Archive

  • Care Not Cash

    Long before SF mayor Gavin Newsom became a liberal darling for decreeing gay marriage constitutional, he was a hated sleaze-ball with a too-perfect coif and a penchant for "DLC'ing" the poor. Evidence came through his signature initiative, Care Not Cash , which ended San Francisco's policy of handing checks to the homeless and plowed the savings into low-cost transitional housing offering an array of psychological and substance-abuse services. Most suspected the housing wouldn't work, wouldn't come online, or wouldn't be used, and the end result would simply be savings for the city and a worse lot for the poor. The suspicions provoked an outcry, and the outcry drove a strong Green Party challenge that almost denied Newsom the mayorship. It was one of the more interesting intra-Democratic battles of recent years, very much akin to Clinton's welfare reform, though not done while held hostage to a Republican Congress. That meant Newsom had room to implement his policy as he wanted it and...
  • E-mail Lists Ain't All They're Cracked Up To Be

    Heh indeed. Update : Sigh. Just can't leave it at that, can I? Vestigial e-mail lists aren't always an asset, in fact, I have a hunch they're a net negative. Many of the people on the list will no longer be interested in the candidate, and many of those who might, in some world, retain some sympathy for them will have so totally conditioned themselves to junk the e-mails that they're effectively empty inboxes by the time the next campaign rolls around. Those very same people, conversely, will open e-mails from new candidates because they're not used to trashing them on sight. So it seems to me that Kerry's e-mail list is going to be less effective per person and, because so many are already on it, harder to grow. Other candidates can build their lists and enjoy much higher rates of click-through and participation from much lower numbers of people.
  • Of Heat and Hydrogen

    I'm not sure why Matt thinks liberals should stick to environmental arguments when advocating for an end to fossil fuels, nor why he thinks that it necessarily leads to hydrogen, but I have to disagree. Making the environmental case against carbon is only really convincing from a global warming standpoint, and the right's ability to demonize and confuse that case is considerable (for more on this, see Chris Mooney's piece in the new Mother Jones). Last week, Dennis Miller took over the Daily Show with one of his now-tiresome rants, which included a nice little line about how his grandchildren are hardy enough to deal with a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees. Global warming, because it's complex, weird, and arguing for massive impacts stemming from minor climate changes, is hard to sell on its own. But even if we could, that doesn't make the case for hydrogen, mostly because hydrogen can't yet make the case for itself. As a fuel source, it's simply not technologically mature enough...
  • Hear No Conflict, See No Conflict, Win the Conflict

    Former New York Times reporter John Phillips's column on the punditocracy's contempt for evangelicals is sure to set the righty blogosphere atwitter with "I-told-you-so's" and "even NY Times reporter John Phillips said!" But while they march off to the fight the good fight against fact checkers, it's worth a moment to figure out what Phillips is really arguing here. His column has three concrete complaints. First, that the evangelical attempt to wrest control of the government is being compared to a jihad when it's not one. Second, that many historical men of science were men of faith, and the current divide posited between the two is bunk. And third, that religion should not be wholly booted from the public sphere. Okay, one by one: He's right that evangelicals aren't armed and ready for a jihad as such. Like the good reporter he is, Phillips has unearthed a moment of rhetorical hyperbole from within his readings and realized that it overstates the situation. Congrats. But while no...
  • DVD Follies

    Would it really kill producers of DVD players to include some controls on the device itself? Second time in a week a movie was made unwatchable by a lost remote and an uncooperative DVD control panel. Samsung, Sony, Panasonic -- you guys make the things, you must know that the magic circles your players swallow need a directional pad and enter key to be effectively manipulated. So too must you know that people are genetically unable to keep remotes in plain sight. Lend us a hand, huh?
  • Give Me Runaway Brides Anyday

    Kevin , in a post about congressional Republicans' abuses of power, writes: Unfortunately, this kind of backroom drudgery can't compete with runaway brides. So how do you get the public to pay attention to this kind of stuff? I'm not sure. But "playing by the rules" is a pretty ingrained American habit, and this brand of Republican hardball would be widely unpopular if someone could figure out a way to dramatize it. Who will figure out how to do it? I think that's correct, and it reminds me of a larger point I've been meaning to make. Taken as a whole, politics today is rife with corruption, unethical behavior, perverse incentives and powerful forces that make our government work against the interests of its citizenry. And yet there's nothing the press can say about it, not because Americans won't listen or brides keep heading for the hills, but because they don't allow themselves to. I alluded to this a few weeks back when I wrote my post on DeLayism . What DeLay has done with Jack...
  • Immigration 08

    Kenneth Baer's got a terrific piece in The New Republic on the politics of immigration. He starts by analyzing the Tories' attempts to quietly demagogue the issue. The problem, of course, was that they didn't stay quiet, and the louder they got the more voters were turned off. From there, he argues that immigration poses a uniquely thorny problem for the Republican party, caught as it is between a desire to win the emerging Latino electorate and turn out a base that's often violently anti-immigrant. If the issue becomes a national one, the contradiction between the party's minutemen and it's more calculating political operators will rip the coalition apart. He's right. And at least one Democratic pol knows it. Hillary Clinton's been making some moves towards a centrist swing on immigration. And if she follows through on it, the simple dissonance from her moving right on the issue will raise it's profile, and force her opponents to take a stand. At that point, they need either to...
  • Look Ma, I'm a Populist

    Maybe this isn't new. Maybe I'm just too young to recognize one of the book's older tricks. But since the election, there seem to be quite a number of Democratic pundits, columnists, and luminaries leveraging home purchases deep in Virginia for populist cred. Could we, you know, stop? Meeting 50 folks in rural Virginia doesn't strike me as quite enough down-home experience to claim credentials as a channeler of America's "jes' folks" contingent. And, more to the point, wouldn't it be great if we didn't buy into this pundit-propagated fiction that some swaths of America are somehow more real than others and experience, even glancing experience, in said territories imbues the cow-milker with special wisdom, insight and understanding? I may be just an out of touch California kid but even I wouldn't presume to generalize the character and political desires of my neighbors. The conservative kingdom of Orange County, where I grew up, is worlds different politically than Los Angeles, where I...
  • More AU?

    I've been meaning to comment on the expansion of the AU's peacekeeper force in Sudan for quite awhile, so here goes. Blogosphere commentary has broken along two lines: the Justin Logan pitch which says, basically, that this is much better handled as an intra-African matter, we should offer logistical support but not involve ourselves militarily, and thus the infusion of cash and increase in size of the AU's forces is the best of all possible worlds. In the blue trunks, however, is Brad "whiny little humanitarian" Plumer , who thinks the AU is reluctant to seriously involve themselves, unwilling to put forth the necessary numbers, and should be supported by a NATO deployment. Well color me a whiny little humanitarian. The AU's forces are almost comically inept, and I say only almost only because they often veer towards criminally inept instead. Their past failures are legion and their total unwillingness to act until long into the atrocities is woven into the fabric of any recent...
  • Tierney Time

    John Tierney , who lives in Manhattan, phones it in this morning with a tired juxtaposition of Laura Bush's comedy routine and liberal condescension towards red staters. To hear the Times token libertarian tell it, us Democrats are still trying to pick our jaws off the floor from Mrs. Bush's ability to tell a racy joke, and we're doing it because we believe folks in the red states don't tell racy jokes, think racy thoughts, or have racy relations. Tierney would be 1/3rd right, if he meant race relations. Instead, he's invented a whole new stereotype. If you could find me one single liberal who thought Bible thumpers lived lives of ascetic purity, I'd disown evolution. As it is, blue state irritation with red state "moral values" stems not from the beliefs, but from the hypocrisy therein. It's hard to respect a cultural backlash driven by the same folks clamoring for the culture. It's worse to be accused of impiety and religious ignorance by states whose safety nets are so ripped and...

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