• The Old "Social Security and Medicare" Trick

    In a piece ironically titled "A Party Without Principles," Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby performed the old "Social Security and Medicare Trick." BTP regulars know the routine well by now. The basic story is that all the projections show that the Social Security program is fundamentally sound. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the program can pay every penny of benefits through the year 2046, with no changes whatsoever. The changes needed to keep the program fully funded over its 75 year projection period are no larger than the changes made in each of the decades from the fifties to the eighties.


    THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE DODGE. As Bob Packwood discovered a few years back, now that substance abuse is (correctly) viewed as an illness rather than a sign of moral degeneracy, one can blame one's actual moral degenaracy on substance abuse to soften a public fall from grace. Not any old substance will do, mind you: crack might turn off suburbanites, heroin might evoke the specter of AIDS, and coke might seem too rockstarrish. Plus, then you're admitting to breaking the law. Alcohol, on the other hand, has the middle-American acceptability (and legality) to strike the right balance (provided that plying your under-age pages with alcohol wasn't part of your attempts to seduce them).


    WHEN IN DOUBT, BLAME THE QUEERS. If you ask Newt Gingrich why the Republican House leadership kept mum on the predatory practices of Rep. Mark Foley, he'll tell you it was the fault of all those gay people who don't like to be called names. At least, that's pretty much what he told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:

    WALLACE: But during all those months, they left Foley in the House Republican leadership. They left him as the head of the congressional caucus dealing with exploited children. No second thoughts about that?


    PHOENIX SORT OF RISING, OR NOT. Certainly Ari Berman's big piece in The Nation on the Democracy Alliance -- the would-be white knight group of liberal super-donors who set out to fund the vast left-wing conspiracy -- is a must-read (and, frankly, a somewhat courageous feat on Ari's part). There's a lot going on in his account, and certain strands of argument he makes about what's gone wrong with the Alliance I find more convincing than others. But the whole piece is very informative and conveys an apt sense of frustration about the whole thing.

    --Sam Rosenfeld


    EXFOLEYATING. Noam Scheiber highlights (with suitable amusement) the early signs that Republicans are going to be dogged by "concerned citizens"-style groups regarding Foleygate; meanwhile, Josh Marshall makes a big-picture case for why this scandal is going to devastate the GOP. His point about Tom Reynolds deserves elaboration. Reynolds is caught in the middle of the cover-up story, which is bad enough, and even worse given his crucially important role as NRCC chairman.


    GAMAL GOES NUCLEAR. Last month's annual conference of Egypt's ruling National "Democratic" Party was filled with the usual empty talk about political reform. There was one big surprise, however: Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, called for Egypt to develop peaceful nuclear energy.


    WAL-MART GETS MEAN. Hopefully, folks aren't getting tired of hearing me talk Wal-Mart, as odds are the chatter won't let up anytime soon. How could it, when each new day brings news this worrisome? Word from the retailer now is that Wal-Mart is set on converting its workforce to a heavily part-time, salary-capped labor pool.

    Workers will never receive annual raises if their pay is at or above the cap, unless they move to a higher-paying job category. Wal-Mart says the caps will encourage workers to seek higher-paying jobs with more responsibility.[...]


    POWER AND PRINCIPLES. Sebastian Mallaby complains that Democrats are poised to possibly win the House back next month yet have no agenda or philosophical principles on which to govern should they win. As ever, there is a double-standard at work here. Republicans are typically given a pass for governing from an agenda unmoored from their small-government, strong-defense, fiscal responsibility platitudes -- indeed, those platitudes are championed as evidence that the party "knows what it stands for." It�s as if the espousal of principles matters more than adherence to them.


    POLLS, POLLS, POLLS. A whole slew of Mason-Dixon polls have been released over the last 24 hours, and most of them suggest Democrats are poised to have a very good year:

    * In Maryland, Ben Cardin (D) leads Michael Steele (R), 47% to 41%

    * In Missouri, Jim Talent (R) is tied with Claire McCaskill (D), 43% to 43%

    * In Montana, Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R), 47% to 40%

    * In New Jersey, Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr. (R), 44% to 41%

    * In Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D) leads Mike DeWine (R), 45% to 43%

  • BANDARGATE. I strongly...

    BANDARGATE. I strongly doubt that many Tapped readers follow Bahrani politics closely. But they may be forced to do so soon, if this story blows up.