Sunday, May 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
and without a doubt the greatest President of my lifetime so far (I remain ever hopeful).
Can you imagine George W. Bush doing this? Did Reagan ever do this?
A persistent label the Republicans have tried to pin on Obama is "weak". But he walked into a room full of his most bitter political enemies, and went eye-to-eye with them for 75 minutes.
The Republicans know perfectly well that they don't have anyone in the Congressional Party who can match Obama fact for fact. They don't have anyone who can match his charisma.
That's why there were no cameras at this event; Obama is better on camera than any of them. They got their clocks cleaned at the healthcare summit, their State of the Union responses were pitiful...
and of course, Obama has the objective truth on his side. That's a tough headwind.
I suppose it's possible to disagree with this President on policy. Inflation concerns are understandable, if misguided at this point in the business cycle. I'd be happier with a bigger budget for NASA..
But this President has killed more terrorists than Bush, inherited an uglier economy than did Reagan, convinced Pakistan to take aggressive action against the Taliban and risked the ire of an important constituency by pushing Israel on the settlement issue.
The Republicans should at least give him credit for having balls.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
still, it might force Limbaugh to work a little harder. The portion of his program I heard yesterday was an almost word for word rip-off of Beck's program from two days ago. Rush may have ratings envy. Rush did go off the Beck script when the headline came across the wire that Germany had banned naked short selling; he immediately started screaming about European Socialists strangling efficient capital markets with their claw fingered regulations, and then attempted to explain to his listeners precisely what was meant by "naked short selling"...
only to stumble to a halt when he realized he had no idea what it meant. After a quick commercial, he came back on with an accurate explanation of what it meant, kind of half-conceded that maybe this wasn't a catastrophe after all, and quickly got back on script.
The "conventional wisdom" has been that the country is experiencing an anti-Obama backlash. The supporting evidence has been poorly attended tea-bagger rallies and Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts, combined with polling data gleaned from a population so disinterested that the views they "express" to a pollster will change with the first contradictory nudge....
Beck has apparently written a novel, about a 100 year old plot to destroy America. I wonder where he got the idea?
any discussion of the "mood" of the country can be dismissed. The country has no mood, except for economic anxiety. We can safely dismiss any polling data involving the fall elections until September, at the earliest. Apocalyptic claims about Republicans retaking the House may indeed turn out to be accurate, but they are equally likely to prove wrong. The determining factor in the fall elections is going to be the health of the economy, with secondary factors like money, organization and local issues explaining the rest of the result.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from last night's results is that it might not have been a good idea for the RCCC to drop a million bucks on the PA 12th, where there's a 2 to 1 registration advantage for the Democrats. And even that conclusion is tentative...
the same candidates are going to face off in the fall.
Monday, May 17, 2010
that Napolitano is taking the point on this oil spill? I guess it makes sense not to highlight Salazar, his environmental record's what you'd expect from a Westerner. But I'm surprised not to have seen more of Lisa Jackson.in reference to:
"US President Barack Obama will set up a commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, officials say."
- BBC News - US President Barack Obama to set up oil spill panel (view on Google Sidewiki)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
"Capitalism", as practiced in the United States, and most of the developed world is fundamentally corrupt at its core. Its successful practitioners almost invariably lie, deceive, mislead, misrepresent, bully, threaten (both tacitly and explicitly), bribe and steal.
The above behaviors are carried out, over and over again, in the course of daily business. It is done as part of routine business operations, and it takes place as part of dominance behaviors having nothing to do with business operations. This behavior is carried out by a particular subculture to whom we may refer as "Commercial Elites". The behavior itself is a form of coercion, in that it leverages asymmetries in power between parties in a transaction in such a way as to cause the weaker party to act in ways it would not otherwise have acted. Such coercion may take the form of a bribe rather than a threat.
Commercial Elites are no more innately evil than any other identifiable subgroup of our species. But they have "power", in the sense that they can impel behavior in others that would not otherwise be present. And, like any other group of human beings with power, they use that power to influence what we are told are purely "market" transactions.
Every elite will promulgate an ideology (often a religion) that legitimates both their greater power and the use of that power to further their own interests. Commercial Elites promote a particular type of Capitalism that is excessively deferential to those elites, that exalts its practitioners to the status of heroes, and that defends the privileged position of Commercial Elites by predicting catastrophic economic consequences should their behavior be moderated.
It has been said so often that it is a cliché; the "market" is a purely intellectual construct, an abstraction employed because of its utility both descriptively and predictively...
and then, having covered their intellectual asses, the Capitalism Apologists promptly reify the market, citing the "efficiency" of an admitted intellectual abstraction in defending existing supply and pricing arrangements. But those existing arrangements are not typically arrived at through the beautifully meshed operations of supply and demand mediated by price. So-called market outcomes are primarily the result of power differences between the parties in an transaction.
the extent of American prosperity is massively overstated. And Americans cannot internalize that fact beyond a vague anxiety about their personal circumstances.. We are not the
richest country in the world. We don't have the best healthcare in the world (if by "we" you mean most Americans). We don't have the most leisure time in the world. We don't have the best education system in the world. We are a top 10 country, not number 1. But if you can convince people that we are number 1 because of an almost religiously fundamentalist devotion to practicing economic activity in a way that defers to your personal interests....
that turns out to be an effective tactic.
American prosperity is not due to "Capitalism". (Again, as it's practiced here.) American prosperity, such as it is, is a complex phenomenon. Like all complex phenomena, it is multi-causal and changes over time. But here's a striking relationship... the public policies advocated by Capitalism apologists don't seem to have resulted in greater prosperity for the American people, despite their promises.
It is claimed that Capitalism takes advantage of the particular expertise of private industry, but in fact, our so-called "Captains of Industry" are no more competent (just as they are no less moral) than any other subset of humanity. There are smart business people, and there are business people that are astonishingly dumb, in about the same proportion you'd find among teachers, or cops, or government bureaucrats. Furthermore, the relationship between competence and ultimate success is tenuous at best.
The benefits which derive from American Capitalism have been grossly exaggerated. The economic and social costs of regulating the behavior of Commercial Elites has been exaggerated even more.
Commercial Elites will ruthlessly exploit those with whom they do business to the extent that the existing regulatory environment allows them to do so. As it is presently constituted, the regulatory environment of the United States fails to deter coercive business practices, including practices blatantly illegal under current law.
Increasing regulatory restraint on Corporate Management will not make us poor. It's not anathema to the principles of the Founding Fathers. And it's the only defense we have against our rapacious exploitation by a privileged, hypocritical elite.
It occurs to me that I still haven't watched "Capitalism, a Love Story" by Michael Moore. I think it's on pay-per-view...
certainly, the Penguins don't have any games scheduled.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I was sorry that Obama kept him on, at the time. I thought it played to the public perception that Republicans were somehow more competent on defense issues. Gates has been a terrific advocate for Obama's policies, though.in reference to:
"Among Gates's apparent targets for major cuts are the private contractors the Pentagon has hired in large numbers over the past decade to take on administrative tasks that the military used to handle. The defense secretary estimated that this portion of the Pentagon budget has grown by as much as $23 billion, a figure that does not include the tens of billions of dollars spent on private firms supporting U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq."
- iGoogle (view on Google Sidewiki)
Saturday, May 8, 2010
it's breath-taking. My brother recently started reading H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu stuff. I'll be interested to see what he thinks of it; Lovecraft's prose isn't simply archaic, it's downright bad. Worse than Poe. But like Poe, Lovecraft's imagery positively grabs you by the throat...