Archive

  • PRIZES FOR POVERTY....

    PRIZES FOR POVERTY. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting report on the anti-poverty innovation sweeping the nation: Prizes. According to the paper, "[i]ncentive-based programs have sprung up in recent years in large part because they are more politically palatable than traditional welfare benefits, and because advocates say such programs offer a better chance of changing some of the behaviors tied up with poverty. But incentives aren't safety nets. And even if they work for specific tasks, it's not clear whether they are enough to prompt meaningful long-term changes in those most firmly entrenched in poverty." The incentives in question work much like the magazine subscription contests you participated in as a kid: attend PTA meetings, get points; cut down school absences, get points; pay your rent, get points. Eventually, you can redeem your points for cool prizes like a DVD player. It's skiball mixed with the Puritan work ethic. Which is not to say it's a bad program,...
  • BUSH FLIRTS WITH...

    BUSH FLIRTS WITH LIEBERMAN. One of the more puzzling moments in George W. Bush 's interview on Larry King last night was when he was asked whether he would endorse Joe Lieberman for Senate should he lose the Democratic primary and run as an independent. Bush dodged that as follows: G. BUSH: First, the Democrats have to sort out who their nominee is going to be, and that's going to be up to the Democrats. And the rest of it's hypothetical. KING: But he said he would run as an independent, if he were... G. BUSH: He also has said he's going to win his primary. KING: I know you like him. G. BUSH: You're trying to get me to give him a political kiss, which may be his death. KING: You hugged him before the State of the Union, right? No, I know you generally... G. BUSH: The Democrats are going to figure it out. They'll figure it out. KING: So you would not make a decision on that. G. BUSH: Well, I'm not going to wade into a Democratic primary in the state of Connecticut. Now this is just...
  • LAST NIGHT'S SHOWDOWN....

    LAST NIGHT'S SHOWDOWN. Gee, kids, let's not play in front of old Joe Lieberman 's house any more. Gosh, what an old grouch. The Connecticut senatorial debate featured one guy who seemed to still be wearing the shrink-wrap and an 18-year incumbent doing a one-man impersonation of The Old Radley Place. Was politics ever fun for Joe Lieberman? If he's winning, he's burdened ever so by High Moral Purpose. If he's in trouble, which he is right now, he's beset on all sides by ingrates and mountebanks. It must be difficult to remain biblical if you cast yourself as Job AND Jehovah. And while Ned Lamont 's most fervent acolytes occasionally seem to be writing for Tiger Beat , last night he was cool and precise and extremely disciplined. I don't know what kind of senator he'd make, but I wouldn't go into a business deal against him without body armor. Still, for those of us outside The Land Of Steady Habits, there was a little too much about the Greenwich Town Council and submarine bases and...
  • MORE FOR CHUCK...

    MORE FOR CHUCK TO CHEW ON. Earlier this week, I noted in a post that Chuck Schumer had benefited from Democratic post-primary unity in New York in 1998 when his defeated opponents rallied to his side, and he went on to beat Al D�Amato . The idea is that now, as head of the DSCC, Schumer should learn from his own example and that the party ought to rally around the primary winner in, to pick a random state, Connecticut, let�s say. But an old friend writes in to tell me there�s a far better precedent for Schumer to follow, and it, too, involved D�Amato. It was 1980, and D�Amato was running against Jacob Javits in the GOP primary. Javits, like Joe Lieberman , was the party�s incumbent. D�Amato, like Ned Lamont , was the insurgent challenger. The GOP establishment had backed Javits in the primary. But when the Fonz won the September 9 primary, the GOP faced a dilemma, because Javits announced that he would continue to run in the general election on the Liberal Party ballot line, which he...
  • The Washington Post's Front Page Editorial on Mexican Elections

    The lead headline of the Washington Post this morning was "Mexico Vote Tally Gives Free-Trader a Narrow Victory." Wrong! Felipe Calderon, the candidate who is now ahead in the vote tally to be Mexico's next president is not a free-trader. He has supported increasing copyright and patent protection and shown no special interest in removing protectionist barriers that obstruct free trade in the services of highly paid professionals (e.g. doctors, lawyers, accountants). The Washington Post does not own the term "free-trade." If they want to identify Calderon by his trade position, they can call him pro-NAFTA. It is more accurate and saves 2 letters. --Dean Baker
  • New York Times Does PR Work for Brazilian Energy Company

    Remember the good old days when newspapers didn't just unquestioning print what the powerful tell them? (Okay, maybe they never existed.) Anyhow, a Times article this morning reports that Petrobras, the Brazilian energy company, has invested $50 billion in Bolivia. How does the Times know how much Petrobras has invested in Bolivia? Did their reporter go around and price out the various wells and pipelines that the firm has constructed over years? Maybe the reporter talked to an expert who gave his/her estimate of the amount invested. While both of these are possibilities, the article doesn't tell us the source of the $50 billion figure, leaving open the possibility that the Times just printed what the company told them. This matters because, as the article reports, Petrobras is currently engaged in a dispute with the Bolivian government over its efforts to renegotiate royalty agreements. Petrobras' moral, if not legal, claim is improved, insofar as it has invested heavily in...
  • BEING THERE. Matt's...

    BEING THERE. Matt 's dig at Michael Ledeen reminded me that I wanted to highlight this Ross Douthat item from a few weeks back about how Ledeen has never actually been to Iran , the country on which he claims unparalleled expertise: I don't want to resurrect my ancient feud with Michael Ledeen or anything, but I was a little gobsmacked by this comment he just made: In a new entry to the competition for the coveted Walter Duranty Prize For Most Favorable Coverage of Tyrants, the Wall Street Journal weighs in with a new puff piece on Ahmadinejad, speaking of his "soaring popularity" due to "populist policies." Well, I've never been to Iran, and I doubt it would be smart for me to do a research trip there so long as the mullahs rule, but Roozonline, written by people with lots of first hand experience, has a rather different view of the Iranian economy . . . Wait, wait . . . Michael Ledeen has never been to Iran? Michael "the expert on all things Iranian, and how we should overthrow the...
  • REAL RAGE. Far...

    REAL RAGE. Far be it from me -- very far be it from me, Moons Of Freaking Neptune be it from me -- to be perceived as defending NewsMax, but I think Ezra's a little glib in dismissing the story about John McCain 's temper. It is a very real, and very startling, and very important part of his personality and, unless the campaign press corps spends more time in the tank than Shamu, it's going to be an ongoing story in the 2008 campaign. In 1998, I wrote a long profile on the senator for Esquire , and his volatility was very much an issue ever then, particularly with people back in Arizona. More than a few local journalists -- most notably, Ed Montini of the Arizona Republic -- have written about being on the receiving end of tirades from the senator that were considerably out of proportion to whatever perceived slight prompted them. People have treated the matter gingerly, in large part because nobody wants to contribute to the baseless old Rovian smear about McCain's stability. Let us...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GROVER. On June 23, Grover Norquist met with a bunch of liberals for a Prospect -sponsored breakfast here in Washington. Grover expounded on the structure of the two major political coalitions in America; the politics of Iraq, gay marriage, and immigration; the philosophical link between the inheritance tax and Jim Crow; anti-Mormonism and Big Love ; the complete innocence of Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform in this whole Abramoff -Indian tribes brouhaha; and much more. Here he is handicapping the Democratic presidential contenders for 2008: My assumption is that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. I believe the debates will be Hillary Clinton and seven guys sitting around a table, her chair will be four inches taller than everybody else�s, and Biden will say things like, �I was thinking today how clever and brilliant and witty Hillary was, which reminded me that Evan Bayh is an idiot.� And so, they�ll kick each...
  • MCCAIN'S TEMPER. ...

    MCCAIN'S TEMPER. For an interesting preview of the coming smear job on John McCain , check out Newsmax's article questioning whether McCain has the temperament to be President. It warns that, "to insiders who know him, McCain has an irrational, explosive side that make many of them question whether he is fit to serve as president and be commander in chief." Ooh -- scandal! The article mostly charges the maverick with liberal usage of the F-bomb and claims that McCain has poor working relations with the other senators, who he occasionally lambastes. The richest part of the piece, though, surely is the bit comparing his anger management problems to infidelity, an issue Newsmax wasn't exactly known for dodging during the Clinton years. "The favored treatment," writes Newsmax, "is reminiscent of the way the press turned a blind eye to John F. Kennedy's dalliances � except that voters have far more need to know about evidence of instability than presidential infidelities." Ah yes, I...

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