HE FORGOT ABOUT SYRIA. The worst reaction to the GOP�s politicization of terrorist attacks is to whine about them politicizing it . Second worst is to merely suggest that the opposition needs to attack, rather than whine. Best of all is to actually attack , like Fred Kaplan , who notes that Bush has spent years pissing away opportunities for the sort of international intelligence-gathering operations that foiled the recent British airplane plots. Let me add that while the administration isn't interested in getting Syria's help in rolling up al-Qaeda, it's important to recall that it does favor illegally detaining people to send them to illegal facilities, where they'll be illegally tortured until they cough up inaccurate information that can be used as the basis for the next round of shenanigans. --Matthew Yglesias

    LOOKING FOR MODERATES IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. If you want to see some rightwingery that's really no stupider than your average rightwingery, but a good deal more dangerous , look here and elsewhere on the Corner for yesterday's giant series of posts slamming the Council on American Islamic Relations . The basic dynamic is something any liberal should be familiar with -- CAIR has some political disagreements with George W. Bush and has expressed them in public statements. For their trouble, they're subjected to a smear campaign casting aspersions on their motives, etc., etc., etc. At the same time all this attacking is going down, attacker in chief Katherine Jean-Lopez keeps making noises about "moderate Muslims." But wake up -- these are the moderate Muslims . You can agree or disagree with CAIR about the term "Islamic fascists" -- I find it more mind-bogglingly stupid than anti-Islamic -- as much as you like, but at the end of the day this list of chapters is not a series of terror...

    IMMIGRATION AND EMPLOYMENT. The Pew Center goes looking for evidence that immigration costs native born Americans jobs and can't find any . --Matthew Yglesias
  • More "Entitlement" Nonsense at the Post

    Yet again the Post reports on the threat posed by �entitlement� spending, referring to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. To quickly repeat myself, this is dishonest. There are modest and manageable increases in projected Social Security spending due to the aging of the population. There are unmanageable projected increases in Medicare and Medicaid expenditures due to a projected explosion in health care costs. If the projected explosion in health care costs proves accurate, then it will devastate the economy, and cause serious budget problems. Honest people respond to these projections by examining ways to prevent the explosion in health care costs. Less honest people talk about the need to cut entitlement spending, including Social Security. Next month we start a new fundraising vehicle for CEPR. We want people to pledge a certain amount (e.g. 5 cents, 50 cents, etc.) for every time the Post runs an article/column warning about entitlement spending (: -- Dean Baker
  • Wrong Experts on Inflation and Unemployment

    The Times had an article examining the prospects of the Fed being able to successfully bring down the inflation rate, without also inducing a recession. While it is a thoughtful piece, the two experts whose views dominate the article, Robert Gordon and Lawrence Meyer, have the distinction of having been proven completely wrong on this topic by the events of the nineties. Both were prominent inflation hawks in the mid/late nineties, arguing that low unemployment would trigger an outbreak of accelerating inflation. In fact, Meyer, who was a Fed governor at the time, led an unsuccessful campaign to force Greenspan to raise interest rates to slow the economy and raise the unemployment rate. Of course, the unemployment rate continued to fall through the late nineties, and there was no noticeable uptick in the inflation rate for most of the decade. This failure doesn�t mean that Gordon and Meyer�s views should be ignored, both have done extensive research on this topic. But, given the track...
  • Trade Deficits and Living Standards

    The modest drop reported in the trade deficit in June is good news, the current deficit is unsustainable. A declining trade deficit will also help to boost economic growth, as noted in a Times article this morning. However, the article missed an important part of the story. Growth due to a declining trade deficit does not directly translate into improving living standards in the United States. For example, if the economy grows 3 percent next year, but 2 percentage points of this growth is due to a falling trade deficit, then domestic demand (consumption, investment, and government spending) can only increase by 1 percent. If employment grows by 1 percent (a modest 1.4 million rate of job creation), this means that wages, on average, do not rise. In short, a declining trade deficit has the same effect on living standards as a tax increase; we will be able to see less of what we produce. This �tax increase� will come in the form of rising import prices, which will add to inflation, or...

    JOE AND THE STOCK OPTIONS. In between writing a bunch of frightening posts about the bursting housing bubble , Dean Baker took some time out yesterday to remind us of Joe Lieberman 's ignominious and highly consequential '90s-era role in getting the Financial Accounting Standards Board to back down from requiring that stock options be treated as expenses against profit. This story won't be news to a lot of readers, but Dean's pithy account offers a nice little reminder that the senator's domestic policy record isn't as uncheckered or unimpeachably liberal as his defenders have asserted. (It certainly offers a nice counterpoint to the emerging, crazy narratize pitting Lunch Pail Joe and the hearty blue collar base he embodies against a bunch of namby-pamby elite liberals.) Take a look. --Sam Rosenfeld

    IN HOUSE WANKING. I just thought I'd point out that the commenters seem to me to have the goods on Ben "TNR" Adler and the question of whether or not Israel has expansionist policies. --Matthew Yglesias

    ADDICTED TO FAILURE. Bush says today's plots serve as a "stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." If anything, it's a stark reminder of the reverse. A stark reminder that this isn't a "war" at all -- you don't foil a plot like this with armored personnel carriers and JDAMs. We're also not going to capture the capital city of "Islamic fascism" -- not Kabul, not Baghdad, not even Teheran and Damascus -- and force our adversaries to surrender. It's not at all difficult to kill or capture terrorists. Instead, what makes them dangerous is that they're hard to identify. What makes them doubly dangerous is that because they're hard to identify, the temptation is to target them very broadly. And as we saw in the administration's desperately failed strategies in the "Sunni triangle" when you tar huge numbers of not-yet-opponents in your effort to find the bad guys, you wind up generating a much larger number of adversaries. The great challenge is to identify strategies...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SPILLS OF WAR. Christopher Moraff reports on an ongoing environmental disaster in Lebanon: a gigantic oil spill off the Mediterrenean coast caused by Israel's bombing of a power plant three weeks ago. The total spill could rival the Exxon Valdez catastrophe of 1989 -- and the continuing war is preventing government and international agencies from fully addressing the situation or containing the damage. Read the whole thing . --The Editors