Archive

  • Big News: Arithmetic Problems at the Council of Economic Advisors

    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. If the article presented Mr. Lazear's comments accurately, then it missed the real news. Nominal wages are at best just keeping pace with inflation, leaving no room for real wage growth. From June 2005 to June 2006, the average hourly wage increased by 3.9 percent in nominal terms. From May 2005 to May 2006 (the June data is not yet available) the consumer price index increased by 4.1 percent. This means that the real...
  • MEET JOE AND...

    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. They think what Ken Lay did was bad, but hate flag-burners more. They supposedly agree with many of the Democratic Party's values, but can�t stand it when arrogant liberals speak down to them. These are the voters that Schumer believes the Democrats should target. Listen and see whether you agree ( Ezra had a few objections ). --Alec Oveis
  • BLEACHING THE WHITE...

    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.� I always find it fascinating that Republicans complain that diversity in hiring for political jobs by Democrats is done for superficial, symbolic purposes, and then turn around and pretend that they do not hire for symbolic reasons while screaming that they deserve credit for their own hiring practices. The current administration repeatedly bragged about its staffing diversity, especially before Bush �s re-election; even after the votes were in, Dan Bartlett was still...
  • NOONAN'S STILL AT...

    NOONAN'S STILL AT IT. Once every couple of weeks, I check in to see how Peggy Noonan is doing. Science doth march on, after all, and there's no telling what I may have missed on the pharmaceutical websites. This one , though, I confess, baffles my poor analytical skills. Personally, given my family's documented history with Alzheimer's Disease, I'd be perfectly happy leaving, say, stem-cell research "to devolve into the private sphere." I suspect Michael Schiavo would agree with me on general principles, too. The problem is that obstreperous public theocrats keep fastening these issues to a donkey and sending them off toward Jerusalem. And what's the rest of the argument here? Life's too short to be this complicated? And that bit about what Machiavellian liberals might try to pull on us sounds an awful lot like the basic Rovian playbook to me. Nice to see Moe's Big And Tall getting a plug, though. --Charles P. Pierce
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: HABITUAL BLINDNESS. Historian Eric Rauchway 's new book, Blessed Among Nations , argues that globalization gave particular shape to America's development as a major power a century ago and thus helps account for the country's exceptional characteristics among developed nations. (Namely, a weak central government, a skimpy welfare state, a peculiar incompetence at imperial management and global stewardship, etc.) Today, Rauchway assesses the contemporary scene and detects a troubling recurrence of some old, bad habits. --The Editors
  • ANOTHER TECHNICAL PSA....

    ANOTHER TECHNICAL PSA. Did you know that you can get an attachment for your iPod that turns it into a recording device , allowing you to record your interviews or thoughts as MP3 files transferable to your computer? Or that there are a bunch of plug-ins for Skype that let you record your VoIP to landline calls as MP3 files , also suitable for playing back whenever you like? Neither did I, until recently. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • NAMING POWER.

    NAMING POWER. I'm generally a pretty big fan of iconoclasm, but Matt 's post on the renaming of Bombay to Mumbai brought me up short. As noted by many who commented on Matt's Anglocentric approach, to the people of India, English is not simply another language; it is the language of the colonial power to which they were subject for hundreds of years. But more than that, it is the language of the people who botched the partition of the subcontinent -- a partition that resulted in the largest mass migration in history (more than 10.5 million) and an estimated 2 million deaths over a period of several weeks. Further, "Mumbai" is not a translation or corruption of Bombay (itself a corruption, as Matt notes, of the Portuguese "Bom Baim"); it is the name given the city by the people who were there when the Portuguese appropriated the land to make a city. They are not Hindi speakers, so I don't care that Hindi speakers used to call the city by its Portuguese name. And I don't think that...
  • OUT OF ORDER....

    OUT OF ORDER. Here 's some smart stuff on the burgeoning Israel-Lebanon war from Greg Djerejian . I have to say that I'm baffled as to why Israel is proceeding in this manner. I would have thought that between Hezbollah's attack on Israeli troops and Israel's decision to retaliate in such a large-scale manner, one would have seen an interim period of threats and diplomacy . After 9-11, after all, we didn't attack the Taliban right away , we first made a series of demands designed to either get what we wanted without war, or else garner larger amounts of international support for the war that eventually unfolded by demonstrating that we had no good options. After all, it at least seems possible to me that the combination of threatened military action and international diplomatic pressure could have gotten the Lebanese government -- and possibly even the Hezbollah leadership -- to back down here, since at the end of the day Israel holds all the military cards. What's more, the Hezbollah...
  • D.C., A CITY...

    D.C., A CITY TOO SMALL FOR SECRETS. A friend points me to this item in the new LieberDem blog -- I guess Joe Lieberman 's backers finally decided to fight fire with fire, launching the blog on July 6 -- by former Lieberman communications director Dan Gerstein : Of all the absurdities about the misguided campaign to purge Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party, the most striking of the moment is how many bloggers and activists from outside Connecticut authoratatively proclaim to know just what Democrats in the state believe. For example, over the July 4th weekend, the Hartford Courant published an op-ed from a young operative and blogger named David Sirota, who told Connecticut Democrats like me that Lieberman didn't represent us. In fact, Sirota went a step further, and ludicrously argued that Lieberman was not just outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, but of the American people. Now what standing and credibility does Sirota have to make either claim? Well, he spent most...
  • HILLARY'S TURN. ...

    HILLARY'S TURN. I can't be the only one discomfited by the news that Hillary Clinton is second only to the loathsome Rick Santorum on financial donations from the health services industry. The very same insurance and pharmaceutical companies Clinton once accused of "price gouging" and "unconscionable profiteering" have funneled more than $150,000 into her coffers -- funny how that works. As a whole, the health sector gave her just under $900,000 in 2005-06, no small sum. So why the turnaround? A couple possibilities: 1) The health industry fully expects that Clinton will be President in 2008 and is trying to buy their influence early. That's a possible explanation, but it doesn't explain why no other presidential contender is even in the Top 10. If the sector were trying to cover the �08 field, you'd expect George Allen or John McCain to have benefited from their largesse. 2) Clinton is willing to deal. Weirdly, her homepage lacks a "Medicare" section, and so far as I know, all her...

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