THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT: LIBERAL, ANTI-WAR, AND ELITE. Over at Slate , Bossman Tomasky has a riposte to Jacob Weissberg 's " Lamont as McGovern " piece . As Mike stresses, the evidence beyond Connecticut of a destructive intra-party revolt against hawkish and/or "moderate" Democrats is basically non-existent. Elsewhere on the Weissberg pushback front, Matt and many others point out that Weissberg's conflation of Iraq War opposition with unseriousness about terrorism is close to the opposite of correct. I should say, I happen to be very pessimistic about the possibilities of anti-war politics succeeding. Three days out of the week, I tend to think that even given a war that is both clearly failing and actually unpopular , the prospects for success of an opposition party that takes up the dovish line in the face of classic American war demagoguery are basically doomed. And given that I don't consider faking support for a catastrophic war opposed by large majorities of one's own...

    FINALLY, THE LIBERAL MEDIA PULLS THROUGH. Greg flags a really noteworthy news article today. Kudos to the press! --Sam Rosenfeld

    TERRORISM PLOT: PAKISTAN'S PR OFFENSIVE. In the 24 hours that have passed since the world learned of the alleged plot to blow a number of airliners bound from London to the United States, I have been taken with the pains to which officials have gone to highlight the reported role of Pakistani intelligence operatives in cracking the plot. What raised my antennae when the praise of Pakistan commenced is the well-known role of the official Pakistani intelligence operation in the care and feeding of both al Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban, with which coalition forces are now engaged in a fierce guerrilla conflict. It has been widely reported in the South Asian press that Gen. Mahmood Ahmed , who headed Pakistan's Inter-Services Directorate (ISI) -- the Pakistani counterpart to our CIA -- during the 9-11 attacks had ties to the plotters, and may have even provided them with cash. Although Ahmed was dismissed after it was suspected that he tipped off the Taliban to a coming U.S. offensive,...

    HE FORGOT ABOUT SYRIA. The worst reaction to the GOP�s politicization of terrorist attacks is to whine about them politicizing it . Second worst is to merely suggest that the opposition needs to attack, rather than whine. Best of all is to actually attack , like Fred Kaplan , who notes that Bush has spent years pissing away opportunities for the sort of international intelligence-gathering operations that foiled the recent British airplane plots. Let me add that while the administration isn't interested in getting Syria's help in rolling up al-Qaeda, it's important to recall that it does favor illegally detaining people to send them to illegal facilities, where they'll be illegally tortured until they cough up inaccurate information that can be used as the basis for the next round of shenanigans. --Matthew Yglesias

    LOOKING FOR MODERATES IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. If you want to see some rightwingery that's really no stupider than your average rightwingery, but a good deal more dangerous , look here and elsewhere on the Corner for yesterday's giant series of posts slamming the Council on American Islamic Relations . The basic dynamic is something any liberal should be familiar with -- CAIR has some political disagreements with George W. Bush and has expressed them in public statements. For their trouble, they're subjected to a smear campaign casting aspersions on their motives, etc., etc., etc. At the same time all this attacking is going down, attacker in chief Katherine Jean-Lopez keeps making noises about "moderate Muslims." But wake up -- these are the moderate Muslims . You can agree or disagree with CAIR about the term "Islamic fascists" -- I find it more mind-bogglingly stupid than anti-Islamic -- as much as you like, but at the end of the day this list of chapters is not a series of terror...

    IMMIGRATION AND EMPLOYMENT. The Pew Center goes looking for evidence that immigration costs native born Americans jobs and can't find any . --Matthew Yglesias
  • More "Entitlement" Nonsense at the Post

    Yet again the Post reports on the threat posed by �entitlement� spending, referring to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. To quickly repeat myself, this is dishonest. There are modest and manageable increases in projected Social Security spending due to the aging of the population. There are unmanageable projected increases in Medicare and Medicaid expenditures due to a projected explosion in health care costs. If the projected explosion in health care costs proves accurate, then it will devastate the economy, and cause serious budget problems. Honest people respond to these projections by examining ways to prevent the explosion in health care costs. Less honest people talk about the need to cut entitlement spending, including Social Security. Next month we start a new fundraising vehicle for CEPR. We want people to pledge a certain amount (e.g. 5 cents, 50 cents, etc.) for every time the Post runs an article/column warning about entitlement spending (: -- Dean Baker
  • Wrong Experts on Inflation and Unemployment

    The Times had an article examining the prospects of the Fed being able to successfully bring down the inflation rate, without also inducing a recession. While it is a thoughtful piece, the two experts whose views dominate the article, Robert Gordon and Lawrence Meyer, have the distinction of having been proven completely wrong on this topic by the events of the nineties. Both were prominent inflation hawks in the mid/late nineties, arguing that low unemployment would trigger an outbreak of accelerating inflation. In fact, Meyer, who was a Fed governor at the time, led an unsuccessful campaign to force Greenspan to raise interest rates to slow the economy and raise the unemployment rate. Of course, the unemployment rate continued to fall through the late nineties, and there was no noticeable uptick in the inflation rate for most of the decade. This failure doesn�t mean that Gordon and Meyer�s views should be ignored, both have done extensive research on this topic. But, given the track...
  • Trade Deficits and Living Standards

    The modest drop reported in the trade deficit in June is good news, the current deficit is unsustainable. A declining trade deficit will also help to boost economic growth, as noted in a Times article this morning. However, the article missed an important part of the story. Growth due to a declining trade deficit does not directly translate into improving living standards in the United States. For example, if the economy grows 3 percent next year, but 2 percentage points of this growth is due to a falling trade deficit, then domestic demand (consumption, investment, and government spending) can only increase by 1 percent. If employment grows by 1 percent (a modest 1.4 million rate of job creation), this means that wages, on average, do not rise. In short, a declining trade deficit has the same effect on living standards as a tax increase; we will be able to see less of what we produce. This �tax increase� will come in the form of rising import prices, which will add to inflation, or...

    JOE AND THE STOCK OPTIONS. In between writing a bunch of frightening posts about the bursting housing bubble , Dean Baker took some time out yesterday to remind us of Joe Lieberman 's ignominious and highly consequential '90s-era role in getting the Financial Accounting Standards Board to back down from requiring that stock options be treated as expenses against profit. This story won't be news to a lot of readers, but Dean's pithy account offers a nice little reminder that the senator's domestic policy record isn't as uncheckered or unimpeachably liberal as his defenders have asserted. (It certainly offers a nice counterpoint to the emerging, crazy narratize pitting Lunch Pail Joe and the hearty blue collar base he embodies against a bunch of namby-pamby elite liberals.) Take a look. --Sam Rosenfeld