Archive

  • GALBRAITH. It's...

    GALBRAITH. It's not the biggest deal in the world, but I'm a little disturbed that neither Robert Rubin, Peter Orszag , or Jon Chait appeared to know where John Kenneth Galbraith 's concept of Countervailing Powers comes from. Rubin appears to think it's from a book called Countervailing Powers , which doesn't exist. No one else even heralds a guess. The actual book is American Capitalism , the first in Galbraith's famous trilogy on the American economy (the other two, in order, were The Affluent Society and The New Industrial State .) As I said, not the biggest deal in the world, but here you have two top Democratic economists and a top liberal policy wonk, and none of them seem particularly familiar with (arguably) the greatest Democratic economic thinker of the past century*. On the bright side, the three do seem to understand -- and this is a particularly wrenching realization for Rubin -- that Galbraith's ideas are absolutely critical in the current moment. I'm often stung by how...
  • RIGHT UP TO YOUR FACE AND DIS YOU.

    RIGHT UP TO YOUR FACE AND DIS YOU. National security adviser Steve Hadley is in Iraq today to deliver a message to the disobedient administration of PM Nouri al-Maliki : He wishes "to reinforce some of the things you have heard from our president." That being, in general, "Can't you just do as we say? You know, be a 'leader'? Disband the militias? Secure the country? Let us get some soldiers home, or at least announce something by, say, November 6?" Maliki opted instead to do the expected thing: Force the U.S. to end its five-day siege of Sadr City , the Baghdad stronghold of Maliki ally and U.S. enemy Moqtada al-Sadr. In times past -- those halcyon days of ex-premiers Iyad Allawi and Ibrahim Jaafari -- there was a temptation to say that the U.S. was ginning up crises in order to have the Iraqi leader demonstrate his independence from America and thereby win some hearts and minds. This, however, is much different: the Bush administration, after investing much desperation-slash-hope in...
  • MORE ON RELIGIOUS VOTERS.

    MORE ON RELIGIOUS VOTERS. Amy Sullivan and Addie Stan know more about the religion issue than I do, so I�d like to get their opinions on the risks of going for the evangelical vote -- it strikes me that even the smartest, most heartfelt attempts to lure evangelicals away from the GOP to the Democrats are not without risks. First, it will be hard and rather costly to try to break them away. In 2000, Southern Baptists voted 88 percent against the Southern Baptist candidate, Al Gore . That doesn't strike me as attributable to Gore�s lack of religious identity or facility in talking about his faith. Too many religious conservatives have simply made firm partisan commitments, and any counter-arguments or cross-talk from Democrats and liberals will only alter this at the margins. Sure, stock market fortunes and elections are often won at the margins. But will the cost of trying to make slight gains among evangelicals be worth the losses? The problem with outreach to any group of unlikely-to...
  • NO REALLY, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

    NO REALLY, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? On the heels of yesterday's discussion of religion and the Democrats comes this fascinating New York Times article on outreach to evangelicals in Ohio by Democratic candidates Ted Strickland (in the gubernatorial race) and Sherrod Brown . After years of longing, I have finally heard from Strickland, an ordained Methodist minister, words of faith I had prayed to hear from a Democratic candidate: "There are those in Columbus and elsewhere who argue that the biblical mandates to love your neighbor and to work for justice are meant only for individuals and have no application to the political sphere," Mr. Strickland said. "They dismiss the Democrats and those religious leaders who claim that our faith requires us to insist that governments and government leaders -- not just private citizens -- seek justice, love, mercy, and humbly work to help the least, the last and the lost in our society." Here's the real stuff. I don't want to know how often you go to...
  • CNN POLLS FIVE KEY SENATE RACES.

    CNN POLLS FIVE KEY SENATE RACES. With just a week to go before the midterm elections, CNN released a new poll this morning on the five states political observers are watching most. * Missouri -- Sen. Jim Talent (R) and state Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) are right where they've been all along, tied at 49 percent support each. However, the CNN poll showed that expanding the field to registered voters (instead of likely voters) shows McCaskill ahead, 51 percent to 43 percent. * New Jersey -- Like nearly all recent polling in the Garden State, Sen. Bob Menendez (D) still leads state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), 51 percent to 44 percent. * Ohio -- No wonder the GOP establishment bailed on Ohio; it appears increasingly uncompetitive. CNN shows Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) leading incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R), 54 percent to 43 percent. * Tennessee -- In perhaps the biggest setback to Democratic hopes of regaining the Senate, CNN shows former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker with a six eight-point lead...
  • LOOKING AHEAD.

    LOOKING AHEAD. The battle for control of state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade begins one week from today. How's that? Well, because incumbent governors are re-elected at high rates; and because any four-year-term governors elected this coming Tuesday who are not term-limited from running for re-election in 2010 will find themselves in the advantaged position four years hence; and because winners that year will be in position to have a major influence over the district mapmaking for both state legislatures and the House, the gubernatorial elections this year will have an indirect bearing on the fates of literally thousands of state and national legislative candidates running in 2012 and beyond. So, too, will battles for control of the state legislatures, in which the parties right now are basically at parity . And the significance of these under-the-radar races is partly why, as I recently argued in The New York Times , long-term base development...
  • Do All Economists Expect a Stronger Fourth Quarter?

    Not one of the "Blue Chip" 50 economic forecasters saw the coming of the 2001 recession in the fall of 2000. How could 50 intelligent informed observers make independent assessments of the economy and fail to see a major event that was right in front of their eyes. The obvious answer is that forecasters do not make independent assessments. They try to make sure that their foecasts are consistent with the rest of the forecasts. This way, if they are right, they can be happy. And, if they are wrong, well, who could have known? This history is important to keep in mind as we approach a period of extrordinary economic uncertainty. It is also a good reason that reporters should not be asserting that, " with Americans earning more and spending more, economists expect that the gross domestic product will expand faster than it did in the third quarter ." Reporters who gave their readers the wisdom from the Blue Chip 50 in the fall of 2000 would have badly misled them about the state of the...
  • Maybe Better Reporting Would Help

    Circulation Plunges at Major Newspapers --Dean Baker
  • ABRACADABRA. Having tracked...

    ABRACADABRA. Having tracked the religious right's rise over the last two decades, I must say that, unlike Scott and Sam , I find the argument, rendered via Amy Sullivan , over whether or not the religious right is a tool of the man, or poised to become the man himself, largely irrelevant; either way, we wind up with law written by self-appointed religious sages. The most prescient thing ever said to me about a Republican Party high on religion came from the late Rabbi Arthur Hertzerg , a celebrated scholar whom I interviewed for a 1995 Mother Jones cover story on the religious right. (The cover featured a Photoshopped picture of the White House with a cross on its gable, and the headline, "House of God?" A decade later, the Prospect offered a new riff on the theme): Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, Ph.D., of the Interfaith Alliance, a coalition of clergy formed to oppose the religious right, sees something sinister in the language of the right: the exploitation of a religious impulse felt by...
  • EVANGELICALS FOR AGNOSTICS....

    EVANGELICALS FOR AGNOSTICS. To vaguely weigh in on whether Christians are getting used by the right or taking it over, this point of Amy 's struck me as interesting: I, and many Democrats, supported expanding the charitable tax exemption so that more Americans could donate more money to charity. I think you'll agree that it was a supremely conservative idea--increase private giving to private charities so they can do good work without the public sector getting involved. It was the most significant and dramatic part of Bush's original faith-based plan, and it would have resulted in enormous injections of funds into the charitable sector--certainly much more than the faith-based initiative has already dispersed. (One respected estimate projected an increase of $160 billion in charitable giving over ten years.) Unfortunately--and this gets back to our original question of whether the White House has delivered on its promises to religious conservatives--the Bush administration turned its...

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