WAPO CONTINUES CAMPAIGN FOR GALLAUDET ADMINISTRATION. I have previously criticized the Washington Post's coverage of the Gallaudet protest movement against the university's new president as being slanted towards the administration and against the protestors. Well, case in point: today at 2pm they are doing a live chat with the new president, Jane K. Fernandes, on their website, with no countervailing voice from the other side of the issue, even though the clear majority of the Gallaudet community opposes Fernandes.
LANCET AND FACE VALIDITY. In a conversation yesterday, a friend told me that he just couldn't accept the Lancet numbers on Iraqi deaths because they seem too high. The study, he felt, had to have cooked the books in some way, even if the method wasn't immediately apparent. My friend's comments echoed those of Fred Kaplanand Michael O'Hanlon, sensible people who have chosen to reject the study for not terribly compelling reasons. It doesn't really matter, the argument goes, how many people have been killed in Iraq as long as we know that it's a lot and that it's getting worse, but it still can't be that many.
A NADIR OF LOGICAL ANALYSIS. Here's a strange column ("A Nadir of U.S. Power") by Sebastian Mallaby in which he suggests a connection between domestic absurdities like "the crazy tort system, which consumes more than a dollar in administrative and legal costs for every dollar it transfers to the victims of malpractice" and the inability of the Bush administration to make headway on tough foreign policy problems such as Iran, North Korea, and Darfur.
BROOKS'S BOBOS ABANDON GOP. Elsewhere in TimesSelectland, it must be said that David Brooks makes an insightful and valuable argument in his column on Sunday. Brooks, who has earned much-deserved mockery for his red and blue America shtick, in which he typically lambasts the coastal intelligentsia that he writes for and belongs to ("they can't tell wheat from corn in a field, or a soldier's rank by his insignia blah blah blah"), finally turns it on its head.
KNOCK IT OFF, FELLAS. Senator Barack Obama had better do a little more reading and a little less presidential-positioning before going on Meet the Press again. It's understandably tempting to make a name for oneself by mocking Democrats. It's also a surefire way to gain plaudits from everyone from Tim Russert to Sean Hannity. But yesterday, when Russert read a passage from Obama's new book in which the senator says he's a big believer in free-market capitalism who also worries about the efficiency of government programs, Russert asked him a very specific question Obama couldn't platitude-pander his way out of: So, which programs, Senator?
The Financial Times reports that the Financial Accounting Standards Board is about to recommend that the federal government adopt "accrual" accoounting to more accurately affect its budget situation. This would mean, for example, that the projected cost of Medicare benefits for a worker who is 25 today should be listed as a government obligation.
Last week it was David Broder, this time it is Sebastian Mallaby telling us that "every honest politician" knows that we have to cut Social Security. Actually, honest politicians who know arithmetic and can read, know that Social Security is projected to be able to pay all scheduled benefits fro the next 40 years, with no changes whatsover. Why do Washington Post columnists so frequently say things about Social Security that are not true?
In a piece on the importance of the Portuguese language, the Times explains that one reason for increased interest is Brazil's "dynamic economy." Brazil's per capita GDP growth has averaged less than 1.0 percent annually over the last decade. Add this one to the "huh" department.
Steve Pearlstein often wrote thoughtful pieces when he was a reporter, and this has been the case in more recent years with his columns. For this reason, I was overcome by shock and awe (hence the 2 day delay in writing) when I read what could only be described as sycophantic praise in a column marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Institute for International Economics (IIE). Pearlstein devoted his whole column to explaining how IIE is simply the best, and how he often got grief from his editors for being too dependent on IIE sources (this is what is known as �good grief�).