Archive

  • WAR PORN WITH...

    WAR PORN WITH A BEAT. There's been some great war reporting coming from NBC, especially from Martin Fletcher , who spent yesterday chasing Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets as they made landfall in Israel, and interviewing the people huddled in nearby shelters. Here, I'd like to put in a good word for the videographers covering the conflict. It's always the on-air reporters who get the glory when a rocket lands near to the site of their reports, but it's the video guys who are the most exposed -- and without whom those reports would not exist. Yesterday, as NBC's Richard Engel ducked during a rooftop report while a rocket whizzed overhead, the camera stayed fixed, except to record the visual effects of the rocket's subsequent landing. When Engel returned to the frame, he found himself elevated to the equivalent of this war's Scud stud. (I've yet to find a synonym for "stud" that rhymes with " Katyusha .") Engel's close encounter occurred during a live report for MSNBC's Scarborough Country...
  • INFRASTRUCTURE AND JUSTICE....

    INFRASTRUCTURE AND JUSTICE. Highly trained moral philosopher Michael Walzer has a nice piece up at TNR that, conveniently enough, is in line with my take (which, in turn, is pretty much based on Walzer's book, so it all comes around) -- attacking Hezbollah rocket installations or stockpiles or what have you is fine, bombing Lebanon's civilian infrastructure is not fine, and firing rockets at random into Israeli cities is also not fine. --Matthew Yglesias
  • The Washington Post's Happy Face Version of the Fed

    There is plenty of room to debate what the Federal Reserve Board's monetary policy should be, but the necessary prerequisite for a serious debate is the knowledge of how monetary policy works. Readers of the Post would be badly misled on this topic by an article in today's paper. The article correctly reports that the Fed adjusts interest rates to prevent inflation from getting too high, explaining that "when inflation is a concern, it raises borrowing costs to cool economic growth, which weakens businesses' power to raise prices." Well, not exactly. The immediate target of the Fed's anti-inflation policy is wages, not prices. In fact, many macro-models have prices being a fixed mark-up over wages, which implies that the only way to control prices is to control wages. The Taylor rule, the standard guidepost for Fed policy, is based in part on the gap between a definition of full employment (the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) and the current level of unemployment...
  • CHUTZPAH. Hartford...

    CHUTZPAH. Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie thinks he's picked up on Joe Lieberman 's coming message: Heads I win, tails I make you lose. Rennie writes that "[t]he theme of a Saturday conclave of Greater Hartford Democratic town committee chairs was that if Lieberman loses the primary he will hurt all other Democratic candidates by running as an independent in November. The message was clear: help him now or your favorites suffer in November." So vote Lieb, or the Democratic Party gets it! A similar rationale emerged during a dinner argument with a friend last weekend: How can bloggers, usually so invested in the Democratic Party's successes, possibly rationalize throwing the seat to the Republicans? Since Lieberman's independent candidacy is a virtual certainty, a Ned Lamont victory in the primaries would create a three way race that could, quite conceivably, allow a Republican to squeak through. Worse yet, given the possibility of real Democratic gains this November, it could...
  • 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...

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