The Times ran a piece this morning on a budget resolution passed by the House last night. According to the article, the resolution provides for a substantial increase in defense spending (not counting war expenditures) and some degree of cuts for everything else. However, it is not clear where (if anywhere) adjustments have been made for inflation (now between 3.0-4.0 percent) so I doubt that many readers have any clear sense of what spending changes would be implied by this resolution for a $2.7 trillion budget ($2.8 trillion on NPR).
To increase sales, we now have my new book, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer, available for free download in html format. It is still possible to get a free PDF download, or you can also order a paperback copy.
Also, for those interested in asking questions on the book, or just questioning my competence and integrity, I will be guest blogging at Maxspeak on Wednesday, May 24, from 1:00-2:30 (EDT).
A MODEST PROPOSAL. The new issue of Blueprint, the bimonthly journal of the Democratic Leadership Council, which went up online today, features an article by Tony Blair entitled �Fighting for Values,� which is part of the magazine�s cover package on �Defeating Jihadism.� The piece is a resounding defense of civilization and globalization, a scathing attack on obscurantism and protectionism. Blair makes the case for the Iraqi invasion and occupation, of course, but, by past standards, somewhat briefly.
EVIL BAD MEN. Thinking a bit more about the conservative conflation of border security and terrorism, I've become fairly convinced that we have a semantic problem. Liberals have often complained that the "War on Terror" is too broad a term -- it's like, as Jon Stewart put it, a war on ennui. What should have been a fight against al Qaeda, and maybe the Taliban, rapidly ballooned into a war against Iraq, an Axis of Evil, and a profoundly interventionist stance towards the Middle East. But, if I can be permitted a few moments of off-the-cuff psychologizin', there were simply two reactions to 9-11. One held that there was this group, al Qaeda, and they wanted to hurt us. The other was that the world contained evil bad men, and they wanted to hurt us.
WHY DO POLITICAL ADS SUCK? I don't really know what to make of this Ned Lamont ad featuring Markos Moulitsas, but two things immediately jump out. One, you're not going to just forget that you ever saw it. Two, it's destined to attract some buzz, free media, attention, etc. These are things you would think people would want to accomplish with campaign ads but, pretty clearly, Democrats almost never even try. Instead you get this super-generic mind-numbing stuff. The GOP runs the occasional noteworthy ad like the "Wolves" spot from the '04 presidential campaign, but Democrats almost never do. It's fairly bizarre.
HOW TO ARGUE LIKE A CONSERVATIVE. Just as they apparently think it's out of the question to point out that something said by a foreign baddie is, in fact, correct, conservatives also seem to think that the ex-CEO of Qwest's status as a corporate crook somehow deals a crippling blow to liberals' appreciation for his decision not to cooperate with the NSA surveillance program. But what does one thing have to do with the other?
WHO OWNS FACTS? Major League Baseball has apparently decided that it not only owns the rights to broadcast baseball games but owns the statistics as well, so it can shut down unlicensed commercial fantasy baseball operations. Personally, I'd be thrilled if fantasy baseball gets wiped off the planet, but that's neither here nor there. If this is correct, then presumably MLB can shut down noncommercial fantasy games too. Or, for that matter, non-fantasy commercial uses of baseball statistics -- like, you know, when the sports section of your local newspaper runs the box score.
WHY DID VERIZON AND BELLSOUTH ISSUE DENIALS AFTER THE STORY BROKE? Here's another thing about the denials that doesn't quite add up. As we've seen, both Verizon and Bellsouth have more or less denied the USA Today story saying that the NSA has been secretly collecting their phone records.
LOOKING FOR EVIL IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. To follow up on Matt's point below, the GOP's scaremongering on terror has become downright comical. They're hysterical over the prospect that terrorists will board a plane, fly to Mexico, spend months planning and making the deadly cross-desert trek, arrive in the US dehydrated and exhausted, and then set about conducting a terrorist attack. Wander across the Canadian border? Unthinkable!
LATINO ASSIMILATION FACTS. Along with the fake issue of immigration and national security is the fake concern that Hispanic immigrants don't assimilate. For example, Robert Samuelsonearns his bones today as one of those white pundits, employed by white editors, writing for an audience of white people, who has the courage to speak uncomfortable "truths" about how non-white people are bad: