A BITE SIZED SOLUTION. I'm not sure how to feel about economist Martin B. Schmidt's New York Timesop-ed from yesterday. In it he argues for a 10% tax on food ordered from drive-throughs on the grounds that it will encourage people to get out of their cars, and raise money to off-set the social cost of obesity. In principle I think these are both laudable goals, but in practice this idea is deeply flawed. As long as there are drive-throughs, taxing the people who use them and not people who order the same food at the walk-in counter could reasonably be construed as discriminatory against people with disabilties.
FAITH-BASED COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVES. As Michael Crowley points out, David Kuo's anecdotes about the Bush administration's total abandonment of the "compassion" agenda are rather remarkable:
A West Wing friend called to say the president heard about the article as he walked from the Oval office of the OEOB. He was angry. "Well," he yelled through the stairwell, "is he right or isn't he? Have we done compassion or haven't we? I wanna know."
THE TILLMAN FAMILY IS NOT GOING AWAY. If there's an iconic tale of the betrayal of the national unity and resolve in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities, it's what happened to Pat Tillman when he left the Arizona Cardinals and went off to war. His death occasioned one of the very first grotesque and demonstrable public lies in what has become an almost endless parade of them. Since then, it has been revealed that the original story of hs death was concocted by a military in thrall to a truthless and cowardly civilian political establishment, and it also been revealed that Tillman himself was possessed of a shrewd and interesting mind, with a good eye for how sacrifice gets coined into someone else's gold.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ELECTROSHOCK.Genevieve Smithexplains why worrying about electronic voting machines isn't just for paranoid "conspiracy theorists." Not only is the machines' vulnerability to tampering real, but the potential for simple human error to cause major screw-ups is vast -- and has been demonstrated in practice already. Take a look.
HOW BAD IS CARD-CHECK? A couple days ago, Megan McArdle and I got into a heated argument over the morality of card-check legislation. Card-check is a top union priority that would effectively abolish the current system of employer-controlled union elections and create a situation where, if 50+1% of workers signed a card asking for a union, they've got a union. Megan found this -- and I quote -- "morally abhorrent," mainly because the ballot is not secret, and so unions can intimidate. My concerns fell much more with the current, constant, and far more effective intimidation tactics of employers.
POLL BAN. Thirty years ago, when I was doing field organizing for Mo Udall's presidential campaign, I made it a practice about three weeks out from every primary to establish a series of fines in my storefronts. Anyone bringing in a newspaper was assessed a quarter, and any mention at all of poll results cost you a buck. The fines later financed as much Election Night beer as we could afford, so, as you might imagine, there was a lot of obviously fraudulent civil disobedience down the stretch.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON IS CONCERNED. As I am old, and therefore new to life on the Internets, I haven't had a chance to catalogue personally all the fauna contained therein, but, I must say, that this fellow here strikes me as quite likely the silliest gibbering gibbon in the high forest. This isn't a column. It's something you hear on the radio between Traffic On The Three's and a commercial for hair-replacement nostrums.
That's the question asked in a NYT article this morning. Of course, the more important question is the path of the much broader S&P 500 index. The article notes that the price to earnings ratios here are not much higher than their historic average. But the key part of the story is the path of earnings going forward.
SCAPEGOAT? MORE LIKE A GOOD START. The Washington Post'sSally Quinn seems strangely confident that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will recognize that he is hurting America and step down following the midterm elections. I'm not holding my breath, but I would certainly welcome this long-overdue development -- Rumsfeld holds great responsibility for the disaster in Iraq and for the growing problems in Afghanistan. The ongoing revelations in the press and in Cobra II, Fiasco, and now Bob Woodward'sState of Denial have made that clear.