After Fredo

While those outside the loop are discussing names such as Michael Chertoff to be the new Attorney General, Ross Douthat--who's evidently far better wired into the White House than I realized--has already been auditioning possible replacements and seems to have found the one person on the face of the earth better at not answering a question than Alberto Gonzales: After five minutes of this, even Pat Leahy will throw in the towel. Update: John Cole concurs. --Christopher Orr

American Collapse

UPDATE 12/25/08: A number of tragic events in the past several years have exposed the multiple costs of continuing to neglect our deteriorating infrastructure: to human lives, to quality of life, to the economy, to the future health and competitive prospects of our country. President-elect Barack Obama is working with Congress to put together a New-Dealish economic stimulus package that could total $850 billion, with a big chunk of those funds dedicated to projects that will repair, rebuild, and upgrade the nation's infrastructure.

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Straw Man

Noam Scheiber on Mitt Romney’s flimsy 2008 campaign.

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The steps outside the U.S. Supreme Court can be a pretty strange place--especially when the Court is hearing an abortion case. But it looks like we've got nothing on Pakistan. From today's NYT story about the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to allow former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return from exile and run for office: Mr. Sharif's supporters hugged each other and poured out of the white marble building onto the main avenue, where they slaughtered four goats in celebration. As blood spilled on the asphalt, Mr.

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The National Review has a new editorial online today reading in part: Now the surge has helped turn Sunni tribes against al Qaeda, advancing the goal that nearly everyone in the U.S. notionally shares of routing the terror group from Iraq. Democrats try to chalk up this progress generically to the courage and the adeptness of our troops.

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Mark me down as agreeing with Michael Kinsley on the Mike Gerson hatchet job the Atlantic ran this month. Like Kinsley, I thought the offenses catalogued by Matt Scully, Gerson's former White House speechwriting colleague, were pretty miniscule. Aside from a certain exhibitionist allure--which is, of course, why it was the first thing I turned to, and why I read straight through in one sitting--the piece had little to offer. As Kinsley points out, it's Scully, rather than Gerson, who comes off looking like the prick here.

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Blast Off

Apart from razing the Appalachian landscape, polluting thousands of rivers and streams, devastating local communities, and increasing erosion and flooding in the surrounding areas, there's really not a whole lot to love about the mountaintop-removal method of coal mining. Here's the latest in a long, long line of White House moves to bolster the technique: The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

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The characteristic mappamundi of the Renaissance directed the eye towards Jerusalem, usually as the apex of three spheres of the material world. But this was really, as the scholar Richard Padron has argued, "the cartography of ecclesiastical mapmakers more interested in orienting the soul towards heaven than in directing the body through the physical world." Once again, Jerusalem sits in the heads of many people --politicians, scribes, sheer mischief makers--as the center of the universe awaiting concrete tenderings without which the world will have no peace.

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From today's WaPo: A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country. Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations.

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Dueling Ledes

Two different views of the same news event: SENATOR CALLS FOR MALIKI'S OUSTERDeclaring the government of Iraq "non-functional," the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq's parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days. ... [Senator Carl] Levin's comments to reporters followed the release of a joint statement with the second-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John W.

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