Archive

  • 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...
  • Note to the Right

    Dear Outraged Conservatives, I've made an effort to ignore the "Pozen plan", figuring it beneath comment or, indeed, contempt. But since you've all chosen this moment to outflank us hypocritical liberals, here's a quick guide to why no one takes it seriously: When one of the most conservative presidents in history decides to take the crowning achievement of liberalism and make it more progressive, that looks like a trojan horse. And then, when most every Republican in the country jumps on a table and demands that the program stops being so darned regressive and giving so much to the rich, that's like the trojans all running down the ramp before their equine-shaped craft even gets in the gates. It's just impossible to take seriously, so stop demanding that we try -- it's making you look silly. Love, Ezra P.S -- The country ain't buying it either .
  • Gregg Easterbrook is Out of Touch

    Oh Gregg : Total global spending on this is now estimated at around $500 billion annually, more than the United States defense budget. Roughly two percent of global GDP is dedicated to this purpose. What is it? Parking, and I don't mean the kind done by giddy teenagers on country lanes. When asked for comment, the Fonz said "Heeeeyyyy", then turned to watch a leather jacketed Easterbrook on water skis jump over a shark pen. As for the looming crisis in parking spots, Easterbrook needs to find more pressing topics for his energies (may I suggest how George Bush will lead the world in addressing global warming? Wait, you did that . Twice .). Geographically compressed urban areas sometimes have a true shortage, but then they generally have excellent public transport making up the slack. Suburbia remains chock-full of lots while more dispersed cities, like Los Angeles, have areas of scarcity (though there's plenty of daytime parking on the 405...) and high parking costs. But even that's...
  • Frist's Lament

    Lost among Pat Robertson's quasi-endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president and his insane comments on religious litmus tests for judges, Pat Robertson made another unexpected move last Sunday : He cut Bill Frist loose. Bill is a wonderfully compassionate human being. He is humanitarian. He goes on medical missions. He's a delightful person. I just don't see him as a future president. I think he's said he didn't want to run for president. Maybe I'm putting words in his mouth. Ouch. It'd be little wonder if the good Doctor began questioning why he was expending all this energy, capital, and poor press kowtowing to Robertson's agenda. But Frist, in his unfortunate way, was destined for this electoral purgatory. The Christian Right is, if nothing else, an authentic organization and they're going to push the candidates who excite them, not the one's who've been dutiful. That means Santorum, Owens, Allen, and even Giuliani can expect some troops, but the hapless majority leader is unlikely...
  • Responding to Democracy

    Wesley Clark's contribution to the Washington Monthly's Democracy in the Middle East forum is a great, great read, much better than the title made it sound. On one level, the essay is the surprisingly adept effort of a 2008 presidential candidate to account for hopefully signs in the Arab world. Clark does so by leveraging his Reaganite past and demanding humility from the Bush administration: The administration has generally responded to these openings by adding to the pressure, calling for withdrawal of Syrian forces and for democracy. But like the rooster who thinks his crowing caused the dawn, those who rule Washington today have a habit of taking credit for events of which they were in fact not the primary movers. Many of them have insisted, for instance, that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was largely the consequence of President Reagan's military policies. As a military officer at the time, and a Reagan supporter, I would be happy to give the Gipper that credit. In truth,...
  • Nominating Our Worst Nightmare

    When researching George Allen yesterday, I saw him regularly described as the Democrats' worst nightmare. Not so. Our worst nightmares aren't nominated in Republican primaries, but in our own. To understand that, a more critical look at John Kerry is in order. So for those who haven't absorbed Thomas Frank's latest 21-gun salute to populism , there's no time like the present. His election retrospective in the latest New York Review of Books is certainly one of the best I've seen, and even if he hits the same notes he always does, he's done a much better job constructing the rhythm to match the election's ebbs and flows. Frank has been marginalized as a single-idea commentator, a pundit whose work can be safely assumed sans reading. Not so. In fact, Frank's weakest area is, unfortunately, what everyone seems to focus on in his books and columns. His solution, that a renewed emphasis on class warfare -- a term I don't use pejoratively -- and protectionist populism will blunt the GOP's...

Pages