When trying to put the Robert Johnson fracas in context, it’s worth recalling that it’s not just the estate tax, Johnson took a position on Bush’s rigged Social Security commission where his designated job was to provide bipartisan (and multiracial) cover for privatization and he took to the job like a fish to water. I found that article, meanwhile, while searching for a great Jon Chait piece on the whole Johnson phenomenon that seems, unfortunately, to have gone missing in TNR‘s troubled archives.
After The New York Times hired Weekly Standard editor William Kristol as a columnist last month, ThinkProgress noted that Kristol had previously questioned whether the paper “should be prosecuted” for revealing a secret Bush administration program to monitor international banking transactions. New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt writes today that Kristol “refused to talk” to him about his comments or the controversy over his hiring, which Hoyt calls “an odd stance for someone who presumably will want others to talk to him for his column.”
The Marine Corps Times reports:
If the U.S. were to face a new conventional threat, its military could not respond effectively without turning to air power, officials and analysts say.
That is the ultimate upshot of the war in Iraq: a response elsewhere would consist largely of U.S. fighters and bombers — even, perhaps, some degree of nuclear strike — because so many ground troops are tied up in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I’d like to see it shut down,” Adm. Mike Mullen said of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Asked why he thinks Guantanamo Bay should be closed, and the prisoners perhaps moved to U.S. soil, Mullen said, “More than anything else it’s been the image — how Gitmo has become around the world, in terms of representing the United States. … I believe that from the standpoint of how it reflects on us that it’s been pretty damaging.” Nevertheless, Mullen said he’s “not aware that there is any immediate consideration to closing Guantanamo Bay” inside the Bush administration.
As I’ve mentioned before, in his more coherent moments, Mike Huckabee appears to be gesturing in the direction of a sort of American version of the Christian Democratic politics that are common on the European right, but it’s very hard to imagine that succeeding unless Huckabee can win the support of observant Catholics. This sort of thing is unlikely to help him in that quest.
I was in the car during the Colts-Chargers game, and I have to say that it didn’t seriously occur to me that the Chargers might win the game. I’m of two minds about the consequences. On the one hand, the Patriots must be stopped, and it seems that Indianapolis would have had a much better chance of doing so than will the Chargers. On the other hand, I find Payton Manning deeply annoying and don’t really want to root for the Colts. In a Pats-Chargers context, by contrast, I can happily back San Diego.
Rudy Giuliani says straightforwardly that tax cuts increase revenues, but the fascinating element of Chris Wallace’s efforts to ask Republicans about this issue comes when he talks to John McCain:
WALLACE: Do you believe the tax cuts pay for themselves or do you believe that they add to the deficit?
MCCAIN: I think they stimulate the economy. I think that one of the first things we have to do that I forgot to mention is make these tax cuts permanent, because we’ve got to give some certainty to families and businesses all over America that these tax cuts will not expire and then give them the effect of a tax increase. So I believe they stimulate the economy, but, Chris, you’ve got to cut spending.
I’m proud to have been a member of the Reagan revolution, a foot soldier. And we cut taxes, but Ronald Reagan knew we had to cut spending at the same time. And that was our great failure as a party, is we cut taxes and then we let spending get out of control.
And frankly, it cost us a great deal. If we had adopted the tax cut package that I had, which entails spending cuts, then we would be talking about more tax cuts today.
It seems that he doesn’t really want to just flat-out lie, Giuliani-style. At the same time, he hardly dares tell the truth. After all, when you’re the Consensus King of Straight-Talk and your base wants you to say some nonsense, you have to avoid telling the base that the nonsense they want you to say is nonsense. So instead he gets in with some Reagan mumbo-jumbo: “Ronald Reagan knew we had to cut spending at the same time.” If by “knew we had to cut spending” you mean “increased defense spending enormously and caused a huge deficit at which point he turned around and raised taxes” then this turns out as accurate.
On Friday, former White House spokesperson Tony Snow was interviewed on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher discussed how woefully unprepared the Bush administration was for post-invasion Iraq. “People paid in blood for him to learn” that more troops were needed for post-Saddam Iraq, Maher said to applause and cheers from the audience. “Even if this did work,” he said, referring to the surge.
Snow tried to shrug off Maher’s statements, declaring that “everybody gets it wrong at the beginning of war”:
MAHER: In fact, the smarter people in his administration said to do just that. “We need more boots on the ground. We need more security.” But because he’s stubborn and stupid, he said, “No, let’s do it Rumsfeld’s way. Let’s do it the light way.” So it took him five years to come around to what should have been done five years ago. And — and while he was learning on the job, people paid for that in blood. [...]
SNOW: Well, wait a minute. Look, I don’t know where to start, but I’ll start at the beginning. Number one, when it comes to the war, everybody — it’s great to be a backseat general, and everybody gets it wrong at the beginning of a war. But there were plenty of — no, it’s true.
Watch a portion of the show here:
Snow added, “I think it’s impossible for anybody to get their arms around the whole thing. Anybody.” “Including the administration?” responded Mark Cuban. “Including you, me, yeah,” said Snow.
Snow seems to believe that no one could have predicted that fallout from the invasion, an attempt to exonerate the administration’s rosy view of post-invasion Iraq. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi responded, “I didn’t get it wrong. We shouldn’t have gone.”
Not everyone got it wrong — just everyone in the Bush administration did.
McMegan points to John Henke’s compendium of quotes by Paul Krugman which is supposed to illustrate Megan’s earlier contention that “Paul Krugman has predicted eight of the last none recessions under the Bush administration.” If this is the best Henke’s got, then he really doesn’t have the goods. Henke has nine quotations. Three of them are recent enough that they seem to me to be predicting the economic slowdown that is now widely believed to be underway (see, e.g., Ben Bernanke and other Republicans who obviously aren’t grinding anti-Bush axes).
Krugman’s May 2005 prediction that we were nearing the end of a speculative bubble in the housing market, similarly, looks really good in retrospect — prices were about flat throughout 2006, and are now headed downward. Again, in April 2005 Krugman said “rising inflation in an economy still well short of full employment – has already arrived” and, indeed, it had; the inflation rate was rising and the employment-population ration remained quite a bit lower than it had been in the late 1990s. With five out of nine correct forecasts, this Krugman guy is looking pretty smart.
Similarly, Henke wants to mock the April 2004 observation that “An oil-driven recession does not look at all far-fetched” but it would be worth reading the actual column to see what Krugman’s talking about:
Could an oil shock actually lead to 1970′s-style stagflation — a combination of inflation and rising unemployment? Well, there are several comfort factors, reasons we’re less vulnerable now than a generation ago. Despite the rise of the S.U.V., the U.S. consumes only about half as much oil per dollar of real G.D.P. as it did in 1973. Also, in the 1970′s the economy was already primed for inflation: given the prevalence of cost-of-living adjustments in labor contracts and the experience of past inflation, oil price increases rapidly fed into a wage-price spiral. That’s less likely to happen today.
Still, if there is a major supply disruption, the world will have to get by with less oil, and the only way that can happen in the short run is if there is a world economic slowdown. An oil-driven recession does not look at all far-fetched.
In context, that’s a not-especially-alarmist warning that I think looks fine in retrospect. The others look a bit better for Henke. But Krugman’s track record looks pretty good, even in the context of a series of quotes cherry-picked to make him look bad. I find the endless array of complaints people pretend to have with Krugman’s work fascinating. Krugman is an effective and high-profile advocate for progressive politics. Lots of people want progressive politics to fail. Therefore, they don’t like Krugman’s columns. That’s not so hard to say! But nobody seems willing to say it. Instead, you get a lot of bizarre tut-tutting as if I were to fret that Charles Krauthammer should really write more serious psychology columns or something.
“Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Saturday that his experience as New York City’s mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is a big reason why he supports a national insurance backup fund. ‘Maybe I feel more strongly about this because of what I went through as mayor. I don’t even know how to describe Sept. 11. I don’t know if catastrophe is even the right word,’ Giuliani said. ‘There’s no possible way we could have gotten through that alone. No possible way.’”