• 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...
  • Ready...Set...

    I haven't talked much about this, but I'm graduating in three years instead of the normal four. To do so, I had to load this Summer with an insane amount of classes. And because of that, I'm about to embark on what, if I accomplish it, will be the most impressive feat of my school-career thus far. By Thursday at 10am, I have to write 24 pages, split up between three papers (two six pagers and a 12). Right now, I have five pages to blast out in the next three hours. Oh, and I'll still be blogging. Maybe more so, as is my habit when trying to distract myself from mountains of work. Wish me luck.
  • Word to the Nick

    By the way, massive thanks to Nick Beaudrot for filling in this weekend. You can generally find him at and, as you saw this weekend, you should go looking.
  • You Try Your Way, I'll Try Mine

    Certain Republicans -- and Republican outlets -- are very excited over Arizona Representative John Shadegg's bill to allow consumers to buy insurance from all 50 states. The basic idea here is that, due to varying regulatory decisions, insurance in one place is cheaper than insurance in another. It covers less and exposes you to more risk, but it's cheaper. Under his bill, you could buy a cheap plan from, say, Missouri, even though you live in California, and even though the Missouri plan breaks California law. Ignoring the possibility that this'd be ruled unconstitutional, it's still a bad idea. It's fine, I guess, in that it'd make health care cheaper for certain folks (though it's unclear how many healthy ones it'd suck away from the overall risk pool), but it's a little odd to tell states -- particularly for Republicans to tell states -- that they can't regulate the insurance sold in their boundaries. So why are Republicans contravening states rights? Because this is an insurance...
  • Workers United Against Workers

    Ah yes , because among workers, there's a massive constituency begging for lower pay, smaller benefits, less job security, and an end to representation in the workplace. And it must be those impulses, not the longtime Republican demonization of unions and certainly not employer threats to close plants, fire organizers, and cut jobs, that lie behind the low numbers of unionized workers. It all makes perfect sense now.