Archive

  • Poor With Cable

    From David Shipler's The Working Poor : Breaking away and moving a comfortable distance from poverty seems to require a perfect lineup of favorable conditions. A set of skills, a good starting wage, and a job with the likelihood of promotion are prerequisites. But so are clarity of purpose, courageous self-esteem, a lack of substantial debt, the freedom from illness and addiction, a functional family, a network of upstanding friends, and the right help from governmental or private agencies. Any gap in that array is an entry point for trouble, because being poor means being unprotected. You might as well try playing quarterback with no helmet, no padding, no training, and no experience, behind a line of hundred-pound weaklings. With no cushion of money, no training in the ways of the wider world, and too little temptation against the threats and defenses of decaying communities, a poor man or woman gets sacked again and again -- buffeted and bruised and defeated. When an exception...
  • Odds and Ends

    • There's a whole lotta good stuff on Tapped today. Pay particular attention to Sam Rosenfeld' one-for-the-road takedown of David Brooks and Matt on why locking away the op-ed columnists was precisely the wrong idea. On a different note, I guess next week I'll be able to link to myself over there -- weird. • The LA Times has an interesting op-ed on whether or not we should negotiate with al-Qaeda. Generations of countries afflicted by terrorist organizations have talked their way out of conflict before, though often only after many deaths and even more bombs. One thing I've long feared with bin-Laden's horde is that their cultural differences make a decidedly political, territorial organization with comprehensible aims seem like an antagonistic group bent on destruction for the sake of it. Whatever the wingnuts say, there's little reason to think that, and the country would be doing itself a disservice if it didn't at least attempt to see if we could open a dialogue of sorts. Cheney...
  • Not Dead, Just Victorious

    The Carpetbagger notes that the Christian Coalition is now basically bankrupt, their organization hollow and extraneous. But don't pop the bubbly just yet -- there's a reason the Christian Coalition is dying and it's not because they lost. iIt's because they won. Having integrated the nation's churches with the Republican majority, having convinced Karl Rove that his richest source of voters lay among evangelicals, and having elected a fair number of space cadet politicians more likely to revere the Cross than the Constitution, there's no longer a reason for a massive group like the Christian Coalition to exist on the outside, what mattered about them was long ago ushered into the inside.
  • The Triangle

    Peter Daou's written a really interesting piece on the media triangle that blogs are now a part of. It's a good corrective to some of the blogosphere's more fantastical boosters, but beyond that, it's a really good analysis of the interplay between blogs, the established press, and the political mainstream. Looking at the political landscape, one proposition seems unambiguous: blog power on both the right and left is a function of the relationship of the netroots to the media and the political establishment. Forming a triangle of blogs, media, and the political establishment is an essential step in creating the kind of sea change we’ve seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Simply put, without the participation of the media and the political establishment, the netroots alone cannot generate the critical mass necessary to alter or create conventional wisdom. This is partly a factor of audience size, but it’s also a matter, frankly, of trust and legitimacy. Give it a read .
  • North Korea To Give Up Nukes

    This is great news. North Korea agreed Monday to end its nuclear weapons program in return for security, economic and energy benefits, potentially easing tensions with the United States after a two-year standoff over the North's efforts to build atomic bombs. The United States, North Korea and four other nations participating in negotiations in Beijing signed a draft accord in which the North promised to abandon efforts to produce nuclear weapons and re-admit international inspectors to its nuclear facilities. Foreign powers said they would provide aid, diplomatic assurances and security guarantees and consider North Korea's demands for a light-water nuclear reactor. I don't know enough about the issue to offer much further commentary on it, but assuming the agreement evolves into a solid plan (and that, unfortunately, can be a big assumption), this is something to celebrate. The breakthrough happened as Bush administration officials were preparing to scurry back home without an...
  • Old Europe -- Just Like the New Country

    A week after Koizumi deployed his lipstick assassins to win a landslide victory for reform in Japan, we were supposed to see the same in Germany. Angela Merkel, an American-style economic reformer who promised free market solutions and a reigning-in of the welfare state was slated to crush Old Europe's Gerhard Schroeder. But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box... Merkel's campaign was inept, self-contradictory, uninspired. Schroeder was canny, quick, and crucified Merkel as a uncompassionate conservative, slicing her lead in the polls and leaving election night a nailbiting affair. When all was said and voted, Merkel's Christian Democrats had won a plurality with 35.2% while Schroeder's Social Democrats got 34.3%. And then Schroeder did something very American: he claimed victory. The argument? That his surge shows the German people didn't want to replace him. Apparently German elections run not on majorities and pluralities, but on momentum and buzz. And since neither...
  • Budget Tragedies, Budget Statistics

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf As Democrats know and Republicans try to forget, this Administration has turned the record budget surpluses of the late 1990s into unprecedented budget deficits. We've gone from a surplus of $236 billion in 2000 to a $412 billion deficit in 2004. Among the causes are tax cuts, the Iraq War, corporate welfare, and general mismanagement. The Bush Administration hasn't paid any serious political price for its fiscal nihilism. When there's a war on, nobody can be brought to care about bloodless matters like deficits. Furthermore, there's a level at which you pay no additional political price for pushing the deficits higher. You'll have the fiscal conservatives (all five of them, perhaps!) against you with the same intensity whether you run deficits of $112 billion or $412 billion. So once you've stuck yourself with deficits, there's no reason not to let them run out of control.
  • Arnie at the Carny: Or, the Tale Too Bold for the Enquirer

    By Pepper I thought about titling this article "Why Ah-nold Won't Win" in honor of the salon Neil started explaining why Hillary won't win. But I've got my eye on Ah-nold now that he plans to run again. In its heyday, the National Enquirer used to trash everyone, the bigger the better. I first caught wind of Gary Hart's Monkey Business and Clinton's Gennifer Flowers through the Enquirer (yeah, I had a subscription - wanna make something of it?). Then their publisher - AMI - wanted Schwarzenegger for their muscle magazines, and the Enquirer sheathed its claws for the Republican big boy . Per the LA Times : "Soon after Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the 2003 recall campaign, a tabloid publisher that was recruiting him as a consultant tried to suppress a risque 1983 Playboy video starring the future governor." Now its time to satisfy all those inquiring minds who want to know. The video, "Carnival in Rio," is available all over the web, and we should wield it as a weapon since Ah-nold is...
  • Why Russ Could Win

    Shakes here, doing the salon thing with a follow-up to Neil’s post on Why Hillary Will Lose . I agree whole-heartedly with Neil’s assessment of Hillary, and his conclusions. Americans on the Left and the Right, any who aren’t blind ideologues, have a natural distaste for disingenuous rhetoric clearly designed to appeal to a crowd they haven’t previously; it’s the worst kind of artificial politicking, that which helps no one but (ostensibly) the person who’s doing it. If you need any evidence, try to find anyone who enthusiastically supported Hillary’s devolution into culture vulturism to take on the makers of Grand Theft Auto. That said, I’m not sure that Russ Feingold’s liberalism will have as limited appeal as it might seem at first blush. It’s true that Feingold is now ranked the most liberal Senator (tied with Boxer) in the Senate, which would likely be, under typical circumstances, a liability. But with the opportunity having presented itself to hold accountable not just the Bush...
  • This Won't Hurt a Bit

    Posted by Jedmunds Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed reports that the Department of Defense is enforcing the Solomon Amendment, which bars federal funds to universities who prohibit military recruiting on campuses usually due to enforcing a non-discrimination policy against gays, against New York Law School and possibly two other law schools that are also unaffiliated with larger universities. Yale Law School, which successfully won an injunction against enforcement of the Solomon amendment in the third circuit will also continue to bar military recruiters from campus, but interestingly, the Department of Defense has indicated no interest in penalizing Harvard who's Law School has also announced it will bar military recruiters, but is not located in the third circuit, and so is still subject to the heavy penalties the Solomon amendment imposes. Because it bans all federal funding except financial aid for students to law schools in violation as well as any DOD funding in terms of...

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