• Expensive Poverty

    John Edwards, blogging at TPM Cafe, has a terrific post on the cyclical costs of being poor: David Shipler, who recently joined me on a panel at UNC, tells a striking story about a single mother he met while researching his book, The Working Poor. She had no savings and low earnings, so she had to live in a drafty wooden house. This exacerbated her son's asthma. That led to two ambulance rides to the hospital. Those trips led to ambulance charges she couldn't pay. Those charges damaged her credit report. And so then she was denied a loan to buy a mobile home. That meant she had to stay in that drafty house—the house that contributed to her son's asthma attacks. And she had to buy a car from a sleazy dealership that charged her 15 percent interest. As one little boy David met told his mother, “Being poor is expensive.” True enough. It goes beyond the disastrous, however, and deep into the mundane. The well-off have all sorts of expense savers: Amazon, Expedia, appliances that we...
  • The Power of First

    Garance on Hillary: she's also got one incredible and unique advantage no other candidate has: the power of history. For a Democratic Party that's seen as adrift and out of date, having a woman at the top of the ticket can become part of a narrative of national progress and forward motion. More importantly, it could have profound implications for field organizing and strategies for winning actual votes. That's correct, actually, and a very interesting point. Further, Hillary, by virtue of her time in the public eye, won't be the "first woman nominated by a major party for president!" I mean, technically, she will be, but her candidacy won't be novelty, she's too natural a choice for the ticket. That allows her to reap the benefits of a trailblazer without being seen as a token. And indeed, it fits nicely with the Democratic narrative of civil rights and equality for women, a storyline that's recently derailed into endless arguments over gay marriage. Regaining some sort of "force of...
  • Deep Throat Revealed!

    It was W. Mark Felt, the FBI's #2 at the time. The upcoming Vanity Fair has a long interview with the newly named source, and the Capitol Buzz points us towards an advance copy of the article. It's pdf, but this is a big fucking moment. Off you go .
  • Question

    Is anyone else watching the president's press conference? He's doing stem cells right now and seems strangely hysterical. Out of breath, stammering, desperately defensive -- this is first term Bush, and in a bad way. On the bright side, he just said he won't attack North Korea. Related note : the WaPo says his mandate is over.
  • The CEO's Are All Right

    In case you were keeping track : CEOs at California's largest 100 public companies took home a collective $1.1 billion in 2004, up almost 20% from 2003. That compares with the 2.9% raise that the average California worker saw last year, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. The difference is even sharper at the top rungs of the ladder. The 10 highest-paid executives on this year's list earned 36.7% more than last year's top 10 — garnering a collective $467.5 million. That's enough to buy about 275 homes in Malibu or 1.5 million sets of golf clubs or two 747 jumbo jets. Some of those CEO's, like Yahoo's Semel or Apple's Jobs, have actually turned their companies around and justified a major salary for themselves. But was Semel's performance so impressive that he needed a 24,000% pay raise in 2004, which meant a total yearly haul of $175 million? I'm all for performance incentives, but the market for them is simply too high. Since it's climbed so much in past years,...
  • Requests for TPM Cafe

    Josh Marshall's blogospheric power grab finally manifested in a non-"more later"/"stay tuned" form this morning, and all seems well with it. John Edwards is the week's special surprise guestblogger , Matt's got his new home , and the place is generally humming along nicely. But in the spirit of Josh's declaration that the Cafe is a work-in-progress, here are some requests: • Full RSS feeds, please. You guys have too much content to content (hah! repetition!) yourselves with one-line teasers. Let me get the posts and read 'em at my leisure. • I know the theme is caffeine, and thus a hectic, crowded, stimulative template is to be expected, but could the design calm down a little bit? I'll probably get used to it one way or the other, but there are too many buttons, tabs, links, ads, medieval murals, aggregators, and offers screaming for attention. If you're not going to let me RSS the site, at least chill those guys out a bit. • Put up a blogroll, for god's sake. I know TPM Cafe will be...
  • Caesar's Bath

    The day before he began blogging here, Neil tagged me with the Caesar's Bath meme. Fun. This one makes you name five things everyone else thinks are great but you just think are kinda, well, nice enough. Plus, I've got a nice, controversial last one that you'll all flay me alive for. Off we go: The New Yorker: Really, what's the fuss? I recognize that the writing is often inspired, but the topic choice rarely is, meaning I'm only occasionally interested in whatever the magazine has decided to spend that week's 40,000 words on. The latest issue wastes half its time reestablishing John McCain's credentials as a lovable, cuddly outsider whose tough as nails when the situation warrants and has the genetic makeup to live until 170 and the rest inveighing against the scientific bankruptcy of Intelligent Design. Fine articles both, I guess, but I could have absorbed the same information in less time elsewhere, and indeed, I did so years ago. I guess that's my problem with the New Yorker ,...
  • Boosting the Brand

    I've been wondering why we don't see more political ads aimed at boosting parties as a whole, rather than particular candidates. Given that many voters will walk into voting booths with no idea who the downticket candidates are, spending money on improving the Democratic brand might win more votes than giving the cash to individual candidates. And there are lots of advantages that the Democratic Party as a whole is in position to claim. I've mentioned the deficit reduction stuff , but I'm also wondering if there's a nice way to sell parts of our anti-terrorism plan on TV. I'm not sure what the prospects for catchy jingles are here, but I'd like to see what some smart people would come up with. Maybe MoveOn could do another contest like the one where they came up with that great deficit ad . The media covers political ad buys heavily enough that even if we buy only a few spots in select markets, our message will probably reverberate for a while. -- Neil the Werewolf
  • Fast

    I see that Amanda Marcotte has a box of tissues for Robby Gordon, the Indy car driver who complained about Danica Patrick's weight advantage. All I've got for Robby is this link . -- Neil the Werewolf
  • What Rights There Are

    On my own blog, I never got around to commenting on the post where Ezra argued against the libertarian who said: Let's talk about health care for a minute. Health care is certainly a need, but it is not a right. And all the high sounding rhetoric in the world that says otherwise is baloney. Rights don't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Any 'right' to health care would make exactly that sort of demand on the assets of health care workers. Don't let libertarians get away with this. It's really hard to defend a notion of rights that doesn't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Consider the right to vote. For you to exercise this right, there need to be voting machines and ballots and people hired to count the ballots. Keeping a poor person from voting because he didn't have money to contribute to these things would still violate his right to vote. For his rights to be respected, others' assets would have to be deployed. Or consider criminal justice. For property...