Archive

  • POLLS, POLLS, POLLS.

    POLLS, POLLS, POLLS. A whole slew of Mason-Dixon polls have been released over the last 24 hours, and most of them suggest Democrats are poised to have a very good year: * In Maryland, Ben Cardin (D) leads Michael Steele (R), 47% to 41% * In Missouri, Jim Talent (R) is tied with Claire McCaskill (D), 43% to 43% * In Montana, Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R), 47% to 40% * In New Jersey, Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr. (R), 44% to 41% * In Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D) leads Mike DeWine (R), 45% to 43% * In Pennsylvania, Bob Casey (D) leads Rick Santorum (R), 49% to 40% * In Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse (D) leads Lincoln Chafee (R), 42% to 41% * In Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford (D) leads Bob Corker (R), 43% to 42% * In Washington, Maria Cantwell (D) leads Mike McGavick (R), 50% to 40%. Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win back the Senate. If all of these races go the Democrats' way (including Missouri, which is now tied), that's a net gain of six. --Steve Benen (...
  • BANDARGATE. I strongly...

    BANDARGATE. I strongly doubt that many Tapped readers follow Bahrani politics closely. But they may be forced to do so soon, if this story blows up. The island kingdom of Bahrain is tiny , with less than 700,000 people (including non-nationals) living in an area only 665 square kilometers in size. That's about four times the size of Washington, D.C. Though nobody can say for sure, up to 70 percent of the Muslims there are thought to be Shi'a; they are an absolute majority in any case. The Sunni Al-Khalifa family rules the country in a liberalizing autocratic fashion; in other words, economic reform has proceeded fairly well while democratic political change has lagged. Shi'a are grossly under-represented in the circles of power, and complain of a variety of official and unofficial discrimination. The country is important, if not vital, to U.S. security because it contains the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Central Command and the Fifth Fleet. The U.S. has been there since 1948 , so...
  • BAD TIMING.

    BAD TIMING. Boy, was this the wrong weekend for The New York Times to run that criminally weightless Op-Ed from Mark (Slam Book) Halperin about the essential political genius of the Party of Lincoln . First, there are all those administration loyalists running to the air-sickness bag formerly known as Bob Woodward to vomit back up five years of Kool Aid. ( Andy Card ? The ultimate, multi-generational Bush family retainer? That's like Timmy 's being mauled by Lassie .) And then there's the festival of schadenfreude of watching the Republican leadership writhe in what appears to be a vain effort to get its collective hindquarters out of the crack in which Rep. Mark Foley has wedged it, and the equally frenzied contortions of the Republican enablers in the press as they try to explain it all away. Those of us in Boston draw on our own experience with a similar scandal to ask a single question: Who elected Bernard Cardinal Law Speaker of the House? --Charles P. Pierce
  • �TALENTED FABRICATOR� GHORBANIFAR ENLISTS CHENEY.

    �TALENTED FABRICATOR� GHORBANIFAR ENLISTS CHENEY. We knew that Iran Contra arms dealer and info. peddler Manucher Ghorbanifar had managed to meet with Pentagon officials and with Congressman Curt Weldon in his quest to get back on the U.S. payroll as an intelligence asset in the wake of 9/11. We did not know that vice president Dick Cheney was part of the plot. This from Bob Woodward �s State of Denial : In Iraq, [chief Iraq weapons inspector] David Kay had a call from Scooter Libby. �The vice president wants to know if you�ve looked at this area,� Libby said. �We have indications -- and here are the geocoordinates -- that something is buried there.� Kay went to the mapping and imagery experts on his team. They pulled up the satellite and other surveillance photos of the location. It was in the middle of Lebanon. �That�s where we�re going next,� joked one of the imagery experts. At another point Kay got a cable from the CIA that the vice president wanted him to send someone to...
  • DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE.

    DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE. John Quiggan makes a point that should be obvious to conservative supporters of enhanced executive power, especially as regards combatting terrorism: So, for those who support the bill, it might be useful to consider the standard thought experiment recommended to all who support dictatorial powers for a leader on their own side. Think about what the other side might do with these powers. For concreteness, suppose Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008 with a Democratic majority in Congress, and appoints someone like Janet Reno as her Attorney-General, and that some rightwing extremist takes a potshot at her. Suppose that the unsuccessful terrorist turns out to have drifted widely through the organisations that Clinton famously called the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, ranging from organisations with a track record of association with terrorism, like Operation Rescue and the militia movement, to those of the mainstream right, not engaged in violence, but prone to the...
  • HUMAN DIGNITY.

    HUMAN DIGNITY. Three weeks ago, President Bush pointed out that Article III of the Geneva Conventions prohibits "outrages against human dignity", a term that he found too imprecise to guide detainee policy. As Rodger Payne notes, the Bush administration has felt free to use the term "human dignity" in other contexts without feeling a need for clarification. In the National Security Strategy of the United States , Section IIA: The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals. President Bush also made use of the term "human dignity" in his UN speech of September 21, 2004, suggesting that a belief in human dignity led to a...
  • THE FOLEY WEEKEND.

    THE FOLEY WEEKEND. Hard to stay on top of this scandal, but it certainly looks mega-toxic. The FBI's investigating , Nancy Pelosi is calling for a House ethics committee probe that includes "questioning, under oath, the House Republican Leadership," and more former pages are beginning to surface with creepy-email tales of their own. See some cynical-but-plausible reads on Speaker Hastert 's call for a criminal investigation here and here . Needless to say, cover-up and hypocrisy are the key themes worth focusing on. To digress slightly, however, I'll second this comment from Glenn Greenwald noting "the bizarre and incoherent contradiction in the law � that in-person, actual sex between Foley and a 16-year-old page would be perfectly legal in D.C. and in most places in the U.S., but it seems that it is a criminal act for Foley to discuss or solicit sexual acts with the same page over the Internet." (Greenwald has more here .) That does seem odd, and, not to get all James Kincaid here (...
  • Protectionist Hysteria at the NYT

    The New York Times had an editorial this morning warning about the dangers of protectionism resulting from the large U.S. trade deficit with China. This should lead to gigantic "huh" from informed readers. The United States already has a wide range of barriers that make it difficult for foreign professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, economists etc.) to work in the United States. There is no economic theory that shows great harm from trade barriers on cars and shoes, that doesn't also show great harm from barriers to trade in porfessional services. In other words, if the NYT is so scared of protectionism, it should be railing constantly against the protectionism that keeps the pay of our doctors and lawyers so much higher than their counterparts in the developing world or even Europe. The NYT also gets the trade deficit story wrong. The proximate cause of the trade deficit is the decision of foreign central banks to buy dollars to keep the dollar high and the value of their...
  • David Brooks' Ignorant Protectionism Strikes Again

    Every time his column appears, David Brooks demonstrates that the U.S. economy still offers good-paying jobs for unskilled workers. His Sunday column (sorry, Times Select and therefore non-linkable) is yet another diatribe against Democratic politicians (e.g. Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey) who are opposed to trade and immigration policies that are designed to redistribute income from less-skilled workers to college educated workers and capital. Brooks does the usual routine of contrasting these backward looking nationalists with forward looking internationalists like Hillary Clinton. Of course, if Times columnists were required to know what they were talking about, Mr. Brooks would know that the Hillary Clinton "internationalists" are actually strong proponents of protectionism, but only for the professionals who make up their base. Their trade agreements do little or nothing to subject doctors, lawyers, and other highly paid professionals to international competition. Rather, they...
  • The High Cost of Protectionism: Dangerous Drugs

    The NYT reported today that the German pharmaceutical company Bayer A.G. concealed a study from the F.D.A. that showed a drug used in heart surgery might increase the risks of strokes and death. Of course, economic theory predicts that government granted patent monopolies will create incentives for exactly this sort of behavior. Economists should be focusing a large portion of their research to developing more efficient alternatives for financing pharmaceutical research. Unfortunately, they spend much more of their time calculating the gains from eliminating 5 percent tariffs on pants. As a result, tens of millions of people cannot afford drugs that would be sold at very low prices in a competitive (i.e. patent free) market, and drug regulators get lies about the safety of the drugs they evaluate. --Dean Baker

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