ARCTIC NOT SO HOT AFTER ALL?Joshua Kurlantzick'sstory in this month's Prospect was a fascinating look at how huge energy companies (including some that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to undermine the global scientific consensus that the Earth is warming and that we are responsible) are rushing to lock up oil and gas resources in the Arctic region.
EN GARDE. One of my own personal quirks is that I am an aging epee hack. I have been fencing, off and on, since 1971, having picked it up again in 1993. To my friends who play other sports, I make note often of the very cool facts that, a) Neil Diamond was a sabreur and the fencing captain at NYU, and b) that Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, is a world-class foilist. So, I have to admit that, while I was cruising along the various tubes of the Internets, this (from a few months ago) freaking alarmed me. You and me, Annie. Fifteen touches. The CNN studios. Book it.
AZ SEN: PEDERSON MAKES HIS MOVE? When we last checked in with the Senate race in Arizona, businessman Jim Pederson (D) was inching closer to incumbent Sen. Jon Kyl (R), narrowing the gap to just six points in a race Republicans didn't expect to be competitive this year. It continues to get more interesting by the day.
National Journalreports that the DSCC is watching the race closely and is making an 11th-hour investment in pulling an upset.
WAR ON WHAT NOW?Timothy Garton Ashmakes a good (if familiar) point on the naming of the War on Terror:
Apart from anything else, to use this language dignified the terrorists with the status of belligerents when they should have been treated as criminals. In a backhanded way, the coinage was itself a kind of glorification of terrorism.
NE 3: SIGN OF THE TIMES IN NEBRASKA. Indicative of the kind of year it's been for the GOP, President Bush will spend the final weekend before the midterm elections in Nebraska, campaigning in one of the country's most Republican congressional districts.
As the GOP battles nationwide to keep control of Congress, Bush's plans to attend the Sunday rally in western Nebraska's 3rd District calls attention to the competitive race there between Republican State Sen. Adrian Smith of Scottsbluff and Democrat Scott Kleeb. [...]
MI SEN: DOES THE RSCC KNOW SOMETHING WE DON'T? Of all the close Senate races in the nation, Michigan rarely factors into the mix. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) has led challenger Mike Bouchard (R) in every poll this year, and no poll has shown the Republican within five points of the incumbent since August. Consultants on both sides of the aisle concluded weeks ago that the result of this race is a foregone conclusion.
UNPRODUCTIVE. The central economic mystery of the last decade or so is how the economy's robust productivity growth has not translated into commensurately large wage increases (I discuss this further here). But as Dean Baker points out, the inexplicably bad good times may be ending: the Bureau of Labor Statistics is saying that productivity growth in the last quarter was...zero. 0. A goose egg.
"TORT REFORM" ARGUMENTS -- ARE THEY EVER RIGHT? Brother Ezrahad a Slate piece this summer about the many empirical problems with the argument that capping medical malpractice suits would be a major source of cost reduction for the American medical system. (As Ezra points out, the overwhleming evidence against the idea that runaway malpractice awards drives up health care costs is amassed clearly and devastatingly in Tom Baker's terrific book, The Medical Malpractice Myth.)
PRESIDENTIAL FAITH ADVISER OUTED? Rev. Ted Haggard, pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is the target of accusations by Mike Jones, a male "escort," that the pastor has been a sexual client of Jones's for the last three years. Haggard belongs to the elite group of right-wing religious leaders party to regular Monday-morning conference calls with President Bush, according to reporter Jeff Sharlet, writing last year in Harper's.