Archive

  • CREDIT. Hillary...

    CREDIT. Hillary Clinton hasn't let her routine spats with the blogosphere stand in the way of good policy: She's come out as cosponsor of a strong net neutrality bill. This, by the way, is evidence of why nothing she does to the blogs or the blogs do to her is particularly dangerous over the long haul. If Clinton wins the primary, the netroots will still unite around her because, of the two candidates, she's the one most likely to govern in a way they can stomach. And she'll welcome them into the fold, because they bring cash and energy. There'll be some grumbling, sure. And when the rapprochement begins grinding forward and the internecine battles wind down, you'll see a bunch of "Why I Support Hillary" posts, most of which will prominently feature this bill. Bandwidth is thicker than water, after all. --Ezra Klein
  • AT LAST, SOME...

    AT LAST, SOME SENSE. So House Republicans have opted to nix any real chance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year in favor of holding purely political hearings on border security in select regions this summer. That makes some sense. The way the immigration fight (largely among Republicans) has unfolded this year -- particularly the President's bizarre insistence on publicly pushing a policy that's very unpopular within his party without expending any real effort to twist arms -- has been genuinely baffling to behold. Wedge politics and targeted demagoguery in an election season is a whole lot easier to understand. -- Sam Rosenfeld
  • BIG IDEAS. ...

    BIG IDEAS. It's sadly locked behind The New York Times cursed subscription wall, but Maureen Dowd has penned one of the best op-ed columns I've read in months. The context is yesterday's launch luncheon for Democracy , where Andrei Cherny , Ken Baer , Bill Kristol , Francis Fukuyama , and Mike Tomasky batted around the worth of "Big Ideas." Cherny recalled a conversation with a conservative pundit who asked, "Who's on your tie?" Apparently, the Reaganites signaled their seriousness by using Edmund Burke and Adam Smith as neckwear. This struck me as stupid: John Kenneth Galbraith may be a massive influence for me, but there's not a doubt in my mind that he would consider anyone wearing his face on their chest a doofus. The intellectuals I revere were too iconoclastic and skeptical for that sort of hero worship. But I'm in the minority: The aesthetics of seriousness are in vogue now, and it's only a matter of time before George Lakoff becomes a fashion statement. It's odd, though. The...
  • WHEN PRINCIPLE MATTERS....

    WHEN PRINCIPLE MATTERS. See, man, you try to insert a little nuance into your argument and the young punks jump all over you . But here's the rub -- on issues that are going to be before Congress one way or another, principles don't really matter. Does Joe Lieberman really think the Employee Free Choice Act is important, or is he just pandering to a key liberal interest-group? I don't care. What matters in this instance is that he'll vote for it. It seems that he will, and that's all to the good. But not every issue has that dynamic. An unprincipled foe of "indecent" pop culture mouths the ritual denunciations when the issue is thrust onto the public agenda. This is unfortunate. The real villains, however, are the people who insist on thrusting the issue into the public agenda in the first place. There are many reasons one might become an agenda-thrusting indecency foe, but principled opposition to indecency is certainly a frequent cause. This gives us, I think, particular reason to...
  • THE MAGAZINE READER....

    THE MAGAZINE READER. Is the age of small magazines once again upon us? And has Washington become America's new intellectual center? Washington certainly is looking like the new Boston this week, with the launch of The Democratic Strategist , an online journal, and the aforementioned journal Democracy . Indeed, the city looks, in particular, to be entering an era of intellectual ferment on the left (and center-left) the likes of which it has not seen in some time. Small political magazines used to spring from the minds of New Yorkers and residents of the other big, liberal metropoles, and while today such cities produce magazines like n+1 and The Believer , it's been some time since they produced any new innovative political journals. Meanwhile, The Prospect , born in Boston, has become ensconsed in the District, and the much-larger Boston-bred Atlantic magazine has turned D.C. into its new, congenial home. Like The Atlantic , The New Republic is under new leadership. Another newcomer...
  • PRINCIPLES. I generally...

    PRINCIPLES. I generally agree with Matt 's article today, particularly his conclusion that principles are "only good if your principles are the right ones." But he seems to be contradicting himself here: Lieberman at least plausibly really does think the role of a United States senator ought to be complaining about "Friends"� time slot. If so, that�s all to the worse. Politicians who pander to misguided public concerns are problematic; politicians who genuinely share those misguided concerns and help to feed and create them are worse. I don't get it. It seems to me that the whole point of Matt's article is that it doesn't matter how one arrives at a public policy position, whether it's political pandering or genuine principle. What matters is whether the position they adopt is right. If that's the case, then why does Matt think it worse that Joe Lieberman 's schoolmarmish instincts are genuine rather than calculated? Parenthetically, I think Matt would agree with me that his point...
  • MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN....

    MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN. I've avoided commenting on the apparently deteriorating situation in Afghanistan because I don't understand the dynamics over there very well, but it is worth noting that the situation certainly does seem to be getting bad : "Suspected Taliban guerrillas in the southern province of Helmand ambushed and killed 32 people on Sunday, all of them relatives and tribesmen of an influential member of Parliament, among them a former local government official, the legislator said Monday." The obvious point to make about all this was that there was almost certainly a significant cost to our Afghanistan policy involved in taking our eyes off the ball and shifting attention to Iraq. In part, this is just a question of force size. But it's also a question of money. We've spent a phenomenal amount of cash on the Iraq War -- far, far, far more than anyone would ever have contemplated spending on Afghanistan. And having tons and tons of money to throw around makes pretty much...
  • I COME NOT...

    I COME NOT TO BURY DEMOCRACY , BUT TO PRAISE IT. Like Matt , it wasn't my intent to greet Cherny and Baer 's new magazine with a negative post, it just happened that I wandered into an article that I had to hack my way back out of. So let me take the opposite tack now and highly recommend Gar Alperovitz 's piece on a progressive ownership society. He goes through the usual -- though undoubtedly important -- asset-building stuff, but I'm more interested in his rundown on employee-owned corporations, of which there are now nearly 12,000, with some mega-companies boasting revenue in the billions. Alperovitz notes that "[a] recent survey by Rutgers University sociologist Joseph Blasi, Rutgers economist Douglas Kruse, and BusinessWeek reporter Aaron Bernstein demonstrated that such firms have consistently higher productivity records than comparable non-employee-owned firms. Average hourly pay in ESOP firms is also significantly higher than pay for comparable work in non-ESOP firms. And...
  • WHEN THE BEST...

    WHEN THE BEST IS NOT ENOUGH. Excellent, a chance to tread over some more Iraq/incompetence terrain. Kevin Drum writes : Actually, not everyone seems to have realized this. In fact, it's a point of considerable controversy, isn't it? Sam Rosenfeld and Matt Yglesias made the opposite point explicitly in "The Incompetence Dodge," arguing that "administrative bungling is simply not the root source of America�s failure in Iraq." I made the same argument myself a couple of years ago , though I remain sort of ambivalent about it, largely because of stories like Babylon by Bus . If you're operating at 80% efficiency and your plan doesn't work, it probably means the plan was just plain bad. But if you're operating at 20% efficiency, it seems at least plausible that better execution could have produced success. It may be that democratization by force is a chimera, but the level of incompetence in Iraq has been so monumental that it seems almost impossible to draw any enduring conclusions from...
  • HIGHLY EXPLICABLE. It's...

    HIGHLY EXPLICABLE. It's a small point, but one passage in the aformentioned National Review article made me laugh out loud: If Republicans want credit for spending restraint, they also should have some high-profile program eliminations. Corporate welfare presents obvious targets. It seems inexplicable that Republicans haven�t taken up this issue despite the fact that every conservative think tank has pushed them to do it for years. Indeed! It's a bottomless mystery why Republicans haven't cut off the public spigots to corporations. If TAPPED were a less honest enterprise I'd leave the excerpt truncated like that, but duty compels me to point out the authors' next sentence: "But the influence of business lobbyists and farm-state members has preserved Washington�s 'spending for the rich.'" Very true. So what's "inexplicable," again? -- Sam Rosenfeld

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