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  • Wonder What His Soul Looks Like Now?

    I'm with Edward : Putin's instant impulse to connect this tragedy with Chechnya and his demand that there not be "any double standards whatsoever in assessing bloody crimes similar to those carried out today in London” is a sickening response to the morning's attacks. The guy's a standard-issue autocrat desperate to achieve a veneer of democratic and moral legitimacy, and without actions that actually possess such qualities, he's consigned himself to asserting lame linkages between his transgressions and the Western World's troubles. What happened today was not carried out by all Muslim movements everywhere. It was the act of a single cell of a single organization attempting to prove it's not been broken. For Putin to pervert it before the dead are cold and counted is a pathetically transparent attempt to gain moral flexibility in boosting Chechnya's death toll. It's murder levied to legitimize killing, and Putin should be roundly condemned for it.
  • We're All Londoners Today

    At least 33, but almost certainly more, died amidst a series of coordinated bombings in Britain today. Al Qaeda has taken credit for the attack, and most think it was timed to coincide with the G8 Conference. The first bomb detonated at 8:51am, destroying a train in London's financial district. The second -- and deadliest -- bomb ripped through a tube train traveling between King's Cross and Russell Square at 8:56 am. At least 21 were killed. The next tore through a train as it entered Edgward Road station at 9:17am. The last, at 9:47am, mangled a double-decker bus. There's not a whole lot to say about this. Wordy paeans to our sorrow and sympathy are generally more about the writer than the event, and today, the event should remain in front. What should be said is that terrorism is not gone. Al Qaeda is not gone. America has been lucky to have escaped further attacks thus far, but there's little doubt that the future will bring more. As it is, our continuing distance from 9/11 has...
  • American Apparel: A Verdict

    This morning, Kriston penned an excellent post on American Apparel , the country's foremost conundrum for clothes-wearing liberals. For those unaware, AA is a peculiarly problematic clothing company based out of LA. Their labor standards are enough to bring tears to the eye: an average wage of $13, health care, subsidized English lessons for immigrant employees (on company time!), year-round employment (a rarity in the garment industry), etc, etc. It's the stuff liberals dream about. The anti-sweatshop hook, however, didn't do enough to promote the company, so its mustachioed, quasi-messianic founder, Dov Charney, turned to sex. He uses company employees, natural girls all, and photographs them using a lo-fi, basement porn aesthetic that leaves even the homeliest subject pulsing with sexuality and appeal. The effect -- trust me on this -- is very disconcerting. Some of the pictures, in ways I can't quite pin down, also have an aura of violence, fear, or even rape to them. Red-rimmed...
  • Choice's Strength

    I was sifting through some polling data on abortion today, and the trends are striking. Because they don't exist. In 1975, 21% of Americans wanted abortion always legal, 54% wanted it sometimes legal, and 22% wanted it outlawed. In 1980, the numbers were 25%, 53%, and 18%. In 1990, it ticked upwards to 31%, 53%, and 12%. In 1996, it settled back down to 24%, 52%, and 17%. In 2000, it was 28%, 51%, annd 19%. Today, it's 24%, 55%, and 20%. That means during the last 30 years, the number of Americans wanting abortions always legal has remained between 22% and 24%, with one 31% outlier. The number wanting it sometimes legal stayed between 51% and 55%, and those wanting it banned have swung between 17% and 22%, with one 12% outlier. So despite all the attacks on Roe , all the hysterical condemnations of abortion, all the articles on the rise of the antichoice movement, and all the elections supposedly decided on "moral values", Americans have stayed in exactly the same spot regarding...
  • Give The People What They Want

    Every election sees Democrats offering vague promises to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Maybe they shouldn't be so vague. As this Yale-led survey (PDF) shows (found via Heather Hulbert ), energy independence may be better politics than we think. 92% of Americans think dependence on imported oil is a somewhat or very serious problem (68% say "very serious). That's a bipartisan judgment, too. 70% of Democrats say very serious, 68% of Republicans, and 66% of Independents, so agreement on this is broad. But picking out problems is easy, getting folks to agree on solutions is not. Well, not usually. In this case, however, consensus seems reached. 93% think "requiring the auto industry to make cars that get better gas mileage" is a good or very good idea. 89% want the auto industry making more fuel efficient cars. Interestingly, only 71% want the promotion of fuel cells and only 70% want tax credits for hybrid buyers. Americans seem most comfortable with the most coercive (to the...
  • Choosing Choice

    Michael Dorf's article darkly warning of a coathanger future seems deeply alarmist to me. Even assuming another pro-choice justice leaves the bench and Roe is overturned, Dorf's scenario, that Congress would pass a national abortion ban and the Supreme Court would uphold it using Raich (the medical marijuana case) as precedent, seems spectacularly unlikely. We're talking Lana Guinier unlikely. 1) There's a solid majority for some form of choice in this country. We're talking 75% of the country lining up behind "always legal" or "sometimes legal", with only 20% turning towards "always illegal". To put another way, more folks believe abortion should be "always legal" than "always illegal". You really think Congress is going to violently enrage 75% of the country? 2) And you think Senate Democrats wouldn't filibuster? Really? Why? If choice was so maligned that a vast majority of Americans wished it gone, such a dystopia might be worth talking about. Indeed, we'd really have to think...
  • Viva Vowell!

    This is the best idea ever. Sarah Vowell filling in for Maureen Dowd. There must be a way to make this permanent. You hear me? Must !
  • Why Is This Trade Bill Different Than All Other Trade Bills?

    This, from the Washington Post's big piece on CAFTA, strikes me as a very strange paragraph: But the Democrats' near-unanimous stand against CAFTA carries long-term risks for a party leadership struggling to regain the appearance of a moderate governing force, some Democrats acknowledge. A swing toward isolationism could reinforce voters' suspicions that the party is beholden to organized labor and is anti-business, while jeopardizing campaign contributions, especially from Wall Street. First, what's up with "acknowledge"? Doesn't that mean to recognize a truth? Aren't newspapers supposed to pretend that there is no truth, or at least that they don't know what it is? So called liberal media indeed. Second, is there really some voter roundtable desperately puzzling out whether Democrats are too beholden to Big Labor? As I remember it, voters didn't exactly reward us for passing NAFTA in 1993. 1994 was not our finest year. The rest of the article is the usual spin from the usual...
  • Against Selfishness

    My old friend Oren, despite having turned to the dark side on many an issue, still has more than enough moral honesty and intellectual firepower to detonate a Heritage flack's ill-thought out philosophy. His ending conclusion, unfortunately, falls afoul of the old maxim, "if men were angels, we'd need no government", so I certainly don't endorse everything written there. Nevertheless, a smart critique from an angle you don't often hear. Check it out.
  • The Battle of Ideas Restated

    As noted below, I'm going to be a panelist on CP's "Winning the Battle of Ideas" panel. The basic questions, as I got them in e-mail, seem to be: How do progressives turn the tide and start winning the battle of ideas? To what extent do we need to rethink fundamental priorities, and to what extent is the real challenge to strengthen the message? Which messages and communications strategies should we pursue? What can today’s progressive leaders learn from young people about these challenges? For those who can't be there, here's my basic answer: we're screwed. For a little while, at least. Who's the last Democrat elected to the presidency? Bill Clinton, ushered in moments after the Soviet Union collapsed and thus in that rarest of electoral instances where foreign policy was largely absent. Before him? Jimmy Carter, a direct consequence of Nixon's lies. Behind him? Johnson, who ripped the party apart in Vietnam, kneecapped Hubert Humphrey, and gave rise to George McGovern. The story...

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