THE GREAT RISK SHIFT DEBATE. Sam hasn't done it yet, so allow me to recommend Matt 's rejoinder to Jacob Hacker 's Great Risk Shift argument . You're already hearing a ton about Hacker's book, but so far, most of the reviews and rundowns I've seen have either been uncritically laudatory or hackishly off-base. Matt's criticism , that Hacker's book marks a perpetuation of the "Third Way" unwillingness to discuss inequality, is the second most perceptive critique I've read of Hacker. The most perceptive critique is mine, but that won't go up until later today. So for now, read Matt . --Ezra Klein

    MOLTO MARIO. God bless you, Mario Loyola of National Review . During these dark times, who will stand up to defend the Iraqi experiment in democracy? You will! To wit : But as bad as the security situation is, I think Americans would feel differently if they knew the tenor of the political debate in Iraq -- how effectively every major issue is getting debated in the legislature, in the government, and in the press. Amidst all the violence, the democratic debate continues, and it is already sinking deep roots into the Iraqi psyche. Damn right! The Iraqi democratic process has yielded such prominent successes as the federalism bill, which a Shiite-dominated parliament pushed through over the strenuous objections of the Sunni minority. The Sunnis not-unreasonably see federalism as a means to deny them the resource wealth from Iraqi oil, and tried -- with help from Moqtada Sadr -- to stop the bill through a failed effort at preventing a quorum. Leading Sunni politician Adnan Dulaimi...

    YOU'VE DONE NOTHING BUT CAUSE HARM. Matt had Clash-blogging; I'll have Avail -blogging. The latest Mason-Dixon poll has George Allen slightly ahead of Jim Webb , albeit still within the margin of error. No one knows how the race will end up, but one group that had Allen's number way, way before Macaca-gate was the brilliant 1990s Richmond-based punk band Avail. Back on their classic 1996 album 4 a.m. Friday , they penned an anthem, "Governor," about then-Gov. Allen: so don't talk to me about all you're gonna do and who you represent and how you'll see it thru i'm not buying who you're selling you're selling you and it just doesn't seem right you've done nothing but cause harm and you want praise and i'm not gonna take it easy We shouldn't, either. --Spencer Ackerman

    SACRE BLEU! Found on a job search board : Immediate need for project-based native speaking linguists in Afghan Pashto, Farsi, Dari, and in Canadian French. No translation involved. Project involves creating phonetic pronunciations of translated phrases for militiary/intelligence use. Pashto, Dari and Farsi linguists selected must have current, colloquial, Afghan "street language" knowledge of their respective language. Canadian French must be Quebecois. The material is not formal or in a literary form of the language. Must be familiar with basic military/intelligence terminology. Compensation is hourly, to be negotiated. Professional references on linguistic ability requred [sic]. Reply to email listed. I've always suspected the Quebecois. -- Blake Hounshell

    WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES... The New York Times is picking up on Chris Bowers ' brilliant "Use It Or Lose It" campaign, which seeks to force comfortable Democratic incumbents to donate 30% of their useless war chests in order expand the field of competitive seats. The Times leads with Martin Meehan , a safe, Massachusetts Democrat with $4.8 million in the bank. He's donated $355,000 to the DCCC. Now, Meehan won in 2004 with nearly 70% of the vote. This year is a Democratic dream and he lacks a serious challenger. A 30% donation from him would be $1.44 million, more than enough to fund a couple smaller House races and offer the Democrats a cleaner, less compromised majority. But he has no intention of giving more money. In part, that's because he dreams of eventually running for Senate. In part, it's because he doesn't see why he should have to. Kerry 's spokesman, David Wade , sounds similarly entitled: Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004,...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JAWBONE GEORGE. Matt does not think "diplomacy" means what the president thinks it means. Also in this column, Matt assesses the administration's announced plan to achieve unilateral military hegemony over outer space. --The Editors

    OVERCLASS BIAS. Nothing in the world is more reliable than overclass bias in the elite media. The go-to place for daily tracking of such phenomena is, of course, here . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • TIP'S WAY.

    TIP'S WAY. Of all the reasons for Democratic politicians to remain pessimistic about the midterm elections, one of the most telling to me is the fact that Nancy Pelosi is apparently telling everyone she can tackle that impeachment is "off the table" should her party manage a majority in the upcomings. This strikes me as, at best, precipitous and, at worst, cowardly, as though she sees some numbers somewhere that indicate the public needs to be assured that the Democrats won't behave like drunken Ostrogoths if they get some power back. Impeachment should never be the first club out of the bag, god knows, and it shouldn't be swung around for political purposes. ( Ann Coulter , you'll be amazed to learn, is wrong about that.) However, if a new Democratic majority doesn't vigorously revive the oversight function of the Congress, and if it doesn't do so regardless of where the investigations may lead, then it will not deserve to survive the next election cycle. (My choice? Extended...
  • Why Do They Have to Call It "Free Trade"?

    The Washington Post reports that a trade agreement with the United States is a major issue in Ecuador's presidential campaign. It repeatedly refers to the proposed agreement as a "free trade" pact. Of course the agreement would not create free trade. It would largely leave in place the protections that ensure high wages for doctors, lawyers, accountants, economists and other highly educated professionals in the United States. It would also increase protectionism by requiring more stringent rules in Latin America for drug patents and copyrights. So, why not save a word and just call it a "trade" agreement? --Dean Baker

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: RISK ASSESSMENT. Per Ezra 's post below, Jacob Hacker 's new book, The Great Risk Shift , is getting some attention -- in it, Hacker argues that increased risk is the central economic issue for working Americans, one that provides progressives new opportunities for shifting the political tide. This week, Ezra and Matt will be discussing the book with Hacker, who kicks things off today with an explanation of his basic argument. --The Editors