ASYMMETRIC ISSUES. This article on Democrats using free trade as a cudgel against their Republican opponents is an interesting one. In the abstract at least, free trade enjoys broad support. But trade, like abortion or taxes, is a voting issue. While "fair trade" isn't the most broadly agreed upon policy -- unlike the minimum wage or Canadian drug reimportation -- for the fraction of voters affected or unnerved by globalization, it moves them to the polls.
LISTEN UP.Mattnotes that Democrats actually held an unofficial oversight hearing on the Iraq War yesterday. "Naturally," he writes, "the press more-or-less entirely ignored this event, since people only report on the Democrats to mock them for being in 'disarray.'" True. Remember the Roll Call story from a couple days ago that Democrats were going to cease mentioning national security and the Iraq War and focus entirely on economic issues? That becomes a bit self-fulfilling if the press refuses to report Democratic events on national security and the Iraq War.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THEY'RE BACK.Laura Rozenreports on new evidence that some old and unsavory Iranian intelligence-peddlers are once again getting a hearing in Washington. Deja vu all over again.
THE �ESSENTIAL DILEMMA� RAISED BY THE NIE. A contact familiar with the April NIE on terrorism says that buried in the discussion of the report so far is this dilemma: �The report notes that �victory� in Iraq would be a blow to the jihadists, and that failure (especially if it led to the establishment of an al-Qaeda sanctuary or if veteran foreign jihadists dispersed out of Iraq to engage in terrorism in other parts of the world) would also be very bad. Thus, the report highlights the essential dilemma Iraq poses for the war on terror: staying fuels the al-Qaeda-inspired movement, creating a net increase in the terrorist threat; while leaving Iraq in chaos would also worsen the threat.
DEERHUNTER. The controversy over George Allen�s racial attitudes and behavior took another sudden turn -- for the worse, in Allen�s case -- yesterday with the release of a Salonstory in which Michael Scherer reports of accusations by three former friends of Allen�s who claim that the future senator used �nigger� as a frequent racial epithet.
SATAN NEEDS AN AGENT. The devil is certainly getting a lot of press these days. Not to be outdone by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who last week called President George W. Bush the devil, the Rev. Jerry Falwell one-upped him by naming Hillary Clinton as something even worse than the devil. At the "Values Voter Summit" convened this past weekend by the Family Research Council, Rev. Falwell addressed a gathering of pastors. From the Los Angeles Times:
HOW CUTE. Yes, it's all fun, folks, until somebody ends up with Kinky Friedman as their governor. Eccentric vanity campaigns are a luxury nobody can afford any more, which is why an admittedly brilliant media guy like Bill Hillsman shouldn't be running around Texas trying to get this clown elected. If there's a worse raison d'etre for a candidate in 2006 than one that combines the notion that Anyone Can Do It with the now-wholly-discredited Naderite philosophy of Not-A-Dime's-Worth-Of-Difference, I can't think of one. They're debating torture in the U.S. Congress, folks. Seriously. Eyes on the ball, please.
Now that the data are showing that home prices are falling, news reports are again citing statements from the experts who told us that home prices would never fall. According to these experts, house prices declines are no big deal after the extraordinary appreciation of the last decade. The data indicate otherwise.
People have been borrowing against their homes at a rate of more than $700 billion a year. This borrowing has helped to sustain consumption in the wake of slow job growth and declining real wages. This borrowing explains the negative savings rate, a first since the beginning of the Great Depression.
Since many folks seem confused on the idea of free trade in doctors, let me make a few points that may help clarify the issue. First, we should think about trade in doctors like we think about trade in manufactured goods. When the Bush 1-Clinton administration wanted to increase trade in manufactured goods with Mexico, tariffs were not the issue. U.S. tariffs on Mexican manufactured goods were already very low (@2 percent, on average). The issue was setting up an institutional structure that guaranteed U.S. corporations security so that they could set up factories in Mexico without having to worry about expropriation, restrictions on repatriating profits, or other such concerns.