From my reading list

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As you hear people moaning about gas prices and read polls showing half the country thinks we're in a recession, you can get a more accurate picture of the American economy from Gerard Baker's column in the Times of London. Excerpts:

Even when you account for the fact that U.S. growth is not going to continue at 5 percent, but will revert to its trend of more like 3.5 percent per year, you are still talking about an economy adding more than $400 billion in inflation-adjusted terms every year (not quite Brazil or Australia, but significantly bigger than Switzerland or Belgium) . . . .

Historically speaking, indeed, America's economic hegemony has never been greater. However messy Iraq and Afghanistan get, it would be unwise to bet that the U.S. will not continue to be Top Nation for quite a while yet.

What could undermine long-term U.S. dominance? Some fret that the precarious American fiscal position could do it. However, this is mostly hyperventilation. The fiscal deficit, at a cyclically adjusted 2.5 percent of GDP, is on the large side, but American public debt as a proportion of GDP — at less than 70 percent — still puts the United States comfortably among the more frugal of the world's big nations.

The astonishing productivity of the American economy is truly awesome. If you can recall 1979, you'll remember that we were being told by experts that America's best days were over, that we could expect nothing better from the American economy than stagnation and inflation, that we should just be adults and realize that we were in an era of limits. How wrong these people were! There's a story journalists should relate, but don't expect mainstream media to tell it.

And here's Donald Lambro's column in the Washington Times on Republican turnout efforts. The Republican turnout drive was one of the most undercovered stories of the 2004 campaign cycle—and quite possibly the most important. John Kerry got 16 percent more popular votes than Al Gore, but George W. Bush got 23 percent more popular votes in 2004 than he got in 2000. That's an enormous increase, which owed much to a 1.4 million-volunteer effort. Excerpt:

The grass-roots effort reactivates a well-trained ground force of political volunteers – that eventually will number in the millions – who have been sending in weekly reports on the number of new Republican voters identified and registered in key races through a vast E-mail network linking Republican Party organizations.

"Every single week our volunteers make tens of thousands of contacts with targeted voters," said a senior Republican official who detailed the operation for the Washington Times but did not want to be identified.

RNC officials declined to talk in specifics about the voter-turnout effort that has been operating since the summer, but political director Mike DuHaime confirmed that "the organization is certainly in place, and we're moving forward."

However, a senior party operative who is intimately involved in the program described a large and growing volunteer force that is given a set number of goals that have to be met each week.

My guess is that the weekly reports the RNC is getting are providing numbers that tell us far more about eventual Republican turnout—whether it will be big or small—than public-opinion poll numbers do. I plan to ask RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman to share the numbers with me, which I'm sure he'll refuse to do.