• Protecting Women

    Ayelish McGarvey has written the single most devastating profile of a public hypocrite that I've ever read. Some of you may remember David Hager, the FDA appointee who recommends belief in Christ as the best medicine for female ailments and has taken an almost entirely faith-based approach to public medicine, which led the Bush administration to appoint him to the FDA's committee on reproductive health drugs. He's a "noted" women's health expert and is famous, at least in his telling, for his enormous success at counseling from his own experience. That must've helped him decide kill the effort to make "Plan B" an over-the-counter medication. On his committee, 23 voted in favor of making it OTC, and four voted against. The FDA, in a wholly unprecedented ruling, denied the committee's will and stalled the drug. Service such as this has made Hager an almost certain bet for a second term, at least until today. Ayelish spoke to Hager's ex-wife at great length and the story that emerges of...
  • Miller Time!

    I know I'm a day late on it, but Matt Miller's column is worth a 48-hour comment-cycle, so off we go. I should start by saying that I like Miller. His book, The 2% Solution , is one of my favorites, if for no other reason than it presents policy ideas in an engaging, readable format, which is the political publishing equivalent of a solar eclipse. But Matt's got a special "New Democrat" pathology which should be talked about a bit more, as he's not the only one carrying the bug. His book castigates Democrats for using the 1994 health care debacle as an excuse to give up on big ideas. It then spends a few hundred pages laying out a set of ideas that, while good, are not big, they're just stretched out. To Miller, that's what a big idea is. It stretches across the ideological binary till both the left and the right are warmed by its fuzzy embrace, and then it becomes legislation. And it's right there, in that bit of bipartisan Schoolhouse Rock, that Miller's mistake comes clear. He...
  • Site Stuff

    Fixed the banner problems (where it wasn't showing up on archive pages). Also, made it smaller. Also, made the content area wider. Well, actually, Daniel Munz did that, but the point is it got done. Everybody like? Anything else I need to do before I close the door on the redesign?
  • Our Government in a Nutshell

    John Cole's got more on United's liquidation of its pensions. The story, amazingly, gets worse. While the Bankruptcy Bill was steamrolling through Congress, Dick Durbin offered an amendment that would've "protect[ed] employees and retirees from the common corporate practice of discharging liability for retirement plans, retained earnings and matching funds when businesses file Chapter 11." This is really, if you think about it, quite amazing. The Bankruptcy Bill made it harder for individuals to declare and survive bankruptcy. Durbin offered an amendment that would've forced corporations, when they were declaring bankruptcy, to fulfill their stated financial obligations to their employees. These financial obligations are retirement plans, matching funds, and so forth. They are, in other words, the exact same long-term assets that are supposed to keep hard-working Americans out of bankruptcy court! If you want to know who our government is working for, you need look no further than...
  • French Roast

    I have to back soon-to-be colleague Matt up: when he took Kate and I to the French Roast for bistro fare at 3 in the morning, I found nothing rancid about it. Matt's horrified reaction, however, to my mixing of avocado and burger, would've made you think I was ordering poison. Nevertheless, no one, least of all myself, exhibited any gastrointestinal discomfort from the food nor the combinations we made of it.
  • Nicely Turned

    Give it up for Marshall Whittman, this paragraph is really very clever: The Moose can hardly contain his glee over tomorrow night's exchange of vows between Tom DeLay and the conservative movement. After cohabitating for years, the relationship between their sleazy leader and the movement becomes official. The Moose understands that the happy couple is registered at "Sweatshops R Us" in the Northern Marianas. After the ceremony, they will be off on their honeymoon tour of Indian gaming facilities along with a junket to St. Andrew's in Scotland for a round of golf. All expenses paid for by the Abramoff Express Card (Don't leave the House without it!).
  • A Day In The Life

    Bad, bad precedents : A bankruptcy judge last night approved United Airlines' request to terminate its pension plans, clearing the way for the largest corporate pension default in history and setting the stage for a possible strike by the airline's flight attendants. The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will take over the airline's $645 million in pension payments and receive in exchange up to $1.5 billion in securities in the reorganized airline. ... United's parent, UAL Corp., has been in bankruptcy protection since December 2002, and United executives have said the airline would have difficulty emerging unless it was able to eliminate its employee pensions. The decision means that employees could lose between 20 and 50 percent of the value of their pensions, according to estimates by labor leaders. ... No airline labor group has ever gone on strike while its carrier was in bankruptcy. By eliminating the pensions, United has in effect nullified part of the workers' contract,...
  • Allen and the Theocrats

    Rob Garver's piece in the American Prospect examining George Allen's pre-presidential embrace of Pat Robertson doesn't go far enough, I think. Allen isn't some moderate do-gooder bowing to the realities of the Republican party and forcing himself to slobber on some theocrat's rings, he's been playing this game for a long, long, time. His ascendence to the governor's house in Virginia was wholly and totally a function of his ability to unite the state's CHristian Right around him rather than another candidate. Since then, he's always remembered to dance with them that brought him, and Pat's going to be no different. If Mark Warner (VA's current governor) steps up to the plate and challenges Allen's seat in 2006, George is going to have a very, very tough race on his hands. Winning that race will require evermore religious mobilization, evermore evangelical volunteers, and evermore pandering to the hard right. So don't blame Allen for bear-hugging Robertson and don't be surprised when...
  • Where's Sam Brownback When You Need Him?

    The U.N. Relief Director has hit the newspapers in an effort to drum up some political pressure for American help on African crises. Apparently, our compassionate conservatism is not quite being compassionate enough. I've excerpted a portion of his interview after the jump, you really need to read it to understand how bad things are getting (not to mention why putting the Ten Commandments in schools won't save us, and may in fact bring about some of the worst horrors on memory). Unfortunately, his interview also shows his problem. From what he's saying, there's currently an urgent humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Chad, the Congo, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Togo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda, among others. Think about that -- a pressing crisis in at least 14 countries. The world is remarkably slow, inept, and reluctant to deliver aid and avert catastrophes, so what do you think our chances are of responding effectively 14 times...
  • Tafted

    Political Wire reports that Bob Taft has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation . His approval rating is 19% , which is remarkably, terribly awful for a governor in a state where he has no major scandal, no major initiatives, no major...anything. He's crossed the boundary from nonentity to nega-entity. The fact is that Taft is just...well, a pointless politician, if such a construction makes sense. He's a conglomeration of three branches of Ohio Republicans - the religious, the economic, and the gun. The problem is, he's not really motivated by any one of those branches. If the Republican majority is held together by skillful interweaving of seemingly disparate goals without their subsequent accomplishment, Taft's leadership is viewing that network, the power it holds and its ability to accept failure through ideological eyes...and then heading off to the can to finish up the latest James Patterson novel. For four years.