the Financial Times
Are journalists really paying attention to what candidates say, or are they too distracted? The neuroscience behind media multi-tasking.
In today's Financial Times, Quentin Peel surveys the many difficulties facing Angela Merkel as she tries to steer Europe out of the latest chapter of its extended crisis, before praising her political savvy: Yet the underlying political reality, both in Germany and the rest of Europe, is that the chancellor is more in tune with public opinion than are many of her critics. The latest opinion poll published by the Pew Global Attitudes survey last month showed that she is the most respected European leader in every country except Greece. The same is true at home.
Or, better yet, “my ass.” The Arab Spring has been with us for nearly three quarters of a year. This is not a long time as history goes. But the annual flowers of the spare land have long ago vanished into the crude, mostly gritty sand that is the Middle East. It’s not, though, as if it is at all back to “normal” in the Arab world. And, frankly, we haven’t the slightest about what normal in the Arab world is or will be. The Muslims and the Jews and the increasingly scarce but differentiated Christians who constituted the region lived (and live) recreant lives.
Germany vs. Spain. Texas vs. Florida. These aren’t predictions for the next World Cup final or BCS title game but rather examples of the regional divergence in economic performance and fiscal outlook described by Gillian Tett in the Financial Times last Friday. She argues that while international attention has been focused on the divergence of the Eurozone (between countries with strong, growing economies and those without), the U.S.
Martin Indyk, of whom you may or may not know, has been in the "peace process" business for almost three decades. People so involved are usually very self-important, and Indyk is no exception. This is the case even though he has also regularly gotten himself into difficulties, including security clearance troubles while serving as U.S. ambassador to Israel. He is not exactly trusted.
There have been all sorts of drastic proclamations about the tax deal Obama struck with congressional Republicans earlier this week. Here's another to chuck on the pile: The agreement might end up killing what little momentum the U.S. clean-energy industry has picked up over the past two years. Some background. Back in 2008, Congress extended (yet again) tax credits for solar and wind producers, which now cover 30 percent of upfront costs. But when the recession made it tougher for firms to get financing, the credits were no longer working as advertised.
It's been an almost a week since House Minority Leader John Boehner came forward with his economic plan, such that it is, but I wanted to make one observation about it. Boehner's plan would mean a fairly drastic cut in discretionary spending: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Boehner is seeking to reduce it by 22 percent, or more than $100 billion. Of course, Boehner sees this as a virtue: The whole point is to assure voters he wants to reduce "spending." And when you put it that way, in such abstract terms, it sounds pretty appealing to most people.
Jonathan Chait has responded to my post about our lack of knowledge about the practical effects of stimulus spending. He seems to be taking on opinions that aren’t mine. Chait begins his reply by claiming that I “oppose any stimulus at all.” This is a position which I did not present in the post, and which I do not hold. In fact, I have consistently advocated stimulus in the face of the current crisis, and generally in venues that are not as hospitable to this idea as The New Republic.