LOSING THE NEW YORK POST. I didn't pay much attention to electoral politics or polls way back in 1991-92, but the day The New York Post ran the headline "10 Million Americans Out of Work/George May Be Next," (as I recall -- I've got the original somewhere in New York) I knew that George H.W. Bush's days in office were numbered. Once you've lost The Post, you've lost the nation; the scrappy right-wing tabloid doesn't easily abandon a Republican President. After that, I pegged Post headlines as a pretty good finger in the wind, and, in 2004, I looked for similar signs of discontent. They never came; The Post stood by its man. Until now.
WEISBERG'S FAULTY LOGIC.Jacob Weisberg's new piece on Al Gore in Slate is simultaneously terrific and infuriating. On the one hand, he makes some of the same criticisms I made about the movie (its irritating excessive focus on Gore's personal journey and its refusal to discuss how and why the Clinton administration didn't do more to combat global warming). And, being the talented writer and thinker he is, Weisberg does so much better than I.
Nothing like some comments on the trust fund to get the blogging juices flowing. It is amazing how metaphysical these discussions on the trust fund get. I don't really see anything very complicated here. I am simply referring to the law as it stands.
JUNE 6TH. Popular discussions of the midterm elections this year have until now tended to be fairly broad-brush and generalized, but in fact some key dates where actual specific and consequential decisions will be made are coming right up. June 6th is going to be a big day for crucial primaries and special elections in several states, and our own Midterm Madness will be all over the big doings next week.
ADOLESCENTS WHO THINK THEY KNOW BEST. Not to be petty about this, but aren't Michael Hirsh's metaphors all backwards here? He argues that "the Democrats, ostensibly the party poised to exploit this GOP civil war, don't seem to remember what it is like to behave as adults. They resemble nothing so much as ill-adjusted adolescents, afraid of their own shadows, much less the presidency." Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the accepted line that adolescents all think they know what's best? Aren't there a variety of aphorisms that all say, basically, "I never knew as much as I did when I was 14"? Don't teenagers bluster and brag, evincing little self-doubt and less hesitation?
IRAQ SAFER THAN D.C. My roommate got mugged last night right in front of our house and someone was shot and killed across the street about a month ago. So is Peter Kingright that Iraq is less violent than Washington, D.C.? I doubt it. King says he calculates the annualized Iraqi civilian death rate of 27.51 per 100,000 as opposed to 45 per 100,000 in D.C. King's number for Iraq is about what I get if you add up the past 12 months worth of Iraq Index data on Iraqi civilians killed as a result of acts of war, using their lower bound estimate. If I use their upper bound estimate, I get something more like 52 per 100,000.
CHOOSE YOUR SELLOUTS. I always think articles about Harold Ford are interesting, because he's an interesting guy, and yesterday's piece in The New York Times was no exception. But they never seem to get at what is, to me, the essential oddness of Ford's political persona. The basic Ford narrative is that he's an ambitious and promising African-American politician who, through being decidedly more moderate than your average black Democrat, can maybe capture the hearts of white voters in a southern state. This all seems to make good sense.
AN OFF-BEAT ARGUMENT FOR D.C. STATEHOOD. File this one under more evidence of the Bush administration's cynical politicization of what should be apolitical national security issues. Whenever public pressure to actually protect the homeland wanes, the administration seems to find out a way to subvert security. Today, for instance, The Washington Post reports:
One of the disadvantages of having a public Social Security system is that people are free to make all sorts of untrue statements about it without facing any consequences. For example, an oped in the Washington Post this morning described the Social Security trust fund as "largely an accounting fiction." This statement is of course absurd. The trust fund consists of U.S. government bonds, which the government is obligated to repay under the law. There is no sense whatsoever in which it can accurately be described as fictional.
Gretchen Morgenson had a good piece in the Times documenting some of the ways in which corporate boards manage to dish out bonuses to CEOs even when they miss performance targets. With all the scandals in CEO pay over the last decade, it is remarkable that this sort of nonsense persists unchecked. Clearly there is a structural imbalance, with top executives being able to pilfer corporate coffers to enrich themselves at the expense of shareholders.