Jeremy Scahill on the use of blackwater mercenaries in New Orleans.
Matt Yglesius on the alleged racial dimension to New Orleans:
The early years of Ronald Reagan’s administration did see some pretty broad cuts in domestic spending, but spending targeted at poor people was cut more than other kinds of domestic spending. I don’t like to play mind reader, so I’ll leave it an open question as to whether or not this reflects a subjective hostility to poor people on the part of Republicans, but there’s no denying that, in practice, they have a governing agenda that singles the poor out for pain. Not just because the poor depend more on federal spending, but because spending on behalf of the poor is consistently singled out for reduction. On top of all that, there’s fairly good reason to believe that American conservatism’s hostility to the poor — fairly unique among conservative movements in rich countries — is linked to the quasi-accurate perception that poverty is a problem of urban minorities. The Republican Party has consistently sought to define its political constituency — overwhelmingly white, rural and exurban — as not only more correct on the issues than those outside it, but more authentically American than the racially diverse, city-centered political coalition that opposes it. It’s not a coincidence that those defined as less than wholly American wind up ill-served by their leaders.
Michael Hirsch on the ineffectiveness of George W. Bush’s war on terror
What would a true national strategy in the war on terrorism look like? At the very least, critics say, one thing was clear after 9/11: America’s economy and security depended, because of oil, on a region that was far more unstable than we’d realized. So one effort at national mobilization should have been an energy policy that would slash our dependence on oil and unreliable Arab producers. Yet Bush’s recent energy legislation, four years in the making, barely provided incentives for conservation or hybrid technologies while pouring billions in tax breaks into the search for new oil.