FUN WITH INFLATION. Man, monetary policy is the most boring subject ever. Nevertheless, it's utterly, crucially important to people's lives. Ergo, it's worth pointing out that Robert Samuelson's column on why we must fear inflation is bunk. As he notes, the trouble with inflation is "that inflationary psychology, once embedded in price- and wage-setting practices, is stubborn and destructive." But the thing about the current rise in inflation is that wages haven't been rising above trend productivity growth. Quite the reverse -- productivity has risen much faster than wages over the current economic cycle.
HOLY JOE'S BLASPHEMY. My colleague Harold Meyerson has a nice column today dissecting a particularly astonishing comment by Joe Lieberman. The Holy Nutmegger told David Broder that this election is really a referendum on tolerance. Is the Democratic Party big enough to support pro-war views? If not, then they will die, as have all parties that demanded some sort of basic ideological agreement. Harold cries that "I thought that elections were held to enable voters to choose between candidates espousing different points of view on the most important issues.
CREDIT.Hillary Clinton hasn't let her routine spats with the blogosphere stand in the way of good policy: She's come out as cosponsor of a strong net neutrality bill. This, by the way, is evidence of why nothing she does to the blogs or the blogs do to her is particularly dangerous over the long haul. If Clinton wins the primary, the netroots will still unite around her because, of the two candidates, she's the one most likely to govern in a way they can stomach. And she'll welcome them into the fold, because they bring cash and energy. There'll be some grumbling, sure.
AT LAST, SOME SENSE. So House Republicans have opted to nix any real chance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year in favor of holding purely political hearings on border security in select regions this summer. That makes some sense. The way the immigration fight (largely among Republicans) has unfolded this year -- particularly the President's bizarre insistence on publicly pushing a policy that's very unpopular within his party without expending any real effort to twist arms -- has been genuinely baffling to behold. Wedge politics and targeted demagoguery in an election season is a whole lot easier to understand.
BIG IDEAS. It's sadly locked behind The New York Times cursed subscription wall, but Maureen Dowd has penned one of the best op-ed columns I've read in months. The context is yesterday's launch luncheon for Democracy, where Andrei Cherny, Ken Baer, Bill Kristol, Francis Fukuyama, and Mike Tomasky batted around the worth of "Big Ideas." Cherny recalled a conversation with a conservative pundit who asked, "Who's on your tie?" Apparently, the Reaganites signaled their seriousness by using Edmund Burke and Adam Smith as neckwear.
WHEN PRINCIPLE MATTERS. See, man, you try to insert a little nuance into your argument and the young punks jump all over you. But here's the rub -- on issues that are going to be before Congress one way or another, principles don't really matter. Does Joe Lieberman really think the Employee Free Choice Act is important, or is he just pandering to a key liberal interest-group? I don't care. What matters in this instance is that he'll vote for it. It seems that he will, and that's all to the good.
THE MAGAZINE READER. Is the age of small magazines once again upon us? And has Washington become America's new intellectual center? Washington certainly is looking like the new Boston this week, with the launch of The Democratic Strategist, an online journal, and the aforementioned journal Democracy. Indeed, the city looks, in particular, to be entering an era of intellectual ferment on the left (and center-left) the likes of which it has not seen in some time.
PRINCIPLES. I generally agree with Matt's article today, particularly his conclusion that principles are "only good if your principles are the right ones." But he seems to be contradicting himself here:
MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN. I've avoided commenting on the apparently deteriorating situation in Afghanistan because I don't understand the dynamics over there very well, but it is worth noting that the situation certainly does seem to be getting bad: "Suspected Taliban guerrillas in the southern province of Helmand ambushed and killed 32 people on Sunday, all of them relatives and tribesmen of an influential member of Parliament, among them a former local government official, the legislator said Monday."
I COME NOT TO BURY DEMOCRACY, BUT TO PRAISE IT. Like Matt, it wasn't my intent to greet Cherny and Baer's new magazine with a negative post, it just happened that I wandered into an article that I had to hack my way back out of. So let me take the opposite tack now and highly recommend Gar Alperovitz's piece on a progressive ownership society. He goes through the usual -- though undoubtedly important -- asset-building stuff, but I'm more interested in his rundown on employee-owned corporations, of which there are now nearly 12,000, with some mega-companies boasting revenue in the billions.