Archive

  • 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...
  • WE'VE DONE IT...

    WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE, WE CAN DO IT AGAIN. Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Kennedy sparked discussion with his proposal to evacuate Iraqis who've been aiding American forces and who might consequently be targeted for death (a proposal, I might add, first made by George Packer in The New Republic 's November special issue on Iraq). Wrote Kennedy: Last year...America accepted only 202 Iraqi refugees, and next year we plan to accept approximately the same number....[B]eyond a congressionally mandated program that accepts 50 Iraqi translators from Iraq and Afghanistan each year, the administration has done nothing to resettle brave Iraqis who provided assistance in some way to our military. This lack of conscience is fundamentally unfair. We need to do much more to help Iraqi refugees, especially those who have helped our troops. Today, The New York Times reports on the stinginess of the Bush administration's policy on admitting Iraqi refugees: Until recently the Bush administration had planned...
  • CAMPING FOR THE...

    CAMPING FOR THE HOMELESS. In a rather cool article , The New York Times reports on the hundreds of middle class French who've begun sleeping outside in order to force the government to take action on the country's homeless problem. The tent-based organizing has worked, too: Chirac addressed the issue in his latest major address, and two of the major presidential candidates have signed the group's statement of demands. Now, it's true that France's homeless population is relatively small -- less than 100,000 on any given night, and so more akin to Los Angeles than the United States -- but the energy in their housing movement and the results of their direct action are heartening. John Edwards , incidentally, mentioned the importance of a national housing policy a few times while I traveled with him and swore an Edwards administration would be strong on that front, but didn't say much about what it'd look like. --Ezra Klein
  • LIECHTENSTEINIAN EXPANSION.

    LIECHTENSTEINIAN EXPANSION. Why hasn't the newly annointed "America's best writer on foreign policy" yet commented on Liechtenstein's expansionist tendencies? Modern measuring methods proved that Liechtenstein's borders are 1.9km (1.2 miles) longer than previously thought. The border has been changed in some of the more remote corners of the mainly mountainous state, which has now grown in size by 0.5sq km (123 acres). Liechtenstein, population 35,000, now boasts 77.9km (48.3 miles) of borders, an area of 160 sq km (62 sq miles).The newly-discovered territory is equivalent to about the size of 50 football pitches. [...] The next largest nation, the Marshall Islands, is some 20sq km bigger than Liechtenstein, and appears in little danger of being overtaken any time soon. I suggest some kind of proxy war to solve this problem... Via Fruits and Votes. --Robert Farley
  • THE TURTLEDOVE STYLE...

    THE TURTLEDOVE STYLE IN AMERICAN POLITICS. Jon Chait has a new entry in the popular progressive genre of "If Only We'd Lost." In it, he argues that beating Gerald Ford in 1976 was a grievous blow to liberalism. Jimmy Carter , after all, was a disaster for the Democratic Party, if only because he presided over a period of economic duress (stagflation) and national diminishment (Iranian hostage crisis). That Carter handled both with relative good sense -- the Iranian hostages, in particular, benefitted from his unwillingness to enter a deadly and disastrous war -- did nothing for his national standing or the party he hailed from. That said, there are a thousand of these moments scattered throughout the 20th century. If either or both Kennedys hadn't been shot, for instance. Or if Reagan 's assassin had been deadlier. Or if Clinton had lost to George H.W Bush , forestalling the 1994 Republican Revolution and the decade's scandals. Or if the Supreme Court hadn't appointed George W. Bush...
  • INVEST IN COPPERTONE.

    INVEST IN COPPERTONE. Happy new year to Tapped readers; I hope 2006 went well and 2007 will be even more joyful and prosperous. Not to be a downer, but one thing 2007 promises to be, if the year gone by is any indication, is hot. According to the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2006 is expected to be judged the sixth hottest year on record . (Based on preliminary analyses; final data analyses and reports won't come out until March.) As for Arctic ice content -- which, as anyone who saw Al Gore 's painfully brilliant documentary An Inconvenient Truth knows, is dwindling -- in its "Statement on the Status of the global Climate in 2006," the WMO concludes: The year 2006 continues the pattern of sharply decreasing Arctic sea ice. The average sea-ice extent for the entire month of September was 5.9 million km�, the second lowest on record missing the 2005 record by 340.000...
  • Members of Congress Are Politicians: Not Political Philosophers

    Well, it's still New Year's Day and I see that someone is already breaking my resolutions (#10) for economic reporting. A New York Times article tells readers that the battle in Congress over the Medicare drug bill, "highlights the profound differences between Democrats and Republicans over the future of the nation�s health care system, the proper role of government and the role of private markets in securing the best value for the huge sums spent on health care." Hmmm, do members of Congress sit down and contemplate what their ideal vision of a health care system is, or do they get lobbyists calling them with threats and promises in order to get them to vote in certain ways? I would suspect the latter, but we could be polite and just note that some members of Congress (nearly all of whom were Republicans) chose to support a bill that meant higher profits for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Did they do this because of their political philosophy? Why not just leave that...
  • Health Care Reform: Is the Obstacle Politics or Ignorance?

    The New York Times had a column Sunday that pointed out that other wealthy countries have better health care outcomes than the United States, at a much lower per person cost. While the column included much useful information, it concluded that the main obstacle to reform in the United States is that the public does not have confidence in a government managed health care system. I would suggest an alternative hypothesis -- the vast majority of the public has no idea how inefficient the U.S. health care system is relative to the systems elsewhere in the world. I have been reading the NYT almost every day for more than 30 years; this is one of the few times I can recall any mention of the relative inefficiency of the U.S. health care system. On the rare occasions when the NYT talks about the health care system in another wealthy country (e.g. Canada, Sweden, England), the article is usually focused on the system's problems, and generally implies that its demise is imminent. I would be...
  • WE CAN"T AFFORD...

    WE CAN"T AFFORD NOT TO HAVE UNIVERSAL HEATHCARE : To follow up on Atrios and Ezra , let me carry the stats in this Times article one step further. Let's use their figures to extrapolate government health care spending per capita: United States $2745 France $2464 Canada $2215 Again, our system doesn't just spend far more money than France's much better system and Canada's heavily flawed but still better system, but more government money. And as Krugman says today: Part of the answer is that our fragmented system has much higher administrative costs than the straightforward government insurance systems prevalent in the rest of the advanced world. As Anna Bernasek pointed out in yesterday�s New York Times, besides the overhead of private insurance companies, �there�s an enormous amount of paperwork required of American doctors and hospitals that simply doesn�t exist in countries like Canada or Britain.� In addition, insurers often refuse to pay for preventive care, even though such care...
  • African Aid in Context

    The Washington Post again committed the cardinal sin of not putting budget numbers in context. It ran an article today touting the doubling of aid to Africa during the Bush administration. While this is mostly good news for the people of the region (restrictons on funding for items like condoms and the usual cronyism make the aid less useful than it might otherwise be), it would be helpful to readers if the article put the money involved in some perspective. The current aid level of about $4 billion comes to about $5 per African. That's helpful, but not exactly a windfall. More importantly people should not be deluded into thinking that this aid is a big deal for the U.S. government. The current appropriation is equal to a bit more than 0.16 percent of federal spending. In other words, we spend just under $9,000 per person, about $14 of this money goes to people in Africa. Since a large portion of the public thinks that foreign aid comprises a large portion of their tax bill, a bit of...

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