Archive

  • MORE POST SELF-PARODY...

    MORE POST SELF-PARODY -- AND BETTER! Ok, scratch what I said before, Ruth Marcus has nothing on Broder . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • DON'T TELL CHENEY....

    DON'T TELL CHENEY. It's something less than revelatory to suggest the Bush White House doesn't exhibit the level of harmoniousness and constructive self-criticism one might hope. Still, I found this bit on the genesis of the Baker-Hamilton Commission depressing: To bring Bush aboard, Solomon, Hamre and Abshire approached the one person in Bushland who still had a reputation for realism and who could command the President's ear, alone: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice . Would she propose the commission to the President? After some hesitation, Rice agreed, but she made one request: the commission had to look forward, not backward, in part because she knew the dysfunctional Bush foreign policy operation, tilted as it was so heavily along the Cheney-Rumsfeld axis, would not permit, much less sustain, scrutiny. As the trio departed, a Rice aide asked one of her suitors not to inform anyone at the Pentagon that chairmen had been chosen and the study group was moving forward. If Rumsfeld...
  • MORE HIDEOUSLY TWISTED...

    MORE HIDEOUSLY TWISTED LOGIC FROM MCCAIN ABOUT TROOP INCREASES. This has passed unnoticed, but it's definitely worth a look. Yesterday John McCain used his questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates at the confirmation hearing to push his politically-calculated demand that more troops be sent to Iraq. This was predictable enough, but it's interesting to look at what he actually said. Check out this passage from a transcript of McCain's remarks : MCCAIN: Do you agree that, at the time of the invasion, we didn't have sufficient troops to control the country, in hindsight? GATES: Well, I had to deal with hindsight in some of the decisions that I've made, Senator McCain, and sometimes it's not very comfortable. I suspect, in hindsight, some of the folks in the administration probably would not make the same decisions that they made. GATES: And I think one of those is that there clearly were insufficient troops in Iraq after the initial invasion to establish control over the...
  • STOP TALKING CRAZY....

    STOP TALKING CRAZY. From the excerpts of the Iraq Study Group's report : ''If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al-Qaida could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized.'' Yeah, sure glad none of that's happened. --Ezra Klein
  • CALL THE WAHMBULANCE....

    CALL THE WAHMBULANCE. Sounds to me like Congressman Jack Kingston wants another job... --Ezra Klein
  • POST SELF-PARODY WATCH....

    POST SELF-PARODY WATCH. Dean already flagged this in the wee hours of the morning, but it's worth emphasizing the goofiness of this Ruth Marcus column proposing a "commission made in heaven" -- a Social Security reform group headed up by John McCain and Hillary Clinton . Marcus manages to explicitly avoid the pernicious conflation of Social Security and Medicare finance issues that Dean tracks so often in elite media commentary, and yet still thinks now is the moment to "fix" Social Security, basically just for the hell of it. The number of Beltway press ticks this single column incorporates -- bipartisanship, our "broken" political system, painful entitlement reform, political courage, commissions, Clinton and McCain obsession, the assumption of mass public interest in what is actually an elite policy obsession, did I mention bipartisanship? -- is truly impressive. If that's the right word. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HACKER ATTACKS.

    HACKER ATTACKS. CNN: Hackers attacked the computer network at the Naval War College in Newport, taking down the school's network for more than two weeks, including some e-mail services and the college's Web site. The Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command in Norfolk, Virginia, detected the intrusion around November 16 and took the system offline, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Doug Gabos said. He said the unclassified network was used by students. Military spokesmen would not give an estimate on when the school's Web site, www.nwc.navy.mil , will be back up... Gabos would not comment on who is suspected of attacking the network. Who is responsible? DoD, the Commerce Department, the Army , and the state of Kentucky (believe it or not) have all suffered extensive attacks by Chinese hackers in the last couple years. There's some unwillingness to directly blame the Chinese government, but most associated seem to believe that the attacks are at least tacitly supported by Beijing. The choice of target...
  • Growth: Europe vs. the U.S., Who's Counting?

    The WSJ has an article today reporting on how Europe appears to be outpacing the U.S. in economic growth at present. Most of the article is devoted to the positive aspects of the European economy, but at the very end the article reports the standard line about the need for deregulating the European economy. It tells readers that the U.S. economy has an underlying growth rate of approximately 3 percent, while the underlying growth rate in Europe is just 2 percent. Well some readers may have noticed that this gap also corresponds to the difference in population and potential labor force growth (@ 1 percent in the U.S. and 0 in Europe). This means that the underlying rate of per capita GDP growth in the two regions in approximately the same. Economists usually look to per capita GDP as most basic measure of economic well-being, not simply GDP. --Dean Baker
  • The Clinton-McCain Dream Panel? How About the Post Printing a Dissenting Voice on Social Security?

    The Jihad continues just blocks from the White House. The Washington Post has yet another column calling for fixing the incredibly solvent (by U.S. standards) Social Security system. There will be a day where real numbers, actual projections from the Congressional Budget Office in some real world context, will appear in the Washington Post. And then, Washington Post readers will realize that the paper's editors, coumnists, and reporters had been misleading them all these years into believing that Social Security was in a crisis. Okay, I'll stop dreaming. --Dean Baker
  • The Housing Crash Continues

    David Leonhardt uses his column to point out that house prices are declining far more than the standard indices show. He misses my two favorite reasons. First, sellers often throw in many extras to make a sale now (e.g. help on closing costs, paying for repairs, paying condo fees for a year etc.). Sellers had no reason to make such concessions a year ago. These concessions will not appear in the indices which are based only on sales price. The other big problem is that the OFHEO House Price Index (HPI) only includes mortgages that are small enough to qualify for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage pools. These are capped at around $360,000, which is a 90 percent mortgage on a $400,000 home. In some of the most overheated markets, this cap puts you below the median home price. That means that much of the action in places like Boston, New York, Washington, and San Francisco will be completely missed by the HPI. It is likely that the price run-up was larger in the higher end homes...

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