Archive

  • THE SPECTRUM OF...

    THE SPECTRUM OF PUBLIC OPINION. It is often said, correctly, that the spectrum of acceptable public opinion about Israel's actions is much broader in Israel than in mainstream U.S. publications. This Ha'aretz op-ed by Gideon Levy , who is known for his criticism of Israeli policy, is fairly typical of the sort of coverage you�d find in the Israeli press but never on a U.S. editorial page: Gaza has been reoccupied. The world must know this and Israelis must know it, too. It is in its worst condition, ever. Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately.
  • "EVERY STINGRAY IS A VERY REAL AND PRESENT DANGER."

    "EVERY STINGRAY IS A VERY REAL AND PRESENT DANGER." It was just last week, in his speech to the American Legion, that Donald Rumsfeld likened appeasement to "feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last." Then famed crocodile hunter Steve Irwin died -- in a tragic, fluke run-in with a stingray. The Corner's Cliff May wasted no time in switching gears to draw the proper stingray-as-Islamofascism metaphor. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE BUSY SEASON.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE BUSY SEASON. After five years during which Congress has abetted the president's power-grabs in the name of fighting terrorism, recent court decisions have forced the legislative branch finally to take action -- for better or worse. Jonathan Hafetz offers a primer on the issues, including surveillance and detainee policy, that Congress will be confronting this fall, with the opportunity either to check the executive's claims of power or grant them official sanction. --The Editors
  • TALKING ABOUT TALKING...

    TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT. I'm basically agnostic on whether Democrats should welcome a national security debate this fall. If the Democrats weren't such a bunch of fools and knaves, a rollicking, high-intensity discussion over George W. Bush 's failing war, bin Laden 's surprisingly successful game of hide-and-seek, and the unpreparedness for disaster that Katrina exposed would be a welcome additive to the GOP's anxieties. But the Democrats often are a bunch of fools and knaves, so who knows how it'll wash out. What they really do need to stop doing is complaining every time the GOP brings up national security. Every time Republicans bring up security in a pointed fashion, Democrats commence whining about "politicizing" terror. Terror, however, is political, just as health care, jobs, and unemployment numbers are. When Democrats appear reluctant to even discuss the issue, voters conclude, rightly, that they either don't know what they think, don't know what they'd do, or are too...
  • THE END OF...

    THE END OF UNIVERSALISM. Leave it to David Brooks to bury a recantation of long-held beliefs in a Labor Day weekend column. His Sunday column this week is significant, however, because it outlines a conceptual error that was common in conservative and neoconservative circles over the past five years, and which can still be found across the political spectrum. Writes Brooks: I spent much of the 1990�s (that most deceptive decade) abroad � in Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. People everywhere seemed to want the same things: to live in normal societies, to be free, to give their children better lives. Now it seems that was an oversimplified view of human nature. It�s true people everywhere want to satisfy their desires, but they also require moral systems that will restrain and give shape to their desires. It�s true people everywhere love their children, but they also require respect and recognition and they will sacrifice their own lives, and even their children�s...
  • AGAINST DOUBLE-SIDED ANONYMITY...

    AGAINST DOUBLE-SIDED ANONYMITY IN JOURNALISM. Last spring I was briefly involved in an unpleasant blogstorm for making the case against double-sided online anonymity, but the sorry case of Lee Seigel revives my concerns. Let me be clear: I have nothing against people using pseudonymns to write in comment threads (except when, as in Lee's case, they're writers working under the expectation that they always take public responsibility for their work), or who author blogs while cloaking their identities. It's a free country, and pseudonymous speech has a long tradition in American politics and a strong legal basis for continued protection. However, I was and remain disturbed by the way newspapers and magazines quote from bloggers and commenters whose identities they do not even make an attempt to determine. So far I have lost this battle, and badly -- even The Washington Post quotes anonymous blog commenters without always confirming their identities -- but I do believe journalists will...
  • ALL HAIL THE...

    ALL HAIL THE MORTGAGE MOMS. Just the other day, the TAP staff convened around our luxurious oak conference table, reclined in our high-backed leather chairs, and complained that this election was missing the key ingredient for pundits (Disclaimer: Not all the details of this story are precisely true): A clumsily named swing group. So far as we could tell, The Powers That Be had not yet lowered their Sword of Brooksian Characterization to designate a successor to the Soccer Moms, Office-Park Dads, or Security Moms of yore. But hark and behold, where once there was absence, now there is presence. The Washington Post stepped into the breach today with "Mortgage Moms," the most Democrat-friendly group in years. These are the economically insecure (at no point does the WaPo offer a gender, family structure, or home-financing breakdown that would justify either the "moms" or the "mortgages" part) portion of the electorate: Downwardly mobile whites buffeted by a summer of inflation that beat...
  • BROWN HANDS.

    BROWN HANDS. This ad is being run in the 13th Congressional District of North Carolina by the Republican candidate, a true whackadoo named Vernon Robinson . Please read the text as quoted carefully. It is almost word-for-word the text of the famous "black hands" ad that Jesse Helms threw up at the last minute against Harvey Gantt in their bloody 1990 senatorial campaign. Apparently, there's a template for bigots in which you just fill in the name of the Other du jour. A hundred years ago, they'd have been talking about my grandmother. --Charles P. Pierce
  • Medicare Drugs and What Politicians "Think"

    There should be a simple rule written in huge neon signs in every newsroom: �You don�t know what politicians �think.�� The reason is simple. Politicians do not generally say what they think. They say what will advance their political careers. This is their job. (That is a bi-partisan comment.) If a reporter believes that she knows what a politician actually thinks then she is probably too close to this person to be able to cover them objectively. Reporters best serve the public by reporting what politicians say, and leave it to their readers to determine what the politicians might actually believe (if anything). For this reason, it was very annoying to read a book review in the Washington Post that tells us that Bill Thomas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, prohibited Medicare from offering its own drug plan that would negotiate directly with the drug industry because he �thought pitting private insurance companies against one another would inject competition into...
  • The Cost of Protectionism in Russia: Counterfeit Drugs

    The NYT had an interesting piece on counterfeit drugs in Russia. It reports that counterfeits may account for as much as 30 percent of total sales. This is what happens when the government creates an artificial monopoly with patent protection. Just as the Soviet Union couldn't prevent black market sales of blue jeans, Russia can't prevent sales of unauthorized versions of patented drugs. A little economic analysis would have been very useful in this article. --Dean Baker

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