Bill Kristol calls for military action in Burma.
In a new series billed by Fox News as the “Race for the Arctic,” the network has responded by sending a reporter to Greenland to document first-hand observations of glaciers receding, icebergs breaking off, and other drastic climate-changing effects.
But if you think that Fox’s “race for the arctic” is a race to educate and inform the public about global warming, you are mistaken. In fact, from Fox’s perspective, the “race” is actually a race for oil. Fox News reporter Jonathan Hunt explained:
The melting ice cap is making the Arctic’s resources much more accessible. Now that is vital. Because beneath the Arctic Ocean, scientists estimate there may be a full 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves. There is now a race on to get to those reserves.
In its report, Fox News wasn’t quite willing to concede the science behind global warming. Hunt reported:
Whatever you think of global warming, most of the scientists say that is the cause of this. Other people insist that this is just a cyclical phenomenon. But one thing is absolutely clear: Whatever the cause, the effect is indisputable. The ice cap is melting.
There is no debate about what’s going on here. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in February that “global warming is ‘unequivocal’ and that human activity is the main driver, ‘very likely’ causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.”
I seem to be the only liberal who thinks that James Dobson et. al. will probably follow through on their threat to sink Rudy Giuliani if he becomes the Republican nominee, but now we have Richard Viguerie chiming in with a similar threat. I think this business is real. If Giuliani wins the White House, the pro-life lobby will wind up looking like a paper tiger and nobody will pay them any mind in the future. The mere fact of a Democrat in the White House doesn’t threaten their power nearly as much as a pro-choice Republican would.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is reportedly the administration’s “chief opponent of air strikes and is the main reason President George W.Bush has yet to resort to military action.” The UK Telegraph reports: “Pentagon sources say Mr Gates is waging a subtle campaign to undermine the Cheney camp by encouraging the army’s senior officers to speak frankly about the overstretch of forces, and the difficulty of fighting another war.”
Krugman acknowledges that critics-from-the-left of the current Democratic consensus in favor of the “regulate, mandate, subsidize” approach to universal health care have a point, but says that given the political undoability of the single-payer approach that this is the best available alternative.
Maybe so, but I’m not sure people have given enough thought to alternatives. One possibility involves the default rule. What if instead of “mandating” that the uninsured go get themselves some insurance (community rated and, for the poor, subsidized insurance, to be sure) and creating a public sector option that they might sign up for you instead automatically signed the uninsured up for the public sector option and allowed them to opt-out of it in favor a private plan if they so desired. That would solve the enforcement problem facing mandate schemes which, as best I can tell, mandate advocates haven’t seriously grappled with.
Now, a plan like this would probably be harder to pass since it would more deeply damage the interests of insurance companies. At a minimum, though, I’d like to see a progressive president ask for this default rule in his or her proposal. That would put the onus for constructing an alternative enforcement mechanism for the mandate on the insurance industry lobbyists whose job it will be to eliminate this provision.
It’s good to know that when the national press corps was seized with a sudden desire to start talking about Hillary Clinton’s laugh, it wasn’t as if they were taking their cues from the RNC. Rather, Rick Hertzberg points out, they were literally taking their cues from the RNC:
The sound of Hillary
If Lebanese factional leader Saad Hariri tells Jackson Diehl the US should isolate Syria then I guess the only thing to do is follow Diehl in uncritically endorsing the idea that Hariri has America’s best interests at heart here. I mean, surely it’s not possible that Hariri is trying to push an agenda that he thinks serves Hariri’s interests or those of his faction inside Lebanon rather than America’s.
In a speech to the British Parliament this morning, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he will cut troop levels in Iraq to 2,500 in early 2008, trimming the force by nearly half. “Britain has around 5,000 troops based mainly at an air base camp on the fringe of the southern city of Basra.”
Brown explained that since British forces “handed over our base in Basra City in early September, the present security situation has been calmer.” As evidence, he noted, “In the last month, there have been five indirect fire attacks on Basra Air Station compared with 87 in July.”
Indeed, Reuters reported last week, “Residents of Iraq’s southern city of Basra have begun strolling riverfront streets again after four years of fear, their city much quieter since British troops withdrew from the grand Saddam Hussein-era Basra Palace.”
Given the success of the withdrawal to date, Brown announced that the British would proceed with the next phase of redeployment:
The next important stage in delivering our strategy is to hand over security to the Iraqis, and it is to move from a combat role in the rest of Basra province to overwatch, which will itself have two distinct stages.
In the first, the British forces that remain in Iraq will have the following tasks: training and mentoring the Iraqi army and police force, securing supply routes and policing the Iran-Iraq border, and the ability to come to the assistance of the Iraqi security forces when called upon.
Then in the spring of next year, and guided as always by the advice of military commanders, we plan to move to a second stage of overwatch where the coalition would maintain a more limited re- intervention capacity and where the main focus will be on training and mentoring. [...]
And, subject of course to conditions on the ground, we plan from next spring to reduce force numbers in southern Iraq to a figure of 2,500.
UPDATE: ThinkProgress noted last week that the White House has been attacking the British for its withdrawal, claiming “British forces have performed poorly” in Iraq.
Transcript: Read more
The Washington Post reports this morning that “several top Iraqi leaders say they have lost faith in” the idea that “national reconciliation” can come amid the competing struggle for power of Iraq’s various factions. Reconciliation “is a very inaccurate term,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih. “This is a struggle about power“:
Iraqi leaders argue that sectarian animosity is entrenched in the structure of their government. Instead of reconciliation, they now stress alternative and perhaps more attainable goals: streamlining the government bureaucracy, placing experienced technocrats in positions of authority and improving the dismal record of providing basic services.
“I don’t think there is something called reconciliation, and there will be no reconciliation as such,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd. “To me, it is a very inaccurate term. This is a struggle about power.”
Did you know that in Afghanistan the US government is pushing a poppy-spraying plan that just so happens to be opposed by such trivial figures as Hamid Karzai and “American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan.” Mark Kleiman, a drug policy specialists, notes that not only is this daft national security policymaking, but it’s not useful as drug control policy either.
Meanwhile, take note of the broader context. Our first post-war charg