Archive

  • WEIRD LEDE OF...

    WEIRD LEDE OF THE DAY. The Hill takes the prize: When Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter stepped into the shower yesterday, it was an elusive immigration overhaul, not a slippery bar of soap, that he most hoped to keep within his grasp. Potent imagery, I suppose. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • IDEAS, FIRST PRINCIPLES,...

    IDEAS, FIRST PRINCIPLES, THE PHILOSOPHY GAP, ETC. To add to the pushback against liberal "ideas" hype , I recommend reading Greg Anrig 's post as well as Alan Wolfe 's essay in the latest Washington Monthly . Neither actually make arguments against the transcendent relevance of big ideas to political parties, but they both make a refreshingly obvious point that relates to that debate: namely, that conservative Republican governance -- the culmination of the right's storied decades-long efforts to build a movement and an intellectual infrastructure and to incubate new ideas while out in the political wilderness and blah blah blah -- has been an unmitigated fiasco and embarrassment. Most of the right's big ideas have turned out to be less than half-baked, and the right in power has failed to advance most of the basic goals of political conservatism. Wolfe makes a very sweeping and historical case for the inevitability of conservative failure in power ("A conservative in America, in...
  • NDN GETS BACK...

    NDN GETS BACK TO ITS ROOTS. So the annual NDN Conference gets under way at noon today, and guess who's on the speaker line-up ? New Democrats. People who have ties to the Democratic Leadership Council. People accused on blogs of centrism. The main political speakers at the conference are: Rep. Rahm Emanuel , chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; former Virginia Governor Mark Warner ; Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack , chair of the DLC; and Senator Hillary Clinton . There's Bernard Schwartz , Chairman of the Board and CEO of Loral Space & Communications -- a defense contractor and major Democratic funder -- and also... Markos Moulitsas Zuniga , described on the conference schedule as an "internet pioneer." Last time I saw Markos speak, at the Yearly Kos conference, I turned to my seat-mate and said: That man is going to run for office one day. Between his media trainer's styling advice (which included such tips as wearing hair-gel) and his now extensive public speaking...
  • JUPITER RISING, WAGES...

    JUPITER RISING, WAGES STUCK. In all innocence, I went on to the Washington Post 's home page on Wednesday afternoon to see who voted how in the Senate vote on raising the minimum wage. I found what I was looking for: the eight Republicans (Chafee, Coleman, Collins, DeWine, Lugar, Snowe, Specter, Warner) who voted along with the Democrats to raise the wage. (That gave the forces of good 52 votes, but the Republicans had structured the vote to require 60.) Then I noticed that the Post had the vote broken down not just by party but by state, region, gender, and boomer and pre-boomer (not a very revelatory category: boomers backed the proposal by a 24 to 21 margin; pre-boomers, by a 28 to 25 margin). What to my wondering eyes should then appear but one more category: Astrological sign . Yes, the Post lets you know the vote breakdown among all those Cancers and Geminis. The most pro-raise sign was Sagittarius (6 yes, 3 no); the most anti was Virgo (2 yes, 6 no). For anyone with a double...
  • Dollars Down the Drain

    The Washington Post reported on former Treasury Secretary, and soon to be former Harvard President, Larry Summers' suggestion that the foreign central banks of developing countries begin to unload some of their huge dollar holdings. As someone who has been writing on this issue for almost five years (see here , here , and here ), I am glad to see that it is now getting attention from some prominent economists. Unfortunately, the article (and perhaps Summers) confuses cause and effect. The article implies that the central banks acquire these huge holdings because of their countries' vast trade surpluses with the United States. It suggests that the banks buy up dollar reserves because they don't know what else to do with their money. While there be some holdings due to simple confusion of this sort, this is probably the least important factor in the huge build-up of reserves. Part of the reason is that developing countries do not want to end up in financial crises where they can then be...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: CAT SCRATCH FEVER. Tom Schaller describes his run-in with Dave "Mudcat" Saunders , the Democrats' Dixie huckster, and discusses some of the problems the Democrats face in the South. --The Editors
  • SOMEBODY CALL A...

    SOMEBODY CALL A BLOGGER'S ETHICS PANEL. I have my problems with Kos, but this sort of gotcha journalism is silly. The story, as intrepid reporter Jason Zengerle has uncovered it, is this: After the news about Jerome 's settled SEC case broke, Markos sent an e-mail over a closed list saying he thought the story was worthless and the best way to respond was to deny it oxygen or impact. And so he, and others, did. The e-mail could have been sent to a private CC list of the biggest bloggers, but he instead transmitted it through a semi-private message board with hundreds of members. One of the many hundreds of members forwarded the note to Zengerle, who breathlessly posted it up on the Plank. Butwaittheresmore! Zengerle's follow-up post is a series of dark insinuations over the financial leverage Kos holds on the other bloggers. As the causal chain goes, Markos and Jerome founded the Liberal BlogAds Network, and thus have their talons lightly piercing the skin of all of our necks. The...
  • MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE...

    MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE DEFEATED. It needed 60 votes, it got 52, so for the moment, the minimum wage increase is dead . Of the eight Republicans who voted for it, four are up for reelection this year. Congrats to The New York Times , by the way, for accurately diagnosing the state of play: "While Democrats depend on organized labor to win elections, Republicans are closely aligned with business interests that oppose any increase in the federal wage floor or would like changes in the current system." Ted Kennedy has promised that the minimum wage will be among the first bits of legislation Democrats consider if they retake Congress this fall. Other members of the party should repeat that promise, loudly and often. --Ezra Klein
  • Rich Countries Provide $300 Billion Annually in Subsidies to the Pharmaceutical Industry

    You won't see this headline in the newspapers. You should ask why. Newspapers have repeatedly reported on the hundreds of billions of dollars that the rich countries give to the agricultural industry. (See the Financial Times for the latest example.) While the wording of the headlines, and often the articles themselves, would lead readers to believe that this money is being paid directly from rich country governments to farmers, the vast majority of this money takes the form of higher prices that result from trade barriers of various types. To those who might say that it doesn't matter whether the money comes from government coffers or through higher prices to consumers, I will point out that this is not how the media generally treat the issue. The media have never run a story about the hundreds of billions of dollars in government subsidies to the pharmaceutical industry. These subsidies take the form of patent protection, government granted monopolies that raise the price of patent...
  • TEENAGERS? With...

    TEENAGERS? With the minimum wage returning to the forefront of the political agenda, time's ripe to knock down the oft-deployed stereotype that it just affects a bunch of teenagers. Putting aside the general incoherence of that perspective (uh, why should teenagers be paid poorly?), it's simply untrue. The best work (PDF) on this subject comes from Heather Boushey at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. She analyzed the Survey of Income and Program Participation and found: � The overwhelming number of minimum wage workers are adults. Fewer than one in five are under 20, and more than half are between 20 and 54. Let's repeat: over 50 percent are between 20 years old and 54 years old. 87 percent are over 20. � The average minimum wage worker brings home 68 percent of their household's income. Many of them are supporting a family on nothing but the minimum wage, which is to say $10,500 a year -- well below the federal poverty line. � The minimum wage can be sticky. For more than...

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