Bad Actors

“I just think reasonable people are more inclined right now to start thinking about ways our country’s future isn’t dependent on . . . oil from a region where there are a lot of very bad actors.”

– Conservative activist Gary Bauer. And no, he’s not talking about Sean Penn’s latest trip to Baghdad.

Seriously, though, it’s amazing it took this long for Conservatives to wake up and join the CONSERVATION movement. You would have thought it a natural fit (pun very much intended).

(via The Slant)

Oh, what tangled webs we weave…

…when first we try to enshrine corporate pork into the tax code:

Washington state’s hopes of wooing an aircraft assembly plant that could be built by a major Boeing Co. rival may get a boost from a package of tax breaks designed for Boeing itself.

France-based European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., the majority owner of Boeing rival Airbus SAS, is collecting bids from state and local governments this week for a possible U.S. manufacturing site and engineering center. The location could be used to compete with Boeing for a multibillion dollar aerial refueling tanker contract from the Air Force.

Come children, and let us sit by the fire and watch this ironic stew bubble to a boil. In an effort to get Boeing to keep its assembly lines in Washington State, our State legislators signed off on $3.2 Billion (yes, that’s a “B”) in tax breaks for the “aerospace industry.” You see, it turns out you can’t actually give taxpayer money to a specific corporation. That would be too easy. You have to guise it in an effort to promote a specific industry. Of course, the “aerospace industry” has, like three companies. And only one of them is based in Washington.

Well, maybe not any more.

Of course, the only reason that the Air Force has put the tanker contract out to bid again is that it turns out that Boeing hired a former Air Force procurement specialist to help seal the deal and probably violated a few laws in doing so.

So in the end, two of Boeing’s efforts to raid the public purse strings have backfired in stellar back-to-back fashion, like a beautifully executed chain reaction. Cheers, guys!

Tales from the Pro-Democratization Center

Noam Scheiber writes this in today’s NYT:

By embracing a robust democratization agenda, the Democratic nominee in 2008 will be able to appeal to his base while also claiming the new, pro-democratization center. The Republican nominee, who has to win the nomination of a party at best indifferent to democratization, will enjoy no such luxury. Mr. Bush himself won the Republican nomination in 2000 by promising a far less activist foreign policy than the Clinton administration had advocated.

The gist of his argument, which he’s made before on his blog, is that the GOP base is fundamentally isolationist, while the Democratic base is fundamentally internationalist. Therefore, after the partisan attachment to Bush fades, the president will have actually made life easier for Democrats by making internationalism more acceptable nationwide.

I find Scheiber’s argument interesting and hopeful, but I’m skeptical for two reasons.

One, Bush isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be out campaigning for the 2008 nominee, and that nominee will probably have had some hand in pre-2008 GOP politics. Frist, Rice, Jeb, McCain, Giuliani… all of them have, to some degree, embraced the Bush foreign policy agenda or even created it. So the eventual nominee won’t be starting from a blank slate. They will be pushing for “four more years” of the Bush policy of aggressive internatlionalism, and they’ll probably have Bush by their side on the trail. That should be enough for the Republicans who only support internationalism for “partisan” reasons to continue to do so.

The second issue, the main one, is the deficit. Bush has been piling up a mountain of debt to fund his internationalism, and the bill’s going to come due. The 2008 nominee will probably be the one who gets stuck with the check. Faced with a mounting debt, might the “new, pro-democratization center” decide that isolationism is better than tax increases? Especially since Scheiber is postulating that the military threat will be gone:

But by 2008 the job of consolidating democracy will probably be primarily nonmilitary in nature. It will involve financing and training indigenous political activists, helping to build highways, schools and hospitals, and nurturing democratic institutions like a free press and labor unions. Which is to say, all the things Republicans roll their eyes at and Democrats have long embraced.

Scheiber is right in that whether or not Bush has made the world safe for democracy, he’s made the American policial scene safer for pro-democratization. But will these newly internationalized centrists vote Democrat next time around? It’s far from certain. More likely, there will now be two strains of American Internationalism, if that’s a thing: The neocon, America-kicks-ass-and-the-UN-is-corrupt Bush approach, and the Europe-is-always-right-and-the-UN-is-wonderful Democratic base approach. The Dems will have to have a real “Sister Souljah moment” with the UN if they hope to bring the newly internationalized GOPers along for the ride.

Tom, Tom, Tom

Will Saletan on Tom DeLay’s deathbed conversion:

This is what happens when you approach a tragedy as a politician rather than as a family member. You see quality of life as a slippery-slope abstraction, not as a reality affecting someone you love. You find it easy to impose a standard of documentation that would have forced your family to break the law. You second-guess a spouse in a way you would never second-guess your mother. You challenge people’s competence and impugn their character. You perceive the afflicted person more as God’s tool than as God’s child.



Gov. Gregoire’s first budget is full of hikes in sin taxes. I hate sin taxes. What a stupid, bass-ackwards way to fund government.

They should call ’em “chicken-shit state legislator taxes.” See:

Senate leaders told reporters the sin-and-death taxes will be relatively uncontroversial…