Today's Wall Street Journal highlights a line from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that you hear a lot from the administration these days, but which I still find pretty mystifying: "Negotiations with Tehran would be fruitless now, Gates explains, because first 'we need some leverage.'" Don't we already have a ton of leverage over the Iranians--namely, our ability to leave Iraq, thereby leaving a massive terrorist haven, not to mention a bloody civil war, festering along their border?

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It's All About Oil

In his radio address last Saturday, President George W. Bush described "benchmarks" that "the Iraqi government must meet...or lose the support of the Iraqi and American people." Second on the list after "taking responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces" was "passing legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis." That sounds pretty good: a guaranteed annual income for all Iraqis. But that's not exactly what the oil law is about. Earlier today, the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced that the law had been drafted and would be submitted to the cabinet next week.

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by Sanford Levinson I quote below the response of Mark Levin, blogging at the National Review site, to the announcement by the Bush administration that it will, after all, submit requests for surveillance of telephone conversations to the FISA Court after arguing, since December 2005, both that the president has inherent authority to order such surveillance and, even more to the point, that the 1978 surveillance apparatus leaves us in peril in the "global war on terror": Is there no principle subject to negotiation? Is there no course subject to reversal?

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by Eric Rauchway Jane Galt says you can't just get the ball in the pocket, you have to call your shot. Which is to say: I was wrong to impute excessive competence to the government.... This has not convinced me of the brilliance of the doves, because precisely none of the ones that I argued with predicted that things would go wrong in the way they did. If you get the right result, with the wrong mechanism, do you get credit for being right, or being lucky? In some way, they got it just as wrong as I did: nothing that they predicted came to pass. I don't know which anti-war voice Ms.

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This morning I'm watching the silly sit-down that "Good Morning America"'s Diane Sawyer did with the 16 women senators, and the first topic of discussion is (surprise!) how the decidedly non-female Barack Obama puts a kink in Senator Clinton's plans to become the first Madame President. As Diane framed the situation, here's a woman Senator looking to break one glass ceiling, only to run up against a black Senator aiming to break another type of glass ceiling. The safe-money bet is that we'll hear this minority v.

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Crying Wolfowitz

The United States helped found the World Bank in 1945. It was designed initially to aid in postwar reconstruction, but it has developed a focus on alleviating extreme poverty and encouraging development in the world's poorest countries. American officials did not conceive of the bank as a vehicle for carrying out a particular administration's foreign policy objectives. When Robert Macnamara left the Pentagon to become World Bank president in 1968, for instance, he did not use his tenure to advance the American war effort in Vietnam.

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Whither Rahm

This article in today's Hill highlights Rahm Emanuel's Hillary-Obama dilemma: One House leader with potentially divided loyalties is Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). The Democratic Caucus chairman and 2006 electoral hero has close ties to the Chicago political community certain to back Obama as well as to Sen. Clinton and her husband, whom Emanuel served as a campaign strategist and senior White House aide.

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Eviction Notice

by Sanford Levinson I have only just seen Jacob Levy's "invitation" to weigh in on the ability of Congress to defund the proposed "surge." On this matter, I see nothing to disagree with in Cass Sunstein's thoughtful posting. I do think, though, that there are probably insurmountable political obstacles in the way of an effectve cutting off of funding (assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is wise policy): First, obviously, it would have to get through both houses of Congress.

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The End Of Mussolini

Just in case you wanted to know how The New York Times, which has gone bananas over Saddam Hussein's execution, felt about "The End of Mussolini," take a look below: The wretched end of Benito Mussolini marks a fitting end to a wretched life.

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Legal Nonsense

The Washington Post editorial page, which championed the war in Iraq, gives top billing (upper-right hand of the page) to two former Justice Department officials from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations who argue that it is unconstitutional for the Democrats to introduce a resolution condemning the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq. David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey don't just oppose the resolution; they oppose introducing it and taking a vote on it. Their argument consists of the kind of legal sleight-of-hand that has led many distrust Washington lawyers.

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