Ronald Brownstein on the 'Volatile' Economic Decade The National Journal senior editor sees America in a transitional period similar to one the nation experienced in the late 1800s when citizens were negotiating the shift from farm to factory. During this last decade, a shift to an information-based economy left Americans with falling incomes and saw 12 million more people plummet into poverty. He explains: "as in the late 19th century, millions of Americans feel that the ground beneath them is cracking as the economy convulses in destabilizing structural change. They are losing faith in all institutions, and many have grown dubious that either political party has answers for their distress." This year's potential power shift in Washington this year won't be the last, not until "more Americans obtain greater security in their financial lives."
Arnold Schwarzenegger on the 'Flawed' Initiative to Legalize Pot "Any patrol officer, judge or district attorney will tell you that Proposition 19 is a flawed initiative that would bring about a host of legal nightmares and risks to public safety," contends the California governor in the Los Angeles Times. "It would also make California a laughingstock." What prompted Schwarzenegger to write the op-ed was the Service Employees International Union's endorsement of the proposition, which "surprised" him. If the SEIU is looking for ways the state could get more revenue, it should turn away from supporting the marijuana initiative and look to reforming pensions of retiring state workers who are costing $6.5 billion this year. "We understand that interest groups must fight for their members," he concedes, "but for the SEIU to endorse legalizing marijuana means it is willing to risk public safety to protect unsustainable pension costs."
Jack Shafer on the Huffington Post's 'Parasite' Problem The recent assertion by former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie that the Huffington Post and other media aggregators are journalistic "parasites" was misguided, concludes the Slate media columnist. Shafer believes "legacy media companies" should not ignore the service an aggregator provides. "Not every reader wants to read a 1,600-word report on the latest political scoop," he writes. "Many would prefer a concise summary of the reporter's findings. If readers can't find concise summaries in their own newspapers, they'll look elsewhere." Rather than complaining about the aggregator model, the Post should look to improve on it, maximizing their "distinct advantages--a respected news brand, timeliness, experienced editors--over aggregators when it comes to fully exploiting their work on the Web."
John Nichols on Senator Russ Feingold's Tough Reelection Fight The Badger State liberal firebrand is down big in the latest polls, a turn of events the Nation columnist believes should give all reform-minded Americans pause. Feingold's record in Washington (and his current political plight) has "less to do with party politics than with the money that's turning the major parties into two sides of one corporate coin." It raises "basic questions about how much our politics are becoming nationalized" that an unconventional politician who cast the lone vote against the Patriot Act--in addition to supporting Bill Clinton's impeachment and John Ashcroft's attorney general nomination--could find himself caught up in an anti-establishment wave. True believers from both parties, Nichols concludes, should be hoping for a Feingold win, if only as a sign "people power can still beat the money power."
Jonah Goldberg on Buying In to the 'Pledge to America' The GOP's new "Pledge to America" isn't perfect, concedes the National Review columnist, but it doesn't have to be. On the "political gimmickry scale," admits Goldberg, the new document from House Republicans "falls somewhere between the Federalist Papers and a Harry Reid press release." At the same time, the tepid reaction from conservatives to the Pledge might strengthen the party with independents. It "shows that the GOP can reach out to both the tea parties and independents," he writes. "Conservatives shouldn't look at the Pledge as the sum total of the Republican agenda. They should see it as the opening bid."