CHICKENS COUNTED PRE-HATCHING. As best as I can make out, the mandate of John Nichols' blog for The Nation is to be preternaturally optimistic about the prospects for left-wing activism, but I think his post arguing that Nedraline could put Russ Feingold in the White House is missing a whole bunch of steps. Realistically, Hillary Clinton is no Joe Lieberman in terms of political profile, even though I agree that their views on Iraq are less different at the end of the day than Clinton would like us to think.
TROTTING OUT CHERTOFF. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday made the rounds of the Sunday shows, once again proving his status as an administration toady, and one with no apparent interest in keeping you and me safe from the designs of terrorists.
THE NETROOTS AND DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM.Noam Scheiber argues that despite the mutual loathing between leading blogger-activists and, say, the leadership of the DLC, the natural ideological tendency of the netroots is New Democrat-style neoliberalism rather than labor-liberal economic populism. Why? Demographics. Netroots activists have a New Dem demographic profile -- relatively affluent, relatively well-educated -- and everything follows from that.
IN RETROSPECT.... The good news over the weekend is that the relevant parties have reached a cease-fire agreement that will be better for Israelis and Lebanese alike than continued fighting would have been. The bad news is that, as skeptics like me have been saying from the beginning, pretty much nobody with the exception of Hassan Nasrallah is better off than they would have been had this major incursion not happened in the first place.
IN PRAISE OF NEW IDEAS. For columnists, that is. Over the weekend, The Los Angeles Times's Gregory Rodriguezfretted that Democrats were looking to the Iraq war to save their party when what they really needed were Big Ideas. Call it the conventional wisdom remix, with Rodriguez's new beat being his concern that Democratic rhetoric on Iraq will foster debilitating political divisions and destabilize support for government as a whole.
THE DIVE THEY DIDN'T NEED TO TAKE. Over the weekend, there was some more dust kicked up about the decisions that The New York Times made concerning the timing of the publication of its groundbreaking story regarding the administration's domestic surveillance program. Editor And Publisherpretty much argues here that the Times took a dive so as not to affect the outcome of the election. Now, I happen to think that's one of the worst excuses short of bribery for holding a story. If you think you've unearthed news to which people have a right, then you're supposed to affect the election.
NEWT'S RETURN. Of all the conservative writers who emerged from The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson by far was my favorite. Which is why I summon up his valedictory to Speaker Newt Gingrichhere in the context of Gingrich's sudden reemergence channeling Charles Martel through the voice of Kermit The Frog.
The biggest sin that the Greenspan sainthood proponents must sweep under the rug is his failure to do anything about the stock market bubble. There are 3 questions here that the critics and worshippers must address:
1) Could it have been recognized?
2) Did it actually do the economy serious harm?
3) What could have been done?
These questions are loosely touched on by a worshipper�s ((Daniel Drezner) review of a critic�s (Peter Hartcher) book in the Post book review section. The worshipper comes up seriously short in his assessment.
As I mentioned in a prior note, house prices may be dropping in ways that are not picked up by price indices because the indices all use the contracted sale price. Currently sellers are using a variety of kickbacks that reduce the effective price below the sale price.
Today's Washington Post has a good example. Centex, a major national builder, has a full-page ad (sorry ads don't appear in the web edition) offering mortgages at well below the market rate, plus closing cost assistance. (The difference on the 30-year is about 0.8 percentage points.) The ad also promises realtors a $5,000 bonus. So, on a $400,000 home, these incentives could easily come to 5 percent of the purchase price.
IS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING? Via Billmon by way of The Arabist, I see that apparently 30 percent of Americans, according to a new survey, can't recall what year 9-11 happened. And five percent don't remember the day and month of 9-11. As Billmon asks, "I wonder how many of them know who's buried in Grant's tomb?"