Archive

  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CAN FREE TRADE BE A FAIR DEAL?

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CAN FREE TRADE BE A FAIR DEAL? It is in northern European countries, with their open trade and lavish welfare states. As Harold describes today , for the United States to achieve that same balance would take more than anyone in mainstream politics is proposing at the moment. --The Editors
  • INTERFERENCE.

    INTERFERENCE. Regarding the reports that the United States continues to actively discourage Israel from engaging with Syria, it's worth re-reading this Jo-Ann Mort piece from late July, "The Roadblock to Damascus." The roadblock in question was, of course, the United States. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • READING IS FUNDAMENTAL...AND...

    READING IS FUNDAMENTAL...AND INCREASINGLY RARE. Dana Goldstein first pointed to these results in a depressing post on American illiteracy yesterday, but I want to go through them in a bit more detail. According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, the share of 12th graders lacking basic reading skills -- meaning they can't do simple things like extract train fares from a brochure -- jumped from 20% in 1992 to 27% in 2005, and that's an understatement, as it doesn't count the many who've dropped out long before the 12th grade. What's so discouraging, though, is that this deterioration came amidst improvements on a variety of other metrics that could've been expected to cause or signal educational progress. In 2005, for instance, 12th graders averaged 360 more hours of classroom insturction time than they did in 1990. Grades, too had, increased, by about .33 of a grade, though this could be a function of increased competition at the top. Indeed, the share of...
  • WHIFFLE BALL.

    WHIFFLE BALL. Slate�s John Dickerson gets it completely backwards on the question of who won the Obama-Clinton scuffle this week. His verdict? Clinton won. His reasoning? Clinton called for Obama to apologize for remarks made by liberal media mogul David Geffen and, because Obama responded (though refusing to apologize), she one-upped him. Huh? Let�s review: A rich, high-profile non -candidate donor who is a former Clinton ally but not a formal member of Team Obama, makes some very damaging, on-the-record remarks about Clinton to the columnist ideally suited to broadcast such grievance, the New York Times� Maureen Dowd . Those remarks and that column generate next-day, major media stories which, in unison, raise questions about whether Clinton and her husband have lost their Hollywood luster. The Clinton campaign responds, somewhat huffily, by referring to Geffen (incorrectly) as affiliated with her opponent�s campaign, and asking Obama to apology on Geffen�s behalf. This, by...
  • HEY JOE: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.

    HEY JOE: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT. Here is my plea to Senator Joe Lieberman , a politician I've admired since I was seven years old: Please switch parties. We're tired of the game where you keep dancing ever close to the edge, hoping someone will pay attention to you. Just switch. The issue of our moment is the Iraq war, the pro-war side is the Republican Party. That's your side. Don't do Harry Reid any favors -- he'll manage just fine without you. (Since writing this post, I've learned from Time that "last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again." If I'm parsing this sentence correctly, Reid agreed not to discuss Iraq at the weekly Democratic lunch -- which is absolutely the only time that all or most Democratic Senators get together for any kind of discussion -- because...
  • 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...

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