March 12, 2007
The best argument (Kinsley) and the worst argument (Kristol) for a Libby pardon. Kristol's piece also has this ridiculous assertion: "So if the White House wants to minimize opportunities for fresh speculation about how the Libby case is part of some broader conspiracy, the president should act now [and pardon Libby]." Riiiight, that'll dampen "speculation". Kinsley's essay is very smart, although does he really want an answer to this question: As for Democrats and liberals, I feel as vindictive as any other.
Today's liberal debate concerns: neoliberalism. Let me make a small point for the defense. The other Jonathan rightly points out that neoliberal aims helped rehabilitate the cause of fiscal responsibility among liberals. At Tapped, Ezra Klein expresses skepticism that there ever were any fiscally-irresponsible Democrats. In fact, the merits of deficits were a raging debate during the 1980s. Read this Michael Kinsley article which shows just how controversial a proposition this was at the time.
March 11, 2007
The Law Won?
I am reasonably sure that no one in the White House cares what I think about a pardon for Scooter Libby. But, frankly, I'd prefer for the D.C. Circuit to overthrow the verdict of the district court than for George Bush to pardon Libby. It would keep Libby out of jail, but it woouldn't persuade anyone that he is innocent. After the 140 sleazy midnight absolutions by Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, any presidential pardon will be afflicted with a stench that will keep it from ever being truly seen as an act of justice.
March 07, 2007
Where Are The Talking Points?
Slate's Emily Bazelon has a good summary of the fired U.S. attorneys' day on the Hill. This caught me eye: The Republican senators came up with only a scattershot defense. Specter questioned whether the phone calls Iglesias and McKay received from their home state politicians were actually threatening. This mostly gave the former prosecutors an opportunity to elaborate. Sen. John Kyl of Arizona complained that since only Cummins has been replaced by a Bush favorite there was no evidence that the administration's desire to install political cronies was behind the firings.
Kevin Drum highlights this aside in Michael Wolff's Vanity Fair bit on the Libby trial: The one constant I've observed, in 27 years as an on-again, off-again political reporter, is that Republicans return reporters' calls and Democrats don't. ... [Message control] is part of the DNA which makes Republicans return a reporter's calls -- and not grudgingly but eagerly (in contrast, you should hear the impatient and dismissive tone of the Democrats when you call them up). Is that right?
"a**hole Uzbeks" Indeed
On a more serious note, the State Department's human rights report points out that things in Kazakhstan's authoritarian neighbor, Uzbekistan, are only getting worse. Borat might've done a greater service by lampooning that dictatorship: The government's human rights record, already poor, continued to worsen during the year. Citizens did not have the right in practice to change their government through peaceful and democratic means. Security forces routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees under interrogation to obtain confessions or incriminating information.
March 06, 2007
The Great Gaffe Of 2008
by David A. Bell For the tribe of presidential candidates now beginning their campaigns, it must be the ultimate nightmare. They spend months working beyond the point of exhaustion to get everything right, and, amazingly, they do. Steadily, they begin to impress the voters with their savvy, their boldness, their talent, their sheer leadership ability. Their poll numbers rise dramatically, and a few reporters even start attaching the word "inevitable" to their candidacies. And then comes The Incident.
If you want to follow the story about the fired U.S. attorneys, Josh Marshall and Paul Kiel are the people to see. But Slate's Dahlia Lithwick raises a crucial question: "Who changed the Patriot Act to make it easier to replace U.S. attorneys without oversight, and how did it happen with nobody looking?" It turns out that the Judiciary Committee's chief counsel, Michael O'Neill, may or may not have slipped in the provision at the request of the Justice Department.
March 05, 2007
In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received an anonymous tip that a luxury apartment near the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., housed a private and possibly illegal collection of tribal art. People who had visited the apartment whispered that its walls showcased hundreds of artifacts, including many containing what appeared to be plumage from rare or endangered birds. There was no way to know for sure, since the collection's owner had forgone plaques and scholarly labels and arranged the items to complement his d?cor.
March 03, 2007
Barack Obama announced a few weeks ago that he would join (my old friend and comrade) Rep. John Lewis on the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to mark the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, when the state police beat the hell out of peaceful civil right demonstrators... and bashed the skull of Lewis, then head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).