FAKES, FRAUDS, AND SO FORTH.This is brilliant. Dennis Hastert and a couple other Republican politicians held a press conference at a local gas station to protest, or pander, or otherwise mention the rise in gas prices. As part of the optics, they drove away in hydrogen powered cars -- conservation is king! A few blocks later, some enterprising photographer snapped a picture of Hastert disembarking his greenmobile for a gas-burning, black SUV that drove him the few blocks back to the Capitol.
BIG TROUBLE IN PUERTO RICO. Has anyone noticed that Puerto Rico is going out of business? I haven�t been following this very closely, but apparently the Puerto Rican government has been unable to agree on a budget since 2004, so they�ve been using the 2004 budget while the debt keeps increasing. On Monday, the commonwealth will simply run out of money, leaving the 1.6 million people who are on public health insurance without coverage. Worse, the commonwealth�s public employees, who make up 30% of the island�s total workforce, will go unpaid. This is crazy.
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE $4 BILLION?This article on revised Congressional Research Service estimates of spending on the Iraq War is pretty dull until the end, but then it starts to get interesting. The report apparently contains such phrases as "These factors, however, are not enough to explain a 50-percent increase of over $20 billion in operating costs" and "These reasons are not sufficient, however, to explain the level of increases." Relatedly, the Post reports that "Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked.
WHOSE ECONOMY? There are reports out this morning of some high-powered economic numbers this quarter, including a 4.8% rise in the GDP. It's just so awesome! I'm always a bit impressed -- or maybe depressed -- by the superficiality of economic reporting though. To hear the Washington Posttell it, the economic numbers this quarter are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice.
"AUTHENTICITY" ACT PROVIDES COVER FOR PANDERING TO THE RIGHT.Kevin Drum aptly observes that the press corps shouldn't allow itself to be snookered by George Allen's authenticity schtick the way it got snowed by John McCain's rendition of the same act back in 2000. Let me add another point about this. The key to this game, as practiced by Allen, McCain and George Bush, is that it has a pernicious underside: The "regular-guy" schtick is crucial partly because it provides cover for the politician in question to pander relentlessly to the right.
REBOUND. In a last minute turnaround, House GOP leaders struck a deal with rebelling appropriators late yesterday and narrowly revived their lobbying reform package. A vote is set for next week. Leaders won over the Appropriations Committee members by assuring them that an extension of earmark reforms to the authorizing and tax committees would be added in conference negotiations with the Senate.
THE FULL TANK. Err . . . I've been having some trouble dreaming up things to write about lately, but does my morning Washington Post really need not one, not two, but three columns on gas prices? Turns out there's a lot of political posturing going on. Who knew? But in case you missed the message, there's also an unsigned editorial making the point.
To those following the issue, the Washington Post still has not corrected the error in its reporting on Mexico's post NAFTA growth rate ("Mexican Deportee's U.S. Sojourn Illuminates Roots of Current Crisis," 4-17-06:A1). My April 18th post noted that the growth data reported in this article implied that Mexico had enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of 17.5 percent a year in the post-NAFTA era, which would be a world record. The IMF data show Mexico's growth rate at a weak 2.9 percent.
STILL DOING NOTHIN'.Faux lobbying reform bogs down in the House. The total collapse of the Republicans' legislative capacity is quite remarkable. John Boehner really needs to trot out some of those awesome Famous People quotes he included in his goofball "For a Majority that Matters" manifesto and get his caucus in line. Perhaps Walt Disney's would work: "Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal."
NOW THERE'S A BOLD PLAN. It seems almost too obvious to point out, but if the White House press secretary's job is to build favorable coverage for an administration too often seen as opaque and insular, it's probably a bad idea to ban all television cameras from the press room, thereby infuriating reporters and further closing off the administration's public accessibility. Now, to be fair, doing so would certainly fit in with Fred Barnes' second piece of advice to Tony Snow, "be willing to be disliked," but I had no idea Barnes was searching for such self-fulfilling pieces of advice.