Archive

  • KLEIN V. KLEIN....

    KLEIN V. KLEIN. You've really got to read Digby 's excerpts from Hugh Hewitt 's interview with Joe Klein . Klein desires -- aches really -- for Hewitt's approval, and it leaves him a quivering mass of eager-to-please. The interview primarily consists of Klein parading all his points of agreement with George W. Bush and proudly bragging about his White House nickname -- Mr. Faith-Based, in case you were wondering -- which he hastens to add is just "one of Bush's nicknames for me." It's pathetic. Klein, you'll remember, is supposed to be Time 's in-house liberal, so maybe he feels the need to keep his identification slippery (in which case, speaking as a liberal, I assure him it's worked). I wonder, however, why you never see Charles Krauthammer on the Rhandi Rhodes show prostrating himself for her approval and slamming his party. He seems perfectly comfortable in his political identity. Klein , meanwhile, is prancing about, saying Bush is an "an honorable man," who "I really like" and...
  • COMPARE AND CONTRAST....

    COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Joe Klein thinks the "left wing of the Democratic Party" doesn't "respect the military sufficiently." Meanwhile, in recent weeks a lot of generals have put forward the idea that America's current military policies are serving the country poorly. Uber-hawk columnist Charles Krauthammer accuses them of laying the groundwork for a coup d'�tat and/or opening the United States to foreign subversion in the course of comparing George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln . In the real world, of course, the Lincoln-McClellan point cuts in the other direction. Lincoln had some policies. General McClellan disagreed with them. Eventually, McClellan got fired. He expressed his disagreements with Lincoln vocally, eventually becoming Lincoln's opponent in an election. The Republic survived this outbreak of elected leaders being subject to criticism, and by adopting an un-Bush-like strategy of implementing successful policies , Lincoln won the election. No coup, nothing bad happened, and...
  • FEAR THIS DEFICIENCY...

    FEAR THIS DEFICIENCY WE HAVE CREATED. Like Matt , I haven't finished John Halpin and Ruy Teixera 's article . And like Matt , I'm going to comment anyway. And like Matt , I think progressives disagree on a bunch of stuff, and it's tough to achieve clarity of message when you're tangled in disagreement. Or at least it should be. But here's the thing: conservatives disagree on as much stuff as liberals. Large swaths of the rightwing think we shouldn't run up massive deficits, yet they've fallen into line behind a leader doing just that. Serious sectors of the Republican movement are essentially isolationist, but they've thrown up their hands and ceded foreign policy to the neocons. Matt notes the tension between our own Harold Meyerson and the Clinton establishment's new Hamilton Project, but those disagreements are no more fundamental or fierce than those between big-spending conservatives like David Brooks and Karl Rove and the Club for Growth. Immigration slices the Gordian knot...
  • BUT DO WE...

    BUT DO WE KNOW? My first thought was that I shouldn't comment on "The Politics of Definition" until it was, you know, fully published so that I could actually read the whole thing. But on second thought, this is a blog so who needs due diligence. I have concerns about the idea that the essay's soi disant straightforward thesis: "Progressives need to fight for what they believe in -- and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision -- as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building," is actually all that straightforward. I wouldn't want to deny that progressives ought to fight for what they believe in, and the evidence that a failure to be perceived as driven by a strong core of basic beliefs is an electoral problem seems strong to me. That said, the metaphysics of the claim seem off-base to me. There's an implicit assumption here that there's something ("what we believe in") that needs to be handled differently -- fought for, communicated clearly,...
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING....

    TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Buried deep in some bureaucratic catacomb, some pencil pusher has a smile on his face today. Yesterday, the FDA rejected claims of marijuana's medicinal usefulness, courageously contradicting a major study by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest scientific body in the nation. You show those pointy-heads, FDA! The ruling was even bolder considering that the FDA actively discourages research into marijuana's biochemical effects, routinely rejecting proposals by researchers to conduct gold-standard studies on the subject. As Dr. Craker , a University of Massachusetts professor who applied for permission to grow and study pot but was repeatedly rejected, said, "the reason there's no good evidence is that they don't want an honest trial." So why, exactly, amidst this tawdry story of politics putting its foot on science's throat, do I think some bureaucrat somewhere is having a good chuckle? Well, the ruling came out on...
  • WHEN CROOKS GO...

    WHEN CROOKS GO DOWN. This hasn't gotten much attention, but Silvio Berlusconi is refusing to admit defeat in the Italian election. In this, he has the support of seemingly none of the relevant legal institutions in Italy. What's more, all of the democratic world's left-of-center governments have already congratulated Romani Prodi on his victory. Then again, all of the democratic world's right-of-center governments have done so as well. All, that is, except for George W. Bush 's here in the United States of America. This aligns Bush with Vladimir Putin 's Russia and, well, nobody. The subtext here, naturally, is Berlusconi's distinctive blend of public sector corruption, misgovernment, and low-grade gangsterism that puts his political machine somewhere between Putin's and Bush's on the spectrum of undermining democratic governance. During the 2000 election cycle, naturally, Al Gore didn't want to lose the election. Thus, he pushed his legal claims. But when the courts ruled against him...
  • MORE COMMON GOOD!...

    MORE COMMON GOOD! Over at TAP Online , we�ve posted the first portion of a major study by John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (and other affiliations, in Ruy�s case) called �The Politics of Definition.� The authors have written this paper as a sort of 2006 version of the famous �The Politics of Evasion� by Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck , the 1989 study that helped lay the groundwork for the Clintonian centrism of 1992. Except that Halpin�s and Teixeira�s goals for progressives and Democrats are a little different. Their conclusions -- totally by coincidence, really! -- are very similar to Tomasky �s in the current cover essay . The paper is 18,000 words long, so we�re going to be rolling it out in four parts over the next few days. Part I gives a general lay-of-the-land discussion, and presents a close parsing of electoral and demographic data showing progressive electoral strengths. Part II will come next Monday, and the rest over the course...
  • Inertia, Budget Reporting and Starving Children

    I had earlier promised to give my explanation for the fact that articles on the budget fail to put budget numbers in a context that would make the millions, billions and trillions meaningful to readers. While laziness is part of the story, the bigger factor is simply inertia, why change? Reporters may agree that it would be very simple and more informative to express budget numbers as percentages of total spending or dollars (or cents) per person, but this is not how their papers did it last year. Including this information is a change, and doing things differently can put you on the spot. In short, since no one put budget numbers in context last year, no one will do it this year. There are forces that overcome inertia. For example, if inaccurate or incomplete reporting was giving readers a bad impression of Microsoft or the pharmaceutical industry, their lawyers and lobbyists would be haranguing reporters and editors on a daily basis, demanding a change in practice. While the media...
  • WAR IS PEACE!...

    WAR IS PEACE! Whoah . . . there's some crazy stuff lurking behind that TimesSelect subscription wall , notably Paul Kane 's notion that "President Bush and Congress should reinstitute selective service under a lottery without any deferments." Why? Well, because if we do, "Iran's leaders and public will see that the United States is serious about ensuring that they never possess a nuclear weapon." This sounds to me like an excellent way to reduce the level of TAPPED content as Garance and Greg need to hold down the fort while Sam , Mark , Ezra and I go off to get killed, but it seems to lack other merits. Kane, however, says it "may be our last best chance to avoid war with Iran." To me, though, the last best chance to avoid war with Iran would be to not start a war with Iran . This thing about responding to Iranian peace overtures would be nice, but I think it's impossible to overstate the role that not starting a war with Iran plays in the Yglesias War-Avoidance Plan. Basically, if...
  • WHEN LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANTS...

    WHEN LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANTS GO BAD. Representative Jo Ann Emerson experiments with a bolder, "straight-talk" approach to constituent correspondence. (Thanks to reader S.M. .) --Sam Rosenfeld

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