Archive

  • 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...
  • 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...

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