Archive

  • THE CASE AGAINST THE DLC.

    THE CASE AGAINST THE DLC. Meanwhile, up in America's Dairyland, Senator Russ Feingold has pretty much had it . This is the best argument yet made against the DLC by someone not named David Sirota . (And certainly better than my perennial favorite, "Let's Get The Jaws Of Life And Pry Al From Out Of The Hospitality Suite.") More than anything else, the DLC created a generation of gun-shy Democrats, and that was fine, as long as we could be reasonably confident that the other side would not throw the entire United States government into the monkeyhouse. Confronted with actual existential threats to the progressive tradition, the Democratic Party looked around after Bill Clinton blew town and found that all its shock troops had melted away. (Indeed, Clinton, that priapic dunderhead, owed his survival in office to the steadfast loyalty of people he'd earlier knuckled for cynical political effect.) This is a good, legitimate argument for a political party to have within itself, and perhaps...
  • HAWK REVISIONISM.

    HAWK REVISIONISM. It's pretty disappointing to see the genuinely estimable Thomas Edsall trying to cram the Connecticut primary into a very clich� tale about how Democrats lose elections because primary electorates are "dominated by an upscale, socially (and culturally) liberal elite." For one thing, the image of Joe Lieberman as a scion of working class populism ill-fits his actual political profile. Indeed, as he himself took to emphasizing during the primary, he's generally loyal to all the key planks of the liberal interest group checklist, including, say, support for legal late-term abortions. The issue area where Lieberman is most progressive is the environment where, to his credit, he's done more than most Democrats to try to put global warming on the congressional agenda. Conversely, on economic issues he's a strong supporter of multilateral trade agreements, supported the horrible bankruptcy bill, has backed capital gains tax cuts, etc. All this is more-or-less to be expected...
  • DEPOSITIONLAND.

    DEPOSITIONLAND. Just in case anyone has forgotten, there's still a president of the United States who answers only to the voices in his head. When he looks into a mirror, they tell him he's a king. Two stories in the last couple of weeks -- this one and this one -- evince not only the delusional view of Executive power held by the White House and its pet lawyers, but also a certain unease with what may happen this fall. It is possible -- how likely I will leave to the numbers-crunchers -- that one or both houses of Congress will fall into the hands of the Democrats. Congress might then decide to exercise the constitutional powers of oversight that the Republican majority long ago placed on the back shelf of the hall closet, behind all those copies of the code of congressional ethics that are still in the shrink-wrap. In fact, the rightist political gnomes are already scandalizing the faithful with this ominous possibility. So, in apparent anticipation of the cataclysmic reinvigoration...
  • ON JESSE.

    ON JESSE. When Schmitt says something, one pays attention, so I�m thinking about my lumping Jesse together with Sharpton yesterday. There was a time when I admired Jackson more than possibly anyone else in politics. I was a young man, a little to the left of where I am today. I thought and still think there was a lot to admire in Jackson�s presidential runs, the 1988 one in particular, when he did all that campaigning in Iowa with farmers being foreclosed and so on. Because we had mutual acquaintances in the New York political world, I got to know him just a little, and I was there at the Sheraton Wardman here in town (I think it was a Marriott then) in 1992 when Bill Clinton gave his Sister Souljah speech to the Rainbow Coalition. So I think Jackson�s done a lot of good, and he�s not a huckster in the way Sharpton is (and indeed, the words to describe their relationship are words like �competitive,� �distrustful,� and �suspicious�). However, I do think that the kind of politics of...
  • What Do Plunging Mortgage Applications Mean?

    It could mean less demand in the housing market. The Mortgage Bankers Association released the results of its weekly mortgage applications survey yesterday. While the weekly number for purchase mortgages was up slightly, the 4-week moving average was down and now stands more than 20 percent below its peaks last year. The refinance index is down by more than 50 percent. (The survey covers approximately 50 of mortgage originations.) Remarkably, this important and timely data on the housing market appear to have been ignored in the NYT, WSJ, and Washington Post . --Dean Baker
  • Mortgage Rates Will Stay Low, Why?

    With the housing market clearly in a slump, the New York Times had a piece this morning asking how fast the housing market is heading down. In presenting the case for a gradual and limited decline the article asserts that �mortgage rates are still relatively low and look to stay well below rates common in the past.� Mortgage rates certainly are still relatively low, but the question is why we would expect that they would stay low? Do the projections for large budget deficits convince us that interest rates will stay low? Maybe the fact that inflation is at its highest level since 1990 makes people believe that mortgage rates will stay low. Perhaps the record U.S. trade deficit, which will push the dollar down in the years ahead, is the reason that we expect low interest rates. After all, investors are always willing to sacrifice returns if they get to hold a currency that is falling in value. In short, all the factors that economists ordinarily believe affect interest rates point to...
  • The Joe Lieberman Nobody Knows

    Obviously Joe Lieberman was defeated because of the war. Three term incumbents don�t lose primaries because of their personal peccadilloes. But there is a side to Joe Lieberman that very few people are familiar with. Joe Lieberman played an important role in laying the basis for the accounting scandals of the stock bubble era.
  • JACKSON, LAMONT, NEW POLITICS.

    JACKSON, LAMONT, NEW POLITICS. Mike has a point about the implications of having Al Sharpton on stage with Lamont , and in particular directly behind his shoulder, which will be the visual. Someone up there needed to say, "OK, everyone who's not from Connecticut, to the edges, right now, and yes, that means you too, Reverend!" (The person who does that is called "the body guy," and it's a special skill.) I don't agree about Jesse Jackson , however, and not just because he's "past his prime." Jackson's mistakes were never comparable to Sharpton's, and never destructive. And in retrospect, Jackson's campaigns in 1984 and 1988 look exactly like the progenitors of what successful progressive campaigns like Wellstone 's or Lamont's should be -- politically savvy, multi-racial coalitions around core economic and direction-of-the-country issues. It's no accident that some of the most talented organizers in politics came out of those campaigns. The disappointing thing about having Sharpton...
  • JOBS FOR JOE.

    JOBS FOR JOE. Mark Schmitt �s right-on observation that the Democrats need to find some graceful way to ease Joe Lieberman out of the race should get us all thinking about some suitable, dignified alternative careers for Connecticut�s junior senator. Herewith, some modest proposals: A Lieberman-McKinney Vaudeville Act. Yesterday�s losers make omelets of their broken careers by devising a sketch that can be performed in almost any venue with a minimum of costly scenery. It would go something as follows: Lieberman starts, lecturing the audience with a moral homily. Then McKinney pops him one. Curtain. After Larry Summers. Robert Rubin rigs it so that Joe can become the next president of Harvard. Lieberman proves expert at schmoozing donors, but causes controversy when he calls Cornel West to berate him for giving A�s to too many of his pupils, and West responds by telling Lieberman that he teaches at Princeton. Publisher of The New Republic . Lieberman takes the helm at the venerable...
  • TO RHODE ISLAND!

    TO RHODE ISLAND! Well, there's no question where the leg-eating blogociraptors should go next. To the Kosmobile, folks, and move yourselves just a few degrees east into Rhode Island . Time to go to work for Steve Laffey , the Club For Growth candidate currently making Lincoln Chaffee 's life even more miserable than it must be for a man who's a dead ringer for one of the crazy aunts in Arsenic And Old Lace . I mean, if Karl Rove and the gang at NRO is going to leap into the fray on the side of Weepin' Joe Lieberman (I-Green Room), why shouldn't you throw your self behind the candidate who's taking big old chunks out of a guy mired, alas, in that wing of the GOP marked Not Insane? Of course, Cokie and The Dean and all the rest of them who have had the vapors for a month over the activities of the Weather Underground in and around Hartford have somehow missed this story. Pity. Should Chaffee go down, we probably can expect at least two weeks of chin-stroking about Republicans eating...

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