The story on middle class living standards over the last quarter century is pretty bleak. There are some gains, but most of this is attributable to an increase in the number of workers per family � women have been entering the labor market. While this is the story from the official data, many of those arguing that living standards actually have been increasing rapidly go behind the data and argue that the consumer price index (CPI) overstates the true rate of inflation, and therefore understates the improvement in living standards.
National Public Radio (NPR) did a piece today on a series of ballot initiatives in western states that would prohibit regulatory �taking.� �Takings� in this context are defined as government regulations that reduce the value of property. This could happen, for example, if the government limited development on a plot of land in order to prevent congestion.
NPR bought the right-wing story on this one hook, line and sinker. The piece portrayed the issue as a tough moral call between the rights of the individual and the interests of the larger community. I hope they got a big contribution from the takings crew.
IRAN: IRAQ DEJA VU? I've got to agree with The Nation�s Ari Berman on Bush's speech to the United Nations today. Following on the heels of retired General Sam Gardiner's statements on CNN last night that we are already dispatching forces to Iran, the administration's continued hardline approach toward Iran does seem to suggest they may already have designs -- beyond mere contingency plans -- for military strikes.
JUST REMEMBER. Every time McCain does something that Richard Cohen likes, his chances of winning the GOP nomination decrease. So, rather than get upset when center-libs throw themselves at McCain, you folks ought to rejoice, because every instance of such makes it that much less likely that the R�s most formidable man will gain his party�s support.
HELP EZRA HELP US ALL. 'Tis the season for liberal magazine fundraising drives. This month we've been running a donation campaign through our weekly email subscriber list to raise funds for our writing fellow program and other projects here at the Prospect. And we wanted to make sure Tapped readers got a chance to kick in some dough as well, if they're so inclined.
You all know who our current writing fellow is. It's Ezra. Check him out, determined and focused, spreading liberal light at his usual million-words-per-minute clip:
WHY DO LIBERALS HEART MCCAIN? That more liberals are showing their support for John McCain publicly may be frustrating, but should also come as no surprise -- liberals have been for some time his single strongest group of supporters. This was well-documented by the Pew Research Center report Beyond Red and Blue in May 2005.
ONE-AND-A-HALF CHEERS FOR WARNER. Okay, he�s trying to fashion himself the common-good candidate, so naturally I hold a soft spot in my heart for Mark Warner. So take that for what it�s worth as I offer an alternate theory of the case to Ezra�s.
A STARTLING ADMISSION. From President Bush's address to the United Nations: "Freedom by its nature cannot be imposed. It must be chosen." That he thinks so is news to me, although I couldn't agree more.
FRUSTRATING SUPPORT FOR MCCAIN UPDATE. I'm afraid we may have to make �Liberals for McCain� a regular Tapped feature, a la Ezra's Gorewatch. Jonathan Chait and Jacob Weisberg pioneered this trend, then Nicco Mele of EchoDitto joined the chorus, and today so did Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. Their rationales vary -- in fact, they conflict.
MEDICARE MEETS MEPHISTOPHELES. I spent last night at D.C.'s best bookstore/coffee shop, Politics and Prose, reading through David Hyman's new book Medicare Meets Mephistopheles. Hyman is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and his book, as you may have guessed from the title, takes as its conceit that Medicare is a demonic program sent to encourage all manner of deadly sins and, eventually, bring down the American republic. Spending so much time in the blogosphere, where libertarians are over-represented, I occasionally forget that libertarianism is a distinctly fringe ideology.