Archive

  • News Flash: Microsoft Doesn't Like Competition

    The Times has an interesting article about a plan to get low-cost laptops to children in the developing world. To keep costs down, the computers will use Linux, an open source operating system, instead of Windows. The article reports that Bill Gates doesn't think it's a good idea to use laptops to connect the world's poor to the web and that cell phones would be better. Is this a surprise? --Dean Baker
  • Who Do Washington Post Reporters Have to Thank for Their Jobs?

    I tried really hard to ignore this, but I do have the business section of the Washington Post sitting on my dining room table staring at me. And it says, " You Might Have to Thank Him for Your Job ." Yes, that is the headline of the Washington Post's article on Edmund Phelps winning the Nobel Prize. Let's see, as I recall Edmund Phelps said that we have to keep the unemployment rate at or above the "natural rate" in order to keep inflation from accelerating. This would seem to imply throwing people out of work, as in the Fed raises interest rates, thereby slowing the economy and job creation and raising the unemployment rate. This is pretty much what happened in both 1989-90 and 1994-95. This view could perhaps justify a headline like "You Might Have to Thank Him for Losing Your Job," but it is hard to see how you get from Phelps theory to the Washington Post headline. The best is yet to come for those real masochists among BTP readers -- last chance to get away and not have your day...
  • FEAR THIS OPERA.

    FEAR THIS OPERA. It's not at all clear why Jonah Goldberg is so obsessed with hyping the threat to Idomeneo , but responding to Jews convincing the Polish Embassy to cancel a talk by Tony Judt , he writes: "But, tell me, did Foxman threaten to cut off Judt's head?" Of course, the only head that was getting cut off in Idomeneo was Muhammad 's. According to Bloomberg , "The police have since said that they received no concrete threat." Oh. So free speech now quakes before phantom threats? Indeed, interior secretary Ehrhart Koerting , the official who asked the opera director to cancel the show in the first place, now admits that he made a "mistake," and was "worrying too much about security." So let's get the facts straight: Working off no specific threat of any type, the interior minister feared Muslim backlash and asked an opera director to cancel a production. The political and media establishments mocked and opposed the decision, the interior secretary admitted he was overreacting,...
  • GOTV.

    GOTV. Jay Cost 's post explaining the trouble in measuring the actual impact of the GOP's much-vaunted voter mobilization scheme is an important one. Their GOTV advantages -- microtargeting, the 72-strategy, etc -- are being sold as a secret, even insurmountable weapon. But there's precious little data supporting that. To be sure, Bush's largest vote increases in 2004 came in Democratic areas, which certainly speaks to the power of microtargeting. But Alan Abramovitz argues that Democrats did just as well, if not better. And, in any case, Democrats aren't going to be blindsided by the same tricks again. Indeed, just six years ago, the Donkeys had the unstoppable GOTV advantage, and it was the GOP playing catch-up. My suspicion? If the right's real GOP gains come in grabbing marginally sympathetic voters in unlikely places, they may find this year that those voters aren't quite so sympathetic. GOTV works to combat laziness, not hostility. And for now, all polls show the right's worry...
  • DISPATCH FROM A PUNCTUATION MARK.

    DISPATCH FROM A PUNCTUATION MARK. In Iraq, at least 10 Iraqi army and police officers have died and more than 1,200 fell violently ill after eating a cyanide-laced chicken dinner at their base . Just another all-too-forgettable occurrence deep inside George Bush 's " historical comma ." Meanwhile, what appears to Bush to be no bloodier than a Lynn Truss lecture feels, it would seem, pretty damn real to the folks this NBC correspondent describes . -- Ezra Klein
  • FENCE THIS. ...

    FENCE THIS. For the best piece of newspaper reportage you'll read today, check out The Washington Post 's exploration of the 700-mile fence that Congress passed -- with a provision making sure it'll never actually happen. As the bill was being passed, an amendment was tacked on allowing the president to divert the earmarked cash for whatever border security measures he deems appropriate or necessary. Goodbye metal fence, hello virtual one. And that's probably for the best. The Post recounts the sorry history of the fence separating Tijuana and San Diego. That barrier, which is only 14-miles long, was originally estimated to cost $14 million. Instead, the first nine miles have required $39 million, and the DHS has appropriated another $35 million for the rest. Proportionally, that would mean that this longer, larger fence -- which will go through much less populous areas, requiring much more construction, landscaping, and even road building -- will end up costing $10.57 billion, not...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: WAITING FOR BARACK.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: WAITING FOR BARACK. Draft Obama for '08? Ezra says wait for the guy to actually step up and lead first. --The Editors
  • OUTRAGE ON THE DEFAMATION FRONT.

    OUTRAGE ON THE DEFAMATION FRONT. Just to elaborate on the story Ezra mentioned : The NYU historian Tony Judt was invited to speak October 3 on the subject of �The Israel Lobby and U. S. Foreign Policy� to a discussion group entitled Network 20/20, which always holds its meetings at Manhattan�s Polish Consulate. But Judt received a call from Patricia Harrington , the president of the group, canceling his talk. She told Judt (as he recounted in a widely distributed e-mail) that the Consulate had been threatened by the Anti-Defamation League, who �warned them off hosting anything involving Tony Judt.� Judt said that ADL�s Abraham Foxman warned the Poles that unless they cancelled, to quote Judt�s e-mail, �he would smear the charge of Polish collaboration with anti-Israeli antisemites (= me) all over the front page of every daily paper in the city (an indirect quote).� Poland is particularly sensitive about the charge these days, what with the recent publication of Jan Gross �s book, Fear...
  • HE WANNA GET AWAY.

    HE WANNA GET AWAY. Ah, pity poor Chris Hitchens . As one shall-remain-nameless friend chuckled to me recently, Hitch must have needed a good, long week with his face in a large bowl of vodka to recover from the revelation in Bob Woodward�s State of Denial that none other than his bete noir , Henry Kissinger , is a key Iraq adviser to President Bush , SecDef Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the war architects for whom Hitchens has been fashioning increasingly creative apologies. Hitch has finally mustered the strength to comment about Kissinger�s participation in the Bush war machine at Slate . What�s next? Newly-discovered documents revealing that Mother Teresa briefly served as Hitch hero Winston Churchill �s concubine in the 1940s? From this point forward, every time one of those � wanna get away? � ads by Southwest Airlines comes on TV, I�ll think of poor old Chris. --Tom Schaller
  • TRENDS. Without...

    TRENDS. Without sucking up to the new boss too much, let me highly recommend this Harold Meyerson piece responding to Kos 's Libertarian Democrats manifesto. I recommend it despite finding it an enormously frustrating piece of work -- I have, after all, spent the last few months of blogging and my September feature story trying to say what Harold does in these three paragraphs: there are some basic Democratic principles that are not libertarian, and that even Markos� Mountain State mavericks still affirm. None of them have called for privatizing Social Security. None of them have called for abolishing Medicare. They may be civil libertarians and to some degree social libertarians, but they�re not economic libertarians. And for good reason: Economic libertarianism has never been more preposterous. For the dominant social fact in America today is this: The corporate safety net is fast disappearing. Risk has been transferred to the individual -- a decision in which individuals, as such,...

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