Archive

  • REDISTRICTING ROUNDTABLE.

    REDISTRICTING ROUNDTABLE. The folks at the new online strategery webzine The Democratic Strategist have produced a forum on gerrymandering, with Binghamton University political scientist Jon Krasno leading off and responses and reaction pieces from Emory University�s Alan Abramowitz , MyDD�s Jerome Armstrong , New America Foundation�s Mark Schmitt , the DLC�s Ed Kilgore , and yours truly. Worth a read for those interested in how gerrymandering (racial and partisan) affects competitiveness�if at all. --Tom Schaller
  • A NEW DIRECTION?

    A NEW DIRECTION? I've been a bit remiss in not talking through the Democrats' "New Direction" agenda items -- the so-called Six for '06. As I've long believed that what parties need isn't a ten word philosophy but a pithy agenda, I'm glad to see past platitudes sacrificed for a series of actual policy proposals that could be rapidly instituted given a change in House leadership. As it stands, the agenda, which you can access here , is: � Real Security : Phased redeployment starting before the end of 2006, double the size of the special forces, beef up homeland security in accordance with the 9-11 Commission's recommendations. � Better Pay : Increase the minimum wage, block hikes in congressional pay till that's done, end tax breaks that encourage offshoring. � College Access for All : Make tuition deductible, cut interest rates on student loans, expand Pell Grants. � Energy Independence : Energy boilerplate that doesn't lend itself to specifics. � Affordable Health Care : Empower the...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BRANCHING OUT.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BRANCHING OUT. After years in which legislators ceded all ground on national security questions to the president and failed to challenge his expansion of executive powers, Hamdan is now forcing Congress to step up and show its cards regarding detention policy. As Jonathan Hafetz explains , "If Congress ends up blessing the executive�s power-grab, it may prove itself to be the most dangerous branch, by giving the president what he has so far lacked -- the stamp of democratic approval." Read the whole thing . --The Editors
  • TALKING ABOUT THE WAR.

    TALKING ABOUT THE WAR. Good for the Democrats. Yesterday's congressional leadership letter on Iraq doesn't really break any new ground, policy-wise. It does, however, break new ground in terms of the Democrats trying to instigate debate on the Iraq War rather than trying to avoid the issue until forced to respond to Republican attacks. This is the right way to go. The politics of Iraq are a bit tricky for the Democrats, but at the end of the day the war is unpopular and substantively disastrous -- it's something the opposition party ought to be on the offensive about. --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHEN DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS GO BAD.

    WHEN DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS GO BAD. I was all set to blast Matt Stoller and Markos for putting their agendas before the facts. Carter Eskew may be cashing checks from Big Pharma, but his memo to Democratic candidates that the polling shows solid support for Medicare Part D is fully factual. Indeed, it's inarguable -- I looked into the numbers myself. And believe me, no one is more depressed by that polling than I. But then I erased the post. Those points still stand, and Markos and Matt shouldn't have implied that Eskew was peddling bad information. But the implicit criticism they're offering is a rather important one. Whatever the polling says, Medicare Part D is a bad bill, a giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies that will, over time, cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars. It is also an easy bill to fix: One line empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to bargain down drug prices would largely (though not totally) heal the legislation. Democratic...
  • AFTER FIDEL.

    AFTER FIDEL. With Fidel Castro temporarily ceding power to his brother Raul while he undergoes surgery, it's worth asking what happens when Fidel eventually dies. There often seems to be a sense in the United States that the regime will simply die with its founder, but there's no particular reason to believe that's the case. Jonah Goldberg hopes "this administration has a good plan to take advantage" of Castro's death if it happens. He doesn't "want any invasions or whatnot, but maybe some walking-around money and some threats would work nicely." In response, I'll just observe that it's a bad idea to make threats you're not prepared to carry through, so if it's a bad idea to launch "invasions or whatnot" -- and it is -- we also shouldn't threaten to invade or whatnot. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the CANF crowd has an agenda that goes beyond regime change in Havana and includes various deeply unrealistic demands for the return of property that the exiles lost when the pre-Castro...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IT'S THE STUPIDITY, STUPID.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IT'S THE STUPIDITY, STUPID. Matt thinks the president's an idiot. --The Editors
  • OVERESTIMATING AIPAC.

    OVERESTIMATING AIPAC. My friend Ari Berman 's new Nation piece on AIPAC gathers some insightful quotes and makes a valid point in the last paragaph about the gap between the moderately high level of public support for Israel and the exceedingly high level of congressional support. But his explanation, which seems to boil down entirely to AIPAC's influence (or perceived influence) intimidating congressmen and senators into obeisance to their agenda betrays the tendency of Israel's critics to buy into an overly credulous view of AIPAC's power. For example, on the July 18th congressional resolution condemning Hamas and Hezbollah, Ari asserts, as fact, "AIPAC not only lobbied for the resolution; it had written it." But the only source he provides for that claim is former Carter Administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski , not a big fan of Israel, and not someone currently in government. Similarly, Ari describes AIPAC as "the American Jewish community's most important...
  • COULTER WATCH.

    COULTER WATCH. Twelve years of Catholic education. Four years of the best the Society of Jesus had to offer. I have seen the May Procession, ladies and gentlemen. I have heard the Trappists sing at dusk and I have served on the altar during the old Good Friday liturgy, the one that seemed to last eight days and was the closest thing that the church of my birth had to a Ken Russell film -- except, of course, The Devils , which actually was a Ken Russell film. I have read my Aquinas and my Augustine and my Teilhard . I subscribe to the theological notion first put forth by the great Flann O'Brien in that blasphemy is a waste of time because, if there is no God, it's stupid and unnecessary, and if there is one, it's dangerous. In short, I have seen me a few theological goat-ropings in my time, but I have never in all my Papist years read anything the likes of this . Why the Christ -- you should pardon the expression -- couldn't that twit Constantine leave us Christians in the catacombs...
  • CONSTITUTION, SCHMONSTITUTION.

    CONSTITUTION, SCHMONSTITUTION. Some days it's difficult to remain part of the good fight -- not just because it too often feels like it's on the verge of being lost, but more so because it's on the verge of being lost and so few seem to care. Take the Constitution, which Arlen Specter , chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is looking to throw down the sewer of a secret court (I don't find anything about secret courts in Article III), while the rest of the world is caught up in making wagers on whether or not we're living the End of Days, or whether one boring Connecticut Democrat or the other will play against the other team in November's Senate race. Specter's so-called compromise with the White House on the matter of President Bush 's domestic spying program is a piece of legislation which, if enacted, would move all lawsuits that involve the program into the double-super-secret-background court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and out of the normal...

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