Alexander Cockburn isn't a big fan of Israel. The Irish expat's column for The Nation, "Beat the Devil," regularly trashes the Zionist entity. Among his typical criticisms: Israel's American supporters are "the spiritual soul-mates of those fanatical Cuban exiles"; Ariel Sharon's "credentials as a war criminal are robust"; the occupation of the Palestinians amounts to genocide.
It's not hard to figure out why the Bush administration and the Republican congressional leadership are wooing the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. They want the union to lobby for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. And they really want support and endorsements in states like Michigan and Ohio, where the union's members may hold the balance of power in key House and Senate races—and even in the 2004 presidential election. Less well understood is why Teamster President James P.
BAD DEBT: Amazing how times change. Just six years ago House Republicans threatened to impeach Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for using accounting gimmicks—such as borrowing funds from federal employees’ retirement funds—to stay under the federal debt ceiling, which the GOP was loathe to raise. Fast forward to the present, when House Republicans are demanding that Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill do ... exactly the same thing.
For Washington lobbyists, these were supposed to be the salad days. The Bush administration was to be their playground, the regulatory agencies their dolls to dress up and knock down. And on paper they’ve made out pretty well—tax cuts, the squashing of costly ergonomics rules, favorable appointments throughout the government. But for all their influence, D.C. lobbyists have failed to attain one elusive goal: public respect. During the 2000 primaries, John McCain denounced them as one side of the “iron triangle” of special interests that corrupt American politics.
For all his “change-the-tone” rhetoric, there are some forms of bipartisanship President Bush will not tolerate. Just ask Mike Parker, the erstwhile head of the Army Corps of Engineers. Parker, a balding, rotund former Mississippi congressman with a bushy mustache and a heavy drawl, was on Capitol Hill two weeks ago testifying before the Senate Budget Committee. Republican Kit Bond, Democrat Kent Conrad, and Parker himself all agreed on one thing: The budget for the Corps proposed by the White House was a joke.
It was during the summer of 2000 that Peggy Noonan’s adoration of George W. Bush began in earnest. The GOP candidate, she wrote in her Wall Street Journal column, “seems transparently a good person, a genuine fellow who isn’t hidden or crafty or sneaky or mean, a person of appropriate modesty.” Over the next year or so, she went on to call him “respectful, moderate, commonsensical, courteous,” and “a modest man of faith.” She has seen in him “dignity” and “a kind of joshy gravitas.” And this was before September 11. Since then, he has risen in her estimation.
Thermobaric, thermoshmaric: The Battle of Shah-i-Kot Valley has established what should have been perfectly plain from the beginning of the American action in Central Asia, which is that victory—that is, the destruction of the forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the subsequent stabilization of Afghanistan—is not possible without the commitment of American ground troops. The momentous mistake of Tora Bora, where the climax of Operation Enduring Freedom turned into its anti-climax, as we gave control of the porous border with Pakistan to a bunch of lethargic and corruptible Afghan irregulars—
When Tom Daschle questioned the scope of the war on terrorism last week, Trent Lott sandbagged him. But if Lott really means to badger politicians who dissent from President Bush's "axis of evil" line, he should swing by the office of his fellow Republican senator, Chuck Hagel. "I'd just as soon not have seen that in the State of the Union speech," the Nebraska senator complained about the axis formulation on February 3.
Ever since he signed on as America's ally in the war on terrorism, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been asking for one simple favor in return: the suspension of U.S. tariffs and quotas on Pakistani textiles. And, last Monday, Musharraf finally got a definitive response to his request: No. On that day Commerce Under Secretary Grant Aldonas told Musharraf's deputies that the Bush administration would neither push Congress to cut tariffs nor raise quotas for vital Pakistani exports like cotton trousers.
DOWN ON THE FARM: Embarrassed by reports of wealthy individuals collecting millions in crop subsidies from the government, some farm-state senators are trying to limit payments to $275,000 per farmer per year. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley--who, along with North Dakota's Byron Dorgan, is sponsoring the cap--has argued that "[c]apping farm payments will restore integrity to farm programs." Actually, no: The entire idea of the government singling out people in a certain line of work for preferential treatment violates any notion of market logic or even common sense.