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March 24, 2007

Black Humor du Jour
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

If President Bush were Steve Jobs, maybe we'd get this.

(Thanks to my cousin Barry Hurlburt, who is a New Orleans returnee and thus much-acquainted with black humor, for the link.)

March 23, 2007

Democrats Come of Age
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Last week, Suzanne argued in the New Republic that

For different reasons, both the administration and its critics in Congress have essentially reconciled themselves to a continuation of something close to the present course of the war. Neither side's moves amount to much, and they know it. They're quietly tolerating the status quo, partly for political reasons and partly because--as bad as things are--there's grim awareness that they could get even worse. It turns out that nobody really wants to rock the boat.

Like everybody else, I'm watching the whip count, and I think she's about to be proven wrong in one important sense.

** Update 12:45pm They got 218...

By finding a way to pass this bill, and even look gracious doing so (cf. Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters last night, and all the Blue Dogs who didn't bark in public), the Democrats serve notice that the party is united around the determination that this war not go on endlessly with no clear goal or purpose.  The party finds a voice on national security that says:  be accountable to explicit benchmarks.  Be accountable for the readiness needs of the troops.  and be accountable to what the public told you it wanted.

To me, that looks like a big rock of the boat and shift in the status quo.

However, it is equally true that even if passed by both houses this doesn't alter the President's prerogative to conduct foreign and military affairs as he sees fit.  Public opinion data make it very clear that the public is somewhat impatient with these niceties, and regards Democrats as part of the failure for not changing a situation that, constitutionally, they are ill-situated to change. 

Continue reading "Democrats Come of Age" »

Global Warming is an al Qaeda Plot!
Posted by Rosa Brooks

Okay, not really. But I wish it were, because evidence that al Qaeda was secretly accelerating climate change is about the only thing that might get the Bush Administration to take it seriously. Last July, Harvard psychology prof Daniel Gilbert wrote a great (and funny) LA Times op ed on the psychology of risk and threat perception, focusing on why Americans care more terrorism and even gay marriage than about global warming, though in the longer run, global warming is by far the greater security threat. The piece was originally published almost a year ago, but has somehow bubbled back up to the top of the paper's most-emailed list, and it's worth a read.

Still more danger: Iran captures 15 British sailors
Posted by Rosa Brooks

This story hasn't yet gotten much play, but I suspect it will if it is not resolved very, very soon. Iran has apparently captured and detained 15 British Navy sailors after what the Britsh authorities say was a routine boarding of a suspicious-looking merchant ship in Iraqi territorial waters. So far no public response from any Iranian government sources.

March 22, 2007

Danger Danger
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

There is what could potentially be a huge and I mean absolutely huge story out there right now.  A number of serious Pakistan watchers are warning that recent protests indicate that the regime may be in danger.  Ahmed Rashid in today’s WaPo

Musharraf is now too weak to pursue policies that could keep his back-stabbers in check, restore his credibility at home and abroad, and pursue his agenda of remaining in power for the next five years.

According to former Ambassador Teresita Schaeffer (warning PDF) “it has shaken the aura of invincibility that Musharraf has enjoyed until now.”

America’s relationship with Musharraf is similar to that of the Shah in the 1970s.  We have put all our strategic eggs in this basket.  When the protests against the Shah began in 1978 they were ignored.  His strength was taken for granted until it was too late for the U.S. to salvage its interests in Iran.  And by salvage I don’t mean bucking up the Shah at all costs but looking at all options available. 

Nobody knows exactly what would happen if Musharraf loses power and most likely he will survive.  But considering its role in the “war on terror”, considering it’s a nuclear power, considering that whenever you ask a foreign policy analyst “what’s your nightmare scenario?” the word Pakistan is usually involved in the answer you’d think people would be paying more attention.  I guess that’s what happens when you invade a country you shouldn’t have invaded and fire U.S. Attorneys for political reasons.  You get too busy.  Little things like Pakistan fall through the cracks.

March 21, 2007

As PR moves go,
Posted by Rosa Brooks

Bush's insistence that his advisors will speak to Congress only if they don't have to speak under oath doesn't seem like a very good one. If you intend to tell the truth, there's no reason to fear bei