Read about them at TPMmuckraker.
We need a new Congress — here’s why:
1. Congress set a record for the fewest number of days worked — 218 between the House and Senate combined. [Link]
2. The Senate voted down a measure that urged the administration to start a phased redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2006. [Link]
3. Congress failed to raise the minimum wage, leaving it at its lowest inflation-adjusted level since 1955. [Link]
4. Congress gave itself a two percent pay raise. [Link]
5. There were 15,832 earmarks totaling $71 billion in 2006. (In 1994, there were 4,155 earmarks totaling $29 billion.) [Link]
6. Congress turned the tragic Terri Schiavo affair into a national spectacle because, according to one memo, it was “a great political issue” that got “the pro-life base…excited.” [Link]
7. The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works thinks global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” [Link]
8. The House leadership held open a vote for 50 minutes to twist arms and pass a bill that helped line the pockets of energy company executives. [Link]
9. Congress fired the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the lone effective federal watchdog for Iraq spending, effective Oct. 1, 2007. [Link]
10. The Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee thinks the Internet is “a series of tubes.” [Link]
I found Bryan Caplan’s essay worrying about voter ignorance a little bit puzzling. I agree with many of his analytical claims, but I can’t be persuaded to share his worry that the ignorant masses are using democracy to implement poor policy against the wishes of wiser elites/experts. Strangely, he takes immigration as his main example. If I were trying to devise an example of a policy area in which an elite consensus had shown a consistent ability to override contrary sentiment, I would have picked, well, immigration where the public’s consistent preference for dramatically more restrictionist policies have been consistently (and, in my view, rightly) frustrated.
Indeed, the striking thing about American democracy is how little impact public sentiment actually has on the course of things. The way democracy works, in essence, is that the voters get to choose between two teams of competing elites. Thus, public opinion serves as a tie-breaker on issues where the elite is seriously divided. Faced with an elite consensus, it becomes very hard to raise money, get favorable press coverage, hire talented staff, or do anything else. On some topics, the effect of this is (I think) beneficial, and on other topics it’s rather pernicious. The curious question, in my mind, is how it is that exponents of elite consensus views manage to feel so embattled in a political arena that, looked at objectively, they completely dominate. Try suggesting that there’s no single “right answer” to questions of monetary policy and that within a range of non-ruinous policies there’s simply the competing interests of net creditors and net debtors and that recent Fed policy is unduly tilted in favor of the interests of net creditors and see how far you get with that.
UPDATE: Sorry, due to a typo that last sentence used to say “recent Fed policy is unduly tilted in favor of the interests of net debtors” when I meant to make the opposite charge as reflected in the current text.
that Flordia gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist decided “not to appear with President Bush at a rally in Pensacola.”
Good Catholic and double-effecter Ross Douthat objects to my efforts to even loosely equate Dujail and Fallujah. There’s some factual uncertainty as to exactly what went down at Fallujah (a point I’ll return to) but one of the main things at issue here is intentions. Saddam was given to doing things like deliberately killing civilians as a counter-insurgency tactic. Bush, not being a monster, doesn’t do things like that. Instead, he deliberately adopts counter-insurgency tactics that foreseeably kill civilians. There’s definitely a large intuitive difference here. “Monster” seems to fit Saddam, whereas Bush much more seems the bufoon who just kind of blunders into policy errors. On the other hand, this buffoonery has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. So one starts to wonder. Obviously, there’s a time-honored philosophical dispute here that a blog post is unlikely to resolve, but I still think it’s useful to try to lay out my thinking a bit.
We’re back now. Thank you for your patience.
Connerly says affirmative action harms African-Americans, claiming it has “perpetuated the notion that black people aren’t as smart.” Connerly’s views are not supported by the facts:
– In the most comprehensive study on affirmative action to-date, author William Bowen concluded, “This notion that we have somehow harmed the intended beneficiaries, that they are victims in fact, is really nonsense. There is just not an iota of evidence, certainly in what we have looked at that would support that proposition.”
– The same study found, African American students with lower SATs who went to schools where the average was higher did much better along any dimension, were more satisfied with their school, graduated in higher numbers, and were more likely to go to graduate and professional schools.
You may be worried about (some) polls showing the Democratic lead in the generic congressional ballot slipping. Certainly, I’m at least a bit worried. Democracy Corps, however, tells me not to worry. They’ve been running a poll of the 50 most competitive congressional districts where they use the candidates’ names. They say the with-names questions has consistently shown an aggregate Democratic lead in these races, but that it’s been consistently smaller than the generic ballot lead. Their most recent named poll, meanwhile, shows no change in the Democratic lead in the with-names question. The Democratic lead in the generic question, meanwhile, has declined so as to converge with the Democratic lead in the with-names question.
This, according to DCorps, is all that’s happening. As you go down to the wire the difference between the with-names and without-names version of the questions goes away. But the without-names questions was always worthless. The with-names number is the real number, and it continues to show the same lead it’s been showing for a while — one that’s good enough for big Democratic pickups in the House. I don’t really have the chops to assess this argument in an expert manner. In its favor, I’ll say that it sounds convincing to me. Against it, I’ll say that DCorps proved overoptimistic about the 2004 election.
Global warming is poised to make this “The Century of Drought.” How ironic then that the two countries racing to see who will produce the most greenhouse gas emissions — China and the United States — are already in the grips of extended droughts.
Here is the U.S., with the browns and reds showing the severest areas of drought (although the U.S. is, fortunately, much improved from where it was during the height of summer):
Here is China:
And the planet has only warmed about 0.8°C in the past century. What will these pictures look like on our current path, where we could easily warm four times as much this century or more?
This is a race with no winners and it is time for us to join the race to save the climate.
four days before accusations of his gay affair became public: “Heavenly Father give us grace and mercy, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and Lord we pray for our country. Father we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed. Father we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorate …”