BIKINI KILL. I hadn�t noticed at first, because the print is squintishly small, but the latest Vanity Fair cover takes a pretty rude and gratuitous shot at Hillary Clinton. The cover is of two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank in a white bikini kneeling in the surf, accompanied by the tag �Hey, there, HILARY!*� The asterisk references the following clarifying text: �*The Hilary you want to see in a bikini!�
MUM'S THE WORD. I just returned from the ostensible news conference at which Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, issued statements on the reasons behind their launching of a civil lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, former vice presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and 10 unnamed political operatives. I use the word "ostensible," because it seemed to me that no news was broken here, with neither of the Wilsons taking questions.
FOREHEAD GROWTH.Paul Krugmanreturns to the economics beat with an invaluable look at how our economy is growing:
Here�s what happened in 2004. The U.S. economy grew 4.2 percent, a very good number. Yet last August the Census Bureau reported that real median family income � the purchasing power of the typical family � actually fell. Meanwhile, poverty increased, as did the number of Americans without health insurance. So where did the growth go?
AND SOMEONE INVITE CHINA.Justin Logannotes a wee problem with the proposal below, namely that permanent Security Council member China isn't a member of the G-8 so, technically speaking, "The five permanent Security Council members" can't, as such, do anything at "this weekend�s Group of 8 meeting." At any rate, China doesn't normally take strong stands on these issues, so they could presumably be brought on board if everyone else could.
DISPROPORTIONATE? I keep seeing European diplomats and leaders refer to Israel's attack as "disproportionate," which seems a sort of weird criticism given that wild overreaction is pretty much the point. Israel has long operated off a fire and brimstone theory of military reprisals, deploying excessive strength in order to markedly disincentivize small attacks by their foes and neighbors. It's assymetrical warfare of an oddly inverted sort: Israel can launch massive attacks, their opponents can't, and so Israel responds to small provocations with massive responses.
I will be giving a talk on my book, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer, at Demos next Thursday at noon. The talk is free, as is the book, if you want to download it. You can the details on their website.
Economists are supposed to be good at math. It is a great honor for an economist to be appointed as head of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. For these reasons, it should be big news that the person currently holding this position apparently has problems with simple arithmetic.
According to an article carried by Dow Jones Newswire, Ed Lazear, the current chief of the Council of Economic Advisors, claimed that wage growth "seems to be taking off right now." The article reports Mr. Lazear's view that workers now seem poised to get substantial real wage gains.
MEET JOE AND EILEEN. An audio recording of yesterday�s breakfast with Senator Chuck Schumer is now available. You�ll hear he begins with a discussion of his workout regimen (the House gym, not the Senate), and from there, launches into a detailed description of his vision for a new Democratic Party. It rests largely on the WWJAED (What Would Joe And Eileen Do) principle. Who are Joe and Eileen? They're a fictional couple from Massapequa, New York, who voted Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush -- though Matt said yesterday a more accurate voting record probably would have been Perot-Clinton-Gore-Bush. They supported the war.
BLEACHING THE WHITE HOUSE. Now that former Communications Director Nicolle Wallace (nee Devenish) has left the White House political operation, the National Journal (in its July 1 issue) notes that there are only four women (Counsel Harriet Miers, Secretary of State Condi Rice, Legislative Affairs Director Candi Wolff and Personnel Director Liza Wright) among the top 20 White House posts, and that �there are no African-Americans or Asians among Bush�s inner circle of White House advisers, and only one Hispanic.�