Saturday, November 6, 2010


Why did Russ Feingold lose to an inarticulate dolt with no ability to articulate his policy preferences? Sharks, that's why.
Voters have great difficulty judging which aspects of their own and the country’s well-being are the responsibility of elected leaders and which are not. In the summer of 1916, for example, a dramatic weeklong series of shark attacks along New Jersey beaches left four people dead. Tourists fled, leaving some resorts with 75 percent vacancy rates in the midst of their high season. Letters poured into congressional offices demanding federal action; but what action would be effective in such circumstances? Voters probably didn’t know, but neither did they care. When President Woodrow Wilson—a former governor of New Jersey with strong local ties—ran for reelection a few months later, he was punished at the polls, losing as much as 10 percent of his expected vote in towns where shark attacks had occurred.

New Jersey voters’ reaction to shark attacks was dramatic, but hardly anomalous.
This time, of course, the sharks' bite was 30 years of failed neo-Liberal, Reganite, Thatcherite, and Libertarian policies.  Which is to say, stuff over which Feingold had less control that Wilson did sharks.

The idiotic sharks attack therefore I won't vote for the incumbent dynamic explains why this dust up between Glenn Greenwald and Larry ODonnell is so embarrassing for  O'Donnell; he, after all, blamed policies when its was sharks.

Here In Wisconsin

So in the wake of Walker's victory Doyle suspends the billion dollar free money and many jobs creating high speed rail.  Why, many ask, would he do such a think?  Read yesterdays WSJ op-ed piece decrying the decision because, after all, the WSJ editorial board didn't think that Walker was serious when he said he would cancel the whole thing. Doyle has now asked Walker to put up or shut up and more power to him.  For far too long Dems have been pulling Republicans' chestnuts out of the fire when their beloved don't tax and spend policies drive the country into a ditch.  Now, Walker has to make an actual decision: reject money that will improve Wisconsin's draw for companies and individuals by improving infrastructure over the long haul and create god know how many jobs over the short term.  Is he, in other words, going to govern or posture in the vague hope the Michelle Bachman  and Sarah Palin will shower him with their magical starbursts.

Olberman and Objectivity

Josh Marshal writes, in part, that disagreeing with Olberman's suspension
doesn't mean I don't see the point of rules barring people in the news business from giving money to politicians. I do. I think they usually make sense.
I think that this position fundamentally misunderstands being as opposed to seeming when it comes to partisan commitments and objective reporting.  As a commentator, as Marshal notes, Olberman is overtly partisan on a network that, it seems, wants to represent itself as the center-left's intellectual home.  Consequently, Olberman's lack of objectivity ought not be a problem.  Fine and dandy.  Is is, however, the case that someone who contributes to a politician, cause, or party loses their "objectivity."  I don't see how this can be the case, unless you want to argue that all political engagement flows from some sort of irrational force and argue that putting your money where your mouth is is a sign of the irrational overtaking the rational. Consider one of America's top scientists and a key figure in reestablishing the rule of reason in the doing of public science: Francis Collins. He is a born again Christians who, apparently, realized the truth of the Trinity after seeing a frozen waterfall.  Despite this clearly irrational moment and his consequent spiritual rebirth, Collins remains a dedicated scientist and has done an excellent job of defending the NIH from the Republicans hatred of science and reason. My point here is that there is no reason to make rules designed to ensure that newsies seem objective when their daily activities can be scrutinized for being objective, particularly when the rules involve curtailing civic engagement.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm Not Much for Joining, But:

I'd join this
  1. The Coffee Party has had the privilege to meet people from many different creeds and races, and despises fear-mongering towards any one group.
  2. The Coffee Party also hates xenophobia towards immigrants. We don’t plan to vote for any candidate who first exploited an immigrant for nine years and now wants to deport her.
  3. And ixnay on Yet Another Xenophobia aimed at particular trading partners, falsely blamed for our economic woes. The Coffee Party likes free trade — how else are we going to get our Coffee?
  4. While we’re at it, we don’t want Homophobia or Misogyny either.   
  5. The Coffee Party wishes the tax debate would also discuss whether we are getting our money’s worth. We have a tax-bloated government here at Coffee Party HQ, so why did they cut the one government activity we actually find useful – subways!?#!
  6. Suppose you had to make an agonizing decision whether to endanger the mother of your child by going through with a pregnancy. Pick one: (1) you and the mother should decide yourselves, (2) some Old Fart on a Bench or Legislature should decide for you.  The Coffee Party does not consider this a difficult pick.
  7. The Coffee Party wonders why all candidates from all parties have forgotten to mention that we are still waging war for reasons no longer clear, not to mention still violating civil liberties of both citizens and foreigners?
  8. Speaking of wars, how about ending the War on Drugs, which is so destructive  to our inner cities and to the source countries? (link to Nick Kristof){Wait a minute, we could even tax pot and restore subway service! (see 5) }
  9. Oh yes, Development. Frankly, the candidates are doing so badly on our issues 1 through 8, the Coffee Party is not expecting much from them on Global Development. At this point, we would just ask them not to destroy industries in poor countries with some arbitrary trade policy decision.
  10.   Our country is based on the ideals that ALL “are by nature equally free and independent,” and have “inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” men and women, blacks and whites, gays and straights, immigrants and natives, Christians and Muslims, Jews and Gentiles, citizens and foreigners, rich and poor. The Coffee Party wants our country back.

Election Fallout

Did you see Obama's press conference?  Did you think that the press corps wanted him to rent his garments and rub ash in his hair? Me too. Did you think that Gingrich's suggestion that Obama take a short nap until the victors came to town was silly? Me too.  Did you find all the lies about the cost of the trip to India and points east idiotic?  Me too.  Do you think that retaining Pelosi as Minority Leader the right choice?  Me too.  Is the proper response here to double down and continue doing what is right and what works instead of triangulating and such?  Me too.  Do you think that Obama will continue to govern from the slightly left-of-center?  Me too.  Do you think that the Republicans and Conservative will continue to push an anti-American agenda wholly, as opposed to slightly, owned by corporations and the idiotically rich?  Me too.

I Never Watch Keith Olberman's Talk Show

And I think his sport commenting stick is tedious.  However, unlike the Sanchez and Williams firings, Olberman's indefinite suspension is absurd on its face.

It Didn't Work Like That.

Over to the Volokh Conspiracy some lawyer or another waxes all poetical about some other lawyer's discussion of the Roman Republic's constitution and the Roman Republic's political economy.  The problem is Posner seems to think that what historians know about the Roman Republic's constitution norms bears any relationship to the actually existing Roman Republic's political practices.  Syme pointed out lo these many years ago that this wasn't the case.  Even worse, it seems that Posner wants to use the discussion of series of idealized abstractions as a means of promoting his preferred, it seems to me, economic order. And there, quite frankly, you have it.  Two lawyers claiming to have competence over several different disciplines trying hard to make everyone think that everything ought to be about fewer regulations and more rich folks.  Posner et alia can't rely on historians for their history because if they did all the various historical fictions on which they base their claims would collapse.  Sort of like Originalism, which is only coherent if you turn the founding fathers into the founding Scalia.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Refuse

I refuse to  believe that more than ten Americans are dumb enough to trust a single solitary thing Glenn Beck says

Who is Speaking Here?

So one or another of the NRO's various flying monkeys quotes the NYTimes:
Fannie and Freddie have increased their repurchase demands on lenders over the past year, but banks are sure to resist large repurchases, setting up more clashes and disruption… Freddie Mac and the Fed should push their claims hard.
And concludes that
What the Times doesn’t seem understand is that every mortgage a bank buys back is more toxic debt on their balance sheets, which means more capital tied up, unable to be lent. And that is really bad for the economy. Banks are already holding on to some $1.5 trillion more reserve cash than in normal times. Getting those dollars into the economy would be the single best way to end the recession (something the Fed has failed to do with its misguided short-term thinking).
From the NYTimes Editorial
Fannie and Freddie have increased their repurchase demands on lenders over the past year, but banks are sure to resist large repurchases, setting up more clashes and disruption.

Bank of America has said it does not believe it is at fault for the loans’ poor performance. Freddie Mac and the Fed should push their claims hard.

The Obama administration needs to ensure that the taxpayers’ interests come first. Until now, the White House has focused far more energy on shoring up the banks — a stance that may have made sense in the thick of the financial crisis but is increasingly suspect now.
In the NRO critique
Banks should buy back any mortgages required according to the normal system and established contractual terms.
So, if the NYT argues that Fannie, Freddie, and the Fed ought vigorously pursue the normal system and force banks to buy back any mortgages required its wrong but should, per the NRO critique, the pursuit of the normal system require banks to buy back any mortgages why that would be okay.

See the problem?

And also, I have no idea if the NRO flying monkey is correct on the economic impact of forced repurchase of badly, if not illegally, done loans and neither, to be frank, does the flying monkey. However, the point of the NYT editorial isn't economic merits but rather moral culpability and political expediency, ayna?

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Makes No Sense

A post from the NRO in its entirety 
Barney Frank has been in Congress so long, he can’t even bother posting a bio to his website. His reelection site’s “about” reads:
Barney Frank has been in Congress since 1981. He is the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Previously he was a Massachusetts State Representative and an assistant to the Mayor of Boston. He has also taught at several Boston area universities. More information can be obtained from “Politics in America” published by Congressional Quarterly and “The Almanac of American Politics” published by National Journal.
Nice little portrait of entitlement.
What's the entitlement? Asking people to look somewhere else for a more detailed biography.  I am sure the K-Lo would have been all starry eyed had Barney Frank published a full biography and she would never in any way have used that as evidence of his massive self-regard. Nope. Plus, who on god's green earth takes the time to read a congressman's web page and finds the biography the onliest thing to criticize?