By Tom Johnson | April 28, 2016 | 10:22 PM EDT

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait admires Bernie Sanders’s willingness (eagerness?) to raise taxes so as to “finance the kind of social benefits American liberals would prefer.” That’s why Chait is disappointed that Sanders opposes Philadelphia’s proposed three-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, revenue from which would fund citywide pre-kindergarten and other programs.

In a Tuesday post, Chait wrote that Sanders “has received justifiable credit for breaking the taboo on middle-class taxation and asking just why it is that Americans must be denied public services taken for granted elsewhere…But where does this leave his opposition to the soda tax? His position is strange and ironic because taxes on specifically defined, unhealthy goods has long been the loophole through which Democrats escape the pressure of their own no-taxes-on-the-middle-class vise…What’s more, the proceeds of the soda tax finance a vital liberal social goal (in this case, early education).”

By Tom Johnson | April 23, 2016 | 5:35 PM EDT

Republicans may have to do some world-class needle-threading to come up with a presidential nominee who can win in November. New York magazine's Kilgore believes that even if such a candidate exists, it’s not the “hammer-headed movement conservative” Ted Cruz.

“Unity candidates are reassuring and have a knack for making you see your own reflection in their soft and soulful eyes,” wrote Kilgore in a Monday post. “Cruz has the persona of someone who's been told by his crazy father a thousand times that God has chosen him to redeem America from its secular socialist captors…[He] does not represent a natural compromise between those who want to lower their marginal-tax rates and melt the polar caps and those who mainly want to ensure they'll never have to ‘press one for English’ or hold their tongues in the presence of women and minorities ever again.”

By Tom Johnson | April 12, 2016 | 6:05 PM EDT

There’s a crucial difference between the Loch Ness Monster and any Republican health-care-reform plan worthy of the name: Nessie almost certainly does not exist, but the GOP plan cannot exist. That, essentially, was the message of a Monday blog post by New York magazine’s Chait.

“It is impossible to design a health-care plan that is both consistent with conservative ideology and acceptable to the broader public,” asserted Chait. “People who can’t afford health insurance are either unusually sick…unusually poor…or both…You can cover poor people by giving them money. And you can cover sick people by requiring insurers to sell plans to people regardless of age or preexisting conditions. Obamacare uses both of these methods. But Republicans oppose spending more money on the poor, and they oppose regulation, which means they don’t want to do either of them.”

By Tom Johnson | March 30, 2016 | 8:39 PM EDT

“I’ve made up my mind -- don’t confuse me with the facts” could be Republicans’ unofficial motto when it comes to Obamacare, suggested New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait in a Tuesday post concerning decreased growth in health-care costs.

Chait asserted that “some aspects of the lower health-care-inflation rate can be clearly tied to Obamacare reforms,” though he allowed that “it’s impossible to know just what proportion of credit the law deserves for the lower inflation rate.” His main point, however, was that statistical analysis regarding the effects of the ACA is irrelevant to hyperideological GOPers: “It’s obvious that no conceivable data can falsify conservative opposition to Obamacare. The premise that Obamacare has failed is a matter of doctrinal writ, as holy as the sanctity of the great Ronald Reagan."

By Tom Johnson | March 24, 2016 | 8:37 PM EDT

In early 2008, Barack Obama annoyed many liberals when he said that President Reagan (but not President Clinton) had “changed the trajectory of America.” New York magazine’s Chait no doubt will irritate many conservatives by suggesting Obama has done the same over the past seven-plus years. In a piece for the March 21 issue, Chait commented, “Obama hasn’t so much moved from the center to the left as he has moved the center to the left,” and speculated that Republicans may be “forced to acknowledge him as a legitimate and even popular president.”

Chait contrasted Obama’s tranquility with the GOP’s disarray: “There is something fitting about the denouement of the Obama presidency. A Republican Party that began his administration with tea partyers in tricorn hats, Glenn Beck chalkboard rages, government shutdowns, and Mitt Romney diatribes against the 47 percent is culminating in meltdown. The contrast between the president and his antagonists is visibly one not just of worldview but of temperament. Reasoned negotiation is the foundation of his political style.”

By Tom Johnson | March 8, 2016 | 9:12 PM EST

If you’re a conservative brainiac, contends New York magazine’s Chait, something’s been nagging at you, especially since Donald Trump started riding high in the polls: the realization that so many of your fellow right-wingers are dumb.

“The conservative movement’s tightening grip over the Republican Party has coincided with its elevation of leaders incapable of explaining their policies cogently,” argued Chait in a Sunday post. “Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin all drew the disdain of liberal elites for their reliance on simplistic aphorisms and poor grasp of detail, humiliating conservative intellectuals, who defended the keen minds of their heroes.” Chait added, “Whether or not Donald Trump the human being is intelligent, there’s no question that ‘Donald Trump,’ presidential candidate, is not. His entire campaign operates well below the level of rational thought.”

By Tom Johnson | February 28, 2016 | 2:36 PM EST

If New York magazine blogger Chait had expressed metaphorically his argument about the relationship between racism and the conservative movement, it might have gone something like this: Conservatism is a perfectly presentable, structurally sound wooden house, but a lot of conservatives are termites.

In a Thursday post, Chait himself wrote, “While conservatism has [a] perfectly non-racist basis in theory…it is simply a fact that white racial fears supply a large proportion of real-world Republican votes. Conservatives, with very few exceptions, refuse to grapple with this reality. They prefer to treat racism as lying completely outside of, or even antithetical to, the American conservative tradition.”

By Tom Johnson | February 14, 2016 | 3:05 PM EST

Democrats have long envied Republicans’ message discipline, which presumably means Dems are relishing what Martin Longman calls the “disarray” in the GOP and in its main “official organ,” Fox News. “I don’t think right-wing media is set up to deal with an unorthodox candidate [Donald Trump] who doesn’t consistently hew to the conservative line,” remarked Longman. “I also don’t know how they’d promote [Ted] Cruz without willing and eager surrogates to fill the chairs.”

Longman also sniped, "I’m not a Foxologist. I can’t watch the network without feeling ill. And I know that this gives me a bit of a blind spot in my political analysis, but I’m just not willing to pay that kind of price to know everything I ought to know."

By Brad Wilmouth | February 3, 2016 | 3:38 PM EST

Appearing as a guest on Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, New York magazine's Frank Rich asserted that GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio is "quite far to the right" and has a "very truculent neocon foreign policy" as he and host O'Donnell discussed whether the Florida Senator has the best chance of the "establishment" Republican candidates of being nominated.

By Tom Johnson | January 27, 2016 | 12:59 AM EST

Left-leaning pundits worth their salt know that Donald Trump isn’t a movement conservative, but many of them believe nonetheless that his candidacy is, in some social/cultural/emotional sense, a fundamentally righty phenomenon.

That said, Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas, whose lefty credentials are hardly in question, argued in a Friday post that while Trump “happened to land on the Republican side because of Hillary Clinton’s dominance…he could actually [have made] a stronger case for running as a Democrat.” Kos observed that Trump “has no ideological mooring or conviction” and noted that he “advocated for single-payer healthcare…has called for higher taxes on the wealthy…mocked Mitt Romney’s attacks on immigrants…was pro-choice…Oh, and he was a registered Democrat until 2009.”

By Tom Johnson | January 23, 2016 | 3:14 PM EST

Commenting Friday on National Review’s anti-Donald Trump editorial and symposium, The New Republic’s Jeet Heer and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait agreed that conservatives are responsible for Trump’s Republican frontrunner status, but differed on which unpleasant right-wing trait, “white identity politics” or anti-intellectualism, was the prime mover.

By Brad Wilmouth | January 12, 2016 | 7:26 PM EST

On Monday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, host O'Donnell and Frank Rich of New York magazine talked up the possibility that GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is not really a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore not eligible to serve as President.

Rich, a former New York Times columnist, praised GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump as "brilliant" for pushing the issue, and the two at one point laughed it up together when Rich cracked that a wall should have been built to keep the Cruz family from crossing from Canada into the U.S. Rich: "The problem could have been solved if we had built a wall on the Canadian border and Canada paid for it. Then, the Cruzes never would have entered and we wouldn't have this problem."