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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

News Roundup, 4/11/08: Planes, Powell, and Party Politics

Planes kept having problems, the GOP's interior war was illustrated in detail, and Colin Powell came out against Bush's tendency to punt on decisions concerning Iraq in these last late days of his administration.

The American Airlines thing continues to trouble the news and no doubt thousands of air travelers all across the United States. As of yesterday they had already canceled some 2,500 flights this week, and today they canceled even more.

I suppose this wouldn't normally seem like such a big deal to me if there weren't so many sectors of the American economy that were in the tank. More than a week of steady cancellations will have a ripple effect on the entire airline industry for the next couple of quarters, not to mention that it will stoke the fires of an already aggravated customer base. That sort of thing probably won't be connected in headlines six months from now, but industry performance and customer satisfaction is a cumulative thing.

Yesterday we also got a glimpse at a new faction within the Republican Party - the pragmatists. When I read a story like this, I like to think about possible historical analogues for such things: has there been a party that likewise constructed itself along so many rigid ideological lines but then eventually had an identity crisis? (Or two or three?) An identity crisis amid deep divisions spawned by policy misadventure, no less? These things happen, but it is always a hard hole to climb out of. Especially when the remnants — the NeoCons — refuse to go quietly or to relinquish control without a fight.

Colin Powell was in the news yesterday for two reasons, one of which we talked about and one of which we did not. We'll get to the latter, but Powell's statements on the necessity of troop drawdowns echo my own thoughts about the sustainability of Bush's policy, so while I was not surprised to hear him take General Petraeus' advice as a policy directive, I was concerned.

Patrick McLeod pointed out that world food shortages have resulted in an interesting example of crop replacement and latent capitalism — in Afghanistan, farmers that usually grow poppies are now growing wheat. Go to the grocery store and you'll see why, in the bread aisle.

We were happy to point you to the Lone Star Project's letter to Kim Brimer, and I was pleased to speak with Michael Skelly, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Texas' 7th District, on this week's episode of Who's Blue. I am also happy to wish you a great weekend and to thank you, as always, for reading.

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