The group blog of The New Republic

September 27, 2007

There's a big fight brewing in California over Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to shore up the state's water supply by building three big new dams. Democrats have generally opposed building new dams, pointing to the environmental problems they pose, but Democratic leaders in the state legislature might be more inclined to go along this time in order to preserve the good working relationship they've developed with Schwarzenegger.

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The Navy plans to spend $600,000 in taxpayer dollars so that one of its California building complexes doesn't look like a swastika on Google Earth.

I'm as opposed to swastikas as the next guy. But is this not completely absurd? Wouldn't it be far, far more useful to spend the money, say, prosecuting hate crimes? Or giving college scholarships to descendants of Holocaust victims? Endowing an Ahmadinejad-is-an-idiot chair at Columbia University, even?

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A few months ago, I predicted (here and here) that the Republican establishment would coalesce around Fred Thompson for president. This isn't, um, happening, and I haven't been able to figure out why.

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While, as Chait points out, many social conservatives remain unconvinced of Fred Thompson's commitment to their cause, the Southern Baptist's Richard Land continues his tireless cheerleading for Big Daddy.

Even having talked to Land about Fred at some length a few months ago, I still don't understand this particular attraction. It's not as if Fred is the most conservative or the most religious or has the most irreproachable personal history of the GOP contenders.

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Maybe they're a sign of desperation, but I think these new McCain ads--which make heavy use of footage from his time as a POW, an experience McCain has been reluctant to exploit for political purposes--are very, very good.

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I'm far from immune to the widespread sense that Barack Obama is going to have to take on Hillary Clinton a lot more directly if he hopes to snatch the Democratic nomination from her, and I liked Noam's semi-tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Obama should swap campaign strategies with John Edwards.

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The anticipated fireworks between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton failed to ignite at last night's Democratic debate at Dartmouth, but the evening was not without its highlights. We've assembled clips from the night's most newsworthy moments here.

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September 26, 2007

Just when you think the Bush administration can't get any more galling in its handling of Iraq:

"State Department bars employees from responding to corruption inquiry"

So what do congressional Republicans think of this kind of White House maneuver? Do they worry that it will further erode public confidence in the party? Or do they assume that most Americans aren't paying attention?

--Michelle Cottle

A year ago, I wrote a column about the new season (dubbed "Smarch," in honor of an old Simpsons gag) that has gradually emerged on the DVD release calendar: the just-in-time-for-fall-premieres, TV-boxed-set stampede. As I noted at the time, "For decades, television has been slowly killing Americans' desire go out and see movies at the theater; now it's killing their desire to watch them at home as well."

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The Washington Post has more on the growing spat between the Pentagon and the State Department over military contractors in Iraq:

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