Archive

  • Trade Deals the Washington Post Likes

    In an article discussing the prospect for new trade deals with the Democratic Congress, the Post again uses the term "free trade" to describe these agreements. As BTP readers know, these deals are not really free trade agreements -- they generally do little to reduce the barriers that protect the highly paid professionals (e.g. doctors, lawyers, economists) and they increase protection for intellectual products -- so it is inaccurate to call them "free trade" agreements. This is not just semantics. The Post, and other media outlets, are actively misleading the public about the purpose of these trade agreements. At one point the article comments that the discontent with trade follows "more than a dozen years of efforts by the Bush and Clinton administrations to boost trade by opening foreign markets to U.S. goods while allowing greater access to imports from China, Latin America and elsewhere." Well, it is very questionable as to whether the prime purpose of these agreements "open...
  • Times Columnist Flunks Reading Comprehension

    John Tierney did a little hit and run job, tossing out a few more outlandish claims in what is his last NYT column . While I ordinarily am inclined to ignore him, since we apparently won't have John Tierney to kick around anymore, I will highlight one of his errors. Tierney claims that the Democrats proposed expanding several programs, " but they�ve been vague about how to pay for them." Well, the biggest program on this list is the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Democrats have proposed reducing the size of the "doughnut hole" gap in coverage by having Medicare negotiate prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry, in the same way that the Veterans Administration does. This is not a vague concept, it is very clear what the commitment is (whether the Dems follow through is another question). Anyhow, BTP wishes Mr. Tierney well in his new job as writer for the NYT Science section. --Dean Baker
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IRAN HAWKS REORGANIZE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IRAN HAWKS REORGANIZE. Say hello to the Iran Enterprise Institute. Laura Rozen reports. --The Editors
  • KONY.

    KONY. To stray off the beaten path for a moment, The New York Times reports on the remarkable meeting between a UN official and the extremely reclusive Joseph Kony , leader of the almost indescribably brutal and horrifying northern Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army . Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity; Fast Leon Goldberg occasionally covered this story for TAP . This 2005 Human Rights Watch report givens some background on this conflict, which has brewed in the country's North for nearly twenty years. (Sidenote: Forest Whitaker , currently earning raves as Idi Amin in the movie The Last King of Scotland , is developing a film about the LRA that he plans to direct.) At the very least, the Times piece is worth a read. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • DON'T FORGET THE GREENS.

    DON'T FORGET THE GREENS. Rick Perlstein 's piece from Friday is right to caution that just because Democrats squeaked out a victory in the midterms, progressives should not ignore or forget the fact that Republican chicanery very nearly turned the tide the other way -- and that it might do so the next time. Along these lines -- of stressing certain points that victory might threaten to obscure -- I think it's worth pointing out that the Independent Green Party candidate for Senate from Virginia, Glenda Parker , received 26,106 votes, 1 percent of those cast. Had George Allen won by the same thin margin that Jim Webb did, Democrats would complain that yet again a marginal, lefty third party cost them control of a branch of government. And understandably so. The Independent Green Party , while a distinct entity from the Green Party, also clearly belongs in the same spoiler category. The Independent Greens' signature issue is mass transit. As an avid supporter of mass transit and...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: POOR INITIATIVE.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: POOR INITIATIVE. Ben "Badler" Adler notes one dog that didn't bark on Tuesday -- the supposed political potency and spill-off effects of state anti-gay marriage initiatives across the country. --The Editors
  • ROB'S QUESTION. Ask...

    ROB'S QUESTION. Ask and ye shall receive. On the question of Howard Dean , Liberal Hero and Centrist Governor, may I present this , and, of course, this as well . Personally, I think this guy's got a good bead on things. --Charles P. Pierce
  • QUANTIFICATION.

    QUANTIFICATION. Yglesias made a critical point last week: Anyone who follows the contemporary American military will tell you that it's frustratingly difficult to say how successful it is at minimizing civilian casualties since, after all, the military doesn't count civilian casualties. But there you have it. If Bush really wanted to minimize civilian casualties, wouldn't he order the Pentagon to keep track of civilian casualties? That way you could see how effective the casualty-minimizing tactics employed in this situation or that were. You could, by comparing different efforts, be constantly improving our methods of casualty-minimization. Any serious effort to minimize (or maximize) anything requires an effort to quantify the minimized or maximized quantity. But Bush doesn't do that (and he's not unique among world leaders or US presidents in this regard) because he's not, at the end of the day, trying very seriously to minimize civilian casualties. He's trying to minimize his...
  • PRIMARIES: HELPFUL. The...

    PRIMARIES: HELPFUL. The lad is correct here. (Good on you, lad!) And Exhibit A for the plaintiff comes from Massachusetts this year in which rookie Deval Patrick was forced to run against an establishment Democratic candidate (Attorney General Tom Reilly ) who'd already won several statewide races, and Chris Gabrieli , a progressive sort with more money than God. On the other hand, Republican incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey got her party's nomination unopposed and proceeded to embark on what will go down in history as the worst political campaign ever run that wasn't directed by Bob Shrum or Susan Estrich . Her public profile in the state not significantly higher than Patrick's was, Healey proceeded to define herself as Margaret Hamilton crossed with Mary Matalin -- but I repeat myself. If she'd been challenged in a primary, particularly if she'd been challenged from her right and had been forced to rely on her (apparently authentic) credentials as something of a moderate,...
  • MURTHA PUSHBACK.

    MURTHA PUSHBACK. I have some real ambivalence about this leadership race, but I do take issue with Rob and Blake . On Blake's point about John Murtha 's personal history of pork-barrelling and helping out family members, I have to confess that I rank such petty corruption issues way, way, way down on my list of things worth caring about. If one were to determine that the outcomes of a Murtha-led caucus would be seriously preferable to a Hoyer -led one to even a small degree, I find such issues vanishingly insignificant. (And I don't buy into the notion that his history is too toxic for Democrats to be able to afford handing him the leadership -- any leader's going to be pilloried by the GOP regardless, and Murtha's offenses aren't that remarkable.) Rob's point about the limited ability of House party leaders to actually affect Iraq policy is well-taken up to a point (and there's actually little indication that Murtha would be very great shakes on non-Iraq foreign policy issues );...

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