Archive

  • FROM THE SEPTEMBER PRINT ISSUE: THE RISE OF THE REPUBLICRATS.

    FROM THE SEPTEMBER PRINT ISSUE: THE RISE OF THE REPUBLICRATS. The Bush era has signalled the death of small government conservatism. What comes next for the GOP? Ezra reads the tea leaves: ...[T]hree longer-term factors have deprived [small govenrment conservatism] of both intellectual legitimacy and popular support: structural changes in the GOP�s coalition, accelerating economic insecurity, and the empirical failure of supply-side economics. Of these factors, the first is the most noteworthy. Through its use of cultural and �values� issues -- and, since September 11, security concerns -- the Republican Party has captured the allegiance of working-class, socially conservative whites and seen its coalition�s center of gravity shift from West to South. But recent research shows that these voters, whatever their views on gay marriage, are quite fond of the stability and protection of the entitlement state. The dilemma for conservatism is obvious: How can a pro-business, pro-tax cut, and...
  • NOW HEAR THIS:...

    NOW HEAR THIS: I AM NOT A TERRORIST. Today Eric Lipton of The New York Times reports on the Bush administration's latest effort to leave no stone unturned in its quest to terrorize the American people: A proposal by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would allow the United States government not only to look for known terrorists on watch lists, but also to search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists, he said in a recent interview. No big deal, you say? Well, it could be for someone like me -- or maybe even you. In 1998, I traveled to Pakistan and India on a Ford Foundation-funded research project for a NGO. I spent a week on the Pak-Afghan border in Peshawar, then home to Osama bin Laden , where I entered an Afghan refugee camp in what is known as an "extralegal" manner, through an old-school mujahadeen contact. It was two months after bin Laden had issued his death-to-Americans fatwah . I traveled home through Delhi...
  • WHEN THE OP-ED PAGE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE NEWS PAGE IS DOING...

    WHEN THE OP-ED PAGE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE NEWS PAGE IS DOING... Yesterday's Washington Post op-ed page had a very sensible column from education writer Jay Mathews . He argues that the media sensationalism surrounding over-worked, over-pressured high-schoolers is totally misplaced. Media elites regurgitate this story because their own children attend fancy suburban public schools or urban private or magnet schools, where students have too much work, too many extracurriculars, and too much pressure to get into Dartmouth. In fact, as Mathews demonstrates, for the vast majority of American high-schoolers, the problem is that their schools are not demanding enough, and, rather than not having enough time for contemplation, they have too much time for television. So imagine my surprise when I then turned to the Post 's Metro section on the very same day and saw a story on how local Big Three alumni are reacting to this year's U.S. News college rankings. The story was incredibly narrowly...
  • BABY GAP.

    BABY GAP. I keep reading arguments like this one in today's Wall Street Journal about how differential birthrates will spell doom for liberalism: Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today. Differential birthrates really do have...
  • POSITIVE REENFORCEMENT.

    POSITIVE REENFORCEMENT. Check this out in the Times : �What matters is that in this campaign that we clarify the different points of view,� Mr. Bush said from the press secretary�s lectern in the White House conference center up the street from the Oval Office. �And there are a lot of people in the Democrat Party who believe that the best course of action is to leave Iraq before the job is done, period, and they�re wrong.� In calling the opposition the �Democrat Party� Mr. Bush was repeating a truncated, incorrect version of the party�s name that some Democrats have called a slight, an assertion the White House dismissed as ridiculous. (Emphasis added.) Have you ever seen that before in our precious MSM? I don't think I have. Maybe if everyone agreed to write like that for a month or two, the Republicans would have to knock that particular inane gimmick off. --Matthew Yglesias
  • BILL'S MISREMEMBERED BIPARTISANSHIP....

    BILL'S MISREMEMBERED BIPARTISANSHIP. Far be it for me to criticize Bill Clinton (or, for that matter, Hillary ), but his op-ed today is just nuts. Celebrating welfare reform's better-than-expected results, he generously concludes that "[r]egarding the politics of welfare reform, there is a great lesson to be learned, particularly in today�s hyper-partisan environment, where the Republican leadership forces bills through Congress without even a hint of bipartisanship. Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together. The 1996 Welfare Act shows us how much we can achieve when both parties bring their best ideas to the negotiating table and focus on doing what is best for the country." Wrong. Clinton vetoed the first two welfare reform bills the Republican Congress sent him for their unimaginable cruelty -- they were punitive programs, focused on punishing, not uplifting, poor blacks. The third bill sparked the most acrimonious and intense negotiations of the Clinton...
  • BLING-BLING VERSUS RING-RING.

    BLING-BLING VERSUS RING-RING. As a piggyback on Matt �s observations yesterday about Juan Williams� rather superficial analysis of the problems of bling-bling in the black community, I am reminded of the point Michael Harrington famously made in The Other America more than four decades ago: Consumer commodities (e.g., clothes and jewelry) are distributed by markets, whereas many of the most important community assets are allocated based on political power. Thus, a white kid from an affluent family in the suburbs heading to college in the fall of 1985 could afford to buy the new Air Jordans and throw them in the trunk of the car his folks bought him for graduation a few months earlier -- just as the high-school dropout from the single-mother family in the blighted urban area was able to buy the same sneakers, even though that meant spending his last $100. (The shoe salesman will take money from both.) Williams might counter that purchasing sneakers with the last $100 of dispensable...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BODEGA BLUES.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BODEGA BLUES. Matt elaborates his argument that liberals shouldn't let their criticisms of Wal-Mart lead them into enlisting in the cause of mom-and-pop retail. --The Editors
  • SPANISH BOMBS.

    SPANISH BOMBS. Yesterday, new Corner blogger Mario Loyola took to task "the hippies . . . the Howard Dean left" for ignoring their historical roots among "the European and American leftists who, during the Spanish Civil War, went to Spain to fight the rise of a fascist dictatorship," a moment said to have been "their finest hour." This strikes me as confused on several levels, but since when did this become the conservative line on the Spanish Civil War? I recall that a couple of years ago some right-winger or other managed to convince me that this particular sacred cow of the left was worth slaughtering. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the International Brigades more generally were organized by and under the control of the Comintern , which is to say Stalin . The membership was mostly Communists and fellow travelers. There's no reason for contemporary American liberals to look back on that movement as a key model to emulate, and there�s certainly no reason for contemporary American...
  • ROUGH TIMES FOR SPECTER.

    ROUGH TIMES FOR SPECTER. And you thought Arlen Specter was having a rough decade, what with all the rolling over, fetching, and mock outrage he's been required to perform in his role as chairman of the kabuki Judiciary Committee of a rubber-stamp Senate during a lawless administration. Now, here come some guys in smocks from a cutting-edge lab, casting doubts upon the great triumph of his youth. I have no intention of chasing this story any further into the Kennedy Assassination swamps than I already have, and I've forgotten most of the metallurgy they taught me in journalism school, but these guys seem to have no dog in this fight one way or another. Step up, Arlen. Take some time off from vandalizing the Constitution and explain to us (again) why you're not full of beans. (Thanks to Will Bunch for the link, and Susie Madrak for the original catch.) --Charles P. Pierce

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