INFORMATION! RUN! HIDE! I was kind of skeptical of the whole concept underlying The Democratic Strategist when it first launched, but Scott Winship's blog posts are rapidly becoming a vital -- and all-too-unbloggish -- source of actual empirical information. For example, during various recent blog wars it had occurred to me to hypothesize that both the Netroots and its enemies on the center-left were dramatically overstating the former's potential to influence things in the real world, as opposed to its salience in the media.
The initial reports on the Fed's release of consumer credit data for May focused on the slow 2.4 percent annual rate of growth reported for the month. This reporting misses the boat.
There are two major components to consumer credit. The non-revolving component is primarily car loans. This component fell at a 2.0 percent annual rate, reflecting weak car sales.
The other component is revolving credit. This is primarily credit card debt. This component rose at 9.9 percent annual rate in May. This is a sharp acceleration from earlier this year, when revolving debt was actually declining.
SWM ISO BIG IDEAS.Andrei Cherny and Ken Baer's latest op-ed on the power of ideas makes me want to bang my head against a wall -- which isn't a new idea, but an old one that should probably be implemented more often.
THE POLITICS OF DISLIKE I was going to let the latest Jon Chaitcolumn on Lieberman pass, as I think enough pixels have been spilled on this point, but I'm just baffled by his defense of the piece, which seems to take the weakest parts of the original document and exaggerate its flaws.
NO MUSIC FOR YOU. So you know how if you're listening to the radio you're allowed to record what you're listening to onto a tape? So, seemingly, if you're listening to digital radio, you should be allowed to record what you're listening to onto a digital file. So, at least, that�s what XM and Sirius Radio believe. But Bill Frist and the RIAA feel otherwise and are pushing a bill to ban such devices:
THE NORQUIST FACTOR. After being wrong about a couple of things, Jon Chait's post winds up getting to the heart of the problem with the Netroots -- the admiration for their image of what Grover Norquist has done and the desire "to replicate on the left the comintern-like apparatus he has constructed on the right." As Chait writes:
POLITICS OVER POLICY. Like Mike Crowley, I'm pleased to see Hillary ClintonjoiningRuss Feingold in one of the great nonsensical issues of our time: the fight to connect congressional raises to increases in the minimum wage. On a policy level, this is absurd on its face. If you want to link the minimum wage to something, inflation, the cost of living, increases in productivity, or even CEO salaries all make far more sense. And I'm of the slightly counterintuitive view that congresspeople should be paid far more as is, so I'm not terribly impressed with legislation that would constrain their salaries.
I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. I'm happy to see Sebastian Mallabygiving a big ol' backhand to his colleague Robert Samuelson's column on why only the engineers can save us from global warming. As Mallaby points out, the engineers ain't gonna do jack if government doesn't regulate and tax the incentives into place. Subsidies for new technologies are fine, but the bottom line is that conservation -- both to extend the life of our hydrocarbons and lower the temperature of our planet -- is going to be the name of the game here, as the market will lag in syncing prices to future damages.