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  • 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...
  • 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...

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