JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE ACTIVISM INDUSTRY. Dana Fisher, author of the new book Activism, Inc., argues that the left's model of outsourced grassroots canvassing weakens progressive politics in America.

    --The Editors


    THE LESSON OF RHODE ISLAND. The Republican story on Connecticut and Rhode Island, repeated a little too credulously by much of the press, is that the Dems shoved aside their moderate incumbent, Joe Lieberman, while the Republicans wisely kept theirs, Lincoln Chafee. But hold on a minute. Didn't voters in both states' primaries choose the guy who is opposed to Bush's Iraq War? The man who narrowly lost to Chafee, Warwick Mayor Stephen Laffey, was actually the faithful Bush supporter, just like Joe Lieberman. The RNC held its nose and poured money into Chafee's race, calculating that the moderate Chafee had the better chance of holding onto the seat for the GOP in the blue, blue Ocean State.

  • A GOOD START....

    A GOOD START. The always worthwhile Jon Cohn has a terrific article on the burgeoning Democratic consensus around card check that stumbles on one point. "Bloggers on the left," he writes, "take notice: Last week, the dreaded Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) got something right. And the only major political writer who seems to have noticed was the equally dreaded David Broder."


    THE THORNY ROSE OF TEXAS. The reasons liberals will miss former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who died yesterday of cancer, are many -- not least among them her biting wit and willingness to turn it on the Bushes. She first caught the nation's eye as the keynote speaker at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, at which she took on the transplant-to-Texas and bumbling George Herbert Walker Bush, playing on the Connecticut native's patrician roots. "Poor George," she said in her trademark twang, "he can't help it; he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."


    OH, THE HORROR. It's nice that the administration's Torture Enabling Act of 2006 -- a provision of the Omnibus Gin-Up the Crazee Base bill -- may well get sunk by its own side, and equally spiffy that the last of the scales seem to have fallen from the eyes of Colin "Day Late, Dollar Short" Powell. However, it seems to me that the struggle over this issue is distracting from the equally atrocious attempts to legitimize retroactively what are pretty clearly impeachable offenses -- namely, the president's brazen law-breaking with regard to warrantless electronic surveillance.


    AIRING THEIR DIRTY LAUNDRY. Ezra's nice grab of the Verizon-NSA connection from Raw Story happily recalls the glory days of Bush Scandals Past -- specifically, the long, complicated and very unresolved Bush 41 jiggery pokery involving the Banco Nazionale del Lavoro and its possible role in using agricultural credits to arm...wait for it...Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the subsequent efforts of the Department of Justice in stonewalling the investigations thereof.

  • THE WAR ON...

    THE WAR ON TERROR/ISLAM/RADICAL ISLAM/BROWN PEOPLE. Last night, Steve Clemons hosted an evening with George Soros. Held at The Metropolitan Club -- which initially turned me away for lacking a tie, and only admitting me once I'd radically enhanced my elegance with the finest in $4 neckwear sold by the umbrella stand at 17th Street and I -- the evening was dominated by an argument pitting the dynamic duo of Mort Kondracke and Adrian Wooldridge against Soros on the acceptability of the War on Terror metaphor.


    ADVENTURES IN PICKING UP THE DAMN PHONE. George Will is scandalized today by page 38 of "the American Prospect, an impeccably progressive magazine," which carries "a full-page advertisement denouncing something responsible for �lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses� and for having brought �great hardship and despair to people and communities throughout the world.�" That something? Coca-Cola. Dum dum dum!


    LES ETUDIANTS. Over at Open University, David Bell makes an argument about Harvard's decision to drop early admissions:

    Two cheers for Harvard for getting rid of early admissions.... Yet if Harvard really wants to do something to make admissions fairer, it should consider doing away with the most inane and manipulable part of the present process: the application essay.

  • The Consumer Price Index and Living Standards

    One of the themes that has arisen in the recent Paul Krugman inspired debate on middle class living standards is the possibility that the consumer price index (CPI) misses improvements in the quality of various goods and services, and therefore overstates the true rate of inflation. This would then mean that "real" wages and income have risen more than official data show.

    I have spent far more time on this issue than I would have liked. In the mid-nineties there was an effort inspired by Alan Greenspan and spearheaded by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to cut Social Security benefits based on this claim.