Archive

  • AND NO, I'M NOT WEARING A TINFOIL HAT.

    AND NO, I'M NOT WEARING A TINFOIL HAT. In the course of an extremely snarky review of the latest books from David Sirota and George Lakoff in this past Sunday's New York Times book section, there was this remarkable bit of analysis from one Tobin Harshaw , who is identified as "an editor with the Ope-Ed page of the Times." And, yes, it would be just as snarky of me to point out that accusing Sirota of "wafer-thin allusions to popular culture" is not a charge that should be idly thrown about by someone whose day-job may well entail the futile task of saving David Brooks from himself. Anyway, writing of Lakoff, who apparently mistrusts the good faith of modern conservatives, Harshaw writes: But does anybody not wearing a tinfoil hat believe that Republicans really want to take the vote away from women, blacks, and non-landowners? Or that President Bush's poorly managed Medicare prescription-drug expansion was a clever ruse to destroy the program? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, taking...
  • WHY COLLEGE?

    WHY COLLEGE? To follow up on Matt 's points below, it's worth noticing that the obsessive focus on college education bespeaks a certain cowardice and calculation in Democratic circles. College is a cost that primarily affects the middle class and the well-to-do but, particularly in the private context, is hefty enough that it can be burdensome for both. Talk of making it more affordable, while ostensibly aimed at subsidizing the poor, is really a poll-tested way to speak to the politically potent middle- and upper-income quintiles -- it's a way for the Democratic Party to speak up the income ladder, where the votes are. The whole thing is a basically coded appeal, framed in terms of economic uplift so all can feel progressive while supporting something for themselves. If we spent one tenth the energy working on high school graduation rates, we'd have both a more powerful impact on the truly disadvantaged and a more significant impact on college attendance. The problem is, the middle...
  • FLEXING THE MAGISTERIAL MUSCLE.

    FLEXING THE MAGISTERIAL MUSCLE. Any politician in nearly any corner of the United States will tell you that, in the world of secular politics, the Roman Catholic Church is a force to be reckoned with. But in Missouri, that's an understatement. Appearing as a sidebar to today's New York Times story on state efforts to fund stem-cell research is a nugget on letters sent to candidates in Missouri by the Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Roman church in the Show-Me State. In his letter to State Representative Jim Guest (R), Missouri Catholic Conference Executive Director Lawrence Weber , according to the Times , urged Guest to return a contribution from Supporters of Health Research, a stem-cell research advocacy group, or risk a Conference campaign against him. From Stephanie Strom in today's New York Times : �The Missouri Catholic Conference is committed to informing Missouri voters about campaign contributions promoting human cloning and embryonic stem cell...
  • WHY MORE GRADUATES?

    WHY MORE GRADUATES? All right, let's follow up since commenters never agree with my college-skepticism. For starters, let me say I have no objection to increasing the number of college graduates in the United States. One thing I do worry about, though, is this. Right now a hefty proportion of kids do go to college. When you try to increase the number of college-goers by subsidizing college attendance, the tendency is for the vast majority of the subsidies to accrue to families that would have sent their kids to school anyway rather than to the marginal families who otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford it. Since college-bound kids come, as a rule, from wealthier families than do non-college kids, these schemes can often resort to upward wealth redistribution. The specific Clinton /DLC plan mostly avoids these problems, which is good, but I still think it's a strange thing for progressives to be prioritizing given that you can only focus on so many things at once. The thing of it...
  • WOULD THAT IT WERE.

    WOULD THAT IT WERE. I fear Tom is looking deeper into the Clinton - Lieberman rally than is really needed. Word around here is that Holy Joe forced Hillary Clinton into something of a confessional on the floor of the Senate. Hillary, you'll remember, was the first major Democrat to throw Lieberman's independent candidacy under the bus, promising to back whoever the eventual nominee is. While that was the politically pragmatic move for her, it was painful to Joe and she didn't like doing it. So when he buttonholed her and asked if she could airlift in Bill to generate some good press, she readily agreed. As attractive as Tom's speculation that Clinton is trying to kill the independent candidacy may be, this is really just an instance of the establishment working to protect its friends. Would that they cared enough about the seat, the party, and the Democratic base to actually pressure Lieberman to drop the independent candidacy. --Ezra Klein
  • REALITY CHECK

    REALITY CHECK . So how bad are those vicious Canadian waiting times? Well, it turns out not so bad. StatCanada -- a government body somewhat similar to the U.S. Census Bureau -- just released a report on the time Canadians spend in medical purgatory, and it turns out limbo just doesn't last that long. Median waiting times for all specialized services are between three and four weeks, and 70 to 80 percent of patients found their wait "acceptable." And remember: Most everyone can receive care, and very few need to fear its affordability. Looking at this data, even though I'm no fan of the Canadian system, it nevertheless seems to offer a tradeoff I'd accept. The invaluable Matt Holt , surveying this data, notices not only that those times don't seem so bad, but that they compare pretty favorably with the sort of inequities faced in the United States. Here's a fascinating chart he grabs from Health Affairs that does a good job making the point: We're number one! We're number one! So here...
  • DID BILL STRIKE A DEAL?

    DID BILL STRIKE A DEAL? As we all know, Joe Lieberman called in Bill �Big Dog� Clinton to Waterbury yesterday to help his ailing re-nomination effort. It was all hugs and kisses with the predecessor to the other president Lieberman has been known to embrace. In the Post �s report , David Broder writes: The two have remained close through the years, despite the fact that Lieberman admonished Clinton for his moral laxity in the Monica Lewinsky affair in a celebrated Senate floor speech. Lieberman made no reference to that event Monday night but instead recalled, "I was the first senator outside Arkansas to endorse Bill Clinton for the nomination in 1992." Now, surely Clinton is first to determine who, among Democrats, is permitted to exonerate Lieberman for that 1998 speech. But even if the Big Dog has forgiven Joe (I can�t imagine he�s forgotten), it is precisely this Democrat-when-I-wannabe instrumentalism on Lieberman�s part that has him in the stew in the first place: He�s all...
  • DEMOCRATS BEHAVING BADLY.

    DEMOCRATS BEHAVING BADLY. It seems to me that the Senate Democratic caucus have started playing a small-but-destructive role in our Iraq policy. It started with the demagogic denunciations of Nouri al-Maliki 's perfectly reasonable amnesty plan for Iraqi insurgents. Such a plan would be a necessary component of any Iraqi national reconciliation scheme, but Democrats saw in it a good way to score political points. And they turned out to be correct, successfully pressuring Bush into pressuring Maliki to drop the plan. Which is a neat victory, except lots of people will die as a result. Today, my inbox includes this press release from Harry Reid 's office: Washington, DC - TODAY , Tuesday, July 25, 2006, at 11:00 AM, the Senate Democratic Leadership will hold a press conference in advance of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's address to a Joint Session of Congress. The Democratic Senators will discuss disturbing reports that the Prime Minister has condemned Israel but failed to...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: FRIENDLY ADVICE. "The idea," writes Matt , "that the United States or American Jews like me should support [Israel's war] out of friendship is akin to the notion that a real friend would lend a car to a drunk buddy after the bartender confiscates his keys." He makes the case that Israel's assault on Lebanon is "strategically blinkered and morally obtuse." Read the whole thing . --The Editors
  • FREEDOM-HATING, NOW MORE THAN EVER.

    FREEDOM-HATING, NOW MORE THAN EVER. Cato�s David Boaz is none too happy that even Hillary Clinton and the moderate DLC proposed some new government programs that involve spending money to help people. Nor would he be much of a libertarian if he thought otherwise. But then he offers this pearl of political advice: "There are millions of libertarian-leaning voters disgruntled with the Republicans� social conservatism, soaring spending, and ill-fated war. And Democrats are doing everything they can to discourage those voters from switching parties." Eh. The thing of it is that there are millions more voters who have a favorable attitude toward progressive economics but like social conservatism. An "American Dream Initiative" just might be the thing to convince them to switch parties. Meanwhile, in the short term at least, a libertarian disgruntled with Republican policies has no serious choice but to back the Democrats anyway -- divided government would produce a certain amount of...

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