Archive

  • DON'T POP THE CORK JUST YET.

    DON'T POP THE CORK JUST YET. Don't mean to step on anyone's birthday cake or anything, but after reading David Paul Kuhn 's Washington Post Magazine piece on the evangelist Jim Wallis (who is being touted as the savior of the Democratic Party), I'm not quite ready to declare, as Brothers Tom and Ezra seem poised to do, the triumph of the economic populism narrative. Yes, it's encouraging that Uchitelle is using it, and the Prospect , as demonstrated in Tom 's smart piece on the Dems in the North, has got the real story. That Kuhn's piece should appear, however, just yesterday, replete with references to core Democratic activists who are "hostile to religion," is a bit discomfiting. The narrative evolving here, thanks in part to the anti-choice but pro-safety-net Wallis, is that what kept "religious Christians" (a group Kuhn never really defines) away from the Democratic Party for so long was those pesky feminists and black people. Compared with the relative cultural homogeneity of the...
  • WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM; THEY'RE THE '08 LEADERS.

    WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM; THEY'RE THE '08 LEADERS. Not to pile on, since Thomas Edsall 's weekend column has been so ably dissected by Ezra and Ben already, but I do think Edsall's piece also needsto be considered in light of the fact that the two leading Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are a woman and an African-American. It seems increasingly bizarre to me that anyone could point to a sensitivity to the concerns of women and African-Americans as the problem with the party, when, in fact, the party is now being led by a diverse group of people whose candidacies have been made possible by the work of such interest groups over the past four and a half decades. Indeed, the real worry ought to be that the party has neglected to adequately study how to help its ever-growing number of female and minority candidates win in a political environment that House candidate Darcy Burner has pointed out may be uniquely...
  • KONDRACKE VS. THE...

    KONDRACKE VS. THE FACTS. I'm not exactly going to stun anyone by suggesting that Mort Kondracke doesn't know what he's talking about, but this is rather offensive : The reason that V.A. prices are lower is, it's basically a socialized medical system. You go to a V.A. doctor, you go to a V.A. hospital, you go to a V.A. pharmacy and the V.A. pharmacies only have 25 percent of the drugs that seniors actually use all the time. So, you know, it doesn't work. There is an implicit contract between pundits and their audiences. The audiences, whose attention pays our salaries, are working off the assumed information that the networks and publications elevate only those who take the time to accurately comprehend the issues they're speaking about. And we, as our part of the deal, are supposed to take ten minutes and figure out what we're talking about. The VA, just like the Medicare presciription drug plans , uses a formulary of drugs on which they negotiate discounts. That formulary contains...
  • CENTER-RIGHT PUNDITS ARE NOT A GOVERNING COALITION.

    CENTER-RIGHT PUNDITS ARE NOT A GOVERNING COALITION. Brothers Ben and Ezra say most of what needs to be said about this atrocious, risibly anachronistic op-ed by Thomas Edsall. An argument this silly contains multitudes, however, and there's one point I'd like to add. My question: if we're throwing "organized labor, minority advocacy organizations [and] reproductive- and sexual-rights proponents" out of the Democratic coalition, who's left? Where are the votes coming from? (The irony here is that DLC types, who see the Democrats building a governing Democratic coalition out of wealthy, complacent white males, are the flipside of Ralph Nader , who seems to think that a governing progressive coalition can be built by white college students .) There are two moves Edsall makes that are crucial to propping up this nonsense. The first is the egregious double standard in evaluating Democratic and Republican-affiliated factions. Supporters of reproductive freedom are a "special interest"...
  • SAY "POPULIST" AND...

    SAY "POPULIST" AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF FAIR TRADE. Tom 's right , by the way. Democrats should be damn proud of themselves for so rapidly repelling the spin that the 2006 election augured a resurgence of traditional conservatism. Moreover, they were able to actually replace it with a more appealing, appropriate narrative: The rise of the populists. That's the sort of fight liberals used to lose, but this time, in no small part due to the blogs, magazines like this one , and the facts, the Republican message machine was overwhelmed. As the kids say: w00t ! --Ezra Klein
  • FIGHTING PHARMA. ...

    FIGHTING PHARMA. The weekend was dotted with articles detailing Big Pharma's readiness to go to war with the Democrats over Medicare prescription drug bargaining, which is really a way of saying the weekend was dotted by articles fed by Pharma's PR firms into the eager and willing hands of newspaper reporters, who are all too pleased to pass on their doom-and-gloom predictions. Pharma is arguing Medicare's user base is so massive that government negotiation amounts to de facto price controls, which would decrease innovation. So though Pharma accepts such "price controls" from the VA, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Medicaid -- all of who pay far less than Medicare -- innovation cannot sustain the addition of Medicare's patients. We should hope not. 2/3rds of Pharmas current R&D budget goes not towards creating new drugs for killer conditions, but towards crafting copycats of other blockbuster drugs, which evade the patent protections placed by competitors. Another massive...
  • AN ENCOURAGING SIGN.

    AN ENCOURAGING SIGN. Ehud Olmert surprised me today by announcing a new peace initiative following the shaky truce in Gaza: The Israeli prime minister today said he was prepared to free "many" Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of Cpl Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured by Palestinian militants in June. Speaking on the second day of a fragile ceasefire, Ehud Olmert said that he was willing to dismantle Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for "real peace". "I hold out my hand in peace to our Palestinian neighbours in the hope that it won't be returned empty," he said. "We cannot change the past and we will not be able to bring back the victims on both sides of the borders. All that we can do today is stop additional tragedies." He also offered to ease travel restrictions on Palestinians and free up frozen funds if violence against Israel ended. I think this signals a real shift in Olmert, who came to power promising to continue Ariel Sharon's policy of...
  • DAMN THOSE LEGISLATIVE ACTIVISTS!

    DAMN THOSE LEGISLATIVE ACTIVISTS! You have to hand it to Mitt Romney --like so many opponents of same-sex marriage, he's principled. These decisions should be left to the legislature. Unless, of course, the legislature reaches an outcome you don't like, in which case the executive can veto the legislation and urge that it be resolved by the courts. Or, in Romney's case, when the legislature give you the wrong answer, you return to the courts , claiming another kick at the can because the legislature has used the method it usually uses to defeat enactments rather than the method you'd prefer. Although somehow I doubt that people who ( selectively ) decry "judicial activism" will object to this attempt to use the courts to "thwart the will of the people." As for the chances of the lawsuit succeeding: Lawrence M. Friedman, a specialist on Massachusetts constitutional law at the New England School of Law, said the court must decide if the State Constitution requires the legislature to...
  • THANKS, BLAKE.

    THANKS, BLAKE. I know I'm supposed to be reflecting on how bad things are in Iraq, but after Blake 's post, I'm really just seized by a desire to start pressuring the MSM into henceforth referring to Moqtada al-Sadr as the "The Mookster." --Ezra Klein
  • RARELY IS THE...

    RARELY IS THE QUESTION ASKED: IS OUR CONGRESSMEN LEARNING? It's study hall for the new Democratic Majority, as Nancy Pelosi is running some issue education sessions for her caucus this week. The first class, on Iraq, presents a fair array of thinkers, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Holbrooke , and Major General John Batiste , among others. The second, on the economy, appears to have only one speaker: Robert Rubin. Now, Rubin's a smart guy, and as his positions on certain issues have changed , he's inching slowly towards the mainstream of progressivism. But this is a guy whose prescriptions, above all, failed to alleviate the precise problems the Democratic Party is now charged with mitigating. NAFTA is widely considered a mediocrity -- if not a failure -- that neither created the (deceptively) promised jobs in America nor stemmed the flow of illegal immigration. And Rubinomics, for all it virtues, enhanced productivity without enduringly ending wage stagnation. Moreover, Rubin...

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