I was struck by the reporting on the increases that the Commerce Department reported for March consumer spending and the personal consumption expenditure deflator (PCE). Both figures were presented as being higher than expected. It seems that the financial markets were surprised by the news, since the yield on 10-year treasury bills rose by 6 basis points.
The reporting on the release of the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees reports was better this year than in the past, but still not very informative. Most reports did not include the context that would have made the information understandable to most readers/viewers.
MEMO TO THE CORNER: DON�T APPROPRIATE MY NEIL YOUNG! Just so John J. Millerknows, �Rocking in the Free World� did indeed capture the spirit of 1989, but not of jubilation after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The album it appeared on, Freedom, was released before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And if he bothered to read the lyrics, he would notice that the song describes urban decay following eight years of the Reagan presidency and at the dawn of George H.W. Bush�s first and only term.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.Robert Zoellick is en route to Abuja, Nigeria, to try and rescue stalled negotiations between the Darfuri rebel groups and the government of Sudan. The Darfur rebels want a peace accord that loosely resembles the Comprehensive Peace Accords signed in January 2005, which gave the Southern rebels the vice president�s office in the national government and paved the way for autonomy in six years. This kind of deal seems to be a non-starter for Khartoum, so the rebels, who do not speak with one voice, have broken away from negotiations.
COLBERT: EVERYONE'S GOT AN OPINION. Unlike everyone else across the ideological spectrum who's weighing in on this, I refuse to open my Stephen Colbert commentary by saying I'm a "huge fan" of his show or whatever. I think the show's okay, but it's got an inconvenient time slot, so I've only really seen maybe five or six episodes. And, despite that fact, I'd already heard a lot of the jokes he made. That seems a little lame to me. The John McCain bit, however, which I hadn't heard before is great satire: "John McCain is here. John McCain, John McCain, what a maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. This guy could have used a spoon!
JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH. See Max Sawicky's post for some brief thoughts and a great early round-up of links to comments across the internets. On top of his many, many, many other accomplishments, Galbraith was a founding sponsor of this magazine -- and the Prospect's core ideological mission certainly owes a great deal to the man and his work.
ALLEN: ENSLAVING PEOPLE IS BAD.George Allen says he's sorry about the whole slavery thing in a Washington Post article that mentions Ryan Lizza's look at his curious racial past. The Post article, though, is unclear on the really noteworthy part of Lizza's story, which is that Allen isn't some white Southern politician who used to be a racist and isn't anymore. Allen's not from the South and neither is his family. He picked up his Stars and Bars loving ways growing up in California.
WHEN WILL REPORTERS ASK ABOUT TYLER DRUMHELLER? Number of White House press briefings held since Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year veteran of the CIA and most recently head of European covert operations, told CBS's 60 Minutes that the White House ignored the fact that a top member of Saddam's inner said Iraq had no active WMD program: Five.
Number of questions the White House press corps has asked about Drumheller's revelation: Zero.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: THREE YEARS LATER. Three years is a long time, so it's no surprise that late last week there were once again press reports that a drawdown of American forces in Iraq was in the works. But, of course, we've heard that at least half a dozen times since the end of "major" combat operations. This account of building mock Iraqi villages in the Mojave desert so troops can practice fighting insurgents certainly doesn't sound like the sort of thing a military on its way out would be doing.
MESSAGE DISCIPLINE! Remember the Republicans' once legendary capacity for staying collectively on-message and coordinating their talking points? Yesterday, Bush administration officials and GOP senators hit the Sunday chat shows to talk up the party�s bold new steps to address rising gas prices. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman showed up on Meet the Press and, in nearly the same breath, described the President�s plan to suspend contributions to the strategic petroleum reserve as �an effort to ...