Archive

  • 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...
  • THE TINIEST VIOLIN...

    THE TINIEST VIOLIN IN THE WORLD... I'm always amazed at how similarly the left and the right perceive each other. Here's The American Spectator 's Quin Hillyer complaining about liberal incivility: The Left can dish it out (with frequent use of "f" words and direct questioning of conservatives' motives, not just our reasoning), but they just can't take it. Again and again, they can and have called GOP stances "un-American" and the like, but on the other hand, again and again they take a conservative statement that only addresses the likely RESULTS of lefty actions, not their motives, and accuse the conservatives of questioning their patriotism. It's a total, absolute crock. And a total, absolutely mirror of the complaints liberals issue daily. Now, I, being a liberal, think Hillyer's off-base, and it's quite genuinely the right who engages in such smears , but it's fascinating nonetheless. --Ezra Klein
  • A 'LARRY SUMMERS MOMENT'

    A 'LARRY SUMMERS MOMENT' . Amy Hoffman , editor-in-chief of the Women's Review of Books , recently reported that she attended a lecture at the Radcliffe Institute by Barry Gewen , an editor at the New York Times Book Review . In what even he described as a "Larry Summers moment" he explained that the reason so few women reviewers appear in the NYTBR is that they just can't write for a general audience about such topics as military history. He explained that NYTBR editors find reviewers by talking to colleagues and reading publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books , and The New Republic , insisting that he and his colleagues are not overtly prejudiced people but admitted they might have subconscious prejudices. In the Harvard Crimson 's account , Gewen acknowledged his staff wasn't �doing the outreach they should� in order to recruit more women and minorities. �Looking for reviewers of a certain ethnicity simply because of an ethnicity makes me a little...
  • NYT Misrepresents President Bush's Health Care Plan

    According to the NYT , President Bush's health care plan would "provide tax breaks for low- and moderate-income workers to buy insurance." Put this line in the big HUH? category. President Bush's plan gives people who buy their own insurance the option to deduct the cost from their taxable income. This provides the biggest tax breaks for higher income workers who are in the highest tax bracket. In fact, it is no tax break at all for tens of millions of moderate income workers who pay no income tax. These families could take the option of paying less in Social Security taxes, but this would be at the price of large reductions in future Social Security benefits, not necessarily a good deal. I trust that President Bush's people will demand that the NYT correct its distortion of the President's plan. --Dean Baker
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE STANDARD ISSUE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE STANDARD ISSUE. Robert Reich offers a specific proposal for what kinds of labor standards we should want included in trade deals. --The Editors
  • HONEST STUPIDITY. ...

    HONEST STUPIDITY. Now that he no longer stalks the Prospect 's halls with a whip and a red pen, I feel free to say that ol' Bossman's Tomasky 's latest column strikes me as rather strange. Call it post-pre-war revisionism, but I think Mike's rundown of how disingenuous most war supporters were forgets too much about the intellectual atmosphere in the moment, particularly in Washington, and how addled the conversation really was. Mike argues that, "I don't believe for a second that any of them [liberal-leaning Senators] thought that handing George W. Bush the authority to launch a preemptive war was in any conceivable way a good idea." But that, sadly, wasn't the question. Had Democrats been thinking more clearly, they would have considered Bush's record, his competence, his instincts, and just said no. The moment, however, was not one conducive to clear thought. And the question was never framed or explained quite like that. Rather, an array of foreign policy wisemen and self-styled...
  • KEEPING THE OPTIONS OPEN.

    KEEPING THE OPTIONS OPEN. I'm very late to this debate, but since Ezra asked... I don't think that the argument that a Democratic presidential candidate needs to keep his/her options open regarding war against Iran holds much water. The logic behind this arguments seems to go like this; if Barack Obama or whoever else declares military action against Iran off limits, then one of his diplomatic tools is off the table when he finally needs to start dealing with Iran. The argument that the threat of force can grease the wheels of diplomacy isn't wholly unreasonable, although some have pointed out, correctly, that the threat of force can often limit diplomatic options. However, the assumption that a statement made during a campaign is binding once someone becomes president is simply absurd. Woodrow Wilson went to war in Europe only six months after winning election on a no war pledge. Richard Nixon kept the Vietnam War going for four years in spite of a pledge to end it in short order...

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