A NEW CHAMP. This is even more evidence that the late Abe Rosenthal's crown as Positively The Worst Published Writer Ever is being struck even more daily into the hazard by Marty Peretz. I won't bother totaling up the productive and talented people produced by places like Georgetown or Notre Dame. I won't even stick up for my own alma mater, Marquette University. Rather, I would just point out that, by any standard he has used in the past to glibly accuse someone of anti-Semitism, and even by the standards he uses in this very post, Peretz has written an opening paragraph of pure, old-fashioned American nativist anti-Catholicism.

    --Charles P. Pierce


    SCHALLER V. SCHALLER. I sort of hate to do this to Tom, but has he read his new book? I have, and really liked it. But it doesn't seem to say what he thinks it says. Below, Tom rails against me for skepticism that Democrats are going to find their greatest gains among state-hatin' libertarians, largely because he appears to think that means writing off the Interior West. Which it doesn't. The Interior West is trending left, in part, as Ryan Sager will tell you, because of a decidedly non-libertarian influx of Hispanic and Californian immigration, which Sager likens to "a bucket of blue paint spilled across the region." Happily, Tom's books show him prepared to appeal to these people on populist terms.


    NO SPACE TO FILL. Whatever the realities of family life that contributed to Mark Warner�s decision this morning to bow out of the 2008 presidential race, there had to be some pretty compelling political realities that contributed to his decision as well. Chiefly, the fact that there really isn�t all that much political space to run to Hillary Clinton�s right in that year�s Democratic primaries and caucuses.


    WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH VERMONT? Alas, I have no time at the moment to weigh in on the Dems-and-libertarians debate, but one aside in Tom's post really caught my eye and I did just want to throw out a question to him or to folks in comments -- Bush's share of the Vermont vote went up by 10 percent between 2000 and 2004!? What's the deal with that? How/why did that happen?


    MARK DOWN. I�m disappointed that Mark Warner has dropped out of the presidential race. I think he would have made a good candidate, and hope he will consider running for Vice President, if asked. Many are already speculating that he will run for Senate in 2008 if Republican incumbent John Warner retires. I�ll presume he didn�t consider the presidential run just to build up a massive war chest of federal dollars he will then hold and dump into a Senate �08 race, but whether that was his original intent or not, the latent effect is the same -- he�ll be locked and, um, loaded.


    LIBERTARIANS AND DEMS. I rarely disagree with Ezra, but he�s just plain wrong about the libertarians and their significance to a potential future Democratic majority. I talk about their potential in my book, and would also recommend libertarian Ryan Sager�s Elephant in the Room, in which he drills down further on the problem Republicans are now having with libertarians.

  • The Bad News on the Deficit

    While the Bush administration is still touting the good news on the budget deficit, the Commerce Department released data showing that the trade deficit hit another all-time high in August. The current account deficit (the broadest measure of the trade deficit) is now projected to be close to $900 billion in 2006 or 6.6 percent of GDP.

    In the land where big deficits are more important than smaller deficits, this record trade deficit would be getting serious attention. As it stands, it looks like coverage of the record trade deficit will be buried on the business pages.

  • Productivity Ain't What it Used to Be

    CEPR has posted my short note showing that part of the reason that the strong productivity growth of the last six years has not translated into wage growth is due to a graowing share of depreciation in gross output and the difference between the output deflator and the consumer price index. After adjusting for these factors, "usuable" productivity in the current cycle has been 1.85 percent annually (soon to be revised down by 0.1percentage point, due to the benchmark revision showing considerably higher employment growth). This is about 0.7 percentage points below the rate of growth of usable productivity in the sixties.

    --Dean Baker


    "FEMINISTS" AGAINST WOMEN. Admittedly, when it comes to illogic on the part of supporters of criminalized abortion, the rape and incest exemptions are relatively small potatoes. What really gives away the show is their unwillingness to apply criminal sanctions against women who are allegedly committing something akin to murder. Hack politicians, of course, respond to questions about how the Republican Party platform can support a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all 50 states but would entirely exempt women from punishment by babbling nonsense.


    LIBERTARIAN SWINGERS. Via Andrew Sullivan comes this bit from Cato's new report on the next big swing group: "Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 percent to 20 percent, but Bush�s margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry...The political party that comes to terms with than can win the next generation."