Up Front

From the Executive Editor

Few issues highlight the tension between what's right and what's good politics better than immigration. At the beginning of the Obama administration, hopes were high for comprehensive immigration reform, long backed by mainstream Republicans. But then Republicans adopted a hard anti-immigration stance, and Democrats found themselves focused on enforcement and postponing the promise of reform. Now, as Adam Serwer writes this month, Republicans have an opportunity to reclaim the issue -- and the Hispanic vote along with it.

In the short term, though, if Republicans gain control of one or both legislative chambers in November, we are in for another long period of political stalemate. As political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson show in this issue, stalemate is not neutral -- it causes us to drift backward, toward deeper inequality.

One question on which there is an unfortunate bipartisan consensus, however, is the push to cut the federal budget deficit and entitlement programs, even before economic recovery has taken hold. It's not only wrong; it's out of touch -- and there is an alternative. As our latest special report explains, investment in people and infrastructure can generate not just recovery but long-term growth. -- Mark Schmitt

The Question

What does Joe Biden like to give the kids on Halloween?

"100 GRAND bars. You can never have too much stimulus." -- Larry Sabato, UVA

"The new Fun Dip product: Fun Double Dip (recession)." -- Lee Camp, Living Liberally

"Big fucking Snickers." -- Stuart Whatley, Huffington Post

"Gaff-y taffy." -- Katie Halper, Laughing Liberally

"Complimentary Amtrak mints." -- Cameron O'Bannon, University of Notre Dame

Parody by T.A. Frank

Since We Cannot Foresee the Midterm-Election Results: TAP LIBS


The results of the 2010 election are in, and they are pretty much as pundits ______ (past-tense verb) The Democrats got royally ___________ (past participle), largely because the majority of voters were hugely __________ (past participle) off, and the nation's unemployed barely have a _____ (noun) to ______ (verb) in. The Tea Party movement also made waves, mainly by proving itself to be, as ever, bat-_____(noun) ________ (adjective). Now, the battle is over, and the minority party must resign itself to the fact that the House speaker will be____________ (name), whose _________ (past participle)-up bronze complexion and a history of ___________(gerund) himself out like a streetwalking ________ (noun) to _______ (name of industry) lobbyists justifiably prompts outbursts of, "______ (imperative verb) it. Just ________(imperative verb) it. We're all _____ (past participle) anyway," among sane citizens. Meanwhile, the ________ (adjective) Party will have to do some soul-searching and figure out how, despite an advantage in _____ (noun), they still managed to _________ (verb) themselves. Just like they've persistently _______ (past-tense verb) themselves for the past four decades. But, with any luck, maybe they can grow some __________ (plural noun), take their heads out of their _________ (plural noun), and learn to stop being ________(noun)-slapped like a bunch of little ___________ ( plural noun).

Dialogue: The Locavore's Dilemma

Are wealthy people obliged to buy from the farmers market?

Monica Potts: A few weeks ago, TAP contributors were debating food politics on Twitter. Silvana Naguib, who has guest-blogged for TAPPED, said, "I do think that if you are not poor and you live in an urban area, there is no reason not to buy your meat and dairy from local sources."

Jamelle Bouie: And, as TAP's resident moral absolutist, I agreed! Consuming industrially produced food is something of an ethical lapse. People with the knowledge of and access to more humane animal products are particularly culpable; if they can afford it, they should make the switch.

Monica: Great, you two can be the first two officers of the food Gestapo. I agree that we should educate people about the benefits of buying locally and enact policies that encourage buying more humanely produced food. But I don't think anyone has a moral obligation.

Jamelle: If something is morally reprehensible, then why don't we have an obligation not to do it -- especially if we have the means?

Monica: There's a big difference between not being poor and money being no obstacle. If I were, say, trying to raise a family on a household income of $80,000, I wouldn't be poor, but the difference between $3 eggs at my corner store and $5.50 eggs from the local farmers market might be a big deal to me.

Jamelle: I would tighten Silvana's standard so that it would read, "If you are comfortable." I just find something very disturbing about acknowledging that a moral problem exists and that you have the capacity to help fix it -- however slightly -- but then choosing not to for a relatively minor reason.

Monica: Sending my hypothetical children to college is not a minor reason!

Jamelle: Unless college tuition is $100 a semester and that extra $2.50 makes a difference, I'm not sure that that's a concern. Also, I wouldn't send my kid to a $100 college.

Monica: OK, that settles it; you're an elitist. People have a right to weigh things according to their own values, but not a right to have those values broadly enforced. There are plenty of Americans who think drinking alcohol is immoral, and I'm really glad I don't have to listen to them.

Jamelle: There is a difference between thinking alcohol is bad -- which is really just pietism -- and wanting to make a difference in the treatment of animals. I don't think government should mandate that people buy sustainable animal products, but just like you should donate to charity if you can afford to, you should do your part to ameliorate animal suffering if you can afford to.

Monica: I'm not so sure local meat purchases, like those $13 chickens at the farmers market, really ameliorate much suffering. Unless you count lightening the burden on foodies' wallets.

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