WELCOME BACK, KANSAS. My prayers, and those of other heathens like me, have apparently borne fruit, for, on Tuesday, the great State of Kansas rejoined the reality-based community when two opponents of the theory of evolution were effectively ousted from the Kansas Board of Education. The results appear to have tipped the board in favor of teaching science in the science curriculum of the Kansas public schools, in lieu of a faith-based explanation of the origins of the human species.
EVEN THE SEDATE DAVID BRODER. Has had just about enough: "Can we think about the costs of carrying on, without an end in sight, against Hezbollah and the insurgents in Iraq?" I'm not even sure "carrying on . . . against . . . the insurgents" describes what we're doing in Iraq at this point. The reporting has gotten so thin that it's hard to tell what's happening. Lots of people get killed every day, but it's hard to know by whom or why.
ONLY BIRTH PANGS. The last time I pointed out that Iran's evil dictators were offering sound criticism of U.S. foreign policy, The Weekly Standard took me to task, but still when you're right, you're right. Ali Khameneisays: "The U.S. is following a policy of creating insecurity, crisis, and war in the region. It must know that the more it expands insecurity, the more it will arouse the anger of nations against it and make the world insecure for itself." This is true, is it not? The theory that Iran stands "alongside all oppressed nations" seems less plausible.
That's what the headlines should have read after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's speech in New York on Tuesday. While the fact apparently escaped the attention of the reporters covering the testimony, Mr. Paulson effectively endorsed continued large trade deficits when he announced his support for a strong dollar. In the non-voodoo economics world, a strong dollar means a large trade deficit.
The logic here is straightforward. A higher dollar makes imports cheaper for people in the United States. That means we buy more imports. It also makes U.S. exports more expensive for people living in other countries. That means that they buy fewer U.S. exports. If we import more and export less, then we get a larger trade deficit � pretty simple stuff.
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.Noam Scheiber has some smart remarks on my generation gap post from yesterday. Ed Kilgore also offers the reasonable rejoinder that one major failing of the "new school" tendency in progressive politics is some mistaken notions about the past. I think, though, that the crucial sub rosa divide isn't really about the past or the present, but about the future.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IDEOLOGY, NETROOTS, AND LIEBERMAN-LAMONT. Two new pieces address debates and themes that have either been raised or reinvigorated by the Nutmeg State primary. Scott Winship of Democratic Strategist fame takes on the "netroots are partisan, not ideological" nostrum and says it's bunk; he makes an argument that is likely to be controversial.
RUSS FEINGOLD SPEAKS, YOU LISTEN? A couple weeks ago, surveying the poor press coverage greeting Pete Stark's new health care proposal, I realized I should probably stop complaining about such superficial wire stories and use my position at a political magazine to actually, y'know, do something about it. Today comes the first attempt. I spent fifteen minutes chatting with Sen. Russ Feingold this morning on his new health proposal, which would offer a big pot o' money for a small number of states to create universal health programs. Better yet, I recorded the call and got ace editor Alec Oveis to stick it online. You can listen to it here.
NICHE-MARKETING A WAR. It wasn't so much where Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned up on the airwaves last night, but that she landed on these two shows on the same day: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS) and The O'Reilly Factor (FOX News Channel). Secretary Rice, it seems, sees two influential groups that need persuading on the U.S. approach (hands-off?) to the current conflict in the Middle East: the small, intellectual "opinion-maker" crowd who watch Jim Lehrer, and the angry, right-wing anti-intellectuals who love Bill O'Reilly.
I DON'T NOT WANT MY 401(K). The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on the move towards automatic enrollment in 401(k)s, also known as opt-out 401(k)s. The basic concept is simple: People are lazy. You, probably, are lazy. If forced to request, fill out, and turn in the forms that are necessary in order to set a retirement nest egg, you'll probably instead just go watch somebody get hit in the crotch with a baseball on YouTube. Similarly, if you're automatically entered into the 401(k), rather than go through the hassle of removing yourself from a sensible, dutiful savings shelter, you'll just adapt. While saving.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CONTRA IRAN. Last month Laura Rozentalked to Mark Perry about Hezbollah and the unfolding crisis in Lebanon. Today, she talks with another Hezbollah expert, Magnus Ranstorp, who offers a very different perspective.