Archive

  • BLAME THE POLLS....

    BLAME THE POLLS. This revelation , courtesy of Tom Edsall in The New Republic , actually explains an awful lot: In late 2000, even as the result of the presidential election was still being contested in court, George W. Bush's chief pollster Matt Dowd was writing a memo for Rove that would reach a surprising conclusion. Based on a detailed examination of poll data from the previous two decades, Dowd's memo argued that the percentage of swing voters had shrunk to a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most self-described "independent" voters "are independent in name only," Dowd told me in an interview describing his memo. "Seventy-five percent of independents vote straight ticket" for one party or the other. Once such independents are reclassified as Democrats or Republicans, a key trend emerges: Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of true swing voters fell from a very substantial 24 percent of the electorate to just 6 percent. In other words, the center was literally disappearing. Which...
  • THE PARTY OF...

    THE PARTY OF MORE STUFF. I'm not sure whether this is funny or sad, but at the end of a David Leonhardt column arguing that middle-class growth and improvement is deeply understated by the inflation rate, Leonhardt admits: In recent years, the government�s economists have gotten much better at measuring inflation, introducing some new products, like Viagra, into the index within months. Of course, this means that incomes lately have not been understated by much and that their growth really has been miserly. (The recent reports showing healthy gains all refer to averages, which have been driven by huge gains at the top.) For all the sunny numbers that Republicans have offered up, the reality is that not a single piece of government data shows that most workers have gotten a significant wage increase since 2002. Ah. Well okay, then. The larger point, that snowblowers and cell phones and beta blockers and iPods have improved our lives, is, I think, self-evident and something of a red...
  • BUY THIS BOOK....

    BUY THIS BOOK. Last week, Brookings held a great book launch event for Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France by Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse. The book hit the Prospect �s office today, and it appears to be an exceedingly important read for anyone trying to understand how governments can help promote (or stunt) the integration process of Muslims immigrants to Europe. This book challenges alarmist takes from right-wing quarters that demographic and other factors are fostering an �Islamization� of Europe. Using France as a case study, Laurence and Vaisse flip that argument to show that Islam is becoming �Europeanized� instead; �French Islam,� they argue, �is replacing Islam in France.� Concurrently, the integration of Muslims in France is generally on a positive path. As they put it, �There is little reason to subscribe to the conventional view of an increasingly fractured society in which immigrants and citizens of Muslim origin form anti-...
  • EZRA -- STILL A WRITING FELLOW IN NEED.

    EZRA -- STILL A WRITING FELLOW IN NEED. As we said yesterday , the Prospect depends on reader donations. Do consider helping out Ezra , the writing fellowship program, and the magazine with a donation . UPDATE: Just to be clear: You'll notice Ezra's reading a plain, old dead-tree book in today's picture. Might he have been forced to sell his laptop due his dire financial situation? What's next, we ask you? --The Editors
  • WATCH IT, PAL.

    WATCH IT, PAL. Listen, Pierce : Andrew Natsios is my next-door neighbor. I�ve never met the man, but I consider an attack on him to be an attack on all of Woodside Park. And those rumors that he wants to build a $312 billion vehicular tunnel under Clement St. are just that! --Michael Tomasky
  • MAKE YOU FEEL...

    MAKE YOU FEEL SAFER? One of the recurrent questions I get on panels, call-in shows, and e-mails is "What will be required to change the health care system? What can be done?" It's not a query I'm particularly well-equipped to field, but I think a good start would be photocopying this article on retroactive cancellations by insurers and handing a copy out to each and every American. No other piece I'm aware of exposes the absurdities and cruelty of the system as clearly, and so irresistibly signals the need for reform. The actual facts in the report are basic: California state regulators are investigating Blue Cross for unlawful cancellations of policies. When you buy individual coverage, unlike when you buy into group coverage, insurers can reject you based on your health history or conditions. In order to protect against fraud -- say, someone being diagnosed with heart disease, then applying for insurance the next morning without mentioning it -- the law allows for insurers to cancel...
  • MISSING MICHAEL BROWN.

    MISSING MICHAEL BROWN. Yesterday, at the United Nations, the president sought to reassure the world that he really has its best interests at heart. Here�s the speech . Now, there was a passage in the speech's late innings that caused the ol' head whiparound in a lot of us here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) It was that moment when the president spoke to the people in Darfur and told them that he would send one Andrew Natsios there as his own super-special presidential envoy. For those of you keeping score at home, that would be this Andrew Natsios, who, oddly enough, is also this Andrew Natsios. In other words, the president is dispatching to the middle of an ongoing genocide a man whose oversight have already been central to some of the biggest foreign and domestic clusterbumps of the past 50 years. This must be what happens when you lose Michael Brown 's phone number. Anyway, it is likely that people will continue to die in Darfur, but our government has made certain that there...
  • ALLEN'S QUICK TURNAROUND...

    ALLEN'S QUICK TURNAROUND Senator George Allen embraced his Jewish ancestry only yesterday. And it took him precisely 24 hours to play the anti-Semitic card . Yesterday, Wadhams accused Webb's campaign and liberal bloggers of anti-Semitism for raising the issue of the senator's religious background� Wadhams also accused Webb's campaign of mailing an anti-Semitic flier to Virginia voters during the state's Democratic primary this year. That flier depicted Webb's Jewish opponent, Harris Miller, with money coming out of his pockets. "They have been continuing that anti-Semitic strategy through their paid bloggers," Wadhams said. When it comes to ethnic baiting, Allen's the real victim here. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • EUROPE WORKS. ...

    EUROPE WORKS. Whatever the European social policy you may be advocating for, the almost inevitable, and usually instant, response from ill-disposed interlocutors is to bring up Europe's apparent unemployment problem and wonder if that's the future you're securing for the United States. Well, let them. The latest round of OECD employment data shows (PDF) that Europe has almost entirely closed the employment gap with the United States: The difference is now 1.1 percent, attributable entirely to low female workforce participation among women in Italy and Spain. Indeed, if you factor out the disadvantage conferred by our massive incarceration rate, they may well be ahead. Notice here that we're talking about employment rates: The United States often has lower unemployment rates for the simple reason that we cease counting people when we consider them no longer looking. But if you look at the more telling side of the coin -- the actual percentage of the population employed in gainful labor...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: LAMONT TALKS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: LAMONT TALKS. On September 6, we had our seventh Prospect breakfast event -- the guest this time was Ned Lamont . The audio of the hour-long discussion between Lamont and an array of journalists is here , and now we've posted the full transcript of the event. (Both are also available on our multimedia page .) Lamont fielded questions on subjects ranging from horse-race politics to health care to foreign policy. His answers were at times surprisingly candid. On the Dems and Iraq: It�s easier for me as a candidate to be clear than it is for Senator Harry Reid, who�s got 47 cats he�s got to herd. So that�s why we end up with �2006 will be a year of transition,� whatever the hell that means. I have tried to be clear, tried to be respectful, but clear. That a change of course is going to mean tough love with the Maliki government and setting some guidelines and supporting a way that we comprehensively get our troops out of harm�s way and have the Iraqis step up...

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