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Speaking of Bankruptcy ...From

Speaking of Bankruptcy ...

From the AP: "A federal bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines’ plan to terminate its employees’ pension plans on Tuesday, clearing the way for the largest corporate-pension default in American history. The ruling, which carries broad implications for U.S. airlines and their workers, shifts responsibility for United’s four defined-benefit plans to the government’s pension agency."

I hope to address

I hope to address this in greater detail in a subsequent post. And I'm glad to see it is already garnering a slowly-rising chorus of criticism. But let me just start with a brief comment on President Bush's historically ignorant and morally hideous claim that "the agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact."

To compare the results of the Yalta Conference to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the key element of which was a secret agreement by which the 20th century's two great dictators agreed to carve up the defenseless neighbour between them, is truly unconscionable. And to compare it to Munich is little less so.

In making this argument the president joins a rich tradition of maniacs who believe that at the end of World War II we should have joined with the defeated remainder of the German army and fought our way through Eastern Europe to the border of Russia and, in all likelihood, on to Moscow to overthrow the Soviet Union itself -- certainly not a difficult proposition considering what an insubstantial land Army the Soviet Union had at the time.

If that seems like an over-dramatic alternative scenario, then you just aren't familiar with the history of the period.

Roosevelt didn't hand the Baltics, Poland and the rest of what became the Warsaw Pact countries over to Soviet rule. The Red Army was there in force already. The question was whether we were able and willing to remove them by force.

The president also makes common cause, though whether he's familiar with the history he's wading into I don't know, with those who argued before the war and after that the US and the UK made their fundamental error in the war itself, by allying with the Soviets against Nazism rather than with Nazism against the Soviets.

Now, no one can expect that Latvians or Poles are going to have warm or cordial feelings about the Great Power agreements at the end of the war. The plain fact is that the outcome of the war led to the imposition of Communist dictatorships across Eastern Europe that lasted for more than forty years. But one cannot assess the morality or political insight of American and British decision-making in the late stages of the war without standing them up against the real alternatives they faced. Anything else is just cheap posturing or folly. In the president's case, perhaps both.

Bless their progressive little

Bless their progressive little hearts!

The Princeton students filibustering Frist take their filibuster to the nation's capital!

Sen. Frist (R) may be able to cut a check to his alma mater to get them to name a building after him. But does he have the requisite equipment to get all nuclear on these young partisans of checks and balances?

We shall see ...

White House word game

White House word game bamboozlers go back to the drawing board and TPM Readers T&K brings us the news.

Privatization 4.0 from Dick Cheney yesterday in Denver: "Personal property accounts."

Late Update: Secret White House memo reveals new privatization bamboozle words currently under consideration! Leading contenders include "21st Century Homestead Accounts", "'I Have a Dream' Accounts". "Laissez-Faire Economics Life Raft Accounts" proposed by Dem mole at CEA but later rejected.

Even Later Update: Yes, the last update was parody. But 'tis getting harder and harder to distinguish.

Charlie Cook on the

Charlie Cook on the Bug Man in Winter (thematically if not seasonally) ...

On the political front, DeLay's re-election situation is dicier than commonly thought.

Are DeLay's ethical and legal problems much worse than they were on Election Day last November and are voters back home aware of it? Absolutely.

Is the political climate more difficult for DeLay now than back in November? Yes. From Social Security and gasoline prices to Iraq and the absence of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as a whipping boy, things aren't as good for Republicans today as they were six months ago.

Finally, does DeLay face more formidable opposition if he seeks re-election in 2006 than he did last year, when he beat neophyte Democrat Richard Morrison 55-41 percent, with a Libertarian candidate and an independent each garnering 2 percent? Yes.

Former Rep. Nick Lampson, who represented about 20 percent of this district before a DeLay-engineered redistricting, is the strong frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Lampson might face Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan in a March primary.

Given the substantially greater adversity that DeLay faces today, it might be enough to cost him 5 to 9 percentage points and the seat.

While DeLay spent more than $2.7 million to get re-elected in 2004, not counting considerable outside resources that went into the effort, this time it would likely cost upwards of $5 million.

Keep in mind, the 22nd District is not DeLay's old rock-ribbed Republican seat. DeLay was a team player in redistricting, and gave up heavily Republican areas, picking up Democratic territory, as a gesture to urge Republican members also to give up friendly territory.

In retrospect, he really could use that old turf. One Washington insider privately noted that it would be ironic if DeLay ended up being the first GOP casualty of his own redistricting plan.

Win or lose, this will be an ugly and costly re-election fight for DeLay -- if he chooses to pursue it.


More details about TPMCafe.com.As

More details about TPMCafe.com.

As I noted before I went away on vacation, TPMCafe will host a small number of individual, subject-specific blogs -- one of which will focus on foreign affairs and national security.

This will be a group blog with six contributors.

They are Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ivo Daalder of Brookings, John Ikenberry of Princeton University, James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations, George Packer of The New Yorker and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

(What I've listed here are just brief mentions of each contributor's institutional affiliation. You can find out more about them by clicking on the individual links.)

It's an exciting group of voices, not only because of the qualities each possesses individually, but because of the eclectic mix of perspectives -- as academics, policy practitioners and journalists -- they bring to the conversation.

More to follow ...