Archive

  • VALUES VOTERS' VALUES.

    VALUES VOTERS' VALUES. I just got back from the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit . The audience was what you'd expect -- white and old. The speakers, on the other hand, mixed things up a little. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), addressing George W. Bush 's original "compassionate conservative" framework, suggested that being "pro-life" also means caring about the fetus's safety after it's born. This sentiment, perhaps because it sounded as though it could have come from Jim Wallis , drew much more tepid applause than the Brokeback jokes (e.g., everyone should stand against gay marriage "until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain.") It was only toward the end of the speech, when Huckabee finished off his appeal for the welfare of children by calling on the audience to imagine "what we could do if instead of paying half their income in taxes, but gave a dime of every dollar to their church or charitable organization," that it became apparent what...
  • INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN...

    INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN INEPT. Bloggers are in an understandable uproar over a Roll Call article in which a hodgepodge of nameless Democratic aides reveal that the leadership is readying to party like it's 2002 and refocus the election on economic issues. I'm a bit skeptical. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi haven't proven themselves to be obvious idiots (indeed, quite the contrary ) over the past couple of years. And given, as Kos says, that 2002 and 2004 were both disasters based on that very strategy, I have a tough time believing they're itching for a repeat. Add in that "unnamed Democratic" strategists and aides could be anybody and tend to be willing to spout whatever counterproductive pabulum reporter's want, and I'm a bit hesitant to jump on this one as gospel truth. So I called up some folks in the Democratic leadership to ask them whether the story was truthful. The answer I got was "sort of." There are certain campaigns -- like Amy Klobuchar �s in Minnesota, and Sherrod Brown �s...
  • GUEST POST: FASTEN THE ROPES.

    GUEST POST: FASTEN THE ROPES. Senator McCain and his colleagues deserve some credit; they have, once again, pushed back on an administration that is congenitally allergic to the rule of law. When faced with the senators� insistence -- along with the stern warnings of two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and more than two dozen other senior retired military leaders -- that the Geneva Conventions should be preserved as a baseline standard for detainee treatment, administration lawyers did indeed scramble to resurrect Common Article 3 of the treaties, despite their initial attempt to write that commitment out of U.S. law altogether. According to Sen. McCain, speaking on the Today show this morning, the agreement makes clear that it is a war crime to engage in the waterboarding technique allegedly used against CIA-held detainees in the past. The agreement also appears to leave in the criminal category techniques like induced hypothermia and stress positions -- the apparent cause of...
  • YOU LISTEN.

    YOU LISTEN. This is just a heads up that Max Sawicky 's always terrific MaxSpeak blog now looks to be even more interesting and frisky with the addition of decidedly non-EPIish center-left economist Jason Furman to the roster of contributors. Much mixing-it-up has already ensued. It will definitely be worth checking out . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • AMERICANS AND TORTURE.

    AMERICANS AND TORTURE. Shrill Charlie Pierce and the unshrill New York Times editorialists are correct -- it was substantively a fool's game and a disgrace for Democrats to consciously refuse to engage the torture debate, and, as The Times puts it, "it�s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election." I totally agree with this. I will only note -- not by way of defending the Democrats, but merely of lamenting the state of the nation on this issue -- something Sandy Levinson said yesterday. He asked why, if the Democrats can openly be called the party of death, the Republicans shouldn't be known as "the party of torture": Presumably, Democrats are hesitant to use such a term as "the party of torture" either because it would be viewed as over the top (unlike "the party of death?") or, more ominously, because they fear that too many "median-vote" Americans actually like the idea of tortuous modes of investigation against those the administration...
  • CAN'T SAY I...

    CAN'T SAY I LIKE DOOR #2, EITHER. Kevin Drum explains that there are three methods Wal-Mart uses for keeping their prices down. 1) A spectacularly efficient supply chain and logistics system that's the envy of the industry. 2) A willingness � in fact, an almost palpable enthusiasm � for using their enormous size to beat the lowest possible prices out of their suppliers. 3) A scorched-earth campaign to prevent unions from organizing at Wal-Mart sites, thus keeping wages and benefits as low as possible. Progressives, he says, merrily embrace #1 and #2, but oppose #3. Well, as embarrassing as it is to wreck a consensus, I have to confess that I have some concerns over #2 as well. My guess is that Wal-Mart's size and might is having much more profound effects on our economy through the demands and strains it places on suppliers than through their lowish wages and benefits for direct employees (although those labor standards give them a competitive advantage over chains with higher...
  • THE SILENT PARTY.

    THE SILENT PARTY. You worthless passel of cowards. They're laughing at you. You know that, right? The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party, the latter best exemplified by John McCain , who keeps fashioning his apparently fathomless ambition into a pair of clown shoes with which he can do the monkey dance across the national stage. They're laughing at him, too. The New York Times has the right of it here , limning the pathetic gullibility at the heart of the "compromise." There is nothing in this bill that President Thumbscrews can't ignore. There is nothing in this bill that reins in his feckless and dangerous reinterpretation of the powers of his office. There is nothing in this bill that requires him to take it -- or its congressional authors --...
  • THE DEAL ON...

    THE DEAL ON THE DEAL. So here's the " compromise " on detainees: [T]he legislation will enumerate "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions which, if committed, could expose US officials to criminal prosecution. The list includes acts such as rape, murder and intentional infliction of bodily harm. For less-than-grave breaches, however, President Bush would be given authority to interpret the Geneva Convention provisions through an executive order. Defendants and their lawyers will not be given access to classified material in military tribunals, and prosecutors will enjoy wide latitude, according to Hadley, in the use of hearsay evidence, with burden on the accused to show that such evidence is either unreliable on irrelevant before it could be excluded. More in-depth analysis is available here . So Bush got, basically, everything he wanted. The other day, in TAP 's weekly editorial meeting, a few of us were puzzling over the motivation for McCain 's actions. Why would he sacrifice...
  • Does A Faulty CPI Make the U.S. Look Good? Final Stabs on Living Standards

    While I am reluctant to perpetuate the debate on living standards and the accuracy of the consumer price index (CPI), I just can�t resist holding economists and pundits to the things they claim to believe. My last post featured the claim that living standards had improved substantially despite the stubborn refusal of the CPI to support this claim. When median family income is deflated by the CPI, then real family income was just 14.4 percent higher in 2004 than it was in 1979. This increase is explained largely by an increase in working hours per family, as the median hourly wage rose by even less over this period. The stagnation deniers (SD) argue that the CPI has missed the benefits of all the new goods that have appeared on the market in the last quarter century � cell phones, the Internet, and the great gains in health care over this period. Life expectancy in the United States increased by 3.5 years over this period, from 73.7 years in 1980 to 77.2 years in 2003.
  • IRAN'S GAME. ...

    IRAN'S GAME. It was nice to see Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi attack Hugo Chavez 's ham-handed attempts to condemn President Bush . Chavez is a clumsy, crude political actor, and his extended comparison of Bush and the devil looked over-the-top and foolish. More interesting, and more relevant for American interests, is the current charm offensive of Ahmadinejad . From this Time piece, you could easily get the impression that Iranian leader had just finished Lakoff . Every other sentence was an appeal to approach the world with logic, love, respect, and humanitarianism. His basic argument was that George Bush is a wacked-out aggressor who, for inexplicable reasons of his own, seeks to dominate Iran and keep them from nuclear technology. Meanwhile, Iran has previously called for total disarmament of all nuclear weapons, and wouldn't want a nuke even if they could get one. "We are opposed to nuclear weapons." He said. "We think it has been developed just to kill human beings." So the...

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