HOUSING SLOWS. For the third month in a row, housing starts -- which is to say, the number of new residences under construction -- dropped . Interestingly, analysts had expected a very slight slowdown this month, predicting a 0.5 percent decline. The real number? 7.4 percent. Meanwhile, builder's confidence dropped from 51 in April to 45 in May -- the lowest number since 1995 -- meaning most builders now see a negative housing market. That�s not terribly good news, but so long as the market cools at a relatively calm pace, we shouldn't see any particularly catastrophic impacts.
WALLING THE BORDER. In response to Mike's query below, it's worth recalling that when Goldfinger was released in 1964, there were no restrictions whatsoever on crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. People from all over Latin America were free to just wander north as they pleased and wander back again, just as they were in 1864 or at any other time from the conclusion of the Mexican War to the Immigration Act of 1965 which first restricted movement across the southern border.
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE. In a sharp break from his recent wankery, Richard Cohen has an excellent column on John McCain today. It's interesting, though, that Cohen thinks Jerry Falwell can codify McCain a true conservative. If that's the case, and Falwell has become a gatekeeper for the ideology rather than just the Christianist voting bloc that rests in uneasy alliance with conservatism, then the word truly has lost all meaning.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems that there is an obvious flaw with President Bush's proposal to have a tamper proof identification card for guest workers. As I understand it, under his program guest workers would be required to present this ID to employers when they get a job.
The flaw in the logic is that all workers are already required to present ID to employers showing that they are either a U.S. citizen or have legal authorization to work in the United States. The problem is that the necessary documents can be readily forged, which is why so many workers are employed illegally.
RUMBLINGS FROM INSIDE THE BUBBLE. In his speech on immigration tonight, President Bush will be calling, once again, for "a tamper-proof card" to "help us enforce the law � and leave employers with no excuse for violating it." Whoever wrote this speech obviously hasn't been reading The New York Times lately, or he'd have known that the reason we don't have a tamper-proof card already is because of the self-dealing ways of a certain Kentucky Republican known to his local paper as "The Prince of Pork":
ROCK BOTTOM. Word on the street is that Larry Brown will be leaving as coach of the New York Knicks soon in order to be replaced by catastrophic general manager Isiah Thomas. Superficially, I think this move will lead to Thomas' vindication -- Brown's squad played so poorly this season that they're almost certain to do better next year as a matter of regression toward the mean. Not well, but better.
THE GREATEST AGE SINCE THE GILDED ONE. I've been debating whether to dig into John McIntyre's defense of tax cuts. It's sort of standard stuff, but the first graf is such a perfectly concise statement of the GOP's economic narrative that it deserves some real examination.
DAYS OF OLD. So of course everyone hates this Adam Nagourney Week in Review article quoting "leading Dems" who say the party would be better off not taking over either chamber of Congress in November. Actually, two arguments get made in the piece.