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Dick of the Day

[ 0 ] January 29, 2009 |

Dick Armey.

Diplomacy Isn’t So Hard…

[ 0 ] January 28, 2009 |

It appears that the Bush administration’s effort to diplomatically “lock in” a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic has failed:

Russia has dropped plans to install missiles near Poland after the Obama administration signalled a change in US attitude to the region, a Moscow military official has reportedly said. The official suggested that Mr Obama’s White House had made clear it would not prioritise executing the Bush administration’s plan to install a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

An unnamed official in the Russian military’s general staff said: “The implementation of these plans has been halted in connection with the fact that the new US administration is not rushing through plans to deploy” elements of its missile defence shield in eastern Europe, according to the Interfax news agency.

Congratulations to Obama and Medvedev; Russia will save money, the United States will save money, and Poland won’t have Russian missiles parked on its border. It’s a win for everyone who’s not a missile defense zealot.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

Who Knew?

[ 0 ] January 28, 2009 |

Apparently, Caitlan Flanagan’s anecdotes and urban legends turn out to be not terribly reliable. I, for one, am shocked. I also agree with Jessica that the panic about teen sex really over a panic over girls (or young women, really) having sex.


[ 0 ] January 28, 2009 |

America’s worst op-ed columnist was only unemployed for about eight hours yesterday, as Bill Kristol was hired by the Washington Post Writers Group immediately after the NYT announced he wouldn’t be wasting its precious newsprint any more.

It’s no wonder newspapers aren’t going to exist ten years from now.

You betcha, etc.

[ 0 ] January 28, 2009 |

This is great news for me:

SarahPAC . . . was registered Monday night with the Federal Election Commission. The Web site went live Tuesday, said Pam Pryor, who worked as a liaison between the McCain-Palin presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee. Now, Pryor is serving as a volunteer spokeswoman for the new PAC.

The goal of the committee, according to its Web site, is to “make it possible for Gov. Palin to continue to be a strong voice for energy independence and reform. … SarahPAC will support local and national candidates who share Gov. Palin’s ideas and goals for our country.”

I can think of few other sights as grand as a litter of Sarah Palins, snouts to the soil like truffling hogs, trying to discern the “ideas and goals” that might win the approval of their would-be patron. I suppose Joe the Plumber will probably make the cut. Mabe they can hang out and read von Mises together.

John Updike

[ 0 ] January 28, 2009 |

R.I.P. Wolcott has more.

Fighting The Last War

[ 0 ] January 27, 2009 |

I think Steve M.’s analysis of the problems with defenses of Paterson’s senate appointment are very astute. One line of argument goes that Gillibrand was a strong choice for 2010 because a more progressive candidate would have their support too localized in New York to win, so we could end up with an Al D’Amato/Pataki situation. The main problem with such arguments , as Steve points out, is that 1)Westchester, Long Island, and other NYC bedroom areas are much more liberal than they were 15 years ago, and 2)upstate has shrunk relative to the population in the NYC metro area. Basically, the old Republican competitiveness formula no longer works. Any vaguely credible Democratic candidate, including one significantly more progressive than Gillibrand, would be a massive, massive favorite in 2010 even before we get to the question of who exactly the D’Amato/Pataki figure for the GOP is supposed to be. I suppose there may be good reasons to have picked Gillibrand, but the idea that the Dems needed her to win in 2010 certainly isn’t one of them.

Gee, ya think?

[ 0 ] January 27, 2009 |

Michael Rubin asks, with an evidently straight face:

I won’t get into the substance of Obama’s comments—others are doing that across the web—but I am curious whether the choice of al-Arabiya signals the administration’s abandonment of the U.S.-funded al-Hurra satellite channel. Al-Arabiya is the second-most popular channel in the Arabic-speaking Middle East (after al-Jazeera), so audience reach was not the only factor Obama’s handlers considered when determining on which Arabic satellite station he should appear.

Setting aside the fact that people only watch it when their cats accidentally step on their remote controls, al-Hurra is — like the administration that sponsored it — a sump of incompetence that can’t even maintain a consistently pro-American line of propaganda. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine why the incoming administration wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to validate five years of failed media strategy by appearing on a network that symbolizes its predecessor’s total incapacity to take people in the Middle East seriously.

Marc Lynch has more…

Blog Launch-Progressive Realist

[ 0 ] January 27, 2009 |

Check out Progressive Realist, a new blog bringing together a number of progressive foreign policy writers (including yours truly). Here’s the About; the project has been brought together by Robert Wright (of Bloggingheads et al). I’m proud to be a contributor; check it out.

Quid Without the Quo

[ 0 ] January 27, 2009 |

Obama is apparently urging House Dems to strip birth control funding from the stimulus bill. While this would be wrong on the merits, as Matt says what’s even worse is that the Dems seem to be getting absolutely nothing in return. Indeed, Obama should be moving in the other direction; since at this point it’s obvious that there’s essentially no chance that the Republicans will vote for the bill, and it will make no difference to any future election how many Republicans vote for it (voters will give Democrats the credit or blame irrespective of the final vote), the Dems might as well pass the best bill they can.

[X-Posted at TAPPED.]

Elsewhere: On the Side of Angels

[ 0 ] January 27, 2009 |

Jacob Levy is hosting a crookedtimber style book symposium on Nancy Rosenblum’s new book, On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship. The first several posts are by Rosenblum herself, laying out main arguments of the book:

Nancy Rosenblum’s account moves between political theory and political science, and she uses resources from both fields to outline an appreciation of parties and the moral distinctiveness of partisanship. She draws from the history of political thought and identifies the main lines of opposition to parties, as well as the rare but significant moments of appreciation. Rosenblum then sets forth her own theoretical appreciation of parties and partisanship. She discusses the achievement of parties in regulating rivalries, channeling political energies, and creating the lines of division that make pluralist politics meaningful.

I’m about 100 pages in to this rather long book, so all I’ve really seen so far is her historical account of what she calls “the grand traditions of antipartyism” in political thought. While I’ve yet to get to her own positive argument, so I’ve not yet formed a worthwhile opinion, this looks like an important book; even if the core of the argument seems rather obviously right (as it does to me, and I suspect most of our readers) assembling all aspects of the argument in one place. I’m hopeful, from the list of participants, that some will offer some of the critical pushback I wouldn’t necessarily come up with as an overly sympathetic reader. There’s quite a bit already up, and I probably won’t have time to read it all until the weekend, but if you’ve got the time and the interest, check it out.

Influenza Literature

[ 0 ] January 26, 2009 |


But in some ways the most interesting thing about the Spanish Flu is the extent to which its occurrence has been purged from our historical memory despite the fact that it was extraordinarily deadly—killing more people than World War One. But it’s barely mentioned in our history textbooks, doesn’t seem to come up much in famous books by Hemingway or Fitzgerald.

Now this is an interesting point. We have an enormously rich body of post-Great War American literature, focusing both on the ex-pat experience and on various elements of the national life, and it’s hard for me off hand to remember any reference to the Spanish Flu. Am I misremembering, and if not, why does it seem as if an entire generation of writers simply ignored one of the most important events of their lives?