THE WISE BILLIONAIRE MYTH.James Fallows, liveblogging the Aspen Ideas Festival, talked to a pollster who's effusive about third party opportunities:
Who were the people who could win the presidency on a �let�s cut the shit� platform? He said there might be ten or so possibilities, but the no-brainers were Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. They could afford the $1 billion or so of their own money the campaign would cost, and everyone would understand that this actually represented a significant sacrifice on their part.
FOUNDATIONS. Mattwrites that "foundations with liberalish sentiments are actually significantly wealthier than the rightwing foundations created to counter them. The difference is that the right's foundations focus on politically efficacious giving, while a huge proportion of liberalish giving is dedicated to fairly ineffective efforts at direct amelioration of problems or efforts to identify 'best practices' that go duly ignored by the political system." All true. But it's not just mistaken tactics that separate the two sides, it's identification.
THE POLITICS OF RESENTMENT. Writing on global warming, a Jonah Goldberg correspondent wonders "If Al Gore were to be convinced that global warming WAS a natural phenomena, would he be so worked up about it?" before answering his own question, "I don't think so, yet the consequences would be the same." Jonah says this has been nagging at him for a while and comments:
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JERRY'S KIDS. President Gerald Ford gave us Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. He also gave us John Paul Stevens. Harold Meyersonmuses over a minor president's surprising legacy.
THE MIDDLE-CLASS PUNDIT CLASS. Newbie media critics like to point to the big-shot opinion-makers on television as a way of dismissing the entire "pundit class" as a wealthy elite that's out of touch with America. But in so doing they reveal their ignorance of the pay dynamics of print journalism, where newspaper columnists remain a middle-class bunch, according to a new survey. Presented Saturday at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference by the University of San Francisco's J. Michael Robertson, the survey of 124 columnists found that:
CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS. If you've been looking for someone to criticize Peter Beinart's book for going too far in the direction of abandoning liberal hawk orthodoxy, look no further than George Packer's review of The Good Fight. The more interesting part of the review, however, is actually addressed at Francis Fukuyama, who writes in his book that "Before the Iraq war, we were probably at war with no more than a few thousand people around the world who would consider martyring themselves and causing nihilistic damage to the United States.
CLASH OF THE INTEREST GROUPS.The Hill doesn't draw this out in its reporting, but the juxtaposition of a couple of articles in today's edition shows the emergence of real power struggle within the Democratic Party between old and new interest groups in key races this fall. Alexander Boltonreports:
At least seven of the most vulnerable House GOP incumbents have been endorsed by unions, environmental activists or other Democratic-leaning advocacy groups. So have at least three of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans.
MORE ON LIEBERMAN. According to John Byrne, senior DSCC officials are confirming that they won't support Joe Lieberman if he doesn't win the Democratic primary. That doesn't mean they'll support Ned Lamont or yank the leash to keep Democratic donors from supporting an independent candidate, but they're not going to publicly fight their own base.
MORE ON HOUSING FIRST. On Friday, I talked a bit about the Bush administration's Housing First program, a legitimately worthwhile policy initiative where the toughest homeless cases are given permanent, private housing without any expectation of behavioral modification. These are the toughest, most stubborn cases, the ones who've been in treatment six or more times, yet continue to live on the streets, using heavily and racking up enormous health and crime costs. The question for policymakers is always whether they can bear offering something for nothing, opportunity without responsibility, even if it'll be cheaper and safer for the community.
EVERYONE HATES CHARITY. Let me welcome Jon Chait to the charity-bashing bandwagon. As he observed in a column over the weekend, Warren Buffet's giant charitable contribution "matters as much as an annual increase or decrease of 1/10 of 1% of the federal budget," which gives rise to the question: "How much would it cost to influence the political system to move 1/10 of 1% of the budget out of, say, wasteful subsidies and into the sorts of programs the Gates Foundation supports? I'm not sure, but it's way less than $31 billion."