Archive

  • QUAKE ATTACK.

    QUAKE ATTACK. Check out this interesting report on conventional bunker busting munitions at Defense Tech. It's a bit technical, but the upshot is that conventional munitions can do a remarkably good job of destroying underground bunkers, better, in fact, than extant nuclear bunker busters. Drop enough "Deep Diggers" and the result is an earthquake that will collapse just about any bunker or, at the very least, the access tunnels to extremely deep bunkers. Moreover, there's no reason to think that the limits of conventional bunker busting munitions technology have been reached, suggesting that additional research could produce even more impressive results. This makes me wonder why some in the Pentagon and in associated neoconservative defense circles remain committed to developing new nuclear bunker busting weapons. If conventional munitions can destroy or entomb just about any conceivable bunker, why would anyone ever need new nukes? The answer, it seems to me, is political as much as...
  • IF ONLY I LIVED IN SWEDEN.

    IF ONLY I LIVED IN SWEDEN. The World Economic Forum recently released its Global Gender Gap Report for this year. The United States ranked 22 on the list. Although it (barely) ranked above countries like Tanzania, it fell short of South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Croatia. What really hurt women in the rankings were what the report called "educational attainment" and "political empowerment." Women are becoming the majority of undergraduate students at universities and colleges around the nation, but women still make up only about a quarter of professors nationwide. As for political empowerment, women have long made up the minority in decision-making power structures of government. The representation of women at the highest levels of influence are scarce. I think this harks back to what Ezra and Dana had to say about the topic of women putting themselves at the forefront of politics. Why women feel restrained in the United States from participating in politics is a topic for futher...
  • YOU'RE WRONG, TOM.

    YOU'RE WRONG, TOM. See what Matt has to say about Tom Edsall 's column in the Saturday Times . -- The Editors
  • TRAGICALLY HIP.

    TRAGICALLY HIP. I'm afraid that this innovative ad campaign , which pokes fun at Lebanese sectarianism through billboards like "Parking for Maronites Only," is bound to be misunderstood. Maybe it's a little too close to Lebanon's reality for comfort? -- Blake Hounshell
  • The Attack of the Name-Calling Columnist of the New York Times

    By my count, Thomas Edsall found the need to use the word "protectionist" 5 times in his attack (TImes Select) on the populist appeal of many of the Democrats who won seats in Congress this month. It's too bad that he couldn't refrain from name-calling long enough to think about the underlying issues. The basic point is very simple: recent trade deals have been designed to put less educated workers in competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. This drives down the wages of less-educated workers (people without college degrees) in the United States. Lower wages for less educated workers benefits higher paid workers like Thomas Edsall because it means that they can buy their manufactured goods for less and pay less when they have work done on their home or garden or hire a nanny. We did not have to design our trade deals this way. We could have sat down with the trade representatives from Mexico, India, and China and asked them what obstacles are preventing their...
  • THE CRIME BILL FALLACY.

    THE CRIME BILL FALLACY. There is yet one more thing to be said about that egregious Tom Edsall column on Saturday: His key example of the destruction of the Democratic Party by it's left-wing interest groups -- the 1994 crime bill -- is entirely false. Edsall says the bill �sought to burnish the party�s justice credentials by increasing the number of felonies subject to the death penalty,� but instead, �amendments added to win support from the left � most visibly, $40 million for midnight basketball leagues � caught fire on conservative talk radio, spread to the establishment media, and soon became a liability.� In fact, as the crime bill wound through the Senate and then the House, conservative Republicans as well as Democrats agreed that initiatives to prevent crime � largely by ensuring that adolescents had activities to occupy their time � were at least as central to actually reducing street crime as increasing the number of felonies subject to the federal death penalty. This idea...
  • DON'T POP THE CORK JUST YET.

    DON'T POP THE CORK JUST YET. Don't mean to step on anyone's birthday cake or anything, but after reading David Paul Kuhn 's Washington Post Magazine piece on the evangelist Jim Wallis (who is being touted as the savior of the Democratic Party), I'm not quite ready to declare, as Brothers Tom and Ezra seem poised to do, the triumph of the economic populism narrative. Yes, it's encouraging that Uchitelle is using it, and the Prospect , as demonstrated in Tom 's smart piece on the Dems in the North, has got the real story. That Kuhn's piece should appear, however, just yesterday, replete with references to core Democratic activists who are "hostile to religion," is a bit discomfiting. The narrative evolving here, thanks in part to the anti-choice but pro-safety-net Wallis, is that what kept "religious Christians" (a group Kuhn never really defines) away from the Democratic Party for so long was those pesky feminists and black people. Compared with the relative cultural homogeneity of the...
  • WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM; THEY'RE THE '08 LEADERS.

    WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM; THEY'RE THE '08 LEADERS. Not to pile on, since Thomas Edsall 's weekend column has been so ably dissected by Ezra and Ben already, but I do think Edsall's piece also needsto be considered in light of the fact that the two leading Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are a woman and an African-American. It seems increasingly bizarre to me that anyone could point to a sensitivity to the concerns of women and African-Americans as the problem with the party, when, in fact, the party is now being led by a diverse group of people whose candidacies have been made possible by the work of such interest groups over the past four and a half decades. Indeed, the real worry ought to be that the party has neglected to adequately study how to help its ever-growing number of female and minority candidates win in a political environment that House candidate Darcy Burner has pointed out may be uniquely...
  • KONDRACKE VS. THE...

    KONDRACKE VS. THE FACTS. I'm not exactly going to stun anyone by suggesting that Mort Kondracke doesn't know what he's talking about, but this is rather offensive : The reason that V.A. prices are lower is, it's basically a socialized medical system. You go to a V.A. doctor, you go to a V.A. hospital, you go to a V.A. pharmacy and the V.A. pharmacies only have 25 percent of the drugs that seniors actually use all the time. So, you know, it doesn't work. There is an implicit contract between pundits and their audiences. The audiences, whose attention pays our salaries, are working off the assumed information that the networks and publications elevate only those who take the time to accurately comprehend the issues they're speaking about. And we, as our part of the deal, are supposed to take ten minutes and figure out what we're talking about. The VA, just like the Medicare presciription drug plans , uses a formulary of drugs on which they negotiate discounts. That formulary contains...
  • CENTER-RIGHT PUNDITS ARE NOT A GOVERNING COALITION.

    CENTER-RIGHT PUNDITS ARE NOT A GOVERNING COALITION. Brothers Ben and Ezra say most of what needs to be said about this atrocious, risibly anachronistic op-ed by Thomas Edsall. An argument this silly contains multitudes, however, and there's one point I'd like to add. My question: if we're throwing "organized labor, minority advocacy organizations [and] reproductive- and sexual-rights proponents" out of the Democratic coalition, who's left? Where are the votes coming from? (The irony here is that DLC types, who see the Democrats building a governing Democratic coalition out of wealthy, complacent white males, are the flipside of Ralph Nader , who seems to think that a governing progressive coalition can be built by white college students .) There are two moves Edsall makes that are crucial to propping up this nonsense. The first is the egregious double standard in evaluating Democratic and Republican-affiliated factions. Supporters of reproductive freedom are a "special interest"...

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