Archive

  • EVERYTHING OLD IS...

    EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN. There's not much to say about the latest big outbreak of sectarian violence in Iraq. Somewhat more interesting is the news buried deep in the piece that recently "American and Iraqi troops have conducted several operations against the powerful Mahdi Army militia, which is loosely under the control of the influential Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and is regarded by Sunni Arab leaders as a main force behind many sectarian reprisal killings." As you may recall, several members of Sadr's party are actually serving in the Iraqi cabinet . What's more, it was initially thought after the election that incumbent Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari was going to lose his job. Then Jafari earned the support of Sadr's party and appeared to have the support in parliament necessary to stay in office. But after much arm-twisting by the United States, Jafari was dumped after all and Nouri al-Maliki installed as Prime Minister instead. And now we -- in collaboration with armed...
  • And, You Can Read More ......

    For those who want to read more of my ramblings, I am guest blogging at the Drum Major Institute this week. --Dean Baker
  • NO ONE COULD...

    NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS. Says Danny Rubinstein in Haaretz : Israeli political sources said late last week that the aim of the military operations in the Gaza Strip and the detention of senior Hamas officials in the West Bank was to make clear to Hamas that the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be of no benefit to it. On the contrary - it will be harmful to the movement. This may be what will happen as time goes by, but in the meantime, the deteriorating security situation has considerably augmented Hamas' power. Elsewhere in the paper, Avi Issacharoff reported that there is considerable Palestinian support for more kidnappings: Of the 1,197 respondents from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 66.8 percent expressed support for further kidnappings of Israeli civilians while 77.2 percent backed the Kerem Shalom tunnel operation and subsequent kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit. Nonetheless, just 47.7 percent of those polled said they believed the...
  • FOUND IT. Some...

    FOUND IT. Some readers were wondering why I asserted last week that blog readers were more likely to be based in California than in, say, swing congressional districts. And that since they can't easily engage in local GOTV opportunities in such races, I argued that their actual electoral impact was somewhat lower than what their media profile would suggest. I'd wanted to include the link to this report in that item, but couldn't find it at first. So here it is. According to the June comScore Media Metrix study , readers of Daily Kos, the biggest liberal blog and community, are a fairly cerulean bunch: Regional skews correspond heavily to the coastal "blue state" regions. Visitors are 82 percent more likely than average to come from the Pacific region, 36 percent more likely to come from New England, and 19 percent more likely to hail from the Mid-Atlantic region. Kos readers also tended to be older and wealthier: 62 percent were over age 45, and 56 percent reported household incomes...
  • WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ORANGE ALERTS? Anyone else remember these ? Funny how we've only had one elevation of the national threat level since President Bush was re-elected, and how the last such alert based on "new and unusually specific information about where al-Qaeda would like to attack" was lowered on November 10, 2004. Since then we've had a single alert, for the rail transportation sector after the London bombings (and which was a less panic-inducing than usual, as it came with a warning that there was "no specific, credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States"). Is America really that much safer from al-Qaeda plots than it used to be? Or has the Department of Homeland Security simply changed the threshold it uses for issuing alerts? The latest news of disrupted plots hasn't been accompanied by any rises in the alert level, which makes me wonder. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • The Washington Post Argues for More High-Skilled Immigrants

    Okay, I tricked you. The Washington Post ran an article reporting that the wages of high-skilled workers in the Washington area are rising far more rapidly than the wages of less-skilled workers. It attributes this fact primarily to technology that has reduced the demand for less-skilled workers. Those who believe in market forces would see rising wages as evidence of a labor shortage. In other contexts (e.g. nurses, construction workers, custodians etc.) the Post has reported that the country needs immigrants to deal with such labor shortages. Surprisingly, this article did not include any discussion of the need for more high skilled immigrants. In fairness, the article did conclude with a brief discussion of immigration and its impact on wages. It does not attempt to reconcile the claim that wages for less-skilled workers are being driven down by technology with the claim that the country is sufficiently short of such less-skilled workers, that it desperately needs immigrants. Let...
  • The NYT Magazine on Immigration

    The NYT magazine had a pretty good piece summing up the state of the academic debate on the impact of immigration on the labor market. I have two quick observations. The piece, like the literature, largely ignores the impact of immigration on housing costs. This is important, because housing is a large chunk of people's expenditures, especially those of low wage workers, who are the focus of the discussion. Examining wages across cities and regions provides little insight if we don't adjust for differences in housing costs, since housing accounts for close to 40 percent of the consumption of low income families. A casual glance at the data suggests that there is a real issue here. Certainly housing costs have risen far more rapidly in cities with heavy concentrations of immigrants (e.g. San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami) than those with few immigrants (e.g. Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit). Second, the article is rather cavalier in its treatment of high end immigration. The author notes in...
  • Creative Stories on Wage Growth in the Washington Post

    There was a larger than expected jump of 8 cents in the average hourly wage reported for June. This left some folks scrambling for an explanation. The Washington Post found a creative one, courtesy of "some analysts." According to these analysts, the more rapid wage growth in June is partly explained by a change in the mix of jobs, with the economy losing low wage jobs in the retail sector and adding jobs in the relatively high-paying manufacturing sector. Okay, sports fans, let's check the numbers. Employment of production workers (the relevant category) in the retail sector reportedly fell by 20,000 in June. Employment of production workers in manufacturing increased by 19,000. This gives a total change in composition of 39,000. This change in composition is equal to 0.042 percent of the total employment of production workers (92,700,000). The difference in pay between manufacturing workers and retail workers is $4.25 an hour. This means that 0.18 cents of the reported increase in...
  • A TRIP DOWN...

    A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE. Each person who opposes Joe Lieberman has their own theory of when the tide started to turn against him, and why , but I date it to the speech he gave at the National Press Club on August 4, 2003. Lieberman in 2003 pioneered a raft of negative criticisms later used by Republicans against Democratic candidates, including John Kerry , at a time when the G.O.P. had not yet begun to publicly fight the '04 race. So he did not merely mouth Republican talking points -- something he's been frequently accused of doing in recent months -- but actually actively helped write them. And he laid most of them out that day at the Press Club, in a whalloping blast of a speech. Wrote Susan Page at USA Today on August 5, 2003 : "A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class ... could lead the Democrat party into the political wilderness for a long...
  • GROVERPALOOZA. Transcript yesterday,...

    GROVERPALOOZA. Transcript yesterday, audio today . Unfortunately, the sound quality at times isn�t great, but, in two installments, you can hear Grover discussing his views on the current political landscape. Tell us what you think. --Alec Oveis

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