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  • BAD PLEDGE. Forgive...

    BAD PLEDGE. Forgive me for getting all Massachusetts on you for a moment, but the worst thing done by Nancy Pelosi , both during the campaing and continuing since Tuesday, was her declaration that she was going to run the squeakiest-clean Congress there absolutely ever was. In the first place, it's a promise she is wholly unable to keep. She can no more keep every member of her caucus personally honest than I can. Sooner or later, every caucus has someone overcome by the greedyfingers and, now, there's a perfect frame built in which Pelosi gets a huge portion of the blame when rookie Congressman Grabitall gives his drunk brother-in-law a superhighway for Christmas. (Progressive groups are already starting to fungo Jack Murtha 's head all over the Beltway, using Pelosi's vow for the bat.) Lobbying reform? OK. Gift bans? Count me in. But the cleanest Congress ever? A sucker's bet. If men were angels, as my man Jimmy Madison once mused... Moreover, the goo-goos unnerve me. The greatest...
  • DEMS PROVE DOBBS WRONG:

    DEMS PROVE DOBBS WRONG: A while back I accused Lou Dobbs of misleading readers of his November 1 CNN.com column by asserting that "whether the Democrats or Republicans take control of the House and Senate, corporate America has just bought a license to outsource more middle-class jobs to cheap foreign labor markets, to continue unabated so-called free trade." I argued that, overall, the Democrats are clearly more critical of corporate-friendly free trade arrangements. Well, as The Washington Post reported Tuesday: As Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, incoming leaders are planning to insert labor and environmental protections into pending trade treaties and to demand that the Bush administration adopt similar measures in future pacts it negotiates, congressional aides and government officials said yesterday. Also see Harold 's latest column discussing the fair-trade leanings of the incoming crop of Democratic freshmen. Here's hoping Dobbs might refrain in the future from...
  • Good Protection, Bad Protection, Get Your Scorecard from the NYT

    Educated people know that protectionism is bad -- free trade is the way of the future, protectionism is the Neanderthal past. But, of course protecting intellectual property is good, and people who don't support protecting intellectual property are bad. And, by the way, we never talk about the cost of protecting intellectual property. If anyone cared about consistency, we would have some problems here, but fortunately we have the NYT to guide us through this slippery terrain. Take this gem that appeared in an article on enforcing protection for intellectual products in China: "Protectionists in the United States have become an increasingly vocal group, he said in a speech to business executives, adding,'and they point to the lack of robust I.P. protection in China as a top reason why we should put protectionist policies in place.'" Without the help of the NYT how would we ever be able to distinguish the good protectionists from the bad protectionists? --Dean Baker
  • REMEDIAL SESSION. ...

    REMEDIAL SESSION. Let me join with Scott in puzzling over the newfound affection for Alabama's Jeff Sessions . It's one thing for conservatives to appreciate a loyal soldier, but to praise his intellect and try to elevate him to a policy job? Every time I've noticed Sessions, it's been for a dazzling display of dimness. During the John Roberts hearings, a thousand liberal blogs, mine included, simultaneously noticed the bizzarely incapable senator from Alabama. As Wonkette explained it, "[Sessions is] treating Roberts like the guy who talks to the class on Career Day." It was really something. On the bright side, he's sorta soft on crack. --Ezra Klein
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SLICE-AND-DICE FOLLIES.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SLICE-AND-DICE FOLLIES. Matt takes on the hearty election-analysis tic of identifying some demographic sub-group (angry white men! NASCAR dads! mortgage moms!) and touting it as the key to the political future of the country. The approach isn't just annoying and wrong, he says -- it can be a tool used in the service of pushing dubious substantive points. --The Editors
  • CENTRISM. Ah,...

    CENTRISM. Ah, more pleasant aftershocks from 2006: People who worked with Mr. Siegel this year say it is not clear how he would perform in a presidential campaign where there are multiple consultants, and where strategic cunning and political moderation tend to be prized. (Mr. Siegel says he has some centrist positions, like supporting welfare reform and the war in Afghanistan.) So let's be clear: Supporting the war in Afghanistan is now evidence of centrism and hardcore economic populism now occupies the moderate middle? I am loving this new political spectrum. Meanwhile, Siegel is an actually effective advertising director with Madison avenue experience who wandered up to Spitzer at a fundraiser, cut a series of killer ads for him, and is now a hot ticket for 2008 Democrats. Get him and Ned Lamont 's guy on the same team and you'll have a legendary airwave campaign. --Ezra Klein
  • IF YOU LIKED TRENT LOTT...

    IF YOU LIKED TRENT LOTT... I see that right-wing Kos-wannabe site RedState is prominently displaying a " Jeff Sessions for RPC Chair" banner. This is...highly instructive. First of all (as anyone who watched the Roberts hearings knows) there's the fact that in terms of sheer intellectual firepower Sessions makes George W. Bush look like Oliver Wendell Holmes. (Sample question : "And on the Supreme Court, if a case comes up to you, you will probably have briefs from both parties, you will receive the transcript of the trial that the issue arises from and you'll study that. And you have several law clerks who will help you study that. Every one of the nine Supreme Court justices are also studying this same record and all these briefs. Isn't it true that friends of the court can submit briefs?") And second, he would seem to be the candidate for people who think that George Allen lost because he was too progressive on race. Matt reminds us of the terrific New Republic article written by...
  • READY OR NOT....

    READY OR NOT. With the reentry of Democrats into the halls of power, the insurance industry is getting anxious. Aware that the current system is in a slow-motion collapse and Democrats answer to, in part, the very people it's collapsing atop, the industry's trade group is proposing its own plan for universal coverage. The details aren't terribly important (nor terribly good); like socks on your birthday, it's the thought that matters. And the insurers are thinking that something is going to be done in the nearish term, and they'd best start getting out in front. Now that they're arguing for the necessity of universal coverage and the unions have abandoned hope in the employer-based system and Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney is running on his own universal health proposal, this debate is getting kicked rather far to the left. Are the Democrats ready? --Ezra Klein
  • PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS

    PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS If I may be permitted to add an aesthetic topper to Charlie and Ezra 's discussion, it should also be noted that Sorkin is an egregiously overrated writer. Trying to avoid falling into the film trailer method of criticism being practiced by some quarters of the right, I gritted my teeth and watched the two most recent episodes. And, the fact is, Studio 60 is a bad show. The first episode of the two-parter was for the most part merely dull. But last night's was almost as bad as the 9/11 episode of The West Wing , which I believe had the highest pretension-to-achievement ratio of any show in television history. But leaving aside the political merits of the discourse -- which I agree are negligible -- what's worse to my mind is that the show consists pretty much entirely of characters reading B+ high school position papers at each other, as opposed to talking like human beings. Everything is spoonfed the audience; nothing is dramatized . Whether or not the character...
  • IN WHICH I...

    IN WHICH I AM DOGMATIC AND UNFRIENDLY. I'll argue that Charlie 's digression on the flaws of Aaron Sorkin isn't a digression at all, but an astute take on an essential and damaging tic in contemporary, or at least recent, liberalism. When I wrote my pointedly churlish send-off to The West Wing , this is what I was getting at. Sorkin's desperation to place plausible- sounding arguments in the mouths of his conservative characters -- thus creating a world of well-intentioned philosopher kings engaging in elightened policy debate -- often ends up eviscerating whatever coherence the original conversation possessed. So take Charlie's example: Sorkin's reaching because, frankly, there's not a very good argument against gay marriage. Some people don't like it. It scares them. This isn't an argument, it's a bias. For quite some time now, liberals have taken a tolerant and politically correct stance to political debate , choosing to believe in the essential worth of all policy ideas and reject...

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