Friday, August 31, 2007
My dichotomous lethargy aside, it appears Craig has decided to resign.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
What I'd like to see is a multi-tier (maybe with various states rotating positions, election by election) process, with the two traditionals (NH and IA) up first (otherwise, all Hell WILL break loose!), followed at three or four week intervals by a series of mini-Super Tuesdays, with several small and mid-sized states holding their primaries, and then the handful of really big states. Maybe one big one (again, rotating position quadrenially) in the early stages for 'fun'.
Regardless of the process developed, something needs to be done to smooth the process (mechanically, not politically) so that we don't end up with one big national primary day. If we do end up with that, I want a Constitutional Amendment that it can't happen before August, so we don't end up with an continual process.... the challengers starting before the winners' elections are done, leading up to a primary, then a HUGELY long campaign season. This cycle is killing me, and we're just barely past the halfway point! :)
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
...But Jonah Goldberg has, in his own columns, a special gift. He manages, week after week, to cut through all the fluff of actual analysis or insight. From any conversation or controversy he can cleanly strip away all new information and ideas, all creative thought, all inventiveness, managing to debone both the substance and appeal of any argument as cleanly as a butcher dispenses with the carcass of a cow. If you want to know the mere husk of a conservative idea, without being subjected to any of the underlying logic, Jonah is the mind for you. If you want the thinnest, most translucent version of a conservative argument about any given issue or event, he can oblige. There is no brain-injuring analysis in a Jonah Goldberg column, no central core of facts, no calculated veneer of respectability painted onto the conservative arguments. Jonah is the conservative protopundit, the conservative that is so primal and simplistic in his analysis that you can see directly through to the innermost biases, unencumbered by evolution.
In his arguments, Jonah can peel an orange and toss everything but the rind, leaving a fascinating representation of what, in actual punditry, might have led to an actual moment of cleverness or insight. For Jonah the insights are mere bumps along his predetermined path. You can tell the destination of each column not just before it is read, but before it is even written: the arguments are that bland, the insults that predictable, the chosen topics that banal. And so when treated to a Goldbergian analysis of whether the liberal netroots are better accomplished online than their conservative counterparts, we can presume that the entire depth of the discussion will be reduced to an assertion of nuh-uh, and left at that.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States -- the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain -- actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and "our women" will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have -- not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.
And their key political beliefs -- from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home -- are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the "base," a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion -- a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.
They actually think this is going to happen ("read Zawahiri's speeches about the Plan for Caliphate!!") and believe that we must do everything in our power -- without limits -- to stop it. And there are a lot of them who think this. In recommending this essay, the most-read right-wing blogger today described it as: "ROGER SIMON has thoughts on gay marriage and the War on Terror." There are many ways to describe what Roger Simon wrote, but "thoughts" would not really be one of them.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
For about two centuries it was widely understood that being black at all was a disqualifying qualification for being elected president. So why don't more people see at as more than vaguely nauseating that the first black candidate for president with a realistic chance of getting the job is continually asked if he's black enough?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
History shows that, over and over and over, the markets succumb to manias that enrich a lucky (usually, the early) few, and destroy everyone else involved, and often a goodly number of bystanders. The current situation is such.
We had historic real estate price growth rates and historic low interest rates. Everyone and their dog was getting involved in real estate. This necessitated a huge growth, and explosion, in the mortgage market. One fed the other which fed the first and on the bubble grew. Rational observers could see only one result, but the participants and the government gave us the old refrain: It's different, this time.
Rule Number One: It's NEVER different, this time!
So we had incredible price growth in the real estate market, we had cheap money, much of it, due to the rising prices, outside of the government parameters for loans, and the twain met and drove the market to it's inevitable doom.
At some point, the greater fool theory took hold and the underpinnings started to crumble. People who had gotten cheap mortgages, outside of federal guidelines, and sometimes out of their ability to pay, began to worry; people looking in decided to hold off for a while, which slowed the growth of real estate prices; people with money to lend became less interested in lending to what was now, obviously, a tenuous bubble economy. And then the bubble burst.
And now, the reaction is spilling over to the financial markets at large. The Dow is down more than a thousand points from it's high last month, with no real end in sight, as the problems are psychological, not fundamental. The secondary market for mortgages has collapsed to the point that the Fed is having to hold it up.
All of this because most of the activity took place outside of any regulation.
I'm not proposing that we regulate the financial markets into stasis. The people that drive the markets are risk takers, always have been. But the situation has changed, dramatically, over the last several decades. Most of the risk takers are taking risks with other people's money, not their own; this changes the dynamics of risk taking and makes seemingly insane risks seem reasonable. Particularly if the only cost to the risk taker is getting a multi-million (or in some cases near billion) dollar golden parachute. Corporations may not have enough to pay their pension obligations or provide health coverage to their workers, but they always seem to find the money to pay off execs they want gone. Go figure.
My economics is all undergrad, and as such, I'm not going to offer any significant proposals here. But, it seems to me, that if we want to restrain 'irrational exuberance', then we need to reinforce the risk side to the risk takers. I don't know if this needs to be civil or criminal penalties, or financial sanctions, or what. I just know that something needs to be done, all across the board, to 'teach' corporate management that there are costs to 'failure'.
Businesses pollute, cheat, collude, lie, etc, with virtual impunity. Legal penalties against them are ridiculously small. If Halliburton is ever convicted of fraud in Iraq, they'll pay a heavy penalty, but compared to the profits they've raked in, it will be a pittance. Where's the coercive effect? Where's the fear factor?
Penalties for serious infractions need to be made much more severe, altho perhaps variable with the size of the company. And, in my opinion, there should be offenses for which the penalties are crippling to the company, perhaps even life threatening. And management involved in the offenses should face penalty as well. I'll leave the specifics to the experts but we need to make the punishment fit the crime, to the point that potential offenders think twice about committing the crime.
We should be able to get the Repugs on board with that. Isn't that their whole position on crime in general?
(cross posted at DailyKos )
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I fear, barring conviction for something, he may yet rise again from the dead. Metaphorically speaking, he's been poisoned, shot, weighted with chains and dumped in the Neva. Where is Prince Yusupov when we need him?
Eugene Robinson has a snarky goodbye in the Post.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Conventional wisdom is what got us where we are now. DC circle-jerking will not get us out, no matter how many ponies they think we might find, or how many Friedman Units we wait, or how many amps Cheney's latest heart replacement has......
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Get off your asses and write/phone/email your Congresspeople and demand that this not happen. NOW! GO!
Update: Digby shouts too!