Students at the prestigious prep school Choate Rosemary Hall are protesting the choice of Karl Rove as their commencement speaker. AP reports that some students “plan to walk out, while “others are trying to bring comedian Stephen Colbert to campus for an alternate speech.” The campus newspaper has also written an editorial urging the school to reject Rove.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and former Army Ranger, just returned from his 11th trip to Iraq. Speaking to reporters today about his trip, Reed rebutted conservatives’ assertions of success in Iraq:
First, the surge has not achieved the president’s principal stated objectives, which are political in nature. [...]
The question’s usually posed, Well, has the surge worked? Well, it’s worked much in the way a tourniquet has worked: It stopped the bleeding. But the very delicate political surgery needed to repair the deep wounds in this country and initiate a long-term process of healing and stability has not taken place, and that is the critical issue that I think we face today.
Also, the security gains, which are demonstrable, can be reversed.
Reed also added that he spoke to U.S. troops who were experiencing “fatigue,” adding that “you can’t have a conversation without people noting the wear and tear that’s taking on the forces, on their families. That’s a cumulative phenomenon and it’s getting worse.” His comments mirror those of Army Chief of Staff George Casey, who recently stated that the “surge has sucked all of the flexibility out of the system.”
Additionally, Reed stressed that the bleeding may start again, noting that radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s “six-months self-imposed suspension of offensive operations is coming to an end.” His caution undermined claims by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ), who have prematurely declared success in the war.
Transcript: Read more
Meanwhile, what Josh said about Hillary Clinton’s efforts to change the rules of the primary midstream. There was a time and a place to stand up for the Michigan and Florida primaries, but she didn’t do it. Instead, she signed a pledge agreeing not to “campaign or participate” in them and the DNC, without her dissenting, said they would get no delegates. She could have decided to do something different, but she didn’t and that’s the way it is.
I have to say that I agree with this: For all the hype, this isn’t an especially vicious primary race on the Democratic side. The fact that there aren’t large issue differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is lending their efforts to attack each other a bit of an odd vibe, but high-stakes political campaigns are always at least a little bit nasty.
The idea that this might open up some unbridgeable rift within the Democratic Party, meanwhile, strikes me as almost laughable. There ideological lines of cleavage within the Democratic coalition are much smaller than they were five or ten years ago when the party was riven by contentious arguments about globalization, etc.
Like Jonathan Orszag, I don’t really understand why we (used to) tax estates rather than taxing inheritances. If Sheldon Adelson wants to give $50 to each American when he dies, there’s no particular reason for the taxman to take a bite out of that. Conversely, if 100 different people all die in 2008 and each leave me $900,000 I really ought to may some taxes on my $90 million windfall. In practice, I imagine the consequences of switching from one situation to another wouldn’t be large as these kind of extreme scenarios are obviously unlikely, but still it seems like we ought to do this properly.
This weekend, House Republicans are gathering at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia to have a conversation about cutting earmarks. As GOP members gather to talk about how to cut ties with lobbyist money, Ben Pershing notes that their weekend retreat is being partly funded by lobbyists:
As Bush stood in the banquet room addressing the assembled lawmakers, projected onto a giant screen next to him were the words “Congressional Institute.” [..]
The group is run by a high-powered board of Republican lobbyists, all of whom presumably value the entr©e into Congressional affairs the institute provides.
In 2007, “U.S. unions increased their share of membership among workers” for the “first time in the past quarter of a century,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) annual union membership report released today. In the past year, “unions added about 310,000 members, raising the unionized share of the workforce to 12.1 percent from 12.0 percent in 2006.” (HT: Ezra Klein)
FYI, I’ll be on Fox News around 12:40 PM eastern time on Sunday talking about the campaign, etc.
New Feist video:
Every now and again I miss the Let It Die days when you didn’t see Feist everywhere, but then I hear one of the songs and, well, they’re very good.