Archive

  • THE BEAST ONLY...

    THE BEAST ONLY GROWS HUNGRIER. Maybe I'm just dense, but did we really need a serious academic paper to explain that when conservatives cut taxes, government doesn't necessarily shrink? After all, a quick glance at George W. Bush 's tenure reveals a nice pattern of massive tax cuts tilted towards the rich followed by huge entitlement expansions meant to win back favor amongst the middle class -- he's a don't-tax but still-spend conservative. And that's not even getting into Iraq, which has been funded almost entirely through so-called "emergency" appropriations, the main virtue of which is that they're not factored into budget estimates. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see the starve-the-beast theory abandoned, it just seems strange that the obvious evidence of the past few decades wasn't, on its own, more than enough to make the case. It is interesting, though, that the study's author flags taxation at 19 percent of GDP as the magic number at which government becomes too expensive to...
  • WHAT A MESS....

    WHAT A MESS. A front-pager (at least online) at The New York Times details the predictable decline of medical services in the Gaza Strip under the economically sanctioned Hamas-led Palestinian government, and outlines the increasingly dire predictions of the World Health Organization for the long-term health of the Palestinian medical infrastructure. Meanwhile, gun-battles between rival armed factions fighting for the control of the (unpaid since March) Palestinian security forces have left three dead : Hamas claimed Fatah had shot one of its members, who later died in a hospital. Hamas then shot two Fatah members in the street. Assault rifles, submachine guns and even an anti-tank missile usually reserved for fighting against Israel were fired in the streets of the Abassan farming community. Problems getting medical supplies into Gaza through the Karni crossing have multiplied, partly in response to attacks on Karni (including a recent one believed to have been directed by Hamas...
  • THE IMMIGRANT ROCK....

    THE IMMIGRANT ROCK. The Washington Post has a notably good history of the immigration debate today. From Germans who saw no reason for linguistic assimilation to Jewish communities that served as hotbeds for socialism to Italians who lagged in educational attainment, the various arguments being trotted out to prove that, no, Mexicans are different, were all paraded about in the past to prove that group X, finally, was too intrinsically deviant to accept into American society. Of course, each group was perfectly assimilable, and now none of us can imagine it any other way, but it doesn't stop the broken record from replaying its nativist remix, no matter how worn-out the last recital sounds in retrospect. Much is being made of the audacity of those who want a Spanish version of the anthem, but Ellis Island's literacy test, for instance, was in the immigrant's native language, and somehow English survived. Further, according to tonight's Dateline , a random sample of senators and...
  • THE HAYDEN CHOICE....

    THE HAYDEN CHOICE. Bush 's choice to run the CIA, General Michael Hayden , is provoking some Republican opposition from members of both congressional Intelligence committees who don't want to see a military officer put in charge of the agency. If there's anything that can provoke GOP congresspeople to buck the administration, it's probably squabbling over turf, so something may really come of this initial poor reception. Donald Rumsfeld and his close collaborator Stephen Cambone have been trying to put as much of the Intelligence Community as possible under the Pentagon thumb which, among other things, runs contrary to the interests of people who sit on the Intelligence committees. Since this is something at least some Republicans are upset about, it'll be natural for Democrats, too, to raise the issue. My hope would be, however, that Democrats don't see this as an excuse for ducking the more obvious question of Hayden's involvement in the NSA's illegal domestic surveillance...
  • IS THE CLOCK...

    IS THE CLOCK TICKING FOR KARL ROVE? Today's Washington Post piece on Karl Rove reminds us just how implausible Karl Rove's Plamegate story has always been. It appears Patrick Fitzgerald is very skeptical of Rove's claim that he forgot his conversation with Time reporter Matthew Cooper about Valerie Plame because Rove was up to his neck in the White House's political efforts to deal with critics of pre-war intelligence failures: Fitzgerald is weighing Rove's foggy-memory defense against evidence he has acquired over nearly 2 1/2 years that shows Rove was very involved in White House efforts to beat back allegations that Bush twisted U.S. intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to sources involved in the case... Additionally, one former government official said he testified that Rove talked with White House colleagues about the political importance of defending the prewar intelligence and countering Plame's husband , former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. ( Emphasis added. )...
  • HATING ON HILLARY....

    HATING ON HILLARY. I'd take Matt 's critique of Hillary Clinton a little further than he did. Liberal distaste for Clinton is not a mere reaction to her ceaseless triangulation and ideological timidity, but a frustration at her blithe unwillingness to make the most of her position on the public stage. She is that rarest of Democratic breeds: a superstar, a human starting gun. When she speaks, the media listens. When she holds a press conference, reporters attend. So progressives view Clinton as a walking opportunity cost; she occupies one of the few superstar spots a party can furnish, but has refused to use that power in service of party or liberalism. The anger isn't merely over what she has done, but what she hasn't done. Now, so far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, using her position to benefit the party or the philosophy rather than her own personal ambitions doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But for the base, anger at her endless attempts to amass centrist capital for 2008...
  • THE SUBSTANCE FACTOR....

    THE SUBSTANCE FACTOR. Prog blog king Markos Moulitsas had a Washington Post Style section article raising some doubts about Hillary Clinton 's presidential aspirations over the weekend. Ed Kilgore 's penned a response that I think is effective on some scores. I feel like Markos' efforts at critique were somewhat hobbled by the way the activist blogger community has nominally committed itself to an ideology of non-ideological pragmatism. One might as well state the obvious: The main reason liberals who have a problem with Clinton have a problem with Clinton is that she's not very liberal . On the important question of the Iraq War, she isn't liberal at all -- she's just wrong. On domestic policy issues, she hasn't had any really crucial acts of apostasy, but she hasn't compensated for her bad stance on the war with any kind of notably bold progressive leadership. Instead, insofar as she's distinguished herself from the pack, it's been by championing a few petty, illiberal causes like...
  • THE W. CENTER...

    THE W. CENTER FOR POLICY EXPERTISE. Elisabeth Bumiller reports that George W. Bush wants to start a think tank along with his presidential library after he leaves office. I'll let commenters supply the appropriate jokes here as I finish my coffee. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HANDS DOWN. Can...

    HANDS DOWN. Can I just say that my best moment as editor of The American Prospect came -- no-brainer here, dude -- when I parred the 16th at Rock Creek last summer. It�s a fierce Par 4 -- just a slight dogleg left, but a ribbon-thin fairway with dense spinach on both sides and a postage-stamp green that I nailed in regulation with a beautiful seven iron from the short cut. I�m a novice linksman, so any par is a small miracle. But to par the Rock Creek 16th -- well, just let me say it was a great moment for liberal journalism. --Michael Tomasky
  • Missing Fact on British Health Care

    The New York Times had an interesting piece on the poor state of the dental care provided by the British public health care system in its Sunday paper. The article reports that people face long waits for even emergency dental care, and that many now turn to private dentists or go to foreign countries for treatment. Readers naturally feel sorry for the plight of Britons with bad teeth and are thankful that here in the United States we have an efficient private health care system. The key fact missing in the story is that Britain spends less than 40 percent as much person for its health care as the United States. Whatever the relative merits of the British mechanism for providing health care and the U.S. system, it would be truly astonishing if the British system could best the U.S. in every category, spending just 40 cents to our dollar. (Britain does much better on life expectancy for its 40 cents.) This article is part of a long series of articles in the New York Times which could go...

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