Today in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) said that the political briefings given by Bush aides to high-ranking diplomats “were probably inappropriate.” The AP notes that Lugar’s statements “were in contrast to White House assertions that the private briefings were not unusual or improper.”
Lord knows I’m just the sort of liberal appeaser who thinks we should be trying to promote engagement with Hezbollah, but even I think it’s a bit odd for The Washington Post to invite their leader to post in their “on faith” blog. Be that as it may, I don’t quite get his sense of humor:
I would like to add, jokingly, that all men in the world, especially civil servants and high officials, are committed to the veil, since they cover all their bodies except their heads, where as the women also veil their breasts and their sexual organs, depending on the concept of sexual excitation that is broader in the Islamic view than the western one.
What? On a more serious note, he allows that “there is a juristic opinion that allows the woman to be a judge. And it is a ruling I am in favor of.” And good for him, but he should be warned that it’s a slippery slope from woman judges to woman senators and presidential candidates.
So I popped open my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at about 5PM on Saturday and finished it before going to bed at a perfectly reasonable hour. Ever since then, it’s seemed like I should do a blog post on the blog, but I think I turn out not to have a lot of interesting things to say on the subject. I’ll second Ross’ recommendations of these spoiler-containing posts by Russell Arben Fox and Eve Tushnet.
What’s more, like everyone else I enjoyed Megan McArdle’s piece on the poorly sketched economics of the Harry Potter universe. My general feeling is that the Potter books fall along a pretty symmetrical quality curve, starting off okay, then getting better as the series’ ambition grows, but then getting worse again as the series becomes more ambitious than J.K. Rowling can really pull off. The storyline of Hallows winds up calling for a level of big-picture world-building — not just the economics of the wizarding world, but the politics and the international relations, too — that’s far off from Rowling’s core strength of offering rich micro-level detail.
With an approval rating of 33 percent in a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, President Bush’s is now slightly less popular than Vice President Dick Cheney, who registered 34 percent approval. According to TPM’s Eric Kleefeld, “The last time…that a poll found Bush worse off than Cheney was back in January, when a Fox News poll put President Bush’s personal unfavorability at 58%, compared to Cheney’s 53%.”
Voting for the hottest media types in DC, 2007 is now open. I’ve decided that since I have roommates nominated in both the male, off-air and female, off-air categories, I should endorse both of them — Catherine Andrews and Kriston Capps are totally, totally hot.
UPDATE: Catherine wants me to notify you that you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to vote for her.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, challenged Gonzales on his statements regarding the administration’s wiretapping activities. “I’ve had the opportunity to review the classified matters at issue here,” said Feingold. “And I believe that your testimony was misleading, at best. … It’s hard to see anything but a pattern of intentionally misleading Congress again and again.” Watch it:
Transcript: Read more
I would take issue with a variety of things Linda Hirschman says in her article bashing John Rawls, but surely it’s obviously insane to blame Rawls for Democratic Party electoral defeats. I read it again, because I thought Hirschman might be making a more subtle claim, but, no, she’s actually describing a causal connection between Democratic defeats and Rawls’ philosophy, arguing that “It is not a coincidence that the only successful two-term Democratic presidency of the Age of Rawls was engineered in part for Bill Clinton by Bill Galston, a political theorist with a background in classical thought. ”
I’m reasonably confident that this actually is a coincidence. You can read the classic essay on political strategy that Galston wrote with Elaine Kamarck “The Politics of Evasion” and you’ll see it has very, very, very little to do with the sort of philosophical issues that divide him from Rawls.
Last night’s Democratic presidential debate, hosted by CNN, allowed ordinary citizens around the country to be heard. By uploading a 30-second video to YouTube, “voters could directly question a presidential candidate during the debate.” Thirty-nine videos were chosen from the 2,989 submitted. CNN will hold a similar debate for the Republican candidates on Sept. 17.
Steve Grove, YouTube’s news and politics editor, noted that this new debate format “is more democratic than ever.” Carol Darr at George Washington University said that for the first time, “the filter that mainstream establishment media plays in presidential races — ‘we ask the questions, we are the exalted panel’ — that was broken down.”
This morning in a press briefing aboard Air Force One, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow whether the President’s remarks today about terrorism would address some of the criticisms from the Democratic presidential debate last night. When Snow said they wouldn’t, the reporter asked:
QUESTION: Did he watch the debate?
SNOW: I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s big on YouTube debates.
It’s not surprising that President Bush would dislike open, democratic debates. The Bush administration has banned Democrats from events in order to fabricate a sympathetic, supportive audience. During the campaign, “attendees to Bush rallies were turned away for wearing pro-John Kerry T-shirts and stickers.” They also were often encouraged to volunteer for the local Bush campaign, take pledges of support for the President, or answer questions about their loyalty to Bush in order to attend.
With gas prices at $3.00 per gallon and “energy consumption globally expected to rise by more than 50 percent over the next 25 years,” the U.S. needs a drastic shift in energy policies in order to aid families, combat global warming, and reduce reliance on oil.
Several efforts are underway to tackle some of these issues. At least 150 legislators have signed onto legislation proposed by Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Todd Platts (R-PA) requiring a fuel economy average of 35 mpg by 2018, creating as many as 241,000 new jobs. With ethanol served at only one out of 170 gas stations, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has proposed legislation “requiring carmakers to make nearly all vehicles capable of using E85 [ethanol] within 10 years.”
In light of this debate in Congress, the Center for American Progress Action Fund has launched Clean My Ride, a campaign featuring lighthearted “webisodes” of actors and activists urging the adoption of provisions increasing mileage requirements and mandating the availability of E85 ethanol for flexible-fuel cars that can run on cleaner energy.
Check out the videos to learn more and laugh at the lengths to which one man – Phin – will go to get the word out about clean energy. Joining him along the way in the short films are Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Biggs, Jennifer Garner, and Joshua Jackson.
Watch the fourth of six webisodes:
This is interesting. One way of looking at the little Clinton-Obama exchange over talking to “enemy” foreign leaders was that Clinton was simply trying to underscore her experience level by adding a little nuance to the picture. That seems not to be the case, as she and surrogate Madeleine Albright are using the issue to hit pretty hard at Obama.
And, of course, if you construe what Obama said to mean that he intends to jet off to Pyongyang without any advance work having been done, I suppose that really would be “irresponsible and frankly naive,” but that hardly seems like a fair assessment. It’s strange for the front-runner to go on the attack like that, and especially odd given the political climate for her to be going out of the way to emphasize the idea that she’s substantially more hawkish than Obama.
UPDATE: And here’s the Obama campaign’s anti-Clinton memo.