Archive

  • DOBBS FILES FOR DIVORCE FROM REALITY.

    DOBBS FILES FOR DIVORCE FROM REALITY. Now maybe it isn't fair to blame Lou Dobbs . Maybe it's the unwritten rule of television news programs (FOX excepted) that commentators must subscribe to a lower-brow version of the "pox on both their houses" David Broder school of punditry, no matter how vacuous and unfactual, that's making him do this. But Dobbs� column on cnn.com today is misleading to an extent that makes it inappropriate for a respected news organization to publish it. Here are a few problems, listed in increasing order of egregiousness: ...most of that money for Democrats and Republicans alike comes from corporate America. So what will be the outcome of this election? The only certainty is that corporate America will get what it's paid for, and that's more of the same. Whether the Democrats or Republicans take control of the House and Senate, corporate America has just bought a license to outsource more middle-class jobs to cheap foreign labor markets, to continue unabated...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MUFFLED SHOT.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MUFFLED SHOT. Sudhir Muralidhar finds that the controversy-courting Bush assassination movie Death of a President isn't quite worthy of the outrage it's sparked. --The Editors
  • Bill Moyers Commits the Social Security and Medicare Sin (and Worse)

    Some of us expect intelligent commentary from Bill Moyers. Well, we didn't get it today . Instead Moyers gives a whole array of deceptive statistics. The worst of course is combining the projected shortfalls from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of these liabilities stem from a projected explosion of health care costs. As BTP readers have heard me say many times, if health care costs follow this trajectory, then the economy will be devastated even if we shut down Medicare and Medicaid completely. Alternatively, if we get our health care costs more in line with costs in every other country in the world, there is no big problem. The point is that we have to fix our health care system, not gut Social Security or even Medicare and Medicaid. The second major sin in the Moyers piece is to report the projected deficits in trillions of dollars. This sounds very scary, which is presumably the intention. Well, this should be taken as seriously as...
  • "THIS IS JUST LOUSY."

    "THIS IS JUST LOUSY." Greg sure is right about that . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • REMARKABLE. Sorry,...

    REMARKABLE. Sorry, but watching The Corner become all Kerry , all the time is too much of a trainwreck to look away from. Jonah Goldberg (italics mine): My last word at least on the merits of the thing � as opposed to, say, the politics since Kerry might do something else fun to keep this going � is that I don't think his intent matters any more. Derb's initial "fake outrage" comment aside, lots of people took him on the plain meaning of his words. Kerry is the sort of person who one would expect to believe the sort of thing he actually said (just see some of the liberal blogs who insist Kerry's gaffe was accurate). In other words, it made sense coming from Kerry. Here's what Kerry actually said : "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." So why believe that Kerry was fumbling a joke at Bush ? Well, because Kerry went to Yale. He was president of the...
  • RIGHT IS RIGHT.

    RIGHT IS RIGHT. TNR 's Isaac Chotiner slams John Kerry for insufficient sincerity on Iraq. "I haven't seen the Massachusetts Senator speak much since November 2004, and so perhaps what took me by surprise was how angry Kerry appeared. Sure, there's a lot to be furious about -- a tragically bungled war, first-and-foremost. But it's also bothersome that Kerry's "journey" on the war has mirrored the polled opinions of the American people perfectly, both substantively and tonally." He should've been paying closer attention. As Ari Berman noticed in The Nation last May, Kerry has been saying the right things on Iraq for awhile now. Chotiner describes this as hungry spotlight-seeking which, in part, it's surely been used for. But the mere timing of it isn't proof enough of opportunism: Public opinion on Iraq has shifted in response to the country's accelerating disintegration. Whatever hopes Kerry had for his initial vote's eventual redemption are surely dashed. Why shouldn't he turn on the...
  • CALCULATED OBTUSENESS.

    CALCULATED OBTUSENESS. As it happens, I have some experience with calculated obtuseness as a political and rhetorical tactic. You can see in that episode all the characteristic charlatan's tricks now being applied to John Kerry 's unartful attempt at humor. You can see the Deliberate Missing Of The Point, and you can even see the Knuckling The People Who Actually Do Get The Point, of which John Derbyshire currently seems to be the victim over on The Corner, and you can see how Willful Ignorance can become Accepted Wisdom. My point is that, despite the fact that handing John Kerry a joke is a mistake of roughly the same magnitude as handing me the controls of the Space Shuttle, this technique can be applied to almost anything said by almost anyone you wish to attack, given sufficient volume and bandwidth. There is almost nothing that can be done about the first two elements, but Willful Ignorance can be stopped before it becomes Accepted Wisdom if only the people in my business do...
  • FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY.

    FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY. The Happy Feminist and Jessica Valenti draw our attention to a remarkable-in-a-bad-way ruling by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The court threw out a rape conviction because the judge failed to instruct the jury that a woman could not legally withdraw consent after penetration . The Court's ruling was based on dicta in a 1980 decision, which it itself was based on common law definitions of rape. The court describes the principles animating the 1980 decision as follows: But, to be sure, it was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male's interest in a woman's sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done. It was this view that the moment of penetration was the point in time, after which a woman could never be "re-flowered," that gave rise to the principle that, if a woman consents prior to penetration...
  • TAX BREAKS FOR DEPENDENTS = FASCISM.

    TAX BREAKS FOR DEPENDENTS = FASCISM. Matt Duss dredges the depths of The Corner and finds that opposition to abortion and the taking of positive steps to encourage families to have children is the equivalent of fascism . At least, that is, if such steps are taken in Iran. President Ahmadinejad is pushing a program that would limit the work hours of married professionals. Michael Ledeen : For this is right out of the fascist manual. Indeed, Mussolini once wrote an impassioned introduction to a very boring book (authored by one Richard Korherr , who I do not believe was from Bologna, and called something like "shrinking population, the death of nations") urging Italians to reproduce like Topsy. And of course Hitler had all those breeding programs, about which I will say no more for fear of being lumped in with Webb and Libby as a foul-mouthed (or is it foul-penned, or foul-keyboarded) sex fiend. Never mind that conservatives regularly denounce Europe for having an insufficient birthrate...
  • ARABIC: DIFFICULT.

    ARABIC: DIFFICULT. Long-time readers of my other blog , American Footprints , may know that I spent the last year and some change in Cairo, Egypt, learning Arabic. So it is with some first-hand experience that I approach Matt Yglesias' observation that "the severe paucity of people who speak Arabic (to say nothing of Farsi, Pashto, etc.) is incredibly crippling to a whole range of military, diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement endeavors." Yes, it's true that the U.S. -- and especially the FBI --suffers greatly from its lack of Arabic speakers, but solving the problem is by no means as simple as boosting funding. Arabic, both the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) that they speak on Al-Jazeera and the different dialects used on the street in each Arab country, is really, really hard . I say this as someone who typically does well with languages. The American University in Cairo , where I was studying, hosts the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), thought by many to be the best...

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