Two quick hits for today:

1. I have never donated money to a presidential candidate and I never thought I would, but I am writing a check to Haley Barbour for President post haste. It is not possible to overstate the extent to which the 2012 election needs this guy. Can you imagine how boring it will be to watch Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney run against the "Defending the Mushy Center" version of Barack Obama? Good lord. It will make the 1996 and 2000 races seem like enthralling, white knuckle thrill rides with high turnout. Haley Barbour is like Central Casting's version of a Republican presidential nominee: a fat, sweaty racist from Mississippi with a Boss Hog drawl. Short of exhuming and reanimating George Wallace to run on a ticket with Orval Faubus, Barbour is the best thing that can happen to this election. I need entertainment value to get through an 18 month election cycle; it won't get much better than seeing Obama debate Foghorn Leghorn. Maybe we can even convince him to wear a giant cowboy hat.

2. CNN ran a mildly caustic piece about the rapid income growth enjoyed by the wealthy compared to the stagnant earnings of the middle class since the 1970s. While I firmly believe that class is an integral concept in understanding politics, economics, sociology, and the like, I am always frustrated by the extent to which terms like "middle class" are meaningless in the American context. No one knows what that means – we know only that we're all part of it (in our own minds). When 40% of households with incomes under $20,000 identify as middle class (!!!!) there is a problem. When fully one-third of families with incomes over $150,000 say the same, it becomes clear that the label is applied loosely at best. I'm curious to know if the fact that everyone thinks they're middle class is a result of self-delusion or years of concerted misinformation.