Those folks wanting to weigh the impact of the economy on the elections next month would well-advised to place more emphasis on yesterday's reported plunge in new home prices than the recent uptick in the stock market. The basic story is simple, most people have far more money in their house than in the stock market. Of course, the reson for the fall is that house prices had gotten out of line due to a speculative bubble. The drop is necessary and inevitable (just like the 2000-2002 stock crash), but it is nonetheless painful as it occurs. It cannot be good for the party in power to have more evidence of a deflating housing bubble just before the election.
PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE.Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey 's recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural:
My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts.
YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT.Ezra, I really, really don't like disagreeing with Peter Bergen on al-Qaeda. You generally should be extremely wary of telling a guy who interviewed bin Laden that he's off-base. But, dude, you asked. Thanks, Ez, you're a good friend.
RISK ASSESSMENT: SCHMITT CRASHES THE PARTY! Ok, not really. Mark Schmitt has swooped in with a worthy intervention into the Hacker-Klein-Yglesiasdiscussion of The Great Risk Shift. Check it out, and wait for Hacker's response tomorrow.
Limbaugh is just one of many loathsome characters who have made names for themselves by treating politics as a game, a fun and profitable little pastime that has no real-world consequences -- and the richer he gets, the more real a lack of consequences becomes for him. The luxury of staggering wealth means never having to worry about Social Security, or healthcare, or how much gas costs. It�s a game. Who cares.
PETER BOYER. Over at Open University, David Greenberg has a good post criticizing Peter Boyer's latest New Yorkerpiece, which in typical fashion combines plenty of good writing and colorful material with an unseemly internalization of right-wing talking points and caricatures of liberals. This reminds me to plug one of Matt's first web pieces as a young whippersnapper here at TAP -- the definitive (the only?) Peter Boyer hit piece. Give it a look.
SPEECHLESS. In the weirdest, scariest, and most hopeful story you'll read today, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has been functionally mute for the last year-and-a-half. He contracted Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare, poorly understood affliction where the part of your brain that governs speech simply shuts down. You can still sing, and do public speaking, and talk to yourself, and engage in various other activities related to, but not using the same neural pathways as, normal speech. But you can't speak. No one has ever gotten better. As of today, Scott is the first. He did it by remapping his own brain.
GET OUT OF AL-ANBAR, AND GET OSAMA. I'll take a stab at Ezra's call for reactions to this op-ed by Peter Bergen. Bergen writes:
Instead, we should focus on a minimalist definition of our interests in Iraq, which is to prevent a militant Sunni jihadist mini-state from emerging and allowing al-Qaeda to regroup. While withdrawing a substantial number of American troops from Iraq would probably tamp down the insurgency and should be done as soon as is possible, a significant force must remain in Iraq for many years to destroy al-Qaeda in Iraq.
WHAT ZALMAY FORGOT. While checking in on Steve Clemons'Washington Note, I came across this list from 2005 entitled "Ten Lessons for Nation-Building." I have a lot of respect for its author, Zalmay Khalilzad, as I think he's a pragmatic and able diplomat in a tough job (though he should have stayed in Afghanistan, where he was most effective).