Archive

  • OUTTA DA MARRIAGE BIZ.

    OUTTA DA MARRIAGE BIZ. As a queer native of the Garden State, I applaud the state Supreme Court decision that orders the legislature of my native land to do the right thing and give us our rights. Like Scott , I'm down with the decision of the best damn state supreme court in the land, but perhaps for less thoughtful and realistic reasons: It gives me hope that the government might, one day, get out of the marriage business altogether. Really, folks, marriage is a religious institution in which government has no business, except for the enforcement of the contract inherent in that sacred institution. I say, civil unions for everybody -- straights, gays, transgendered, omnisexuals, whomever -- and let the religious institutions determine on which couples they will confer the blessing of marriage. --Adele M. Stan
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL THE RIGHT WAR.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL THE RIGHT WAR. As the Iraq debacle has continued to lay bare the pitfalls of occupation, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and Western forces remain bogged down there, five years after the initial U.S. invasion. Some observers are now starting to reconsider the wisdom of that war as well. Today, Rob takes up the question of Afghanistan and assesses in retrospect the case for invasion. --The Editors
  • The Economy and the Election: Housing and Stocks

    Those folks wanting to weigh the impact of the economy on the elections next month would well-advised to place more emphasis on yesterday's reported plunge in new home prices than the recent uptick in the stock market. The basic story is simple, most people have far more money in their house than in the stock market. Of course, the reson for the fall is that house prices had gotten out of line due to a speculative bubble. The drop is necessary and inevitable (just like the 2000-2002 stock crash), but it is nonetheless painful as it occurs. It cannot be good for the party in power to have more evidence of a deflating housing bubble just before the election. On a somewhat different topic, it looks like gas prices have turned the corner and may be on their way up again. While I would not anticipate a huge upswing, it wouldn't surprise me if gas prices are 5-10 cents higher by election day. If such a rise takes place, it may put an end to the conspiracy theories about the oil companies...
  • PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE.

    PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE. Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey 's recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural: My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts. Maguire is, of course, correct that the fact that a majority of New Jersey's citizens support civil unions goes only to the questions of whether the decision is "countermajoritarian," and neither here not there in terms of the merits of the opinion. But he doesn't quote the passage where I actually address his point: I would be interested in a more robust explanation of why nominal supporters of gay marriage such as Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds oppose these judicial decisions, which are based on a perfectly...
  • YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT.

    YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT. Ezra , I really, really don't like disagreeing with Peter Bergen on al-Qaeda. You generally should be extremely wary of telling a guy who interviewed bin Laden that he's off-base. But, dude, you asked . Thanks, Ez, you're a good friend. Let me start by saying that Peter is 100 percent right that bin Laden & co. want to take over Iraq. But, to expand a bit on a point that Blake made , "want" and "can" are two different things. Peter may be a bit skewed by his deep knowledge of Afghanistan here. It was pretty easy for al-Qaeda to adapt to a post-Soviet Afghanistan. From the evidence so far, that's really not the case in Iraq: not only do the Iraqi Sunnis really dislike al-Q , but Anbar province has even assembled its own anti-Qaeda death squad . There's only one thing that could stop the Sunnis from fighting al-Qaeda: their greater desire to fight us instead. There's also a Machiavellian aspect here. To be extremely callous (given that we're...
  • RISK ASSESSMENT: SCHMITT CRASHES THE PARTY!

    RISK ASSESSMENT: SCHMITT CRASHES THE PARTY! Ok, not really. Mark Schmitt has swooped in with a worthy intervention into the Hacker-Klein-Yglesias discussion of The Great Risk Shift . Check it out, and wait for Hacker's response tomorrow. --The Editors
  • JUST A GAME....

    JUST A GAME. Shakes on Limbaugh : Limbaugh is just one of many loathsome characters who have made names for themselves by treating politics as a game, a fun and profitable little pastime that has no real-world consequences -- and the richer he gets, the more real a lack of consequences becomes for him. The luxury of staggering wealth means never having to worry about Social Security, or healthcare, or how much gas costs. It�s a game. Who cares. And in that game, people like Michael J. Fox aren�t real people. They�re images on a screen, they�re pawns to be played. Stem cell research isn�t a real thing. It�s a political football. Safely nestled away from the real world in a radio studio, Limbaugh doesn�t want or need to think about the people he mocks, the people he uses to score a goal. That's quite right. But there's another element too: For the wealthy, and even for many in the middle class, it's hard to viscerally understand the importance of the safety net and the relatively small...
  • PETER BOYER.

    PETER BOYER. Over at Open University, David Greenberg has a good post criticizing Peter Boyer 's latest New Yorker piece , which in typical fashion combines plenty of good writing and colorful material with an unseemly internalization of right-wing talking points and caricatures of liberals. This reminds me to plug one of Matt 's first web pieces as a young whippersnapper here at TAP -- the definitive (the only?) Peter Boyer hit piece . Give it a look. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • SPEECHLESS. In...

    SPEECHLESS. In the weirdest, scariest, and most hopeful story you'll read today, Scott Adams , the creator of Dilbert, has been functionally mute for the last year-and-a-half. He contracted Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare, poorly understood affliction where the part of your brain that governs speech simply shuts down. You can still sing, and do public speaking, and talk to yourself, and engage in various other activities related to, but not using the same neural pathways as, normal speech. But you can't speak. No one has ever gotten better. As of today, Scott is the first. He did it by remapping his own brain. --Ezra Klein
  • GET OUT OF AL-ANBAR, AND GET OSAMA.

    GET OUT OF AL-ANBAR, AND GET OSAMA. I'll take a stab at Ezra's call for reactions to this op-ed by Peter Bergen . Bergen writes: Instead, we should focus on a minimalist definition of our interests in Iraq, which is to prevent a militant Sunni jihadist mini-state from emerging and allowing al-Qaeda to regroup. While withdrawing a substantial number of American troops from Iraq would probably tamp down the insurgency and should be done as soon as is possible, a significant force must remain in Iraq for many years to destroy al-Qaeda in Iraq. I agree with Bergen that we should prevent such a bad thing from happening, but I disagree on the means. Fortunately, the emergence of a "militant Sunni jihadist mini-state" is not as likely as Bergen thinks. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is actually fairly unpopular even in Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces, to the extent that the police chief in Baquba has said that they have been "driven out and finished off." What's more, General Casey is now openly admitting...

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