With Friends Like These

There's a theory that John Warner is just the beginning: That tons of not-yet-defected Republicans are thoroughly fed up with Bush and are giving him -- by filibustering the anti-surge vote in the Senate -- a last push on the swing before they just walk away. I doubted that (party loyalty is party loyalty, especially if you're in the minority), but I might have changed my mind at the presser I just went to on the border agents who shot a drug-runner in the ass and got put in the slammer, where one was beaten up by fellow inmates.

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by Sanford Levinson Would you gladly drive a car with slick tires and failing brakes simply because you haven't driven over a cliff yet? Or, as much to the point, would you give your children such a car? One suspects that the answer to the latter question is no, even if one might be tempted to take certain risks with regard to one's own life. Consider also the issuance by the U.S. government this past week of potential responses to a threatened repetition of the disastrous flu pandemic of 1918 (which killed almost as many U.S. soldiers as died in World War I itself).

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In Slate, Fred Kaplan argues that the FY2008 military budget submitted by President Bush yesterday comes out to $739 billion, once all the accounting gimmicks are factored in. Adjusted for inflation, "that's about one-third higher than the previous record for military spending, set in 1952, when more than 30,000 American soldiers were dying in the Korean War and the Pentagon was embarking on its massive Cold War rearmament drive." If I'm not mistaken, though, the Defense Department will likely end up asking for even more money than Kaplan figures.

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Black Like Me

In 1994, two sociologists went to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to solve a mystery. Red Hook abutted the East River, and along the waterfront sat shipping companies and warehouses--all in need of low-skilled labor. Next door sat a housing project teeming with exactly that. But the locals--primarily African Americans--didn't get hired. Instead, the jobs went to workers from outside the neighborhood, often Caribbean immigrants.

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Constitutional Assault

by David Bromwich"It won't stop us." The subject of Dick Cheney's extraordinary statement a week ago was the administration's resolve to escalate the war in Iraq, and the co-equal effort to trigger a confrontation with Iran. Cheney was saying that he intended to go forward (with Bush and Rice and Gates rounding out the "we") no matter what the challenge or attempts at correction by the Senate and House of Representatives. It was another symptom of a mentality that belongs more to the history of absolute monarchy than to a constitutional republican regime or even a limited monarchy.

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If The Surge Fails...

In somewhat surprising news, The Weekly Standard has boldly taken a break from highlighting the childhoods of unremarkable public servants in their new issue. Specifically, there's a pretty ridiculous piece by Noemie Emery (she of "Bush is the new Truman" fame) about the surge.

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Left Turn

Matt Yglesias writes: [O]ne of the memes floating about in the Nadersphere has, I think, been vindicated: Namely the basically Leninist idea that a Democratic loss and a period of Republican governance would pull the Democrats in a more progressive direction in terms of, for example, questioning "Washington Consensus" globalization. At the time, that argument didn't make sense to me. And in some important ways I still don't think it makes a ton of sense logically. But it does seem to be what's happened. Now, was that a price worth paying for the dead in Iraq, the torture, etc.?

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Iran Odds And Ends

Lately, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been insisting that, despite all signs to the contrary, the Bush administration has no plans for a war with Iran: With respect to Iran, first of all, the president has made clear; the secretary of State has made clear; I've made clear -- nobody is planning -- we are not planning for a war with Iran. Right, and if everyone claps loud enough, we might almost forget this headline from May of 2002: "Rumsfeld: No Plans to Invade Iraq." Or this, from George W. Bush, a month later: [T]here are no war plans on my desk.

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Eyes Off The Ball

Is it paranoid to think that the White House is planning to attack Iran--and soon? Reports like this one, from U.S. News & World Report, keep bubbling up every day: Democratic insiders tell the Political Bulletin that they suspect Bush will order the bombing of Iranian supply routes, camps, training facilities, and other sites that Administration officials say contribute to American losses in Iraq. Under this scenario, Bush would not invade Iran with ground forces or zero in on Iranian nuclear facilities.

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Icky Rice ... Profile

You know the new Time magazine cover story on Condoleeza Rice, portentously titled 'The Weight of the World', is going to be a long, hard slog when you come across two sentences like these in the second paragraph: Even as the Bush Administration's support has slid to historic depths, Rice's image has been relatively unsullied. She remains not just the most glamorous member of the Bush Cabinet but also its most popular, with job-approval ratings 20 points higher than her boss's. Hmmm, I wonder why this is.

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