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  • WHY WOULD A...

    WHY WOULD A MAN STOP LOVING HIS MOTHER OVER SUCH A THING? George Allen 's mother recalls the moment , last month, when she told her son that she was raised Jewish: "When I told Georgie, I said, 'Now you don't love me anymore.'" To his credit, Allen replied "Mom, I respect you more than ever." But is it not somewhat weird that Mrs. Allen would initially assume that her son would stop loving her over this? Makes you wonder. -- Mark Leon Goldberg
  • POVERTY HEARTS NYC....

    POVERTY HEARTS NYC. All the way out there in New Yawk City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is apparently getting serious about poverty. He's giving pay-for-responsibility policies a serious try, creating obvious and immediate financial incentives positive behavior among the poor. So folks will get paid for showing up to school, making medical appointments, getting good grades, and all the rest. It's an approach with pretty genuine promise and a long and successful track record. Richer folks, for instance, use it all the time. But they call it an allowance , and no one bats an eye. Heather Mac Donald , however, has apparently forgotten this, and has a rather pessimistic take on Bloomberg's plans, praising them for finally admitting that the poor are at fault, but fretting that: It will inevitably set up an expectation among the underclass that they have a right to cash for simply conforming to the norms of civil society. The list of responsible behaviors for which bounties will be offered will...
  • "ARCANE."

    "ARCANE." Ritual disclaimer: Keith Olbermann is a friend of mine, has been for years, ever since we were baby reporters in Boston and all the way through my ill-fated attempt to be hepcat enough to get hired by the embryonic ESPN 2. Last night on his show, he hosted Dana Milbank of The Washington Post for one of his regular state-of-the-pols chats. The topic was the ongoing bipartisan debate between a Republican president and a Republican Congress over what sort of authoritarian powers the president should have. Milbank resolutely stuck to the argument that this debate is a good one because it shifts the political debate away from the ongoing debacle in Iraq to the president's war on the evil terrorists, and that's to the White House's advantage. At one point, I believe that Milbank used the word "arcane" to describe the details of the fight over what kind of torture we'll allow. Olbermann, ever the gracious host, seemed a bit stunned by this. I'm not gracious. So I'll say it. Dana...
  • ROTTEN EGGS. ...

    ROTTEN EGGS. After those words of warning from Bossman Tomasky , Brother Pierce will no doubt take heart in an assessment of the president's speech delivered this afternoon at the very podium from which our commander-in-chief promised Bossman's neighbor to the people of Darfur. Bloomberg is reporting that, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly two hours ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez referred to George W. Bush , the leader of the free world, as old Beezulbub himself. "The devil came here yesterday,'' Chavez, 52, said in remarks that included accusations that the U.S. is plotting to overthrow him and that the UN is helpless to combat the threat posed by U.S. power. He said the podium in the General Assembly hall still "smells of sulphur today,'' a reference to what is termed the devil's element in mythology. Or perhaps it was a reference to the president's love, as reported last month by Paul Bedard in U.S. News & World Report , of flatulence jokes. Wrote Bedard : "He's...
  • BLAME THE POLLS....

    BLAME THE POLLS. This revelation , courtesy of Tom Edsall in The New Republic , actually explains an awful lot: In late 2000, even as the result of the presidential election was still being contested in court, George W. Bush's chief pollster Matt Dowd was writing a memo for Rove that would reach a surprising conclusion. Based on a detailed examination of poll data from the previous two decades, Dowd's memo argued that the percentage of swing voters had shrunk to a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most self-described "independent" voters "are independent in name only," Dowd told me in an interview describing his memo. "Seventy-five percent of independents vote straight ticket" for one party or the other. Once such independents are reclassified as Democrats or Republicans, a key trend emerges: Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of true swing voters fell from a very substantial 24 percent of the electorate to just 6 percent. In other words, the center was literally disappearing. Which...
  • THE PARTY OF...

    THE PARTY OF MORE STUFF. I'm not sure whether this is funny or sad, but at the end of a David Leonhardt column arguing that middle-class growth and improvement is deeply understated by the inflation rate, Leonhardt admits: In recent years, the government�s economists have gotten much better at measuring inflation, introducing some new products, like Viagra, into the index within months. Of course, this means that incomes lately have not been understated by much and that their growth really has been miserly. (The recent reports showing healthy gains all refer to averages, which have been driven by huge gains at the top.) For all the sunny numbers that Republicans have offered up, the reality is that not a single piece of government data shows that most workers have gotten a significant wage increase since 2002. Ah. Well okay, then. The larger point, that snowblowers and cell phones and beta blockers and iPods have improved our lives, is, I think, self-evident and something of a red...
  • BUY THIS BOOK....

    BUY THIS BOOK. Last week, Brookings held a great book launch event for Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France by Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse. The book hit the Prospect �s office today, and it appears to be an exceedingly important read for anyone trying to understand how governments can help promote (or stunt) the integration process of Muslims immigrants to Europe. This book challenges alarmist takes from right-wing quarters that demographic and other factors are fostering an �Islamization� of Europe. Using France as a case study, Laurence and Vaisse flip that argument to show that Islam is becoming �Europeanized� instead; �French Islam,� they argue, �is replacing Islam in France.� Concurrently, the integration of Muslims in France is generally on a positive path. As they put it, �There is little reason to subscribe to the conventional view of an increasingly fractured society in which immigrants and citizens of Muslim origin form anti-...
  • EZRA -- STILL A WRITING FELLOW IN NEED.

    EZRA -- STILL A WRITING FELLOW IN NEED. As we said yesterday , the Prospect depends on reader donations. Do consider helping out Ezra , the writing fellowship program, and the magazine with a donation . UPDATE: Just to be clear: You'll notice Ezra's reading a plain, old dead-tree book in today's picture. Might he have been forced to sell his laptop due his dire financial situation? What's next, we ask you? --The Editors
  • WATCH IT, PAL.

    WATCH IT, PAL. Listen, Pierce : Andrew Natsios is my next-door neighbor. I�ve never met the man, but I consider an attack on him to be an attack on all of Woodside Park. And those rumors that he wants to build a $312 billion vehicular tunnel under Clement St. are just that! --Michael Tomasky
  • MAKE YOU FEEL...

    MAKE YOU FEEL SAFER? One of the recurrent questions I get on panels, call-in shows, and e-mails is "What will be required to change the health care system? What can be done?" It's not a query I'm particularly well-equipped to field, but I think a good start would be photocopying this article on retroactive cancellations by insurers and handing a copy out to each and every American. No other piece I'm aware of exposes the absurdities and cruelty of the system as clearly, and so irresistibly signals the need for reform. The actual facts in the report are basic: California state regulators are investigating Blue Cross for unlawful cancellations of policies. When you buy individual coverage, unlike when you buy into group coverage, insurers can reject you based on your health history or conditions. In order to protect against fraud -- say, someone being diagnosed with heart disease, then applying for insurance the next morning without mentioning it -- the law allows for insurers to cancel...

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