AFTER THE NEW ECONOMY. In updates to the argument over the allegedly paradoxical phenomenon of upscale populism, Jonathan Cohn and Noam Scheiber kick around the influence of the "great risk shift" on public attitudes. Missing so far in the conversation is a point that I strongly suspect is relevant -- the big technology/stock boom of the late-1990s and its bursting. Airy forms of excitement about the rise of a "new economy" were very influential on the thinking of a broad elite at the time. Capitalism seemed to many -- especially those with college degrees -- to have all sorts of heretofore unknown liberating possibilities. So perhaps one still believed in the need for a strong state to protect the environment and help out the poor, but one was unlikely to want to go in for business-bashing rhetoric or to question the consensus view of professional economists. Then came the crash and all of a sudden the market looked a lot more like the God that sucked . A lot of surveys indicate that...

    NEWSWEEK ON A ROLL. Gerson is one thing , but this piece on Joe Lieberman by the magazine's religion columnist truly has to be seen to be believed. As M.J. Rosenberg put it , " Newsweek should be ashamed for publishing a Jackie Mason joke and calling it a column." --Sam Rosenfeld

    GERSON RETURNS. Look, we all loved the snappy patter between Sam Seaborn and Toby Ziegler as they wrote high-flown speeches ("The streets of heaven are too filled with angels tonight." Wowser!) for President Jed on The West Wing . In the real world, alas, speechwriters are paid liars, no more or less so than admen or campaign consultants. Their job is to whore out their words -- at, it must be said, a decent price -- for whichever politician is cutting them a check this year. It can be safely said that there was nobody more in demand in this peculiar house of horizontal refreshment than Michael Gerson , the faith-drippy blowhard to whom Newsweek curiously handed a couple thousand words this week so that Gerson could demonstrate to the public at large the various stages of the speechwriter's Kama Sutra that made him everybody's choice at the morning lineup. The grossest, most wretched lie that Gerson promulgated, of course, was that George W. Bush , as manifestly Not Up To The Job as...

    GEORGE WILL IS SHRILL. George Will does the unthinkable and not only attacks George W. Bush 's approach to national security, but even offers praise for John Kerry , arguing that Kerry was right to say "that although the war on terror will be 'occasionally military,' it is 'primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world'" while his critics are engaged in a "farrago of caricature and non sequitur mak[ing] the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional." --Matthew Yglesias

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STAKES ON A PLANE. Matt makes the case against the new airport security measures. --The Editors

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: WHAT'S IN A NAME? Mike makes the case against the Washington Redskins' name. --The Editors

    MORE CHICKEN COUNTING. Following up on Matt 's post , I do think the emerging line holding that Ned Lamont 's victory demonstrates that the Dems can ride an anti-war platform to victory in '06 and '08 is totally premature. For one thing, Lamont (obviously) won a primary, not a general election. The fact that the anti-war platform commands a small majority in the Democratic primary doesn't mean it will in the general election. Lamont could still lose the general election -- indeed, he's behind in the polls. He also could win it with less than an outright majority (with more Connecticut voters opting for one of the pro-war candidates.) Moreover, I've never heard the phrase "As Connecticut goes, so goes the nation," for a reason. Perhaps "as Connecticut goes, so goes Massachusettes" would be more apt. Even if Lamont gets well ahead in the polls in a month or two that doesn't necessarily prove that what plays in Connecticut will play in all the states and districts that the Dems need to...
  • Bad European Growth Numbers in the NYT

    Newspapers should try to report economic data in ways that are clear to their readers. That should not be a debatable point. The NYT badly failed in this task in an article on European economic growth. The headline told readers that "Economy Grows Nearly 1% in Europe." Before anyone bemoans poor European growth, it is important to realize that the 1.0 percent is a quarterly growth rate. In other words, Europe's economy grew by close to 1.0 percent in the second quarter of the year. This translates into close to a 4.0 percent annual rate. In the United States, growth is always reported as an annual rate. There is absolutely no excuse for a reporter (or an editor) not taking the 2 seconds needed to convert a quarterly rate into an annual rate. This is about as simple as it gets; the Times should not be reporting economic data in ways that might unnecessarily mislead readers. --Dean Baker
  • Is Europe Hiding Its Productivity?

    The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece today on how France Telecom is trying to set up its workers in their own business as a way of getting around restrictions on layoffs. The story itself is interesting -- it�s an innovative initiative that would seem to produce win/win outcomes. But the discussion also raises another serious question about excess labor in France and other countries with restrictive laws on layoffs. The article implies that much of France Telecom�s 120,000 workforce has been made unnecessary due to the rapid changes in technology over the last 15 years. In the United States, the old-line telephone companies have all had massive layoffs. In France, and most other European countries, employment protection laws prevent such large-scale dismissals so companies must retain workers even if they don�t need their labor. This could be one of the factors explaining the difference between European and U.S. productivity growth over the last decade. (Prior to 1996,...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: A HAWK FOR ALL SEASONS. Is Joe Lieberman actually strong, or at least serious, on defense issues? Spencer Ackerman says no. The senator adheres to no coherent or systematic foreign policy doctrine beyond a blanket, consistent hawkery on every security issue of the day. Ackerman examines Lieberman's record since the Persian Gulf War, concluding that "the most surprising thing about Lieberman's defense record is the difficulty of defining Liebermanism. On the central question of why a nation should or shouldn't go to war, Lieberman's answer is simply, 'yes!'" Read the whole thing . --The Editors