Monday, September 29, 2008

Beware the hooded old man at the rudder...

Now, I know that Chris De Burgh's "Don't Pay the Ferryman" may strike some as melodramatic and overwrought, but that's only because it is. Nevertheless it seems like the perfect song to play while Congress ruminates over retooling the Great Bank Bailout of 2008(with more bailouts to come, no doubt, until we're all broke millionaires, awash in worthless currency...) (With a nod to Bob in Pacifica's "Something for nothing".)

(12.2008: In case the above embed doesn't work, the direct video link is here. Since I don't approve of sighing on the internet, I'll just write "grumble."

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

History repeating itself

Helena Cobban: "China and Japan's stakes in the US financial crisis"
as well as,

"China's condition to bail out the US: Taiwan?"

Andrew Leonard in Salon, "Not so fast, Secretary Paulson!"

look past the florid ridiculousness of Leonard's opening paragraph("this kind of profound remaking of capitalism..." ), as well as some(OK, many) of his assumptions, to this worthy passage:

You don't often find a Democratic senator and a University of Chicago free-market true-believer economist on the same side, but Luigi Zingales' widely circulated "Why Paulson Is Wrong" essay provides strong support for the idea that the government should get a piece of the action, framed in terms of debt forgiveness in exchange for equity.

Zingales argues that a reduction in debt can benefit both equity holders and debt holders because "there are real costs from having too much debt and too little equity in the capital structure." But debt holders tend to resist government-ordered debt forgiveness for the very simple reason that a government bailout is a preferable solution, for them.

Daniel Gross in Slate, "The Political Cowardice and (Hypocrisy)of the Wall Street Bailout"

Congress and the president favor a $700 billion Wall Street bailout, but they're afraid to say how they'll pay for it...

Xymphora: "Then they came for the Lehman Brothers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Lehman Brother"

(not his best piece, but the title is irresistible.)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the UN: "American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders"

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

invest like a pirate day

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dead Horse Pt 2: or, are you a domesticated goat?

From wikisource, "The Goatherd and the wild goats"

A Goatherd, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with his own for the night. The next day it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them, turning about, said to him: "That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves."

Given that I've decided to call the new blog "Dead Horse", I probably should be careful about mixing my animal metaphors. Nevertheless I come back, time and again, to this story whenever I listen to practically anything that comes out of Obama's mouth, he of the silver tongue that makes lefty swooners swoon. I'm not so impressed with Obama myself, and I'm inclined to think his reluctance to define his politics will ultimately hurt him, even if he has more charisma than Kerry or Gore. (Of course most warm-blooded organisms have more charisma than Kerry or Gore, but that's another matter.)

All the same, even if Obama doesn't do anything for me, I recognize that millions of people do respond to him. And yet, he seems doggedly determined to squander his opportunity to help remake American politics at a time when we, the otherwise very conservative public, are more ready for meaningful liberalism and activist government, and yes, change, than we have been in a very long time. The economy appears to be teetering, government corruption and scandal, mostly republican, has soured people on incumbents and the "establishment" and we are mired in (at least one) costly and highly questionable war.

But we have Nancy Pelosi, the supposedly far left-wing democratic speaker of the house, loudly telling everybody who'll listen about her table, the one that will not allow impeachment of the most blatantly crooked president since Richard Nixon(who was pardoned 34 years ago tomorrow, on September 8th, 1974), and Obama and his running mate Joe Biden eagerly praising their opponents on Fox News and assuring anybody who'll still listen that they needn't be concerned about criminal charges being leveled against George Bush, jr.

What's wrong with this picture? Where do you even start?

This is why I'm starting "Dead Horse", which is meant to be a conversation about

1.the dysfunctional democratic party, and whether or not it can (or should) be saved.

2. our post 9-11, post-constitutional republic, a screwed up simulacrum where things are rarely as they seem, at least as far as I can see-- because

2b. It's not just the democrats "suddenly" having become dysfunctional, but a process of unraveling which seems to have been going on for a long time.

Or maybe I'm wrong(not 2b. Sorry, I can't resist...) That's why I want, from the get-go, for DH to be a group blog, for which I'm sending several invitations, both to bloggers who I feel are in approximately the same "camp" as I am, as well as a couple of others who might feel somewhat sunnier about the prospects for our future. I want to try to create the conditions and a venue for a useful conversation, not just an echo chamber. More soon, and hopefully not just from me.

cross-posted at "Dead Horse"

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

1492 v2.0

and here is part 2, and part 3.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mosaic on the DNC convention- an Arab view

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dead Horse: September 1st(Part 1 of 2)

Sometimes it's difficult for me to write according to the perceived dictates of blogging, by which each post is supposed to be about a discrete topic, ostensibly separate from the topics that precede and follow. For example, when I look at the miasma of events in recent weeks I try to give them a context, at least within my own noggin. South Ossetia, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, the "pre-emptive" Minneapolis police raid(also here (via), hurricane Gustav, the forced resignation of Pakistan's corrupt strongman(and the continued non-resignation of our own president), they're all connected, at least in my mind.

Yesterday I called my father, whom I hadn't talked to in a couple of months, and I expressed my disappointment with Obama. My pop is intelligent enough not to fall for the "historical opportunity" song-and-dance, and he's not the sort to be reactively aghast at the thought that somebody might think that the meaningful differences between the two parties is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Nevertheless, he said that he felt the differences that do exist do matter, and that you don't have to be crazy about the nominee to vote for him, because at least he's not McCain, etc. You know, the lesser-of-two-evils argument.

The cartoonishly earnest change-fetish segment of Obama's supporters get a lot of media(and blogosphere) attention, but, win or lose, it's unlikely they make up that big a segment of the voting populace, or even of the people who will end up voting for him. I suspect that the number of voters who choose Obama in November who take a more sober approach like my father are far larger. In a recent comment thread at Jonathan Schwarz's ATR, Nell of A Lovely Promise argued that turning away from the Democratic ticket because you're hoping to hasten the decline of the US empire was a form of "armchair Leninism", and noted that it's pollyannish to expect that a more enlightened state would inevitably emerge from the rubble-- and I suspect she's right.

cross-posted at Dead Horse.)

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