Archive

  • THE LESSONS OF...

    THE LESSONS OF WARS. You often hear of Vietnam Syndrome, that odd affliction wherein liberals who noticed America's last occupation attempt didn't go that well made the crazed extrapolation that this one wouldn't either. Loons! But Spencer Ackerman notices that the right has their own dysfunction left over from the war or, at least, its aftermath: Disillusionment with a war usually follows a predictable pattern, particularly among elites: support or acquiescence for the enterprise; a tortured recognition of the war's poor fortunes; and, finally, denunciation. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative founding father, followed exactly the opposite course with Vietnam. In 1971, as editor of Commentary, Podhoretz wrote despondently about the war, "I now find myself ... unhappily moving to the side of those who would prefer ... an American defeat to a 'Vietnamization' of the war which calls for the indefinite and unlimited bombardment by American pilots in American planes of every country in...
  • UNIVERSAL INSURANCE.. ...

    UNIVERSAL INSURANCE.. Bad news for the middle class in this new CAP report . Wages are flat, average job growth is one-fifth that of previous business cycles, the top five expenditures of most families (health care, housing, food, cars, and household operations) are racing upward, fewer than a third of families have savings that could weather three months of income loss (and that number is going down), and so job loss and health emergencies are more dangerous than ever. They don't call me Happy McSmiles for nothing! All of which reminds me of an idea I've been meaning to plug. In his new book The Great Risk Shift , Jacob Hacker argues for a new scheme of economic protection he calls Universal Insurance. The plan is to have an all-purpose form of insurance that covers catastrophic expenses from health emergencies, job losses, or whatever. How much is covered depends on the extent of the loss -- did you take a pay cut or lose your job? -- and how high your income is. So a massive income...
  • TNR'S CLINTON PROBLEM....

    TNR 'S CLINTON PROBLEM. What is it that so infuriates the folks at The New Republic about the Clinton Global Initiative? Clinton could be drawling out old war stories on the golf links, like, say, Gerald Ford. He instead spends his time charming rich folks out of their money in order to help out the poor. Slick Willie plays Robin Hood. The first year Bill Clinton held this conference, he raised a couple billion. This year, he raised more than seven billion. And TNR , whose karmic balance currently strains under their cover for a misguided war and starring role in the destruction of the 1994 universal health care push, sees this is as worth repeated mockery. Glad they've got their priorities straight. TNR's first swing at the CGI pinata came last year, when Michael Crowley greeted the first conference with an article mocking Clinton's wonky tendencies and superstar trappings. To Crowley, the couple billion raised by the effort was less worthy of attention than Clinton's "pathological...
  • CURT WELDON (R - CRAZYTOWN).

    CURT WELDON (R - CRAZYTOWN). Atrios passes on news that Pennsylvania congressman Curt Weldon is facing an increasingly serious challenge from Dem challenger Joe Sestak , which reminds me to plug Laura Rozen 's piece in the latest print issue of the Prospect about Weldon -- "the House's most erratic member." --Sam Rosenfeld
  • DEPARTMENT OF DELICIOUS IRONIES.

    DEPARTMENT OF DELICIOUS IRONIES. The headline and subhead from this Washington Post article today are almost too good to be true. Now, Even Allen's Apologies Are Getting Him in Trouble Sons of Confederate Veterans Is the Most Recent Group Offended by Senator's Comments So, after years of wrapping himself in the confederate flag, George Allen admits to finally realizing that "this symbol . . . is, for black Americans, an emblem of hate and terror, an emblem of intolerance and intimidation." Indeed, it is, and I might add that it says something about Allen's worldview that he only attributes those feelings to blacks. But of course there is nothing more dangerous in politics than dissing your base, which is precisely what Allen just did. So now, according to the Post , even the Lost Causers are demanding their pound of flesh: "He's apologizing to others, certainly he should apologize to us as well," said B. Frank Earnest Sr., the Virginia commander of the confederate group at a news...
  • BACK TO THE COURT?

    BACK TO THE COURT? The detainee bill passed by the Senate yesterday came as a result of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, so some obvious questions now include whether this bill will itself end up being looked at by the Court, what the prospects are for it being struck down, and what the grounds would likely be for that action. Scott Lemieux thinks the odds are overwhelming that the Court will not find this bill unconstitutional (adding as a crucial grace note that "that opponents of this scandalous legislation should not use the courts as a crutch "). The Washington Post 's write-up today includes some scholars who think questions might be raised on 14th amendment "equal protection" grounds, regarding the provision declaring conspiracy to be a war crime, and, especially, regarding the elimination of habeas corpus rights. Even a Pepperdine University prof who supports the bill told the Post that he thinks the habeas corpus provision might not stand up in court. Speaking of "using...
  • WITH GOD ON...

    WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE, WHO NEEDS THE FACTS? Kirsten A. Powers wrote a piece for TAP Online on the pope controversy that is, in part, a rebuttal to my essay, "Benedict the Bombthrower" . Powers misrepresents my work as a defense of the violence perpetrated by some Muslims in the name of God, and accuses me of partly blaming the U.S. for the murderous and abusive actions of Islamic theocracies. Hers is a tactic more commonly used on the right: State that someone said something she clearly did not, then berate her for having supposedly said it. An honest rebuttal would have taken on my interpretation of the pope's speech, which is what my piece was about. Anyone who read my essay knows that I in no way condoned the violent reaction to the pope's comments. My commentary simply takes the pope to task for pouring, in an apparently deliberate manner, gasoline on smoldering coals, and it sets his words into context, assessing actions by the West (not just the U.S., as Ms. Powers asserts) that...
  • From the WSJ's Humor Edition: Good Economic News Boosts Republicans

    The Wall Street Journal reports that a batch of good economic news might give Republican candidates a boost in this fall's elections. Well, good economic news is generally good news for the party in power, but the reports we have been seeing lately don't look very good. At the top of the list we have falling home sales and prices, and record high ratios of mortgage debt to home values. Yesterday, the Commerce Department reported that new orders for durable goods are also headed down. Employment growth has been weak for 5 straight months, while wages have been struggling to keep even with inflation. None of this adds up to a disaster (at least not yet), but I'm not sure that anyone would boast about it either. Gas prices have tumbled in the last few weeks, and this is clearly good news for people's pocketbooks, but I'm not sure that many people will vote Republican because of $2.30 a gallon gas. I guess my question is, if there is in fact so much good economic news, why hasn't the Wall...
  • Is Productivity Growth Slowing?

    The news reports on the release of revised data for 2nd quarter GDP missed the fact that output in the nonfarm business sector was revised down by 0.4 percentage points. This means that (ignoring rounding) productivity growth for the quarter should also be lowered by 0.4 pp to a 1.2 percent annual rate. At this point, the consensus estimate for 3rd quarter GDP growth is about 2.5 percent, which translates into a 1.5 percent rate of productivity growth, assuming hours grow at a modest 1 percent annual rate. Productivity growth has clearly slowed from its extraordinary 3.6 percent annual rate over the years 2002-04. If the third quarter growth comes in at close to 1.5 percent, then the year over year rate (3rd quarter 2005 to 3rd quarter 2006) would be under 2.0 percent. That would be news. -- Dean Baker
  • NELSON: CASE IN POINT.

    NELSON: CASE IN POINT. I don't want to keep beating up on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- I realize he may be the best one can hope for out of Nebraska -- but today he once again cast a decisive ( corrected, as commenters had noted ) vote of major importance. By a 51-48 margin, the Senate rejected an amendment to strike provisions on habeus corpus review from the putrid "compromise" bill on torture. It was a party-line vote, Nelson being the only Democrat voting with the majority. This is not long after Nelson earned the dubious distinction of being the only Democrat to vote against funding for embryonic stem cell research. If the Senate is more closely divided next term, liberals will need to bring some pressure to bear on guys like Nelson. --Ben Adler

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