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May 02, 2011


In a Dashiell Hammett story, the Continental Op looks at a sign in a bar — "ONLY GENUINE PRE-WAR AMERICAN AND BRITISH WHISKEYS SERVED HERE" — and begins to count the lies. I thought of this when reading Ezra Klein's statment:
high gas prices tend to trick people into thinking inflation, which is actually worryingly low, is out of control.

Let's count:

1. People are right to see rising gas prices as suggestive of inflation, since gas prices are a component of the cost of living index.

2. Inflation was quite low for the first 11 months of 2010, so inflation for the year 3/31/10 to 3/31/11 isn't terribly high. However, the month to month inflation was almost a 6% annual rate for the four month period 11/30/10 to 11/30/11. Given the continued rise gas prices and food costs in April, 2011 chances are that April's monthly inflation will also be in that range.

3. Those of us who are worried about inflation don't think it's currently out of control. Klein's "out of control" creates a straw man.

4. It's true that some believe that the current inflation rate will come down automatically, because they believe it's due to temporary causes. But, it's preposterous to call inflation of nearly 6% "worrying low." If the 6% inflation continues, everyone will be concerned about how high it is.

(Historical note: Richard Nixon took the radical step of imposing wage and price controls when inflation was believed to be dangerously high. It was then 4%.)

I'm not entirely sure how to interpret Klein's chart showing a 1.5% GDP growth in 1Q 2011. I presume that 1.5% is the annual rate of growth, meaning that the growth during the quarter was around 0.4%. The chart isn't labeled "real" GDP, although that's often the way GDP growth is presented. If nominal GDP growth for 1Q 2011 was only .4%, then real GDP for 1Q 2011 was a decline of around 1%, since inflation for the 1Q 2011 was around 1.4%. However, even if 1.5% is an inflation-adjusted figure, I would agree with Klein that it's not much growth.

Brendan - Wring that "birtherism" towel to get every last drop!

Jamelle Bouie wrote:

I'm not sure that it explains the extent to which birtherism has found a prominent place within the Republican Party. Here's my guess: birtherism is prominent because the president is black. To a depressingly large number of Americans, "blackness" runs counter to this country's identity, and an African American president is, by definition, illegitimate. Short of resigning the presidency, there's really nothing Obama can do to change that.

Criticism of Obama, whether accurate or mythical, is simply politics as usual, not racism.

Note that Bouie has no basis for this guess. Being called a racist today is about as bad as being called a communist 60 years ago. Even today, if some pundit said that Obama was a communist, Brendan would be on this pundit's case, and properly so.

Furthermore, there's are obvious reasons for people to feel that Obama is different. His father was not an American. He spent a considerable part of this childhood in a foreign country with a very different culture. This unusual background, not Obama's race, is why the birther myth has so much staying power.

Furthermore, a comparison with Democrats' treatment of George W. Bush shows that Obama is being treated better on account of his race. Bush was called far worse names than Obama. E.g., Nobody would dare call Obama "chimpy". Yet, Dems often called Bush "chimpy". (84,000 google hits.)

Also, Dems pillaried Clarence Thomas unmercifully. No Dem complained that his liberal colleagues were engaging in racism. It was just politics as usual.

Nobody would dare call Obama "chimpy".

Marilyn Davenport, Marilyn Davenport, Marilyn Davenport, Marilyn Davenport, Marilyn Davenport. Are you a liar or are you just comically misinformed enough to make such a factually inaccurate absolutist claim? Seriously, the Davenport controversy was only about two weeks ago.

"Furthermore, there are obvious reasons for people to feel that Obama is different. His father was not an American."

Pure xenophobia. And your implications to the contrary, raising doubts about the POTUS's country of birth is NOT "politics as usual." Racism...maybe not. Unusual and unprecedented and audacious...yep.

If daniel's cite of Marilyn Davenport is meant to imply that the label "chimpy" was used comparably against Bush and against Obama, then I would disagree. Davenport was an unknown local Republican official. She did not call Obama a chimp in public, but in a private e-mail. When a recipient made that e-mail public, it prompted nationwide outrage.

Davenport has stopped answering her front door, but anxious reporters keep coming. Members of the media point cameras at her house from the street, so she's had to lower her shades. A local political blog published her home address and private telephone number, causing her to worry about her safety. She's had to take the phone off the hook because, she says, anonymous people have been leaving voice mail messages calling her "vulgar things like 'whore.'"

She also was asked to resign from her party position. And, Davenport has apologized.

By comparison, the many who called Bush "chimpy" -- not in private e-mails, but publicly -- did not prompt nationwide outrage, were not hounded by reporters, were not called "whores", did not feel threatened, were not asked to resign their jobs, and never apologized.

"--did not prompt nationwide outrage, were not hounded by reporters"

That's because Davenport was a (local) Republican party official. None of the people who called Bush "chimpy" held similar positions in the Democratic party.

...were not called "whores...

How do you know what names they were/weren't called?

"..did not feel threatened..."

How do you know this?

"...were not asked to resign their jobs,..."

How do you know this?

Congressman Trent Franks on Obama: He is an "enemy of humanity."

Yeah, being called "chimpy" is so much worse than being called "an enemy of humanity"

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