Archive

  • THE COLOR REVOLUTION WE DON'T WANT.

    THE COLOR REVOLUTION WE DON'T WANT. We all got excited when the Ukrainians and Georgians kicked out Russian stooge governments in mass "color revolutions" backed by American dollars and encouragement. Now it looks as if Hezbollah, fresh from its relative success in holding out against the might of the Israeli military, may attempt to stage a yellow and green revolution of its own. Yesterday, following a visit by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to the White House and the Wilson Center , the Bush administration issued a statement warning that Syria and Iran, Hezbollah's sponsors, are plotting to overthrow the current pro-Western government of Fuad Seniora . The threat was underscored when Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah explicitly warned that he would topple the government or force new elections unless a national unity cabinet is formed. Shi'a in general, and Hezbollah in particular, feel under-represented in Lebanon's sectarian system. Another issue at stake here is the U.N...
  • PRESIDENTIAL FAITH ADVISER...

    PRESIDENTIAL FAITH ADVISER OUTED? Rev. Ted Haggard , pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is the target of accusations by Mike Jones , a male "escort," that the pastor has been a sexual client of Jones's for the last three years. Haggard belongs to the elite group of right-wing religious leaders party to regular Monday-morning conference calls with President Bush , according to reporter Jeff Sharlet , writing last year in Harper's . As a supporter of the ballot measure for a gay marriage ban, which Colorado voters will decide next week, Haggard's travails have a political taint. 9NEWS of KUSA-TV, the Denver NBC affiliate, reported the accusations last night in an interview with Jones, who told reporter Paula Woodward , according to the 9NEWS Web site , that "he has had a 'sexual business' relationship with Pastor Ted Haggard for the past three years." Jones also alleges drug use by Haggard. 9NEWS...
  • TO LAURA.

    TO LAURA. OK, in 2004, you came out and patted us all on the head and reassured us that all that icky stem-cell stuff wasn't something we should count on, no matter what beasties were lurking in our gene pools. Last week, you went back to that old stand, tut-tutting Michael J. Fox , simultaneously insulting him and condescending to every voter in Missouri. Then, there's this business yesterday . You are not a geneticist. You are not an epidemiologist. You are not a military strategist or a constitutional lawyer or the Manners Police of the national discourse. You're a librarian from Bugtussle. Thanksgiving is on the way. Go home and make sure the liquor cabinets are locked. --Charles P. Pierce
  • FAILURE OF THE WILL.

    FAILURE OF THE WILL. Via The Corner , conservative mil-pundit Ralph Peters has thrown in the towel on Iraq . What's revealing about the piece is that it's impossible to see why he bought into the Bush line in the first place. In a typical passage, Peters writes that "I believed that Arabs deserved a chance to build a rule-of-law democracy in the Middle East. Based upon firsthand experience, I was convinced that the Middle East was so politically, socially, morally and intellectually stagnant that we had to risk intervention -- or face generations of terrorism and tumult." OK, based on firsthand experience ? What in the world does this mean? And what sort of basis can it be for the most gigantic foreign-policy undertaking in a generation? More importantly, there's this: This chaos wasn't inevitable. While in Iraq late last winter, I remained soberly hopeful. Since then, the strength of will of our opponents -- their readiness to pay any price and go to any length to win -- has eclipsed...
  • Zero Productivity Growth: Preemptive Strike

    I know that I usually comment on the news after it's been reported, but I don't want to have to write tomorrow about how reporters missed a big story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that productivity growth for the 3rd quarter was zero. I am always the first one to point out that quarterly productivity is poorly measured and highly erratic, but the rate of productivity growth over the last year was just 1.3 percent. This number will be revised down by another 0.2-0.3 percentage points when the 800,000 additional jobs from the benchmark revision to the establishment survey are included in the data. The continuation of the economy's strong productivity growth over the last five years had been the big story of this recovery. At the least, the recent data point to a serious cyclical downturn in productivity growth. This should be front page news tomorrow. I don't want to have to write about what is not there. --Dean Baker
  • MISS AMERICA COMPASSION.

    MISS AMERICA COMPASSION. Jennifer Roback Morse 's claim that voting for Rick Santorum -- conceivably the least libertarian major national elected official in the country -- is the only responsible choice for libertarians to make is, above all else, pure comedy gold. But her attempt to claim the libertarian mantle for Santorum based on his support for tax cuts and ... er, tax cuts actually provides a useful illustration of why his efforts to build a genuine "compassionate conservatism" are a non-starter. I don't say this because I think that Santorum's desire to help the poor is insincere -- and, certainly, better some concern for the poor than a Catholic conservatism that begins and ends with a desire to criminalize abortion and deny equal rights to gay people. The real problem is that it's fundamentally incoherent to vote to increase funding for the poor -- especially the non-American poor -- while simultaneously voting to gut government revenues, since during periods of fiscal...
  • The Post Editors Should Come to Washington

    A Washington Post editorial today warns us that allowing Medicare to negotiate prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry would be "a sure way of flooding the political system with yet more pharmaceutical lobbyists and campaign spending." Those of us who live in Washington know that the industry already floods the political system in order to preserve and strengthen the government granted patent protection that allows them to charge monopoly prices. Taking the money away will reduce, not increase, the number of lobbyists. --Dean Baker
  • The Minimum Wage: Restaurateurs May Do the Math, but Reporters Don't

    It is hard to run a restaurant profitably. It is a crowded and heavily competitive market. This is why most new restaurants go out of business within a few years of opening. Rather than blame their failure on market conditions or their own lack of business acumen, restaurant owners would much rather blame government regulation. Minimum wage laws are featured front and center in this story. Unfortunately, almost any story a restaurant owner tells is likely to be treated seriously by reporters. The Times gives us an account of restaurant owners facing crises because of the prospect of a higher minimum wage. The poster child is a restaurant owner in Montana who explains that the problem is that his wait staff get tips, but the state minimum wage laws provide no exemptions for tipped employees. This means that the higher minimum wage will require him to pay more to workers who he claims are already earning four times the minimum wage. (He also complained that the minimum wage would be...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MICRO MACHINES.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MICRO MACHINES. Have the Dems managed to gain ground this year in the field of microtargeting mobilization, or is the GOP as dominant as ever? Joseph Ax reports . --The Editors
  • 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...

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