April 11, 2008
Is Mark Penn The New "charlie"?
A long print feature has been diverting me, so I've been slow making a point about the demotion/non-firing of Mark Penn. Fortunately, though, Paul Begala has given me a fresh hook today with his declaration that he has "nothing but contempt" for Penn and, especially, his dismay that Penn was not fired but merely demoted. Indeed, as others have already noted, it's not even clear how substantial a demotion it really was. And that wouldn't surprise me at all. Why?
Obama: Puppet Of The Israel Lobby?
Yesterday Barack Obama said he would not negotiate with Hamas. The American Prospect's Ezra Klein says that this position "doesn't really track with his past approach to foreign policy," and proceeds to suggest that Obama must have been intimidated by the Israel lobby. For purposes of balance, it's nice to see Obama getting attacked unfairly on Jewish issues from the other side. But I'm not sure this attack holds any water. It's true that Obama has declared his willingness to negotiate with various dictators. But there are some key differences.
April 10, 2008
Leaving So Soon?
Reports of Robert Mugabe's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Last week, many media outlets wrote that the Zimbabwean dictator--having failed to defeat his opponents in the country's March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections--was planning to leave office peacefully, in exchange for a promise that he would not face punishment at the hands of the country's democratically-elected leaders. "Mugabe ready to step down," read the headline of an April 1 Agence France Presse story. "Talks May End Mugabe’s Rule in Zimbabwe," The New York Times reported the same day.
This ABC news story, indicating that senior Bush administration officials (including Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft, and George Tenet) personally approved specific enhanced interrogation techniques to be used against al-Qaeda suspects, is sparking a bit of a debate about how a future Democratic administration should respond. Marc Ambinder notes that such an administration might be interested in investigating Bush officials for possible war crimes; Jack Balkin points out a number of reasons why that would never happen.
How The Farm Bill Survived Intact
Via Kevin Drum, a Los Angeles Times op-ed gets furious about the farm bill that's gurgling through Congress. So much for all that noise about reform we heard last year from Oxfam and various environmental groups (and from Bush, for that matter); it came to naught: What can we citizens expect if the proposed $300-billion farm bill is signed into law? Federally subsidized feed—corn, soybeans and cottonseed—for animal factory farms that spread disease, greenhouse gases and dangerous working conditions wherever they set up shop.
April 09, 2008
During the 2004 presidential election, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Archbishop Ray Burke of St. Louis let it be known that they would deny pro-choice politicians communion. It was a pointed rebuke to the first Catholic Democratic nominee since JFK, John Kerry. Turning the altar rail into a battlefront in the culture wars was unprecedented, but the Vatican did not take any steps to rein in the bishops--in fact, a later memo from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith seemed to support their actions.
Sifting Through the Ashes
WASHINGTON--Robert Mugabe's defeat in the recent elections in Zimbabwe is the beginning of the end for that country's octogenarian tyrant.
The Trouble With Talking
Barack Obama's professed willingness to sit down with dictators may have elicited jeers from the Clinton campaign, but in recent months the idea has found broad support in the mainstream of center-left opinion.
The labor movement once loomed large over American politics. If the nineteenth century was dominated by conflict with Indians and over slavery, the early twentieth center was dominated by what was called “the labor question.” But very few Americans outside Washington today know anything about the labor movement. I talked recently to a historian who was writing a book on liberalism who didn’t know that in 2005, a group of unions had split off from the AFL-CIO to form Change to Win.
The Jimmy Carter Dictator Tour
The Jerusalem Post reports today that Jimmy Carter is once again going to Syria. I know that he has a particular affection for the Assads, p