Archive

  • PLUS, I DON'T...

    PLUS, I DON'T LIKE OPERA. I think Peter Beinart 's TRB this week deserves a response. The editorial focuses on the lack of (online) liberal outrage after the Deutsche Oper yanked the opera Idomeneo , which features Muhammad 's decapitated head, out of a desire to avoid controversy. The liberal blogs said nothing. Not so with the conservosphere, which erupted in outrage. Many liberals," Beinart writes, "seem unable to conceive of a struggle in which the Republican right is not an enemy but an ally. But there are such struggles, and, without today's activist liberals, they will be harder to win. Free speech is under threat, and Idomeneo should be the last straw." First of all, free speech is fine. German's politicians -- including its prime minister -- roundly criticized the decision. You can call the Deutsche Oper cowardly, or overcautious -- but speech is no less free because an opera house decides not to run a performance. Happens all the time, in fact. More importantly, the merry...
  • DOW HYPE.

    DOW HYPE. Paul Krugman takes a swing at both Wal-Mart's move to shift more of their workforce to part time and the NLRB's new, heinous decision revoking the organizing rights of millions of low-wage "supervisors" in his column today; but his opening graph concerns the Dow and echoes what Ezra said earlier in the week. Writes Krugman: Should we be cheering over the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has finally set a new record? No. The Dow is doing well largely because American employers are waging a successful war against wages. Economic growth since early 2000, when the Dow reached its previous peak, hasn�t been exceptional. But after-tax corporate profits have more than doubled, because workers� productivity is up, but their wages aren�t -- and because companies have dealt with rising health insurance premiums by denying insurance to ever more workers. Our own Dean Baker , meanwhile, explained this week why relentless cheerleading for a higher stock market is an overclass...
  • HARD TIMES AT...

    HARD TIMES AT THE LA TIMES . A couple weeks ago, Los Angeles Times publisher Jeffrey Johnson became a hero to journos and Angelenos alike when he stood firm with the paper's editor in resisting The Tribune Company's requests for further firings at the paper. This week, he himself was fired , replaced by a longtime Tribune employee with more fealty to business concerns. Meanwhile, the Tribune company is resisting pressure from LA civic leaders and entreaties from local billionaires to sell the Times to local owners who have more interest in its ability to remain a world class news institution and less in its profit margins. And so a great paper begins to die... -- Ezra Klein
  • AFGHANISTAN BLINKING RED.

    AFGHANISTAN BLINKING RED. In case you aren't worried enough about Iraq, you should start worrying about Afghanistan, because the Bush administration is screwing that up, too. Big time. That was the thrust of this Times piece by David Rohde from this past weekend. I remember reading Michael Scheuer's Imperial Hubris back in 2004 when it came out, and thinking that his conviction about the inevitable victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan was plausible and therefore alarming, but unduly pessimistic and altogether too certain. Zalmay Khalilzad was there as U.S. Ambassador, wheeling and dealing, drinking tea with tribal leaders, and keeping the situation calm. The U.S. and NATO seemed to be having success with these "provinical reconstruction teams" in rural areas, and according to the polls I saw, Afghans were by and large supportive of our presence and opposed to the Taliban. But since Khalilzad left, things seem to have spiralled downwards. Poppy production is skyrocketing. Attacks --...
  • CLARIFICATION.

    CLARIFICATION. The House ethics committee is launching an investigation into the institution's handling of information about Mark Foley ; you may be hearing about Bill O'Reilly 's involvement in this subcommittee probe (as you may have heard ranking Democrat Howard Berman 's remark at yesterday's press conference about having "a great deal of confidence in Bill O'Reilly"), but that's in reference to the staff investigator and not to, um, this guy . The four-member subcommittee consists of Berman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones , committee chair Doc Hastings , and Judy Biggert , a Republican colleague of Dennis Hastert 's from the Illinois delegation who took part in a strategy conference call on Monday with fellow Republicans about handling the situation. The Los Angeles Times , meanwhile, calls for Hastert's resignation this morning. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • THE HARD PART....

    THE HARD PART. All due respect to the Reverend Schenck , but this is more than touching . This is the one of the most purely Christian acts of public Christianity since Himself blew town. For almost 30 years, we've had to put up with reactionary politics and retrograde social idiocy gussied up in Scripture. We've had to pretend that the near-sedition that the crackpot Richard John Neuhaus and the Pharisaical crowd down at Crisis Magazine were preaching was worthy of something more than ridicule and contempt. The whitened-sepulcher crowd has been riding high, and they've scared timid liberal Democrats onto the fainting couches far more often than has been good for the country. This sweeps all of that away: all the Just War Catholic he-men who have made a graven images of their own arguments and who worship primarily their own cleverness; all the smug, foundation-fattened preachers whose gyno-Christianity has reduced the basic message to what people can do to whom with their genitalia,...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUDGED DRED.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUDGED DRED. Scott Lemieux assesses Mark Graber 's new book on the Dred Scott case, and considers its lingering shadow over subsequent constitutional debates: Graber�s analysis gives us at least two lessons that are relevant to contemporary debates. The first is that, because of the symbolic significance of its opinions, the Supreme Court generally gets too much retrospective credit for the things it does right and too much blame for the things it gets wrong. The Supreme Court -- the Taney Court emphatically included -- generally represents the center of elite opinion, and its decisions rarely conflict with the priorities of the governing coalition of the time. To blame the Civil War on a rogue Supreme Court is an easy way out that allows us to ignore a fundamental problem: the extents to which the 1787 Constitution was compromised by slavery and Jacksonian political culture was saturated with white supremacy. The Supreme Court can be justly criticized for...
  • WHITHER THE PRICE OF OIL?

    WHITHER THE PRICE OF OIL? Newsweek's Leonardo Maugeri seems pretty confident that oil prices are staying down for the time being, even as OPEC is discussing possible cuts in supply (there are conflicting reports about this, but there will at least be a meeting to consider the possibility). Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), my go-to guys on oil pricing issues, disagree with Maugeri: they see that demand will continue to rise through 2007 faster than new refining capacity can keep up. Much hinges on Chinese growth and growth in oil consumption, specifically. Maugeri asserts that China has been hyped, that growth is slowing, and that the phaseout of gasoline subsidies that China plans to implement, combined with a substitution of other sources of energy for oil in other parts of the Chinese economy, will ease the pressure. China's consumption growth did slow last year, but I'm inclined to agree with CERA on this one. It's not just China that is projected to grow, but other...
  • Thomas Friedman: Radically Ill-Informed Protectionist

    To its credit, the New York Times can occasionally present substantially diverse viewpoints. Today�s paper includes an excellent piece by Paul Krugman, one of the country�s leading economists, about Wal-Mart plans to reduce its wage bill by hiring more part-time workers. Part-time workers get lower pay and fewer benefits. Right next to Krugman�s column, it has a piece by columnist Tom Friedman (sorry, both Times Select and not linkable). In this column, Mr. Friedman proclaims himself a �radical free trader� and criticizes the people who oppose a new WTO treaty and the other trade agreements being pushed by the Bush administration. It�s great to hear that Mr. Friedman is a �radical free trader,� it�s too bad he has no idea what the term �free trade� means. If the United States really had free trade, the Wal-Mart Times would be able to hire all the reporters/columnists it wanted from India, Mexico, and other developing countries and pay them a small fraction of the pay that the New York...
  • HUZZAH! Could Mark...

    HUZZAH! Could Mark Foley be turning the right... liberal ? -- Ezra Klein

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