Archive

  • The Jihad Against Social Security Continues

    The Washington Post writes again on Social Security, describing the system as the "fiscally imperiled Social Security system." For the facts, CBO says that if nothing is done, the program first faces a shortfall in 40 years. It's too bad the Washington Post doesn't give the same attention to the problems (e.g. global warming, rising health care costs, the increasing prison population) that will impose much larger costs on the country. But, hey, it's a jihad. --Dean Baker
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: A UNION HEARING.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: A UNION HEARING. Jim Grossfeld and Celinda Lake argue that political appeals concerning organized labor actually resonate with economically insecure white collar workers -- if made in the right way. --The Editors
  • PARTY OF BIG IDEAS WATCH.

    PARTY OF BIG IDEAS WATCH. A colleague sends word of what should be quite an interesting lecture next month: The Poverty Issue at the End of History Lawrence M. Mead, New York University Monday, January 8, 2007, 5:30 � 7:00 p.m. Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036 Please register for this event at www.aei.org/event1374 The politics of poverty have shaped -- and been shaped by -- the end of history, meaning Francis Fukuyama�s idea that divisions of principle have faded from Western politics. While partisan rivalry remains, it no longer rests on opposed world views to the extent it used to. The end of deep ideological differences over capitalism and race in the 1960s helped to create poverty as an issue in need of attention. Poverty as such could only be addressed once the essential claims of unionists and civil rights marchers had been granted. At the same time, poverty disproved the idea that the market economy was a...
  • RIGHT-WING SCI-FI.

    RIGHT-WING SCI-FI. Dave Weigel has a good op-ed in The Los Angeles Times today about the new rash of right-wing sci-fi visions of dystopic futures under Islamist, radical leftist, or combined leftist/Islamist rule. Be afraid, conservatives. If you survived the victory speeches of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and allowed yourself to think, "Things can't get any worse," get over it. They can. Two years from now, terrorists under the banner of the "Progressive Restoration" will take over Manhattan in a larger attempt to overthrow the government. Thirteen years later, President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore will haul out the good White House china for Osama bin Laden's state visit. By fiddling with your radio, you may be able to catch an underground broadcast by Sean Hannity. If you own a radio, that is; folks living in states that are under Sharia law won't even be that lucky. These aren't my fantasies or nightmares. All of these vignettes are ripped from science...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE REPLACEMENTS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE REPLACEMENTS. Senator Tim Johnson 's recent health scare got everyone in Washington thinking about the process for replacing a senator who is incapacitated or resigns. Matt explains why we need a new system. --The Editors
  • MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF.

    MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF. Bush wants to "surge" up to 30,000 combat forces into Iraq for six to eight months. The Joint Chiefs of Staff say no. And take a look at their argument : The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said. The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities. Notice that this argument isn't merely an argument about a surge. Its logic applies to the entire combat mission in Iraq. (And if you think the "training mission" entails a lack of U.S. combat, there's a bridge I might be able to interest you in.) Apparently after six years of Rumsfeld -enforced docility,...
  • THE TRAGIC INELUCTABILITY OF BUSH'S WAR.

    THE TRAGIC INELUCTABILITY OF BUSH'S WAR. People who have seen my writings about Ralph Nader will not be surprised that I tend to be skeptical of "heighten the contradictions" arguments. As such, I'm afraid that on the merits I have to side with Sam over Spencer or Rob on this one. If Congressional Democrats could end the war, then I think they should indisputably do so. This isn't because I think that the narrative Spencer outlines won't play out; it very well might. The problem is, the blame-the-war's-opponents narrative will be trotted out and may hold no matter what the Democrats do . If the stylings of Glenn Reynolds have taught us nothing else -- and they certainly haven't -- it's that precisely because they're unfalsifiable tautologies " stab-in-the-back " arguments can be deployed irrespective of the evidence on the ground or what the Democrats do. (After all, it's not as if the narrative was a plausible explanation of Vietnam either.) There's simply no question that the...
  • POLITICAL PUNDITRY HAS...

    POLITICAL PUNDITRY HAS A COLD. Atrios 's comments on the ISG touch on a rather important flaw in political punditry: How is that little old me, one of the blogosphere's most disreputable rabid lambs, understands what's going a hell of a lot better than The Wise Old Men of Washington? Really, I'm just aghast at this. Bush has made it quite clear for months and years that leaving is losing. My brilliant insight isn't based on my ability to look deep into his soul, it is based on my ability to hear what he has said over and over again. Political punditry has a cold. Or, to put it another way, it's totally infected by Gay Talese 's classic profile, " Frank Sinatra Has a Cold ," which took an opaque and taciturn public figure and drew out, through close reporting and observation, the human laying within. That, combined with creeping Dowdism , has destroyed political analysis in this country. The problem is that the press corps approaches political rhetoric with such reflexive cynicism that...
  • MOVEMENT PROGRESSIVISM ON THE MOVE.

    MOVEMENT PROGRESSIVISM ON THE MOVE. I consider myself a �movement progressive." Though we can and will argue about the tenets and meaning of that term, if the label generally fits you, you�ll be cheered by E.J. Dionne�s column in today�s Washington Post : When a nation alters its philosophical direction and changes its assumptions, there is no press release to announce the shift, no news conference where The People declare that they have decided to move down a different path. Yet 2006 is looking more and more like one of history's hinge years, a moment when old ideas are cast aside, new leaders emerge and old leaders decide to speak in new ways� When the right seemed headed to dominance in the early 1990s, the hot political media trend was talk radio and the star was Rush Limbaugh�Now the chic medium is televised political comedy and the cool commentators are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It wasn't all that long ago that Democrats and liberals were said to be out of touch with "the...
  • THE IRAQI ARMY GAMBIT.

    THE IRAQI ARMY GAMBIT. Meanwhile, I would add to Spencer's critique of Major Connable's NYT op-ed (about the on-the-ground consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq) and note that the major's account of the collapse of institutions upon U.S. redeployment leaves an unanswered question; if local institutions cannot survive without the presence of U.S. forces, precisely what good are U.S. troops doing? Even if we accept that the consequences of withdrawal will be dire (and I don't fully concede this) there has to be some account of how the presence of U.S. forces improves the situation, rather than simply allowing the maintenance of a hopeless status quo. U.S. troops will leave someday. If the U.S. presence is simply delaying the inevitable, then it's hard to see the point of a continued, bloody occupation. The magic bullet that Connable (and, incidentally, the ISG) presents is a well trained and effective Iraqi military, one capable of overcoming sectarian division and carrying out a...

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