Blair To Blame?

The tow-headed, oafish Boris Johnson-- member of Parliament, erstwhile editor of the Spectator, and columnist for the Daily Telegraph--is of a type that we don't have in America but which is very common in Britain: the legislator-cum-journalist.


Plan B Follies

Belatedly: This morning's Washington Post indicated that Bush has a "Plan B" in mind for Iraq: Participants in Tuesday's White House meeting said frustration about the Iraqi government's efforts dominated the conversation, with one pleading with the president to stop the Iraqi parliament from going on vacation while "our sons and daughters spill their blood." The House members pressed Bush and Gates hard for a "Plan B" if the current troop increase fails to quell the violence and push along political reconciliation.


Spy Games

In George Tenet's new book, At the Center of the Storm, the former CIA director claims that, when the Israeli government sought the release of jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in 1998, it was at Tenet's insistence that the former Navy intelligence analyst was kept behind bars. People who say Israel cannot be trusted by the United States have long pointed to Pollard as the case in point.


Easy Fix

We all know about the "war czar." He's the guy who's going to win the war in Iraq, just as soon as the White House finds someone to take the job. But did you know that, over the years, Bush has also appointed a "bird flu czar," a "food safety czar," and an "AIDS czar"? A "manufacturing czar" and a "cybersecurity czar"? That's from Steven Benen's TAP piece today about the Bush administration's preferred solution to any large, intractable problem. Czars galore. --Bradford Plumer

I feel guilty for not keeping closer tabs on the immigration-bill talks up on Capitol Hill. But whenever I try to catch up I encounter passages like this one: Senate GOP Conference Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.), an opponent of last year's bill turned White House ally in the negotiations, tamped down talk of a filibuster on the motion to proceed to placeholder legislation - provided that it would be only a stand-in for a complete agreement that has yet to emerge. Sigh.


Cafe Mania

It's true, as Mike points out, both Obama and Bush are proposing similar-sounding CAFE increases. The main difference, I think, is that the White House has given every indication that it intends to be much more, um, "flexible" about things. Here's a telling caveat from the president's State of the Union address, which estimated that his CAFE plan would reduce gasoline consumption by 8.5 billion gallons in 2017: These amounts are based on an assumption that on average, fuel efficiency standards for both light trucks and passenger cars are increased 4 percent per year....


Character Flaw

Of all the low points during the Bush administration, perhaps the most surreal was the week in December 2004 when Bernie Kerik was poised to become secretary of Homeland Security. By the traditional measures used to judge qualifications for this sort of job, Kerik was not an ideal candidate. The main points in Kerik's favor were his loyal service to Rudy Giuliani, first as driver for his mayoral campaign, then corrections commissioner, then police commissioner--the last of which was commemorated by the casting of30 Kerik busts.


Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.



Many have commented on the extraordinary nonchalance of Rudy Giuliani's response to the debate question of whether it'd be a good thing if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. What struck me, though, was the extent to which he carelessly demolished the code he's been relying on to allay social conservatives' fears on this very subject: It would be OK to repeal it.


Obama And Niebuhr

by Casey BlakeDavid Brooks was delighted by the response he received when he popped the Reinhold Niebuhr question to Barack Obama a week or so ago. "I love him." Obama said. "He's one of my favorite philosophers." Needless to say, Brooks was impressed. "So I asked, What do you take away from him?" "I take away," Obama answered in a rush of words, "the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ...