• Nothing. Nothing Is The Matter With Kansas.

    Democrats are really off track with this "What's the Matter With Kansas" game. Andrei Cherny's new iteration of it just proves how much. Road tripping through the state, he stopped off in a small city, heard a story of a desperate women, and caromed off into ruminations about how we've failed the natives there. Why? First off, what is the matter with Kansas? Particularly as opposed to, say, Arkansas, or Tennessee, or Oregon. Kansas has middling unemployment (that's better than the presumably right-thinking California), a per capita income firmly in the nation's middle (Arkansas, incidentally, has the lowest), a female Democratic governor, and a poverty level 2.1% below the national average. So tell me again, what's the matter with Kansas? Because though we keep making the state sound like it's crammed with abortion-hating hicks too stupid to mark the ballot that'd help pull them out of poverty, none of that's actually going on. Instead, the real problem seems to be that the state just...
  • Hot, Bloody Summer

    By now, you've surely heard that Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring. Yikes. A Rehnquist retirement would've been a fight, but O'Connor's seat is going to provoke a bloody, balls-out battle, as her successor can swing the court decisively to the right. Update : Shakespeare's Sister has a rundown of some of the potential replacements. McConnell and Roberts are here , Wilkinson, Luttig, and Alito here . Luttig, fyi, is thought by many to be the most likely choice. I'm rooting for Gonzales myself. In this case, the torturer is the least scary of the bunch.
  • Go Forth, Ye Wonks, And Prosper

    Kevin's right , Open CRS , the new site collecting the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service's policy summaries, is a great service. The CRS is a taxpayer funded agency that prepares reports on various policy topics for congressmen. The reports are short, highly reliable, and scrupulously fair. Better yet, there are thousands of them, with more emerging each year. Like Kevin, I've long been irritated that the CRS doesn't make its reports public. After all, we pay for them. Indeed, I was even thinking of proposing a 10 Miles Squared ( The Washington Monthly's front-of-book, talk-about-something-quirky-in-DC feature) on it. But then, you've got to think; maybe it's a good thing. After all, let the CRS go public and suddenly Accuracy in Media or the Media Research Council devotes an intern to reading every single dispatch and raising huge stinks about out of context sentences proving liberal bias aimed at weak-minded congressmen. They become just one more political football, and...
  • Who Am I?

    Via Lindsay Beyerstein , Richard Chapelle is compiling personality/political profiles of bloggers. Personality is being done through the IPIP-NEO inventory , and politics through the ubiquitous political compass quiz. Should be fun. My results, complete with commentary, are behind the jump:
  • Zogby Weighs In

    Bad news in the new Zogby poll , at least if your name is Bush. Not only was there no bounce in Bush's speech, but the red states have turned against him and 42% of voters say they'd want congress to begin impeachment proceedings if only they knew about the Downing Street Memos. That's not going to happen, of course, not with a Republican majority. But if the media was serious about pushing the story in the way they pressed Whitewater, it'd prove a real danger to the administration. The very fact, however, that Zogby is polling questions of impeachment shows that the memos are gaining traction. This is the sort of thing the media loves to report: numbers, information, artifacts that make their stories look driven by news rather than editors. And 42%, for that matter, is a very high number. How many media organizations pick up on it and how hard they push it will say a lot about how constant media coverage is between administrations.
  • Starving the Beast

    David Broder has a surprisingly good column on the reversed PBS cuts, arguing that the zeal to save Big Bird might have hurt the kids he teaches. The $100 million in restored cuts had to come from elsewhere, and so they did: None of this suggests that the House was wrong to rescue Big Bird and his friends in public broadcasting. But it is a fact, as both Regula and Obey pointed out, that the broadcast stations and their audiences have far more influence on Congress than most low-income Americans possess. As Obey put it, "At least the people who pay attention to public broadcasting do have a megaphone of sorts, and they can get their message known." Obey was also on sound ground in pointing out that "the press has focused 90 percent of its attention on public broadcasting," playing down or ignoring the trade-offs that were forced in other programs by the strictures of the budget plan pushed by President Bush and approved by party-line Republican majorities in Congress. ... It's one...
  • After Consensus

    James Hamilton, talking about Mitt Romney's attempts to restructure health care by ending free medical care in emergency rooms but subsidizing the needy, writes : Even so, I count it as progress of sorts if we might in this fashion find ourselves at least able to agree on what we want to buy, leaving just the little matter of haggling over the price. A proposal like Romney's strikes me as a constructive way to frame a public discussion of exactly where America stands on who should pay the medical costs of the uninsured. I don't know about that. Outside of the blogosphere, it's fairly impressive how much of the health care debate really is about haggling over prices. The constituency actively pushing single-payer in this country is quite small, in large part due to fears about its political viability. Moreover, support for health care entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, is widely bipartisan, almost sacrosanct. Even with a budget deficit spiraling rapidly out of control...
  • Good News, Bad News

    See if you can find which is which : For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota. ... But that still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year, which ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters' lives miserable. Army officials insist that they can still reach their annual goal, especially with hundreds of new recruiters on the street, armed with big enlistment bonuses and greater leeway to recruit more high-school dropouts and lower-achieving applicants. First time since January. That's not good. Moreover, I'm a bit nervous about our new strategy of attracting the most hopeless, directionless, and uneducated recruits we can find. When "a...
  • Gonna Party Like It's 1935?

    I wish I could believe Ruth Milkman's optimistic op-ed on unions, but it's a little hard when it's peppered by omissions like this: IT is a time of trial for organized labor. Only 13 percent of nonagricultural workers are unionized. The figure is even lower among immigrants who toil at unskilled jobs in the nation's newest industries. Employers have abandoned the paternalistic job security measures, pensions and fringe benefits of which they boasted only a few years ago. Instead, they are imposing wage cuts and speedups on their workers while the American Federation of Labor stands by helplessly. This was the labor movement's plight in 1935. Like many Americans today, people back then believed that labor unions had become weak and irrelevant. In 1932, George Barnett, president of the American Economics Association, declared, "American trade unionism is slowly being limited in influence by changes which destroy the basis on which it is erected." Yet a few years later, the Congress of...
  • Dangerous Incompetence

    This is Matthew Holt again. I still owe you all history of why Clinton's health reform went down, so Ezra let me stay as a guest poster. I hope he doesn't mind me posting this but Bob Herbert's column about the incompetence of Bushco in Iraq is beautiful, if tragic. And this line about Bush's desire for the Iraqis to take over from our troops is the best description ever of the mentality of the clowns running this country. "We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills," said Mr. Bush in his television address. "And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting, and then our troops can come home." Don't hold your breath. This is another example of the administration's inability to distinguish between a strategy and a wish.