Archive

  • 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...
  • 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...

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