Archive

  • Like I Said, The Death of Inflation Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

    The producer price index showed that the core finished goods index jumped 1.3 percent in November, more than reversing a 0.9 percent decline reported for October. Much of the story was passenger cars and light trucks. They rose by 2.2 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively after showing October declines of 2.3 percent and 9.7 percent. This reflects the timing of discounts, which was an important factor holding down the November CPI. The moral of this story is that price data (like most data) are very erratic. You can never make too much of a single month's data. If the data look very different from prior months' data, then the odds are that it is an aberation which will be reversed in future months. --Dean Baker
  • SPENCER: MAKING SENSE.

    SPENCER: MAKING SENSE. I quite agree with Spencer's argument that Iraq remains a minefield even for anti-war Dems. That the public supports withdrawal now doesn't mean that they'll support it in five or ten years time. I think that support for withdrawal is genuine, and likely larger than the polling has captured, if only because there remains a core group of Republican partisans who can't bring themselves to publicly renounce the war, regardless of how they feel privately. But as Spencer has pointed out, that support can vanish in hindsight. It wasn't just Norm Podhoretz who, over time, became re-illusioned with the Vietnam War. Millions of moderate to conservative Americans who had come to support a withdrawal from Vietnam by 1972 found it very easy to convince themselves, by 1980, that the war had been a noble struggle undermined by the malfeasance of counter-culture activists and Congressional Democrats. On the other hand, the Iraq situation is different. Democrats, even hawkish...
  • White Hat Rubinites verse Black Hat Populists: WSJ on the Split in the Democratic Party

    The Wall Street Journal reported today on the split between the Wall Street oriented Rubinite/Hamiltonian wing of the Democratic wing and the more working class oriented populist wing of the party. There is little doubt which side the WSJ is on. The article comes right out swinging, telling readers that Robert Rubin �redefined the formerly protectionist, free-spending party as a champion of free trade and balanced budgets.� Hmmm, that�s objective reporting? Is it a fact that the pre-Rubin party was �free-spending?� According to my copy of the Economic Report of the President , the ratio of government debt to GDP fell from 56.1 percent in 1960 to 42.5 percent at the end of 1968. During the Carter administration the debt to GDP ratio declined from 36.2 percent to 33.3 percent. As I recall, both Walter Mondale, the 1984 president nominee, and Michael Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, ran on platforms of deficit reduction. I am sure that there were free-spending Democrats out there, but they don...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ADVICE NOT TAKEN.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ADVICE NOT TAKEN. What plan for Iraq did one top expert warn was doomed to likely failure when he advised the ISG? The very plan they adopted. Gareth Porter reports . --The Editors
  • THE GINGRICH WHO...

    THE GINGRICH WHO STOLE FREE SPEECH. Gene Healy has an elegant, and important, takedown of Newt Gingrich 's craziness, which is too often forgotten these days. It's sort of a problem: Democrats and media types are so happy to see a conservative who's serious about policy that they appear willing to overlook the fact that he's a nutball loon. Healy, helpfully, reminds . --Ezra Klein
  • THE SPIRIT OF...

    THE SPIRIT OF HOHO. I disagree with Badler that you can attribute Bayh and Warner 's exit from the campaign to "a presidential run gets longer, more expensive, and more personally invasive every cycle." Both of them were among the top non- Hillary fundraisers in the race, so neither left for lack of cash. As for longer and more invasive, well, that's certainly a detractor, but they knew that when they started testing the waters. I've trouble believing they would've exited if the race thought it would end in the Oval office. As for the involvement of Howard Dean in all this, the Democratic Party is now one that he and his movement created. Dean was, of course, little more than a vessel for the base's eruption of anger at the party establishment, but the influence his ascendance had on presidential primary strategizin' is incalculable. That, plus the disastrous trajectory of Iraq and the Donkey's 2006 performance, has convinced most observers and strategists that the base aches for, at...
  • THE POWER OF...

    THE POWER OF BAD MEDICAL METAPHORS. Kevin Drum 's post about George Packer 's New Yorker piece on the conceptual error contained in the phrase "war on terror" and how it distorts our counter-insurgency thinking -- for example, by keeping us from treating terrorism as a social network problem rather than a military one -- reminded me of a concern I have about the the metaphor of Islamic terrorism as cancer, which is something I've been hearing commentators say for years ( here's one blog round-up of some instances ). What if Islamic terrorism isn't like cancer at all, but rather like eczema ? That is, what if the proper treatment for the condition is not surgical excision, but rather, an anti-inflammatory to calm things down? The idea encoded by the metaphor of cells that grow malignant and out of control and which must be eliminated is very different from the one behind the notion of highly-irritated cells that cluster and rash up at, say, the site of a mosquito bite. Cancer requires...
  • HOT OFF THE PRESSES: THE JAN/FEB PRINT ISSUE.

    HOT OFF THE PRESSES: THE JAN/FEB PRINT ISSUE. The latest print issue of the Prospect has come out; you'll want to take a look. Ezra 's cover story profiles three of the new progressive Dem governors voted into office in November and poised to push serious and consequential liberal reforms at the state level: Ohio's Ted Strickland , New York's Eliot Spitzer , and Massachusetts' Deval Patrick . Elsewhere in the magazine: Robert Borosage traces the growing electoral isolation of conservatives and the Republican Party they control. Brad Plumer reports on the push by arms manufacturers to weaken federal controls on armament exports. Ann lays out the political significance of new findings that RU-486 might be used to treat cancer. Sasha Polakow-Suransky reviews Jimmy Carter 's hot-potato Israel-Palestine book. And Mark Schmitt explains why November's elections proved that Karl Rove was � right after all! Also included is a special report on sustainable urban living and, free to non-...
  • THE REAL REASON NO ONE RUNS

    THE REAL REASON NO ONE RUNS : Not to take anything away from Howard Dean , but I'm not sure where Ezra -- himself a former Deaniac -- finds the causality between Dean's campaign and the progressive tilt of possible Democratic candidates in 2008. First, I think a couple notes of caution are in order: the only major prospective candidates who opposed the Iraq War from the start, Obama and Gore , have not declared and may still not run. It's true that even if they do not run, two of the major candidates who are more certain to run, Edwards and Kerry , have found their voices in opposing the war. But they have done so more strongly after the 2004 campaign, suggesting to me that they were influenced not by Dean but by the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the public's losing patience with it. I think Ezra's observation about Warner and Bayh , that with the party moving to the left they saw no significant niche to Hillary's right, is astute. But I also think one could as easily attribute...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BARE NECESSITIES.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BARE NECESSITIES. Graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi 's latest is the tale of her great-uncle, a famed musician who loses his beloved instrument and his will to live. Writes Noy Thrupkaew : Plums is Satrapi's most structurally daring narrative, and perhaps her most subtle in its depiction of her hotbed homeland, Iran. In her past three works, Satrapi has made a name for herself by braiding together intimate, memoir-ish narratives with Iranian history. In Plums , a eulogy to the death of pleasure, Satrapi works on both the personal and political scale once again. Her references to Iran are more allusive than in her previous works, but just as haunting. Read the whole thing here . --The Editors

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