Archive

  • HRC AND THE FOREIGN POLICY ELITE.

    HRC AND THE FOREIGN POLICY ELITE. Far be it from me to disagree with our erstwhile boss man, Mike Tomasky , but I was intrigued by his post on "Comment is Free," the online opinion page of the Guardian . Mike argues that the reason Hillary Clinton refuses to admit that she was wrong to support the Iraq War is the influence of the foreign policy establishment: "This is a bunch whose views are well to the right of the Democratic primary electorate. And it is a bunch in whose good graces Hillary Clinton, a cautious and establishment politician at her core, is fervent to stay." Well, he's certainly right about the first point, as he illustrates with figures like Ken Pollack and Richard Holbrooke . On the second, though, I'd offer a slightly different analysis. I'm not sure that Senator Clinton is so concerned with sucking up to those guys -- I think if she moves to the left to get elected they'll still gladly take jobs from her. I think she, being in some sense a member of that same cadre...
  • WHAT AMNESIA?

    WHAT AMNESIA? Brendan O'Neill has a column in The Guardian 's "Comment is Free" section about this magazine's history of commentary on the Iraq war. For anyone who fell for wannabe president Hillary Clinton's claim last week that she did not vote for pre-emptive war in Iraq, and thus she is really more of a peacenick than a villainous hawk, American journalist Matthew Yglesias was on hand to provide a "history lesson"� However, Hillary isn't the only one suffering from what we might call liberal amnesia, conveniently forgetting that she supported a war that has left Iraq a bloody and barbaric mess. Other liberals also gave the green light to the invasion and now seem to be suffering from a similar bump-on-the-head forgetfulness. Consider Yglesias's own magazine, American Prospect . He then goes on to discuss pieces written in 2002 and 2003 for TAP by Richard Just , Adam Kushner , Brendan Nyhan , and Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay that took various liberal interventionist positions on...
  • DIVERSITY OF WHAT?...

    DIVERSITY OF WHAT? I like Kay 's linkage of geographical quotas and diversity quotas. To suggest that maybe women should have vaguely equal-esque representation in the House of Representatives is seen as crazy, totally unAmerican. But of course the four bearded men and a dog who live in Montana should get precisely the Senatorial clout of the tens of millions inhabiting California. Why the experience of being a Montanan is more unique and worthy of political protection than that of being a woman isn't immediately apparent, but never mind. The Founders made it this way and they had magic wisdom wigs. --Ezra Klein
  • OPENING BID: $50,000

    OPENING BID: $50,000 . Walter Mondale 's boyhood home in Elmore, Minn. is listed on eBay. So far, no bids . -- Kay Steiger
  • ANTI-SEX LOGIC

    ANTI-SEX LOGIC . As someone who endured many abstinence assemblies during my 13 years in Catholic school, I wasn't terribly shocked by yesterday's news that Montgomery County junior high kids are being forced to share chewing gum to demonstrate why sex is icky. Another well-known abstinence-only "game" is to have the kids suck on a lollipop , then try to put it back in the wrapper and see if any other kids would like to suck on it now. In my high school there was a more sanitary demonstration using pizza as the metaphor. The message: If you shared a slice of your pizza with everyone , you'd be left with an empty box. It always seemed confusing... didn't they want me to start out with and maintain an "empty box," so to speak, rather than end up there? Meanwhile at the college level, the abstinence logic is equally confusing. In response to some campus groups who pass out condoms and Hershey's kisses on Valentine's Day, a few anti-contraception groups gave away free chocolate bars...
  • THE LIVEBLOGGING OF...

    THE LIVEBLOGGING OF THE LIBBY TRIAL. The New York Times yesterday had a pretty nice piece on something of a phenomenon out of the Libby trial -- the coverage by firedoglake. Initially, a different group of bloggers covering the trial - Media Bloggers Association - seemed to get all the attention . But there can really be no question that their coverage was completely overshadowed by the centerpiece of fdl's: the extraordinary liveblogging done by my friend Marcy Wheeler , supplemented by Swopa 's during the week Marcy was away from the trial. (Full disclosure: I did one guest post over there on the trial.) What made the liveblogging extraordinary was not just that Marcy was able to keep up with the fast pace in the courtroom. It was that she both knows the case at such a granular level of detail and understands how those granular details fit into the larger context of what is at stake in the proceedings, so that she has been able to produce a very reliable non-transcript of the moment...
  • THE 30 PERCENT RULE.

    THE 30 PERCENT RULE. Women's E-News reported today that Chile is debating a quota law for women in congressional representation. The article noted that more than 50 countries around the world have laws requiring a certain percentage of women hold offices in congress or parliament. Opponents of the law in Chile say it will be tricky to implement because it may "threaten the political longevity of at least some male legislators." Clara Bingham pointed out that despite the new female leadership in Congress, women still fall far below quotas set in third-world countries like Rwanda and first-world countries like Sweden. Even the new constitution implemented in Iraq required quotas for women. This opens it up to discussion, especially considering our geographically based system of representation, how the United States could push for gender equality in government. -- Kay Steiger
  • Inflation and Unemployment: Bernanke Tells Off Barney Frank

    The headline of the Post's article on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee tells readers that "Bernanke Rebuffs Frank on Rate Cut." According to the article, Frank had pressed Bernanke about the possibility of a rate cut, given projections from the Fed and elsewhere of slowing growth and rising unemployment. The article reports that Bernanke rejected the suggestion, citing the need to remain vigilant against inflation. The article implies that Bernanke's position is based on a solid body of economic research: "Bernanke's remarks partly reflect years of research that has debunked the idea of a long-term trade-off between unemployment and inflation." Actually, Mr. Frank was not proposing that the Fed lower rates with the idea that there would be a long-term trade-off between inflation and unemployment, he was suggesting that the Fed could lower rates and thereby lower unemployment, with no clear impact on inflation. This is exactly the path...
  • Housing Starts Plunge, What Will the "Experts" Say?

    The Census Bureau reported that housing starts fell 14.3 percent between December and January and now stand 37.8 percent below their year ago level. I always caution about making too much of a single month's data and housing starts are an especially erratic number. Still, it is worth noting that the sharp declines in starts were in the South and West, regions that were not affected by any obvious bad weather for the month. The reporters who write-up this release will no doubt speak with many analysts who will express their surprise at this sharp downturn. It would be helpful if they also sought out the views of analysts who were not surprised. Presumably being right does not disqualify someone from being cited in news reporting. --Dean Baker
  • HOW 'BOUT THAT....

    HOW 'BOUT THAT. A Democratic majority successfully asserts its will: A vote to criticize President Bush for his decision to send more troops to Iraq is expected to pass the House in a rare admonishment of a wartime commander-in-chief. Democrats who wrote the nonbinding measure and back it with near unanimity were clear that it would set the stage for more decisive steps to constrain Bush's warmaking powers. They proposed ideas to put legislative strings on future funding in Iraq and prevent any pre-emptive invasion of Iran.... The anxiously awaited vote was expected by Friday afternoon. This is a sign of how things will happen from here on out. The leadership of the Democratic Party is going to come from Nancy Pelosi 's office in the House, and from her tight circle of legislative allies. The Senate Democrats will try to follow, but without the buffer zone of a solid majority and with a less disciplined caucus, they will remain weak and secondary, and frequently be blocked by...

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