Archive

  • NYT Discovers "Ghetto Tax"

    The NYT had a good article this morning highlighting a new Brookings report that details how people living in inner city areas often pay far more for goods and services than people living in more affluent areas. The report is worth reading and the NYT gets credit for calling attention to it. Unfortunately, the report suffers from a serious lack of imagination in its proposed remedies, highlighting greater public-private cooperation in bringing lower cost services to the poor. I have nothing against cooperation, but I always worry that these efforts end up being more of a subsidy to the industries involved than the poor people that they are supposed to help. My model nightmare is the accounts established to receive electronic payments from the government (e.g. disability or veterans benefits) for low income people. They cost the government a great deal in subsidies to the financial industry, and do very little for their intended beneficiaries. In some cases, I prefer good old fashioned...
  • ASK AND YE...

    ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE. I've long responded to the steady stream of articles positing a Dean / Emanuel split with the hope that someone would take a breath from chronicling Emanuel's desire for more money and actually evaluate Dean's 50-state strategy. Finally, U.S. News ' Dan Gilgoff did exactly that . "Here's what the front line of Howard Dean's revolution looks like." he writes, "two dozen senior citizens seated inside this gated community's clubhouse listening intently as operatives from the state Democratic Party pitch them on becoming precinct captains." The clubhouse is in Diamondhead, Mississippi, and it's the first time in more than a decade that anyone in the state had tried to train Democratic precinct captains. How's it working? The gambit has remade the Mississippi party with four full-time, DNC-paid staffers and a fundraiser. In four months, finance director Wendi Hooks has tripled the number of $1,000-plus donors to 24 and expects to more than double the party's...
  • FROM THE BLOGOFASCIST...

    FROM THE BLOGOFASCIST HIMSELF. If Markos Zunigas is the Mussolini of the anti-establishment, anti-incumbent movement known as blogofascism, Duncan Black -- better known as Atrios -- is its Giovanni Gentile , the in-house philosopher who laid out its norms and intellectual structure. So it's nice to see him repairing to the dead tree confines of the Los Angeles Times op-ed page to explain the animus against Joe Lieberman . "For too long," writes Duncan, "[Lieberman] has defined his image by distancing himself from other Democrats, cozying up to right-wing media figures and, at key moments, directing his criticisms at members of his own party instead of at the Republicans in power." What follows is a wide-ranging and convincing list of examples that aptly illustrate why Lieberman's loathsomeness extends far beyond mere ideology. If you're still confused over why Holy Joe provokes such rage while Dianne Feinstein attracts little notice, Duncan's explanation is well worth reading. --Ezra...
  • EVERYTHING OLD IS...

    EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN. I'm rather taken with a point Matt made earlier today in the context of "progressive realism." He wrote that "I do, however, see the case for framing it as a new paradigm: Roughly, there's a sense that 9-11 made drama and novelty necessary parts of one's approach to national security, that Bush's efforts at drama and novelty have failed, and that now we need a new brand of drama and novelty." That's about right. It's also another reason why I don't actually mind all the "Big Ideas" talk humming through Democratic circles. All the new journals and articles and speeches won't, I fear, actually come up with anything new, but after finding innovation a closed route they'll begin repackaging older ideas as fashionable, fresh responses to changing conditions. That's a real service, though, because politically, the perception of newness actually matters quite a bit. Bill Clinton understood that, as did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush . And while none of these...
  • EDGING TOWARD COMPROMISE....

    EDGING TOWARD COMPROMISE. Via Rich Lowry , Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni seems to be looking to back away from Israel's previous hostility to a multilateral solution to the border problem: Speaking after a meeting with a United Nations delegation headed by special envoy Vijay Nambiar, Livni said that while Israel would prefer the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south of the country, "we will consider other solutions put forward." "If there is a need to strengthen the Lebanese army somehow, so that the military in south Lebanon is effective, and prevents Hezbollah from returning, we will consider ways to do achieve this," Livni said. Again, it would be good to see some American leadership here. If this idea -- which has been on the table for days -- is going to be the ultimate resolution of the crisis, it would be nice to see it implemented sooner rather than later so people don't die needlessly. That means the United States would need to do a combination of leaning on Israel to...
  • PROGRESSIVE REALISM: SO...

    PROGRESSIVE REALISM: SO GOOD IT NEEDS A NEW NAME? I've been remiss in not linking to Robert Wright 's curiously long op-ed in Sunday's New York Times making the case that "It�s now possible to build a foreign policy paradigm that comes close to squaring the circle � reconciling the humanitarian aims of idealists with the powerful logic of realists." He calls the paradigm "progressive realism" and lays out what it is. I endorse virtually everything therein with two petty caveats. One -- truly petty -- is the observation that "to square the circle" doesn't mean to create a square circle as the metaphor here seems to imply. The circle squaring problem is the attempt to take a given circle and then use a finite compass and straightedge to construct a square with the same area. More to the point, the paradigm Wright's laying out isn't really all that new. It is, in fact, the traditional liberal approach to foreign policy drawing on Kant , Woodrow Wilson , FDR , and, all the usual cast of...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STEMMED PROGRESS. As the Senate gets set to vote on a bill to expand federal funding for stem-cell research, CAP's Jonathan Moreno and Sam Berger explain how much our current federal policy stinks. --The Editors
  • SCATOLOGICAL DISCOURSE. ...

    SCATOLOGICAL DISCOURSE. It was a big news day for excrement, yesterday was, what with the President's reference to what the Syrians were doing, followed by Joe Wilson 's performance last night on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Speaking of the famous 16 words in Bush 's 2003 State of the Union address that set off the chain of events that led to the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson , her husband, a former ambassador to Iraq, explained his view of those events. AMBASSADOR JOSEPH C. WILSON IV : �Getting the facts out did not include getting the National Intelligence Officers' letter out, which was circulated around the administration in January, representing the consensus view of the American intelligence community that the Niger claim was, quote, baseless. Those were not the facts they were getting out. The stuff they were getting out was just basically [PAUSE] crap , for want of a better word... [Emphasis added] OLBERMANN : An appropriate turn of phrase on this day that we...
  • ISRAEL AND THE...

    ISRAEL AND THE U.N. The Times reports that "A top Israeli general said today that Israel�s offensive in Lebanon would last another few weeks, and he said that the use of large numbers of ground forces had not been ruled out." That would be unfortunate. And based on the past track record of Israeli interventions in Lebanon, it seems very unlikely that weeks or months of anti-Hezbollah actions are going to provide a permanent solution to Israel's problem on the northern border. It would be much better for them to take up European proposals to send a large, well-trained U.N. force with the authority and equipment necessary to disarm Hezbollah in exchange for a cessation of Israeli attacks. I've seen the argument made that Israel should dismiss this proposal because, after all, there was already a U.N. force in South Lebanon and it didn't succeed in disarming Hezbollah or stopping border violations. That argument, if meant seriously, is really rather silly. That a very small U.N. force...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. Matt reminds us that going to war with Iran (and Syria) would still be a bad idea , and contemplates the comic book quality of the hawks' foreign policy outlook: ...Hawks seem to have convinced themselves that American military might is like a power ring -- capable of achieving anything if only we have sufficient will. There are no objective limits to our capacities, no sticky situations that need to be handled cautiously, no awkward compromises to be brokered, and no stuff we�re just going to have to live with in the hopes that things will change for the better down the road. There are only goals, force, and will, and the only relevant question in any situation is whether we have the will to achieve our goals with force. Read the whole thing . --The Editors

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