Archive

  • GOREWATCH. Obviously...

    GOREWATCH. Obviously no one is saying Al Gore is going to run. Obviously no one is insinuating Al Gore is running. Obviously no one is suggesting that his decision to write The Assault on Reason for Penguin Press and publish it next May is in any way motivated by an impulse to keep testing the field at the precise moment speculation will be highest. Obviously no one is pointing out that a high-profile book tour on a Serious Subject in May 2007 will make Gore look even more attractive while the other candidates hang out at fish frys and chili cookoffs. Obviously no one is noticing that it'll let him tour the primary states and gauge the reaction without officially entering the race. Obviously no one is saying this is a fairly brilliant way to keep his options open and ensure his relevance and visibility if he wants to jump in. Obviously. -- Ezra Klein
  • WAITING FOR AN ARGUMENT.

    WAITING FOR AN ARGUMENT. Better lawyers than I will have fun conducting a weeklong autopsy of John Yoo 's execrable attempt in the Sunday New York Times to recast American history as Peronism In Powdered Wigs. However, I was struck by this particular passage: A reinvigorated presidency enrages President Bush�s critics, who seem to believe that the Constitution created a system of judicial or congressional supremacy. Perhaps this is to be expected of the generation of legislators that views the presidency through the lens of Vietnam and Watergate. But the founders intended that wrongheaded or obsolete legislation and judicial decisions would be checked by presidential action, just as executive overreaching is to be checked by the courts and Congress. The changes of the 1970�s occurred largely because we had no serious national security threats to United States soil, but plenty of paranoia in the wake of Richard Nixon�s use of national security agencies to spy on political opponents...
  • Allan Sloan Changes His Tune on Social Security

    Allan Sloan, a columnist at Newsweek and the Washington Post and a commentator on MarketPlace reversed his previous position on the Social Security trust fund. I had previously taken Mr. Sloan to task for advocating default on the government bonds held by the Social Security trust fund. This morning on MarketPlace , he unambiguously stated that he expects that these bonds will be paid off, and therefore they should be included in measures of the government's deficit. See, even prominent columnists are capable of learning. --Dean Baker
  • Does the NYT Fear Bill Gates' Looming Unemployment?

    In an article on the victory of the conservatives in Sweden's election, the NYT repeated their assertion that Sweden's official 5.7 percent unemployment rate would jump to 21 percent if "early retirees, people in job-training and those on long-term disability" were included. The same charge appeared the previous day. It is not clear what this 21 percent measure means. In the United States, the vast majority of people stop working before age 65. Would the conservative's measure include all these people, including Bill Gates, who is about to step down from his position at Microsoft, as being unemployed? As I noted yesterday, there are internationally comparable measures of employment and unemployment available from the OECD. These data show that Sweden has higher employment rates than the United States by almost any measure. It would be helpful if the Times would try to use data that readers could interpret in a meaningful way. -- Dean Baker
  • From the NYT�s Europe-Bashing Desk

    Sweden is holding an election on Sunday, which earned it a bit of ink in the Times . The article notes that Sweden�s official unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is one of the lowest ones in Europe. It then reports the assertion of the conservative opposition candidate that its unemployment rate would be 21 percent if you add in people on disability, early retirement and in government training programs. It would be helpful if the article provided some evidence to readers to better allow them to assess the truth of this claim. Politicians are known to say things that are not true. Serious reporters do not just report one claim and then a denial. (e.g. Democrats oppose President Bush they claim he is mass murderer. The president denies the allegation.) It is not even clear what the 21 percent figure is intended to refer to. (Does it count every retiree in Sweden as being unemployed?) The OECD does make an effort to standardize measures of employment and unemployment. It reports that the...
  • Reporting Industrial Production Data

    The Fed released data for industrial production for August yesterday. The story in the media was that production had fallen by 0.1 percent in August, suggesting that the economy was slowing. Well, this is a case where more caution would be helpful. First, it is best to focus on the data for manufacturing. The other two components, mining and utlities, are very erratic. (Utility output tells you primarily about last month's weather.) Manufacturing output was unchanged in August. While this may not give a very different picture, it is worth noting that the Fed revised July's growth figure up from 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent. This means that the new report showed August output as being 0.3 percent above where we had previously believed July's output to be. I'm not saying that there has not been a slowdown in manufacturing (my guess is that there has been), but the latest data are far more ambigious than the headline number implies. --Dean Baker
  • THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.

    THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. Thanks to the folks at AmericaBlog, we have this little preview of a fun family event . Now, aside from the fact that there is no attempt by the good Christian folks at the Family Research Council to distance themselves from the odious Coulter -- who is a walking, living, breathing example of what the nuns used to call a "sin against charity" -- there are so many other wonders to behold. For example, I count at least five people -- George Allen , Sam Brownback , Mike Huckabee , Newt Gingrich , and my own governor, Mitt Romney -- who are rumored to be running for president and who come to wallow with a woman who recommends the assassination of Supreme Court justices. (Hey, Mitt. Bring Annie up here to campaign for your chosen successor, Lt. Governor Kerry Murphy O'Donoghue O'Callaghan Kathleen ni Houlihan Healey .) Not that we here at Tapped engage in guilt by association, but, wow. I hope they're selling Hazmat suits at the hotel gift shop. Also, just for fun,...
  • SOMEHOW, I DOUBT...

    SOMEHOW, I DOUBT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WILL NOTICE. This is a great post by Kevin . Over the past couple of decades, California's per capita energy usage has actually declined , even while the nation's shot up. Our smog levels have fallen and our air is cleaner. Why? Because we passed laws -- regulations -- making it so. And while the corporate community howled and promised us economic Armageddon if we dared regulate their activities, the state's done just fine. What a shocker. -- Ezra Klein
  • BUSH'S MICRO-TARGETTING SUCCESS...

    BUSH'S MICRO-TARGETTING SUCCESS AND MARKETING FAILURE. That said , I also happen to be in the corner of Boston that draws the most Washington types, and a couple of days ago it drew former AP chief political reporter Ron Fournier , Bush '04 strategist Matthew Dowd , and Democratic consultant Doug Sosnik to talk about their new book , Applebee's America: How Successful Political Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community , which grew out of the seminar Fournier taught at the Institute of Politics and which will be reviewed by E.J. Dionne in the upcoming print edition of The Prospect . A freewheeling discussion followed, and I thought Dowd's admirably candid comments in particular might be of interest to Prospect readers, since Dowd's micro-targetting initiatives were so central to Bush 's win in '04: * The old model of political affiliation, according to Dowd, is that people have stances on issue that lead them to identify with a political party, which then...
  • How Environmentalism Wrecked California's Economy

    Actually, California's economy has done pretty well over the last 30 years, yet its per capita use of electricity has barely budged. It also ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in per capita gasoline consumption. This is a striking story , given how much some politicians and economists have led us to fear regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone who takes global warming seriously should look at this article. --Dean Baker

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