our founding fathers intended our government to do the will of the people. But today, it’s doing the will of the special interests instead. There is, I think, much truth in former-Sen.

Immigration In The Primaries
December 12, 2007

The Los Angeles Times gives us the state of play: "More than any other question, Republican presidential candidates are asking voters to consider a single issue in the weeks before primary voting begins: Who detests illegal immigration the most?" Matt Yglesias wonders why the Republicans would do such a thing, since, according to one recent national poll, only 10 percent of voters ranked immigration as a top-two issue.

So Why The Cape Wind Holdup?
December 11, 2007

According to a dispatch from Bali in Monday's FT, the U.S. and U.K. have filed with the World Trade Organization a list of environmentally friendly products--in particular, wind turbines--that they ask be tariff-free.  Funny, isn't it?  Because in New England the federal bureaucracy has done everything possible to prevent Cape Wind from a wind farm in Cape Cod Bay.

Two Views On Abu Zubaydah
December 11, 2007

Kevin Drum posts two conflicting accounts of the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in the weeks after 9/11. According to Ron Suskind's sources, Zubaydah was a schizophrenic low-level operative who, after being beaten, waterboarded, and deprived of medication, started blabbing incoherently about thousands of utterly fantastic plots.

'primary Colors,' Then And Now
December 10, 2007

The funny and underrated 1998 film Primary Colors, based on Joe Klein's stump saga of the same name, offers a host of dramatic dispatches from the land of Jack and Susan Stanton, a southern power couple making a break for the White House. The whole cast--especially Billy Bob Thornton--does a credible job with a difficult task; that is, maintaining the paper-thin barrier between the campaign drama and Bill and Hillary Clinton's reality.  All in all, the movie is hugely entertaining; an excellent intersection of pop and politics.

Monkeying With Climate Science
December 10, 2007

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has released a draft report on a "systematic White House effort" to harass, censor, and otherwise interfere with government climate scientists during the Bush years.

White House Press Secretary: What Cuban Missile Crisis?
December 10, 2007

A charming story (third item) about White House Press Secretary Dana Perino: Appearing on NPR's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was. "I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown.

What Did The Iranian Defectors Say?
December 09, 2007

The Los Angeles Times has a big story today on Iranian defectors. Here's the lede: The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, an effort that has prompted a "handful" of significant departures, current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation say. The previously undisclosed program, which CIA officials dubbed "the Brain Drain," is part of a major intelligence push against Iran ordered by the White House two years ago. This would certainly explain the NIE's turnabout.

Quickie Reaction To The Romney Speech
December 06, 2007

A couple of thoughts: First, I didn't hear Romney use the word "Mormon" (or a variant of the word) a single time during the speech. (For what it's worth, I just heard a CNN commentator say he used the word once.) But if you were watching on CNN, you saw this weird red graphic appear on the left-hand third of your screen a few minutes into the speech, with the word "Mormon" in big block letters and various disconcerting facts scrolling across the bottom of it.

Help! Preschool-related Holiday Meltdown In Progress
December 06, 2007

Due to a series of unfortunate events, the gifts for tomorrow's holiday party for my son's preschool class will not arrive in time. I've offered to do a last-minute emergency search for replacements. I have 13 girls and 10 boys to buy for. The dollar limit is $3 per child. Plus! As anyone with kids knows, these days any item entering a day care must not include chocolate, excess sugar, or have passed within 300 miles of any facility that has ever been used to process a nut. To meet prevailing parental sensibilities, it shouldn't involve anything to do with war, guns, or violence in general.