FRANK ZEIDLER, R.I.P. An awful lot of my personal politics were formed in Wisconsin and not just because that's where I went to college. I grew fascinated by a cultural mix that could produce both Battlin' Bob and Tailgunner Joe. The legacy of the LaFollette progressive wing was what won my heart, and one of the best evenings I can recall in Milwaukee was spent in the home of one of my professors, listening to Frank P. Zeidler talk about government. He is the last Socialist who ever will be mayor of an American city, and he talked about politics in a kind of good-government sense that had a lot more to do with clean water and good schools than it did the creation of the industrial bourgeoisie.
INCIDENTALLY. . . . No day is complete without at least one Corner-centric post, so cast your eyes hither where Michael Ledeen is musing on the merits of killing people rather than taking them prisoner and then after three grafs of that tosses off this aside, "But one thing I do know: I would insist that my soldiers have the right of 'hot pursuit' into Iran and Syria, and I would order my armed forces to attack the terrorist training camps in those countries. And I'm quite sure I'd go after the terrorist training camps in Pakistan, too."
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: A CANTERBURY TALE. The Anglican Archbishop has proposed a schism in his own Church following the ascension of a female, pro-gay bishop to the top leadership post in the U.S. Episcopal Church. Adele Standescribes the brewing fight and reaches some stark conclusions about the fate of the religious left in America: The dream of a progressive religious movement that could match the political potency of the Christian right was "always dubious," argues Stan, "and the recent turmoil within the Episcopal Church should put it to rest for good."
PLANNED 'IMPROVEMENTS' AT RFK.From today's Washington Post sports section:
"We're doing what has to be done," Kasten said. He said that also includes planting flowers and improving the landscaping outside the stadium, steam-cleaning the concourses, adding banners outside the ballpark and staging races between innings around the perimeter of the field by costume characters resembling former U.S. presidents.
Zachary Taylor vs. Chester Alan Arthur: That oughta be a good one.
--Harvey Meyerson (Harold's cousin, Washington resident, devout baselball fan)
UNITER, OR ANOTHER DIVIDER? There�s a good column from E.J. Dionne today handicapping the coming wars in the Republican Party. Dionne surveys the GOP's 2008 landscape and notices that there are a series of real choices staking out territory, each of which would portend something radically different for the Republican Party's future. I agree with him particularly in his assessment of Mitt Romney, who Dionne writes is "his party's most interesting new voice, [and] could be expected to run in part as a problem-solver who worked with Democrats in Massachusetts for a bipartisan approach to health care.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUST ADD MISSILE DEFENSE.Mattruminates on the loony and seemingly indestructable id�e fixe of right-wing security policy: a non-functioning shield against non-existent missiles. What's significant -- and scary -- is that conservatives really seem to believe in this thing:
GOOD NEWS. The Bush administration plans to start following the Geneva Conventions. I expect conservatives everywhere who've written on this in the past to now denounce the President for his evil, appeasing ways. Today's laugh-or-cry moment: "Unlike four years ago . . . the debate now seems certain to include the views of the military�s most senior uniformed lawyers, whose objections were brushed aside earlier." Asking the military's lawyers about the legality of military policies -- what a crazy idea. I can't believe it only took them four years to come up with it.
INFORMATION! RUN! HIDE! I was kind of skeptical of the whole concept underlying The Democratic Strategist when it first launched, but Scott Winship's blog posts are rapidly becoming a vital -- and all-too-unbloggish -- source of actual empirical information. For example, during various recent blog wars it had occurred to me to hypothesize that both the Netroots and its enemies on the center-left were dramatically overstating the former's potential to influence things in the real world, as opposed to its salience in the media.
The initial reports on the Fed's release of consumer credit data for May focused on the slow 2.4 percent annual rate of growth reported for the month. This reporting misses the boat.
There are two major components to consumer credit. The non-revolving component is primarily car loans. This component fell at a 2.0 percent annual rate, reflecting weak car sales.
The other component is revolving credit. This is primarily credit card debt. This component rose at 9.9 percent annual rate in May. This is a sharp acceleration from earlier this year, when revolving debt was actually declining.