Archive

  • The Washington Post Doesn't Believe in Market Incentives

    I was going to give this one a pass, since it's a column in the Post Outlook section, not a news story, but even opinion pieces should be able to pass the laugh test. The basic point of the piece is that the public and media are wrong to be concerned about the fact that researchers who do research and report findings, as well as the regulators who assess them, often get money from the drug companies that stand to make billions. The article assures us that these people are dedicated professionals, committed to bettering human life, who would not let money affect their behavior. It's great to know that the Washington Post would be willing to print a diatribe arguing that individuals act out of concern for society rather than for monetary gain, first socialist tract I've seen the Post since I've been in town. Of course, if anyone really believed what the column argues, then we should just take the money out of drug research altogether. If the scientists are high-minded individuals who...
  • GIVING SMITH THE BOOT.

    GIVING SMITH THE BOOT. Back in 2002, I wrote a profile of Bob Smith , then the incumbent Republican U.S. senator from New Hampshire. Smith was a likeable flake who once gave an unforgettable speech on behalf of an elephant that a circus had ensconced briefly on the grounds of the Capitol. (Yes, yes, you can all make your own jokes now. We'll wait. All done? Good.) However, in 1999, Smith also had made a speech excoriating the Republican Party for moving away from its guiding principles and, for a period of four months, Smith left the party entirely. Republicans in New Hampshire, in response, threw up Congressman John Sununu against Smith in that year's primary election. This was based partly on Smith's public apostasy, and also partly on the notion that the young and relatively charismatic Sununu could keep the general election with formidable Democratic governor Jeanne Shaheen close enough so that some jiggery-pokery with phone-jamming could help the GOP steal... ah...narrowly win it...
  • FARM SUBSIDY FREE FOR ALL.

    FARM SUBSIDY FREE FOR ALL. There's something very odd about the way the Doha Round of WTO talks have collapsed in an orgy of recriminations over agricultural protectionism. The essence of the issue is that poor countries were demanding that rich countries reduce their level of farm subsidies if they wanted poor countries to make any policy changes. Then the United States said it thought said subsidies should be reduced, but only if the Europeans reduced theirs too. The Europeans agreed with this position, but in reverse. Now both the United States and the E.U. are saying the other side wouldn't make enough concessions. The issue here is that these aren't really concessions at all. High levels of agricultural tariffs and production-subsidies are bad policies -- a classic case of interest-group capture. The Europeans really should reduce their own subsidies from their current high level, but our own lower levels of subsidies aren't doing us any good. There's no reason to make changing...
  • APOCALYPSE NOW? ...

    APOCALYPSE NOW? Self-identified Christocrat Rod Parsley has officially hitched his wagon to the Armageddon addicts at Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Parsley, a member of CUFI�s national leadership, was in town last week to lobby members of Congress on his zest for an apocalyptic showdown in the Middle East. Like his friend and CUFI�s leader, John Hagee , Parsley professes a deep love for Israel and the Jewish people. But a few minutes of a sermon reveal that Parsley, like Hagee, only loves Israel as the site of Armageddon and the Second Coming. In his most recent production, Iran and Israel: Impending Apocalypse , Parsley pronounces us �living in the final moments of human history,� owing to Iran�s nuclear program. Although a webcast of the sermon is available online for free, Parsley nonetheless hocks the DVD for a �love gift� of cash. And to lend divine credibility to its contents, he claims that �[j]ust days before the July 12 incidents which began the current situation of...
  • NOW ALL WE NEED IS A BAND.

    NOW ALL WE NEED IS A BAND. I've heard the lament from so many TAP readers: You're walking along, listening to some music, and all you can think is, "If only I could somehow listen to Prospect content on my IPod." Well now you can! TAP has hit ITunes . Subscribe to our podcasts (for free!) here -- we�re currently featuring our breakfast talks with Howard Dean , Congressman Sherrod Brown , and right-wing warrior Grover Norquist . We�re going to be putting up more content soon, so be sure to subscribe. Meanwhile, befitting our prescient and longstanding appreciation for the importance of social capital, TAP has now entered the online social networking game. Be sure to catch us at MySpace and Gather , where you can join discussion threads, enter the contests we're currently running, and listen to streaming audio of the new single from TAP 's in-house emo band, once said single is written and recorded. --The Editors
  • JUST LOVE ME...

    JUST LOVE ME SOME BIPARTISANSHIP. I'd suggest that if Joe Lieberman really was planning to toe the Republican line so that he could capture their endorsement for Senate, the reason wasn't because he feared a contested election, but because he desired the sort of media adulation that comes from properly feckless displays of bipartisanship. To Lieberman, such a future would've looked properly glorious -- one of the last men able to heal this bitter divide. And it shows why liberals so dislike him: If Joe really were as proudly progressive as he keeps claiming, he'd reserve at least a little distaste for this administration that has spent six years wrecking the country on all progressive metrics. --Ezra Klein
  • DUAL LOYALTIES. David...

    DUAL LOYALTIES. David Gelernter wonders why American Jews don't like George W. Bush more in light of his strong support for Israeli policy. That�s a somewhat complicated issue, no doubt. But note here that were I to say Gelernter's thinking on American Israel policy seems driven by "dual loyalties," he would no doubt condemn me as an anti-Semite. And yet, the entire premise of his column is that it's inappropriate for me, and for other Jewish people, to vote for candidates whose policies would be good for the United States rather than ones whose policies would be good for Israel. --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHO'S AFRAID OF...

    WHO'S AFRAID OF A LITTLE GERRYMANDERING? I suggest folks seriously read through Jonathan Krasno 's article on the "The Redistricting Myth," that oh-so-comforting belief that non-competitive house districts and lackluster incumbents can be chalked up to the evil HALs used to deviously partition off the electorate. As Krasno argues, though, redistricting is far likelier to be one of the many factors rather than the sole factor. A few data points: � In 2004, 22 House races were decided by 10 points or less, the lowest number in 50 years. This is among the most oft-cited arguments against redistricting. � But also in 2004, political scientists broke down the presidential numbers by congressional district and found that 102 of them saw a difference of less than 10 points. Were gerrymandering really segregating such intractable partisans, why do their team colors shine so much brighter in congressional elections? � In 2004, the average incumbent outspent their challenger by more than 5 to 1...
  • DEPRESSING MIDEAST ROUNDUP....

    DEPRESSING MIDEAST ROUNDUP. Say what you want about the Bush administration, but they sure know how to pull off a good media stunt like Condi Rice 's surprise visit to Beirut, conducted via helicopter from Cyprus since Israeli airstrikes have closed Lebanon's airport. Fortunately for Rice, she managed not to be hit by any stray bombs during her trip into town. Compare that to eight-year-old Mahmoud Srour whose family decided to abide by the IDF's orders to vacate the city of Tyre and had their car blown up for their trouble. His mom seems to be more-or-less okay, but his dad and his uncle are dead. Mahmoun's "face was burned beyond recognition" and all three of his siblings are likewise hospitalized and suffering from serious burns. That's The Washington Post 's human interest tale of woe. Today's Times carries a similar story about a woman named Muntaha Shaito and her family, likewise bombed while fleeing Tyre. The IDF explained that strikes targeted "approximately 20 vehicles" that...
  • GORE WATCH: WAL-MART EDITION.

    GORE WATCH: WAL-MART EDITION. Amanda Griscom Little �s report at Salon about Al Gore 's recent meeting with Wal-Mart�s leadership at the Bentonville headquarters sounds like further evidence that Gore is positioning himself for a White House bid: Sporting a curiously thick Southern drawl, Gore heaped praise on Wal-Mart's green goal-setting. "...by taking this climate crisis on frontally and making this commitment, you will gain the moral authority and vision as an organization to take on many great challenges." Keenly aware of his Arkansas audience's Christian inclinations, Gore peppered his hourlong commentary with religious references. He quoted Scripture, told a Bible story, and then offered a nonapologetic apology for the sermonizing: "I don't mean to proselytize here on my religious faith...If you're an atheist or agnostic" -- dramatic pause -- "God bless you!" Gore also waded into politics. He called the partisan bickering in Washington "pitiful, seriously pitiful," and mocked...

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