Archive

  • A SYSTEM OF...

    A SYSTEM OF CHECK AND BALANCES (WORKING CLASS ONLY) Steven Greenhouse has a very peculiarly written story (why isn't the bill named or described till halfway through?) on the coming clash over the Employee Free Choice Act. For now, implementation of the act looks basically impossible, as Democrats can't break a Senate filibuster or overturn the promised presidential veto. Remarkable how our legislature found it so easy to heighten the obstacles for declaring bankruptcy but seems totally stymied when aiding workers who want to join a union without being fired, penalized, or browbeaten in captive meetings. Towards the end of the article we get back into the debate over whether card check -- wherein workers simply sign cards to join the union -- is a legitimate process, or if, by denying the employer a distinct NLRB vote it can intimidate and sabotage, it exposes workers to union intimidation. Happily, there's actually data out there capable of settling the point. Given that the country...
  • SOMEBODY CALL MATT...

    SOMEBODY CALL MATT AND SAM! This is the most brazen incompetence dodge I've seen in a very, very long time. From Friedman 's latest column : The irony of Iraq is that it�s the one place where Mr. Bush decisively chose regime change, but he then executed it so poorly, with insufficient troops, that Iraq never stood a chance. If Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had spent as much time plotting the toppling of Saddam Hussein as they did the toppling of Colin Powell, Iraq today would be Switzerland. Yes, because the ancient tribal enmity between the Sunnis and Shi'ites is really just an elaborate ruse to make us pay more attention to them. --Ezra Klein
  • "Free Trade," Why are Reporters So Verbose?

    The Washington Post does it yet again, an article on Venezuela's influence in Latin America refers to the Bush administration's efforts to have a "free trade" agreement with the region. Of course one of the main components of such an agreement would be rules strengthening copyright and patent protection. This is increased protection, not free trade. Is the Washington Post obligated to use the Bush administration's terminology when it discusses issues? Is there some reason that it can't just be called a "trade" agreement? --Dean Baker
  • RAPE IN IRAQ

    RAPE IN IRAQ . In a horrifying convergence of events this week, Iraqi women are taking the center stage as rape victims. Two soldiers pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old Iraqi teenager and murdering her along with her family. From yesterday's testimony: "I lifted up her skirt and took off her stockings while Barker held her hands with his knees," [ Sgt. Paul E. Cortez , 24] said before admitting that he raped the teenager as she screamed. "After I was done, myself and [ Spec. James P. Barker ] switched spots." Meanwhile, Iraq has been roiled by a 20-year-old married woman named Sabrine al-Janabi who says she was sexually assaulted by Iraqi security forces. Political leaders have accused al-Janabi (a Sunni woman) of lying in order to make the Shiite-dominated security forces look bad. She was examined at an American hospital, which leaked part of her medical records (only one page out of a multi-page report that simply says there were "no vaginal lacerations or obvious injury") to...
  • GLENN BECK AND DINESH D'SOUZA AGREE WITH BIN LADEN.

    GLENN BECK AND DINESH D'SOUZA AGREE WITH BIN LADEN. It is our horrible promiscuity that upsets right-thinking Muslims everywhere, and both Beck and D'Souza kinda sorta see their point. Here is Beck : BECK: You know, there`s a new poll out that Muslims, the higher educated Muslims in the Middle East are more likely to be extremists? More and more Muslims now hate us all across the world, and it really has not a lot to do with anything other than our morals. The things that they were saying about us were true. Our morals are just out the window. We`re a society on the verge of moral collapse. And our promiscuity is off the charts. Now I don`t think that we should fly airplanes into buildings or behead people because of it, but that's the prevailing feeling of Muslims in the Middle East. And you know what? They`re right. If "they" are "right", what would Beck like to see done? The establishment of some form of Taliban rules against vice in this country? Because according to his arguments...
  • LIEBERMAN (DUH-CT). ...

    LIEBERMAN (DUH-CT). According to The Politico , Joe Lieberman is suggesting that a Democratic vote against war funding would spur him to complete his transformation into a full-blown Republican and switch parties. This is somewhat less dangerous for Democrats than it appears, as Lieberman already votes how he'll vote and the Committee chairs and leadership positions are already locked in. Be quite a betrayal to his Connecticut constituents, however, who were clearly told that they'd get an independent Democrat rather than a picqued Republican. --Ezra Klein
  • WAPO GOOD, BAD,...

    WAPO GOOD, BAD, AND FUNNY. While the White House anxiously awaits word on Scooter Libby 's legal fate, it's really worth checking out Dan Froomkin 's column from yesterday at washingtonpost.com, which focuses on the Cheney angle in Fitzgerald's closing yesterday. For a little comic relief, read the long Outlook column by Victoria Toensing in the WaPo on Sunday, which basically smears everyone outside the White House involved in the CIA leak investigation and rests its argument that no crime could have been committed in the case on ignoring the fact that Fitzgerald was investigating possible violations of statutes beyond the Intelligence Identities Protections Act (IIPA) (not to mention making a contentious, questionable interpretation of IIPA itself, notwithstanding her participation as a congressional staffer in its original drafting). Then look at the first question she was asked during her online chat at the Post online during the lunch break yesterday: Washington : You were...
  • MEANS AND MEDIANS....

    MEANS AND MEDIANS. I was thinking through Robert Reich 's proposal to mandate that countries who want to trade with us set a minimum wage of half their median wage, and I ended up digging into some median wage statistics * domestically. For those fuzzy on the terms here, median means, essentially, in the middle. If I make $6, and Matt makes $7, and Tom Friedman makes $150, the median wage is $7. The mean is the average, so in this example, it would be $54.33. If we outsource Tom's job to a bright Bangladeshi making $1, my wage is now the median, and the mean is $4.66. America's mean wage in 2005 was $35,448.93. That's the number you generally hear quoted. Its median , however, was $23,962.20. And if you want another example of rising inequality, in 1990, the median was 71% of the mean. In 2005, it was 67%. Indeed, over the same time period, the mean wage increased by 75%. The median only increased by 65%. *This is why I'm fun at parties. --Ezra Klein
  • THE ETHICS OF...

    THE ETHICS OF APOLOGY. I dunno, Ezra , I rather thought Mike Tomasky made a really smart point in his column this week :
  • PRESS RELEASES FOR...

    PRESS RELEASES FOR DUMMIES. I recall blogging about this during the last presidential cycle, to no apparent effect, so I'd like to again make a brief on behalf of plain English and clarity to all those campaign workers who write press releases. Once upon a time press releases were delivered by hand or by mail. Then it was by fax, and then everything switched over to e-mail. And now reporters get press releases on computers and hand-held devices. Hand-held devices have really small screens. If a press secretary writes a release with the header "Sen./Gov./etc. So-and-so for president campaign announces statement on XYZ," no one can tell from the header what's in the release unless they click through, first, because all that will show up on their hand-held screen is "Sen./Gov./etc. So-and-so for," and second, because the header doesn't say what that candidate said. In a world where newspapers assigned reporters to cover only specific candidates, that was fine. People would still click...

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