Archive

  • MCCAIN AND ABORTION: THE DANCE OF DISINGENUOUSNESS.

    MCCAIN AND ABORTION: THE DANCE OF DISINGENUOUSNESS. John McCain has come out for overturning Roe . Frankly, I'm not sure what this tells us that we didn't already know . McCain has already expressed support for the draconian ban in South Dakota, and voted to confirm Robert Bork and Samuel Alito . And in case McCain apologists once again mention that McCain "said that if his daughter wanted an abortion, he would leave the decision up to her," I note that the fact that McCain wouldn't dream of applying general bans on abortion to people in his social circles doesn't make him a pro-choicer; it makes him a Republican . John McCain's daughter won't have a problem getting an abortion whether Roe is good law or not, but a lot of other women won't be so lucky. Social conservatism for thee-but-not-for-me is pretty much what social conservatism means in this country. And his justification for supporting the overturning of Roe is also classically dishonest: MCCAIN: I don�t think a constitutional...
  • Poland: Yet Another Worker Shortage

    I feel so old. Back when I learned economics, they taught you that in free markets prices adjusted to bring supply and demand into line. But, these days we keep hearing about how there are labor shortages that can only be addressed by finding lower paid workers in other countries to take the jobs. According to the NYT, the latest case is Poland , where apparently all the construction workers have gone to work in Western Europe. What makes this story especially annoying to those of us who learned the old economics is that the wages of workers in the occupations facing shortages have been falling relative to the wages of workers in occupations not facing shortages. Many economists have sought to explain the relative decline in wages for less-educated workers as the result of skill-biased technical change (i.e. computer technology reduces the relative demand for less educated workers), but how do we reconcile a story of skill-biased technical change with recurring shortages of the...
  • Thoughts on Milton Friedman

    I am a bit slow commenting on the passing of Milton Friedman because I was travelling and having connectivity problems (in Montainview, CA, the homeland of Google), but I will now chime in with my two cents. First, I would take issue with claims about him being proven right on macroeconomic questions. Milton Friedman was the author and main promulgator of the money growth rule. His gospel was that we did not need the Fed, we just needed a computer that would increase the money supply by 3 percent annually. While central banks did experiment with this approach (including the Volcker Fed), I don't think that anyone in the world (not even Milton Freidman at the time of his death) still believes that this is a good way to manage monetary policy. One can view the current inflation targeting fad as a variant of the money rule, but even here there are few advocates of a strict target. Most proponents of inflation targetting support targetting with a human face, which is little different than...
  • BEST EVER.

    BEST EVER. Oh, Matthew , Matthew, Matthew . Allow me to retort. The 1986 Boston Celtics. The 1985 Los Angeles Lakers. The 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. (Don't worry. We're getting there.) The 1967 Philadelphia 76'ers. The 1964 Boston Celtics. (Almost) The 1996 Chicago Bulls. Maybe. --Charles P. Pierce
  • THE DEMONS OF THE PAST.

    THE DEMONS OF THE PAST. Charlie 's succeeded in baiting me out of Tapped semi-retirement with this post . I went and looked up Fred Barnes 's article "From Bradley to Barkley" and I have to say that it's pretty definitively the worst piece of sports writing ever. It isn't actually an "attempt to re-cast the NBA as a 'conservative' sport based on the fact that one of its stars was Charles Barkley , who then was making silly mouth-noises about being a Republican." Rather, the conservatism of mid-1990s pro hoops is grounded in a larger schematic. Liberal sports are "non-violent ( mostly), collective, and less than triumphal -- in a word, McGovern esque." Sports "where violence is supposed to be kept to a minimum and intricate teamwork matters, are liberal." So far, so good clich�. Then comes the trouble. Barnes places football in with the rightwing no-teamwork sports. This is, I promise you, a conclusion you could only reach if you'd literally never seen a football game. Meanwhile...
  • FRIEDMAN OBIT ROUNDUP.

    FRIEDMAN OBIT ROUNDUP. Yesterday I noted that Milton Friedman had just died, joining John Kenneth Galbraith as the second towering figure of 20th-Century economics to die this year. Now the obituaries are out in most major publications (here's the New York Times ). Berkeley economist and blogger Brad DeLong submitted his own to Salon . It's a sensitive, nuanced portrait of "an enlightened adversary" with whom left-of-center economists tangled at their "peril." While Friedman is best known for his ceaseless advocacy of free-market economics and extreme hostility to government (and even to public schools and parks), DeLong highlights his broader "pragmatic" libertarianism: his staunch opposition to the draft during Vietnam, his criticism of the War on Drugs, and his hatred of deficit spending. Love him or hate him, DeLong suggests, Friedman was no hack: he was dogged, articulate, and passionate in his views. If you're looking instead for a full-throated condemnation of Friedman, his...
  • INGRAHAM.

    INGRAHAM. It's becoming increasingly clear that the new congressional majority is going to take seriously what Donald Segretti used to call "ratfucking" -- low-tech political creepery of a peculiarly scummy variety -- in the context of the last few elections. While a lot of people rightly were concerned about hacked voting machines and organized voter suppression, and other forms of massive fraud, a whole universe of relatively less complicated dirty tricks got organized around the national Republican political apparatus. We got a glimpse of it in 2002, when the Republicans ran a phone-bank-jamming operation in New Hampshire that's subsequently sent a couple of people to the sneezer, a scandal with an actual criminal body-count that very few NH Democrats believe has been plumbed fully to its depths yet. This time around, there was the robo-calling that actually hit the media in real time, and which seems to have caught Harry Reid and Barack Obama 's attention. Now there's this . There...
  • DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES.

    DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES. As Scott pointed out , Matt worries that there's too little talk about good middle-America governors as presidential candidates, and that "we may be doomed to an endless cycle of Senators (who DC political reporters already cover), governors from Virginia and Maryland (whose exploits are detailed in the Metro section of The Washington Post ), and scions of famous families." That seems unlikely, since not only are senators rarely elected president, they are rarely nominated. There's always talk: Every presidential cycle begins with a long line of senators who want to be president, but usually ends with a governor: between 1976, 1988, and 1992, there are probably two dozen sitting Dem senators who thought they had a shot until Carter , Dukakis or Clinton came along. Matt's "counterpoint" example of Howard Dean proves the point. The reason Dean jumped out ahead of the pack was not the netroots, but the very fact that he was the only governor in a pack...
  • OVERSEEING THE OVERSEERS.

    OVERSEEING THE OVERSEERS. One thing you may not know about Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx), now being considered as a compromise candidate to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is that he joined his friend and colleague, outgoing congressman Curt Weldon at a meeting with infamous Iran Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar , against the advice of the Agency, and without informing the U.S. ambassador in Paris, as is proper protocol. The meeting took place at the Sofitel hotel on Rue Boissy D'Anglas around the corner from the US embassy in Paris on a Saturday morning in the spring of 2004 (see update below), according to two sources. (The US government was actually surveilling the hotel lobby that morning out of concern that Iranians might potentially try to harm the congressmen; Weldon apparently loudly asked the concierge for a room for a secret meeting). Ghorbanifar and his business partner were trying to entice the U.S. congressmen to take up the cause...
  • THE WORST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS.

    THE WORST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. As long as TNR is trying to find the pony in Iraq , it's worth observing that the U.S.-sponsored Maliki government has just escalated the civil war tremendously. Maliki has just issued an arrest warrant for Harith al-Dhari , the leader of the most prominent Sunni organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars. This is exactly analogous to Paul Bremer's disastrous decision to shut down Moqtada al-Sadr's newspaper in March 2004, which unleashed the Sadrist insurgency. Except, since there was no civil war in March 2004, this is much worse. It will be seen as -- and, more importantly, is -- a strike by the government against all Sunnis. Laura may be more right about a tilt to the Shiites than she realizes. Someone in the U.S. military or the Bush administration must have had known about this latest disaster beforehand. --Spencer Ackerman

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