Archive

  • CHRIS CANNON: COALMINE CANARY.

    CHRIS CANNON: COALMINE CANARY. As we move closer to the midterms, the list of top targets produced by various prognosticators is congealing a bit, and this week NPR published a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey (PDF) of the top 50 most competitive districts, based on a pooled list taken from the Cook Political Report , the Stu Rothenberg Report , the Hotline and Larry Sabato�s Crystal Ball . The fact that the pooled list includes 40 GOP districts to just 10 Democratic districts is telling enough. More striking are the opinions of these 50 districts� voters, who favor Democrats in the 10 Democratic seats by a 31-point margin but also favor Democrats by a 4-point margin in the Republican-held seats. Overall, �wrong track� voters outnumber �right track� voters by a whopping 30 points. Democrats are also more excited about the cycle. In short, the only good piece of news in the poll for the GOP is, well, nothing -- other than the fact that they don�t have more than 40 of the 50 seats on the...
  • SUBSTITUTES AND COMPLEMENTS.

    SUBSTITUTES AND COMPLEMENTS. I was going to just mock Lee Siegel 's decision to revisit the blogofascism controversy , but he says something in there that I think is worthy of a serious response since I hear the sentiment from a lot of people. "Linking," writes Siegel, "is no substitute for thinking." This is true, but misguided. Compare it to "deciding which articles to print is no substitute for writing magazine articles." Obviously, the former is no substitute for the latter not because the former activity is useless, but because it complements the other. You couldn't have a magazine where nobody wrote articles, and the other things people do at magazines don't substitute for article-writing, but that doesn't make those other things useless . If a blogger has a certain audience, and reads a post or an article somewhere that he thinks is insightful on some subject, and then links to it -- directed his or her audience to read the linked material -- that can be a very useful service...
  • Adjust for Inflation -- Minimal Demand on Minimum Wage Reporting

    Reporters should always use inflation adjusted numbers when making comparisons of dollar values at substantially different points in time. A dollar is worth much less today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. While most readers may know this, they do not typically have ready access to the consumer price index tables, so they will not generally be able to adjust the numbers themselves. Reporters, who write news stories for a living, do have the time to adjust numbers for inflation and should routinely do so in their news stories. This means that when an article tells readers that a bill in Congress will raise the minimum wage to $7.15 an hour in 2007, from 5.15 an hour at present, it would be helpful to tell readers that this is equal to approximately $5.32 in 1997 dollars, the year the last minimum wage hike took full effect. This means that minimum wage workers would get about a 3.0 percent increase in real wages from 1997 to 2007, if this bill was approved. --Dean Baker
  • GUTTER POLITICS.

    GUTTER POLITICS. Yesterday it was Bill , today it was Strickland . Who will it be tomorrow? Read Ben Weyl �s comments on the Ohio GOP�s latest smears over at Midterm Madness . --Alec Oveis
  • THE CONTRACTING MESS AT DHS.

    THE CONTRACTING MESS AT DHS. The House Government Reform Committee is out with a report (PDF) today documenting 32 instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in contracting at the Department of Homeland Security. It�s not the sort of reading that makes you feel all cuddly and safe, confident that the government, a good steward of your tax dollars, has everything under control. Instead, it is a stark reminder of what�s broken in Washington. And no, it�s not the Republican boogeyman, that faceless �bureaucracy.� It�s the whole sordid mess of cronyism and political corruption, where lobbyists and contractors buy influence and access, as the Prospect documented back in January. Noting that DHS�s procurement budget is growing 11 times faster than the rest of the federal budget, the bipartisan report documents the explosive rise in sole-source contracts and widespread contract mismanagement at the department, including an alarming lack of trained procurement personnel. Dysfunctional or...
  • CHARACTER COUNTS, BUT ONLY WHEN CONVENIENT.

    CHARACTER COUNTS, BUT ONLY WHEN CONVENIENT. Yesterday Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland challenged Republican rival Ken Blackwell to release his tax returns, so voters could see exactly how Blackwell, who favors implementing a flat tax and cutting the capital gains tax, would benefit from his own proposals. Blackwell refused, telling the Canton Repository that his millionaire status proves his ideology that hard work leads to riches. It�s odd, though, that he�s not being more forthcoming, since his officially sanctioned, pabulum-filled initiative The Ohio Center for Civic Character demands that people of character �appl[y] truth in our relationships.� And that truth, he says, requires accountability and transparency: High-character people scrutinize themselves and welcome the scrutiny of others. They acknowledge that human nature compels us toward independence. Our preference for independence results in isolation from one another. Isolation breeds temptation to...
  • WILL MEDICARE MATTER?...

    WILL MEDICARE MATTER? It may be a bad bill, but the Medicare Prescription Drug Program may not be the electoral club many Democrats were hoping it would be. New polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 8 out of 10 seniors are basically satisfied with the new benefit, hardly the sort of numbers congenial to a November counterattack. Two issues, however, may disrupt the calm. First up, seniors knowledge of the doughnut holes -- the period of a couple thousand dollars where all costs come out of pocket in an effort to discourage overuse of drugs before insurance kicks back in -- is spotty: The survey tested seniors� knowledge about the Medicare drug benefit�s coverage gap, or �doughnut hole,� in which most plans stop paying for medications and seniors must pay the full cost of their prescriptions. One- third of seniors in a Medicare drug plan say that their plan has a coverage gap (34%); about as many say that their plan does not have a gap (36%); and the others say they did...
  • THE OP-ED DOJO.

    THE OP-ED DOJO. Wandering through the nation's op-ed pages is like ambling through a dojo. Each writer has his own particular style, technique, finishing move. There's Tom Friedman , who rushes in with the Implausible Conversational Anecdote, links it to an Off-Topic Invocation Of World Travels, and finishes you with a Confusing Metaphor From Above. Or there's Maureen Dowd , who deploys Unfounded Personal Speculation mixed with Confusing Allegories till she's set up her killing blow: Insinuation of Character Defect. It's impressive stuff. The deadliest op-ed columnist, however, is unquestionably David Brooks . He's the drunken boxer of the opinion page, luring you into a false sense of security with Banal Observations that comfort through Faux Bipartisanship until you're ready for the Illogical Conservative Conclusion. Today's column is an archetypal example of the master at work: a series of cogent critiques of Hillary Clinton 's college aid proposals that effortlessly glide through...
  • SERIOUSLY CONFUSING.

    SERIOUSLY CONFUSING. Last week's puzzling editorial from The New Republic called on the United States to "move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all" but couldn't quite seem to say whether or not this was a call for war. This week's edition fails to clarify matters, asking rhetorically "Will the West finally get ruthlessly serious about Iran? (No, bombing is not the only instrument of policy we have.)" In all ruthless seriousness, what does this mean? That bombing would be insufficiently ruthless and we should mount a full-scale invasion? That we should engage in ruthless measures short of military action? Which measures? Ask the Europeans nicely to impose sanctions? How ruthless is that? What's the difference between getting ruthlessly serious about something and getting seriously ruthless about it? How serious is it to play footsie with the idea of starting a war and then totally fail to say what you're talking about? --Matthew Yglesias
  • STEELE AT IT.

    STEELE AT IT. Well, that didn�t take long: As I predicted yesterday, Michael Steele would somehow turn his media blunder around and try to blame the media, and sure enough here come this first volley, lobbed directly at the Post �s Dana Milbank . Too bad for Steele press secretary Doug Heye that Milbank kept a record of their communications, which clearly show that not only was the Post allowed to publish the �off record� but �on background� material, but they apparently wanted the Post to have the scoop . Not to mention, Milbank held back on some identifiers that would have made Steele�s identity obvious. Just like the Oreo cookie incident , Steele and GOP governor Bob Ehrlich have either fabricated or embellished the events. And just like the Steve Gilliard sambo episode , Steele�s objective is not to run a serious campaign on the issues but to create a victimology vote in order to somehow endear himself to what he clearly thinks are gullible voters. Apparently, Steele also thinks...

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