FARM SUBSIDY FREE FOR ALL. There's something very odd about the way the Doha Round of WTO talks have collapsed in an orgy of recriminations over agricultural protectionism. The essence of the issue is that poor countries were demanding that rich countries reduce their level of farm subsidies if they wanted poor countries to make any policy changes. Then the United States said it thought said subsidies should be reduced, but only if the Europeans reduced theirs too. The Europeans agreed with this position, but in reverse. Now both the United States and the E.U.
APOCALYPSE NOW? Self-identified Christocrat Rod Parsley has officially hitched his wagon to the Armageddon addicts at Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Parsley, a member of CUFI�s national leadership, was in town last week to lobby members of Congress on his zest for an apocalyptic showdown in the Middle East.
NOW ALL WE NEED IS A BAND. I've heard the lament from so many TAP readers: You're walking along, listening to some music, and all you can think is, "If only I could somehow listen to Prospect content on my IPod." Well now you can! TAP has hit ITunes. Subscribe to our podcasts (for free!) here -- we�re currently featuring our breakfast talks with Howard Dean, Congressman Sherrod Brown, and right-wing warrior Grover Norquist. We�re going to be putting up more content soon, so be sure to subscribe.
JUST LOVE ME SOME BIPARTISANSHIP. I'd suggest that if Joe Liebermanreally was planning to toe the Republican line so that he could capture their endorsement for Senate, the reason wasn't because he feared a contested election, but because he desired the sort of media adulation that comes from properly feckless displays of bipartisanship. To Lieberman, such a future would've looked properly glorious -- one of the last men able to heal this bitter divide. And it shows why liberals so dislike him: If Joe really were as proudly progressive as he keeps claiming, he'd reserve at least a little distaste for this administration that has spent six years wrecking the country on all progressive metrics.
DUAL LOYALTIES.David Gelernter wonders why American Jews don't likeGeorge W. Bush more in light of his strong support for Israeli policy. That�s a somewhat complicated issue, no doubt. But note here that were I to say Gelernter's thinking on American Israel policy seems driven by "dual loyalties," he would no doubt condemn me as an anti-Semite. And yet, the entire premise of his column is that it's inappropriate for me, and for other Jewish people, to vote for candidates whose policies would be good for the United States rather than ones whose policies would be good for Israel.
WHO'S AFRAID OF A LITTLE GERRYMANDERING? I suggest folks seriously read through Jonathan Krasno's article on the "The Redistricting Myth," that oh-so-comforting belief that non-competitive house districts and lackluster incumbents can be chalked up to the evil HALs used to deviously partition off the electorate. As Krasno argues, though, redistricting is far likelier to be one of the many factors rather than the sole factor. A few data points:
� In 2004, 22 House races were decided by 10 points or less, the lowest number in 50 years. This is among the most oft-cited arguments against redistricting.
DEPRESSING MIDEAST ROUNDUP. Say what you want about the Bush administration, but they sure know how to pull off a good media stunt like Condi Rice's surprise visit to Beirut, conducted via helicopter from Cyprus since Israeli airstrikes have closed Lebanon's airport. Fortunately for Rice, she managed not to be hit by any stray bombs during her trip into town. Compare that to eight-year-old Mahmoud Srour whose family decided to abide by the IDF's orders to vacate the city of Tyre and had their car blown up for their trouble.
GORE WATCH: WAL-MART EDITION.Amanda Griscom Little�s report at Salon about Al Gore's recent meeting with Wal-Mart�s leadership at the Bentonville headquarters sounds like further evidence that Gore is positioning himself for a White House bid:
Sporting a curiously thick Southern drawl, Gore heaped praise on Wal-Mart's green goal-setting. "...by taking this climate crisis on frontally and making this commitment, you will gain the moral authority and vision as an organization to take on many great challenges."
A Washington Post editorial this morning criticized efforts in Maryland and other states to force large employers (especially Wal-Mart) to pay for their workers' health care. The article contrasted these efforts with the approach being followed in Massachusetts, which it asserts is "a state that is trying to responsibly address rising health-care costs."
David Cay Johnston has a great piece in today's NYT reporting on the Bush administration's plan to halve the number of lawyers who audit estate tax filing. According to the article, these lawyers generate an average of more than $2,000 per hour of work in revenue for the government. This implies, that unless they are paid more than $4 million a year, the government will lose money by laying them off.