Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Recess-appointed U.S. Ambassador to

Recess-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton is doing exactly what his critics expected of him. He is sticking it to the world. . .hard and nasty.

I received this morning a leaked copy of U.S. comments on the draft document for the Millennium Summit in September. I have been informed that these are John Bolton's personal draft modification suggestions that appear on the document.

Here is the document, adobe format, but it is a very large file. (Dial-up readers be careful.)

These suggested revisions are leaps and bounds more offensive, regressive, short-sighted, and dismissive of others than America's "bad guy" role in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

In short, the document does the following:

<$NoAd$>~ knocks out entirely the Millennium Development Goals

~ continues to undermine collective efforts against climate change

~ knocks out targets and timetables for all goals and objectives

~ guts any efforts toward further disarmament objectives and focuses exclusively on non-proliferation, while both had always been important objectives in the past

~ strikes the section that states that countries will use force only as last resort

~ and oddly, strikes out the need to establish a legal definition of terrorism, which the Bush administration has previously stated is a requirement before proceeding towards a U.N. Convention on Terorrism.

The John Bolton we came to know (and not love) is back.

Condi -- When does the "supervision" promised to Senators Voinovich, Hagel, and Chafee begin?

Greetings TPM readers. Michael

Greetings TPM readers.

Michael Crowley has burned a brilliant path these last few days at the helm of Josh's operation. I'm going to have to talk with him about the "white smoke" stuff though as I've just returned from a trip to Rome and was caught off guard by the embalmed popes on display at St. Peter's. Did Lenin follow in this tradition? or did the Popes get the idea from Stalin? I'd really like to know.

It seems that Michael and I both used to hang out with Josh in the earliest, uncertain days of Talking Points' beginning at the Connecticut & R Starbucks. Josh's daily diet primarily consisted of S'bucks black & white cookies and a venti ice latte. In New York, a more stressful town, he's now moved to straight-up venti ice coffee.

Josh Marshall changed my life -- or at least seriously reduced the number of hours I sleep. He drove me to launch my own blog, The Washington Note, because he thought I had some things to say that just wouldn't perk well in my day job at the New America Foundation. My latest serious blogging focus had been attempting to keep John Bolton from the United Nations. While my fellow-travelers in the effort and I succeeded in blocking Bolton's confirmation by the Senate, we did not sufficiently alter the environment such that President Bush couldn't get away with a recess appointment.

But with Josh's focused blogging efforts on social security reform, and TWN's campaign on Bolton, some are arguing that certain models of blogging campaigns -- hitting a controversial issue in its soft spot -- with high-road reporting mixed with some advocacy can yield results.

More on that later.

For the moment, just wanted to introduce myself; say a "big-time" (as Dick Cheney would say) thank you to Michael Crowley; and just chuckle with all of you that John Bolton's first big move at the U.N. was to tell the other envoys that there is precious little time left to push reform and then rip up 400 separate passages in the current U.N. reform plan.

Hey, maybe the U.S. should be tearing apart the U.N. draft reform plan, but Bolton's negative credibility rating means that few buy what he is saying, even if he might be right.

More later.

It was just a

It was just a few years ago that I would see Josh, before he moved to New York, hunched over his laptop in the Starbucks of our Dupont Circle neighborhood, and wonder whether he was headed down some nutty Internet rabbit hole never to be heard from again. Now here I am thanking him for trusting me with his huge audience of loyal readers. Color me humbled.

Thanks also to (nearly) everyone who wrote in. I'd never quite appreciated the crucial role of blog readers until I started getting dozens of emails from complete strangers filled with all sorts of great insights and information. For instance, one very thoughtful reader who knows a lot about Mark Fuhrman insists he's not the racist villain he was made out to be. A persistent skeptic in Ohio is certain there's a good reason other Democrats are loath to challenge Mike DeWine and that Paul Hackett would face daunting odds if he does. And to that one Yngwie Malmsteen fan: devil's horns right back at ya!

That white smoke you now see billowing in the sky is the fabled signal for "Habemas blogam," or, "We have a new blogger." That would be the formidable Steve Clemons, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and author of The Washington Note. As you may know, Steve and Josh are sympatico on many key issues, so no doubt Steve will be a terrific read for the duration of Josh's absence.

And if you don't already, please do visit The New Republic Online. You might not agree with everything there, but hopefully you'll find it all provocative, informative, and generally worth your while. Cheers!

Josh briefly flagged it

Josh briefly flagged it back in June, but since then Coleen Rowley's bid for Congress in Minnesota has drawn surprisingly little attention. The former FBI whistleblower and 2002 Time Person of the Year has emerged as a strident critic of the Iraq war, which she's called a Vietnam-like "quagmire" that has made America less safe. If I'm reading this editorial correctly, she seems to believe the U.S. should withdraw pronto. And now she's just returned from a weekend at Cindy Sheehan's Crawford peace camp.

Rowley's opponent, incumbent Republican John Kline, is a real Establishment Man: a former Marine Corps Vietnam vet who carried the nuclear "football" for a time under Carter and Reagan. He's the antithesis, in other words, of an anti-war Sheehan-aligned whistleblower. So this race promises to be an intense culturo-political flashpoint -- particularly when you throw in the recriminations over ignored September 11 warnings that Rowley's sure to invoke. Sooner or later, I expect, Fox News will be obsessing over this one.

A few months ago I might have said that Rowley's aggressively liberal posture would be a problem in a district that George Bush carried with 56 percent of the vote. But in the wake of Paul Hackett's near win in Ohio Red country, and with Bush's approval ratings plunging to new depths, I'm not so sure anymore.

The caliber of Rowley's political skills remains to be seen. But Republicans like Kline must be in a cold sweat over the war, and over Bush's flailing attempts to shore up public opinion. How Rowley fares in the months ahead could tell us a lot about the Democrats' overall chances in 2006.

This is probably my last post before I sign off later tonight. It's been a blast.

Oh man I know

Oh, man! I know eight-year-olds who would be embarassed by this excuse: Pat Robertson says he was "misinterpreted." You gotta check out the details.

If you'll indulge another oddball reference (don't worry, this is my last day!), Robertson's pathetic cover story reminds me of the great old Monty Python "Piranha Brothers" routine:

Rogers: I've been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.

Stig: No! Never! He was a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.

Rogers: But the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing your head to the floor.

Stig: (pause) Oh yeah, he did that.

Memo to Robertson: Don't bother. The police have film of you nailing your own head to the floor...

Heres an interesting angle

Here's an interesting angle to the seemingly intractable Darfur tragedy. The group BeAWitness.org has created an ad mocking network television's obsession with ephemera like Michael Jackson and the Runaway Bride while thousands upon thousands die miserably in the Sudan. The group says all three major networks have refused to air the ad.

As a personal aside, I actually tried to watch some coverage of the Natalee Holloway disappearance on Fox News the other night. (She's the Alabama teen who went missing in Aruba.) And while I was able to derive bits of cheap pleasure from the Michael Jackson trial and even the Scott Peterson saga, I must say this story seems utterly mind-numbing. Of course one feels for Natalee's family and hopes against hope that she turns up alive. But there was clearly so little to discuss -- the case seems pretty well stalled -- it just felt like an excruciating waste of time. The only fun part was watching Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes trying to feign real interest. Yet this stuff gets incredible ratings. Call me out of touch, but I find that nothing short of bizarre.

Another depressing footnote: one guest on this show was Mark Fuhrman, who has apparently made a new career as an author and commentator on trashy tabloid crimes. Ten years after he was revealed to be an astonishingly hateful racist, leading one of his assocates to say "Fuhrman's life is in the toilet. He has no job, no future," Fuhrman seems to be doing pretty well for himself. Wonder if he's even heard of Darfur. I guess it doesn't matter.

Anyway, watch the ad. It's provocative.

On a lighter note

On a lighter note, I've got a short 'Diarist' in the forthcoming issue of TNR on rock snobs, music collecting, and what you might call the dark side of the iPod. I hope even non-music geeks will find it interesting.

(This link is now open for non-TNR subscribers, as is Spencer Ackerman's piece on the Iraq constitution.)

OK sifting through polls

OK, sifting through polls can drive you crazy (and it's often a waste of time, as some readers have, er, forcefully noted). But on the heels of that gruesome ARG poll, the fact that the Harris Poll now shows Bush hitting an all-time low of 40 percent suggests something real is happening. Especially when you consider that Bush has now dropped three points, to 45 percent, in that Rasmussen poll which had recently been a ray of light for him.

Bush's current stay-the-course speechifying tour is intended to stop this bleeding. But when even erstwhile allies like David Frum are complaining that "President Bush's words on the subject of Iraq have ceased connecting with the American public," it's hard to see how repeating the same old soundbites, even with precise casualty figures empathetically thrown in, will do the trick.

P.S. Note Frum's comment that he's been flooded with emails -- from National Review readers, remember -- agreeing with him. Republicans are nearing a state of panic over Iraq.

Its official People for

It's official: People for the American Way is calling for the Senate to reject John Roberts. This will be a tough one for a lot of Democrats, but none will be more fascinating to watch than the junior senator from New York.

Update: A hectoring friend may be right in arguing that Hillary really isn't so interesting here; at the moment, she doesn't seem very likely to oppose Roberts. But I still think it'll be fascinating to see what rhetorical path she chooses to try and mollify her liberal fans. That said, another 2008 hopeful, Joe Biden, might be the more interesting test case. As my friend notes, the non-Hillary White House hopefuls have less capital with the Democratic left to burn.

Matt Yglesias makes the

Matt Yglesias makes the salient, how-did-we-miss-it point about Pat Robertson: What's interesting is not that Robertson has said another crazy and offensive thing. It's that he was heaping scorn -- for a not-tiny 700 Club audience -- on Bush's Iraq adventure. Matt calls it a "subtle dig," but now that I think about it, it's pretty flagrant. Matt's got a couple other good points, too, so get thee here.