Archive

  • TALKIN' BOUT GROWTH....

    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). By contrast, even when relaying quarterly numbers, America's growth is always extrapolated into yearly terms (see here for an example). So non-economists -- which is to say, mostly everyone -- reading the NYT article would think Europe was pleased over a miserable one percent rate of growth when, in fact, the relevant number for comparison's sake would be 4 percent, nearly a full percent higher than America's average annual growth of 3.2 percent between 2002 and 2005. --Ezra...
  • YOU CANNOT KILL...

    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. Schlesinger, at this point, is little more than a Republican Green, quixotically proclaiming his superior allegiance to conservatism and doing little but holding down the margins of the "Independent Democrat" who's supplanted him. The question, of course, is whether Lieberman, in the event of a win, will dance with those that brought him. If given the opportunity to cast that deciding vote for majority leader, will he remain true to his new constituency and preserve the Republican majority? Will he try and screw over all those Democratic senators who...
  • 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 So, inflation is down by 0.04 pp from June but just 0.01 pp from April and May. Not much of a story here. Of course, those who really want to know about inflation read the CEPR price byte . BLS is going to start publishing the inflation numbers to 3 decimals beginning in January. This is a good move. -- Dean Baker
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    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. More to the point, neither of those were counterintuitive articles. The Bell Curve excerpts were social science pornography: racism dressed up in faulty but, to the layman, impenetrable data. Sullivan could have waited for the book to be peer reviewed and the methodological failings to be discovered. He didn't ( here 's another good takedown of the book, and here's my takedown of its author, Charles...
  • BATHHOUSE HISTORY.

    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. Honestly, now. Is there no respect for cultural milestones any more? If Ann needs some more background, perhaps she could go ask, you know, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. Allegedly , of course. --Charles P. Pierce
  • THE INGRATES!

    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. The great irony of this all is that if there's one thing the Republican Party does understand really well it's the psychology and politics of nationalism. They understand it, that is, in terms of U.S. domestic politics. It doesn't seem to occur to them, however, that these insights might want to be extended to how foreigners -- who are, after all, human...
  • IN DEFENSE OF COULTER BASHING.

    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. The piece already has been picked apart by both Lance Mannion and the redoubtable Bob Somerby . To the surprise of exactly nobody, of course, Mickey Kaus reads the piece, sighs deeply, lights a cigarette, and reaches for a moist towel. As Mannion, Somerby, and anyone who can read will testify, this passage is the crescendo of the stupidity: "It is a little absurd to hold up a person as an expert judge of the 9/11 Commission Report,...
  • WARS ARE BAD.

    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. This is all true. It is, however, worth pointing out that it's hardly only "Iran and its proxies" who've been marking bloody paths to the future. The United States of America and, specifically, the Bush administration also marked out a bloody path with the invasion of Iraq. It's high time that we get off that path and onto a better one. --Matthew Yglesias
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    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 TNR iest 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. How her trolling retains its effectiveness is worth mining a bit, and it's to TNR 's credit that, after publishing some killer takedowns of her last week, they're willing to let Elspeth Reeve explore the other end. Reeve argues is that a certain fraction of what emerges when liberals face down Ann Coulter has a sexist tinge to it and that, as a woman who enjoys bare knuckle political debate, she thrills to Coulter's decidedly un-lady like willingness to tear apart her assailants. That the...
  • BACK TO SCHOOL.

    BACK TO SCHOOL. From the "cure worse than the disease" panel, the longstanding controversy over whether or not Pluto (not the dog ) should be downgraded from planet to planetoid looks set to be resolved by redefining the word "planet" so as to make Pluto fit the bill. The only problem -- the asteroid Ceres, the far earth orbit object 2003 UB313, and Pluto's moon Charon would all count as planets, too under the new rules. This is reminiscent of nothing so much as the Bush administration's radical 2005 plan to alter time and seems likewise ill-advised. --Matthew Yglesias

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