Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ROGUE STATE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ROGUE STATE. Regarding last week's torture "compromise" in the Senate, Matt gets very shrill. --The Editors
  • ASYMMETRIC ISSUES. ...

    ASYMMETRIC ISSUES. This article on Democrats using free trade as a cudgel against their Republican opponents is an interesting one. In the abstract at least, free trade enjoys broad support. But trade, like abortion or taxes, is a voting issue. While "fair trade" isn't the most broadly agreed upon policy -- unlike the minimum wage or Canadian drug reimportation -- for the fraction of voters affected or unnerved by globalization, it moves them to the polls. In recent elections, Democrats have tended to emphasize the issues with the broadest constituencies, not the most intense ones. So they've ended up touting policies the electorate agrees with but does not vote on -- after all, if the electorate agreed and did vote on that issue, the GOP would quickly notice its wisdom and make it a central policy plank. So while this strategy garnered very high numbers of Americans telling pollsters they agreed with the Democratic position, it didn't lead to all that many voting for the Democrats...
  • LISTEN UP. ...

    LISTEN UP. Matt notes that Democrats actually held an unofficial oversight hearing on the Iraq War yesterday. "Naturally," he writes, "the press more-or-less entirely ignored this event, since people only report on the Democrats to mock them for being in 'disarray.'" True. Remember the Roll Call story from a couple days ago that Democrats were going to cease mentioning national security and the Iraq War and focus entirely on economic issues? That becomes a bit self-fulfilling if the press refuses to report Democratic events on national security and the Iraq War. For all the complaints about Democratic messaging, it often seems less like they lack a message and more like they lack a press corps receptive to repeating that message. The apparent clarity of the Republican Party certainly isn't harmed by George W. Bush 's ability to demand that all the networks cover his latest speech or press conference. This is a structural advantage for the GOP that's often mistaken for an expertise...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THEY'RE BACK.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THEY'RE BACK. Laura Rozen reports on new evidence that some old and unsavory Iranian intelligence-peddlers are once again getting a hearing in Washington. Deja vu all over again. --The Editors
  • THE �ESSENTIAL DILEMMA� RAISED BY THE NIE.

    THE �ESSENTIAL DILEMMA� RAISED BY THE NIE. A contact familiar with the April NIE on terrorism says that buried in the discussion of the report so far is this dilemma: �The report notes that �victory� in Iraq would be a blow to the jihadists, and that failure (especially if it led to the establishment of an al-Qaeda sanctuary or if veteran foreign jihadists dispersed out of Iraq to engage in terrorism in other parts of the world) would also be very bad. Thus, the report highlights the essential dilemma Iraq poses for the war on terror: staying fuels the al-Qaeda-inspired movement, creating a net increase in the terrorist threat; while leaving Iraq in chaos would also worsen the threat. The Democrats tend to focus on the first part of the dilemma; the administration focuses on the second part. They are both right (and wrong) -- and the debate would be greatly served by focusing on the dilemma itself.� With both the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence committee...
  • DEERHUNTER.

    DEERHUNTER. The controversy over George Allen �s racial attitudes and behavior took another sudden turn -- for the worse, in Allen�s case -- yesterday with the release of a Salon story in which Michael Scherer reports of accusations by three former friends of Allen�s who claim that the future senator used �nigger� as a frequent racial epithet. Scherer�s piece is book-ended by the superb reporting of The New Republic �s Ryan Lizza , who put this storyline into motion last May with a cover piece and then published an online piece last night confirming much of Scherer�s story, with added sources and details -- Allen, of course, having used the racial epithet. The sickest part of the latest reporting is the claim by R. Kendall Shelton that Allen -- who called Shelton the �Wizard,� because Shelton shared the surname of a former KKK imperial wizard -- once cut the head off a deer and asked where the nearest black person lived, and promptly shoved that head into the person�s mailbox. This...
  • SATAN NEEDS AN...

    SATAN NEEDS AN AGENT. The devil is certainly getting a lot of press these days. Not to be outdone by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez , who last week called President George W. Bush the devil, the Rev. Jerry Falwell one-upped him by naming Hillary Clinton as something even worse than the devil. At the "Values Voter Summit" convened this past weekend by the Family Research Council, Rev. Falwell addressed a gathering of pastors. From the Los Angeles Times : "I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said, according to the recording. "She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton." Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." Apparently, no one did a sniff test for sulfur around the podium at the Omni Shoreham from which Falwell delivered his speech. --Adele M. Stan
  • HOW CUTE.

    HOW CUTE. Yes, it's all fun, folks, until somebody ends up with Kinky Friedman as their governor . Eccentric vanity campaigns are a luxury nobody can afford any more, which is why an admittedly brilliant media guy like Bill Hillsman shouldn't be running around Texas trying to get this clown elected. If there's a worse raison d'etre for a candidate in 2006 than one that combines the notion that Anyone Can Do It with the now-wholly-discredited Naderite philosophy of Not-A-Dime's-Worth-Of-Difference, I can't think of one. They're debating torture in the U.S. Congress, folks. Seriously. Eyes on the ball, please. Hillsman should be praised forever for being the initial driving force behind the political career of the late Paul Wellstone , and his work on behalf of Ned Lamont in Connecticut has been sparkling. But Ralph Nader 's legacy is an unspeakable one at this point. Governor Jesse Ventura turned out to be as ludicrous an experiment as the idiot football league for which he fronted,...
  • Reason to Worry About Falling Home Prices

    Now that the data are showing that home prices are falling, news reports are again citing statements from the experts who told us that home prices would never fall. According to these experts, house prices declines are no big deal after the extraordinary appreciation of the last decade. The data indicate otherwise. People have been borrowing against their homes at a rate of more than $700 billion a year. This borrowing has helped to sustain consumption in the wake of slow job growth and declining real wages. This borrowing explains the negative savings rate, a first since the beginning of the Great Depression. The problem with declining house prices is that it could quickly put an end to borrowing against home equity. The Fed reported that the ratio of equity to value was at a record low 54.1 percent last quarter. From the fifties through the eighties, this ratio was consistently in the high sixties. Coming after a decade of unprecedented price appreciation, this record low ratio is...
  • Real Free Trade: Importing Doctors

    Since many folks seem confused on the idea of free trade in doctors, let me make a few points that may help clarify the issue. First, we should think about trade in doctors like we think about trade in manufactured goods. When the Bush 1-Clinton administration wanted to increase trade in manufactured goods with Mexico, tariffs were not the issue. U.S. tariffs on Mexican manufactured goods were already very low (@2 percent, on average). The issue was setting up an institutional structure that guaranteed U.S. corporations security so that they could set up factories in Mexico without having to worry about expropriation, restrictions on repatriating profits, or other such concerns. The treaty also gave assurances that exports to the United States would not be blocked by future tariff or non-tariff barriers. With this in mind, free trade in physicians� services would mean setting up a set of transparent education and licensing standards (which would also have to be standardized across the...

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