Archive

  • From MK to GTA

    Kevin Drum asks (and answers): What effect has the videogame "Grand Theft Auto" had on actual thefts of autos? "The national carjacking rate has dropped substantially," reports Steven Johnson in the LA Times today. ... It strikes me as a bit degrading, actually, that Hillary has to pretend to oppose violent videogames as a means of gaining heartland social values cred, but I suppose that's the world we live in. If I were running for president I might do the same. And I guess the upside is that a few speeches denouncing the evils of "Grand Theft Auto" is unlikely to do any real damage. True 'nuff. But then, what effect will Hillary Clinton denouncing GTA have on "Grand Theft Auto"? My hunch is none whatsoever. Indeed, it may create an uptick in sales thanks to the added publicity. That's why I can never get bent out of shape about this stuff. If parents wary of a violent, sexualized culture want politicians to recognize their fears, then politicians should do that. The denunciations of...
  • A Housing Agenda

    Nathan Newman's got a very strong post on the primacy (or puzzling lack thereof) of housing issues on the progressive agenda. And he's right on it. Employees of all incomes and occupations know how little they like living in zip codes wholly unconnected to their workplaces just so they can afford a roof for their children. The commute, the lack of flexibility, the total disruption of everyday life -- it's crushing. In addition, many of these folks are becoming Republicans, either in reaction to the urban areas that banished them or as simple result of becoming property owners. It shouldn't be that way, and speaking to the everyday hardships of their commute and conditions would, if nothing else, prove Democrats are on their side as much as the city's. Kevin Drum likes to say that the divide isn't red vs. blue, it's urban vs. rural. But it's more than that: it's urban vs. rural/suburban/exurban, it's urban vs. everyone else. Affordable, well-planned, high-density housing that would let...
  • Bad Habit

    It's one thing to have Dan Savage and the liberal intelligentsia mocking you mercilessly, it's wholly another, however, to have nuns writing letters to the editor rhetorically rapping your knuckles for setting a bad example for your children: As a teacher for the Diocese of Pittsburgh for 14 years, one important lesson I learned was that no matter what I said to the child, whatever the parents said superseded my message. What parents say and how they live sends a message stronger than any teacher's voice no matter what the issue. Sen. Rick Santorum and his wife have taught their children a powerful lesson on civic responsibility by refusing to pay any tuition money to the Penn Hills School District for their children who attended the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School ("Penn Hills Loses Bid to Charge Santorum," July 12). Released from that payment on a technicality shows that even an upstanding, moral gentleman like Sen. Santorum teaches his children the following lessons: 1) Take...
  • Asking for Hope

    Jesus. I caught this off a BlogAd at Roxanne's site but...Jesus. If the stem cell debate sometimes seems like just another match-up between right-wing fundamentalists and exasperated, empirical Democrats, this letter will prove to you why it's so much more...
  • DLC'ing It

    As I knocked the DLC this morning, I may as well flip the coin before the day's out. Progressives need to recognize the DLC's essential utility. Our criticism of them is that they criticize us. And in most ways, that's a bad thing. But occasionally, it serves a purpose. It has, for instance, motivated the media to give the DLC a Cloak of Moderation (+5) which, in some contexts, can be good for Democrats wrap themselves in. So when Hillary goes to speak to them and lead their policy project, rejoice. She's not straying on CAFTA, she didn't vote for the bankruptcy bill, and so we needn't worry that her appearance in Ohio is evidence that she's selling out our issues. Nor, so far as I can see, has she in any way disparaged the netroots or attacked liberals, so at the same time she's resisting the DLC's worst policy impulses (or, depending who you talk to, the worst caricatures of their policy impulses), she's also ignoring their taste for internecine warfare.
  • Word.

    Digby is right not only on Paul Hackett, but on the Paul Hackett formula, and you should read him .
  • Populism by the Numbers

    Thinking about populism brought to mind something I've been meaning to write up. Hearing the discussions on Frank's book and being fairly plugged into Democratic talk, I get the feeling that most progressives have the impression that the electorate is primarily poor, that there's a massive number of downtrodden, low-income folk who, if we could just get them to start voting for us, would swing all elections our way. To some degree that's true, if for no other reason than elections are being decided by 3% of the vote. But on a long-term majority level, it's not. In 2004 , only 23% of voters had incomes under $30,000. Now, 23% is nothing to scoff at, but that means over 75% of the electorate is making more than $30,000, and the majority of them are pulling in significantly above that.
  • Controversy Over Kansas

    TPM is hosting a Book Club on Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas that's really very good. Todd Gitlin and Ed Kilgore leveled fairly devastating critiques against the tome (Kilgore more so than Gitlin) and Frank threw out a device cleverly eviscerating Gitlin's rhetorical trope ("vulgar marxism") without actually dealing with any of Gitlin's points. In other words, a good time is being had by all. But too much focus is being put on Frank's historical read and personal authenticity. Insofar as the book has touched a chord among Democrats, it's been as a diagnosis for current ills and an easy-to-swallow prescription for solving them. In short, Frank says Democrats are losing because poor folks are getting tricked by sneaky Republicans and Democrats, for their part, just aren't being Democratic enough. If we were more liberal, the beacon of our social programs and redistributive tax policies would shine right through the fog of culture.
  • The Unbearable Smugness of Baering

    What is Ken Baer talking about? No one's pleased that Medicare makes mistakes and wastes money, but does he really think that Democrats are resisting efforts at "reform" because we want more medical mistakes and less money for the program? Does he really think Medicare, with higher patient satisfaction than private insurance and slower cost growth, is "FUBAR" (if so, why reform it? "Fucked up beyond all repair" kinda precludes, you know, repair)? Does he really think Democrats should be loudly demanding reform at a moment when we can't pass or craft any legislation on the subject? Since the DLC conversation has been raging around, I might as well tap it now: this is what I don't like about the DLC breed. It's not that they're not progressive -- I'm almost certain Ken and I would agree on what to do here -- it's that their rhetorical devices for getting there tend to include 1) a lot of sniffing and despairing at all those hopelessly irresponsible liberals followed by a 2) high-minded...
  • Let Us All Give Thanks

    Bush's energy bill is headed for passage, and thankfully so. Save for substantive modernization of our electricity grid, an increase in CAFE standards, an actual stance on global warming, a coherent framework for reducing our oil consumption, a serious investment in natural gas, an actual interest in new technologies for alternative sources, and really anything that'd have any sort of worthwhile impact on our energy situation at all, this bill has just what we need. Subsidies. Giveaways. Handouts. Protection. Guidelines. Bureaucracy. All sprinkled with liberal amounts of Corporate Love and put on the Senate's desk. I've long thought the Energy Bill, more so than any other legislation, is the perfect metaphor for the modern GOP, both in substance and process. The substance of it is a mash of giveaways to Big Business, pork, and policy that makes no sense. And the process? Well you'd think they were a bunch of liberal crusaders: From the start, Bush and GOP lawmakers have sold their...

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