SOON ENOUGH, HE'LL BE "THE" MATT YGLESIAS. As Mattembarks on his sabbatical to write the great American foreign policy manifesto, we here at TAP thank him for the years of terrific contributions, steadfast indulgence, and inspiration. So much as you know Matt as a relentlessly provocative and sharp writer, we know him as a cubicle mate, where he's that guy, only more so, and at a higher decibel level. The office won't be the same without him, and we'll all be anxiously reading his new, consolidated blog to get our fix. You should too. Even the basketball blogging.
WHERE'S THE EXORCIST WHEN YOU NEED HIM? In the small town of my birth, we had an official called a "fence walker." The office was a vestige of the days in which my town grew crops instead of cherubic suburban children, and I always thought the office still existed because nobody ever noticed it. I feel the same way about the fact that the Vatican apparently has an official exorcist. However, I sort of wish the guy would keep a lower profile than this. In the first place, the Vatican should avoid any publicly uttered sentence in which the names Pius XII and Hitler bump up against each other.
THE GEEZER VOTE. Is it possible that all the thundering rhetoric accompanying the public relations counterattack orchestrated by the White House -- and in particular their comparisons of the war on terror to the fascist and communist threats of the previous century -- is something more than an attempt to try to rescue Bush�s approval ratings and put Democrats on the defensive in time for the 2006 midterms? Specifically, is it a generational ploy to appeal to senior voters heading to the polls in two months?
RUMMY WRITES. It's only a matter of time before the blogosphere explodes in opprobrium to Donald Rumsfeld's insipid Los Angeles Timesop-ed defending his indefensible remarks from a few days back. The column has it all: Insinuations of treason, wild distortions of opposing viewpoints, total non sequiturs, an inability to squarely confront reality, and bizarre invocations of past World Wars. But one bit of the column seems to resonate more strongly with Rummy than the rest, and it's worth examining for a moment:
The Post has an article headlined "Fast-Growing Countries to Gain More Clout at IMF." The list of countries is China, South Korea, Turkey, and Mexico. The first three countries can reasonably be described as "fast-growing," but not Mexico. Mexico's per capita GDP growth has averaged just 1 percent annually for the last decade, a slow rate for any country, but an especially pathetic pace for a developing country. Whatever the reason Mexico is getting increased clout at the IMF, it has nothing to do with fast growth.
The Times ran an article about India�s rise as a manufacturing force. Much of it is informative, but some of it is painful. In the painful category is the claim that global manufacturers are turning to India because of �a serious demographic squeeze facing China.� It then goes on to point out that although China has a larger population than India, because of China�s �one child policy� India will have more young workers in less than a decade.
A FOND FAREWELL. Friends, after almost three years as one of the contributors to TAPPED, today is the day I'll be saying goodbye, at least for a little while. Starting tomorrow, I'll be on a leave of absence from The American Prospect in order to focus on writing a book. I'm going to keep writing a column for TAP Online and will probably do something or other for the magazine in the interim, but no more group-blog for me. I won't be out of the blogging game by any means, but in order to simplify my life and get the task down to a manageable size, I'm just going to post at a single eponymous site -- MatthewYglesias.com -- and leave this one to my colleagues.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TACTICS MAKE PERFECT. We hear a lot of clamoring for the Democrats to nationalize the midterms around a positive, coherent policy agenda. That's easier said than done, obviously. Tommakes the case for nationalizing the elections tactically, through the use of a few effective gambits across the country that convey basic Democratic priorities and critiques of the GOP. He's got five proposed examples. Take a look.
QUANTIFYING A LIE. The new print issue of the Prospect features a disagreement in the letters page between Todd Gitlin and Alan Abramowitz over the question of just how often the meme "Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet" appeared in the American media during the 2000 campaign. Since the media�s war on Gore is something I�ve written about before for the Prospect, I thought I�d settle this dispute.
THE PERILS OF READING WHEN TIRED. Yesterday, I wrote that Arnold Kling's book failed to define the terms "very poor" and "very sick." Today, he writes that "In the simulation of my proposals in the chapter on matching funding to needs, I define poor as below the poverty line and I define very sick as having annual expenses over $5000 for the non-elderly and over $20,000 for the elderly. " He's right -- I'd missed it on my first read-through. Mea culpa.