ABOUT THOSE INSURGENTS. "The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war," reports The New York Times, "offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Previous expert commentary on the insurgency:


    TALKIN' BOUT GROWTH. This is a great catch over at Dean Baker's blog (which TAP, I should remind you, now has the honor of hosting). Baker noticed The New York Times writing about Europe's 1 percent growth rate -- a pathetic, anemic figure, that supports all the conservative crowing about the failure of the social democratic system. Except that the NYT, for God knows what reason, reported Europe's growth only in quarterly terms, and never contextualized it into a yearly rate (the standard measure for growth).


    YOU CANNOT KILL JOE, YOU CAN ONLY MAKE HIM STRONGER. The latest polling out of Connecticut shows Joe Lieberman beating Ned Lamont by 12 points, 53-41 percent. The "actual" Republican in the race, Alan Schlesinger, is being demolished, clocking in at a mere four percent. Even more telling, though, are the internals. Lieberman gets a full 75 percent of the Republican vote, making him, for all intents and purposes, the Republican nominee.

  • Premature Celebrations on Inflation

    The press treated it as big news that inflation in the core CPI came in at 0.2 percent in July after being 0.3 percent in each of the prior 4 months. The celebration may be premature. While there is some evidence of easing price pressure in the data (lower medical care inflation stands out in this regard), most of the story in July's lower inflation was a 1.2 percent drop in apparel prices. Apparel prices are always erratic, and it is very unlikely that a drop of this size will be repeated. If we construct a non-apparel core CPI, here is what it would have shown since February:

    Feb -- 0.209
    Mar -- 0.310
    April -- 0.278
    May -- 0.279
    June -- 0.307
    July -- 0.268


    IN DEFENSE OF MY DEFENSE OF... Since I'm back in my on-again, off-again role as TNR defender, let me say a couple things in response to Charlie: First, we need to be clear on which circle of counterintuitive hell we're occupying at any given moment. Reeve's defense of Coulter is not the sort of impulse that gave rise to Betsy McCaughey's smear against health care, or the magazine's excerpts of The Bell Curve. What allowed those two atrocities has a name: It's Andrew Sullivan, who edited the magazine during that era and still claims those two pieces as top accomplishments on his bio.


    BATHHOUSE HISTORY. I do thank Ezra for linking to an earlier Kaus post about the Beinart-Coulter slapfest on Larry Kudlow's show, if only because it pointed out another area in which la Coulter knows next to nothing. Here she is, fuming in response to something Beinart said about her anti-gay bigotry:

    MS. COULTER: "Wait. Where are all those heterosexual bathhouses? I must have missed that period of the '70's.


    THE INGRATES! I find it troubling that the president seems to be grossly ignorant of how the world works: "the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd." Well, I'm frustrated too. Maybe Bush should consider the possibility that his policies are really, really dumb and are based on a totally unrealistic assessment of the situation in Iraq and the Arab world more generally, and that a wholesale reconsideration of them is well overdue.


    IN DEFENSE OF COULTER BASHING. I want one of our own youngsters to explain to me (again) how The New Republic should be taken seriously any more by anyone with the intellect of a hamster. (Hey, Ezra tried! Cool.) At the top, we have Crazy Marty and, down below, an assortment of earnest young enablers who have difficulty finding their way to both common sense and the recruiting office. The latest eruption comes from someone named Elspeth Reeve, who has decided that my gal, Annie Coulter, is the rebellious, gun-totin' queen of the Counter-Establishment.


    WARS ARE BAD. David Ignatius gets smart and eloquent:

    There's fear within the administration that this sort of American peacemaking will further traumatize the Israelis in the painful aftermath of the Lebanon conflict. But the best way to keep faith with Olmert is to build on the premise that led him to resist the generals' demands for a wider war: The way out of the Middle East mess is through political agreements, not unilateral moves or quixotic military campaigns. Iran and its proxies have been marking one bloody path to the future; America and its allies must work urgently to construct an alternative.


    IN DEFENSE OF IN DEFENSE OF ANN COULTER. Not to get too deep into the weeds on this, but I'm going to break with Duncan here and defend TNR's defense of Ann Coulter (which is, surely, the TNRiest article of all time). Coulter is less a political force nowadays than some sort of bizarre rorschach atop which we dump our worst impulses and greatest rages. I don't know a single person who believes she's anything less than a talk show vaudeville act, yet she remains prominent in the conversation.