Saturday, January 12, 2002
A representative sample paragraph:
Senators Helms, Gramm and Thurmond have in common the fact that they harnessed their collective century of seniority to the Taliban wing of the American right. Point to an act of cultural division, bullying unilateralism or anti-government populism committed in the Senate during their decades there and you will usually find these three men among the sponsors. But there are others in the Senate who have voted for egregious causes, right and left, and still others who have never stood for much of anything. What sets these three apart is that each has made his own special contribution to the cynicism of our public life.
I strongly considered sending this in to Andrew Sullivan as a Begala Award Nominee, but at the end of the day, I just agree with Keller too much to do it.
Friday, January 11, 2002
Aaron Brown: "Some conservatives jumped on [Taliban fighter John] Walker, saying he is a product of cultural liberalism – the California kind – helping to turn an impressionable kid against his own country. Joining us from Salinas, California, one of those conservatives, Shelby Steele of the Hoover Institution. Mr. Steele wrote a provocative article the other day in The Wall Street Journal – a column in the Journal. And here in New York, a columnist who thinks Mr. Steele is making an awfully broad generalization: Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. It’s nice to have both of you here.
Shelby Steele: "First of all, let me interrupt you just a minute. Is Richard Cohen a liberal?"
Brown: "Yeah, Richard Cohen’s a liberal. I think he would say that, wouldn’t he?"
Richard Cohen: "On this issue."
Brown: "Okay. Everyone is now branded, I guess."
Steele: "Great. If I’m going to be, everybody’s going to be."
Sullivan, incidentally, conceded that his attack on Slate Tim Noah is going to need a little more data before it'll really stick. We'll see.
Now it's true that state governments raised taxes in the early 1990's — but as new work by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, they didn't cut the same taxes they had previously raised. Increases in regressive taxes — that is, taxes like the sales tax, which bear most heavily on lower- and moderate-income families — by and large were never reversed. Instead, states cut taxes that bear most heavily on upper-income families. The end result was a redistribution of the tax burden away from the haves toward the have-nots. A family earning, say, $30,000 per year pays considerably more in state taxes than a family with the same constant-dollar income did in 1990, while a family earning $600,000 per year pays considerably less.
This trend concerns me more than the vagueries of the federal budget or even the ups and downs of the income tax. There's something seriously wrong with a country that taxes the poor to balance the budget in bad times and then cuts taxes for the wealthy when things are going well.
The important thing to remember, though, is that the independent counsel law was a bad idea when it was written, bad when it was used against Clinton, and would be bad to use against Bush. I have a sense that someone is going to start suggesting that that's what we need rather than partisan Congressional committees. They're wrong, though.
Even if we accept that mainstream journalists like Margaret are liberals, as journalists who wish to appear non-biased (which would be pointless in a Weekly Standard columnist) they have significant constraints placed on them. Consider also the difference in worldview between a person who happens to hold a certain political position and a person who is a professional advocate for that position. No matter how liberal Margaret Carlson may be, she has no reason to spout the Democratic party line when (as the lines of political parties often are) it's a disingenuous one. Tucker, however, is part of the line-spouting process.
That creates a real and disturbing bias.