Archive

  • CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS....

    CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS. If you've been looking for someone to criticize Peter Beinart 's book for going too far in the direction of abandoning liberal hawk orthodoxy, look no further than George Packer 's review of The Good Fight . The more interesting part of the review, however, is actually addressed at Francis Fukuyama , who writes in his book that "Before the Iraq war, we were probably at war with no more than a few thousand people around the world who would consider martyring themselves and causing nihilistic damage to the United States. The scale of the problem has grown because we have unleashed a maelstrom." Packer thinks this outlook is mistaken, and that "although the Iraq war wasn�t inevitable after September 11th, a global polarization along religious lines probably was . . . the battle lines were already forming well before shock and awe and Abu Ghraib." Why? Well, because he "was in Somalia during the Afghanistan war, and even Western-oriented Muslims there saw the...
  • CLASH OF THE...

    CLASH OF THE INTEREST GROUPS. The Hill doesn't draw this out in its reporting, but the juxtaposition of a couple of articles in today's edition shows the emergence of real power struggle within the Democratic Party between old and new interest groups in key races this fall. Alexander Bolton reports : At least seven of the most vulnerable House GOP incumbents have been endorsed by unions, environmental activists or other Democratic-leaning advocacy groups. So have at least three of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans. Organized labor has also poured tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign accounts of highly vulnerable Republicans, in several instances surpassing the amount given to Democratic challengers. Rep. George Miller (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, has disclosed that at least one of his House colleagues has said that, if Democrats fail to capture the House, labor will be partly to blame.... Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) is endorsed...
  • MORE ON LIEBERMAN....

    MORE ON LIEBERMAN . According to John Byrne , senior DSCC officials are confirming that they won't support Joe Lieberman if he doesn't win the Democratic primary. That doesn't mean they'll support Ned Lamont or yank the leash to keep Democratic donors from supporting an independent candidate, but they're not going to publicly fight their own base. --Ezra Klein
  • MORE ON HOUSING...

    MORE ON HOUSING FIRST. On Friday, I talked a bit about the Bush administration's Housing First program, a legitimately worthwhile policy initiative where the toughest homeless cases are given permanent, private housing without any expectation of behavioral modification. These are the toughest, most stubborn cases, the ones who've been in treatment six or more times, yet continue to live on the streets, using heavily and racking up enormous health and crime costs. The question for policymakers is always whether they can bear offering something for nothing, opportunity without responsibility, even if it'll be cheaper and safer for the community. Today, The New York Times reports on Seattle's interpretation of the program, and it's worth the read. This is bleak stuff, but it's better and cheaper than the alternative. What a shame, then, to hear that the local bloviating talk show hosts are calling it "Bunks for drunks -- [a] living monument to failed social policy, [that's] aiding and...
  • EVERYONE HATES CHARITY....

    EVERYONE HATES CHARITY. Let me welcome Jon Chait to the charity-bashing bandwagon . As he observed in a column over the weekend, Warren Buffet 's giant charitable contribution "matters as much as an annual increase or decrease of 1/10 of 1% of the federal budget," which gives rise to the question: "How much would it cost to influence the political system to move 1/10 of 1% of the budget out of, say, wasteful subsidies and into the sorts of programs the Gates Foundation supports? I'm not sure, but it's way less than $31 billion." Quite so. Donating to charities is a great way to support the arts and pretty much the only way to support religious groups you believe in, but as a method of remedying social problems, it leaves an enormous amount to be desired. Failure to recognize this is a huge problem. Even leaving Bill Gates and Buffet to one side, foundations with liberalish sentiments are actually significantly wealthier than the rightwing foundations created to counter them. The...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: EVERYTHING'S RELATIVE. Is Hillary electable? Compared to what? Matt takes on Carville and Penn 's lame case for Clinton. --The Editors
  • WHOSE PARTY? ...

    WHOSE PARTY? Big doings in Joe Lieberman 's camp this weekend, as Lieberman began collecting signatures for an independent run that would allow him to remain on the ballot even if Ned Lamont wins the Democratic primary. This puts the Democratic Party in a rather awkward position -- Chuck Schumer has hinted that the DSCC will continue supporting Lieberman even if he's an independent. "[Y]ou can run as an independent Democrat," said Schumer, "who pledges to vote for Harry Reid as Majority Leader." There are two issues here, and much of the coverage has conflated them. There's nothing wrong with Lieberman trying the independent route. Primaries are about nothing more, and nothing less, than a party's endorsement and ballot line. If Lieberman thinks the primary will prove unrepresentative of Connecticut's voters as a whole, he has every right to remain in the race and seek the favor of independents and, yes, Republicans. Senators are supposed to represent states, not bases. More...
  • THE ITALIAN JOB....

    THE ITALIAN JOB. It always seemed likely that the Bush administration's practice of kidnapping people off the streets of Europe in order to have them shipped abroad for torture was carried out with at least the tacit consent of some of the relevant governments. But in democracies, governments change. And with Italy now under a center-left government, the investigation into the fate of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr is moving forward to include the arrests of two Italian military intelligence officers who supposedly worked with the CIA in abducting Nasr. Warrants, meanwhile, are still in effect for about two dozen Americans for their activities. Of all the various bizarre things that have been ordered in the name of the war on terror, this one seems to me to have the biggest "what were they thinking?" factor. It should have been obvious that if American intelligence operatives started kidnapping people as they walked around Western cities, we were going to wind up getting caught. And the...
  • W.T.O. Mysteries in the Washington Post

    Economists always like to talk about the ideal situation of perfectly competitive markets. This is the world in which there are vast numbers of buyers and sellers so that no individual buyer or seller can affect the price. In this world, every producer is a price taker. This means that the price is set by the market, and they can sell as much as they want to produce at the prevailing market price. In the real world, this is not an accurate description of most markets, which have a relatively limited number of sellers. The one market that does seem to fit the competitive story reasonably well is agriculture. Farmers see a price in the market for corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. and they can sell as much as they choose at this price. Unfortunately, the Post apparently does not believe that agriculture is a competitive market. It reports today that the United States is trying to open up markets in developing countries in order to give U.S. farmers something to offset the loss of subsidies in...
  • HAPPY FOURTH. TAPPED...

    HAPPY FOURTH. TAPPED will not be publishing on July 3 or July 4. See you back here on Wednesday! --The Editors

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