SINCE WHEN HAS SHAME STOPPED THEM? I'm going to disagree with Matt's hypothesis that intellectual writers are focusing of football because all the other sports have become too math-heavy for them. First, like my friend Brian Beutler, I think the upsurge in football commentary is a function of the quadrennial World Cup, rather than some sort of soccer fetish. Where was all this commentary, as Brian wonders, in the halcyon days of three weeks ago?
DEFENDING BUSH FROM JONAH'S SMEARS. I think Jonah Goldberg's notion that the Bush administration has erred by emphasizing democracy over other liberal values -- the rule of law, pluralism, etc. -- is appealing, but basically mistaken. I also thing he's missing the point that this has actually become a fairly standard attack on Bush from important left-of-center circles.
MORE ON THE MINIMUM.Will Wilkinson is a bit exercised because my argument against the minimum wage wasn't a bulletproof econometric conclusion to the minimum wage debate -- also, because he appears to not understand that an argument against obvious correlation isn't an argument for positive correlation. Sigh. This isn't an endable debate. But Will's argument against me is one of the more frustrating turns in it, an oversimplified appeal to "economics 101." So let's have a lesson...
BUSH AND HISTORY. Ever since Bush turned unpopular and conservatives conveniently decided that Bush wasn't a conservative after all, a lot of liberals have been trying to nail down the argument that, no, the failures of today's GOP just are the failures of conservatism. I think Alan Wolfewriting in the newWashington Monthly does the best job I've seen yet. Among other things, the article just includes a lot of great quips. The lead quip, though, is actually something I have complicated views about: "Search hard enough and you might find a pundit who believes what George W.
BEST. TERRORIST. EVER. That's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according toGeorge Will. Or at least he's "the most effective terrorist in history." That seems misguided. Zarqawi's dead. What's more, I'm quite certain that his long-term goal of constructing a pan-Islamic neo-Caliphate or whatever isn't actually going to be achieved. Where's the love for Michael Collins or Haganah-era David Ben-Gurion?
There is an interesting aspect to the recent rise in the inflation rate that the media have not really explored. The biggest factor in the higher than expected May measure was a jump in rent. (The two rental indices, owners' equivalent rent and rent proper, account for nearly 40 percent of the core consumer price index [CPI].)
In his New York Times column today, "Changing Bedfellows", David Brooks did a far better job describing the nanny state conservatives' framing of economics than I could ever hope to do in my book. Of course, he ostensibly was saying how the world actually is, rather than how the nanny state conservatives want us to see it.
According to Brooks, we have the populist nationalists who argue against immigration and trade, and want to ensure workers' security through Social Security and national health care insurance. This group includes Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Al Sharpton and Kevin Phillips.
THE TWO CULTURES.Like Bryan Curtis, I've been puzzling recently over the apparent upsurge in intellectuals' interest in soccer. I don't think I really understood it, though, until I read this Frank Foer post noting that "[s]occer is largely immune from sabermatrics and other instantiations of mathematical nerdiness."
MORE GITMO. An Afghan government delegation says they'd just as soon not have their citizens held indefinitely in legal limbo on an American Navy base in Cuba. What's more, "about half of them were not guilty of serious crimes." Fortunately, "the officials said the Afghan detainees were not being held in bad conditions." Except, of course, for the sense in which being imprisoned for years without trial is a pretty bad condition.
THE MINIMUM WAGE. To follow up on Matt's post below, while reasonable people can disagree on the impact of minimum wage laws, it's time they stopped. William Niskanen, in arguing against a federal boost to the wage, trots out the same old canards about wage increases decimating jobs. And yes, if you jack the wage up to $16 an hour, jobs will be lost. But up to $7 over a period of years? The evidence doesn't back him up. And, luckily, it's so easy to check that you folks can play along at home.