David Frum, reviewing Mark Steyn’s book, makes a great point that’s been weirdly ignored during the contemporary fad over demographic fear-mongering: “Demographic trends have a surprising way of reversing themselves with amazing rapidity. Nobody foresaw the baby boom in 1938. And yet only eight years later, birth rates surged all through the developed world, in devastated Germany and Japan as well as in victorious Britain and America. OK, there was a big war in between. But s late as 1966, most forecasters thought the baby boom would continue indefinitely.”
McClatchy reports tonight:
Fired San Diego U.S. attorney Carol Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe the day before a Justice Department official sent an e-mail that said Lam needed to be fired, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.
Feinstein, D-Calif., said the timing of the e-mail suggested that Lam’s dismissal may have been connected to the corruption probe.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse denied in an e-mail that there was any link.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said last week that while President Bush has the authority to fire attorneys at will, “if it is done to stop an ongoing investigation, then you do get into the criminal area.”
I read a copy of this earlier today and was told it wasn’t up on the web yet, but this Googe cache works. It’s a New York Review of Books article by George Soros “On Israel, America & AIPAC.” It’s a long piece, so I wouldn’t want to commit myself to the proposition that I agree with every single sentence inside it, but it strikes me as basically correct and likely to prompt many, many, many an unfair attack. It’s also likely to create some trouble for Soros-backed groups and Soros-backed organizations. On one level, that’s too bad, since nobody deserves that kind of trouble.
On the other hand, this whole debate has gotten a little painfully meta with tons of back-and-forth about whether people are being intimidated, or whether people are anti-semites, or using charges of anti-semitism to intimidate people, etc., etc., etc. At some point, it would be good to not cut through that and debate the actual issue at hand — whether the United States should adopt different policies vis-a-vis Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict — and if Soros’ article pushes things in that direction, it’ll be all to the good.
“Dan Bartlett, counselor to Mr. Bush, has said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that the president would waive executive privilege to allow his top aides to testify publicly. One Republican strategist close to the White House…said: ‘No president is going to let their senior staff assistant to the president go testify. Forget that. They might agree to do an informal interview, but they’ll never testify.’ … Democrats, citing a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, say presidential advisers, including 47 from the Clinton administration alone, have frequently testified before Congressional committees, both while serving the president and after they had left the White House.”
I really don’t think Megan McArdle’s understood what I was saying about vouchers. Giving families more choice about which school to attend: Good idea. Public money without public accountability: Bad idea. Ergo, charter schools are a good idea. Alternatively, you could call it “vouchers” but add a lot of regulations that institutions accepting the vouchers were required to submit to.
That’s my general take. In terms of specific proposals, you have to look at specifics. In DC, for example, a sufficiently generous voucher would, if not limited to poor families, probably do a lot to decrease the volume of young professionals moving to the suburbs to raise kids. That, in turn, would have various second-order consequences (on taxes, on property values) that one would have to think about. It’s probably worth considering, but DC’s in pretty unusual circumstances.
Number of Americans who are confident about the war in Iraq, compared to 83 percent four years ago, at the start of the war. The new CNN poll also finds that “30 percent of those polled this month said they were proud of the war, as opposed to 65 percent who expressed that sentiment in 2003.”
UPDATE: “The U.S. military on Sunday announced the deaths of seven more troops in Iraq, including four killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling western Baghdad — the latest American casualties in a monthlong security crackdown in the capital. Though violence has receded slightly in the capital, a car bomb killed eight Iraqis in a predominantly Shiite district on Sunday.”
Ryan Lizza has a great piece in the NY Times “Week in Review” about the rising importance of star power in presidential campaigns (a favorite theme of mine) and the ways in which too much experience can become a handicap. The article is, however, a reminder that the imperative to frame questions in a journalistically compelling way can end up downplaying the level of experience our current candidates have. Lizza says the existence of comparisons between Barack Obama “only underscores how the bar for experience has been lowered in the ensuing decades” since “Kennedy, after all, had five years in the Navy, six years in the House, and eight years in the Senate, not to mention a Purple Heart, the Navy Medal and a Pulitzer Prize.”
Steve Connor from the UK’s The Independent summarized what we learned in 2006 with the article “Review of the year: Global warming” subheaded with “Our worst fears are exceeded by reality.”
According to Connor [original link unavailable, so I found this reprint]
Connor has collected and looked at research from the last year on positive and negative feedback cycles, and he lays some out in layman’s language. Yet his reporting is not diluted at all. To the contrary, it’s honest, and that only magnifies its fear-factor.
Basically, scientists are just now coming to understand the potential of positive feedback cycles on global warming – how melting permafrost will release more greenhouse gases, how ocean in the place of Arctic ice will absorb more heat, and how the carbon sinks our carbon cycle relies on will lose their capacity to take in carbon dioxide.
Connor barely touches on what sort of implications that may have on shifting global populations, but to get the full effect of his article and the science, we encourage you to just read it.
I don’t know anything about Finnish politics, but I feel like punditry would be more interesting if we, like Finland, had three fairly evenly matched parties, one in the center, one in the right, and one on the left. Not that I’m by any means an enthusiastic booster of centrist third party efforts. It’s just that, when you think about it, a robust multi-party system grounded in proportional representation elections make it much less obvious what the right political strategy is. The Center Party can’t very well win votes by “moving to the center,” after all.