Archive

  • I BLAME THE POPE.

    I BLAME THE POPE. Ramesh Ponnuru ponders the theory that the Republican Party has become less anti-statist because it's become more religious, and then wonders "let�s assume for the sake of argument that Republicans have simultaneously become more religious-conservative and less anti-statist. What�s the causal relationship here?" My hypothesis would be . . . Catholics. As the Democratic Party came to embrace feminism in the 1970s, the GOP started successfully counter-mobilizing a fairly generic religiosity -- or at least a generic Christianity -- and began to secure the allegiance of the more devout sectors of America's Catholic population, formerly a core Democratic constituency. This constitutes a convergence with Continental political dynamics where practicing Catholics are typically on the right. At the same time, the conservative political parties in those countries are much more statist than the American right has traditionally been and, in part as a consequence, the Republicans...
  • UNIONS AND POLITICS....

    UNIONS AND POLITICS. Kelly Candaele , a former Los Angeles AFL-CIO employee, has one of those occasional op-eds counseling that the union movement recede from politics and focus on organizing. A couple thoughts: � Candaele is using Chicago's law forcing Big Box retailers to pay a living wage as her jumping-off point. But that was a local initiative, not an outcome of the national movement's priorities. And while I agree with her that Chicago's law was basically useless for the unions (and possibly counterproductive), there's little doubt that national labor laws need to undergo radical reform if Labor is to enjoy a resurgence. For organizing to succeed, the context in which it occurs may have to change. For that reason, the real test of the soundness of Labor's priorities is whether they force a Democratic Congress -- which would be largely elected by their GOTV operation and campaign donations -- to liberalize the labor laws. If the unions make Pelosi Speaker, Rep. George Miller 's...
  • AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL.

    AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL. The boss, Mountaineer Mike Tomasky , probably thinks that none of his minions read Marie Claire . He's wrong . Yow! I wonder if the latest issue has reached the End Zone Pub in Morgantown yet. --Charles P. Pierce
  • IN DEFENSE OF JERRY COLANGELO.

    IN DEFENSE OF JERRY COLANGELO. The Nation publishes a Dave Zirin article right in my sweet spot -- the intersection of national security policy and professional basketball -- slamming USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo for organizing a get-together between the senior men's team and some American soldiers wounded in the Iraq War. Zirin is against this. But he can't quite seem to say why. As a basketball motivational tactic and team-building effort, everyone seems to agree that it was a good idea. The results of this year's FIBA World Championships won't be known for some time yet, but so far Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski seem to have succeeded in building a team-ier team than we've fielded in previous international hoops competitions. Nor is their any sign that the troops in question were anything but thrilled to meet LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Team USA's other young stars. Clearly, invading Iraq was a gigantic error and the grievous wounds suffered by many of our...
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY.

    QUOTE OF THE DAY. This comment strikes me as particularly smart: "Even if Joe Lieberman leaves the race, it will still be a three-way race, me, Schlesinger and Gold. So it's going to be crowded." -- Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont (D), on Hardball, referring to GOP rival Alan Schlesinger's (R) gambling name, "Alan Gold." A smart strategy for Lamont would be to focus on Schlesinger , not so much because he considers him to be a serious threat but because he needs Schlesinger to be a real player in this race. The best thing Lamont can do right now is draw attention to Schlesinger and help raise his profile, in the hopes that by doing so he�ll divide Lieberman �s Republican base. Make this a Lamont-versus-Schlesinger race, and Lieberman�s support will soon dry up. --Alec Oveis
  • ABOUT THOSE INSURGENTS.

    ABOUT THOSE INSURGENTS. "The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war," reports The New York Times , "offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Previous expert commentary on the insurgency: "There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." President George W. Bush , July 2, 2003 . "Howard Dean has climbed into his own spider hole of denial if he believes that the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer." Senator Joe Lieberman , December 15, 2003 . "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." Vice President Dick Cheney , June 20, 2005 . --Matthew Yglesias
  • TALKIN' BOUT GROWTH....

    TALKIN' BOUT GROWTH. This is a great catch over at Dean Baker 's blog (which TAP , I should remind you, now has the honor of hosting). Baker noticed The New York Times writing about Europe's 1 percent growth rate -- a pathetic, anemic figure, that supports all the conservative crowing about the failure of the social democratic system. Except that the NYT , for God knows what reason, reported Europe's growth only in quarterly terms, and never contextualized it into a yearly rate (the standard measure for growth). By contrast, even when relaying quarterly numbers, America's growth is always extrapolated into yearly terms (see here for an example). So non-economists -- which is to say, mostly everyone -- reading the NYT article would think Europe was pleased over a miserable one percent rate of growth when, in fact, the relevant number for comparison's sake would be 4 percent, nearly a full percent higher than America's average annual growth of 3.2 percent between 2002 and 2005. --Ezra...
  • YOU CANNOT KILL...

    YOU CANNOT KILL JOE, YOU CAN ONLY MAKE HIM STRONGER. The latest polling out of Connecticut shows Joe Lieberman beating Ned Lamont by 12 points, 53-41 percent. The "actual" Republican in the race, Alan Schlesinger , is being demolished, clocking in at a mere four percent. Even more telling, though, are the internals. Lieberman gets a full 75 percent of the Republican vote, making him, for all intents and purposes, the Republican nominee. Schlesinger, at this point, is little more than a Republican Green, quixotically proclaiming his superior allegiance to conservatism and doing little but holding down the margins of the "Independent Democrat" who's supplanted him. The question, of course, is whether Lieberman, in the event of a win, will dance with those that brought him. If given the opportunity to cast that deciding vote for majority leader, will he remain true to his new constituency and preserve the Republican majority? Will he try and screw over all those Democratic senators who...
  • Premature Celebrations on Inflation

    The press treated it as big news that inflation in the core CPI came in at 0.2 percent in July after being 0.3 percent in each of the prior 4 months. The celebration may be premature. While there is some evidence of easing price pressure in the data (lower medical care inflation stands out in this regard), most of the story in July's lower inflation was a 1.2 percent drop in apparel prices. Apparel prices are always erratic, and it is very unlikely that a drop of this size will be repeated. If we construct a non-apparel core CPI, here is what it would have shown since February: Feb -- 0.209 Mar -- 0.310 April -- 0.278 May -- 0.279 June -- 0.307 July -- 0.268 So, inflation is down by 0.04 pp from June but just 0.01 pp from April and May. Not much of a story here. Of course, those who really want to know about inflation read the CEPR price byte . BLS is going to start publishing the inflation numbers to 3 decimals beginning in January. This is a good move. -- Dean Baker
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    IN DEFENSE OF MY DEFENSE OF... Since I'm back in my on-again, off-again role as TNR defender, let me say a couple things in response to Charlie : First, we need to be clear on which circle of counterintuitive hell we're occupying at any given moment. Reeve 's defense of Coulter is not the sort of impulse that gave rise to Betsy McCaughey 's smear against health care, or the magazine's excerpts of The Bell Curve . What allowed those two atrocities has a name: It's Andrew Sullivan , who edited the magazine during that era and still claims those two pieces as top accomplishments on his bio. More to the point, neither of those were counterintuitive articles. The Bell Curve excerpts were social science pornography: racism dressed up in faulty but, to the layman, impenetrable data. Sullivan could have waited for the book to be peer reviewed and the methodological failings to be discovered. He didn't ( here 's another good takedown of the book, and here's my takedown of its author, Charles...

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