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  • AND THEN THERE...

    AND THEN THERE WERE THREE. Adding to the rush of Democratic health care plans this week, Russ Feingold just stepped forward with his proposal -- a sort of strange, possibly cunning attempt to trigger a series of self-contained universal care plans in the states that would, assumedly, create a domino effect for the rest of the country. Unlike Stark 's or Clinton 's plans, Feingold's proposes no new national programs. Instead, it creates a $32 billion fund which would finance a handful of states running universal care pilot projects for the next ten years. As of now, the proposal seems rather vague. The standards the states must meet seem...sketchy, to say the least. And it's not clear why Feingold wouldn't want to simply say that all states have to grope their way to universal care, or create a phase two for the plan which extends the funding and mandate to the whole union after the initial participants have demonstrated the viability of a certain array of options. On the other hand,...
  • HOW TO GET REAL.

    HOW TO GET REAL. Mike Crowley notes some irony in Arianna Huffington lecturing Joe Lieberman on what "real Democrats" do seeing as Huffington was a Republican through the bulk of the nineties and a "pox on both houses" radical circa the turn of the millennium. I think there's maybe a broader point in this vicinity. Just about ten years ago, the big issue in American politics was "welfare" -- Aid to Families With Dependent Children. That issue was eventually resolved in a deal between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich that many liberals regarded as a sellout of core principles and many conservatives regarded as a sellout of Bob Dole 's presidential campaign. Today, politics doesn't work like that at all either in terms of the substance of what was considered important or the process by which all that happened. Simultaneously, a lot of people have rather quickly risen to at least moderate levels of prominence within progressive politics who weren't really involved back then. Sometimes (as...
  • DEMS: WE LOVE...

    DEMS: WE LOVE ISRAEL MORE THAN THE GOP DOES. I've been mulling over Matt 's post from yesterday, and find myself in agitated agreement, especially after yesterday's media blitz of Democratic opposition to today's scheduled address by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before a joint session of Congress. As Matt noted, the Dems appear to be seeking short-term political advantage by using condemnation of Maliki to posture as more pro-Israel and more patriotic than their Republican counterparts. At yesterday's press conference convened by the Senate's Democratic leadership, Minority Leader Harry Reid said that Maliki -- who has condemned "Israeli aggression" in the current conflict with Hezbollah, and has yet to distance himself from anti-Semitic comments made by the speaker of Iraq's parliament -- did not deserve an honor that had been bestowed on the likes of Lech Walesa . The same line was repeated later in the day on several news shows by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. (This was...
  • THE SWEET SMELL OF FEDERALISM.

    THE SWEET SMELL OF FEDERALISM. It seems that the "Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would make it a federal crime to help an under-age girl escape parental notification laws by crossing state lines to obtain an abortion." This is the sort of thing we can look forward to if Roe and Casey are overturned or chipped away. The abortion issue won't be "returned to the states" under any circumstances. It simply isn't the sort of issue that people are going to be inclined to take a "live and let live" attitude toward -- we're not talking about speed limits or zoning rules or what you have. Rather, people are disagreeing about a very abstract question of universal morality, and, naturally enough, people on both sides are going to try and get as close to universal rules as they possibly can. And, frankly, rightly so -- it'd be bizarre to decide that a fetus is a legal person in Oklahoma but not in Oregon. --Matthew Yglesias
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: FIGHTING RIGHT. Further thoughts from Adele on mainline Protestant fissures, religious politics, and the need for asymmetrical battling. --The Editors
  • MORE ON BILL'S VISIT.

    MORE ON BILL'S VISIT. I�m gonna try to last-word Ezra from yesterday (no small task, that) on the Joe Lieberman indy-abandonment theory I am propounding�and I have data. The results of a new Rasmussen poll ( courtesy of Kos ) show Lieberman trailing Ned Lamont by 10 points (51 percent to 41 percent) in the primary and, more stunning than that, Joe is now deadlocked with Ned in a potential three-way general election (Lamont and Lieberman, 40 percent; Republican Schlesinger , 13 percent). The Quinnipiac poll only last week had Lieberman with a majority of 51 percent to Lamont�s 27 percent in a three-way general election contest. Even if one factors in margins of error in both polls, that�s quite a turnaround. This race is so volatile now I wouldn�t be surprised with Lieberman winning or losing the primary. If he wins, the three-way scenario is moot. But if he loses, it looks like the floor of support for his independent candidacy has fallen out from under him. Even if Clinton didn�t put...
  • MORE SHOES.

    MORE SHOES. The dog that hasn't really barked yet in Iraq is the Turkey-Kurdistan conflict. One of the most-warned-against "things go bad" scenarios before the war was that Iraqi Kurdistan might become a base for anti-Turkish operation in Turkish Kurdistan, prompting Turkey to intervene militarily in Iraq. So far, lots and lots of things have gone bad in Iraq, but this particular scenario has been pretty quiet. Until now , that is, when Newsweek reports that Kurdish separatists operating out of Iraq have killed 15 Turkish soldiers in cross-border raids over the past week and pressure is building in Ankara for retaliation, especially in light of America's strong support for Israel's incursion into Lebanon. UPDATE: See more on this from Olivier Knox yesterday. --Matthew Yglesias
  • STEELE EXPOSED.

    STEELE EXPOSED. My immediate thought upon reading Dana Milbank �s column in the Post yesterday about the mystery Republican senate candidate was that it smelled like Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele . Turns out, it was . I teach in Maryland, and the thing you have to understand is that Steele is in a bad spot. Sure, Maryland is a very blue state, and 2006 is looking more and more like a bad Republican cycle. But Steele also has four liabilities that his boss, Gov. Bob Ehrlich , does not: 1. Ehrlich is running for re-election, not his first election, and Steele has never won on his own; 2. Ehrlich has a longstanding geographic base of support from his congressional days representing Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County, whereas Steele does not; 3. Ehrlich is running for state office, not national office, and that insulates Ehrlich from many of the tough issues that Steele can only duck for so long, notably Iraq; and 4. Steele just doesn�t have the natural...
  • THE SECOND, AS FARCE.

    THE SECOND, AS FARCE. Israel announced plans to re-occupy a strip of southern Lebanon. This is ill-advised. Israel ceased occupying a strip of southern Lebanon just a few years ago and with good reason. What's more, re-occupation will alter the whole political context in adverse ways. Syria now has its rationale for involvement in Lebanon back, and the level of pressure that previously existed on Hezbollah to disarm will melt away now that Israeli occupation has returned. But, having decided to go all-out in response to Hezbollah's raid, what choice did Israel have? The international community doesn't seem to want to send a force in. The Lebanese government can't do what the Israelis are asking it to. The IDF can't "crush" Hezbollah. And having committed to going in and cleaning this up, the Israelis don't want to admit it was all a mistake and "look weak" by going home. No doubt Hezbollah expected "the usual, limited response" to their July 12 raid because a limited response is what...
  • Is the Housing Bubble Bursting?

    The latest numbers certainly show a slowing. Existing home sales are down by 10 percent from their peaks last year. Prices have stabilized on a year over year basis (down slightly after adjusting for inflation), and inventories are building. It is worth noting in the latest report that the inventory of unsold condos stood at 8 months of sales in the June report. Also, it is important remember that the existing homes data refers to sales closed in June. Since it typically takes 6-8 weeks to close a contract, the June sales are most showing information about contracts signed in April and May. --Dean Baker

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