Archive

  • House of Labor

    A hearty welcome to TPM Cafe's new blog, House of Labor . Josh explains the rationale of the new site by reaffirming the connection between a weak labor movement and a weak progressive movement: whether it's on health care or stagnant wages or retirement security or anything else, the sorts of changes that many of us would like to see made in this country are never going to be made unless ordinary working men and women have a seat at the table along with corporate America. At the moment they hardly do. There's no mystery in this. There's no way we'll come to equitable solutions to the challenges that we all face in this new economy if all the muscle is on one side. And that's close to how it is today. Organized money doesn't so much have a seat at the table as it has the throne. Worse, Labor's kid's stool is in danger of being kicked away. All over the country, even in progressive bastions like California, initiatives are being proposed that'd bar Labor from using union dues for...
  • My Very First Panel

    The rumors are true. I'll be at the Campus Progress conference as a participant on the morning's "Winning the War of Ideas" panel. With me will be Heather McGhee from Demos, Thomas Frank of What's the Matter With Kansas fame, Paul Begala, Katrina vanden Huevel, and Dee Dee Myers. Should be fun. Not only that, but I finally get to try out the suit I bought...
  • Biden 08 for Supreme Court 05

    Crooks and Liars has a nice video of Biden threatening to filibuster Janice Rogers Brown were she nominated for the Supreme Court. He also, in the face of questioning by Orrin Hatch, pushes back with an excellent argument for why judges confirmed for the appellate courts can face renewed scrutiny, and even a filibuster, when named for the Supreme Court. Appellate courts are bound by s tare decisis , they have to abide by precedent. Where Janice Rogers Brown currently finds her craziness bound by the appellate judge's duty to stick to the law, on the Supreme Court she could deploy her inner maniac to fight for new, nuttier laws. That can't be allowed. Funny to see this coming from Biden, a generally middle-of-the-road player. But it too has a good explanation : Biden's national ambitions may be reflected by a more partisan voting record in the Senate this year. He normally would be considered a probable vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but administration officials...
  • Just Say No to "Just Say No"

    Not to insult my future place of employment's cofounder or anything, but Robert Reich is counting his chickens a bit early here : “Just say no” has been a winning strategy for Democrats. Social Security privatization looks dead. Ditto with “progressive indexing” of Social Security benefits. CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement) is on its last legs. Tax “reform” is a nonstarter. But if the Democratic Party is to win back the Senate or the House in 2006 and the presidency in 2008, it needs a positive agenda. Err, not so fast there. CAFTA passed (or will do so as soon as the lockstep Republican House considers it), though, to be fair, not before the magazine was printed. Nevertheless, Reich shouldn't have assumed it's defeat, and that he did shows how overconfident Democrats are getting in the wake of recent successes. But tax reform isn't a nonstarter, it just hasn't started. And as for saying no, Democrats really didn't do that. If we'd voted down privatization, that would...
  • 4th

    Happy 4th, folks. You should all just pretend I'm up here saying witty and penetrating things about Bush because, in reality, I'll actually be hanging out with my family, eating bagels and lox (yep -- a very Jewish Fourth of July), and making stupid jokes. Speaking of stupid jokes, this line from Madagascar -- which is an enormously fun movie, by the way -- is too good not to share. As context, the animals are breaking out of the zoo, and this is a conversation between a speaking monkey and a silent, KoKo the Gorilla, signing monkey: Speaking Monkey: This is great! I hear Tom Wolfe is lecturing in Lincoln Park tonight! Signing Monkey: [Gesticulates wildly] Speaking Monkey: Well of course we're going to throw poo at him. Happy Fourth, folks. And if you see Tom Wolfe, remember to fling some poo.
  • Have the Marketers Won?

    Business Week has a fun article on corporate America's triumphant co-option of hipster culture. A movement whose original uniform was peppered with "Corporate Rock Sucks" stickers now sends their bands on tours sponsored by malt liquor, grabs refreshments in tents sponsored by Levi, and has proved most successful at gathering a hard to reach demographic into the areas where advertisers can get them: Marketers, like parents, might spend sleepless nights worrying about not understanding youth. But they miss the bigger story. Formerly hostile subcultures -- yesteryear's punks and hippies and snowboarders -- now welcome them. Whether they've noticed it or not, marketers have won. Like Brickman, the hipsters are all buying in. True that. And the blogs, which evinced the same anti-establishment ethos as they grew are following closely behind. Kevin Drum once told me that he didn't buy the big talk about our independence and detachment from advertisers. Corporate America always gets in...
  • Evaluating O'Connor's Evaluation

    Kate's outrage over the Washington Post's feminist assessment of O'Connor strikes me as well-placed. The article, which tries to illustrate the chilly relationship between the women's movement and one of their most emancipated, ceiling-shattering members, starts by probing O'Connor's reasons for retiring. Her husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. She's leaving to spend time with him during these dimming years of sentience. And it's this decision the Washington Post uses to frame their article, because it's this decision they've coaxed a feminist into critiquing come the third paragraph. It's articles like this that make feminism seem a heartless, frigid ideology populated by hordes of Hillary-clones, and we're talking Hillary in the Ed Klein context. Any movement that honestly felt room for outrage when a 75-year old woman retires to spend time with an irreversibly ill husband would be heartless beyond imagining. Feminism, of course, isn't. Quite the opposite. It's...
  • Is Liberalism in Trouble?

    Wil Wilkinson has a fairly puzzling response to Jon Chait's article on the bankruptcy of the liberals-lack-ideas claim. He writes : He's right: if "ideas" mean novel projects for the technocracy, then liberals are chock ful of them. I think the real complaint here is that there is nothing to be found that is not a specification of "use state power to make things better, according to our peculiar standards of better." The problem for liberals is that if that if they give that up, then they'll stop being who they are. But that's what the voters, the stupid, stupid voters, aren't resonating to. So what we've really got here is a crisis of identity -- the threat that integrity is equivalent to obsolescence. That's a fairly interesting question. Is the use of state power to achieve socially desirable ends what the voters aren't responding to? In Wil's favor, after the election, Bush bounded out with his new mandate, which seemingly stretched from Iran all the way to pension reform and...
  • Ideas

    In a piece full of very good parts, this has to be my favorite of Jon Chait's many perfect paragraphs knifing the Democrats lack ideas meme: A related assumption is that new ideas are better than old ones. This meme has gained particular currency during the Social Security debate. For instance, conservative privatization advocate Peter Ferrara dismissed liberal foe Robert Ball as a "well-meaning gentleman who hasn't had a new idea in 40 years." The accusation resonates with many liberals. The Democrats' economic policy, as labor leader Andrew Stern told Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine, "is basically being opposed to Republicans and protecting the New Deal. It makes me realize how vibrant the Republicans are in creating twenty-first-century ideas, and how sad it is that we're defending 60-year-old ideas." I can't tell you the enjoyment I get from watching professed followers of Edmund Burke demand that Democrats stop protecting old ideas and realize the many virtues of newness...
  • Rove Knows...

    It may not be bigger news than O'Connor, but it's certainly better : I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury. ... Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow. That's Lawrence O'Donnell talking, and he's plugged in enough to break something like this. I wish it wasn't coming over 4th of July weekend and right on the heels of a Supreme Court vacancy, but what can you do? Moreover, if the timing is bad for us, it's worse for Rove. Having a story about his vindictive deshrouding of a CIA agent hit at a time when all news organizations will still introduce him as, "Karl...

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