Archive

  • YOU, SIR, ARE NO KARL.

    YOU, SIR, ARE NO KARL. Just to chime in on the latest macacagate news , it's worth noting that for all the fuss about Dick Wadhams being the next Karl Rove , he sure seems to have forgotten Rule #1 of campaign damage control: Either apologize completely and fully from the start, or don�t apologize at all. Instead of throwing up bogus explanations and semi-apologies and half-apologies and then trying to blame the media, Allen should have either blown the thing off or apologized to S.R. Sidarth the next day. Instead, we are now on Day 10 of Macaca-watch. "Senator Allen made a heartfelt apology,� Wadhams told the Associated Press . �He told Sidarth he thought he would see him on the campaign trail, but Sidarth had headed back to U.Va., so we Googled his name, found his number and the senator called him this morning.� Googled his name on Day 9? Wadhams or some low-level staffer could have gotten the contact info directly from Webb�s staff on Day 1. Instead, Wadhams waits a week and...
  • MACACA FRACAS.

    MACACA FRACAS. Over at Midterm Madness, Steve Benen reports that George Allen finally decided to apologize to S.R. Sidarth yesterday -- while leaving to his campaign manager the task of firing up the Republican base with a very different take on the whole matter. (Steve also flags a New York Times article that, by using a month-old poll, gives the entirely false impression that macacagate hasn't had a negative effect on Allen's numbers.) Meanwhile, for those who haven't read Subodh Chandra 's web piece on the topic from yesterday, you're missing out on seeing some very cute kids in "macaca" t-shirts. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • WELFARE REFORM AS POLITICS.

    WELFARE REFORM AS POLITICS. Naturally, discussions of the ten year anniversary of the 1996 welfare reform bill have tended to earnestly focus on the bill's impact on welfare recipients. It's worth recalling, however, that from the beginning the promise to "end welfare as we know it" was primarily a political gambit. And, as this TNR editorial points out , it's been a tremendously succesful one. Not just in the sense that it helped Bill Clinton win elections in 1992 and 1996, but that it accomplished what his "third way" approach is often accused of failing to do -- it vastly improved the overall prospects for progressive politics in America. Before 1996, both the Democratic Party in particular and the general idea of the activist state were incredibly hobbled by their association with a single small program -- Aid to Families With Dependent Children -- that nobody thought was especially effective and that had become massively unpopular. Eliminating it has vastly increased the public's...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DON'T LOOK AWAY.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DON'T LOOK AWAY. Inspired by a blistering speech from a former U.N. special envoy, Ezra reminds us that pleading futility is a bogus excuse when it comes to the global AIDS crisis. In fact, millions could be saved with just a minimal uptick of commitment from Western countries. --The Editors
  • AGAINST ASTRONOMIC NITPICKING.

    AGAINST ASTRONOMIC NITPICKING. The Pluto wars seem to have finally come to a conclusion as astronomers decide it's not a planet after all under their new definition of planet. The Associated Press reports: "The new definition of what is -- and isn't -- a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one." I think this is silly. If astronomy has been proceeding since Copernicus without a rigorous definition of "planet" -- which is certainly my understanding -- then obviously the world doesn't need a rigorous definition . It's just a folk-cultural term and it denotes nine entities, one of which is Pluto. There's no need for a bunch of busybody astronomers to make trouble for everyone else. --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHY WAL-MART MATTERS....

    WHY WAL-MART MATTERS. I'm of the opinion that how to handle Wal-Mart is among the two or three most important issues facing the country. The conversation hasn't caught up to it, and the arguments being had mostly miss the mark and collapse in their own short-sightedness, but the mega-retailer's impact on the economy, ubiquity across the country, and aggressiveness in using its size will eventually force a reckoning proportionate to its power. Which is why it's such a disappointment to see Jonah Goldberg 's sneering, superficial treatment of the subject in today's LA Times . Goldberg's column decries WMDS -- his acronym for (I'm serious here) "Wal-Mart derangement syndrome," and his argument goes like this: 127 million people shop at Wal-Mart every week, so attacking the store is "electoral asininity." In addition, Hillary Clinton was on their board of directors when the company was fighting for survival in the late 80's and Teresa Heinz Kerry owns stock in corporation. Meanwhile, Wal-...
  • THE WAGES OF INCOMPETENCE.

    THE WAGES OF INCOMPETENCE. When I run into conservatives, especially neoconservatives, a point I impress upon them with which they either eagerly or grudgingly agree is this: Because of the bungled, too-few-troops, no-occupation-strategy, go-it-mostly-alone approach in Iraq, we may never know for sure whether the grandiose theories of the PNAC�ers like Paul Wolfowitz are visionary or foolhardy. Although I happen to find the PNAC approach frightening, my view is incidental to that fact. Iraq became a Petri dish experiment in which the �Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal� forgot to place the organisms and the stimulant agent inside the dish in the first place. Would a 70-nation, 400,000-troop, coordinated effort with a detailed plan to overthrow Saddam , secure the borders, defend the ministries and oil supply lines, and move in with political and humanitarian assistance have worked? I still think this question will go down as the great counterfactual mystery of the Bush years, despite Matt and Sam...
  • What Would be Evidence of a Housing Bust?

    One should never make too much of a single month's data, but yesterday's report of a sharp falloff in existing home sales, price declines throughout most of the country, and record inventories of unsold homes, might be seen as supporting the view that a bubble is bursting, but not in the NYT. The Times article on the report included no comments from people expecting a serious downturn in the market. It also included this choice quote from Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist with MFR [sorry, I don't know what it is]: "the trend here is one of stabilizing prices after the sharp gains seen for many years... While certainly a change in trend, so far the official data are not corroborating some of the more alarmist stories being bandied about recently.� The Times article also earns another BTP goat prize. Apparently no one noticed the concesions being offered by sellers (some in full-page ads). These non-price concessions (e.g. help on buyer-side closing costs, subsidized...
  • SPEAKING OF VACATIONS....

    SPEAKING OF VACATIONS. The RNC may have a beef with Markos Moulitsas taking a vacation, but that's not a position likely to win them more Catholic supporters this summer. Over the weekend, the Pope -- yes, the real, actual Pope -- issued a reminder to his flock that taking a break is the spiritually beneficial thing to do, and should be encouraged: Working too hard, even for those leading the Catholic Church, is bad for the spirit, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday as he greeted tourists at his summer residence outside Rome. During his traditional weekly appearance to bless the faithful, Benedict quoted from writings of St. Bernard in the 12th century meant for the popes of his time on the subject of overwork. Benedict quoted the saint as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever ... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence.'" "That warning is...
  • TALE OF TWO TEXANS.

    TALE OF TWO TEXANS. Inspired by this mash note from Time 's Blog Of The Year, I remembered that one of the finest moments in Spike Lee 's masterful HBO documentary on Hurricane Katrina came when Douglas Brinkley -- who's much more shrill, and gratifyingly so, as a talking head here than he's ever been on Jim Lehrer 's show -- recalls the visit that President Lyndon Johnson made to New Orleans the day after Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965. Even considering the inevitable Lyndonisms -- "This is your president. I'm here to help you!" -- it didn't make for a very flattering presidential comparison last year, when David Remnick summoned it up, or today, for that matter. Anyway, here's a link to show you what a real president does, and how a real Texan behaves. --Charles P. Pierce

Pages