Friday, September 13, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Judith Martin, 75. True story: I've met her once. It was at tea.

Good stuff:

1. Good analysis from Jonathan Cohn of the possible games that the Obamacare dead enders may be playing.

2. Fascinating stuff on Ike and Dienbienphu, from Jon Western.

3. Dan Drezner on how Ph.D.s work in academia vs. among political practitioners.

4. And Erica Chenowith fisks Putin.


  1. Western's post is very interesting. People usually say Eisenhower decided against intervening because he couldn't find allies (the British, in particular, turned him down), but they leave out the details of the domestic aspects that made the foreign support politically necessary.

    Western also makes a passing reference to the possibility that Kerry's "gaffe" was planned. I've been thinking about that. People on both sides have now said that the issue had been discussed over the weekend, but I think that's all they've said. Some have then jumped to the conclusion that they secretly agreed to do it this way for some reason. ("Hey, if we try real hard, we can make this look really ham-handed.") I'm beginning to suspect that they discussed it but couldn't come to an agreement. The most likely reason being the dispute now rising, a Russian/Syrian insistence that, in return for Syria giving up its chemical weapons, the United States must stop arming rebels and promise not to bomb ever. When Kerry made his public remark about Syria giving up its CW as a possibility that isn't going to happen, the Russians jumped on the opportunity, probably hoping to add their condition back on in the process. Obama, with the option out there, was willing to give it a try but will probably reject the conditions as unreasonable. As a result, the project may well fall apart, or perhaps something can still be worked out.

    Speaking of arming rebels, there seems to be great confusion now with the US saying we've started arming them and the rebel leader, Gen. Idriss, saying we haven't. The likely explanation to me is that it's because the CIA is handling the project. Being the CIA, they told Idriss, "It's a secret. Don't admit to anything." Unlike a lot of other people, he may have taken them up on it.

  2. If Greg Sargent's reporting from yesterday is to be believed (, it's insane that Democratic legislators and leaders are ready to privately and unofficially "negotiate" on raising the debt ceiling -- insane.

    Caving or negotiating on the CR spending levels is one thing, but to negotiate over the mere act of raising the debt ceiling -- to count GOP willingness to do so as a valid concession within a larger negotiation -- is the absolute worst sort of enabling of destructive nihilism. Insist that the debt ceiling will be raised, that it goes without saying, and so it's in no way a bargaining chip which could be put into the balance of any substantive deal on budget matters.


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