Archive

  • From the NYT�s Europe-Bashing Desk

    Sweden is holding an election on Sunday, which earned it a bit of ink in the Times . The article notes that Sweden�s official unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is one of the lowest ones in Europe. It then reports the assertion of the conservative opposition candidate that its unemployment rate would be 21 percent if you add in people on disability, early retirement and in government training programs. It would be helpful if the article provided some evidence to readers to better allow them to assess the truth of this claim. Politicians are known to say things that are not true. Serious reporters do not just report one claim and then a denial. (e.g. Democrats oppose President Bush they claim he is mass murderer. The president denies the allegation.) It is not even clear what the 21 percent figure is intended to refer to. (Does it count every retiree in Sweden as being unemployed?) The OECD does make an effort to standardize measures of employment and unemployment. It reports that the...
  • Reporting Industrial Production Data

    The Fed released data for industrial production for August yesterday. The story in the media was that production had fallen by 0.1 percent in August, suggesting that the economy was slowing. Well, this is a case where more caution would be helpful. First, it is best to focus on the data for manufacturing. The other two components, mining and utlities, are very erratic. (Utility output tells you primarily about last month's weather.) Manufacturing output was unchanged in August. While this may not give a very different picture, it is worth noting that the Fed revised July's growth figure up from 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent. This means that the new report showed August output as being 0.3 percent above where we had previously believed July's output to be. I'm not saying that there has not been a slowdown in manufacturing (my guess is that there has been), but the latest data are far more ambigious than the headline number implies. --Dean Baker
  • THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.

    THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. Thanks to the folks at AmericaBlog, we have this little preview of a fun family event . Now, aside from the fact that there is no attempt by the good Christian folks at the Family Research Council to distance themselves from the odious Coulter -- who is a walking, living, breathing example of what the nuns used to call a "sin against charity" -- there are so many other wonders to behold. For example, I count at least five people -- George Allen , Sam Brownback , Mike Huckabee , Newt Gingrich , and my own governor, Mitt Romney -- who are rumored to be running for president and who come to wallow with a woman who recommends the assassination of Supreme Court justices. (Hey, Mitt. Bring Annie up here to campaign for your chosen successor, Lt. Governor Kerry Murphy O'Donoghue O'Callaghan Kathleen ni Houlihan Healey .) Not that we here at Tapped engage in guilt by association, but, wow. I hope they're selling Hazmat suits at the hotel gift shop. Also, just for fun,...
  • SOMEHOW, I DOUBT...

    SOMEHOW, I DOUBT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WILL NOTICE. This is a great post by Kevin . Over the past couple of decades, California's per capita energy usage has actually declined , even while the nation's shot up. Our smog levels have fallen and our air is cleaner. Why? Because we passed laws -- regulations -- making it so. And while the corporate community howled and promised us economic Armageddon if we dared regulate their activities, the state's done just fine. What a shocker. -- Ezra Klein
  • BUSH'S MICRO-TARGETTING SUCCESS...

    BUSH'S MICRO-TARGETTING SUCCESS AND MARKETING FAILURE. That said , I also happen to be in the corner of Boston that draws the most Washington types, and a couple of days ago it drew former AP chief political reporter Ron Fournier , Bush '04 strategist Matthew Dowd , and Democratic consultant Doug Sosnik to talk about their new book , Applebee's America: How Successful Political Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community , which grew out of the seminar Fournier taught at the Institute of Politics and which will be reviewed by E.J. Dionne in the upcoming print edition of The Prospect . A freewheeling discussion followed, and I thought Dowd's admirably candid comments in particular might be of interest to Prospect readers, since Dowd's micro-targetting initiatives were so central to Bush 's win in '04: * The old model of political affiliation, according to Dowd, is that people have stances on issue that lead them to identify with a political party, which then...
  • How Environmentalism Wrecked California's Economy

    Actually, California's economy has done pretty well over the last 30 years, yet its per capita use of electricity has barely budged. It also ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in per capita gasoline consumption. This is a striking story , given how much some politicians and economists have led us to fear regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone who takes global warming seriously should look at this article. --Dean Baker
  • PASSING THE BUCK...

    PASSING THE BUCK ON DARFUR. During this morning's press conference, the president had this to say about the United Nations and Darfur: The problem is, is that the United Nations hasn't acted. And so, I can understand why those who are concerned about Darfur are frustrated. I am. I'd like to see more robust United Nations action. What you'll hear is, "Well, the government of Sudan must invite the United Nations in for us to act." Well, there are other alternatives, like passing a resolution saying, "We're coming in with a U.N. force in order to save lives." �So you asked of levels of frustration. There's a particular level of frustration. First things first: Legally speaking, the Security Council does not need to pass another resolution to deploy peacekeepers to Darfur without Khartoum�s permission. However, the logistics on the ground in Darfur require that Khartoum grant its consent; the 17,000 troops authorized by Resolution 1706 somehow need to get to the remote region, and once...
  • A PIECE THAT NEEDED TO BE WRITTEN.

    A PIECE THAT NEEDED TO BE WRITTEN. Many , including this blog , have criticized Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol for their recent proposal to continue and expand the American military presence in Iraq. Some raised the question of whether there are actually troops available to fulfill that mission. Now, two experts have definitely answered that question. Surprise! The answer is no. Daniel Benjamin and Mich�le A. Flournoy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies write that: According to in-house assessments, fully two-thirds of the Army's operating force, both active and reserve, is now reporting in as "unready"�that is, they lack the equipment, people, or training they need to execute their assigned missions. Not a single one of the Army's Brigade Combat Teams�its core fighting units�currently in the United States is ready to deploy.... In terms of ground-force readiness, the United States is in worse shape than at any time since the aftermath of Vietnam While this renders the...
  • BOSTON BLOGGING. I'm...

    BOSTON BLOGGING. I'm spending the fall in Boston as a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy , but will still be popping over to Tapped to blog every so often. I have to say, after nine years in a Washington whose days of Democratic rule are but a distant memory (even during the late Clinton years, the town's central narratives were set by Republican attack, rather than Democratic initiatives), the most striking thing about being again in Cambridge (other than the 20 degree drop in temperature) is no longer feeling myself to be outside the political mainstream of the local community. In Washington, I've become used to being presumed to represent the left-most point on the spectrum of acceptable opinion in most every room I am in, and long ago made my peace with the frequent razzing for being a "a big lib" that comes with working at The Prospect during this era of Republican dominance. How odd then, to find a community of people here who sound...
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING....

    TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Just as his former deputy confessed to being Robert Novak 's source in the outing of Valerie Plame , Sir Colin the (Self-) Righteous came riding into the Senate on a white-paper horse (PDF), stating his moral indignation and opposition to the Bush administration's attempt to legislate the terms of its torture of so-called "enemy combatants." I must admit, like many in the media, I salivated at the specter of Karl Rove in cuffs, so perfect a villain is he. On the other hand, most reporters I know who have dealt with former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage like the man, believing him to be, in the words of one editor of a respected journal of politics, "a straight-shooter." But alas, Novak's insistence that Armitage summoned the Prince of Darkness to the State Department in order to dump those beans makes good sense. After all, the argument debunked by Joe Wilson in his famous New York Times op-ed was the one that Powell made himself before the United...

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