Tuesday, May 31, 2005

John Edwards at TPMCafe

Edwards is doing good work on reducing poverty:
The Brookings Institution recently released a fascinating study demonstrating how low-income families pay more for all sorts of things. They pay more for groceries and gasoline. They pay more for furniture and appliances. They pay higher prices for insurance and for utilities. And—something that has troubled me for a long time—they pay more for financial services, whether it’s cashing a check or getting a loan.
Good man!

E!: Paris & Paris' Engaged Life

I can't believe I was reading this. But having just digested the news that Paris Hilton is now engaged to a guy named Paris this sentence struck me as utterly ridiculous:
The Simple Life star is apparently interested in keeping her family life complicated--she has said she intends to name her daughter Paris, while her son may be dubbed London.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Iraq Update from Juan Cole

Sometimes You are Just Screwed:
Therefore, I conclude that the United States is stuck in Iraq for the medium term, and perhaps for the long term. The guerrilla war is likely to go on a decade to 15 years. Given the basic facts, of capable, trained and numerous guerrillas, public support for them from Sunnis, access to funding and munitions, increasing civil turmoil, and a relatively small and culturally poorly equipped US military force opposing them, led by a poorly informed and strategically clueless commander-in-chief who has made himself internationally unpopular, there is no near-term solution.
I have no reason to disbelieve anything that Juan says here. His previous posts on the Middle East have been largely correct.

O'Reilly vs. NY Times

This piece does a good job of highlighting the difference between "mainstream media bias" and conservative bias. Suffice to say these are not apples and apples. (Via Kevin Drum.)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Prof. Gaddis of Yale goes to the White House...

Who could have guessed this (via Atrios):
But the President said: 'Sit down. Loved your book. Tell me more about Bismarck.'

There followed a twenty minute conversation with Bush asking all the questions. After which we found, cooling their heels outside, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Under-Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers. 'This is Professor Gaddis,' the President said, waving the book at them. 'I want you all to read his book.'

Well, I don't know how you would have responded in such a situation, but I was somewhat surprised.

I'd been told, first of all, that the President never read anything beyond his daily press and intelligence digests. So it was certainly a surprise to find that he had read my book, and that he had done so ahead of his own staff. We've since learned, of course, that the President has a pretty eclectic reading list, ranging from Nathan Sharansky and Ron Chernow to Tom Wolfe.

I'd been told, second, that this was an administration that could not take criticism ' that it listened only to people who agreed with it. But the criticisms I'd made didn't seem to bother anyone.

And I'd been told that this was an administration that was incapable of changing direction, of learning from mistakes, of assessing its own performance. But the whole tone of the discussions was one of acknowledging that, while the overall direction of policy was right, much had gone wrong along the way, and that in the second term ' if the voters were to grant one ' there would have to be certain changes.
Powerful stuff, well worth reading. My take: Bush's error isn't so much the lack of noble intent as a lack of regard for "enlightenment liberalism" - the set of values and ideas that once liberated the West from the tyranny and theocracy of the dark ages. Same goes for Prof. Gaddis.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

NYT: Church Meets State

A good read for defenders of enlightenment liberalism (via Andrew Sullivan):
If there is anything David Hume and John Adams understood, it is that you cannot sustain liberal democracy without cultivating liberal habits of mind among religious believers. That remains true today, both in Baghdad and in Baton Rouge.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blue states richer?

Via Andrew Sullivan, an interesting take on the red-state blue-state divide:
This map of the most recent census data (for 2003) shows an interesting divide: Blue States are those whose median income for a family of four exceeds the U.S. median of $65,093, while Red States are those whose median income is less than the U.S. median