• Say Goodbye

    This will, sadly (for me, anyway), be my last post as guest-MC on Ezra's turntables. I want to thank him profusely for having me, and thank all his readers for sharing their thoughts on my thoughts. I also want to conclude with a brief observation about blogging. A while back, Ezra lamented the fact that campus conservatives, by necesity, tend to be sharper and more well-versed (at least in GOP talking points) than their liberal counterparts. After a weekend here, I think the blogosphere could be our answer. The comments, links, and e-mails I received from commenters, even those who clearly don't take part in my political ontology, exhilerated me and helped me to understand and refine my own thoughts. (And even to have a few new ones!) So, thank you all for that; it certainly didn't go unappreciated. And again, many thanks to Ezra for opening what amounts, in blogospheric terms, to his home. If you've enjoyed my blogging, I'm Daniel A. Munz, and I'll be back at my place, Politics and...
  • I Got The Eighth Amendment Blues

    Before I end my Weekend At Ezra's, there's one issue that I've been really eager to put before you, his faithful readers. The category is Legal Philosophy. Michael McGough, who I'm pretending is Dahlia Lithwick because I have a terrible schoolboy crush on her, argues that the Ten Commandments cases are transforming Antonin Scalia, wolfman-style, into a devotee of the "Natural Law" school of legal philosophy . Although this shift in philosophy is news, the underlying fact that Scalia is crazy as a moonbat pie really isn't, so whatevs. I've written about this topic before; my previous posts on the topic are here , here , and (sort of) here . But the thing I want to address here is this: The whole Ten Commandments thing was interesting, but there was also another controversy that braced the Court recently. I am speaking here of the kerfluffle over the death penalty for juveniles, in which the majority opinion rested (somewhat uncontroversially) on the Eigthth Amendment, and (totally...
  • The Case for No-Bill (Brought to You by the 1994 Republican Revolution)

    I'm going to be a rude host and flat-out disagree with this guestblogger Dan Munz (who's really doing an excellent job, don't you guys think?). Below , he mentions various plans and shows some willingness to have Democrats fight for one that tracks with our ideals. I disagree completely. No plan, not even one, not even the best fucking plan in the known universe, can be allowed to move forward. Bush began this process in order to destroy Social Security, and I oppose anything that allows him and his party to escape with the ability to brag about the progressive fix they bravely instituted. Bush has long shown a proclivity to lose legislative battles and campaign hard on exactly the bills he spent months opposing. We watched him do it in 2002, with the Deptartment of Homeland Security. We watched him do it in 2004, with McCain-Feingold. And I'll never forget the WaPo article listing all the programs Bush had tried, and often succeeded, in cutting but was using in his stump speeches...
  • So, Um, What Is Our Plan?

    Following up on my last post, it's worth asking: What is our plan? Well, I think we've been largely hesitant to come up with one, because if we do, press stories about it will begin: "Democrats on Capitol Hill, in a sign that they agree with President Bush's grim assessment of Social Security's future solvency..." That said, my scenario did sort of require that we have a plan. And as a Democrat, I'm not opposed to having one. Social Security is just about the most successful thing our government's ever done, but it could be better, and if it can be bettered without increasing peoples' personal risk, I'm down. Here are some of the more attractive candidates that I've seen: The Longman Plan : Basically, this raises the age at which you begin drawing benefits to 72, but keeps the retirement age at 68, and uses private accounts to cover the four-year gap. The Dean Plan : Raise the amount of income that Social Security payroll taxes apply to. This sounds like a tax cut hike, but it would...
  • Nuclear Disarmament

    Matt Yglesias reports that the GOP is getting ready to go nuclear on judicial filibusters, thus baiting Democrats into shutting down the Senate, which in turn would...hell, I'll let Matt tell it: I had to read that a couple of times until I got it. But now I see what the Senator meant. He means that he and his colleagues don't like being stuck between the president's pressure to endorse his plan, and the public's pressure not to pass his plan. The ideal way out of the impasse would be for the GOP to go nuclear on the filibuster issue, which will lead Democrats to shut down the Senate entirely, thus getting Republican Senators off the hook. To the White House and the privateer money bags they can say, "hey! we would have passed it if it hadn't been for those Democrats" and to the voters they can say, "hey! I never voted for any such thing." It seems weird, but when I read this, my first instinct was: Don't shut down anything. Let 'em do it. There's an episode of West Wing , which I...
  • Drink! Drink!

    Over at Sirota's place , we get this excellent pic of [Montana Gov.] Brian Schweitzer publicly downing a shot of scotch in celebration of a reopening bar. Looks like fun, not to mention great PR. I've never understood the politician's obsession with ribbon-cutting ceremonies and Rotary Club dinners. It's not that these things shouldn't be attended, but so far as the visibility they bring, headline-hungry congresscritters can really do better. After all, post-Reagan, post-Bush, post-Clinton, post-television, there's no doubt that Americans like their politicians possessing a high "jes' folks" factor, as in that guy's "jes' folks". Speechifying at a brand new grocery store doesn't really play into that. Downing scotch at bar openings does. Some pols understand this, with Guiliani top among them, and Clinton not far behind. Most don't. Not sure why that is though, not only isn't it tough to divine (act like a movie star), but it seems like a hell of a lot more fun. -Ezra
  • The Decline of the Times Op-Ed Page

    Matt Yglesias I'm not. Brad Plumer neither. My posts are not, unfortunately, cascading lists of think tank documents I've absorbed, and I rarely feel able to talk about marginal tax rates. But even little substance-free me was able, on Friday (randomly chosen), to write about Bush's atrocious nominee for UN Secretary, Labor politics in Los Angeles, Social Security privatization, the way presidents from different political parties benefit during foreign policy crises, and the DLC's rapidly-shrinking ability to distance themselves from the credit card bill. You're not gonna catch me defending the quality of all those posts, but at least the intent was sound. So imagine my surprise, as an aspiring journalist consistently certain there's too much fluff and too little meat in my writing, to find the Times op-ed page trumpeting opinion pieces lighter than Splenda. David Brooks, for his part, chimed in with a column about decaf coffee. Worse, it wasn't about waves of decaf drinkers affecting...
  • Ownership Society

    At Friday's regularly-scheduled Social Security passion play, Bush went on a little elocution safari : "I believe everybody should have the opportunity to invest," Bush said. "We want people owning stuff. The more people owning something, the better off America is." The president is ideologizing on a fifth-grade level. Is our children learning? Not from this guy. - Daniel A. Munz
  • Design Changes

    I'm trying to spruce the place up a bit now that I'm all settled in. First order of business was moving the picture, which I think was too prominently displayed. Those wanting to stare at me can now do so in the "About" section. Next up, I need to find a picture for the top banner. My idea was a photo, maybe black-and-white, of a row of empty chairs, or an auditorium. Always seemed like it'd be cool. But I don't know where or how to find that, so I'm kinda stumped. Suggestions from you guys would be great.
  • Citizen-Journalists

    Well Garance knocked that one out of the park.