August 24th, 2007

Carville’s Rove Q&A in the FT

Carville completed a question and answer for the Financial Times web site following a pretty hearty international response to his oped on Karl Rove. We got questions from Switzerland, Ireland, and Dubai, most memorably.

Surely the influence of Karl Rove is over-estimated? Could it not be argued that factors such as (i) 9/11 (ii) suspicion of ’liberals’ stoked up for many decades (iii) the combined influence of the religious lunatic fringe, greedy power hungry corporate interests, Fox news and talk radio, are all powerful factors in favour of the ’right’ and a Republican strategist hardly needs to be a ’genius’ to exploit such factors?
Ian Stewart, Galway, Ireland

James Carville: Let me repeat a story related by Joshua Green in the September issue of The Atlantic. Bush, Rove, Dan Bartlett, and Matthew Dowd are in Air Force One flying over New Orleans after Katrina, one of the worst disasters in US history. (I say “disaster” and not “natural disaster” because it was largely man-made.) An argument ensues. Bartlett and Dowd want to stop; Rove doesn’t. Bush offers no opinion, best I can tell from the source. So, how does one overestimate the influence of an aide who, against the wishes of two other aides, gets Air Force One to fly over the greatest disaster in US history? Karl Rove, on the other hand, would have you believe that his influence has been greatly overestimated. On August 19 on Meet the Press, he said that every Republican “ought to feel some responsibility.” That’s like saying the Rotary Club in Kokomo, Indiana, and the Chamber of Commerce in Meridian, Mississippi, are at fault.

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August 23rd, 2007

Surprise, Surprise: Corporate Influence on Policy Results in Disasters

A larger narrative on lobbying reform and corporate responsibility has to emerge from this string of recent mining disasters. Corporate influence on public policy has undermined safety standards in multiple industries, and now very publicly in mining. Finally the Senate has declared they’ll hold hearings on the Crandall Canyon Mining Disaster and require co-owners Robert Murray and Richard Stickler to testify. The question is whether the momentum will be sustained — how long will we manage to keep scrutiny of lobbying on the policy agenda?

We have to make the connections — tie disasters to lobbyists’ influence and broader themes of corruption, scrutinize our bidding process for public projects, and review public oversight of the private sector to protect workers.

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August 22nd, 2007

Why CNN is Upbeat about the Gender Gap in Pay, Again?

An unpleasant surprise awaited me on today.

“at least 25 percent of doctors are women, up from only 8 percent in 1970. By 2010, women are expected to make-up one-third of the profession…What’s more, the pay gap between men and women is decreasing — women were earning 81 percent as much as their male counterparts in 2005 compared to when women earned about 63 percent as much as men did in 1979, according to a report conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the BLS.”

Later in the article:

Although the pay gap is getting smaller, it definitely still exists. There is also a strong pattern of men more frequently doing the jobs that are higher paid, and women doing jobs that are lower paid.

The pay gap still exists — and it’s still huge. There’s a tone of acceptance, or its cousin, complacency, that’s really just grating.

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August 20th, 2007

Photos from a Friend

My friend Zac took a few really lovely photos at the DMI Summer Institute that I wanted to share. Keep clicking for more photos.

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August 19th, 2007

First Glance: DMI Summer Institute

I’m just now getting a breather after getting back from my pseudo summer vacation in New York. July 29 to August 13 I lived in the East Village in New York to take part in the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy’s Summer Institute, a public policy program for young progressives. It was the most grueling two weeks off I’ve ever taken. I suppose it was also the only two weeks off I’ve ever taken, but that doesn’t mean it was any less taxing.

So, DMI. I accepted the opportunity with low expectations. I’m jaded. Guilty. I was just scared of yet another disappointment, of another hollow experience with peers who haven’t thought their positions through and don’t have the skills — or the ability to admit they don’t have the skills — to advocate effectively.

But DMI didn’t disappoint. It exceeded my wildest expectations. The SI was a startingly comprehensive, coherent program that went beyond providing academic and political background to fostering the practice of critical thinking — something my generation lacks. The program was structured beautifully, the curriculum was intensive, and the exercises brought us closer to one another as well as closer to the end goal of understanding policy.

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August 18th, 2007

Photos from New York

Smattering of photos of time in New York. More photos after the jump.

DMI Scholars

DMI Scholars minus one at the pier, pre-city lights cruise.

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August 14th, 2007

Rove Down, Rove Down

After following the Rove story religiously, I got a chance to do something on it for work today. We worked all morning on the boss’ “How Karl Rove Lost a Generation of Republicans,” and now the oped’s up on the Financial Times’ web site — and it was one of the first items on the Drudge Report this afternoon.

July 13th, 2007

Days 28 and 29: Paros and Antiparos

Hotel Cecil, on Athinas in Athens, could be any of a dozen hotels in twenty cities. I’ve stayed in the same little place in New York, California, Italy, and Turkey, now, I think — an pink ancient building on a main street, its elevator a wire cage that rattles and protest at any bag, or person, in excess of 50 pounds. Marble steps curving around a two-wing hall on each floor, with five floors total. Breakfast an understated but totally adequate affair. Yesterday Ashlie met me there at 9 yesterday. (Yes, 9. I know.) We proceeded on to the Acropolis and to reconnoitering Plaka and the Centre together. It was fantastic. More below.

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July 10th, 2007

Day 27: Athens, Ahoy

Morning finds me at Ataturk International Airport, international departures terminal, at 7 am, sipping bitter, grainy Turkish coffee while waiting for Olympic Airlines to open and start admitting travelers. I have an hour and so take my time watching the people here. The security is intense — screening of person and baggage at the entrance — and the airport is sleek and modern. There’s a Burger King, but no Starbucks, although I spotted my third in Istanbul yesterday in Beskitas.

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July 8th, 2007

Day 25-26: Everything is Amazing and Nothing Disappoints

My third day without a cell phone. It’s becoming liberating. Breeds independence and self-sufficiency. I’ve been relying on technology for too long. Of course it’s not exactly one of those calm symbiotic relationships like the ramora and the shark — ramora, right? — it’s more like a ball and chain that you have to drag behind you but get to sit on occasionally. So, on day 2, phantom phone calls have finally subsided. I only flinched twice today in response to jingles that sounded like my Ukrainian cell phone. It took at least two weeks to get the Nigerian ring tone out of my head. It’s progress. Soon I won’t search my belongings for a vibrating phone every time I hear someone hum, as I did just now in the lobby of my hotel.

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