STRAIGHT HOGWASH.John McCain stopped by the studios of Meet The Press last Sunday, where he was greeted by David Gregory, who is somewhat less of a regular on MTP than the senator is. The conversation got around to the NSA wiretapping decision last week, and the Straight Talker went right to the manure wagon. In fact, "most constitutional scholars" don't believe anything like what the senator attributes to them.
ONE FOR THE FAMILY. So, this week, we read this about our commander in chief:
He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.
HENTOFF OFF-MESSAGE. Nobody in this business has fought harder for the Bill of Rights than Nat Hentoff has, but this piece is just awful. Hentoff ought to be embarrassed to be tossing around accusations of anti-Semitism in the pages of a toy newspaper owned by Sun Myung Moon. The Great Father, after all, is on record as blaming the Holocaust on the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus.
IN AIDS NEWS.Hillary Clinton is blocking renewal of the 1990 Ryan White Act, the primary HIV/AIDS legislation covering people with low incomes and little or no insurance. The reasoning is kind of interesting: The old formula apportioned money based on the number of actual AIDS cases, heavily favoring areas like New York and San Francisco that absorbed the epidemic early on. The new formula would hand out cash based on HIV incidence rates, which would give quite a bit more to rural and Southern areas which were hit by the plague hit later and are still undergoing the transformation.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MIND MATTERS.Neil Sinhababu (everyone's favorite ethical werewolf) makes the philosophical case against Ramesh Ponnuru's views on moral status and personhood in The Party of Death. Read to find out why Ponnuru's philosophy would mean "shrug[ging] at the enslavement of hobbits, the slaughter of kittens, and the destruction of all life beyond earth."
PERPETUAL WAR. Another bizarre Bush press conference led off the week followed by another great column by Fred Kaplan. Something I note in the text of the article that Kaplan doesn't make a big deal about, though, is Bush's statement that "We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."
Good to see that reporters and my fellow economists are now discovering some of the downsides of the housing bubble. The WSJ now recognizes the problem in part, although we're still only talking about something "harder than a soft landing but softer than a hard landing." But, that's progress.
The article earns a BTP goat prize for failing to note that current house price indices are failing to pick up the full decline in prices because they miss the various concessions (seller paid closing costs, buyer-side realtor bonuses, and seller subsidized mortgages) that sellers often use to move their houses.
NPR ran a piece this morning on �counterfeiting� in China. (Anyone who heard the story knows that NPR disapproves of the practice being discussed, but the term that neutral reporters use is �unauthorized copying.�)
The segment included no economic analysis of the practice, which would point out many of the benefits of unauthorized copies. The segment included no discussion of the relative quality of the authorized copies. Nor did the segment even clarify the extent to which the unauthorized copies are genuinely counterfeit products. (The goods are only genuine counterfeits if the consumers believe that they are buying the brand whose products are being copies.)
As I have noted before (see �Missing Fact on British Health Care,� May 7, 2006), the New York Times feels the need to periodically run articles on the health care crises in countries with universal health care systems. These articles never make comparisons to the health care situation in the United States, which might help readers put the articles in some context.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TANF TURNS TEN. On this, the 10th anniversary of welfare reform, we've posted two articles assessing a decade of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. From our March print issue, Chrisopher Jencks, Scott Winship, and Joseph Swingleanalyze what went right (or at least, better than feared) and what may still go wrong.