Archive

  • LEBANESE DEMOCRACY?

    LEBANESE DEMOCRACY? I often had cause to wonder whether or not people understood this during the Cedar Revolution, and in light of the president's repeated insistence that Hezbollah is afraid of democracy during today's press conference , it's clear that the White House doesn't. Democracy, simply put, isn't what's at issue in Lebanese politics. Read up on Lebanon's demographics and odd electoral system and you'll see that both before and after the Cedar Revolution, Lebanon has been a democracy of sorts. They have elections (democracy!) but no "one person, one vote" principle (no democracy!). Instead, the Taif Agreement apportions parliamentary seats according to a formula that overrepresents Christian groups mainly at the expense of Shiites. One may or may not regard this as undemocratic, but nothing changed during the Revolution. Rather, what happened in essence was that leading Sunni and Druze politicians (notably Rafik Hariri and Walid Jumblatt ) defected from the pro-Syrian...
  • STALINIST BLOGGERS. Ah,...

    STALINIST BLOGGERS. Ah, the great blogofascism debate of '06 returns. Josh Marshall makes this inadvertantly hilarious entry into the fray: Actually did you know that TPM is related to Stalin by marriage? Little known fact. Actually not even sure if it's true. But it seemed to be from what I could tell. I'll look into it again. Matt quite rightly notes that linking and excerpting are akin to editing, which reminded me that one point I'd been meaning to make about the blogs is that rather than being a totally new thing in the world, they actually reproduce some really central textual forms in Western history. Take, for example, the Elizabethan commonplace book. Created in an era where books were extremely expensive, such "common readers" were created by single or multiple authors, who would excerpt, by hand, quotations, pages, or stanzas from their favorite works into the books, under common headings. Sometimes these books would circulate in society, gathering reader comments in the...
  • TRICKY, TRICKY. ...

    TRICKY, TRICKY. Oh, those Republicans. Tired of being such grinches on the minimum wage, they flipped on the bill, crafting a proposal to raise the wage and rollback the estate tax. The Democrats, it seems to me, have precisely the right response to this gambit: Its political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "Members of Congress raised their own pay � no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect." "It's outrageous the Republican Congress can't simply help poor people without doing something for their wealthy contributors," said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. And it really is. But there's something kind of awesome about seeing the GOP's strings so clearly -- they really can't help the poor without further wrecking the country to aid the rich. According to my sources on the Hill, Democrats do plan to stand...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SURVIVING SUDOKU. Cruciverbalist Matt Gaffney ponders the love-hate relationship crossword writers have with the Japanese puzzle sensation. --The Editors
  • THE CONEHEAD ECONOMY....

    THE CONEHEAD ECONOMY . Among the best of the new Times Select features are their "Talking Points," long backgrounders penned by the editorial writers on all manner of major issues, from inequality to global warming. This week, Teresa Tritch published one on "The Rise of the Super-Rich," explaining that "[i]ncome inequality used to be about rich versus poor, but now it�s increasingly a matter of the ultra rich and everyone else." Few stories are as important, or as poorly understood. From 2003 to 2004, real average income for the top 1 percent of households shot up by 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was under three percent. Indeed, the top one percent accumulated 36 percent of all income increases in 2004, a six percent increase from 2003. In the past, I've called this "The Conehead Economy" -- plenty of growth in the economic body, but all of it happening in the top percent. Were that to happen to a person, you'd see six inches of growth in their forehead...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: GENERAL HOSPITAL. Remember the SEC's investigation into Bill Frist 's conveniently-timed sale of stock from his family's hospital chain, HCA? This week's news that the for-profit hospital behemoth is selling to a group of private equity investors has reminded people of that ongoing investigation. Maggie Mahar , author of the new book Money-Driven Medicine , tells the story of the Frist family empire and contemplates the larger saga of for-profit hospitals in America -- a history marked by cycles of boom, bust, and scandal. Take a look . --The Editors
  • GOOD NEWS FOR...

    GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE BAD NEWS. The New York Times has a perceptive article today documenting the shift in support towards Hezbollah in the Arab world. After an early moment of hope, when a variety of Arab governments condemned Hezbollah�s extra-state provocations, the sustained brutality of the Israeli response has warmed the Arab world to Hezbollah's side. Now, where Saudi Arabia began by blasting Hezbollah's actions, they're warning that the peace plan is being shredded by "Israeli arrogance." Jordan is dispatching medical teams for the victims of "Israel aggression" and al-Qaeda, a Sunni organization normally hostile to Shiites like Hezbollah, released a tape making common cause. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah , has become a folk hero throughout the region, raising the troubling possibility that bin Laden is no longer the only hyper-charismatic terrorist mastermind in town. Meanwhile, Condi Rice is promising to return to the region to seek an "early end" to the...
  • THE DETERRENCE DEBATE.

    THE DETERRENCE DEBATE. Here's a new wrinkle in a longstanding controversy. Rather than argue, implausibly but in line with tradition, that we can't deter Iran because "the Mullahs are crazy" or some such thing, Reuel Marc Gerecht thinks we can't do it because we're too soft and weak. As a read of American psychology, this strikes me as stunning. It's also a theory that ill-suits Gerecht's generally hawkish views. We lack the grit to respond to a direct, unprovoked attack on our citizens but are the sort of country that should make a series of preventative wars the linchpin of our national security strategy. Really? In response to Rich Lowry 's musings on why Hezbollah wasn't deterred by Israel, I would say the problem is less that Hezbollah made an analytical error about Israel's likely response to their cross-border raid than that the risk of massive Israeli retaliation wasn't credible . This is also the problem with the theory that Israel's war is a good way of establishing...
  • JUST POSTED ONLINE:...

    JUST POSTED ONLINE: WHAT WOULD JOE AND EILEEN DO? To complement the audio , here's the transcript : It's Chuck Schumer unleashed. The senator had breakfast with journalists from the Prospect and elsewhere on July 12. Hear him expound on the death of New Deal liberalism and Reagan conservatism, what American swing-voter prototypes Joe and Eileen can teach Democrats -- and what Tomasky got wrong about the common good. --The Editors
  • CHRIS CANNON: COALMINE CANARY.

    CHRIS CANNON: COALMINE CANARY. As we move closer to the midterms, the list of top targets produced by various prognosticators is congealing a bit, and this week NPR published a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey (PDF) of the top 50 most competitive districts, based on a pooled list taken from the Cook Political Report , the Stu Rothenberg Report , the Hotline and Larry Sabato�s Crystal Ball . The fact that the pooled list includes 40 GOP districts to just 10 Democratic districts is telling enough. More striking are the opinions of these 50 districts� voters, who favor Democrats in the 10 Democratic seats by a 31-point margin but also favor Democrats by a 4-point margin in the Republican-held seats. Overall, �wrong track� voters outnumber �right track� voters by a whopping 30 points. Democrats are also more excited about the cycle. In short, the only good piece of news in the poll for the GOP is, well, nothing -- other than the fact that they don�t have more than 40 of the 50 seats on the...

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