YOU LISTEN. This is just a heads up that Max Sawicky's always terrific MaxSpeak blog now looks to be even more interesting and frisky with the addition of decidedly non-EPIish center-left economist Jason Furman to the roster of contributors. Much mixing-it-up has already ensued. It will definitely be worth checking out.
AMERICANS AND TORTURE. Shrill Charlie Pierce and the unshrill New York Timeseditorialists are correct -- it was substantively a fool's game and a disgrace for Democrats to consciously refuse to engage the torture debate, and, as The Times puts it, "it�s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election." I totally agree with this. I will only note -- not by way of defending the Democrats, but merely of lamenting the state of the nation on this issue -- something Sandy Levinson said yesterday.
THE SILENT PARTY. You worthless passel of cowards. They're laughing at you. You know that, right?
The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party, the latter best exemplified by John McCain, who keeps fashioning his apparently fathomless ambition into a pair of clown shoes with which he can do the monkey dance across the national stage. They're laughing at him, too.
While I am reluctant to perpetuate the debate on living standards and the accuracy of the consumer price index (CPI), I just can�t resist holding economists and pundits to the things they claim to believe.
My last post featured the claim that living standards had improved substantially despite the stubborn refusal of the CPI to support this claim. When median family income is deflated by the CPI, then real family income was just 14.4 percent higher in 2004 than it was in 1979. This increase is explained largely by an increase in working hours per family, as the median hourly wage rose by even less over this period.
IRAN'S GAME. It was nice to see Charlie Rangel and Nancy PelosiattackHugo Chavez's ham-handed attempts to condemn President Bush. Chavez is a clumsy, crude political actor, and his extended comparison of Bush and the devil looked over-the-top and foolish. More interesting, and more relevant for American interests, is the current charm offensive of Ahmadinejad. From this Time piece, you could easily get the impression that Iranian leader had just finished Lakoff.
NATIONAL I.D. To follow up on Ben's post, I see Kevin Drummakes a similar critique of the GOP legislation, but also comes out in favor of a universal I.D. given to everyone in the country. This is an idea that Boston bossman Bob Kuttner proposed in 2004. I remember finding his old column on the subject highly persuasive -- it's worth a read.
DEMOCRATS FOR REPUBLICANS? In his latest piece, Jacob Weisberg addresses the question of whether the party that loses the midterms will, as a result, actually win in the long run. Although I think he takes the silly proposition a little too seriously, he admits that the right answer to this is the "boring" one: "the real winner in the November election will be the winner."
WAL-MART...GOOD? Some of my right-wing readers may think this'll make my head explode, but Wal-Mart's embarking on a new initiative to use its size and weight to bargain down the prices on generic prescription medications. In other words, the company I always accuse of acting like a monopsony is now going to use their might to act as consumer advocates on health care -- which will be good for consumers and bad for Pharma. Hooray!