Archive

  • Zogby Weighs In

    Bad news in the new Zogby poll , at least if your name is Bush. Not only was there no bounce in Bush's speech, but the red states have turned against him and 42% of voters say they'd want congress to begin impeachment proceedings if only they knew about the Downing Street Memos. That's not going to happen, of course, not with a Republican majority. But if the media was serious about pushing the story in the way they pressed Whitewater, it'd prove a real danger to the administration. The very fact, however, that Zogby is polling questions of impeachment shows that the memos are gaining traction. This is the sort of thing the media loves to report: numbers, information, artifacts that make their stories look driven by news rather than editors. And 42%, for that matter, is a very high number. How many media organizations pick up on it and how hard they push it will say a lot about how constant media coverage is between administrations.
  • Starving the Beast

    David Broder has a surprisingly good column on the reversed PBS cuts, arguing that the zeal to save Big Bird might have hurt the kids he teaches. The $100 million in restored cuts had to come from elsewhere, and so they did: None of this suggests that the House was wrong to rescue Big Bird and his friends in public broadcasting. But it is a fact, as both Regula and Obey pointed out, that the broadcast stations and their audiences have far more influence on Congress than most low-income Americans possess. As Obey put it, "At least the people who pay attention to public broadcasting do have a megaphone of sorts, and they can get their message known." Obey was also on sound ground in pointing out that "the press has focused 90 percent of its attention on public broadcasting," playing down or ignoring the trade-offs that were forced in other programs by the strictures of the budget plan pushed by President Bush and approved by party-line Republican majorities in Congress. ... It's one...
  • After Consensus

    James Hamilton, talking about Mitt Romney's attempts to restructure health care by ending free medical care in emergency rooms but subsidizing the needy, writes : Even so, I count it as progress of sorts if we might in this fashion find ourselves at least able to agree on what we want to buy, leaving just the little matter of haggling over the price. A proposal like Romney's strikes me as a constructive way to frame a public discussion of exactly where America stands on who should pay the medical costs of the uninsured. I don't know about that. Outside of the blogosphere, it's fairly impressive how much of the health care debate really is about haggling over prices. The constituency actively pushing single-payer in this country is quite small, in large part due to fears about its political viability. Moreover, support for health care entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, is widely bipartisan, almost sacrosanct. Even with a budget deficit spiraling rapidly out of control...
  • Good News, Bad News

    See if you can find which is which : For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota. ... But that still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year, which ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters' lives miserable. Army officials insist that they can still reach their annual goal, especially with hundreds of new recruiters on the street, armed with big enlistment bonuses and greater leeway to recruit more high-school dropouts and lower-achieving applicants. First time since January. That's not good. Moreover, I'm a bit nervous about our new strategy of attracting the most hopeless, directionless, and uneducated recruits we can find. When "a...
  • Gonna Party Like It's 1935?

    I wish I could believe Ruth Milkman's optimistic op-ed on unions, but it's a little hard when it's peppered by omissions like this: IT is a time of trial for organized labor. Only 13 percent of nonagricultural workers are unionized. The figure is even lower among immigrants who toil at unskilled jobs in the nation's newest industries. Employers have abandoned the paternalistic job security measures, pensions and fringe benefits of which they boasted only a few years ago. Instead, they are imposing wage cuts and speedups on their workers while the American Federation of Labor stands by helplessly. This was the labor movement's plight in 1935. Like many Americans today, people back then believed that labor unions had become weak and irrelevant. In 1932, George Barnett, president of the American Economics Association, declared, "American trade unionism is slowly being limited in influence by changes which destroy the basis on which it is erected." Yet a few years later, the Congress of...
  • Dangerous Incompetence

    This is Matthew Holt again. I still owe you all history of why Clinton's health reform went down, so Ezra let me stay as a guest poster. I hope he doesn't mind me posting this but Bob Herbert's column about the incompetence of Bushco in Iraq is beautiful, if tragic. And this line about Bush's desire for the Iraqis to take over from our troops is the best description ever of the mentality of the clowns running this country. "We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills," said Mr. Bush in his television address. "And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting, and then our troops can come home." Don't hold your breath. This is another example of the administration's inability to distinguish between a strategy and a wish.
  • Judicial Fiat is Fine

    I'm with Scott Lemieux on this one , Roe v. Wade is not the problem. Liberals, I think, are fairly desperate for some sort of rational explanation able to account for the conservative movement's all-consuming fury over this decision and their ability to channel it into a focused and highly effective strategy of judicial intimidation and lawmaker litmus tests. That Roe enraged them by being a major policy change (or codification, depending on how you look at it) instituted through judicial fiat makes sense to us because it plays into an outrage we could, conceivably, share. Unfortunately, our security blanket has a bunch of holes. I doubt a single anti-choice warrior ever sat up and thought, "Abortion's one murderous practice, but what really galls me is the shoddy and undemocratic methods used to wedge it into the constitution." Rather, there's simply a surprisingly powerful belief that blastocysts are full-blown people and to abort one is murder. Moreover, this plays into a deep...
  • Social Security: Round 2?

    Well this is fairly surprising. House Republicans are vowing to vote on Social Security before the year is through: House Republican leaders pledged to seek a vote this year on legislation creating a scaled back version of President Bush's call for personal retirement accounts under Social Security. ... Republicans said the measure would create personal accounts for younger workers, and some of the funds would be used to replace part of their traditional benefit. At the same time, they added, the accounts could be inherited under some circumstances. The program would also raise the government's official deficit estimates by as much as $1 trillion over a decade, a development that could increase pressure on lawmakers to cut spending or raise taxes in the future. The strategy here is a bit surprising, House Republicans, so far as I can tell, are self-BTU'ing themselves. The Senate's not likely to pass this bill, and if they don't, each and every Republican congressperson voting "aye"...
  • Practice What He Preaches

    Not to wish ill or anything, but I hope next time this guy goes to a doctor complaining of searing throat pain, his medical professional responds: It's for God to determine whether you've got strep throat or not. I can't determine that. And until he sends me a divine prescription, I can't offer you antibiotics."
  • Crazy Congressmen Who Pay Attention

    Last year, during the presidential debates, a girl named Tammy wandered into where my girlfriend, some friends, and I were watching Kerry's dismantling of Bush. This was during the first confrontation, the one between the Incredible Shrinking President and his surprisingly large challenger. Bush, you'll remember, slipped up and blamed Hussein for 9/11. Kerry caught him. Bush admitted the mistake. Tammy said he was right the first time. The rest of us looked at her. Finally, I knew what "agog" felt like. Her argument wasn't what one would call an argument, more a set of gut level intuitions. In the end, after hearing Bush's handpicked 9/11 Commission obliterated the linkage, she shook her head and said: "Well they're wrong. It's just common sense." Not the most heartening conversation. On the other hand, at least she's not a congressman : "Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said. Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link...

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