BACK TO THE COURT? The detainee bill passed by the Senate yesterday came as a result of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, so some obvious questions now include whether this bill will itself end up being looked at by the Court, what the prospects are for it being struck down, and what the grounds would likely be for that action. Scott Lemieuxthinks the odds are overwhelming that the Court will not find this bill unconstitutional (adding as a crucial grace note that "that opponents of this scandalous legislation should not use the courts as a crutch").
WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE, WHO NEEDS THE FACTS? Kirsten A. Powers wrote a piece for TAP Online on the pope controversy that is, in part, a rebuttal to my essay, "Benedict the Bombthrower". Powers misrepresents my work as a defense of the violence perpetrated by some Muslims in the name of God, and accuses me of partly blaming the U.S. for the murderous and abusive actions of Islamic theocracies.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a batch of good economic news might give Republican candidates a boost in this fall's elections. Well, good economic news is generally good news for the party in power, but the reports we have been seeing lately don't look very good.
The news reports on the release of revised data for 2nd quarter GDP missed the fact that output in the nonfarm business sector was revised down by 0.4 percentage points. This means that (ignoring rounding) productivity growth for the quarter should also be lowered by 0.4 pp to a 1.2 percent annual rate. At this point, the consensus estimate for 3rd quarter GDP growth is about 2.5 percent, which translates into a 1.5 percent rate of productivity growth, assuming hours grow at a modest 1 percent annual rate.
NELSON: CASE IN POINT. I don't want to keep beating up on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- I realize he may be the best one can hope for out of Nebraska -- but today he once again cast a decisive (corrected, as commenters had noted) vote of major importance. By a 51-48 margin, the Senate rejected an amendment to strike provisions on habeus corpus review from the putrid "compromise" bill on torture. It was a party-line vote, Nelson being the only Democrat voting with the majority.
HOUSE ENACTS A POLL TAX. Following up on my post from yesterday about the importance of election oversight at the state level comes news of an attack on voting rights at the national level. FromKatrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation:
LUCKY WE CUT THOSE TAXES. Following this bit of good news out of Iraq, there is a new congressional analysis showing that we're spending $2 billion a week on the war -- more than twice as much as it cost per week during the first year of operations. The change in spending is coming both from increased combat, but also from "the building of more extensive infrastructure to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan." Here's how that looks:
A UNITER. I think it's time for liberals to admit that, at least in Iraq, George W. Bush is a uniter, not a divider. For instance: He's united more than 60 percent of Iraqis in support of attacks on U.S. troops. He's united even more than that in terms of those who the Americans out within a year. And he's united nearly 80 percent behind the proposition that our presence provokes more violence than it prevents. That's some impressive uniting! Now, if only his administration would listen:
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. As per usual, if anyone is still confused as to the median voter's stubborn resistance to admitting the economy's overall awesomeness, new data showing that health premiums went up 7.7 percent in 2005 may help illuminate things. After all, 7.7 percent was more than twice the inflation rate and the growth in worker's wages. In fact, since 2000, health premiums have gone up by 87 percent. Somehow, I doubt the average worker's salary has done the same.
SPEAKING OF POST COLUMNISTS...David Broder continues his "political independence" jihad today, this time with a column celebrating Arnold Schwarzenegger's political transformation from righty to moderate deal-maker, which "demonstrat[ed] in the most dramatic way possible the value of political independence." But now I'm really confused.