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The American Prospect

The Limits of Limits

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
March 1, 2006 |

Our long national nightmare has just begun. There is now little doubt that the next three years will bring one revelation after another about the magnitude of congressional corruption. Democrats will relish this prospect, and "reform" will be an inevitable theme of the next two election cycles. But some political scandals lead to change, while others dominate the headlines for a year and leave no trace. Why? Some of it has to do with managing the media, but it also involves offering credible solutions. Scandals without solutions simply stoke public cynicism.

The Progressive Generation Gap

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
February 1, 2006 |

Not long ago, I attended a meeting of 20 or so progressive advocates and experts on a major policy issue. I looked around the room and realized that I was, I'm quite sure, the youngest person there. And that's happened before. But I'm 43 years old. It's fun to feel like a prodigy, but I'm not.

In other settings, such as among bloggers, I'm the oldest. But rarely, on the cusp of middle age, do I find myself in the middle of a broad range of ages, or in a room dominated by my coevals.

Realism and Reality

  • By
  • Anatol Lieven,
  • New America Foundation
January 1, 2006 |

Michael Mandelbaum's latest book is a superficial symptom of a grave, even potentially deadly disease: the inability of the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment to contemplate a limited scaling down of America's struggle for world dominance, even when the maximalist version of that goal has been clearly shown to be unsustainable. The neoconservatives represent only an extreme and crude version of this ambition.

When Liberals Must Conserve

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
January 1, 2006 |

"WE NEED A MESSAGE." "WE NEED A PHILOSOPHY." "We need a simple statement of what we believe, just like the right has." No meeting of progressives lasts long before these sentiments are expressed. Sometimes a committee will be assigned to frame the new message. The result might be a crisp but banal statement of uncontested values. Or a list of 62 programs that acknowledge all the key constituencies and causes. As a colleague of mine once said, most attempts at this synthesis are no worse than any other, and no better.

We're All Environmentalists Now

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
October 5, 2005 |

For the environmental community, "The Death of Environmentalism" hit last year with the force of a tsunami, leaving its audience so taken aback by its sweeping, cocksure condemnation of their decades of selfless struggle that they could barely think about it rationally, even when they accepted its basic truth.

Return to Realism

  • By
  • Anatol Lieven,
  • New America Foundation
August 1, 2005 |

Some books derive their significance not only from what they say but also from who says it. Such is the case with the new book by Richard Haass, director of policy planning at the State Department from 2001 to 2003, who now calmly but comprehensively trashes the strategy and record of the administration in which he served. Concerning the Iraq War, planned and executed while he was in office, Haass writes, "What matters in business as well as in foreign policy is the balance or relationship between costs and benefits.

Lesson Learned

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
July 1, 2005 |

Someday soon, when it can no longer be denied that the Bush administration's effort to phase out Social Security is dead, the president might call his team into the Oval Office for a postmortem. "What went wrong?" he'll ask. "I want complete honesty." (Did I mention that this conversation is fictional?)

Fingers will be pointed: Senator Charles Grassley. Representative Bill Thomas. Democrats. AARP. An honest voice might note that the "experts" at the Cato Institute had 20 years to figure out the details and never did the work.

Bigger and Better

  • By
  • Jacob Hacker,
  • New America Foundation
May 6, 2005 |

Remember those bumper stickers during the early-1990s fight over the Clinton health plan? "National Health Care? The Compassion of the IRS! The Efficiency of the Post Office! All at Pentagon Prices!" In American policy debates, it's a fixed article of faith that the federal government is woefully bumbling and expensive in comparison with the well-oiled efficiency of the private sector. Former Congressman Dick Armey even elevated this skepticism into a pithy maxim: "The market is rational; government is dumb."

"Death" and Resurrection

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
March 30, 2005 |

Ever since it debuted at a conference of environmental funders in Hawaii shortly before the election, a report titled "The Death of Environmentalism" has been infuriating the legions of nonprofit professionals who make their living in the "green" world. And it is easy to see why.

Hired Education

  • By
  • Jennifer Washburn,
  • New America Foundation
February 4, 2005 |

M. Michael Wolfe, a gastroenterologist at Boston University, admits he was duped by the Pharmacia Corporation, the manufacturer of the blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex. (In 2003, the company was purchased by Pfizer.) In the summer of 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association asked Wolfe to write a review of a study showing that Celebrex was associated with lower rates of stomach and intestinal ulcers and other complications than two older arthritis medications, diclofenac and ibuprofen.

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