Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Thursday, July 15, 2004
Well Said Our Next President addresses his decision to vote against the authorization of an additional $87 billion to fund the Iraq war, and the current President's habit of making jokes about that vote:
You know, Don, it’s so simple for the president to joke about very serious issues when young kids are dying, because he didn’t make the plan to win the peace in Iraq. And I take that very personally as somebody who fought in a war, which he chose not to, that saw leaders make bad decisions. That’s what happened. And leaders didn’t tell the truth to the American people. So it means something to me.

Now, when the president gets us into Iraq and refuses to bring the allies to the table, refuses to do what’s necessary in terms of diplomacy and statesmanship to share the burden, when you, Don Imus, and every other taxpayer in America are paying billions of dollars to open firehouses in Iraq while we’re shutting them in the United States, as well as all the other things that are being wrapped up in that money, John Edwards and I both thought, “Rather than just dumping another $87 billion into this wrongly headed policy, let’s get it right.”

It’s very simple. And we voted to get it right.

That's just an excerpt from the Kerry-Edwards joint interview with Don Imus this AM. I missed the broadcast, but from reading the transcript, I thought Kerry acquitted himself very well...

Will the Real U.S. Economy Please Stand Up? Is the economy growing and getting stronger, but without sparking inflation (the late 90s)? Is it weakening and seeing price pressures fall (a typical slowdown/recession)? Is it slowing even as inflation is rising on the back of oil prices (70s stagflation)?

Today's economic data suggests the middle option (the producer price index fell 0.3%, rather than rising the forecast 0.2%, while industrial production fell 0.3%, rather than rising the expected 0.1%), but those are just two data points. More insight will come with tomorrow's consumer price index and, as always, the end-of-month unemployment data -- the current period of uncertainty began when employment growth was weak in June, and the next report, due August 6th, will help indicate whether that was a one-time blip, as many forecasters believe.

I think it's telling that, as Bloomberg's incomparable bond team tells us, interest rates are largely unchanged despite the significant surprises. I take that to mean no one else knows what to make of it, either. Ah, ignorance ...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Where, Oh Where to Begin? Is Mike Piazza still feeling woozy from his 2000 beaning at the hands of Roger Clemens, or was he just trying to tell a joke that a reporter didn't get? Either way, how else to explain this quote:
"I put it down and (Clemens) threw it. It wasn't the greatest location and Ramirez is a great hitter. They had a couple of balls to right field and Sammy (Sosa) had some trouble with the sun out there. It could have made a little difference. But his velocity was as good as I've seen." [emphasis added]

For those who missed the game, Minute Maid Field's retractable roof was closed during the first inning...

From the 'Jeez, You Can't Make This Stuff Up' Department Josh Marshall reports that:
As this site notes, the lawyer representing President Bush in the Plame case, James E. Sharp, is also defending Ken Lay in the Enron Götterdämmerung case.

Monday, July 12, 2004
Breaking From the Orthodoxy I get nervous whenever I find myself disagreeing with Josh Marshall, who today joins the chorus of skeptics about the propriety of the Bush Administration's apparent call for study of ways to reschedule elections in the event of a terrorist attack.

And, as always, the Bush administration's execution of the idea, leaves a lot to be desired. It's tempting to dismiss the idea with a cheap shot at its source, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the Help America Vote Act as a Federal clearinghouse for election-administration best practices, and to distribute grants to local governments investing in new elections equipment. They clearly have plenty of work still to do in their core area, so why should they be looking for new projects?

All that said, one argument remains compelling to me -- what if, as with the overlap between the 9/11 attacks and the NYC primary election, a major attack occurs on Election Day itself? I'm not at all convinced that the answer is to cancel the election, nor am I convinced that I'd ever trust anyone in government to figure out where to draw the line between a "major" and "minor" attack for these purposes: The potential for mischief is significant.

Could the answer be to allow local elections authorities make their own call, based on local conditions (i.e., reschedule voting only in places where local states of emergency interfere with ballot access), just as the NYS board of elections did in 2001? I'm pretty partial to that answer, although I'm fully aware of the potential for chaos when a few states hold their delayed voting. Either way, I think some study and debate on this is probably legitimate...