August 12, 2008
Pain at the Port
One morning in May, Governor Tim Kaine stood in a Danville, Virginia, parking lot, sawing a log in half with Ikea executive Bruno Winborg. The log-cutting, a Swedish good-luck tradition, was part of the opening ceremony for the Scandinavian furniture giant’s first North American plant, a 930,000-square-foot facility that will keep Americans well-supplied with BILLY bookcases and BESTA entertainment centers for years to come.Ikea’s rural Virginia factory should be convincing evidence that globalization is on the march.
Eric Lichtblau is right that I agree with him on some matters related to the Bush presidency. But on the crucial question raised by his book--whether the press can be trusted to monitor secret government activity wisely--we do not agree. In defending his paper’s--and his own--record, Lichtblau talks only about the Times' original December 2005 story on the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
How the West Botched Georgia
The guns around Tbilisi have now fallen silent. Efforts are underway to finalize a truce between Russia and Georgia to end Moscow’s bloody invasion. It is time for the West to look in the mirror and ask: What went wrong? How did this disaster happen? Make no mistake. While this is first and foremost a disaster for the people and government of Georgia, it is also a disaster for the West--and for the U.S. in particular. After all, Georgia was, in a fairly basic sense, our project. The Rose Revolution was inspired by American ideals--and prodding.
The Poet And The People
I know little enough Hebrew and no Arabic at all. But two very recent articles in the Times (one last Thursday the other on Sunday) relating to both languages caught my eye. The first, about the revolutionary re-emergence and the subsequent development of modern Hebrew, was the umpteenth instance of Isabel Kershner's published doubts about the very future of Israel. It's a strangely obsessive trope for one of the Times' chief correspondents in the country. But doubt about Zionism goes back in the history of the Times for maybe a century.
August 11, 2008
Last Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its long-awaited estimate that 56,300 Americans are infected with the HIV virus every year. This supplants CDC’s longstanding official estimate of 40,000, which had been in place for many years. The announcement that the government underestimated HIV incidence--the rate of new HIV infections--by 40 percent is less surprising than you might suppose. One might conclude that the epidemic is getting worse, or that CDC screwed up. But neither is right. HIV incidence has actually been stable over the past decade.
WASHINGTON -- The core strategy of John McCain's campaign is to turn Barack Obama into the incumbent, the man who is too familiar yet still mysterious. The McCain effort reflects one of the most remarkable aspects of the 2008 campaign: Obama has turned himself into the central figure in American politics. That is an extraordinary achievement, but it comes at a cost. One cost was measured by a fascinating Pew Research Center study released last week finding that 48 percent of those surveyed--and 51 percent of political independents--said they had heard "too much" about Obama.
Chinese Dissident Of The Day, Pt. 2
Name: Liu ShaokunAge: 54Duration of Incarceration: Started a one year sentence on June 25.Crime: After China's devastating earthquake in May, Liu, a teacher, posted online photographs of collapsed schools in the city of Deyang. Although the government promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the schools' poor construction, it instead cracked down on groups calling for reform.
Amid the overheated rhetoric flying around in the wake of the verdict in Salim Hamdan's military commission trial, the Washington Post editorial comes closer to the mark: The matter emerged as both vindication and defeat for the administration: vindication, in the sense that the commission in this case proved not to be the kangaroo court many critics once feared and predicted; defeat, in that even military jurors and a military judge in no way bought the administration's assertion that Mr. Hamdan was a hardened al-Qaeda operative deserving of life imprisonment. ... Mr.
More On The 'gang Of Ten'
It looks like the "Gang of Ten" energy compromise that Josh mentioned last week—which would lift the moratorium on offshore drilling in four states in exchange for an array of clean-energy incentives (paid for by repealing a handful of tax breaks for oil companies)—is advancing fairly rapidly in the Senate. Um, in other words, yes, the Paris Hilton energy plan... Obama's cautiously praised the idea, McCain's holding back, and Rush Limbaugh's screaming at Republicans not to support it.
A One-term Pledge For Mccain?
Check out how campaign manager Rick Davis handles the question from Fox's Chris Wallace: WALLACE: Is there any chance that Senator McCain will pledge to serve only one term as president and that there will be no politics in the White House? DAVIS: Well, first of all, if you know John McCain, you know there's not going to be much politics in the White House anyway. I mean, he doesn't grade any of his decisions either as a senator or in the future as president on what the political dynamic is.