Archive

  • BUSINESS FOR SPITZER.

    BUSINESS FOR SPITZER. Speaking of business, this endorsement of Elliot Spitzer , on the Wall Street Journal editorial page , by a former executive vice president of Morgan Stanley, is interesting stuff. The argument, which others have made from the outside but Donald Kempf makes from experience, is that Spitzer's style of anti-corporate populism is a boon, rather than a threat, to capitalism in general and business in particular: Mr. Spitzer often had a better grasp of the underlying facts, legal implications and policy considerations than many from the federal regulatory agencies. Discussions (sometimes debates) with him on the substance of matters were both focused and fruitful. He was especially constructive when it came to searching for sensible solutions that would facilitate firms resolving problems and getting back to running their businesses for the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders. Moreover, because he is both smart and self-assured, Mr. Spitzer is willing to...
  • The Rising Stock Market: It's Not a Record and It Wouldn't Be Good If It Were

    I know everyone wants to find something to celebrate these days, but record stock market highs really should not be on the list. While the Dow has passed its 2000 bubble peaks, as everyone should be aware, it's still well below its 2000 level after adjusting for inflation. That is the only serious basis for a comparison. Furthermore, the Dow index is comprised of 30 large companies, the S&P 500 index is far more representative of the larger stock market, consisting of companies that account for close to half of the market's capitalization. The S&P 500 is still almost 10 percent below its 2000 peak in nominal terms. It is down more than 25 percent after adjusting for inflation. The more important part of the story is that the stock market is supposed to represent the discounted value of future profits. If profits are expected to be higher because there is widespread optimism about more rapid growth, then this is genuinely good news, but if expected profits rise simply because...
  • BUT HE STARTED IT.

    BUT HE STARTED IT. I've long been of the opinion, in all seriousness, that Republicans have it in for the disabled. First there is their positioning regarding discrimination against people with disabiilties in the workplace (President Bush , for instance, has repeatedly appointed judges who are extraordinarily hostile to discrimination claims). Then there is their desire to eviscerate social insurance programs that support people with disabilities, like Social Security, and recently there has been their opposition to funding for potentially life-improving stem cell research. My suspicions have now been confirmed , at least in the case of one Congresswoman, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). As pointed out yesterday on Midterm Madness , Cubin's Libertarian challenger, Thomas Rankin , says she approached him after a campaign debate on Sunday and said, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face." What chair she was referring to? The electric wheelchair that Rankin, who...
  • END OF DENIAL?...

    END OF DENIAL? A curious headline popped up on the New York Times homepage today: "Bush Offers Gloomy Assessment of Iraq." In an Associated Press story on remarks by the president delivered this morning from the East Room of the White House, Bush , against precedent, actually spoke of the number of deaths suffered by American troops this month -- 93 so far. The AP described the occasion of the president's foray into the reality-based community as "a speech and question and answer session at the White House 13 days before midterm elections." A last-gasp attempt, apparently, to close that credibility gap. The White House likely finds itself stung by yesterday's MSNBC/McClatchy poll , which shows the war in Iraq having a serious impact on the Senate races. Most unnerving, one would think, is the close race between Harold Ford, Jr. , and Bob Corker in Tennessee, in which the Democrat advocates a plan for an American pullout after dividing Iraq into three autonomous regions. --Adele M. Stan
  • PILING ON KAPLAN.

    PILING ON KAPLAN. As Spencer notes below , Larry Kaplan apparently fears that Americans will not want to invade other countries in order to install democracy after recoiling in horror from what's happening in Iraq. Kaplan writes as if there isn't a robust democratization literature that, although it hasn't definitively settled every question, has at least achieved consensus on some big-bucket factors that make a country a good candidate for democracy. Though there are some important scholars (notably Max Weber ) who laid the groundwork in different areas, the democracy literature generally started back with Seymour Lipset's seminal 1959 journal article , Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy, which laid out a number of conditions under which democracies develop and thrive. (Lipset is no stranger to neoconservative circles, as for instance it was Nathan Glazer who urged him to develop this article and a number of others into his famous book...
  • THE SPECIAL INTERESTS...

    THE SPECIAL INTERESTS GO MARCHING ON AND ON, HURRAH, HURRAH... The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article chronicling the desperate attempts of various rapacious and over-indulged industries to spend the Republican majority into safety. The piece starts with the drug industry, whose sweetheart deal preventing Medicare from centrally bargaining drug prices will, according to Nancy Pelosi , be overturned within the first 100 hours of Democrats taking control. Hoping to head that off, the industry has donated almost $14 million, 70% of it to Republicans. In total, the 2006 midterms are forecast to be the most expensive ever, costing $2.6 billion. Three-quarters of this, or $1.85 billion, will come from business interests. That's a sobering statistic: In this age of people-powered politics and netroots-driven donating, it's easy to forget that business interests still fund the mechanisms of our "democracy." That doesn't change if Democrats take control, and there's a real question...
  • THE STEM WEDGE.

    THE STEM WEDGE. Apropos of my earlier post , Jim Talent can probably consider himself lucky that Claire McCaskill 's only throwing Michael J. Fox at him. If you want to see some real chin music, take a look at this ad on a similar theme, which is being run against Josh Marshall 's old pal, Count (Chris) Chocola , and in a number of other races across the country. (Thanks to the redoubtable Mr. TBogg for the original tip ). The beauty of stem-cell research as a wedge issue is that it not only forces the Republicans to defend the most radical of their Christianist allies -- note that the star-studded extravaganza from Missouri doesn't even mention religion, but has Jesus Caviezel mumbling Aramaic in front of some graven image -- but it also subtly positions the party as grotesquely anti-science. There are still enough people alive who remember that scientific achievement was one of the ways we were going to defeat the godless Russian Commies. Hell, we put a man on the moon and invented...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PAST IMPERFECT.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PAST IMPERFECT. Historian Jason Sokol assesses Deval Patrick 's historic gubernatorial bid in Massachusetts (a race that gets more brutal by the week) in the context of the Bay State's checkered racial past. --The Editors
  • KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOLD ON.

    KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOLD ON. My buddy Lawrence Kaplan tries to salvage the Bush Doctrine from the Iraq war. His argument is that critics of the war risk learning too much from the failure in Iraq: the antidote to tyranny is democracy, even if it didn't turn out so well in Baghdad, and dangerous dudes will still need to be preempted. One really, really important -- and revealing -- aspect of this argument is shown by its very absence. A word that doesn't appear in Lawrence's piece is al-Qaeda. You remember them: they killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, and they're into killing many, many more. The Bush Doctrine started as a way to stop them. In his January 2002 State of the Union, Bush opted to conflate the threat from al-Qaeda into a threat from Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-Il and Ayatollah Khameini . It wasn't just cynicism, it reflected a misdguided but deep belief, as Doug Feith later put it, that "Terrorist organizations cannot be effective in sustaining themselves over long...
  • EVERYBODY'S A MCCAINIAC.

    EVERYBODY'S A MCCAINIAC. Yglesias relates this little gem: He has a long time proclivity for suggesting that someone like James Baker or Brent Scowcroft might make a good envoy to try to re-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Later, McCain qualifies that to say he "would appoint someone to go to the region who was well regarded: Scowcroft, Baker, Kissinger, George Mitchell, Tony Zinni, Bill Kristol, Randy Scheunemann . Uh... right. This statement is about as McCain as McCain can get. By suggesting envoys as far apart as George Mitchell and Bill Kristol (!!!?!), he's letting everyone who has an interest in this question know that he's on their side. To liberal hawks he's a careful, reasonable liberal hawk. To conservorealists he's a staunch "Poppy" Bush realist. To sociopathic neocons, he's a raving fellow traveller. Moreover, every reader can dismiss everyone else's favorite choice as electoral posturing. Heck, he might as well toss James Dobson and Noam Chomsky on...

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