SORRY, NOT SORRY. I realize this is not a mystery that ranks up there with whether the president really read a biography of Chairman Mao, but I suppose I should clarify that no, we won�t be apologizing to Karl Rove as per David Broder�s suggestion today.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE NEDSTER SPEAKS. Yesterday was the latest Prospect breakfast (this one actually took place over lunch, but never mind). The guest was Ned Lamont, and he fielded questions from the audience of progressive journalists for an hour. The audio of the talk is available now; a transcript will be posted soon. (Both will be made available on the Prospect's muiltimedia page.) Give it a listen.
READING PUBLIC OPINION IN TEHRAN.Michael Ledeenwonders why, if Ahmadinejad is so popular, the Iranian government insists on censoring the press. I'd suggest that the impulse to intimidate and cow the popular press isn't quitespecific to Iran.
THE LIKABILITY ECONOMY. To say a bit more about the economic fraud Brooks is perpetrating in his column, we've got to say a bit about meritocracy and how it relates to income inequality. Brooks would like you to believe that the driving force for inequality is a relative of skills-based technical change. That's what economists tend to call the adoption of computers, but Brooks appears to think it's currently about social skills. In his mind, the difference between the rich and the poor largely rests on having "high social and customer-service skills." The intent of this is that it justifies inequality.
MOUSEGATE CONTINUES!James Bamfordreveals that one of the FBI's consultants quit Disney's Path to 9/11 miniseries because he believed the producers and writers were simply "making things up." Elsewhere, Clinton and his top aides penned a four-page letter specifically refuting a series of fabricated vignettes from the show and demanding that ABC either make the necessary changes or pull the program.
BILL SPEAKS. Yesterday, I wondered about whether or not Bill Clinton was going to leave the House of Many Triangles and defend his record in the face of the now nakedly spurious ABC docu-fakery. Well, any man who defends himself in such a fashion that the staid, old New York Post can put a goofy headline on the story has answered more than adequately any complaints I might have had.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DEBATING THE MIDDLE. Today's David Brooks column that Ezradiscusses below referenced Monday's TAP Onlinepiece by Steve Rose, but Brooks didn't mention that Rose's article is part of an ongoing debate we're hosting about the fate of the middle class and the appropriate political message for middle-income Americans. Here's the page for that debate.
GOOD CARE? WHO KNOWS? In The Wall Street Journal, more empirical scorn is being heaped on consumer-directed health care, this time in the form of a study showing that consumers have absolutely no idea what good health care is. Researchers from the RAND Corp., UCLA, and the Department of Veteran's Affairs had 236 elderly patients in two major managed-care plans rate the quality of their health care. Satisfaction was high, with the average rating a super 8.9 out of 10.
BYE BYE, BOLTON. In a web column yesterday, I wrote that Ambassador Bolton faces an uphill confirmation battle. Well, it seems that Bolton's prospects just got much, much dimmer. Moments ago, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Richard Lugar delayed a scheduled vote on Bolton following "consultations with a few other senators." "A few other senators" is perhaps code for Lincoln Chafee, who was the only Republican as yet undecided on how he would vote on Bolton in committee. Word was that Chaffee was disinclined to vote against Bolton because of his tough primary election on Tuesday. That seems not to be the case.
IT'S THE MERITOCRACY, STUPID. David Brooks has an op-ed today rebutting the "populist myths of economic inequality" that's just...wrong. It's not sneaky, or subtly misleading, or anything else. It's simply an incorrect recitation of economic data that is meant to convince readers of things that aren't true. As Dean Baker points out his must-read take-down, just about no economic statistic Brooks cites is actually correct. Where Brooks argues that "[w]ages and benefits have made up roughly the same share of G.D.P.