Archive

  • So Polarizing

    File this one under "The Red/Blue Divide is a Simplistic Heuristic that Obscures More Interesting Truths Underneath, and I am a Windy Wordbag". Hillary Clinton's most lucrative state is, of course, New York. But who's in the #2 spot? Not California. Not Florida. Not Illinois. Not Oregon. Texas . And there's an interesting "why" to it, or at least to part of it. Much of her money is coming from the poor Rio Grand Valley area. Apparently, Hillary has friends in unexpected places: Cantu [Hillary's top fundraiser] says Clinton is "wildly popular" in the Rio Grande Valley, largely because of the issues for which she stands. People cannot forget the former first lady from her White House days, when she and husband Bill toured South Texas, showing an interest in the economically troubled region while most politicians had abandoned it. "A lot of people are excited about her and maybe her future," he says. "They feel she knows the valley, and if she got elected to higher office, she'd help us...
  • That Principled GOP

    I just love this : But the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, told [Rep. Hayes] they needed his vote anyway. If he switched from "nay" to "aye," Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months. Sometimes, the only way to get free trade is to restrict free trade. The world is funny like that. "This became much bigger than Cafta, because it became a political issue," said Rob Portman, the United States trade representative. "It was important to our position as the global leader on trade, so we had to fight back, and to fight back meant being very aggressive, explaining why it was good." Because it'll get the GOP to take a more protectionist stance on China. Now I see why it passed... "What was the cost to the U.S. taxpayer for the president, with all of his power and all of his influence at his disposal, what was the cost to U.S. taxpayers...
  • Lame Duck?

    The Times has a piece lauding the enormous efficiency of the Bush machine on Capitol Hill. CAFTA, the transportation bill, the energy boondoggle -- all are passing and this duck, once thought to be lame, is soaring with the eagles. Of course, this is really like being impressed that a waterfowl with a jetpack is able to get airborn. The media, much of the time, does not quite seem to comprehend the importance and legislative power of Bush's party controlling the House and the Senate. It's rather hard to imagine how, save for a major intraparty schism, Bush could become a lame duck in this legislative situation, at least on relatively uncontroversial issues. And save for CAFTA, Bush's accomplishments have been relatively uncontroversial. Democrats won on the energy bill. What stopped passage last year was DeLay's amendment to retroactively shield MTBE manufacturers from lawsuits. This year, it got dropped. The transportation bill was so loaded with pork that everyone wanted it to go...
  • The Long-Term Politics of Health Care (Or Why We Shouldn't Compromise)

    Rick Perlstein has written the sort of column I wish more progressives would write, arguing that the foundation of a new Democratic majority is universal health care. Excellent. No regular readers will be surprised to see me agreeing with that statement. But what's under it also deserves some consideration. If you had to list the government programs Republicans couldn't touch, what would you say? Social Security, certainly. Medicare too. Don't fuck with Medicare. I wouldn't relish being the Republican who tries to eliminate unemployment insurance. But that's really it. Medicaid survives more on being mixed-up with Medicare than on any particular concern for the poor. Welfare, well, you saw what happened to welfare. There's a lesson here, and it's not hard. Broad-based entitlement programs are good for Democrats . Narrow ones aren't. Welfare, Medicaid -- those are for the poor. I won't need them. I work hard and the boss likes me. I'll be fine. But Social Security? That's mine...
  • More on Gore

    I'd just like to welcome Matt , Marshall and Atrios to the Gore 08 party (and how many parties do both Duncan Black and Marshall Wittman attend together? Not many. That alone should make Democrats take Gore seriously -- Ed) . We've been slumped over at the bar here since early May . After I wrote my original post on it, I was e-mailed some fairly dispiriting information on Gore's feelings towards another candidacy, but the truth is, until he echoes Sherman, the door remains open. Gore, if anything, starts in a better position than Hillary. Already defined as a credible candidate, there's nothing Republicans can do that'll make him look unfit to lead (the country, indeed, already voted for him once). If he can keep his recent speaking style, boring won't apply, at least not so much. His credibility with the left-wing of the party is massive and real. Unlike Hillary, who inspires a fair amount of distrust, Gore's endorsement of Dean and his alliance with MoveOn have turned the ultimate...
  • What Medicare Isn't

    With the Washington Post, the New York Times, and certain New Democrats jumping on the Medicare's-a-mess bandwagon, it's worth knowing why Medicare's in bad shape and who, in fact, is probably to blame. That's where Matt Holt comes in: Medicare and to a smaller effect Medicaid are extremely complex programs that don't give a direct benefit to their "members" but instead allow an entire industry (in fact many industries) to deliver goods and services to those people with the government picking up the tab. Yup, Medicare is closer to defense spending than anything else, and within it there's the same level of complexity, fraud and bad behavior as in that sector (and I never mentioned Halliburton once. Dang, just did!). In fact as Medicare sets the tone for almost all health care spending, but there are hundreds of payers rather than just one big one, health care is probably more complex, fraud-ridden, and inhabited by murky characters than defense... More importantly the defense...
  • Leave No Special Interest Behind

    Looks like Bill Frist, legislative leader extraordinaire, has decided to do away with the namby-pambly mollycoddling of the past few years, and start demanding the Senate address this nation's real problems: Until lawmakers vote on a top-priority gun rights bill, nothing else happens in the Senate. And that includes Congress' prized monthlong vacation. That's the way Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has toughened up his style in the final days before the August break was to begin, learning from last year to leave no room for gun control advocates to derail legislation limiting lawsuits against the gun industry. Some folks, when running for president, vie for glory by competing to pass as much major legislation as possible. Others attempt to champion a cause important to voters but ignored in Congress. Bill Frist? He's decided to suck the toes of every interest group who could possibly affect a primary. So the Christian Right gets a long back massage and a judicial standoff. The pro-...
  • CAFTA Passes

    CAFTA just passed , 217-215. 15 Democrats voted with the bad guys, while 20 Republicans joined the angels. A few things: • Odds are this wasn't really a tied vote. David Sirota is telling us to think of each dissenting Dem as the deciding defection, but it's more likely that the Republicans had a few more last-case yes's who were allowed to vote no so long as their "aye" wasn't needed to pass the bill. If DeLay can pass the bill while exempting weak Republicans in trade-decimated areas, all the better. • Nevertheless, screw those Democrats who defected. • This is, even with passage, a sign of serious weakness for the right. That a run-of-the-mill trade bill cleared with a mere single vote despite the easy Republican majority shows how much weaker party discipline has become in their caucus. That it passed with only 15 Democratic defections is a sign of how much stronger our caucus unity has gotten. • It also proves Sam's argument that the right consciously crafts bills that won't...
  • Elections Have Consequences

    Jonah Goldberg's latest column is, well, kinda good. Very good, in fact. He takes as target Arnold Schwarzenegger and, as background, Gray Davis. And while his ultimate point is to slap around us kooky Californians, he's actually right about doing so: I was against the recall on the grounds that the people of California elected Gray Davis and therefore they deserved to be punished. Seriously. Democracy isn’t merely about “the people” getting what they want, it’s also about the people getting what they deserve. Mobs get what they want every time. Citizens make informed choices and then live with — and learn from — the consequences. Those lessons inform how we view not merely candidates but parties and philosophies. “We gave those guys their shot and they blew it, I won’t be voting for that crowd again,” is an indispensable reaction in democratic politics. ... I’m sympathetic to the substance of Schwarzenegger’s agenda. But the last thing California needs is more populism. What it needs...
  • Random Things

    • I think Jeff Gannon is reading my blog. How else do you getting a hit from this search ? • Richard Blair is doing great work to try and get the oh-so-liberal media to cover a young, pregnant woman who's been missing for nine days. Should be easy, right? What if I told you she was black? Go help out -- if the so-called liberal media won't get on it, at least actual liberals can pitch in.

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