Archive

  • SHOW HORSESH*T.

    SHOW HORSESH*T. I feel no pity for Joe Biden . His recent comments in South Carolina joking about how his home state, Delaware, wishes it had been part of the Confederacy, are exactly the kind of crap that enables conservatives. By spouting this bunk -- a word with southern origins, incidentally -- Biden has undermined not only his own party but, by extension, his chances of being elected to anything other than Delaware senator-for-life. As Lambert over at CorrenteWire argues, this may be Biden�s � Trent Lott moment.� If there is any justice in politics, it will be. In a recent profile of Hillary Clinton , the Atlantic�s Josh Green tells the story of how the venerable Robert Byrd advised Clinton, upon her arrival in the Senate, to be a �workhorse, not a show horse.� Of course, Byrd gave Biden the same advice 30 years ago, too. As Green remarks, Biden proves that, for some, advice just doesn�t �take.� The Delaware Show Horse has proved he�s willing to perform whatever tricks his...
  • Medicare Drug Plan Roulette: Does This Have to Happen?

    The NYT has an article reporting on how hundreds of thousands of low-income Medicare beneficiaries may find themselves suddenly paying much more for their prescriptions on January 1, if they don't take the right steps to ensure that they are properly registered to receive means-tested benefits, or that they are enrolled in a plan that provides the drugs they need. This is yet one more benefit of having competing private plans. I'm sure these seniors can't wait to sift through the various options again. Since this had been an issue that troubled members of Congress prior to the election, it would have been worth mentioning the political implications of these problems. --Dean Baker
  • Paid Sick Leave: Let's Run the Numbers

    The NYT has a piece examining efforts to require that employers provide workers with at least 7 days a year of paid sick leave. The article has a good discussion of why workers might need paid time off. It then includes the obligatory comments from small business owners who complain that this requirement will raise costs, which will then be passed on higher prices, which will then cut demand and put them out of business. Does this one make sense? Let's say that if we grant all workers 7 days a year of paid sick leave that the average worker takes 5 of them. This is equal to approximately a 2 percent increase in pay, assuming that there is no offsetting reduction in wages (a very strong assumption). If wages come to 40 percent of total costs, this implies a 0.8 percent increase in prices. If employers manage to offset half of the higher cost of paid sick time with lower wages then the increase in costs is down to 0.4 percent of sales. --Dean Baker
  • APPALLING ON EVERY LEVEL.

    APPALLING ON EVERY LEVEL. As a follow-up to Garance 's post below , Lizardbreath of Unfogged lays out why the treatment of Jose Padilla is indefensible on every level: We seem to be systematically ill-treating our prisoners in a way that doesn't make any legitimate sense. If it's punishment, it's simply wrong because they haven't been tried. If it's for interrogation, it seems insanely excessive. If the argument is that "We are certain enough that Padilla had vital information that we are justified in confining him for years and treating him in any manner, no matter how psychically damaging not likely to cause organ failure in the hopes of extracting that information," I really want that argument to be made explicitly. What do they hope to find out from these people? And if we're claiming that the ill-treatment is necessary for security, that is patent nonsense. What was done to Padilla (and is being done to prisoners at Guantanamo) is obviously not necessary to keep them from...
  • STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL.

    STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim , leader of SCIRI and commander-in-chief of the fearsome Badr Corps, left his meeting today with President Bush for a brief appearance at the U.S. Institute of Peace this afternoon. I asked Hakim: You've been accused of the abduction, torture, and execution of perhaps thousands of Sunnis. How do you respond? He said, through a translator: "Those are only accusations. We deny them all, we reject them all. There is no evidence of any of that. It happens that there was an armed group by the name of the Badr Brigade, but by the order of Sayyid Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim [Abdul Aziz's murdered brother], they became a civil group known as the Badr Organization in 2003. Since then there has been no violence by them, no fighting." There you have it! Hakim also wants to see the civil war escalate, according to his prepared remarks: "The strikes that [Sunni insurgents, takfiris -- his term -- and Baathists] are getting from the multinational...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM PALACE OF THE BUSHIES.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM PALACE OF THE BUSHIES. For years we've heard about the pathologies afflicting Arab publics -- the delusional thinking, the ideological rigidity. Blake , surveying the wreckage of U.S. policy in the Mid-East, notes that Arabs are hardly the only ones. --The Editors
  • INTRODUCING THE REPUBLICRATS.

    INTRODUCING THE REPUBLICRATS. Sebastian Mallaby touches on an oft-mentioned obsession of mine, the impact the Southernization of the GOP will have on conservatism: It's not just the values of the South that pose a problem. It is the region's appetite for government. The most solidly red states in the nation tend also to be the most reliant on federal handouts -- farm subsidies, water projects and sundry other earmarks. It's hard to be the party of small government when you represent the communities that benefit most from big government. George W. Bush tried to straddle this divide by pleasing libertarians with tax cuts and traditionalists with spending. The result is a huge deficit. Right. This is a point I made at length in my " Rise of the Republicrats " article, but in addition to adoring pork and handouts, the South is economically insecure and downwardly mobile. It has the lowest median income in the nation and, between 2002 and 2003, was the only region to see its income drop...
  • THE MORNING-AFTER PILL CONSPIRACY.

    THE MORNING-AFTER PILL CONSPIRACY. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the activists at the MAP Conspiracy are well aware that the fight over Plan B access isn't over , and they're trucking right along with their lawsuit against the FDA for its decision to ignore the science and deny Plan B over-the-counter to teens. A New York judge recently agreed to allow the Center to subpoena White House officials and question them about their involvement in the FDA's three-year delay . (Predictably, the Justice Department is fighting the subpoena.) Depositions in this case have already revealed some details about the Bush administration's meddling. As far back as 2003, then-FDA commissioner Mark McClellan agreed to an unprecedented meeting with a White House domestic policy adviser to discuss the Plan B application. And Dr. Janet Woodcock (who also warned that Plan B would create teen sex cults ) came right out and said Plan B shouldn't be sold over-the-counter to teens -- not because of the...
  • AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT....

    AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. Apropos of Atrios 's comment on the inhumanity of solitary confinement , readers who'd like to know more about how and why America turned away from that form of punishment -- which was in the early 19th century considered more humane than what had come before -- and turned instead to the rehabilitative prison model -- which we've also since partly abandoned -- would do well to read Charles Dickens 's 1842 book American Notes for General Circulation , the full text of which can be found online here. Dickens' description of and outrage at the system, in Chapter 7, "Philadelphia and its Silent Prison," seems worth thinking about as we read about the isolation of Jose Padilla , American citizen and one-time enemy combatant: In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called the Eastern Penitentiary: conducted on a plan peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania. The system here, is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be...
  • DING-DONG, THE BOLTON'S...

    DING-DONG, THE BOLTON'S GONE. Besides Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bolton were the two Bush appointees who generated the most progressive ire. And now they're both gone. Elections have consequences, I know, but given Bush's profound stubborness, I didn't expect such total capitulation to liberal preferences. And it was just two years ago that this guy had a historic, three-percent mandate... --Ezra Klein

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