COMPLETELY OFF-MESSAGE FRIDAY AFTERNOON POST. I noticed a couple weeks ago that Kevin Drum had a post laying out his wise strategy for avoiding sales clerks. So if he can do that one, I can unload with this.
What bugs me is receipts. In this town, sales clerks everywhere are ceaselessly forcing sales receipts into your hand. What the hell is this about?
OH, I SEE THE DIFFERENCE. Over at the Corner, they�ve been trying to poke holes in E.J. Dionne�s Postcolumn today about the collapse of conservatism. The most beguiling entry is by Kate O�Beirne:
E.J.'s eulogy for conservatism�recognizes that moderates in the largely conservative party have to be accommodated. True. That's the fate of a governing majority party. The alternative - a destructive purge to purify the ranks of the minority party - is on display in Connecticut.
PREDICTIONS. As I've come of political age in the Bush era, I'm never comfortable watching expectations rise, my historical memory being an uninterrupted cycle of lifted optimism followed by dashed hopes. That said, with more and more pundits predicting a Democratic landslide, it's worth noting that there's a self-fulfilling aspect to these declarations. The stronger the conventional wisdom that Democrats are going to retake Congress, the more business and funders will seek to get on the good side of the coming majority party, and the less they'll see Republicans as a good investment.
A CONSENSUS, FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH.Kevin Drum is optimistic about the emergence of a new consensus encompassing most everyone "outside of the neocon crazies and the rabid partisans." Sadly, the governance of the country has been entrusted to neocon crazies and rabid partisans.
END OF AN ERA? It looks like Toyota is on track to pass GM as the world's largest automaker next year, and last month, they passed Ford to become America's second leading car company. Their second quarter income rocketed up 39.2 percent, and their July sales increased by 12 percent. GM and Ford, meanwhile, saw sales drop by 23 and 24 percent, respectively.
WHAT MORTAL DANGER? "I do not see that one can fairly oppose the Israeli campaign against Hezbollah," writesLeon Wieseltier, "without asking a state to acquiesce in a mortal danger to itself." A shockingly large number of Israel's supporters seem to have convinced themselves this is true, but there's just no way Hezbollah's sporadic pre-war rocket launches and cross-border raids can be construed as a mortal danger to Israel.
TRIFECTA. It was a big -- and, oddly enough, good -- night in the Senate, as Democrats rejected the mutant estate tax/minimum wage hybrid and passed pension reform. Props, of course, go to Harry Reid for asserting that working folks don't need to deprive the government of $750 billion in revenue that'll shore up Medicare and Social Security in order to get a slight pay hike. Of course, one of those pesky anonymous Republican aides chortled, "We won the last 2 elections and beat Tom Daschle by campaigning against Democrat obstructionism. This could be the gift we were looking for." Don't bet on it.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DEMOCRATIC DILEMMAS. Liberals cheered the passage of the Voting Rights Act extension last month, but Columbia political scientist David Epstein, who's done research on race and redistricting, makes the case for feeling some ambivalence. At issue is the interplay of majority-minority districting and Republican dominance in the South, a dynamic that has vexed progressives for many years now:
ARE NEWSPAPER READERS LEARNING? This isn't really my thing, but there's something absurd about Carl Hulse�s writeup of yesterday's Senate action on the estate tax cut and minimum wage bill for The New York Times. Hulse covers this kind of thing professionally and has been writing about this specific bill for a while and presumably isn't some kind of moron.
When it comes to Social Security, the Washington Post editorial page and the truth never enter the same room. The editorial page is probably the country�s main promoter of the �entitlement� problem. This is the trick in which Social Security is lumped together as an entitlement, with Medicare and Medicaid, and then pronounced a huge problem.