Today's Blogs

A Victory for Pork

Bloggers discuss the defeat of the much-hyped Coburn Amendment. They also discuss a heated American Prospect critique of liberal hawks and look forward to the start of the World Series.

A victory for pork:An effort to restore fiscal responsibility to Capitol Hill was defeated handily in the Senate yesterday. Two amendments, authored by freshman Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and much-hyped by a growing community of blogger-activists, would have eliminated several particularly egregious pet projects from a recent spending bill to offset the major, unanticipated costs presented by Hurricane Katrina.

“It appears the majority of senators think it is more important to shelter dogs and cats in Rhode Island than people in Louisiana and Mississippi made homeless by Hurricane Katrina,” laments journalist and family man Mark Tapscott.

Coburn supporters see the vote as both ethically shameful and a missed political opportunity. “The Senate GOP is very much in danger of forgetting the principles that got them control of the Senate in the first place,” warns CNBC’s Larry Kudlow at Kudlow’s Money Politics. Plenty of others are frustrated by the lack of congressional discipline. “So what’s a Republican Senate for, exactly?” asks libertarian law professor and self-appointed Porkbuster Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit.

Those on the left are equally disappointed. “Simply unconscionable,” scolds progressive ringleader Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos. “Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.”

The Anchoress rises above partisanship, lambasting senators of all political stripes. “I think the mood of the people is not to complacently accept your piggish and greedy use of taxpayer funds on pork and more pork, and maybe we’ll be inclined to throw out the whole boiling of you, come elections in 2006 and 2008,” she writes. “I’m frankly ready for a revolution, here.”

Others are a bit more incremental in their approach. Writes attorney John Hinderaker at conservative coterie Power Line: “So now we know: there are only fifteen members of the Senate who are unwilling to waste the taxpayers’ money on even the most frivolous of projects. Let’s see what we can do about the other 85.”

Read more about the Coburn Amendment; and more about Porkbusters. Find out how your senator voted here.

The war of ideas:In the American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias and Sam Rosenfeld chastise liberal hawks for defending the cause of the war in Iraq while criticizing its execution. “Using force to build a pluralistic liberal democracy where none existed before could count as a moral justification for war if we had any sense of how to feasibly engage in such an endeavor, but the evidence from Iraq and elsewhere indicates that we do not,” the authors write.

Bradford Plumer of Mother Jones cheers the critique, which he says applies perfectly to the history of American interventionism. “The United States has never shown much interest in democracy-building, it’s never been much good at it, and … our nation-building adventures abroad have usually succeeded or failed due to internal factors in the occupied country, rather than the competence of our plans,” he says. Nevertheless, he sees hope in the efforts of U.N. peacekeeping forces, which, he says, have been generally successful securing peace in troubled regions.

At the American Scene, conservative Ross Douthat of the Atlantic Monthly writes that failures of the Iraqi campaign don’t, in fact, illuminate much. “This doesn’t excuse the blunders that were made along the way, exactly—but when you decide to support a war, you have to assume that a large number of things will go very, very wrong, and that people will make lots of bad decisions (like disbanding the Iraqi Army, say) because they seem like the right thing to do at the time. Saying, ‘right war, wrong execution’ is, in this sense, often a way of ducking from the realities of what a war actually means.” At Eschaton, Atrios writes that a robust and extended intervention in Afghanistan would have been a better test of the merits of humanitarian intervention.

Washington MonthlyPolitical Animal Kevin Drum says the war in Iraq wasn’t fought to democratize but to destabilize the region’s corrosive status quo. “And the hawks would argue that this is happening,” he writes. “Slowly and fitfully, to be sure, but count up the successes: Iraq and Afghanistan are better off than before, Libya has given up its nuke program, Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution is a sign of progress, Egypt has held a more open election than any before it, and the Syrian regime is under considerable pressure. … Even if Iraq is a mess, it might all be worthwhile if it eventually produces progress toward a more open, more liberal Middle East. At the very least, it’s an argument that needs to be engaged.”

Read more about the Prospect essay.

Fall classic: The World Series begins Saturday in Chicago, and bloggers are already sizing up the matchup between the White Sox and the Houston Astros.

“I hate being the favorite, but I like being in the World Series. It’s a trade off I’m happy to make,” says Chicago fan The Cheat, at South Side Sox. At Baseball Musings, David writes that both teams, with their modest run differentials, should feel lucky to be here.

And predictions? “[T]he sox were a tremendous road team (52-29) while the astros were bad (36-45),” notes Cardinal Lboros at Viva El Birdos. “[I] don’t think houston wins a single game on the road; make it the white sox in 6.” Omnivore Chris Chase, of Chris’sSports Blog, on the other hand, picks the Astros in six. At This Blog Is Full Of Crap,Houston-based Laurence Simon provides a rundown of which bloggers are supporting which team.

Read more about the World Series.