Archive

  • SORRY, NOT SORRY.

    SORRY, NOT SORRY. I realize this is not a mystery that ranks up there with whether the president really read a biography of Chairman Mao , but I suppose I should clarify that no, we won�t be apologizing to Karl Rove as per David Broder �s suggestion today. Broder cites a Salon piece by my friend Sidney Blumenthal (reprinted in Sid�s new book How Bush Rules ; buy it now!), a Newsweek piece by an unnamed writer, and a TAP cover story by our investigative editor Joe Conason as having unfairly calumniated Rove in connection with Plame -gate. It�s the standard line: that Mike Isikoff and David Corn �s revelation in their new book, Hubris ( buy it now!), that Richard Armitage was Bob Novak �s source has to mean that Rove and Scooter Libby are completely innocent. Joe dispensed with this argument in his Observer column yesterday: But whatever Mr. Armitage did, or says he did, in no way alters what Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby did in the days that followed, nor does it change their intentions. It�s...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE NEDSTER SPEAKS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE NEDSTER SPEAKS. Yesterday was the latest Prospect breakfast (this one actually took place over lunch, but never mind). The guest was Ned Lamont , and he fielded questions from the audience of progressive journalists for an hour. The audio of the talk is available now ; a transcript will be posted soon. (Both will be made available on the Prospect 's muiltimedia page .) Give it a listen . --The Editors
  • READING PUBLIC OPINION...

    READING PUBLIC OPINION IN TEHRAN. Michael Ledeen wonders why, if Ahmadinejad is so popular, the Iranian government insists on censoring the press. I'd suggest that the impulse to intimidate and cow the popular press isn't quite specific to Iran. I wonder why, since Michael Ledeen has never even been to Iran , anyone listens to this sort of speculation from him. Back in the land of people who actually know what they're talking about, no matter how comforting it is to believe otherwise, Ahmadinejad's popularity is soaring -- he's engaged in a smart strategy to make himself America's primary opponent in the world, while simultaneously promoting programs for the poor and symbolic cultural reforms (he thinks, for instance, that women should be able to attend soccer games, a particularly controversial opinion in Iran). That he owes us a big basket of fruits and flowers for so precisely and enthusiastically playing our part in his own strategy is undeniable, but I guess George W. Bush knows...
  • THE LIKABILITY ECONOMY....

    THE LIKABILITY ECONOMY. To say a bit more about the economic fraud Brooks is perpetrating in his column , we've got to say a bit about meritocracy and how it relates to income inequality. Brooks would like you to believe that the driving force for inequality is a relative of skills-based technical change. That's what economists tend to call the adoption of computers, but Brooks appears to think it's currently about social skills. In his mind, the difference between the rich and the poor largely rests on having "high social and customer-service skills." The intent of this is that it justifies inequality. Instead of the maldistribution of income being something to fix, it's those who are losing income who are broken. Better yet, by relying on social skills rather than intelligence, Brooks makes the deciding factor mutable: a personality characteristic that we can change, improve, or develop. To say that this doesn't support the facts is like saying Newt Gingrich is a tad hysterical. It'...
  • MOUSEGATE CONTINUES! James...

    MOUSEGATE CONTINUES! James Bamford reveals that one of the FBI's consultants quit Disney's Path to 9/11 miniseries because he believed the producers and writers were simply "making things up." Elsewhere , Clinton and his top aides penned a four-page letter specifically refuting a series of fabricated vignettes from the show and demanding that ABC either make the necessary changes or pull the program. Nevertheless, an inside source on the show wrote conservablogger Hugh Hewitt , assuring him that "the blame on the Clinton team is in the DNA of the project and could not be eradicated without pulling the entire show." --Ezra Klein
  • BILL SPEAKS.

    BILL SPEAKS. Yesterday, I wondered about whether or not Bill Clinton was going to leave the House of Many Triangles and defend his record in the face of the now nakedly spurious ABC docu-fakery. Well, any man who defends himself in such a fashion that the staid, old New York Post can put a goofy headline on the story has answered more than adequately any complaints I might have had. I now entertain fond daydreams about the reaction on the right if ABC were to send this production off to cable hell the way the Reagan production was dispatched under fire three years ago. I also now remember that I saw this movie once and wonder whether my daydreams may be violating the laws regarding intellectual property. --Charles P. Pierce
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DEBATING THE MIDDLE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DEBATING THE MIDDLE. Today's David Brooks column that Ezra discusses below referenced Monday's TAP Online piece by Steve Rose , but Brooks didn't mention that Rose's article is part of an ongoing debate we're hosting about the fate of the middle class and the appropriate political message for middle-income Americans. Here's the page for that debate. In addition to Rose and Larry Mishel 's opening salvos and Matt 's offering from Tuesday, responses from Jeff Madrick , Jacob Hacker , and Jason Furman are now included. The page will be continuously updated as further responses -- from other contributors as well as Rose and Mishel themselves -- are added, and a link to the debate will remain available on the Prospect 's main page. Give it a look . --The Editors
  • GOOD CARE? ...

    GOOD CARE? WHO KNOWS? In The Wall Street Journal , more empirical scorn is being heaped on consumer-directed health care, this time in the form of a study showing that consumers have absolutely no idea what good health care is. Researchers from the RAND Corp., UCLA, and the Department of Veteran's Affairs had 236 elderly patients in two major managed-care plans rate the quality of their health care. Satisfaction was high, with the average rating a super 8.9 out of 10. Then the researchers sat down to rate the care that these same patients received. They compared care received to care that should have been received, taking into account fundamental metrics like whether a patient received Aspirin within an hour of being diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction. Scores plummeted. Despite the high level of patient satisfaction, the researchers gave the care a failing grade of 5.5. More interesting, the patients who rated their care as a 10 were just as likely to be getting low-quality...
  • BYE BYE, BOLTON....

    BYE BYE, BOLTON. In a web column yesterday, I wrote that Ambassador Bolton faces an uphill confirmation battle. Well, it seems that Bolton's prospects just got much, much dimmer. Moments ago, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Richard Lugar delayed a scheduled vote on Bolton following "consultations with a few other senators." "A few other senators" is perhaps code for Lincoln Chafee , who was the only Republican as yet undecided on how he would vote on Bolton in committee. Word was that Chaffee was disinclined to vote against Bolton because of his tough primary election on Tuesday. That seems not to be the case. And with Chafee digging his heels in against Bolton before his primary, then he is sure to continue with his opposition to the nominee for the foreseeable future. Another possible reason could be that the Republican leadership realized that even if all Republicans on the SFRC, including Chafee, voted for Bolton, they still would not likely muster enough votes to...
  • IT'S THE MERITOCRACY,...

    IT'S THE MERITOCRACY, STUPID . David Brooks has an op-ed today rebutting the "populist myths of economic inequality" that's just...wrong. It's not sneaky, or subtly misleading, or anything else. It's simply an incorrect recitation of economic data that is meant to convince readers of things that aren't true. As Dean Baker points out his must-read take-down , just about no economic statistic Brooks cites is actually correct. Where Brooks argues that "[w]ages and benefits have made up roughly the same share of G.D.P. for 50 years," "roughly" conceals an actual 1.7 percent drop in the corporate sector (the only area where profits matter), which equates to six percent of family income for the bottom 60 percent. And don't take Baker's word for it; as Harold Meyerson mentioned in a past column, "According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, 'the most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income.'" I...

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