Archive

  • 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...
  • MISSING MICHAEL BROWN.

    MISSING MICHAEL BROWN. Yesterday, at the United Nations, the president sought to reassure the world that he really has its best interests at heart. Here�s the speech . Now, there was a passage in the speech's late innings that caused the ol' head whiparound in a lot of us here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) It was that moment when the president spoke to the people in Darfur and told them that he would send one Andrew Natsios there as his own super-special presidential envoy. For those of you keeping score at home, that would be this Andrew Natsios, who, oddly enough, is also this Andrew Natsios. In other words, the president is dispatching to the middle of an ongoing genocide a man whose oversight have already been central to some of the biggest foreign and domestic clusterbumps of the past 50 years. This must be what happens when you lose Michael Brown 's phone number. Anyway, it is likely that people will continue to die in Darfur, but our government has made certain that there...
  • ALLEN'S QUICK TURNAROUND...

    ALLEN'S QUICK TURNAROUND Senator George Allen embraced his Jewish ancestry only yesterday. And it took him precisely 24 hours to play the anti-Semitic card . Yesterday, Wadhams accused Webb's campaign and liberal bloggers of anti-Semitism for raising the issue of the senator's religious background� Wadhams also accused Webb's campaign of mailing an anti-Semitic flier to Virginia voters during the state's Democratic primary this year. That flier depicted Webb's Jewish opponent, Harris Miller, with money coming out of his pockets. "They have been continuing that anti-Semitic strategy through their paid bloggers," Wadhams said. When it comes to ethnic baiting, Allen's the real victim here. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • EUROPE WORKS. ...

    EUROPE WORKS. Whatever the European social policy you may be advocating for, the almost inevitable, and usually instant, response from ill-disposed interlocutors is to bring up Europe's apparent unemployment problem and wonder if that's the future you're securing for the United States. Well, let them. The latest round of OECD employment data shows (PDF) that Europe has almost entirely closed the employment gap with the United States: The difference is now 1.1 percent, attributable entirely to low female workforce participation among women in Italy and Spain. Indeed, if you factor out the disadvantage conferred by our massive incarceration rate, they may well be ahead. Notice here that we're talking about employment rates: The United States often has lower unemployment rates for the simple reason that we cease counting people when we consider them no longer looking. But if you look at the more telling side of the coin -- the actual percentage of the population employed in gainful labor...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: LAMONT TALKS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: LAMONT TALKS. On September 6, we had our seventh Prospect breakfast event -- the guest this time was Ned Lamont . The audio of the hour-long discussion between Lamont and an array of journalists is here , and now we've posted the full transcript of the event. (Both are also available on our multimedia page .) Lamont fielded questions on subjects ranging from horse-race politics to health care to foreign policy. His answers were at times surprisingly candid. On the Dems and Iraq: It�s easier for me as a candidate to be clear than it is for Senator Harry Reid, who�s got 47 cats he�s got to herd. So that�s why we end up with �2006 will be a year of transition,� whatever the hell that means. I have tried to be clear, tried to be respectful, but clear. That a change of course is going to mean tough love with the Maliki government and setting some guidelines and supporting a way that we comprehensively get our troops out of harm�s way and have the Iraqis step up...
  • Middle Class Living Standards: Changing the Yardstick

    The story on middle class living standards over the last quarter century is pretty bleak. There are some gains, but most of this is attributable to an increase in the number of workers per family � women have been entering the labor market. While this is the story from the official data, many of those arguing that living standards actually have been increasing rapidly go behind the data and argue that the consumer price index (CPI) overstates the true rate of inflation, and therefore understates the improvement in living standards. David Leonhardt presents this case today based on the anecdotes of Robert Gordon, a member of the notorious Boskin Comission, and one of the leading proponents of this view. As the Boskin Comission's primary opponent, I can't let this one slide.
  • Takings: NPR Gets Taken

    National Public Radio (NPR) did a piece today on a series of ballot initiatives in western states that would prohibit regulatory �taking.� �Takings� in this context are defined as government regulations that reduce the value of property. This could happen, for example, if the government limited development on a plot of land in order to prevent congestion. NPR bought the right-wing story on this one hook, line and sinker. The piece portrayed the issue as a tough moral call between the rights of the individual and the interests of the larger community. I hope they got a big contribution from the takings crew. Let�s get back to reality. The government takes actions all the time that both decrease and increase the value of property. It builds airports and roads that make the property accessible. It constructs schools, parks, and streetlights that have the effect of making property desirable and safe. The rugged individualists in the takings story are not sending checks to the government...
  • IRAN: IRAQ DEJA VU?

    IRAN: IRAQ DEJA VU? I've got to agree with The Nation �s Ari Berman on Bush 's speech to the United Nations today. Following on the heels of retired General Sam Gardiner 's statements on CNN last night that we are already dispatching forces to Iran, the administration's continued hardline approach toward Iran does seem to suggest they may already have designs -- beyond mere contingency plans -- for military strikes. This catches Democrats in quite a bind. They want to keep the focus on Iraq for the midterms. At the same time, as focus on Iran grows, they will be caught in a 2002 redux: to acquiesce to aggressive action or risk being painted as dovish. More on Iran can, of course, be found at Matt �s site . --Ben Adler
  • JUST REMEMBER.

    JUST REMEMBER. Every time McCain does something that Richard Cohen likes, his chances of winning the GOP nomination decrease. So, rather than get upset when center-libs throw themselves at McCain, you folks ought to rejoice, because every instance of such makes it that much less likely that the R�s most formidable man will gain his party�s support. --Michael Tomasky

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