• Viva Big Government!

    Matt's buried a lot of big important points in this tiny little paragraph : Positioning itself as the party of dogmatic tax-cutting has brought the GOP certain advantages. The big disadvantage is that it's left the field open for Democrats to be the defenders of spending more money on popular programs like Social Security or the military. In that vein, the "bigger Army" gambit is hardly a novel one for the post–September 11 Democrats. It was a plank of John Kerry's presidential campaigns, and it's one of Harry Reid's agenda items. The trouble is that despite this it hasn't become an issue the Democrats are clearly identified with. I'm a bit unsure about this. Certainly the GOP is increasingly in a corner as American faith in government slowly restores itself (which, despite the best efforts of the Bush administration, it appears intent on doing), but they've dealt with that through their new affection for incoherence, aka "big government conservatism". More to the point, the right's...
  • Settling Scores

    Arnold, still smarting from last month's whipping at the hands of the public sector unions, has decided to use the governor's office to settle the score. He backed down from all the initiatives he placed, or wanted to place, on the ballot, but is now opening a proxy war by threatening to endorse a so-called paycheck protection proposal, one of these anti-union initiatives that would force unions to get permission from each individual member before using any portion of dues for political work. But you know what? I'm willing to support him on it. I am. I'm willing to give Arnold the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I'll support him the moment he brings this proposal to its logical conclusion. Corporations, clearly, should have to inform every single one of their shareholders before using funds to influence politics. Wait -- no, they should actually include a little piece of paper with each product, service, or negotiation that would break down how their lobbying works, how much goes to each...
  • LA Mayoral Race

    Kevin writes : Since we live in Irvine, Marian and I just laugh at these ads. If we actually lived in Los Angeles, we'd probably be thinking of slitting our wrists instead. So to all my Los Angeles readers: my condolences. Do your duty at the polls tomorrow and write in Bill Clinton or something. Motion made and seconded*. Well, kinda. I won't actually be voting tomorrow. I can't stand either candidate. Watching them debate made me want to vote Republican, the two of them made Bush look skilled. The single-mindedness they exhibited reforming every question as a clumsy attack on their opponent's record showed a mixture of zen master focus and absolute mediocrity. Standing on stage with one of these candidates would be the average politician's dream, even the least inspiring and most dutiful of rhetoric would soar, sing, and sparkle compared to the pathetic pissing match going on at the other podium. But neither recognized the opportunity. So, instead, the race has devolved into a game...
  • Da' Votes

    Looks like Reid thinks he's got the votes : Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "declared an end Monday to compromise talks with Republican leaders over President Bush's controversial judicial nominees, saying their fate along with the future of long-standing filibuster rules will be settled in a showdown on the Senate floor," the AP reports. It wouldn't surprise me if a few conscious Republicans have begun to believe a "no" vote is necessary to make the Senate work again. It'd surprise me even less if a few, like Hagel, thought that casting one would cement their reputations as great men of the demands of petty partisan politics, and that such a reputation will come in handy among a worn-out electorate tired of the constant battles and gridlock. Guess we'll find out soon enough.
  • That About Sums It Up

    August : A faulty report. Unreliable sources. People have died. And who do they want to resign? The editors of Newsweek.
  • Keep the People Stupid

    First they came for PBS, and I wrote a long blog post about it. Then they came for NPR, and Laura Rozen wrote the post I would've written about it, so you should just read her. Suffice to say that I hope the billion dollars Joan Kroc bequeathed to the station allows NPR to (and my grandparents should stop reading right about now) tell Kenny Tomlinson and the CPB to shove it up their ass. Less news? A dedicated effort to policing the station's Middle East coverage? You have got to be kidding me.
  • One Last Times

    Via Atrios , it looks like the Times is going to lock Brooks, Krugman, Herbert, Tierney and the rest of their gang of wacky op-ed writers behind a subscription wall : The New York Times Co. (NYT) on Monday said that, starting in September, access to Op-Ed and certain of its top news columnists on the paper's Web site will only be available through a fee of $49.95 a year. The service, known as TimesSelect, will also allow access to The Times's online archives, early access to select articles on the site, and other features. Ouch. I like making fun of Brooks as much as the next guy, but it's not the sort of pleasure I'd pay $50 a year to retain. And, indeed, I've a sneaking feeling few others will, either. Awhile back, I argued that the NYT couldn't go subscription because it had too many competitors offering exactly the same service for free. Were they to demand $10 for me to read their news, I'd simply redirect my mail over to the Washington Post's site and that'd be that...
  • Ideas Matter (Randomly)

    You're about to hear a lot of whining and high-pitched indignation about this paragraph from an Editor & Publisher survey : Asked who they voted for in the past election, the journalists reported picking Kerry over Bush by 68% to 25%. In this sample of 300 journalists, from both newspapers and TV, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 3 to 1 -- but about half claim to be Independent. As in previous polls, a majority (53%) called their political orientation "moderate," versus 28% liberal and 10% conservative. Okay kids, listen close and listen quick: if the majority of the folks spending day after day and night after night observing, analyzing, and judging politics are breaking heavily Democratic, that's not prima facie evidence of bias. Indeed, it may be evidence that the facts of contemporary politics break down in such a way that most rational observers in command of all, or almost all, of the relevant information find voting Republican an irrational thing to do. The right...
  • The Dichotomy is Dead, Long Live the Dichotomy!

    I very much like Matt's point on this: Like most Americans, though, I'm inclined to forgive inequality if it leads to nationwide prosperity and if our society remains mobile -- the sort of place where a person born poor has a fair shot at getting rich. The common presumption is that America is an unusually mobile country in this sense, more mobile than tradition-bound Europe and more mobile than the more hierarchical, slower-paced economy of decades ago. The reality is that this isn't really true. The United States has grown somewhat less mobile since the 1970s, and exhibits less mobility than do the continental European welfare states or Canada. We're slightly more mobile than the relatively laissez faire United Kingdom. It's not just, however, that we're willing to forgive inequality if it offers prosperity and mobility, we're actually willing to trade it. The American ethos is a value judgment that we'd prefer the potential for greatness over the guarantee of goodness, and we've...
  • Heh

    Hah !