SOMEBODY CALL A BLOGGER'S ETHICS PANEL. I have my problems with Kos, but this sort of gotcha journalism is silly. The story, as intrepid reporter Jason Zengerle has uncovered it, is this: After the news about Jerome's settled SEC case broke, Markos sent an e-mail over a closed list saying he thought the story was worthless and the best way to respond was to deny it oxygen or impact. And so he, and others, did. The e-mail could have been sent to a private CC list of the biggest bloggers, but he instead transmitted it through a semi-private message board with hundreds of members. One of the many hundreds of members forwarded the note to Zengerle, who breathlessly posted it up on the Plank. Butwaittheresmore!
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE DEFEATED. It needed 60 votes, it got 52, so for the moment, the minimum wage increase is dead. Of the eight Republicans who voted for it, four are up for reelection this year. Congrats to The New York Times, by the way, for accurately diagnosing the state of play: "While Democrats depend on organized labor to win elections, Republicans are closely aligned with business interests that oppose any increase in the federal wage floor or would like changes in the current system." Ted Kennedy has promised that the minimum wage will be among the first bits of legislation Democrats consider if they retake Congress this fall.
You won't see this headline in the newspapers. You should ask why. Newspapers have repeatedly reported on the hundreds of billions of dollars that the rich countries give to the agricultural industry. (See the Financial Times for the latest example.) While the wording of the headlines, and often the articles themselves, would lead readers to believe that this money is being paid directly from rich country governments to farmers, the vast majority of this money takes the form of higher prices that result from trade barriers of various types.
TEENAGERS? With the minimum wage returning to the forefront of the political agenda, time's ripe to knock down the oft-deployed stereotype that it just affects a bunch of teenagers. Putting aside the general incoherence of that perspective (uh, why should teenagers be paid poorly?), it's simply untrue. The best work (PDF) on this subject comes from Heather Boushey at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. She analyzed the Survey of Income and Program Participation and found:
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.