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huffpost forum: the question of john edwards’ populism November 27, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, econ, interviews, news, politics.
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Will the success or failure of the Edwards campaign thus serve to answer the ideological and strategic debate between Democratic centrists and their more liberal critics – a debate that has dominated the Democratic Party since the 1960s?

The Huffington Post sought comment on this question from a number of political writers, activists and scholars, including Sirota; Al From, CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC); Robert L. Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future; Larry Bartels; Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI); Time’s Joe Klein; Paul Krugman of the New York Times; Chris Bowers of Open Left; Harold Meyerson, executive editor, American Prospect; John B. Judis, senior editor, the New Republic; Kevin Drum, contributing writer, Washington Monthly, and blogger Political Animal; Ruy Teixeira, fellow, Center for American Progress (CAP) and The Century Foundation; Michael Kazin, professor of history, Georgetown University; Andy Stern, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and Matthew Yglesias, Atlantic.com.


I think it’s not a fair test because voters — even primary voters — are NOT getting a clear picture of the candidates’ positions. You’ll have to dig it up, but I’m sure I saw a poll in which Democratic voters believed that Hillary was the leftmost candidate and Edwards the rightmost. [See here.]


5. More broadly, Edwardsian populism may simply be off in some important ways from the kind of populism American voters are likely to be most responsive to….

[Teixeira quotes from his review of Sirota’s book, Hostile Takeover]: Class-interest populism fundamentally misreads the way the average American sees the economy and the system. As economist Stephen Rose points out in a useful new paper, “The Trouble with Class-Interest Populism”, the typical American-whether you choose to call him/her “middle class” or “working class” is simply not poor enough to be an unambiguous beneficiary of government action. Instead, their beefs with the system tend to be aspirational-that is, they’re not rising far enough fast enough and the difficulties of doing so are far greater than they’d like….

So does that mean giving up on populism, in general, or opposing the way Big Money unfairly games and manipulates the system? No, but it does mean if you want to reach the typical American, you need to couch your populism in aspirational terms, not just, or even mostly, in how their interests are being betrayed by Big Money. They may nod in agreement with the point that their interests and Big Money’s are different, but what they want to really know is: how can you help them get ahead?….

rolling stone’s 40th anniversary issue November 14, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, arts/culture, books, campaign finance, comedy, design, econ, environment, film, health, hip-hop, history, immigration, international, interviews, iraq, iraq war, media, misc, music, news, politics, race, religion, science, style, tech, television, terrorism.
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“This issue looks forward, not back, and it’s packed with interviews with the artists, leaders and thinkers who can best divine what our future holds. It arrives, appropriately, during the run-up to next year’s presidential election, which looms as a moment of truth for our nation. “People are nauseous about being perceived as the enemy,” Bono says of America’s standing in the world. “Whoever fixes that problem gets elected.” But it’s not just politics – as a society, we face choices that will likely determine the fate of our civilization, matters of war and peace, resource depletion and explosive population growth. And, of course, global warming: “It’s a mistake to think of the climate crisis as one in a list of issues that will define our future,” Al Gore tells us. “It is the issue.”

We don’t claim to have the answers to these challenges, but we do know where to look for leadership and inspiration. The values of tolerance, inclusiveness, common sense and personal liberty (not to mention fun) that took shape in the 1960s have animated this magazine ever since.”

chock full of wit and wisdom from some of the world’s most interesting minds…

you can find the entire issue digitally right here, but the interface rolling stone set up is really horrible, so i’ve made the text from some of the interviews into pdfs:










here’s some quotes that i’ve culled:


ezra klein interviews paul krugman October 26, 2007

Posted by KG in books, econ, health, news, politics.
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paul krugman with greg palast 

american prospect:

EK: And I’ve also gotten the sense that liberals, to some degree, don’t believe they should have to make that argument, which is to say that they tend to make the argument against Republican economic policies on grounds of fairness rather than efficiency. Our approach is touted as being better for the poorest man, rather than better for the common man.

PK: And it’s taken a long time for people on the moderate left to appreciate just how bad things have gotten. They’ve taken a long to appreciate. I mean, even now, even now you’ll find people who claim to be moderate to liberal democrats saying “well, you know, inequality isn’t really that bad.” And ten years ago there was much more denialism.

EK: And you were writing about inequality in The American Prospect ten years ago.

PK: That’s 15 years ago now! It was one of my better pieces.

EK: And one thing you sort of suggest in the book is that universal health care isn’t merely good policy but has the potential to act as the wedge on rolling a lot of this back, on changing how people think of government, what they think of what their responsibility to each other is — that it has a cultural component.

PK: Yeah, I mean this is one of the few things on which William Kristol and I are in complete agreement. Bill Kristol had this famous memo during the defeat of the Clinton health care plan saying, we as Republicans must ensure that there is no plan because if there is a plan, if Clinton gets something, it will legitimize, re-legitimize the welfare state, and he’s right. Universal health care is important and worth doing in its own right, but it also clearly would be a demonstration that you can do good things, that government can make society safer and more equitable, which is why conservatives are so hysterical over even S-CHIP. If we can get heath care, and I think we have slightly better than even odds that we can, it does change the whole set of norms.