1. On the current state of the economy, Mark Thoma highlights the employment-to-population ratio. Here is his chart:
I think he is right to push this, because I find it a more reliable indicator than the unemployment rate. The graph suggests to me (probably not to Mark) that the stimulus has not worked. Of course, proponents can always argue that it would have been much worse without the stimulus, but one should not ignore the visible reality.
I would also note that if you look at the period from 2002 through 2004, the economy hardly seems overheated by this measure. That is a big reason why I continue to place little blame on monetary policy in that period, notwithstanding continued pushback from David Beckworth.
2. On the issue of social affiliation and politics, read Jennifer Rubin on how Jews react to Sarah Palin.
Palin's anti-elitism and her embrace of social conservatism, which are now integral to her persona, will in all likelihood continue to make her unpopular with the great majority of Jews. She is not about to change her appearance, her stance on abortion, or her disdain for media elites. And Jews are not about to cast aside their preference for those leaders whom they perceive as intellectually worthy--and socially compatible.
I was at an event where Rubin spoke a couple of months ago, and she gave a cheery outlook for the Republican Party. During the question period, I suggested that it would be difficult to attract Jewish voters to the anti-elitist strain of the Republican Party, and to Palin in particular. She told me to wait until I saw her forthcoming article, which led me to believe that she would have a counter to my thesis. Instead, she seemed to reinforce it. Read the whole article.
If Sarah Palin, as she currently is perceived, were elected President, that would represent an utter repudiation of intellectual elitism in government. Many Jews instinctively think that would be a bad thing. But right now, as far as kicking the intellectual elites out of Washington goes, I'm not seeing the down side...