• on a comment on Pro-Choice America over 8 years ago
    You know, I don't really care what your position is on anything. You are incapable, apparently, of engaging in anything but the lowest common denominator name-calling. Your posts bring little if anything useful to the site and would be more appropriate for Little Green Footballs or something similar.

    You are unqualified to be labeling anybody an "idiot," or characterizing my positions on anything.

  • on a comment on Pro-Choice America over 8 years ago
    Do you really the namecalling of some idiot who is incapable of even carrying on a civil dialogue matters to anyone?

    My point stands, the Democratic Party is a pro-choice party, which is a majority position in the country. Apparently you have a problem dealing with that.

    Nobody is saying that anybody has to leave the party for any individual position. That was not at all what I meant, and I apologize if I wrote my comment in a way that allowed it to be misconstrued. There are no gatekeepers here.

    Apparently you are not comfortable with the Democratic position on abortion, but as long as you are willing to accept that the Party is a pro-choice one, and is going to remain that, and agree to disagree on this particular issue, then that is fine.

    But trying to reinvent the wheel by turning the Party away from its' pro-choice commitment is, to me, a waste of time that distracts us from other issues that we need to be focusing on.

  • comment on a post What is our coalition? over 8 years ago
    In my opinion the only kind of progressive coalition that could possibly win in the near future was identified in two books co-authored by Ruy Texeira:

    (1) the emerging Democratic majority  - professionals, working women, blacks, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics; and,

    (2) the white working class - or at least enough of it to cobble together a majority.

    The EDM group is growing, but not yet large enough to form a majority in national elections, so we still need to win a good part of the white working class.

    What's the strategy for putting this coalition together? I wish I knew, but it seems to me a commitment to economic populism - jobs and growth with social justice, fair trade, universal health care - is the only way we could possibly challenge the conservative cultural appeal to working class voters without selling our souls to the devil. Wall Street, and some of the EDM profressionals may not like it, but in the long run it will be good for most of them too, as well as good for the country.

    We also have to deal with the social issues that cleave the two parts of this coalition apart - abortion, gay rights, guns, popular culture - without breaking fundamental commitments to gender equality, personal safety, and free speech.

    To me, this means adopting the Lincoln 1860 strategy of Armando and Daily Kos on social issues -- place the extremist label on the Republicans, where it belongs. We could offer compromises on some of these issues:

    • "Safe, legal, and rare" abortions vs Conservative attempts to criminalize the procedure;

    • Civil unions rather than gay marriage vs Conservative attempts to ban basic rights to whole classes of people;

    • Acknowledging the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns while also acknowledging the right of the public to regulate their use (maybe at state or local rather than national level, if feasible), as compared to Conservative pandering to gun manufacturers who want zero restrictions on their ability to sell guns ("punting" gun control is a mistake, in my view, and a stab in the back to impoverished urban blacks, but finessing the issue is vital);

    • Link the pop culture issue to our issues, as Mark Schmitt has suggested: ". . . when financial self-interest is touted as one of society's greatest virtues . . .  individuals will behave badly, and that includes Enron . . .  but it also includes selling lowest-common-denominator culture to kids, only because it makes money. . . . a well-constructed way of talking about the time pressures of the modern economy is fully responsive to the concern about values."
  • on a comment on Pro-Choice America over 8 years ago
    So wtf exactly is your point? If Kerry had been pro-life he would have won?

    Bullshit. America has a pro-choice majority, and the Democratic Party is a pro-choice party. We ought to shout it from the rooftops. The real extremists are the Republicans who want to criminalize the procedure.

    So you need to deal with that. Your muddling of the issue hurts the Democrats and harms progressive politics in this country.

    So you either accomodate yourself to the facts on the ground, or leave the party. Your choice.

    But please drop the crap about the "silent pro-life majority." It doesn't exist.

  • on a comment on Pro-Choice America over 8 years ago
    It was also John Kerry's position, and he lost.
  • on a comment on Pro-Choice America over 8 years ago
    And another is that many people just like the fact the Republicans are willing to take what is perceived to be a strong, principled stand on an issue, even if those people disagree with the actual position itself.

    Compare that to the "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I support a woman's right to choose" position that many Dems adopt in order to fudge the issue, which is about half a step away from "I voted for it before I voted against it."

  • comment on a post Labor Flirtation With GOP Short-Sighted over 8 years ago
    I agree that labor shouldn't be supporting Republicans, but what about a progressive primary challenge to Bean? That might get her attention, even if it didn't unseat her (which might be the best overall outcome). Even if she does represent a "swing" district, it is in one of the bluest states, and I can't believe her constituents are clamoring for pro-corporate, anti-worker, and anti-family policies like CAFTA or the bankruptcy bill.

    That's what would happen in most places if a Republican strayed too far from the right-wing party line (see Arlen Specter for example).

  • on a comment on The End Of Zero Sum Politics over 8 years ago
    Yes, that's true. At least some people are actually talking about the issue now.
  • comment on a post The End Of Zero Sum Politics over 8 years ago
    This is a really important diary, but I have one quibble.

    Obama has not, IMHO, really articulated any new direction on poverty policy, as far as I can tell.

    We're supposed to follow Clinton, the guy who eviscerated the (already inadequate) income-support program we once had? No thanks.

    "What works" can be used to justify anything, including Bush's faith-based b.s. There are surely enough conservatives who will lie to make the case.

    If the Democrats were serious about fighting poverty, they would start by making the case that the Great Society worked. The poverty rate was at its lowest point when? In 1973, about the same time that we starting cutting welfare and other social programs.

    Oh, and also about the same time we stopped raising the minimum wage, when wages stopped growing, and when unemployment started rising.

    There was no more "welfare crisis" then than there is a Social Security crisis now. There was (and is) a labor market crisis. Guess what? When wages fall, and when jobs are harder to find, welfare becomes a more attractive option. What a fucking surprise. Anybody who took Econ 101 could have figured that out. When we have full employment and rising wages, like in the late 1990s, welfare rates went down, even before welfare deform was passed in 1996 (and of course it wasn't implemented until much later).

    And McWhorter is just another lying conservative. Either that, or he doesn't have a clue what the hell he is talking about.

    From The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. The author is Isabel Sawhill from the Brookings Institution, who is no crazy lefty, and who has forgotten more about the causes of poverty in the US than idiots like McWhorter or Charles Murray are ever going to know:

    Some critics of welfare policy argue that means-tested cash-income transfers like AFDC prevent recipients from leaving poverty by reducing their incentives to work and to form stable two-parent families. . . .

    Economists have found, however, that these incentive effects do not reduce the work efforts of recipients substantially. . . .

    There is little or no evidence that welfare encourages out-of-wedlock childbearing or that it has much of an influence on divorce or remarriage rates.

    This body of evidence suggests that the persistence of poverty cannot be attributed to income-transfer programs themselves.

    In sum, a variety of factors have influenced the incidence of poverty.

    Those that have reduced the poverty rate, in rough order of importance, are

    1. The growth of cash transfers,
    2. Investments in government training and education programs, and
    3. Overall growth in the economy since the mid 1960s.

    Factors that have increased the poverty rate include, in order of importance,

    1. The increase in the unemployment rate,
    2. The growth of female-headed families, and
    3. (Possibly) an increase in dysfunctional behavior associated with the rise of the underclass.

    All of these factors together have left the incidence of poverty much the same as it was in the late sixties.

    Point 3 above seems to be a sop to the conservatives too, as elsewhere the author spills the beans about the "underclass":

    the underclass grew by 36 percent between 1970 and 1980 to 1.8 million people but is still only about 7 percent of the poor population nationwide. The fact that the underclass is a relatively small group means that its growth cannot explain much of the trend in aggregate poverty.

    So the whole "underclass" debate was mostly b.s. pushed by conservatives and their fellow travelers at rags like the New Republic(an).

    Oh, yeah, and welfare is good for labor markets too. Keeps wages up. And a good welfare program plus the minimum wage is worker-friendly, too.

    Look, if you want to do something serious about poverty in the US, you have to do three things:

    • Bring back full employment like in the 1960s or late 1990s

    • Reform labor markets to make sure wages rise with productivity, like they did before the 1970s. Stronger unions with seats on corporate boards, raise the minimum wage with inflation, you know the drill.

    • Expand the welfare state. Bring back welfare (but call it something else. Freedom Grants or something like that). Beef up unemployment insurance. Save Social Security. Universal health care. Expand access to high-quality education and  training. Again, this is not news to anybody who reads this site on a regular basis.

    When Obama starts talking in those terms, then I'll take him seriously as somebody who wants to do something about poverty.
  • Actually, Gary Hart invented that strategy when he ran McGovern's 1972 campaign. McGovern finished a suprisingly close second in both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary to Muskie.

    And then Hart did it again in '84 - finished a surprising second to Mondale in Iowa, won New Hampshire.

    So Hart not only invented the strategy, he pulled it off twice.

  • comment on a post Open Thread over 8 years ago
    Ruy Teixeira has a piece on why Democrats should target more House seats in 2006.

    OK, it ain't exactly "contest every seat," but it's moving in the right direction.

    Targeting a few "swing seats" turns out to be highly counterproductive, because they are the most expensive races, and because campaign spending becomes less effective at swinging votes at such high levels:

    [T]argeting - the parties' narrow focus on a small number of highly competitive races - has been at best counterproductive and at worst disastrous . . .

    ....[I]t is hard to peg the exact point at which the returns from campaign spending become so negligible as to be worthless. . . . spending past $1 million gains far fewer votes (and maybe none at all) than does earlier spending.

    Targeted races are inevitably among the most expensive in country . . . By concentrating on [swing] races . . . the parties . . . move very few voters....

    Focusing on a larger number of races is a better investment, because earlier dollars pack more bang for the buck:

    Because of diminishing returns, we know that a large investment in an expensive race will bring few votes, while a small investment in a cheaper race may bring many. . . .

    Suppose that we could increase the odds of twenty candidates from 5 to 10 percent for the same cost of helping two candidates with 45 percent chances get to 50 percent. . . . The first investment portfolio has an expected return of 1 additional victory, while the second one is just one-tenth of an additional victory. . . .

    That is a fairly realistic scenario. Seventy challengers in 2004 spent between $100,000 to $500,000, and 19 of them won at least 40 percent of the vote. Boosting their spending by as little as $50,000 or $100,000 would have a discernable effect on their chances, while increasing expenditures by $500,000 in an expensive race would likely have little effect.

    So it looks like the intuition behind "contest every seat" has some empirical validity after all.

  • This seems to be a recurring theme across the left blogosphere:

    Let's face it, the modern Democratic Party is never going to do anything like this without a huge shove from somebody.
  • on a comment on More on Flood Control Funding over 8 years ago
    Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues

    The corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain.
  • comment on a post More on Flood Control Funding over 8 years ago
    Ex-Army Corps officials say budget cuts imperiled flood mitigation efforts

    Some veteran Corps officials note that there's been a downward trend in funding since the Carter administration. But it's been more pronounced in recent years, and the New Orleans District has been particularly affected.

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