What Isn't the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

A while ago I poked a little fun at Mike Bloomberg for saying that failures in public education are failures of the civil rights issue of our time. What a cliché! It's the inverse Nazi analogy, or Godwin's law: every good cause is civil rights. How can you be against civil rights?Well, health-care reform is many things, but the Civil Rights Act of 2009 seems like a stretch. Not for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, though. On Monday morning Reid said on the Senate floor:There...

A Smart Deal on Health-Care Reform

According to Politico, Senate Democrats may have figured out how to do the seemingly impossible: craft a deal on the public option that eliminates Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson's main reason to vote against health-care reform while keeping their liberal wing happy. How? By not creating a public option, but instead allowing everyone over 55 to buy in to Medicare and increasing Medicaid eligibility to 150 percent of the poverty line. Carrie Budoff Brown reports:Under the compromise, the...

Daily Mayor of New York Higher Office Debunking

If it's not Mike Bloomberg, it's his predecessor. The New York Daily News reports that Rudy Giuliani is going to run for the Senate in 2010 and that he may use that as a stepping stone to a presidential run in 2012. Over at The Atlantic Chris Good claims "Giuliani will make a formidable Senate candidate, should he run—in fact, if he enters the race, he will likely become the frontrunner," noting that he polls ahead of incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand.Repeat after me, punditariat:...

This Flower Won't Bloom(berg)

Yesterday, political strategist Mark McKinnon made the case that Sarah Palin's popularity could create an opening for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president in 2012. Well, that's original. Too bad it's preposterous. Katie raises two of the correct counterpoints: Bloomberg is uninspiring, and his Wall Street background doesn't seem like such a strong suit these days. But, she says, "McKinnon's argument shouldn't be discounted, and my quibbles...

Obama's Job Summit: Best. Idea. Ever.

Katie thinks that while President Obama's job summit is sensible on policy grounds it will be a political liability, reinforcing his image as a dithering talker in the face of crisis. Says Katie, "Is it a good idea? Yes. Having key stakeholders put their heads together, or at least communicate about the problem, will undoubtedly produce some interesting ideas." So, case closed, right? Wrong! "The 'optics' of the summit ... might just work against him," Katie warns. "Obama is...

Voters Approve Big Government in Ballot Initiatives

Over at The Washington Post, columnist E. J. Dionne notices something almost no one else has: that voters in Maine and Washington state resoundingly rejected ballot initiatives meant to limit taxes and spending. Says Dionne:In Maine, voters rejected a tax-limitation measure by a walloping 60 percent to 40 percent. In Washington state, a similar measure went down, 57 percent to 43 percent. They lost in part because opponents of the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights measures (known as TABOR)...

The Actual Bad Sign for Democrats From Tuesday

Unlike the New York City mayoral, or the Virginia governor's race, there is a really bad sign for Democrats out of the East Coast. Via The New York Times, Republicans made inroads in New York's suburbs. "In Westchester County, where Democrats have a solid advantage in voter registration, a Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, upset the incumbent Democratic County Executive, Andrew Spano, who was seeking his fourth term ... In Nassau County, Republicans recaptured the county...

New York Mayor: Not Bad News at All for Obama

I have to partially disagree with my esteemed colleague Howard Fineman. Howard writes that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's surprisingly narrow re-election victory shows that Americans "are still mad at the Big Boys, whether they are in Washington or on Wall Street." He concludes that "this is a warning to the president: you better shake things up—give us real reform—or your presidency may go from coronation to condemnation." Howard is certainly right that there is a general...

How We Overvalue Education

It's treated as a given in our political debate that offering a good education is the most important way we can reduce our large, and growing, inequality. Democrats, from President Obama to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all say they will invest more in education. George W. Bush pledged to be the education president, and signed No Child Left Behind. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg says that failing to provide equal educational opportunities is a failure to achieve the goals of the...

Obama's Washington Looks a Lot Like ... George W. Bush's

OK. Granted, the GQ list of the 50 most powerful people D.C. is no more definitive, or less arbitrary, than any other such list. And, granted, President Obama is not the boss of many of the people on the list. But it's rather striking to see that the list is about as white and male as ever. There is no woman above No. 8 (Nancy Pelosi) and no one who isn't white above No. 13 (Attorney General Eric Holder). Wasn't 2008 supposed to be the election that changed all...

Rangel Should Go

I've long had a soft spot for Rep. Charlie Rangel. As a native New Yorker, I enjoy his slightly fey, gravelly-voiced regional accent. His pompadour is hilarious, and his impish smile, cheerful partisanship, and blunt-spoken political views have made him an avuncular character to political junkies, sort of an affable Barney Frank. But how can you chair the congressional committee responsible for writing the nation's tax laws when you have some serious tax problems of your own?...

Health-Care Reform and the Crises of the Conservative Intelligentsia

Some might say it's been a long time coming—at least since Richard Nixon's appeals to the "Silent Majority" and Spiro Agnew's vilification of the media—but the crisis of conservative intellectualism is coming to a head at the moment. It's a fascinating spectacle to watch, and it is the roiling subtext to the whole debate about health-care reform. The Republican Party's nomination of the proudly anti-intellectual and ill-informed Sarah Palin to be one 73-year-old...

Dems Outlook for 2010: Nervous

Big news up here in New York this weekend was that President Obama has taken the unusual measure of intervening in a statewide Democratic primary.  New York Governor David Paterson, the first African-American governor in New York's history, faces terribly low approval ratings and the White House privately asked him to drop out of his election bid in 2010. On Sunday, just before Obama arrived here for the U.N. General Assembly, Paterson rebuffed him, saying publicly that he is staying in...

Bobos in Running Shorts

David Brooks may be a talented writer, an affable fellow, and a reasonable-minded pundit─but he sure is lazy! If you've gotten used to seeing a columnist wander down to a protest─the recent conservative protesters on Capitol Hill, for example─interview a handful of people ("Are you guys racist? No? Good") and file a column, you still will be impressed with how Brooks spins anecdote into argument. Did he go down to cover the protests last Saturday? No, he went for a jog and stumbled...

Are Young People the New Old People?

Ever since then-candidate Barack Obama inspired young people to join his Facebook group, visit his Web site, and caucus in Iowa in unprecedented numbers, progressive activists have been wondering if young people can be mobilized permanently, not just during the campaign season. Their hope was that the traditional power of older people, who stay active in off-years by writing letters, phone-banking, and such, would be counterbalanced by the more left-leaning and forward-looking views of younger...

First Person: Better Think Before You Apply

When I applied under Early Decision to the University of Pennsylvania four years ago, I was motivated by two powerful emotions: ambition and fear. The ambition was to fulfill my lifelong expectation of attending an Ivy League school; the fear was that without the advantage offered by Early Decision, I wouldn't make the cut. A Penn admissions officer told me that the previous year they had accepted 45 percent of Early Decision applicants and just 29 percent of total applicants. The implication...

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