Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Is Inequality a Concommitant of Rapid Growth?.
Greg Mankiw writes to the New York Times: To the Editor: Your chart
about the percentage of income earned by the top 0.1 percent of
taxpayers was fascinating, but "Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far
Behind" failed to draw the obvious conclusions from it. The data show
that the rich take a rising share of income when the economy is
booming, such as during the 1920's and 1990's. Their share declines
when the economy hits hard times, such as during the Great Depression
and the most recent recession. The rich took their smallest slice of
the economic pie during the 1970's - a period when productivity growth
was low and unemployment and inflation were rising. Here's the lesson:
If policy makers' primary goal is to reduce income inequality, they
should put the economy through the wringer. But if they want economic
prosperity for all, they should avoid focusing on the politics of envy.
N. Gregory Mankiw Cambridge, Mass., June 5, 2005 The writer, a
professor of economics at Harvard University, was chairman of President
Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005. Well, let's see. Let's
take the state-of-the-art data on income inequality from Emmanuel Saez
and Thomas Piketty (2003), "Income...
[Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal]
Liberal Think Tank Outlines National Security Strategy.
Nico Pitney | Washington, DC | June 7
Think Progress - Today the American Progress National Security Team
released "Integrated Power," a new progressive national security
strategy. The authors of the report will be discussing it here for the
next few days, soliciting feedback from the progressive community. Here
is the executive summary and the main document. I will be having a lot
to say about this in the coming days. Me likey what me see so far!
Rep. John Conyers: Did the Mainstream Media Get the Memo?
For the past few weeks, I and others on this blog (including its propreitor)
have lamented the lack of mainstream media coverage of the Downing
Street Minutes (for more info on what this is all about, go here and here).
Looking in from the outside of the networks and newspapers, we have
been left to surmise just what the problem really is. On a story with
constitutional implications, with life and death consequences, there
was first silence. Then, there was a story here and there, but no
meaningful, dogged and sustained coverage. What gives?
First, this morning, I came across an insightful column
on this matter from a reporter named Jefferson Morley on
Washingtonpost.com. For those of you who still get your news from a
paper copy with a cup of coffee, don't bother -- it isn't in the Post
today, just online. Mr. Morley's beat is covering the foreign press for
A couple of quotes from his column (and then on to the startling
part): "It's not hard to see why this remarkable document, published in
The Times on May 1 (and reported in this column on May 3), continues to
attract reader interest around the world." At the end: "Far from being
a dud, the Downing Street Memo may generate more stories to come."
Great column. And why couldn't I read this in the Post this morning?
Mr. Morley answered my question later in the day, in an online chat at
Washingtonpost.com. The exchanges with readers speak for themselves and
I urge you to read the chat in its entirety. A few stunners:
When asked why there has been so little coverage of the Downing
Street Minutes here in the United States, Morley replies: "I think some
combination of cynicism, complacency and insulation has stifled the
instincts of very good reporters. I also think there is also a failure
of leadership at the senior editorial level. The issues raised by the
Downing Street minutes are very serious. To pursue them is to invite
confrontation. This means that 'beat' reporters cannot realistically
pursue the story. I say all this way of explanation, not
rationalization. There are several natural followup stories to the
Downing Street memo that we should be pursuing right now."
Later he says: "I think its because the Washington press corps is
oriented around "news" as generated by the White House and the
executive branch. When it comes to Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass
destruction, the White House and the Congress have settled on the
following narrative: that the U.S. government had every reason to fear
the nexus of Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, that the intelligence
community agreed that Hussein had WMD and therefore war was not only
justified but necessary.
The Downing Street Memo invites the thought that maybe that was
illusory, that in fact people in the Bush administration were having
meetings dedicated to figuring how to, as Richard Dearlove said, 'fix
the facts and the intelligence.' I think it's hard for journalists born
and bred in the ways of Washington to contemplate the implications."
This is a stunning account of the way our media has slid backwards
from the days of Woodward and Bernstein. I'll let his candid remarks
speak for themselves on that.
I would simply ask: after the abject failure of the media to expose
the myth of WMD and Iraq, the cheerleading coverage of "embedded"
reporters, and the transmission of propaganda to the American people
(see Jessica Lynch's "rescue", Pat Tillman's tragic death, and the
toppling of Saddam's statue), aren't we owed some good, sustained and
thorough reporting on this?
A reader asks whether a Post reporter will ask about the Downing
Street Minutes during the joint Bush-Blair appearances in Washington
this week. Morley's reply: "If Post reporters don't ask Blair about the
memo, they have abdicated responsibility in my view."
What more can I add to that?
- Rep. John Conyers (email@example.com) [
The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
Dan Carol: Devolutionary Politics
just as liberals and progressives are starting to wake up to
state-local policy opportunities and the power of grassroots politics,
Here comes the Supreme Court telling states what to do on medical
marijuana, making a mockery of the Commerce Clause, with the deciding
votes cast by (drum roll please) Bill Clinton’s two court nominees.
File that under:
Florida 2000 and the US Supreme Court telling a state how to run its elections;
The Bush Administration trying to shut down Oregon’s Death with Dignity law;
Expanding federal intrusions into our schools, our workplaces and our libraries too numerous to catalogue.
In other words, Bush-Cheney and crew are going federal, baby. And
they are going to try and close down the very same state and local
powers they have crowed about for years.
This can offer progressives a ton of rhetorical opportunities, but
it won't mean a thing if, for example, we don't have a serious and
well-funded strategy to prevent the FCC and the Bush Administration
from shutting down community-owned Internet and wi-fi systems at the
behest of Comcast and Verizon (to pick one critical issue among many in
the new world of state-local-federal food fighting).
Another new issue to watch in this space: George Bush calling for
"risk insurance" to streamline new nuclear power plant siting -- and
Joe Lieberman potentially going along with it. This idea is just a
cover story, IMHO, for pushing federal pre-emption of local and state
land use decisions. Not good.
So what to do today other than grab a drink -- rather than a smoke?
As always, I will start by reminding myself that in this period of party decline and cultural realignment, the weirdest scenario always is the likely scenario.
Yet still: who would have “thunk” that progressives who understand
the power of de-evolutionary politics would be thinking today that
maybe Clarence Thomas, Sandra Day O’Connor and William Rehnquist (the 3
dissenters in yesterday’s marijuana decision) are useful to have
around? That's sure some serious weirdness to mull on...
- Dan Carol (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
FL-Sen: Harris is in.
Part of me is happy. Part of me wants to throw up.
Harris will likely win her party's nomination, though she CW says she'd be weak against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, who was praised and vilified for her role
as Florida's secretary of state in the 2000 presidential recount, said
Tuesday she will run for the U.S. Senate next year against Democratic
incumbent Bill Nelson.
Her announcement brings a high-profile name
and the potential to raise a substantial amount of money to a race that
Republicans already have said they would target.
months of encouragement from friends and constituents, colleagues and
advisers, many prayers and with the love and support of my family, the
time has come to launch a campaign for the U.S. Senate," Harris told
The Associated Press.
Harris, who is serving her second term in Congress, will formally announce her plans in July.
The Republican outfit Strategic Vision had Nelson outperforming Harris
48-41. No independent polling I've seen has pitted the two yet.
Shouldn't take long for that to happen.
Thomas More cruise organizers pull plug on O'Reilly appearance.
of a fund-raising cruise to benefit the conservative Thomas More Law
Center have apparently pulled the plug on an appearance by Fox News
host Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly had promoted the cruise on his TV show and website. The website sweetjesusihatebilloreilly.com (SJIHBO) reported that an automated voice message at the phone number listed in an ad
for the cruise now informs callers that "[u]nfortunately, the cruise
did not have the participation that all parties anticipated," and that
therefore "the guest appearance by Mr. O'Reilly and the other speakers
have been canceled." Media Matters for America confirmed the message by calling the number listed in the ad.
While the "featured links" page of O'Reilly's website still has a link to the Thomas More Law Center, a search of the site found no current promotion of the cruise. The center's website does not mention O'Reilly. The web page promoting the cruise at Corporate Travel Services (CTS), the group arranging the trip, no longer exists, though the promotional flyer
is still online (as of this posting). A Nexis search* revealed only one
mention of the cruise in 2005 -- aside from O'Reilly's promotion on his
April 19 show -- an article in The Australian,
which linked to the now-defunct CTS promotion page. The Thomas More Law
Center reportedly told SJIHBO that "the response was surprisingly poor."
Media Matters has previously noted
that despite O'Reilly's participation and promotion of the cruise, his
stated views on topics such as abortion and "morality" laws conflict
with the positions of the Thomas More Law Center.
search: "(O'Reilly or Denton) and Thomas More and (cruis! or Caribbean
or getaway or appear! or lecture)" in 2005 on the All News database. [Media Matters for America]
It Is Starting To Feel Like 1993.
While I have never thoroughly left the early and mid-nineties in terms
of fashion and popular culture tastes, the past five months have begun
to strongly remind me of the first five months of Clinton's first term,
The Friendly Skies.
Bush administration said yesterday it would bring a trade case alleging
the European Union is providing illegal subsidies to Airbus, the major
competitor of The Boeing Co.
U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman
said the administration had decided to proceed with a case before the
World Trade Organization in light of preparations by member states of
the European Union to commit $1.7 billion in new launch aid to Airbus
for a new airplane.
U.S. to file trade complaint against EU
May 31, 2005
For the past three years, the Air Force has described
its $30 billion proposal to convert passenger planes into military
refueling tankers and lease them from Boeing Co. as an efficient way to
obtain aircraft the military urgently needs.
But a very different
account of the deal is shown in an August 2002 internal e-mail exchange
among four senior Pentagon officials.
"We all know that this is a
bailout for Boeing," Ronald G. Garant, an official of the Pentagon
comptroller's office, said in a message to two others in his office and
then-Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Wayne A. Schroeder.
E-Mails Detail Air Force Push for Boeing Deal
June 7, 2005
The 256-page Pentagon inspector general's report, with
many e-mails blacked out, showed that the White House shielded one or
more key officials from being named for their roles in pushing the
deal. The White House had no immediate comment.
U.S. officials faulted for Boeing tanker push
June 7, 2005
About 55 percent of the company's expected revenue of
$49 billion this year will come from the federal treasury, and the
company has been generous to Congress and the administration. [Whiskey Bar]
the past decade, its employees and political-action committees have
given $925,000 to members of the four House and Senate committees that
handle defense matters, according to the watchdog group Common Cause.
The company also gave $100,000 for Bush's inauguration.
Rules Circumvented on Huge Boeing Defense Contract
October 27, 2003
No Free Launch
Three times each year, Cursor and Media Transparency
ask readers to pitch in to help defray operating costs. Since January's
appeal, work has been proceeding on a project that we're now proud to
unveil - the new Media Transparency. In previewing the new site, Eric Alterman, whose "Neoconning the Media" is one of more than 20 original articles that we've published so far this year, wrote that Media Transparency gives "even the laziest of reporters no excuses
for failing to follow the money." But of course it takes money to
follow the money, so please consider helping us to help them, with a
modest tax-deductible contribution -- directly or through PayPal -- to Cursor and Media Transparency. Our goal is $15,000 and every dollar raised will be matched at 100%.
The End In Sight?.
From a pro-war perspective, this is the kind of image that is
supposed to suggest the compassion of the Iraqi campaign. Taken in
Basra in mid-May, the image shows a British soldier letting an Iraqi
boy look through his...
What Did Bush Decide and When Did He Decide It?.
The Downing Street Memo reported that in a July 23, 2002 meeting
between Prime Minister Blair and his war cabinet, attendees of the
meeting discussed the fact that President Bush had already made up his
mind to attack Iraq. According to the minutes of the meeting:
There was a perceptible shift ...
Durbin is on the floor of the Senate, speaking to a resolution he's put
forward with Olympia Snowe and Barack Obama — calling for a celebration
of the 40th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.
Griswold was the first "right to privacy" decision, a landmark in the
arena of sexual autonomy. It laid the foundation for Roe.
Durbin is citing the Comstock Act, a draconian 1873 law that would not look entirely out of place in the agenda of the Rabid Religious Right today.
Connecting Comstock and Griswold to arguments against Janice Rogers Brown's confirmation and for the stem-cell bill strikes me as a good rhetorical play. [BOPnews]
Pay the Bums More?
There are a lot of things to say about Elizabeth Drew's
of the corruption surrounding the GOP reign in Washington. But my first
thought, and I'm only about halfway through the piece, is that members
of Congress simply don't get paid enough. Heh. Really, though, I don't
see any way to restrict money in politics altogether—politicians will always
be in the business of courting lobbyists, and
lobbyists will always be in the business of skirting regulations and
lavishing gifts on politicians. Powerful interests will always be
powerful. The world will keep spinning. Et cetera. Sure, I'd genuinely
like to see better regulations on all this, but ultimately, as with
corporate governance, a lot of the money problems in Washington stem
from the utter lack of integrity of the characters involved: DeLay,
Norquist, Santorum, Ney, Abramoff, Bush. Obviously we need to kick the
bums out. But we also need to figure out how to make sure future
politicians can maintain at least a shred of integrity and don't fall
as far down the K Street sinkhole as the current Republican regime has
The solution, perhaps, is more money. If members of
Congress enjoy traveling, then let's give them enough cash to go
traveling. What do I care? It's certainly better—and ultimately much
cheaper—than having some trade association put up the funds to send the
House Majority Leader to Scotland or wherever in exchange for some
hefty tax credits. Now I'm not naïve enough to that think higher
salaries for members of Congress would eliminate all corruption, but it
would possibly eliminate some. In theory, higher pay would bring
greater status, relative to lobbyists, for members of Congress,
something that could presumably help out here. You'd also have fewer
senators and representatives treating their whole legislative careers
as one big favor-dishing prelude to a more lucrative K Street position.
(Like, say, Billy Tauzin
.) And then there's the bright but admittedly tenuous hope that higher
pay would attract, well, a bit more talent to the halls of Capitol
Hill. Um, like I said, admittedly tenuous.
David Frum on Reducing Poverty in Africa
Frum - PGL [Angry Bear]
argues that Africa does not need financial assistance but might benefit from free trade within the Western Hemisphere:
aid relief is the same. Jeffrey Sachs may imagine that he knows how
much it will cost to pull Africa from poverty, but almost nobody
outside the UN apparatus and the world of pop culture believes him …
Meanwhile, there is something practical that can immediately be done to
fight poverty right on America's doorstep: Pass the embattled Central
American Free Trade Initiative through Congress. But because CAFTA is
premised on the unglamorous idea that poverty will be defeated by work
and trade, not guilt-induced donations, none of its advocates have ever
picked up a guitar in their life.
believe – “an internationally renowned economist” (Frum’s words) – or
someone who confuses Latin America with Africa? OK – Frum’s concern
seems to be poverty in Latin America but free trade is not a sufficient
condition for addressing abject poverty. If Frum spent less time criticizing
Sachs and more time actually reading what Sachs has written, maybe he’d
understand. And yes, $0.7 billion in new U.S. aid is a far cry from
sufficient or being generous.
Rep. Harold Ford: A Letter to President Bush
June 3, 2005
Dear Mr. President,
I just returned from a two day trip to Iraq with several colleagues,
including U.S. Senator Joe Biden and Vice-Chair of the House Armed
Services Committee Curt Weldon. We spent Memorial Day weekend meeting
with our troops, military leadership and Iraqi government officials,
lending our support for their collective efforts to bring stability and
democracy to Iraq. On a patriotic note, it felt good being with the
bravest and finest fighting force in the world on Memorial Day.
I was pleased that morale was high among our troops. Every soldier
we encountered was proud of the progress being made by the military and
the Iraqi people. Moreover, the Iraqi government officials we met were
deeply appreciative of our efforts - from the Prime Minister to the
Speaker of their Parliament to the Chair of the Constitutional Drafting
Committee to the new Defense Minister.
However, there were concerns expressed by many. First, it appears,
contrary to Secretary Rumsfeld's and your assertions, that the training
of the Iraqi military and police forces and the restoration of basic
services, including electricity and water, is moving at a slower pace
than projected. Second, the pernicious influence of Iran and Syria in
encouraging and sponsoring terrorism in Iraq is on the rise. Third, the
tension between the Sunnis and Shiites is not lessening, which is
detrimental to the efforts to draft an acceptable constitution. And
finally, U.S. credibility and stature still lag in the Middle East,
despite the noble efforts and sacrifice of our military and the
generosity of the American people.
These are not easy times as you know Mr. President. Your
steadfastness and tenacity in fighting terrorism should be applauded.
But, support for your administration's policies in Iraq is below 45
percent, meaning more Americans disagree with your handling of it. This
is combined with a 40 percent approval rating for your handling of the
U.S. economy. If I might be so bold, let me make a few suggestions.
First, you and Secretary Rumsfeld should stop overstating our
success in Iraq because it overshadows and diminishes actual progress
being made in Iraq.
For example, the Pentagon has repeatedly - and now I know
erroneously - told Congress and the American people that Iraqi military
and security forces are being trained at a rapid rate. The facts are
different. Only 3 of the 107 battalions that have to be trained for
Iraq to be able and ready to defend itself are up and standing. The
misrepresentations by your administration undermine the American
people's confidence in our efforts in Iraq, damage support for the war
and make it harder for those of us in Congress who support staying and
finishing the job in Iraq to maintain our support.
In short, a big part of the answer to this challenge is first to
allow the military leadership on the ground in Iraq to offer
assessments of our military progress, not civilian suits at the
Pentagon. Furthermore, serious thought should be given to sending Iraqi
police trainees to training academies in Europe and the U.S. This could
slow down even more the process, but I believe it could improve the
training and ensure that forces are ready upon completion of the
training. And, more assistance is needed for our Army and Marines who
are charged with cleaning the streets and sewer systems so that
essential services, like water and electricity, can be delivered. In
many ways, the delivery of these services is the only tangible measure
the Iraqi population has of our success since the capturing of Saddam
Hussein. Much work needs to be done on that front.
Second, an honest appraisal of Iran and Syria's influence in Iraq is
needed. Every senior Iraqi government official we met assailed Iran's
growing involvement in fomenting insurgent activity in Iraq. However,
to my surprise, U.S. intelligence and military officials in Iraq flatly
rejected the Iraqi government's position on the matter. I trust you
know this, but somebody is wrong here. It is not in the interests of
U.S. national security for Iraq and the U.S. to be so far apart on this
subject. Frankly, I am inclined to believe the Iraqi Defense Minister
and Speaker of the Parliament. Something as fundamental as reconciling
intelligence and analysis between us and the Iraqis requires immediate
attention. Your intervention with your administration is warranted on
this point, Mr. President.
Third, the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution must involve Sunnis
and Kurds for it to be accepted as the nation's guarantor of freedom
and fairness for all, like our own Constitution is. Sending an
international team of legal scholars from America and other leading
democracies to assist and consult with the drafting committee would
help greatly. Our Constitution's endurance is due largely to its
unyielding protection of basic freedoms for all, especially the
minority in this country. We have to export that concept to Iraq.
And last, U.S. credibility and our moral authority need rebuilding.
Mr. President, with all due respect, if you devoted one-third of the
time you did trying to convince the country to privatize Social
Security to traveling the world to promote this nation's time honored
values and urging a re-engagement with the world community, America
would win back a great deal of her prestige and moral authority in the
eyes of the global community. I recognize and support our nation's
responsibility to act when our security interests are threatened even
when others won't join us. Yet, there is tremendous value in being
engaged with the world.
It makes it easier to win international support for U.S efforts to
sell U.S. goods around the globe, fight terrorism, expand political
reform in Africa and reduce the spread of HIV and other diseases in
corners of the world crying out for help. Moreover, a re-engagement
with the world led by you will make foreign travel to the United States
more attractive, which would bolster our economy, and simultaneously
create safer conditions for international travel by Americans.
Again, thank you for your time and attention Mr. President. You remain in my prayers.
Harold Ford, Jr. - Rep. Harold Ford (email@example.com)
[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
Punching Up The Orange.
This Sunday's latest perfunctory Iraq story in the NYT seems to sum up
what's wildly wrong with the coverage of the war -- as well as,
perhaps, what's wrong with the overall American military strategy.
Simply put, there is...
A SAUDI COUP D'ETAT ?.
Al Qaeda wants to extend Iraq's insurgency to Saudi Arabia. Numerous
attacks and statements clearly demonstrate this. Their objectives are
more opaque. Their potential objectives fall into the following
categories. Coercion. The state stays intact. The royal family actively
This is what happens when the process isn't transparent and we are
forced to rely upon anonymous "insiders" and spin doctors for our info.
To the administration's credit, they are really smart to use this
non-event to block coverage of...
[John Robb's Weblog]
BREAKING! CNN to start covering NEWS!.
Extremely stunning, shocking, just unbelievable development. Should
warn the kids. Note to Self: Breathe deeply, prepare for a Michael
Jackson wardrobe malfunction, perhaps even a sighting of Elvis (which
can then be reported promptly to CNN for them to cover...
[The Left Coaster]
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7/1/2005; 6:37:28 AM.