Archive

  • 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...
  • ON PARENTING. ...

    ON PARENTING. As a childless twenty-something, I've been really enjoying the Corner's weeks-long debate over whether or not parenting matters. In the "cranky bugger" corner, with the impressively hiked-up grandpa shorts, has been John Derbyshire , who's argued that parenting matters very, very little, and peer influences, genetics, and culture are the real determinants. His primary assailant has been Jonah Goldberg , a proud parent determined to prove he matters. And occasionally ducking into the ring to slam either Derbyshire or Jonah with a folding chair has been Charles Murray , the wise old man of strange rightwing social science arguments. Despite a lot of harping over the evidence, none of the participants seems particularly quick with the social science data. Partially, that's because there's depressingly little on the role of fathers, which seems to be the obsession of all the participants. Derbyshire has wildly overstated the consensus of the scientific community on any...
  • GIVE ME DIGNITY...

    GIVE ME DIGNITY OR GIVE ME EMPLOYMENT! This weekend's New York Times had a fascinating piece on the growing number of middle-aged men who are jobless by choice. It's always hard to discern if the anecdotes and quotes chosen for these articles accurately reflect the trends, but assuming they do, it's worrying stuff. The basic outline is that many workers from blue or gray collar jobs who lost their positions in layoffs and bankruptcies are finding it nearly impossible to find subsequent positions offering the same level of dignity and challenge. So a unionized steel workers whose seniority had finally brought him an acceptable level of intellectual engagement and occupational satisfaction is unable to accept a tumble down the occupational ladder into a job that his skill set, rather than his accumulated experience, actually qualifies him for. That's the basic tension here: You can take a man's job, but what if he refuses to subsequently sacrifice his dignity? �To be honest, I�m kind of...
  • OHIO SWIFTBOATING NOT SO SWIFT.

    OHIO SWIFTBOATING NOT SO SWIFT. The Ohio Republican Party has fired �social conservative coordinator� Gary Lankford , the operative responsible for last week�s e-mail suggesting that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland and his wife are gay. Lankford�s effort to discredit Strickland proved even too embarrassing for the shameless Ohio GOP, and chair Robert Bennett gave him the boot. Lankford, a veteran of the �values voters� crowd, once again proves that moralizing doesn�t equal morality. Lankford is also the Ohio coordinator for TeenPact , which is training teenagers to bear false witness against neightbors to �change America for Christ.� (TeenPact teenagers swarmed the Capitol when the Senate took up the bogus Federal Marriage Amendment last month.) Just because the state GOP fired Lankford doesn�t mean the swiftboating of Strickland will end, because Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell is fully capable of handling that on his own. Blackwell, who had...
  • IRAN RESOLUTION.

    IRAN RESOLUTION. In a move not likely to enhance the reputation of the Security Council, Russia and China forced the West to water down the resolution on Iran's nuclear program so that it now threatens to threaten Iran with sanctions if they don't stop enriching uranium by August 31, rather than actually threatening sanctions as such. On the other hand, Iran has already said that they'll respond to the latest Western offer by August 22 so the whole thing may be moot anyway because people will be reconsidering their positions in light of whatever Teheran says then. The genuinely ominous sign here is that the resolution passed 14-1, with the one "no" vote coming from Qatar, at the moment the one Arab nation represented on the Council. As we saw in the initial days of the Israel-Hezbollah crisis, the Arab regimes are, on the merits, actually very alarmed about Iran. But as we saw in subsequent days, they're also somewhat under the sway of Arab public opinion, which has come to be pro-...

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