Archive

  • SADAT'S NEPHEW GETS IN TROUBLE.

    SADAT'S NEPHEW GETS IN TROUBLE. The 25-year anniversary of the assassination (video link) of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat passed last Friday without much hoopla here in Cairo. Many journalists, including my friend Zvika Krieger , used the occasion to reflect on Sadat's major legacy: the Camp David Accords . Sadat's nephew Talaat , for his part, has made a splash here by suggesting in different venues that current President Hosni Mubarak was involved in the assassination, and that the military guard looked the other way. A deputy in the Egyptian People's Assembly, Talaat had his parliamentary immunity stripped for making such allegations (slandering or otherwise insulting the president is a crime in Egypt) on an Al-Arabiya talk show. He also claims that the U.S. and Israel were in on the plot. The younger Sadat's trial began Wednesday in a military court (because he "insulted" the military in his comments). In an ironic twist, his lawyer is Montasser al-Zayyat , who was once the...
  • Lack Skills, But Need a Good Paying Job? Call the NYT

    Yes, Thomas Friedman is back (it's Times Select, so there's no linking). Mr. Friedman reports that voters want energy independence, but they are not prepared to support higher gas or BTU taxes. Instead he tells us that they want higher mileage standards and energy use regulations of the sort put in place by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Friedman's source on what voters support is Democratic political advisors James Carville and Stan Greenberg, who he tells us "are are professional campaign advisers. They get paid to get people elected � not to offer feel-good nostrums." Actually, I thought that people get elected by offering feel good nostrums. (They certainly don't have to offer to worry about tough analyses from the likes of Mr. Friedman.) In fact, the California regulations, while a step in the right direction, will not get us close to energy independence. We will have to go much further than these regulations, and maybe have a target date of something like 2050,...
  • A NEW CHAMP.

    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....

    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. Which made his post something of a surprise given that lbiertarians are not, shall we say, particularly inclined to agree with Tom's prescriptions. For instance, Tom blasts Democrats for supporting NAFTA, complaining that it's "a perfect example of how not to flag plant [build your...
  • NO SPACE TO FILL.

    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. Indeed, Hillary�s decision to position herself in the center-right of the party set the stage for Warner�s fall and John Edwards �s rise in this year�s sorting of Democratic presidential hopefuls. Her positions on the largest economic questions, particularly her advocacy of education, broadly defined, as the solution to the dislocations of globalization, anchor her firmly in the Robert Rubin wing of the party. Her don�t-rock-the-boat-too-much-capsizing-though-it-be position on Iraq, while by no means close to Joe Lieberman �s embrace of administration policy, still puts her...
  • WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH VERMONT?

    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? UPDATE: That was fast! Tom called to say he screwed up when looking at the spreadsheet and Bush's number in Vermont in fact declined (rather than increased) by 10.3 percent between 2000 and 2004. That answers that. (And, obviously, makes more sense.) --Sam Rosenfeld
  • MARK DOWN.

    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. Who is the big winner in all of this? Al Gore , because the Hillary -alternative crowd now has one fewer choices on the menu. John Edwards is still there, too, of course. If Gore is smart he�ll invite Edwards down to Tennessee and ask him to put together a Democratic �greatest hits� ticket from 2000 and 2004: The better of the two presidential candidates and the better of the two veep running mates. Gore-Edwards in...
  • LIBERTARIANS AND DEMS.

    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. (See my review here .) But Bush�s margins went up in 2004 over 2000, snorts Ezra. True enough, and let�s use George W. Bush�s 3-point national improvement as a benchmark to examine states where the Bush-over- John Kerry margins declined relatively -- that is, where Bush�s margins over Kerry were either smaller than his 2000 margins over Al Gore in absolute terms, or grew by 3 points or less and thus were less in relative terms. Turning first to states Bush lost both times but by wider margins in 2004, we find 12 usual suspects, most of them from the northeastern corridor: New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York,...
  • 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. Most of the bad things people like to say about budget deficits are also true of trade deficits. Large deficits are unsustainable; they provide a temporary boost in living standards at the expense of the living standards of future generations. Unfortunately, the much bigger problem of the trade deficit gets considerably less attention than the budget deficit. --Dean Baker
  • 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

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