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  • TURNING UP THE...

    TURNING UP THE HEAT. To follow up on Ezra �s points , let me add that President George W. Bush came out with both barrels blazin', demanding that Congress pass his two bills -- one sanctioning the sort of tribunals the administration wants to use for adjudicating the cases of the "enemy combatants." One can't help but wonder why he's pushing so hard and so indignantly against the likes of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham . On the second bill, George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley has repeatedly explained why the president wants the Specter version of the surveillance bill to pass: Without it, Turley says, Bush could be revealed to have broken federal law some 30 times in his domestic spying program. When a reporter posed a question about what he called the "eavesdropping program," Bush corrected him, saying, "We call that the 'Terrorist Surveillance Program,' Hutch." Later in the press...
  • BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE....

    BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE. This is by far the pissiest press conference Bush has given. He's furious . I assume his feet are manacled behind the microphone. Otherwise, he'd be stalking across the stage, tearing apart the podium, and occasionally leaping into the crowd to rip out David Gregory 's heart. The content is no finer than the normal Bush fare -- he's currently blaming the U.N. for not stopping the genocide in Darfur -- but the attitude is entirely different. Where Bush is generally petulant and unhappy at these events, he's now snapping at reporters, straightforwardly insulting them, yelling from the podium, losing control, and generally evincing a combativeness and barely suppressed rage that I've never seen from him before. On the bright side, his suit finally fits. Update : Okay, I was going to end on the suit fits note, but Bush just said: "I don't think the Democrats will take over, because our record on the economy is strong. If the American people take a step back and...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: HUFF'S FLUFF.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: HUFF'S FLUFF. Dana Goldstein is more than a little disappointed that Arianna Huffington 's new book, On Becoming Fearless , is actually quite timid. --The Editors
  • IN WHICH I...

    IN WHICH I MAKE VARIOUS POINTS ABOUT HEALTH CARE. NO, REALLY. I've a feeling lots of folks� eyes glaze over when I start posts with "there's a new study out of...," but hang on a second, this one's a good one. The Commonwealth Fund reports that a full nine out of every 10 Americans who seek private insurance never buy . Of those who do apply for a plan, 20 percent are turned down or charged much more for a preexisting condition. And of those who settle for a cheaper, high-deductible plan, 40 percent eventually realize that some of their medical costs aren't covered by insurance. In other words, insurance in the private market is expensive -- too expensive for most of those seeking it. Employers aren't picking up a portion of the costs, there's no risk sharing, so your past conditions and personal proclivities come into play, and it's not tax deductible, as it is for businesses. Add in that most folks rich enough to easily purchase private insurance will work in a position or for an...
  • KRAUTHAMMER ADDENDUM.

    KRAUTHAMMER ADDENDUM. I think Ezra 's comments on Krauthammer's column are apt, but surely his most dubious claims come right after the passage Ezra cites. It's straightforward, after all, that Iran's strategic position in the region would at least be strengthened by becoming a nuclear power, notwithstanding Krauthammer's stronger claims about that. Not at all straightforward (or "undeniable," in Krauthammer's words) are his exceedingly strong claims about the dangers of "permitting nuclear weapons to be acquired by religious fanatics seized with an eschatological belief in the imminent apocalypse and in their own divine duty to hasten the End of Days." He goes on: "The mullahs are infinitely more likely to use these weapons than anyone in the history of the nuclear age...Against millenarian fanaticism glorying in a cult of death, deterrence is a mere wish." This kind of talk is tough to take seriously -- "infinitely," for example, is sort of a difficult quantification to assess and...
  • FEAR NOT THESE...

    FEAR NOT THESE DANGERS I PREDICT AND CREATE. I was impressed, reading the latest Charles Krauthammer column , to see that he'd included a relatively accurate assessment of what an attack on Iran would cause: Namely, a death spiral for America's economy, worldwide instability, a vast and rapid increase in retaliatory terrorism, and lots of killing. I was less impressed, and depressingly unsurprised, to watch Krauthammer pull off the predictable pivot to supporting war. His argument appears to be that a nuclear Iran will exercise total hegemony over the Middle East. "Today," writes Krauthammer, "[Iran] is deterred from overt aggression against its neighbors by the threat of conventional retaliation. Against a nuclear Iran, such deterrence becomes far less credible. As its weak, nonnuclear Persian Gulf neighbors accommodate to it, jihadist Iran will gain control of the most strategic region on the globe." It's unclear why the other nuclear powers in Iran's neck o' the woods -- Israel,...
  • ASKING THE RIGHT...

    ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. I think the finest entry in TAP 's debate over the fate of the middle class comes, sadly, from Paul Krugman in The New York Times . As he argues , the very fact that there is a debate is, in itself, the answer. In the period after World War II, the living standards of Americans improved unambiguously. Not so since. Over the last three decades, the rich have rapidly gained ground, while the middle class saw their climb slow. That they may have remained affluent enough is not a satisfactory rejoinder to the question of why their growth slowed. That's not to say there's been no improvement, or that the internet isn't worth something. You could jack up my income into the millions, and I'd still prefer to exist on my paltry salary in the age of the web. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't want my salary to be better today , nor that it shouldn't be. The country can enjoy technological advances and relative affluence while still wondering why growth has...
  • ROSE RESPONDS.

    ROSE RESPONDS. See Steve Rose 's newly published response to his tough crowd of critics in our debate on the middle class; Larry Mishel will have his second-round thoughts posted early next week. --The Editors
  • CAPITOL DOMES AND HOWDY DOODYGATE.

    CAPITOL DOMES AND HOWDY DOODYGATE. Eve Fairbanks points us to Radar 's "worst hair in Congress" rankings . Readers with good memories will recall that two of the three exponents of trend number four, "Childlike hair," played key rolls in the "Howdy Doody-looking nimrod" incident of 2005. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE ACTIVISM INDUSTRY.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE ACTIVISM INDUSTRY. Dana Fisher , author of the new book Activism, Inc. , argues that the left's model of outsourced grassroots canvassing weakens progressive politics in America. --The Editors

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