Archive

  • MEHLMAN SPEAKS. ...

    MEHLMAN SPEAKS. The American Spectator had breakfast with Ken Mehlman today, and got his perspective on the midterms. He said : 1) The election must be framed not as a referendum, but as a choice. When the question isn't "are you happy now?" but "who do you want, going forward, to handle taxes, national security, and judges, the conservatives or the liberals?," then the conservatives (and, by extension in most cases, Republicans) do better. 2) The generic poll numbers in the past few weeks have major errors. a) the polls have sampled a significantly higher proportion of Democrats than actual turnout has shown over the past 25 years. b) the Democratic voters and the Democratic-leaning districts are "less efficiently allocated" than Republican ones, so that whereas the Dems have a big edge in already-Democratic districts, the race in the battleground GOP-held districts is 50-50 -- and that's even with the mis-sampling. 3) Despite the polls, actual turnout in primaries has belied the...
  • A PERSONAL NOTE.

    A PERSONAL NOTE. After over a year of living in Egypt, studying Arabic, and working for an Egyptian NGO, I am finally back in the good old US of A. I had an incredible experience, but I am happy to be back in a country where everything works, where people are accustomed to standing in line, and where you don't have to haggle nearly every time you want to buy something. So, America: it's great! Alas, its current foreign policy is making Americans less safe and the world a more dangerous place. Now that I'm back here, I want to touch briefly on how the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress have engineered this disastrous situation. A lot of smart people have said a lot of smart things about this ( for example ), but I want to keep it simple for now. The basic problem with Bush foreign policy is that rather than expanding the infrastructure of peace and prosperity, his team has focused on a handful of bad actors, and they have failed miserably at their own approach. Saddam...
  • MORE ON SUCKERS.

    MORE ON SUCKERS. David Kuo 's recent turn as Disillusioned Bush Follower du jour offers another welcome addition to the burgeoning literature as to why you wouldn't hire anyone still employed by this carnival of charlatans to park your car, let alone govern the country or play with the Army. I have adopted the Karl Rove quote -- "Just get me a f***ing faith-based thing" -- as my personal favorite quote of the Avignon Presidency. Nevertheless, there is something almost pathetic about Kuo, a true believer in the employ of true deceivers. Egged on by Lesley Stahl , he recounts how regularly famous television preachers were treated with disdain in the West Wing. Pat Robertson was called insane and Jerry Falwell , ridiculous. James Dobson was somebody who needed to be leashed. Name a serious Christian leader, Kuo told Stahl, and that person got smack talked about him in the White House. Well, first of all, Robertson is nutty , Falwell is ridiculous , and the polity would be infinitely...
  • HI, I'M AMERICA,...

    HI, I'M AMERICA, AND I'VE BEEN AN EXPANSIONIST POWER FOR 230 YEARS. In contrast to Matt , this Robert Kagan piece in The New Republic didn't bug me much at all. The more folks -- particularly on the right -- who dispense with the fiction that the U.S. was ever anything but an expansionist power, the better. America has convinced itself that we've always been a shy, sensitive, introspective nation only occasionally and reluctantly roused to roughhouse play. Our historical memory encompasses little but World War II, and so our interpretation of our own foreign policy instincts is benevolent and benign. The rest of the world, however, hasn't participated in this process of continuously forgetting our many years of overthrowing their leaders, deploying expeditionary forces to their lands, and pressuring them into supporting our interests -- and those memories color their reactions to our every move and initiative. Maybe we could all agree to disagree, but our lack of appreciation for the...
  • DEAF EAR.

    DEAF EAR. In an aggressive demonstration of their establishmentarian orientation, The Washington Post 's comprehensive coverage of the current controversy at Gallaudet University (the nation's only liberal arts college for the deaf), on both the news and opinion pages, has clearly skewed towards the school administration. The issue, for those who haven't been following, is that a clear majority of the Gallaudet student body, and many faculty staff and alumni, oppose the selection of university's new president, Jane K. Fernandes , and the manner in which she was chosen. The Post 's news coverage has mentioned a supposed counter-movement in support of Fernandes that no one else (including me, when I've gone to Gallaudet to cover the student blockade of campus) has confirmed. They have also repeated Fernandes' complaint that those who oppose her feel she "is not deaf enough" -- something none of the protestors interviewed by me , or any other reporter, have actually heard from Fernandes...
  • UNFINISHED BUSINESS.

    UNFINISHED BUSINESS. My dad always said being an adult means admitting your errors and apologizing when those mistakes have harmed others. Well, I�ve been wrong about a couple of things on Tapped , so it�s time to come clean. First, post- Ned Lamon 's primary victory last August I truly felt confident that statewide polls which showed Joe Lieberman winning a potential three-way race would crater (as the primary numbers did) for him, and that soon enough Lamont would be winning the general match-up. Seeing that, I predicted, Joe would fear adding humiliation to embarrassment and bolt. Well, wrong on the polls, and really wrong on Lieberman letting go. At any rate, it remains a safe bet that Lieberman will be nearly insufferable if he wins -- especially if Democrats have 50 seats in the Senate including his on January 3, 2007. Second, I finally got around to watching the second half (third and fourth acts) of Spike Lee 's documentary about Katrina, When the Levees Broke , and it was...
  • NPR Must Learn How to Be Impartial

    In a report on a congressional race this morning, NPR mentioned the candidates views on the estate tax. It noted that Republican incumbant was opposed to "taxation without respiration [good line]." It then reported that the Democratic candidate claims that the estate tax did not harm small farms and businesses because it has exemptions of $3-$4 million. Well, this was not just a claim by the Democratic candidate, it also happens to be an accurate description of the law. There is a large exemption (I'll have to check the latest number -- it rises through time under the current law), with special provisions to allow any tax owed on a family farm or business to paid out over 10 years without penalty. It is not impartial to characterize one candidate's recitation of facts as a "claim." People may still oppose the estate tax, but it is fact that it has almost no impact on anything that most people would consider a "small" business or family farm. --Dean Baker
  • WHAT COULD HAVE...

    WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. As this wide-ranging interview with Bob Woodward illustrates, John Kerry would have made a very, very good president. Much better than he seemed during the campaign, possibly even finer than his performance suggested at the debates. It's a trite truth and a crying shame that our system encourages the qualities that make a very good campaigner rather than a fine leader. It's into that chasm that Kerry falls. But it's worth reading his talk with Woodward to get a flavor of how a grown-up would be dealing with the world. Update : This is a fair point by Jason Zengerle , who notes that Kerry never gave voters a chance to see how a grown up would do all this because he refused to answer the same set of 22 questions during the heat of the campaign, when his replies would have made a difference. I do wonder, though, why Jason thinks Gerald Ford , undistinguished though his presidency may have been, would know nothing of interest for a modern day successor. The...
  • HEALTH CARE ATTITUDES....

    HEALTH CARE ATTITUDES. Kaiser, ABC, and USA Today just released a pretty expansive poll documenting the country's opinions on health care. The nickel version is that your countrymen are mostly liberal, deeply confused, and more likely to loathe the status quo than clearly conceptualize potential alternatives. Respondents said it was the third most important issue in the country, behind Iraq and the economy, but before immigration, gas prices, or terrorism. That's probably because opinions towards the system are so overwhelmingly negative: 80 percent are dissatisfied with the cost of health care in the country, and 54 percent are dissatisfied with the quality . So the system starts out with few friends. From there, things get more complicated. Nearly 90 percent are satisfied with the quality of care they received. Nearly 60 percent are satisfied with their costs. In other words, Americans believe everyone else's health care system costs too much and delivers too little. Their own...
  • WHAT THEY REPORT:...

    WHAT THEY REPORT: WHO DECIDES? The Associated Press is reporting that a McClatchy newspaper in Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader , is returning to the Center for Pubic Integrity Center for Investigative Reporting * a $37,500 grant the foundation made to the paper to finance a series of stories on the fundraising operation of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell , who famously opposed the McCain - Feingold campaign finance reform legislation. The paper is returning the grant to the Center in response to allegations by McConnell's staff that the foundation has a liberal bias. However, it will still run the four-part series about McConnell -- considered the likely replacement for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) -- for which it had awarded the grant. Bias or no, the thing I find curious about the deal is why a for-profit media operation should require grants from non-profit foundations in order to do a bit of investigative journalism. Is this a harbinger of the future? Will big...

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