Archive

  • MALLABY GETS IT...

    MALLABY GETS IT RIGHT. Sebastian Mallaby pens an excellent column today. As John Bolton approaches the one-year mark of his recess appointment, it is clear that his tenure has been defined by the waning of American influence at the United Nations. His preference for zero-sum games in a forum that has advanced beyond those kinds of negotiating tactics has backfired, and has done so to the detriment of American interests at the United Nations. The set of reforms championed by the Secretary General and the West is being held up by an increasingly assertive coalition of developing countries -- even though, as Kofi Annan wrote in the Financial Times (subscription only), these reforms would do much to streamline the services that the United Nations now offers to the developing world, like health care, AIDS education, peace-building, and more. The developing world, however, insists that the management reforms sought by Annan and the West are a thinly veiled power-grab. Though this is far...
  • LESSONS LEARNED. He...

    LESSONS LEARNED. He makes some good points, but I think E.J. Dionne 's column on the lessons of failing to achieve universal preschool in California misses some important structural issues. As he writes, one lesson here is that even in California it's hard to enact a gigantic ambitious new government program. But one should also remember something important here: Had California enacted the gigantic ambitious government program in question, it likely would never have been repealed . Universal programs are very expensive and, therefore, very hard to establish. But whereas, say, a modest, means-tested preschool tax credit aimed at the poorest Californians would have been easy to pass and equally easy to roll back next time an economic downturn or a spate of Republican tax cuts created a budget crunch, a universal preschool program would have been almost impossible to get rid of or even seriously scale back. That, fundamentally, is the reason why it's worthwhile to think big even though...
  • MORE ON FEELINGS...

    MORE ON FEELINGS AND STUFF. See, I read Brooks � column yesterday in a kind of light spirit, which I thought he intended (while recognizing, of course, the subtle conservative subtext, which David always sneaks in toward the end of such ruminative columns). Now, Linda H. comes along to remind me that there�s nothing light about these questions at all, that I�ve fallen into Brooks� well-sprung trap, and am only demonstrating that, when it comes to the phrase �male liberal,� the first word is fated always to pulverize the second. My question is: Does anyone out there actually know what young people are being made to read today? Because Linda has a point when she talks about the generations of women who were made to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Moby Dick and such. I�m trying now to think back through my humble, non-elitist schooling and remember what I was in fact assigned to read. Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn , certainly. Other major American writers. In my advanced high school...
  • CLOSING THE GAP....

    CLOSING THE GAP. Jim VandeHei reported in yesterday's paper that, based on figures released so far, the fundraising gap between the GOP and the Democrats is much smaller this year than in past cycles. Considering that the importance of raising money isn't exactly a secret, these numbers tend to get weirdly neglected in a lot of punditry. It should be obvious that one important reason that we can have a whole series of close elections that all break toward the Republicans is that the Republican base has a lot more money than the Democratic base and, consequently, the Republicans usually wind up with a lot more cash to spend on campaigns. The narrowing of the gap seems to be due to a combination of improved Democratic performance and some demoralization in the conservative ranks. The question is whether it will be possible to sustain anything remotely resembling parity into the future, when one assumes that the sense of crisis on the left and the sense of disgruntlement on the right...
  • SACRIFICING LIBERTY FOR...

    SACRIFICING LIBERTY FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME. They�ve almost grown tiresome, the relentless complaints that center on the conspicuous lack of public and political outrage over the manifest evidence that this administration seems to consider the Bill of Rights to be a bathmat. Where, I wonder, have these people been living for the past 25 years or so? The popular culture -- most notably, television and the movies -- have worked overtime to convince Americans that the Bill is little more than a series of loopholes through which dive criminals, fakes, and mountebanks, usually played by James Rebhorn . More recently, and especially on FOX's admittedly compelling 24 , the Bill is the magic portal through which scary terrorists land in our midst. (I keep waiting for the week in which Kiefer Sutherland , as uber-agent Jack Bauer , digs up James Madison and beats him silly.) Politicians who find the people's liberties inconvenient, of course, delight in a popular culture that so devalues them...
  • ASSIMILATION NATION. Tyler...

    ASSIMILATION NATION. Tyler Cowen and Daniel Rothschild have an op-ed in the Post on Latino immigrant assimilation making the point that "Latino immigrants, like generations of immigrants before, are entering the mainstream of life in the United States. Ours is the best country in the world at assimilating immigrants. This should be a badge of honor, and one that we wear proudly." It's nothing we haven't hashed out previously on TAPPED , but give it a read if you're interested in the topic. --Matthew Yglesias
  • TWO HATS. Elisabeth...

    TWO HATS. Elisabeth Bumiller 's profile of White House Iraq aide Meghan O'Sullivan is another reminder that, though it's impolite and possibly politically counterproductive to say so, the man in charge of this country seems to be a bit dimwitted. His Iraq briefing memos are only three pages long and "written in the crisp, compelling style that the president prefers." O'Sullivan is praised for her ability to "distill a complex mass of developments into something more penetrable" and for being "succinct, unpretentious, full of facts and cheerful � exactly what Mr. Bush likes." The other thing is that even though the whole article's about Iraq, this isn't her exclusive focus. Instead, her job is "deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan." Is there any reason to combine those two jobs? They're different wars happening in different countries. Surely each is important enough to have a separate mid-level staffer as coordinator. The only rationale for collapsing the two jobs...
  • DAVID BROOKS MAKES...

    DAVID BROOKS MAKES MY DAY. AGAIN. Just one day before my book exhorting women to aspire to full humanity is due in the bookstores, my favorite conservative , David Brooks , came right out and said it in the op-ed pages of The New York Times . Forget being part of humanity, girls. Women are a different species. What makes humans human, above all things, is, of course, our brains. Well, according to Brooks, the results, which most serious scholars are still debating , are in. Women have different brains. They read junk. They snivel. They even smell differently. Just for a little perspective here, remember that the idea that humans have different kinds of brains is not new. When the IQ test was first developed, the people involved thought that Jews had inherently inferior brains, and that the country was in big trouble because too many of these �other� people were coming into the country. Brooks� bad news for today is that too many of the inferior species are coming into the colleges...
  • Joe Six-Pack's Stock Portfolio?

    "Experts" get away with saying almost any nonsense they like when it comes to talking about the stock market and the economy, but I think that we may have hit a new high today. A Times article today quotes Mark Cliffe, global head of financial markets research at ING Group in London, saying that the U.S. stock market has fallen 5-6 percent this year. The expert adds that if it falls another 5 percent, it could affect consumer spending and "‘Joe-Six' could start to cut back his stock portfolio." Okay, there could be a wealth effect from lower stock prices on consumption, but this usually takes some period of time. Furthermore, wasn't the purpose of supply-side tax cuts (as in President Bush's tax cuts) to increase saving? In other words, we are supposed to believe that less consumption is bad when it happens because the stock market falls, but good when it is due to a tax cut. (More savings MEANS less consumption.) But part 2 of this quote is the real fun -- Joe Six-Pack's stock...
  • OHMIGOD, SOMEONE HAS MIXED ME UP WITH JUDITH WARNER.

    OHMIGOD, SOMEONE HAS MIXED ME UP WITH JUDITH WARNER. I just read Garance �s post in response to my week�s writing and to Judith Warner �s dreaded reappearance on The Times website. Although Garance made the linkage, I don�t think this is her mistake -- because she has been following my writing since I published � Homeward Bound � in the Prospect last December. But many of the commentators seem to read Garance�s post and conclude that, like Warner, I take the position that life is so hard for mommies, they cannot keep their jobs and need to be rescued by an omniscient government. Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has read anything by or about me during the last six months surely knows. Even seeing the phrase �Judith and Linda� makes me a little dizzy. It is true that when the women graduate from Harvard, or anywhere else, as I said, the speedup in well-paid jobs has made the prospect of finding good work and having a home life harder. It is also true, and this is...

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