Archive

  • ELECTABILITY MYTH:

    ELECTABILITY MYTH: Jonathan Cohn has a great online piece in TNR today, arguing that Democrats should stop chasing the ghost of electability. He analyzes their mistake in 2004, where they found reasons to disqualify every contender but Kerry , even though none found him inspiring. But Cohn leaves out a strong point that supports his argument. Polls among Iowa and New Hampshire primary and caucus voters showed a majority of those who voted for the candidate they actually liked voted for Edwards , while a majority of voters who voted for who they thought would win in the general election voted for Kerry. Meanwhile, Independents and Republicans heavily supported Edwards. Clearly the Dems were making a mistake at the time. Why did they think that their guess as to what swing voters would prefer was more trustworthy than what those voters actually did prefer? Indeed, Cohn alludes to, but doesn't state outright, the most important but least discussed factor in electability: charisma. Ronald...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: KEEP IT CLEAN.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: KEEP IT CLEAN. The president has said he's willing to "work together" with the new Congress to pass a minimum wage hike; he just wants a bunch of new business tax cuts larded onto it. EPI's Larry Mishel and Jared Bernstein explain why, substantively, that's a dumb idea. --The Editors
  • LORDY, LORDY, HE DID NOT SPECIFY.

    LORDY, LORDY, HE DID NOT SPECIFY. As if you didn�t have enough reasons to hope or pray there is not a major attack on the United States this year, Pat Robertson offers another: He says God told him there will be one, late in 2007. Unfortunately, though able to specify the time of year, God did not reveal to the good Reverend the nature of the attack. �I�m not necessarily saying it�s going to be nuclear,� Robertson told his �700 Club� audience last night. So, not necessarily, but it just might be nukes. Robertson�s prediction comes the same week we learned that a quarter of Americans believe Christ will return to the earth at some point in 2007. Suddenly, just three days into 2007, I find myself already longing for 2008 so Robertson and the millenialists can be proved wrong � again. --Tom Schaller
  • Wall Street Journal Gets German Unemployment Wrong

    How hard is it to get the the unemployment right for one of the largest economies in the world? Well apparently it's too hard for the Wall Street Journal. An article arguing that Germany has faces a shortage of skilled workers tells readers that the unemployment rate in Germany is 10.2 percent. Well, I won't comment on the skills of WSJ reporters, but the OECD data show Germany's unemployment rate is 8.2 percent. It's just over 6 percent in the area that was formerly West Germany. (Germany's national measure of unemployment, which uses a different methodology from the OECD and the U.S., shows a German unemployment rate of 10.2 percent. However, skilled reporters know that it is misleading to use this figure.) I won't go into the other problems in this article, such as the fact that the unemployment rate for college educated workers in Germany is higher than in the U.S., a fact that is hard to reconcile with the skills shortage story. Getting the unemployment rate right is a minimal...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE. Two pieces published today: Jeanine Plant reviews two very different new books about consumerism and identity, while Matt tells Democrats, ever-hopeful that the Iraq war might just end without them having to do anything to make it happen, that there's no easy way out. --The Editors
  • MCCAIN'S DOCTRINE, EDWARDS' GUTS.

    MCCAIN'S DOCTRINE, EDWARDS' GUTS. I'm not sure how far John Edwards is going to get in his presidential bid -- what he ought to do is shake up the race by joining Al Gore right now, thereby pairing the better of the two presidential nominees and the better of the two vice presidential nominees from the last two contests -- but so far at least his labeling of the Iraq war's escalation as " McCain 's Doctrine" is very smart politics. Full credit to Edwards for pointing out that McCain is one of the big losers of the 2006 midterms, and for (finally) attempting to make his former fellow senator pay for it in terms of long-overdue reputational damage. --Tom Schaller
  • WHEN DID RULINGS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COURTS BECOME NATIONALLY BINDING?

    WHEN DID RULINGS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COURTS BECOME NATIONALLY BINDING? Mickey Kaus has the latest iteration of the countermobilization myth: Even in a highly Republican town like Plano, in other words, the religious objection to gay marriage isn't the crucial objection. Fear that moral entropy will envelop your family's children is the crucial objection. I don't see how that fear is addressed theologically. I would think it has to be addressed practically, over time, by repeat demonstration . But time is one thing a rights-oriented, judicial route to gay marriage doesn't allow. I've been through the extensive theoretical and empirical problems with the claim that litigation is a more divisive means of achieving social change than legislation many times, so I won't repeat them in detail here. But leaving aside the fact that last year Kaus was using anecdotes from Plano on the assumption that it was a bastion of cultural liberal elitism, what's remarkable about the argument is that the...
  • TRY SOME DELICIOUS...

    TRY SOME DELICIOUS DANISH? Some interesting discussion between Tyler Cowen and Matt on whether we can scale up Denmark's mixture of economic security and dynamism for a country the size of the US. The basis for this discussion is Jon Cohn 's excellent examination of the development and success of the Denmark model, which is well worth a quick read. In short, they've made the most liberal of the neoliberal visions manifest: The economy is market-oriented and ruthlessly adaptive, while the government offers a robust safety net, a high level of economic security, and a promise that if the unemployed seek work, the government will make sure the work is there, and offer the training and counseling necessary to help the displaced. The economic outcome has been impressive: High GDP growth, low unemployment, high average incomes, low inequality, and dirt-low poverty. On the other hand, Denmark is a country of 5 million, more akin to a large city than the United States. Few of the Danish work...
  • THE EXURBANITES VS....

    THE EXURBANITES VS. THE DIXIECRATS. Some good analysis from The Times on the 110th Congress's composition: Of 233 Democrats who will be sworn in on Thursday, 147 � 63 percent � have been elected since Republicans won control of the House in 1994, and have never served in the majority. Those whose service predates the 1994 revolution, on the other hand, number only 86, or 37 percent. But it is this core of senior Democrats, Mr. Dingell among them, who will lead 20 of the 21 major committees and so exercise concentrated legislative power. The differences in tenure tend to manifest themselves geographically as well. The makeup of the senior membership has a more urban flavor, while those more recently elected tend to come from the suburbs and exurbs. These newer members have faced tougher electoral opposition than their older counterparts, who in many cases represent overwhelmingly safe Democratic districts; a majority of new chairmen have traditional liberal roots. It's worth not...
  • WHY THE BYLINE GENDER GAP MATTERS.

    WHY THE BYLINE GENDER GAP MATTERS. Back in April, the New York Times Magazine published the cover story "Pro-Life Nation" about abortion in El Salvador. It was written by Jack Hitt , an old white dude and entrenched member of the elite lefty media (he routinely writes cover stories for Harper's , Mother Jones , etc.). On Sunday, the Times 's public editor Byron Calame wrote that Hitt and the Times editors had failed to check the court records on a woman Hitt said was serving a 30-year prison term for having an abortion at 18 weeks. The court documents actually show she was sentenced for having a full-term, live birth and strangling the "recently born." But the Times hadn't bothered to check the documents, and continually defended Hitt's reporting. This gives the anti-choicers a great opportunity to discredit the entire article, which makes a series of important points about the lives of women in countries where abortion is criminalized. This has long been a sticky issue for the antis...

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