The Rundown

August 10, 2007
  • Fred Kaplan breaks down the parallels between the British withdrawal from India and a future US withdrawal from Iraq over at Slate.
  • Peter Carlson pens a pretty entertaining farewell to the absurdist tabloid that was the Weekly World News.
  • The quotes in this article from Idaho Rep. Bill Sali need to be read to be believed. Honestly.
  • Atul Gawande has some words of wisdom on medical malpractice (via Overlawyered).
  • Daniel Gross rips Rudy Giuliani’s health care plan to shreds. And rightly so. This thing is awful.

The Rundown

August 8, 2007
  • Here is a pretty good, reasonable, level-headed analysis of the entire Scott Beauchamp controversy over at Slate.
  • Speaking of level-headed analysis, here is Mark Kleiman on No Child Left Behind.
  • Ruben Navarrette of the San Diego Union-Tribune defends Obama’s much-maligned foreign policy prescriptions. TPM’s Reed Hundt has more.
  • Paul Sonne argues for Foreign Policy that the IOC should do a better job of selecting Olympic sites.
  • Things continue to heat up between Russia and Georgia.

The Rundown

August 7, 2007
  • Tyler Cowen presents a really interesting argument about the nature of poverty, based on a book by Charles Kareli.
  • Foreign Policy‘s Mike Boyer points to the fact that Grist (and other environmental organizations) tend to ignore conservative environmentalists.
  • A pretty entertaining Freakonomics Q&A with Columbia sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh about gang life.
  • Over at Salon, Juan Cole calls the latest surge of good news on the surge “a surge of phony spin.” Surge.
  • Also at Salon, Glenn Greenwald interviews Chris Dodd. I have found myself increasingly impressed by Dodd. It’s a shame he’s such a long-shot.
  • MD Governor Martin O’Malley and DLC Chair Harold Ford argue for Democratic centrism in the WP. Steve Benen is not impressed.

If it Weren’t for My Horse, Byron York

August 3, 2007

One of my favorite comedy bits of all time is the famous Lewis Black bit where he hypothesizes about the link between the stupidity of others and aneurysms. Certainly, I know the feeling. In fact, I had it just today reading Byron York’s column in The Hill.

You see, York is rehashing the age-old argument that anti-war types are treasonous. You know, the same one the hard right used during the Cold War, particularly about Vietnam. And that every militaristic administration everywhere has used against the anti-war contingent in every society since the dawn of civilization. Yes, that one.

Why it set me off today, I can’t say. I would guess I’ve just had enough. The war is overwhelmingly unpopular. Public opinion had, nearly without exception, turned against it this summer. Lately a few highly dubious “good news” reports have come out, and the treachery charge has come right back. Let me state this clearly, in language so simple it would be hard for York to misconstrue: The anti-war majority does not want the US to lose in Iraq. I repeat, we do not want the US to lose in Iraq.

We have simply accepted the reality that the surge can only go on for so long (about six months, according to the army), and that is almost definitely not long enough to fix things. Moreover, the only fix the army can provide is a military one, while the political situation, which is critical to long-term stability, continues to deteriorate. I only hope the American people are not so easily swayed by the manipulative McCarthyite likes of York.

The Rundown

August 3, 2007
  • The best piece I’ve seen on the I-35 Bridge Collapse. It’s just very well done.
  • New poll shows a three-way split in Iowa between the big three Dems. Oh how I love a horserace.
  • Mark Kleiman has a great anecdote about the ongoing problems in the credit market.
  • Matthew Yglesias points to a good critique of the O’Hanlon/Pollack editorial. He also conveys some interesting Romney news.
  • And finally, hell froze over as President Bush announced international climate change talks today.

Brookings on Iraq

July 30, 2007

Clearly, the big one today is the O’Hanlon / Pollack editorial in the New York Times. For those of you who read blogs but somehow missed this one, O’Hanlon and Pollack are scholars at the left-leaning Brookings Institute who have been critical of the war, but now believe the surge is working. The upshot is this:

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

I don’t have much new to say on the subject. A great deal has already been said, probably better than I could say it, so I will run that down instead.

RCP’s Tom Bevan buys it. His take:

If two of America’s most well respected experts who follow this stuff closer than anyone are surprised by the positive progress in Iraq, just imagine how surprised the average Joe would be.

Andrew Sullivan is less than convinced.  He points out that Pollack and O’Hanlon appear to have obtained most of their information from people who have a significant incentive to overstate progress.

Matthew Yglesias weighs in twice: In the first, he notes that O’Hanlon and Pollack, while sometimes critical of the war, are not exactly lefty peaceniks either; in the second he points to a more substantive flaw:

The critique of US occupation policy since, say, the fall of 2003 has been that US policy in Iraq has focused overwhelmingly on military goals and ignored the fact that the essential problems in Iraq are political […] according to the people [Pollack and O’Hanlon] who think the surge is working, the surge has, in fact, done nothing whatsoever to address the crucial problems in Iraq.

Brad DeLong is also unimpressed, pointing to a Joe Klein post on his Time blog to the same effect.

My own general sense is that these two have been at best misled, and at worst, outright dishonest. They do not disclose their prior cheerleading for the surge, and in fact, present themselves as war skeptics. I regard their claims warily, particularly in light of Joe Klein’s suggestion that they visited nearly exclusively Sunni parts of the country, where US forces are most concentrated and where the occupation is somewhat less unpopular.

The Rundown

July 28, 2007
  • CFR’s Peter Beinart uses the ongoing Hillary Obama spat as a jumping point for a pretty good editorial about Pakistan in Time.
  • Reid Wilson writes about the state of the Senate.
  • Things continue to look worse for Alberto Gonzalez, as even more people effectively call him a liar.
  • The NYT gives a handy summary of corruption charges plaguing various lawmakers around the country.
  • Daniel Davies tears the David Kane criticisms of the Lancet study of Iraq deaths that Michelle Malkin has been promoting to shreds at Crooked Timber.
  • Via Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy, a new paper by environmental law professor Arnold Reitze suggesting corn ethanol may not work out as planned. Yeah, you don’t say.