• Free Trade, Slave Labor

    The Washington Post has a profoundly wrongheaded op-ed on CAFTA today. It's written by Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Paul L.E. Grieco and attempts to argue that we should support the agreement because free trade, over the last century or so, has been hugely good for America. Sigh. Folks aren't opposing CAFTA because they question the merits of free trade. Actually, never mind, that's not quite right . But nevertheless, the critical mass of opposition is only emerging because free traders are joining with protectionists to oppose the bill. And why are we doing this? It's not because we've seen the light on tariffs or some such thing, but because the bill is a brutal attempt to destroy labor standards in Central America. Indeed, the past century that the op-ed so lauds has seen an ever-advancing regime of worker's rights here in America. In some ways it's made us less competitive, but it's also boosted our producticity, made our populace healthier and happier, freed up innovation, empowered...
  • King of the Playground

    The new Washington Post poll bears so much bad news for Bush that you'd think he was the Republican Congress (thanks folks, I'll be here all week). 58% of those interviewed said Bush was focusing on partisan squabbles and issues that weren't important to them. Much of that comes from Bush's obsessive focus on radical judicial nominees, an issue the average American follows with the same urgency he brings to tracking developments in cheese-grating technology. More to the electoral point, 68% of independents said they disagreed with the president's priorities, meaning Bush needs to either really rework his public image or keep his head down during the midterm elections. After all, presidents with a 52% disapproval rating should be neither seen nor heard, at least if they want their party to win any seats. Bottom line here is that the judicial fight made Bush look small. Folks didn't understand why it got so much attention, why it aroused so much passion, and how it could possibly be...
  • Form 180

    Oh happy day, particularly if you're one of the many right wingers who've spent the last few months screeching for Kerry to release his full Navy records. Finally, on this glorious Tuesday morning, they arrived. And just as you suspected, the forms are packed with dirt. They offer definitive, final proof that the SwiftVets were a bunch of liars. The records, which the Navy Personnel Command provided to the Globe, are mostly a duplication of what Kerry released during his 2004 campaign for president, including numerous commendations from commanding officers who later criticized Kerry's Vietnam service. The lack of any substantive new material about Kerry's military career in the documents raises the question of why Kerry refused for so long to waive privacy restrictions. An earlier release of the full record might have helped his campaign because it contains a number of reports lauding his service. Indeed, one of the first actions of the group that came to be known as Swift Boat...
  • Any Questions?

    Speaking of take-no-prisoner addresses, Pope Nosferatu Benedict spent the morning offering one of his own: Pope Benedict, in his first clear pronouncement on gay marriages since his election, on Monday condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of "anarchic freedom" that threatened the future of the family. The Pope, who was elected in April, also condemned divorce, artificial birth control, trial marriages and free-style unions, saying all of these practices were dangerous for the family. "Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man," he said. Huh. Well he certainly covered his bases with that one. Pope Benedict: He's may be no Nazi, but he's one hell of a reactionary.
  • Hillary Gone Wild

    Hillary busted out of the gate this morning with one of those take-no-prisoners addresses that does our shriveled little partisan hearts such good: Mrs. Clinton, who is running for a second term in 2006 and is widely described as a possible Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2008, said that her party is hamstrung because Republicans dissemble and smear without shame and the news media has lost its investigatory zeal for exposing misdeeds. Left unchallenged, especially if Democrats fail to pick up seats in next year's Congressional elections, she said, Republican leaders could ram through extremist conservative judges, wreck Social Security and make unacceptable concessions to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations that are needed to finance the United States budget deficit. Read the whole thing , particularly the part where she ticks off the scandals that the press should be pursuing, but isn't.
  • Against Universal Vouchers

    The latest Washington Monthly offers up an article by Ezekiel Emanuel and Victor Fuchs arguing that universal health care vouchers are the silver bullet for our health care crisis and demanding that progressives should throw their weight behind them. Ugh. Universal health vouchers are one of those third way ideas that've been kicking around for quite some time and pop up whenever anybody wants to broker a grand compromise. In this incarnation, every American gets a voucher that pays for their health coverage with a private insurer. Insurers face heavier regulation on what they can/can't exclude, but are also reimbursed commensurately with the risk of the patients they take on (which means no cherry picking). Vouchers cover basic care, you can buy supplemental insurance atop that if you want more doctor choice, hospital choice, procedures, etc. The whole thing is paid for by a VAT, administered by government commission, and looked after by regional alliances.
  • When Class Has Assigned Seating

    Bob Herbert's column today on class mobility is excellent. Also worth reading is Jesse's thoughtful critique of it. He writes It's not an issue of whether or not the file clerk can become the CEO in thirty years, but rather the fact that the file clerk is getting paid comparitively less and less while the CEO sucks up all the benefits of the company's success. The goal isn't to assure that every middle manager becomes a millionaire, but rather that if you are a middle manager over a five-year period, you're actually earning more at the end of that period respective to your work and commitment than you were at the beginning. That's true to an extent, but if this country really is losing its class mobility -- and that looks to be the case -- then we've got some serious problems with how we run our economy and structure our society. As it is, the bottom line assumption of American economic policy is that our economy, more or less, runs off of hard work and individual initiative. That's...
  • Talking Point in Action

    Frank Luntz , in his leaked playbook for the GOP: Without the context of 9-11, you will be blamed for the deficit. The deficit is a touchy subject for both Republicans and Democrats - your supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility, and Democrats see nothing but hypocrisy. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, which Republicans sometimes do, but not early enough in the answer. Ken Mehlman , on last Sunday's Meet the Press: MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Mehlman, it's gone from $218 billion surplus when George Bush took office to a $427 billion deficit. How can you call that Republican conservative economic policy? MR. MEHLMAN: Well, what I would say, Tim, is what we've suffered, unfortunately, was an attack on this country. We've suffered a war, and one thing we know: Whenever our nation's faced war, whether it was in the 1980s when we were winning the Cold War or in the 1940s during World War II, the responsible...
  • This Word Blog...

    Apparently, Duncan was on C-SPAN the other night and got nailed with the "where are all the women bloggers" question. Lance Mannion undertakes the now-rote deconstruction here (although what exactly is this dichotomy between "wonks" and "writers"? Which is James Wolcott, for instance? Digby?). What seems to pop up in his post, though, is that the definition of blogger varies in context. To the political world, a blog is an unabashedly, overtly, conventionally political opinion site. Think Yglesias or Kos or Drum or Willis. And so when C-SPAN wonders about women bloggers, the question isn't so much about women with websites as it is about women who write like, well, political savants. And when the swift and harsh rejoinders from female bloggers hit, they're not pointing to women who spend all day poring over the Washington Post, they're aiming at a larger variety of blogs with broader topic choice that zig-zags along that fuzzy line separating the personal from the political.
  • Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Democrats

    No no the post-Dean Democratic party, the real question isn't why Donny Fowler threw a punch at Bob Brigham, it's whether or not Bob Brigham threw a punch back.