Whistling past the libel graveyard.

A mostly political Weblog.
July 17 2004 1:49 PM

No Caterpillar, No Cocoon?

Plus--Whistling past the libel graveyard.

(Continued from Page 2)

I can't tell if Ehrenreich is joking about the "2.3" or if she's up to her old tricks (as when she wrote in 1986, with Frances Fox Piven, that long-term recipients were only a "tiny minority" of welfare mothers, when in fact they were nearly two-thirds of those on the rolls at any one time). If she's serious, how exactly did she calculate that 2.3 figure? ....Some numbers: The 2004 government poverty line for a family of four is about $18,850. For a family of three it's about $15,500. (The exact amount depends on whether you're using the Census or HHS  line.) ... Even at the current minimum wage, a full-time worker earns $10,700 a year and an Earned Income Tax Credit of $2,500 (three person family) to $4,200 (four person family).  Add in $3,000-4,000 of food stamps and subsidized Medicaid or CHIP health care for the children, and you're well above the poverty line even with a single breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom. ... Is Ehrenreich saying the poverty threshold is set too low? Fine--I'd have trouble living on it even without a family--but then she should tell us what idiosyncratic definition of "poverty" she's using. Is she assuming the "blue collar" man can't find even minimum-wage work? If so, again, why not make this assumption clear? ... Or is Ehrenreich, in the fashion of some left-wing organizers, simply ignoring the programs (especially the Earned Income Tax Credit) liberals have struggled to put in place to help low-income earners? ... P.S.: I doubt it's intuitively obvious to most Americans that the families of women married to typical blue-collar workers live in poverty. (Most blue collar workers make more than the minimum wage, and most wives work too.) The burden would seem to be on Ehrenreich to explain her startling stat. ... 2:35 P.M.

"...what a waste the year had been": The unexpectedly entertaining Eduwonk praises Samuel Freedman's Page 21 NYT coverage of Brooklyn Latino parents opposing the bilingual programs imposed on their children, which Mayor Bloomberg campaigned against but then preserved:

The grievances of Bushwick's parents point at an overlooked truth. The foes of bilingual education, at least as practiced in New York, are not Eurocentric nativists but Spanish-speaking immigrants who struggled to reach the United States and struggle still at low-wage jobs to stay here so that their children can acquire and rise with an American education, very much including fluency in English.

If Latino parents don't want bilingual ed, and it doesn't work, who keeps it in place? A Brooklyn activist (quoted by Freedman) says "And it's intensively guarded by the local politicians and the teachers' union." ... No doubt the 2004 Democratic party platform will take a strong stand against this powerful interest that stands in the wayof the working-class Latino parents Freedman describes ... P.S.: Just off the top of your head, which education system would you think helps build "One America"--a system that teaches different students in different languages or a system that teaches all students in a common language? ... 11:08 A.M.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I'll try to respond to Austin Bay's criticisms  at greater length. But I should say quickly that (as Glenn Reynolds suspects) when I wrote about  a "break from Bush's strident public global terror war," I wasn't arguing for a halt or pause in our soldiers' efforts in Iraq. The idea is to win in Iraq and Afghanistan but stop and think calmly when it comes to what the next step should be--without automatically declaring both conflicts mere parts of a titanic lifetime global conflict, an announcement that carries the risk of self-fulfillment. If this is a war unlike other wars, the World War II analogies don't apply in every respect. It might be a war we win by being less grandiose, righteous and excited for a period--especially if we're already accomplishing what we want to accomplish in Iraq (i.e., giving democracy root in the Arab Middle East). ...  P.S.: I undoubtedly gave the wrong impression by initially using the phrase "time out." I removed it as soon as I realized the connotation, but that was too late to stop it from getting around. (I was thinking that you often call a "time out," even when you're winning a game, in order to rejigger your strategy--but it's still a lousy metaphor. Peggy Noonan, I should note, did not use this bad metaphor when discerning the longing for a "return to normalcy.") ... 2:34 A.M.

Let K Street Be K Street Again! I never understood what was so scary about of Grover Norquist's "K Street Project," as denounced by the Washington Monthly's Nicholas Confessore  and public radio's "Marketplace."   Confessore says this is what has been happening:

The corporate lobbyists who once ran the show, loyal only to the parochial interests of their employer, are being replaced by party activists who are loyal first and foremost to the GOP.

a)  Didn't The Washington Monthly used to be a magazine that praised partisan machines and denounced activists who became lobbyists to serve the "parochial interests of their employer"? Oh, for the glory days of K Street! When influence-peddling was an open-minded and bipartisan enterprise. When civility reigned as Republican and Democratic sellouts cooperated to betray their parties' ideals. ... b) The main flaw in setting up the K Street Project as a bogeyman is this: Won't K Street go back to being Democratic if the Democrats manage to win some elections? Why would self-interested corporations keep Republican lobbyists if Republicans stop being elected to controlling positions in Congress and the White House? The answer, we now know, is they won't. The Motion Picture Association and several other lobbying groups have started to hire Democrats in prominent positions, in part because they anticipate a resurgence of Democratic power. (That was one not-so-hidden message of Glickman's ascendancy: Hollywood studio heads actually think Kerry will win. I am not completely without inside sources on this.) ... Worrying about the K Street Project, then, is worrying that Republicans will have power when they are in power. That's not as big a worry as the worry that Republicans will have power when they aren't in power. ... P.S.: Kinsley's funny piece on Glickman points to a more disturbing possibility--that the K Street Project isn't about making lobbyists subordinate to politicians. Rather, it's a reflection of the new reality that politicians are now subordinate to lobbyists in status. Maybe the Republicans want those jobs because they're good jobs and that's why they're in the business. If only they were ideologically-driven party activists.  ... Confessore and the K Street Project's critics, to the extent they hold up lobbying as some sort of honorable pursuit sullied by Norquist's partisanship, actually reflect and reinforce the nefarious status inversion Kinsley describes. ...

Update: Confessore responds.12:57 A.M.

Monday, July 12, 2004

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