MORE SHOES. The dog that hasn't really barked yet in Iraq is the Turkey-Kurdistan conflict. One of the most-warned-against "things go bad" scenarios before the war was that Iraqi Kurdistan might become a base for anti-Turkish operation in Turkish Kurdistan, prompting Turkey to intervene militarily in Iraq. So far, lots and lots of things have gone bad in Iraq, but this particular scenario has been pretty quiet.
STEELE EXPOSED. My immediate thought upon reading Dana Milbank�s column in the Post yesterday about the mystery Republican senate candidate was that it smelled like Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. Turns out, it was.
THE SECOND, AS FARCE. Israel announced plans to re-occupy a strip of southern Lebanon. This is ill-advised. Israel ceased occupying a strip of southern Lebanon just a few years ago and with good reason. What's more, re-occupation will alter the whole political context in adverse ways. Syria now has its rationale for involvement in Lebanon back, and the level of pressure that previously existed on Hezbollah to disarm will melt away now that Israeli occupation has returned.
The latest numbers certainly show a slowing. Existing home sales are down by 10 percent from their peaks last year. Prices have stabilized on a year over year basis (down slightly after adjusting for inflation), and inventories are building. It is worth noting in the latest report that the inventory of unsold condos stood at 8 months of sales in the June report.
Also, it is important remember that the existing homes data refers to sales closed in June. Since it typically takes 6-8 weeks to close a contract, the June sales are most showing information about contracts signed in April and May.
It would be nice if reporters were forced to read what they write before it appears in the paper. What do they mean when they say "free trade?"
What makes increasing patent and copyright protection (an essential part of recent U.S. trade agreements) free trade? These are government granted monopolies. Isn't that obvious? Yes, they serve a purpose in providing incentives for innovation and creative work, but ALL forms of protection serve a purpose, that doesn't mean that they are not protectionism.
THE MYSTERY CANDIDATE. The blogosphere has been consumed today with the unnamed GOP senatorial candidate who lit into George W. Bush at a reporter's breakfast. The whole situation was a bit weird -- the cloaked complainer was frustrated at the GOP's weakness and Bush's unpopularity, so it's not clear why he didn't rip off the mask and try to carve out some public independence. In any case, ABC News confirms that the man behind the mask is Maryland's Michael Steele. I wonder how the rest of the GOP feels about him publicly blasting the party to reporters -- feeding the Bush-is-unpopular and GOP-is-doomed narratives -- while hiding behind assured anonymity.
A TALE OF TWO PLANS. The blogosphere has endlessamounts of commentary on Hillary Clinton and the DLC's American Dream Initiative, a laudable-if-modest set of policy proposals to help the middle class, subsidize the poor, and offer this undefined thing called opportunity. None of the plans are particularly inspirational, and the health care section is packed with the usual pabulum about electronic medicine, small business buying pools, and giving kids insurance. All the easy stuff, in other words.
MIDDLE MANAGEMENT. Regarding Matt's and Ezra's contentions that Democratic initiatives to strengthen and build the middle class by making it easier and less expensive to attend college are less important than focusing on high-school drop-outs, I'd just like to note that Hillary Clinton is probably taking this approach because Democratic presidential candidates have in the past two elections lost college-educated and college drop-out voters as a group, even while they consistently won high-school drop-outs
TONY SNOW, WHAT WOULD THEY DO WITHOUT YOU. I know he has a good reputation among the Beltway Cool Kids -- how good is it? Check this out -- so the question naturally arises as to when it was that Tony Snow took on the role of Mr. Stupid. First, there was the nasty shot at Helen Thomas. Then, he got up and told the world that the president believed that stem-cell research was "murder," which he had to walk back yesterday, probably because, in the internal White House polling, the answer "C: No, because this administration is as dumb as a box of rocks" scored in the mid-90s. Then, there was this little tidbit from today's gaggle: