Archive

  • HOUSE ENACTS A POLL TAX.

    HOUSE ENACTS A POLL TAX. Following up on my post from yesterday about the importance of election oversight at the state level comes news of an attack on voting rights at the national level. From Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation : Republicans in Congress are on the job and doing everything they can to further disenfranchise voters.... The House recently passed a bill along party lines requiring voters to present a photo ID beginning in 2008. Starting in 2010, voters would need to pay for a government-issued proof of citizenship -- a virtual poll tax.... Demos, a national public policy organization, reports that the legislation would disproportionately impact people of color, individuals with disabilities, rural voters, people living on reservations, the homeless, and low-income people -- all of whom studies show are less likely to carry a photo ID and more often have to change photo ID information. It's unclear if and when the Senate will act on this legislation. But, if it's...
  • LUCKY WE CUT...

    LUCKY WE CUT THOSE TAXES. Following this bit of good news out of Iraq, there is a new congressional analysis showing that we're spending $2 billion a week on the war -- more than twice as much as it cost per week during the first year of operations. The change in spending is coming both from increased combat, but also from "the building of more extensive infrastructure to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan." Here's how that looks: All in all, the Congressional Research Service estimates we've spent more than $500 billion on war since 9-11. One might wonder what we're getting for all that money, particularly with the new NIE report showing it's made us less safe from terrorism, but then they'd be weak-kneed Defeatocrats. -- Ezra Klein
  • A UNITER. ...

    A UNITER. I think it's time for liberals to admit that, at least in Iraq, George W. Bush is a uniter, not a divider. For instance : He's united more than 60 percent of Iraqis in support of attacks on U.S. troops. He's united even more than that in terms of those who the Americans out within a year. And he's united nearly 80 percent behind the proposition that our presence provokes more violence than it prevents. That's some impressive uniting! Now, if only his administration would listen: The State Department, meanwhile, has conducted its own poll, something it does periodically, spokesman Sean McCormack said. The State Department poll found two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to The Washington Post. McCormack declined to discuss details of the department's poll. "What I hear from government representatives and other anecdotal evidence that you hear from Iraqis that is collected by embassy personnel and military personnel is that...
  • IN CASE YOU...

    IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. As per usual, if anyone is still confused as to the median voter's stubborn resistance to admitting the economy's overall awesomeness, new data showing that health premiums went up 7.7 percent in 2005 may help illuminate things. After all, 7.7 percent was more than twice the inflation rate and the growth in worker's wages. In fact, since 2000, health premiums have gone up by 87 percent. Somehow, I doubt the average worker's salary has done the same. -- Ezra Klein
  • SPEAKING OF POST...

    SPEAKING OF POST COLUMNISTS... David Broder continues his "political independence" jihad today , this time with a column celebrating Arnold Schwarzenegger 's political transformation from righty to moderate deal-maker, which "demonstrat[ed] in the most dramatic way possible the value of political independence." But now I'm really confused. As Broder's own recounting shows, Arnold's shift was borne of dire political necessity -- his efforts to govern and legislate as a right-winger were completely rejected by the California electorate, and so in response he's shifted gears and tried to mend fences with the Democrats who have real power in the state. There's plenty of ways to spin this as a positive thing (democracy in action, responsiveness to the voters, etc.), but chalking it up to "independence" seems almost perversely inapt. (I now see that Susie Madrak already put this more pithily.) --Sam Rosenfeld
  • "VOTE"? I...

    "VOTE"? I don't think George Will actually knows what the word "vote" means. He appears to believe that it has something to do with purchases. So since I, say, don't actually buy cholesterol-lowering drugs for myself, I am registering a "vote" against their existence. Or since many taxpayers forget or don't care enough to donate three dollars to a public financing system that doesn't work, they are against public financing. Poppycock. It's no secret that we lack an actual public financing system in this country, and anyone mulling over whether to check that box would probably remember that it doesn't appear to fund any program that anybody uses. Last year, both party's presidential candidates declined public financing: It simply doesn't offer enough money to compete. Is it any wonder taxpayers decline to throw money down that hole? Meanwhile, the polling isn't confused in the least. A full three-quarters of Americans support serious public financing for campaigns, which is to say that...
  • August New Home Sales, More Bad News on Housing

    Reports on August new home sales initially touted the unexpected uptick from a 1,009,000 annual rate in July to a 1,050,000 annual rate. Fortunately, some folks noticed that the July numbers had been revised down from a previously reported 1,070,000 annual rate. Still, some reports noted the goods news that inventories of unsold homes had declined modestly from a record 570,000 in July to 568,000 in August. Well, that one isn't exactly right either. The July inventory numbers had previously been reported at 568,000. The August report also showed a modest 1.3 percent (nominal) decline in median prices. This nominal price drop, which is approximately a 5 percent real price decline, in fact hugely understates the true fall. Builders in many of the formerly hot markets are giving large concessions in the form of free add-ons, below market mortgages, subsidized closing costs, and buyer side realtor bonuses. An accurate accounting of these concessions would certainly push the true price...
  • HOW ABOUT SOME SOS LOVE?

    HOW ABOUT SOME SOS LOVE? Massive disenfranchisement in the closest swing states have marred the last two presidential elections, and with that in mind, now would be a good time for progressives to focus on putting control of election oversight in the hands of competent and honest officials. While Secretaries of State Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris have made nakedly partisan rulings to the benefit of their political patrons, progressives should focus on protecting every citizens' right to vote. Efforts like the Secretary of State Project (SOS), which attempts to raise money for incorruptible secretary of state candidates, are one way to go about this. Secretary of State elections are just as important as the House and Senate races that garner all the attention and money. Just as state legislatures have national importance because they control congressional redistricting, putting honest public servants in charge of election oversight at the state level has major implications -- for...
  • SCHMUCKS So...

    SCHMUCKS So can we just agree that the New York Post has decided terror is a laugh riot and should no longer be taken seriously when they run screaming headlines on the issue? -- Ezra Klein
  • MIKE'S PLANS.

    MIKE'S PLANS. Everyone is missing the point. I mean, seriously, look at this schedule . More cupcakes than Hostess makes in a month. The SEC is full of good teams that are all going to have one loss by Thanksgiving. The PAC-10 and Big 12 are landfills. Mountaineer Mike 's firing up the black-and-gold RV and we're not going to see him until WVU beats Ohio State for the BCS national championship next January. We will miss him, though. A lot. --Charles P. Pierce

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