May 31, 2008

Iran, elections and nuclear fuel

A rival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected speaker of that country's parliament earlier this week.

The New York Times describes Ali Larijani as someone who is more conservative than Ahmadinejad, yet possibly more pragmatic in dealing with the West.

He is also a proponent of the country's nuclear development program, which would be totally even more unnecessary under Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar's proposal for Russia and the United States to lock down nuclear materials and assure nuclear-fuel services "both providing and removing the fuel needed for civilian nuclear energy."

May 28, 2008

The conservative gripe with Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal received Grover Norquist's endorsement last week, but the Club for Growth finds that Jindal violated the ultimate standard of Norquist's own organization, Americans for Tax Reform, by breaking the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge."

May 20, 2008

Ahmadinejad's spats

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is getting in a lot of spats with his clerics. Is he a gaffe-prone loose cannon or trying to paint himself as a self-righteous advocate for women? Will he try to circumvent the mullahs and grab absolute power?

The latter seems unlikely, and that it is mere pompousness leading him to make gaffes in the religious radicals' eyes. Remember, this comes shortly after Ayman Al-Zawahiri's public chiding of him.

May 17, 2008

Sorensen interview

Picked up Sorensen's new memoir last night. Here he is on Leonard Lopate.

The Vietnam caucus

Matt Bai, at the start of his long profile of McCain in the New York Times Magazine, discusses why McCain has found himself in opposition to the military measures undertaken by his fellow Vietnam veterans.
They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCain’s service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol. Whatever anger McCain felt remained focused on his captors, not on his own superiors back in Washington.
For his part, Bai points out that former Sen. Bob Kerrey disagrees with this characterization.

May 15, 2008

California permits marriage equality

The AP reports that the California State Supreme Court has overturned a ban on marriage equality.

The only thing better could be to do it through the legislature.

May 14, 2008


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates thinks technological combat innovations need to be slowed in order to address more pressing needs and excessive spending.


Chuck Todd asks, 'Is the Democratic divide geography?'
Is there an argument that Obama's troubles are basically Appalachia, just like Clinton's troubles can be excused away by Obama's Midwestern roots? It is striking how geographic their strengths are right now. Obama dominates in the South and in the Midwest while Clinton owns the Northeast and, well, Appalachia.

May 11, 2008

Primay absence

Despite repeated mentions of Hillary and Barack's quarrels over white voters on today's Sunday talk shows, there was nary a mention of Doug Goodyear, McCain's handpicked choice to run the Twin Cities' Republican National Convention, who resigned yesterday after a Newsweek story revealing him as the the Burmese military junta's lobbyist to Washington.

So it seems McCain will come away from this unsavory tie unscathed. But Democrats should ask themselves, 'Would he have gotten off so easily had Hillary stepped down earlier this week?'

Lieberman whipping Clinton Dems for McCain?

So says Bob Novak.

May 10, 2008

Oh, Anthony Weiner

Here the future (present?) mayoral candidate is on his House floor meeting with Barack Obama:
I've developed something of a reputation for being a Hillary partisan on the floor. And so some of my buddies said, 'Hey, we got someone you want to meet,' and brought him over to say hello, and he—we exchange—I told him I was like that skinny Chinese kid in Tiananmen Square standing in front of the tank, I might be the last one.

May 9, 2008

What she's warmed up to

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic decimates -- just decimates! -- what Hillary Clinton's campaign rhetoric has morphed into.
Consider this analysis recently offered by Bill Clinton in Clarksburg, West Virginia: "The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it's by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules." This is precisely the dynamic that allows multimillionaires like George W. Bush and Bill O'Reilly to present themselves as being on the side of the little guy. A more classic expression of conservative populism cannot be found.

May 8, 2008


N.Y. Mercantile Exchange light, sweet crude (barrel): $123.69

Average at U.S. fueling stations (gallon): $3.65

Average U.S. price of whole milk in April (gallon): $3.72

Fossella's luck

If there's one thing that Rep. Vito Fossella can be thankful for, it's that Rudy Giuliani is in Kiev and not the presumptive Republican nominee, or else his name would be on the tips of every news broadcaster in the country rather than just New York.

May 7, 2008

Why Obama will be OK in Ohio

After last night

If you haven't added "Barack Obama" to your spell-check yet, now's probably the time to do it.

Chris Matthews way over the top last night

This question to Harold Ford, Jr., via Hotline:
"Do you think Hillary Clinton has the soul of a vice president?"

May 6, 2008

Russert's take

The gas tax holiday did Hillary Clinton in tonight -- at least Tim Russert thinks so.

Just now on MSNBC, he said the gas tax debate helped shift focus away from Jeremiah Wright and onto an issue where Barack Obama took a principled stand and she looked untrustworthy.

Slow results do damage, regardless of the outcome

The lag in reports from key Democratic districts in Indiana has to be murder on Hillary Clinton's fundraising this evening. The early projection of victory for Barack Obama in North Carolina was certainly a blow to her campaign's confidence. This long wait surely is not helping to assuage anxious supporters, wondering what shape her bid will be in tomorrow morning.

New LBJ telephone tapes

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum has newly released tapes and transcripts from the months leading up to and following his decision not to seek re-election.

A lot of fascinating material in here, especially possibly one of the first callers following his announcement: Abigail McCarthy. From the notes:

Searching for freedom, efficiency

Robert Worth has a great piece on the development of democracy in the Middle East, with a case study in Kuwait. The takeaway?
It is unlikely that many Kuwaitis would be willing to trade their political rights and freedoms for more economic opportunity. But the notion that democracy is somehow holding Kuwait back is common.

“It’s true, the friction in our politics delays things,” said Kamel Harami, an oil analyst. “The sheik of Abu Dhabi can say, ‘Go build this,’ and it’s done. He doesn’t have me, the press, the TV stations, the Parliament, getting in his way. But what people need to understand is that democracy isn’t the problem; it’s that democracy isn’t being used correctly.”

Radical centrist

Mark Warner is making "radical centrist" a battle cry of his campaign for Senate, a term that has not been in vogue for some time now.

While I was away

Ken Livingstone was ousted as London mayor, in a bad omen for Labour.

Gas tax a no win?

Michael Crowley looks at something John Harwood and Harold Ickes were discussing on MSNBC:

That the gas tax holiday isn't just bad policy, it's bad politics insofar as superdelegates see it as a cynical pander that turns them off to Hillary.

Does it also make it easier for them to discount some of her latest victories, as easily won through pandering?

Early shutdown

Mark Halperin says polls in Indiana close at 6 p.m., local time.

Limited polling times mean anyone who commutes an hour or so to work and doesn't vote in the morning could miss out.