New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to White House officials and asked that Iglesias be removed because he was not indicting Democrats. “Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.” Weh said Rove told him: “He’s gone.” His account calls into question the White House’s involvement in the recent firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has released a powerful video of U.S. veterans who were barred from serving simply because they are gay. It includes a statement from President Clinton acknowledging, “There is no evidence to support the ban.” Watch the video, then help lift the ban:
“So they went, shook hands and chatted briefly. And that was the sum of the direct interaction between American and Iranian delegates at a long-awaited, day-long regional summit on Iraq today in Baghdad. … U.S. and Iranian officials said there were no private conversations of any substance.”
UPDATE: NewsHog has a round-up.
Former John McCain superfan Jonathan Chait has had enough and pens a hilarious column arguing that his further hero has now gone “to the dark side.” I’m a little uncertain as to what’s changed Chait’s mind since he was arguing about a year ago that McCain’s rightward shift was fake and the “real” John McCain was the liberal one he discerned back in the day.
For my money, I regard it as unlikely that a US Senator experienced two ideological conversions during the 2000-2005 period. The best sense I can make of McCain is that outside of his fanatical commitment to militarism, he doesn’t have especially strong views on anything. One thing he’s never been is the kind of politician I would be enthusiastic about. In Chait’s original pro-McCain article, he wrote “After the Democratic Leadership Council’s Will Marshall met to court him, McCain remarked, ‘I was struck by how much we were in common.’” That I found plausible. The kind of Democrat who, like Will Marshall, loves militarism, doesn’t care about economic inequality or poverty, and regards “social issues” as primarily an electoral headache rather than causes worth fighting for probably did have a lot in common with McCain’s 2001-2003 era persona.
If I were the kind of conservative (as most soi disant conservatives these days seem to be) inclined to regard “neo-Reaganite” foreign policy as an important plank of conservatism, I think McCain would be my favorite of the three stooges, since his commitment to that seems quite firm and principled. McCain’s made it clear that he doesn’t like cultural conservatives but he’s almost invariably been willing to vote the way they want. His thinking about economics seems confused more than anything else, but he’d probaby veto anything Democrats wanted to do that involved spending money.
“Pentagon chief Robert Gates is considering whether to dismantle some controversial spying operations set up by his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, as a way of by-passing the CIA. … Former officials involved in an ongoing debate about Pentagon spying say he’s considering whether to pull back the so-called ‘Strategic Support Branch‘ and other intelligence channels established by Rumsfeld and his former lieutenants, Stephen Cambone and Douglas Feith.” Shane Harris has the full story in the National Journal.
UPDATE: Steve Clemons has more.
I sort of agree with this Ivestor’s Business Daily editorial calling for more H-1B visa slots. I actually, however, agree much more with the logic than with the specific conclusion, since the H-1B program has some problems. The issue, at the end of the day, is that the United States should be allowing many, many, many more high-skill immigrants to enter the country. Such immigration has all the benefits of our current high levels of low-skill immigration (good for overall economic growth, good for the immigrants, etc.) but absolutely none of the costs in terms of increased inequality.
Indeed, quite the reverse — high-skill immigration would make America more egalitarian. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, accounts, political pundits, professors, etc., we should be encouraging these people to come to our shores.
So true. Meaningful political change is rarely “politically possible” in the sense that there is some obvious method through which the existing constellation of forces could easily bring it about. If it were, after all, it would have happened already. Which isn’t to say it’s a good idea to attempt the impossible — if you do, you’ll probably fail. But if nobody ever tried to do anything that was probably doomed to failure, then nothing would ever happen.
Nearly two months ago — as Congress began debate over a non-binding resolution that sought to put lawmakers on the record as to whether they supported escalation — conservatives complained that it was a “debate without any real consequence.” They derided the debate over the non-binding resolution as “a meaningless political stunt” and pure “political theater.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) called on the majority to produce a substantive proposal:
BOEHNER: “Why don’t we have the real debate and have the real vote and do it now? Let’s get out of the shadow boxing. Let’s get away from the non- binding resolution. Let’s get away from the slow bleed. Let’s just have the real debate that the American people want us to have and bring it to an end.” [CNN, 2/16/07]
PUTNAM: “If you’re not cutting off the funds for the troops in the field, then you are supporting the commander in chief’s policy. This gamesmanship sends the wrong message to our troops, and it is trying to have it both ways.” [SF Chronicle, 2/7/07]
This week, House Democrats did what the conservatives had been asking for. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a legislative plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by August 2008 at the latest, tying the proposal to the authorization of funding for the war.
So how did Boehner and Putnam react to the news that Congress could now engage in a “real debate”? By shifting their attacks and blaming Congress for taking the action that they had been encouraging just weeks earlier:
BOEHNER: “The Democrats are using the critical troop funding bill to micromanage the war on terror, undermining our generals on the ground and slowly choking off resources for our troops. [Press Conference, 3/8/07]
PUTNAM: “Democrats have put forward a haphazardly created proposal that micromanages the war now in order to slowly bleed off funds for our troops later.” [Statement, 3/8/07]
Because House conservatives’ are so desperate to avoid an Iraq debate and provide cover for Bush’s Iraq policy, their hypocrisy knows no bounds.
My less political friends were mostly focused on the gay undertones, but from a foreign policy perspective it’s hard to avoid noticing that this is a movie wherein your heros battle the insidious forces of
Iran Persia. At one point, Xerxes even unleashes a rhinoscerous of mass destruction. Clearly, in the film’s mythic retelling of the Thermopylae story, the Spartans are not only the heros but they are, in an important sense, us. We all living in the west are, or so the story goes, the heirs to Greek culture and civilization which was saved that day against in battle against the Asiatic hordes.
On another level, however, the “thousand nations of the Persian Empire” were the superpower of their day, like the United States. The Spartan rhetoric refers to “freedom” but it is not the liberty of the moderns for which they speak. In conventional terms, Xerxes’ subjects were probably freer than those under Leonidas’ rule. Rather, the Spartans fight for the freedom of Sparta the freedom of Greece, for the self-determination and autonomy of their people, and they fight for it to the point of irrationality and suicide. The impulse has more in common with, say, Hugo Chavez’ defiance of the superpower next door or Palestinians detonating a car bomb at a West Bank checkpoint than it does with anything in contemporary American policy.
As it happens, the filmmakers themselves appear to have no particular message in mind as they were working on the movie which is, probably for the best. Qua movie review I’ll just say that 300, while certainly neat, is in every way inferior to Sin City.
UPDATE: A commenter urges me to say something about the film’s racism. I think “Orientalism” may be the term we’re looking for here. Certainly, on a not-very-subtle level the semiotics here are indicating that the Middle East is populated by people who are, at best, partially human. This is taken over directly from the comic book but somehow amped-up during adaptation.
As readers will know, I had absolutely nothing to do with this, but MyDD and a coalition of local blogs appear to have succeeded in their efforts to get the Nevada Democratic Party to can the idea of a Fox News-sponsored debate. This goes to show, as with the Sinclair Broadcasting affair from a while back, that social capital really is a powerful thing . . . relativel small numbers of people can, if properly organized and energized, exercise a great deal of influence over fairly powerful institutions. One of the big problems in contemporary America is that vast swathes of civil society have really sort of withered away over the past few decades, and the internet’s greatest promise is the possibility of rebuilding it.