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  • FAKES, FRAUDS, AND...

    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. --Ezra Klein
  • BIG TROUBLE IN...

    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. If you are a Puerto Rican government employee, be that a clerk for the Supreme Court or a bus driver, you will not earn a salary for months. I don�t follow this issue closely enough to have an informed opinion, but I wonder if it would be prudent or wise for the United States federal government to bail out Puerto Rico? On the one hand, such a move might foster an unhealthy dependency on Uncle Sam. On the other, a bailout would...
  • BROTHER, CAN YOU...

    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. It did identify $2.5 billion diverted from other spending authorizations in 2001 and 2002 to prepare for the invasion." I'm fairly sure you're not allowed to "divert" money from other spending authorizations, and you're certainly not supposed to lose $4 billion in untrackable spending. Nor does it sound entirely appropriate for the Pentagon to be running its operation in such a way that the CRS can't discern the causes of 50 percent...
  • WHOSE ECONOMY? ...

    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 Post tell it , the economic numbers this quarter are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice. But macro data tells you very little about the economic experience of most folks, which accounts for the massive disconnect between how the Bush administration and the media seem to think the economy is doing (tubularly!) and the 63% of the public who think the situation fair or poor. For some more indicative numbers, head over to the Wall Street Journal , where you learn that wages and salaries grew only 0.7% over this period, while prices for U.S. consumers rose 2.7%. The labor market, which has tightened up, is seeing a weird combination of low unemployment without corresponding wage growth. The WSJ seems...
  • "AUTHENTICITY" ACT PROVIDES...

    "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. Here is some of what Crooks and Liars offers as a transcript of Allen speaking on Hardball : The thing that's good about Tony Snow is that being on talk radio ... he bring[s] the pulse of people in the real world to the White House, understanding how people react to it and whether they are on Rush Limbaugh's show or Hugh Hewitt's show or Laura Ingraham's show or who knows who, the Sean Hannity's or any other radio show -- the fact that he...
  • REBOUND. In a...

    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. (That is to say, they promised ahead of time that the final legislation would differ in specific ways from the version the House is actually going to vote on next week.) A Republican amendment to establish an independent Office of Public Integrity was prevented from getting a floor vote, while several of the most significant disclosure requirements passed by the Judiciary Committee were stripped out; this left as perhaps the key pillar of the legislation the new requirement that lobbyists file reports four times a year instead of just twice . Thus will Congress exorcise the specter of...
  • THE FULL TANK....

    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. The Times manages to restrain itself by offering one column and an editorial . I've had enough. --Matthew Yglesias
  • No Correction on Mexican Growth at the Washington Post

    To those following the issue, the Washington P ost 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. While the Post has taken a strong pro-NAFTA position on its editorial page, I wrote and continue to believe that this error was an honest mistake. The failure to correct this error after it has been called to their attention is harder to explain. (I also noted a similar error on growth in the Post's Sunday Outlook section, but we can give opinion writers more leeway.) Since the Post will make an effort to correct misspelled names in wedding announcements, it is difficult to understand its refusal to...
  • STILL DOING NOTHIN'....

    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." --Sam Rosenfeld
  • NOW THERE'S A...

    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. --Ezra Klein

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