MEDICARE MEETS MEPHISTOPHELES. I spent last night at D.C.'s best bookstore/coffee shop, Politics and Prose, reading through David Hyman's new book Medicare Meets Mephistopheles. Hyman is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and his book, as you may have guessed from the title, takes as its conceit that Medicare is a demonic program sent to encourage all manner of deadly sins and, eventually, bring down the American republic. Spending so much time in the blogosphere, where libertarians are over-represented, I occasionally forget that libertarianism is a distinctly fringe ideology.
CHECKING IN ON WILLARD-MITT. Hey, it's Primary Day here in the Commonwealth (God save it!). Three decent Democratic candidates have been vigorously belaboring each other for the right to face Republican Lieutenant Governor Kerry Murphy O'Faolain O'Flaherty Maud Gonne Healey in the general election. (There is also an Independent candidate named Christy Mihos, and he's probably the happiest candidate since Hubert Humphrey bubbled off this mortal coil, but he has less chance of being governor than he does of swimming to Greenland.) Now seem like a good time to check in on the only governor we actually have, Willard Mitt Romney. What's he up to?
IRAQ FOR SALE. Last night, I attended the Washington premier of Robert Greenwald�s latest documentary, Iraq for Sale, about the abusive, sinister and wasteful state of private contracting in Iraq. As with Greenwald�s previous docs, especially his Wal-Mart expos�, I found myself so mind-numbingly angry and frustrated by the end that I wasn�t sure whether to punch a hole in the wall or crawl into one.
Remember the days when the European welfare state led to economic stagnation and high unemployment? Well, like hula hoops and bobby socks, this story may be a relic of the past. The latest data from the OECD show that employment to population (EPOP) ratios for prime age workers (ages 25-54) are almost identical in the EU-15 countries and the United States.
WARNER'S ANTI-POPULISM. If you want to know why I think the hype about Mark Warner is oddly misguided, look no further than his recent comments lambasting the Kerry campaign for attacking Bush's top-bracket tax cuts. He takes up that favorite of chin-stroking op-ed columnists everywhere, arguing that "Even though the Bush tax cuts only applied to the top 2 percent of Americans, what I think the Kerry campaign missed was that the other 98 percent of Americans still aspired to get to the point in their life."
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE FORTUNE COOKIE GAME.Mattintervenes in theongoingdemocracydebate. To Matt, democracy, human rights, liberal reforms -- they're all great. The real issue isn't the policy objective, but the method of achieving it:
THE CURSE OF BUSH. The topic du jour over at The Corner is an exploration of what a mean guy and poor candidate George Allen is. K-Lo thinks he often comes off "as a disturbingly nasty guy," Jonah notes that when he's backed into a corner "he becomes decidedly unReaganesque both in his sometimes gormless retorts and his slightly nasty and/or defensive streak," and J-Pod describes Allen's response to a question about his grandfather's religion as "just...weird."
The Times reported today that the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts a 5 percent increase in holiday sales for 2006. It notes that this is a lower pace than the 6 percent increases seen the prior two years. It would have been helpful to adjust this prediction for inflation.
POVERTY & THE DEMS -- AN UPDATE. A couple of weeks ago, during one of the rounds of the blogosphere debate on poverty, I citedElizabeth Warren's article from The Democratic Strategist, where she said:
When I talk with families about politics, I often hear a variation on this theme: "Democrats care most about the poor. They tell me I'm better off than the poor, and that I should give up more of my money to help the poor. Well, I'm stretched to the breaking point, and I just can't do it any more." Whenever a Democrat stands up and says, "I'll help every child go to college," then cuts off benefits at $20,000 a year, the message just burns deeper.