Monday, July 31, 2006

New Democratic Right Emerging in Connecticut | TPMCafe

New Democratic Right Emerging in Connecticut | TPMCafe: "The campaign to unseat Lieberman is about the emergence of a New Democratic Right."

The above blog entry at TPMcafe is a revised and extended comment, which I made at TPMcafe, and which attracted the attention of the estimable Kos at DailyKos. My 1.5 seconds of fame on the frontpage at DailyKos. Woohoo!

Informed Comment

Informed Comment: Juan Cole speaks out on the prospects for Iraq going south in a hurry, because of U.S. backing for Israel's Lebanon adventure. He tells of Grand Ayatollah Sistani demanding the U.S. impose a ceasefire, or at the least, end the Israeli bombing campaign.
"What could he do if he were ignored? Sistani could call massive anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations. Given Iraq's profound political instability, this development could be extremely dangerous. US troops in Baghdad and elsewhere are planning offensives against Shiite paramilitary groups, so tensions are likely to rise in the Shiite areas anyway. But big demonstrations could easily boil over into actual attacks on US and British troops. Both depend heavily on fuel that is transported through the Shiite south. Were the Shiites actively to turn on the US for its wholehearted support of continued Israeli air raids, the US military could be cut off from fuel and supplies. The British only have around 8,000 troops in Iraq, and they would be in profound danger if Iraq's Shiites became militantly anti-occupation.

Since the Israeli treatment of Arabs is an issue on which Sunnis and Shiites agree, there is also a possibility that Sistani could finally get some respect from the Sunni community if he led such a compaign. That development would be more dangerous to the continued US military presence in Iraq than any other I can think of.

The US is already not winning against a Sunni Arab insurgency, backed by around 5 million Iraqis. If 16 million Shiites turned on the US because of its wholehearted support for Israel's actions in Lebanon, the US military mission in Iraq could quickly become completely and urgently untenable. In this case, the British troops in particular would be lucky to escape the country with their lives.

Chuck Schumer: The Death of New Deal Politics

American Prospect Online - What Would Joe and Eileen Do?:
(hat tip to Mark Thoma)
Senator Schumer:
"I want to talk about the future of the Democratic Party and where we’re going, and why we don’t an issues template, a values template. I mean, to sum it up in a nutshell, we all knock George Bush but he won the election on eight words: war in Iraq, cut taxes, no gay marriage. Frankly, those things -- I don’t agree with them -- but they’re what politics is supposed to be. Specific issues that he took flak on and was willing to make some waves over that were related to a system of values. "

I was actually quite impressed with Chuck Schumer, in that interview. It may be that part of the problem was having too many fine journalists and pundits in the room; none could get into the kind of extended dialogue Schumer seemed to be inviting, but the impression I came away with is that Schumer stood a head taller than any of them, in terms of his understanding of the details of practical politics. Which really should not be all that surprising.

Given Schumer's schedule, which must be grueling, it is amazing to me that he or any politician, once he first starts campaigning or holding office (which, today, "is" campaigning, apparently), ever manages to have another reflective thought about anything.

My own view is that New Deal politics died in 1968, when Nixon was elected and began fashioning a new Republican majority out of the silent majority of resentful, middle-class, used-to-be ethnic whites and the Southern Strategy of converting southern white racists into Republican libertarians.

Democrats like Schumer and Clinton and the DLC fought a partially successful rear-guard action, in the South and among post-ethnics (Schumer's base) in the North. It was more successful in the late 1980's, when it was still possible for a moderate Democrat to win in the South with a combination of blacks and whites, who didn't know they were voting with blacks. But, it is a form of identity politics, which depends on sneering at a caricature of 60's radicalism, which Schumer clearly practices and endorses.

Identity politics is critical to the stability of a two-party system. Both parties are continuously trying to get a 60-40 split in their own favor. The Democrats had such a split from 1828 to 1858; Republicans had such a split in the rump Union from 1860 to 1876, and from 1896 to 1930; the Democrats, from 1932 to 1968. Rove clearly believed that he could get there with Bush.

Generally, some combination of accident and a reaction to a constellation of issues determines the shift. It is a truism that somehow grabbing the political middle is key.

What I think Schumer is missing is that there is a potential now for such a shift. The Republican Party has become so repulsive in its character, and events are so discouraging, that there is a real possibility that 5-10% of the electorate will shift parties.

Since the Republicans are uniformly more conservative than the Democrats, this means that the Democrats will add a New Democratic Right. The old Democratic Right, represented by Lieberman and the DLC relied on the tactic of attacking a largely imaginary Democratic Left and making nice with Republicans. The New Democratic Right consists of former Republicans, who, though still ideological conservatives to an important degree, are becoming Democrats because they are repulsed by Republicans. Right now, it is a movement of activists and leaders; if a part of the electorate follows in 2008 and later, it will be huge political shift.

Schumer seems to suspect that the passion of the Democratic Left -- the DailyKos crowd and the rabble-rousing of Howard Dean -- somehow represents a resurrection of the 60's Left, which, in Schumer's memory, drove so many ex-ethnic middle class whites out of his party. In fact, Kos and Dean (and Tester and Webb and Lamont), ideologically, are on the right of the Democratic ideological spectrum. What they are stoking with their passion and their shouting is revulsion with the current crazy, incompetent, corrupt Republican Party. It seems to me that Schumer is missing the potential for revulsion against Republican excess to shift party identity, a truly monumental event, if it happens.

60's radicalism is awfully far in the past, and, personally, I see little evidence of its revival. But, the importance of revulsion to hippies is widely evident in the punditocracy's defense of Lieberman. See Digby

Republican awfulness is here and now. I suppose there's some potential for the whole project to fail because people like Schumer and Lieberman and Casey (Pa) and Nelson (Fl) and Nelson (Ne) don't get with the program. If the Democratic Left cannot stomach being in the same party with New Democratic Right conservatives or vice versa, that won't be good, and old-style 60's radical bashing, which Schumer still wants to engage in, won't help. Guys like Casey, who is pro-choice and Schumer's idea of a Democratic Conservative, are not ideal, but, maybe, cross your fingers, Lieberman's fate will be an object lesson.

Intra-party squabbling among Democrats, however, is the least of the country's problems. I think it is still quite possible that the Republicans will hold onto power. Thru media consolidation, the Republicans have turned the Media into a pliable propaganda machine, and Joe and Eileen (the "average" Americans of Schumer's imagination -- read the Prospect interview) may be unreacheable. Unions are dead. Society is more atomistic than ever in history.

More important than anything else, the Democrats cannot quite bring themselves to articulate a vision; it is not that there is not general agreement on important issues. Actually, there's a lot of agreement among Democrats, who mostly want universal health care and legal abortion and gay rights and peace in the Middle East. The problem is deeper and broader than individual issues, deeper than Democratic identity, the problem is that the country needs to make a radical change in direction, a change in direction, which will be painful and costly to make.

Gore articulated it very well: "Right now we are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region of the world, and to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet. That is nuts! We have to change every aspect of that." Not 8 words, admittedly, but punchy, and dare I say it, realistic. Still, any sane politician would run away.

Bush's tax-cutting policies were deliberately designed as a ticking time bomb, as is his cooperation in with Dubai and China in selling off America's future. And, his Iraq policy has taken on a similar design. Global warming and peak oil are ticking time bombs all by themselves, without Bush's help. If these things blow up on Bush's watch (or even McCain's, God forbid), the Democrats would be free to step up to the plate with a sensible and coherent agenda of painful, but necessary change. If the Democrats pick up power dropped from Bush's feeble grip, and then everything blows up in their faces, well, welcome to fascism, people, and a truly permanent Republican "majority".

Fears as US house prices to dip for the first time ever >>

Fears as US house prices to dip for the first time ever >> "HOUSE prices are set to drop in the US for the first time on record, US investment bank Goldman Sachs warned this weekend."

There have been declines in "real" prices before, as prices have stagnated thru periods of inflation. A decline in nominal price, however, would be huge.

The price of a house reflects expectations of price appreciation in the future. As housing prices rose in recent years, a snowball effect took over, creating a housing bubble: rising prices created an expectation of increased future appreciation, which in turn buoyed prices still higher, which in turn buoyed expectations higher, and so on. It is like looking into a mirror reflecting a mirror: instantly, there's infinite regress.

Normally, when a housing bubble is over, people, who own houses, get stubborn, and the volume of sales plummets, but prices stagnate. The only thing, which can force nominal prices down, is a wave of foreclosures -- forced sales by banks, who are not stubborn. A forecast of nominal price decline is equivalent to a forecast of massive foreclosure.

This is the beginning of what will surely be a painful recession in 2007.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Atrios sees the "perfect storm" hitting the economy

Eschaton: "The housing market, combined with extravagant federal government spending, has really kept the economy going these past few years. It's done so both by providing a lot of construction jobs and also by providing people with easy credit as they pull equity out of their homes. With the construction market slowing down there are going to be a lot of out of work skilled workers whose skills won't necessarily get them jobs in other sectors. With stagnant or falling home prices people won't have that easy credit anymore. And, with ARMs and no interest loans set to reset in a massive wave soon...


Friday, July 21, 2006

Fighters and Lovers

Digby :
"I know it seems ridiculous in light of what we are seing in Iraq that [the Republicans] would think of running on their superior competence in dealing with the middle east. But remember, the Republicans are counting on thirty years of rightwing propaganda to get them over the line again. They expect that many voters will simply fall back into their comfortable understanding of the two parties: the Republicans are tough men who can handle national security and the Democrats are sensitive women who will help you when you need help (if you're a pathetic loser who actually needs help that is.) The Fighters and the Lovers. This is the paradigm under which we've lived for many years and people find it very disconcerting to be asked to relinquish such reflexive internalized beliefs --- no matter what they see before them.

I do not know that they can pull it off one more time. We may have finally reached a tipping point. But I'm not counting any chickens.


Our President is an Imbecile

The Blog | Cenk Uygur: The Ugly Truth: Our President is an Imbecile | The Huffington Post: "The Ugly Truth: Our President is an Imbecile"

"As you read this transcript, remember that this is not a small child talking, but the President of the United States of America:

The camera is focused elsewhere and it is not clear whom Bush is talking to, but possibly Chinese President Hu Jintao, a guest at the summit.

Bush: "Gotta go home. Got something to do tonight. Go to the airport, get on the airplane and go home. How about you? Where are you going? Home?

Bush: "This is your neighborhood. It doesn't take you long to get home. How long does it take you to get home?"

Reply is inaudible.

Bush: "Eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country."

At this point, the president seems to bring someone else into the conversation.

Bush: "It takes him eight hours to fly home."

He turns his attention to a server.

Bush: "No, Diet Coke, Diet Coke."

He turns back to whomever he was talking with.

Bush: "It takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China."

Russia's big and so is China??????? This guys sounds like a third grader. Do you know anyone who would have a conversation like this with their neighbor, let alone a business associate, let alone a world leader? Who's proud to know that Russia is big and so is China?

Can anyone now credibly claim that Bush is secretly working on a master plan behind the scenes and that he's just playing cowboy for the cameras? I hope the master plan doesn't involve figuring out how long it takes to get to China.

If someone is this ignorant, they're usually embarrassed and try not to talk much. But this guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is. This sounds like a conversation you might have with a child, a mentally challenged child. Johnny, do you know how big Russia is? How about China?

This would all be unfortunate if George was your dentist, or worse yet, your accountant. But he is the leader of the free world. This man makes life or death decisions every day. If you say you're not scared about that, you're lying.

Would you let him do the books for your business? Would you trust your company in his hands for eight years? (No matter how Republican you are, you know you just said no to that question.) Would you trust him to be your kids' guidance counselor and take his advice seriously? If your kids were in the Army and he was their field commander, would you feel good about putting their lives in his hands?

Come on, no one is crazy enough to say yes to that. Yet, he has all of our lives in his hands. The emperor has no clothes. The emperor has no clothes. It's about time someone in the mainstream media said it.

In the old empires, there would be a lot of marriages between the royal families. And from time to time, these inter-family marriages would produce a mentally challenged son who would inherit the throne. This would set the empire back for hundreds of years. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying. Russia is big and so is China.

The Democrats for a long time have felt embarrassed about pointing out the obvious. The emperor has no brain. This is what I can't understand about the Democrats, they're always playing patty cakes while the Republicans are ripping their face off. John Kerry should have stood at the lectern during the debates and pointed to George Bush and said, "The leader of this country has to be the best and the brightest. If any of you think that he is the best and the brightest America has to offer, go ahead and vote for him!"

The theory is that people would be turned off by that. The theory assumes that people are also idiots and they love their cohorts. That is simply not true. Everyone understands that they have a friend they'd like to go fishing with and a friend they can trust to look after their affairs - and they're not necessarily the same guy. And that your fishing buddy might not be a great choice for President of the United States of America.

Kerry should have embarrassed Bush, made people feel sorry for him. It would have hurt in the short run and given him a temporary downward blip in the numbers, but in the end, when people went into that voting booth, they would have felt pity for Bush - in that scenario, Kerry wins easily. Nobody votes for someone they pity.

Unfortunately, right now we are in the position of being pitied by the rest of the world. We have third grader for a President. And worse yet, the Vice President has him convinced he is the second coming of Winston Churchill. Scared yet?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stirling Newberry On the Beginning of the End

The Revolution of the Sphere | TPMCafe:
"What is happening is the unraveling of elite confidence in Bushism – the order which Bush asserted in the days after 9/11, and the very nature of the project. "

Newberry's analysis takes a while to get going; you have to wade through some gibberish about decades ending, but when he has a full head of steam, it is amazing stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Stabbed in the Back! (

Stabbed in the Back! (
"the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies.

As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated. To understand just how this strategy is likely to unfold—and why this time it may well fail—we must return to the birth of a legend."

This looks like an excellent analysis of a potent political narrative, which is sometimes used to prevent the populace from learning anything from the abject of stupid, conservative policies.

Think Progress » ThinkFast: July 14, 2006

Think Progress » ThinkFast: July 14, 2006:
"Oil surged to record highs above $78 a barrel on Friday as intensifying violence in the Middle East raised concerns of possible supply disruptions.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Iraq war could cost anywhere between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next decade, depending on how quickly U.S. force levels are reduced.

Senators from the “Gang of 14” expressed concern yesterday over President Bush’s nomination of William J. Haynes II to the 4th Circuit, heightening the likelihood that the nomination will be filibustered or outright defeated. [Haynes was a principal architect of the President's pro-torture policy.]

“Less than two months after voting overwhelmingly to build 370 miles of new fencing along the border with Mexico, the Senate yesterday voted against providing funds to build it.”"

We need 15; 14 Republican seats are toss-ups

Daily Kos: Cook's latest House race ratings:
"Dems currently have 202 seats. Of these, 182 are solid, 10 are likely and 10 are lead D. Dems have no toss-ups.

The R's have 234 seats (one seat is cavant, IIRC) and of their seats, 179 are solid, 18 are likely R, 21 lean R, and 14 are toss-ups.

We need 15 seats."

Really short version, as in the headline: The Dems need 15 seats to assume majority control, and 14 existing Republican seats are in the "toss-up" category.

Nothing, but a virtual Democratic sweep will drive the corrupt Republicans from power. So, things will have to get a good deal stormier, before a change occurs.

My impression is that Democratic control in the Senate is even unlikelier.

What we need is not solid Democratic control in either House, but sufficient Democratic to initiate investigations into Bush corruption and incompetence. "Scandal-plagued" requires a prosecutor.

Let us pray for our country.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The previous post, though it might not be obvious since it is somewhat incoherent, is about stupidity.

The trouble with an argument, the premise of which is that some person or group is being stupid -- not just wrong on the merits of an issue, but actively and plainly stupid, is that the argument may not make sense to stupid people, and people, who think stupidity can not be objectively assessed, intelligence being akin to taste, account of which cannot be taken.

I thought I would collect a few examples, though, of the current ruling party's stupidity, just to drive home the point. These are examples of stupidity, not just things I think wrong or misconceived. It is amazingly easy, and telling, how many such examples are available on any given day. Here are two:

Homeland Security has identified twice as many "terrorist targets" in Indiana as New York. Of course, Indiana is a Republican State. I feel like targeting them myself. (Just kidding.)

An SEC commissioner does not understand how backdating a stock option is theft.

Coming Civil War?

I don't usually do "original" posts on this blog. I really don't expect anyone to read it. It is really just a place for me to keep notes, on this rhetorical theme, of expected or dramatic changes in political affairs. Like a lot of people my age, I remember the Watergate affair, which brought down Richard Nixon. It was very dramatic, to live through, building from little more than rumor thru Congressional hearings and judicial rulings and a tidal wave of newspaper editorials calling for Nixon's impeachment. People understood it was the Constitution in action, a response to Nixon's overreaching, and it had a feeling of inevitability about it.

Like a lot of people, I thought Bush had overreached, and when re-elected, would probably find himself mired in scandals, economic recession and the slow, horrifying failure of his war in Iraq. I guess I still expect that.

But, I find myself a bit discouraged that it has not happened, yet.

The longer the Storm is delayed, the more I fear either
1. the Storm never comes, and the U.S. is doomed to become a rotten, third world pisshole of a country, in a rapidly decaying world
2. the Storm that does come, as more and more pressure builds behind the revolt of the rational, realistic, and decent citizens, becomes really huge and destructive.

The biggest political storm in U.S. history was the Civil War, which followed the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Watergate was truly small potatoes, by comparison. At least 600,000 people died in war. I don't anticipate Civil War, of course. But, I was led to think of the Civil War by an e-mail exchange I had, with a young soldier, who opined, "What is a "pile of crap" is anyone thinking that we chose this war on terrorism and that Iraq is not a part of that war."

I cannot think of any argument I could make to this man, even if I were so inclined. His opinion is based on a completely false set of facts. The acceptance of reality and rationality as a tool for understanding reality are two pre-requisites for political debate and discourse. No gets his own private rules of logic or his own private set of facts; those we share. If a person is not willing to accept those preconditions, then he should shut up about politics. Because he refuses those conditions, he is refusing political discourse as a means of resolving disputes. There's really no role for him in politics, except as a soldier: a killer or a casualty.

A large part of the Republican right-wing is refusing political discourse. They reject the rules of logic, make things up constantly, lie constantly, and fill their diatribes with abuse, threats and lethal fantasies.

Political developments before the Civil War moved in a similar direction. The Slave Power, the political coalition controlling the country in the 1850's, which turned to secession after they lost a Presidential election, also refused political discourse in the late 1850's. They dedicated themselves to propositions, which were factually as well as morally indefensible; "Slavery is Good" was the prime thesis, but the intellectual rot spread from there.

Ultimately, the inability or unwillingness of the Confederacy's people and leadership to be realistic was their undoing. Secession, itself, was adopted after a Summer of hysteria ended in Lincoln's election. The Confederacy had, what appeared at the time, to be extraordinarily capable leadership, political and military. Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, was a well-educated man, a graduate of West Point, with experience as Senator and Secretary of War. (Lincoln, by contrast, had no adminstrative experience at all, and only a single term as a Congressman, of which to boast.) The Confederacy's Vice-President was also highly capable, and Davis' cabinet included several luminaries, among them the extraordinary Judah Benjamin. Several of the best reputed officers in the Army went South, including Robert E. Lee and the two Johnstons.

But, the Confederacy adopted one stupid policy and strategy after another. They sent a fierce advocate of reviving the slave trade as envoy to antislavery Britain. They withheld their cotton crop from market in a boycott, when they needed resources and goodwill from Europe, and when the Union was least able to blockade their ports. They could never figure out a military grand strategy, which made the slightest bit of sense. They refused absolutely to enact necessary taxes and financial measures.

The contrast with the northern Union could not be more stark. The Republicans, though inexperienced, were willing to throw over their ideological committments, and even partisan advantage, to judicious expedience in pursuit of preserving the Union. Every aspect of the war effort in the North was vigorous, sensible and rational, from finances to railroading to recruitment and training, to international relations, to the development of a grand military strategy.

Much is made in the textbooks of the Union's advantages in numbers and industrial capacity, though the ratios are not really so extraordinary, for successful independence movements. The Union's greatest advantages were in its capacity for leadership, planning and organization, and although those were tied to its industrial resources, they were also an aspect of a realistic worldview. The South's planning was marred, by contrast, with wishful thinking and, frequently, an unwillingness to accept what was necessary to accomplish its objectives. There were exceptional successes -- the South's production of gunpowder and munitions was close to miraculous -- but the rule was failure, including failure in such "easy" fundamentals as supplying enough salt to preserve food, as well as failure of the currency and the military.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

A New Bush Foreign Policy Emerges

DK, temping at Talking Points Memo summarizes::
"Afghanistan is reverting to the Taliban. Iraq is beyond the point of no return. North Korea is acting with impunity. Iran controls its own destiny.

"Worse, for an Administration that has instinctively favored military action over diplomacy, the nation's military resources are depleted, bogged down, and largely unavailable for any further foreign adventures.

"Yet we have stories emerging that suggest the current foreign policy dilemma is a deliberate course of action chosen by Bush. Time, in a mishmash of its news and style sections, calls it a 'strategic makeover' led by Condi Rice.

"The fact is Bush has boxed himself in, frittering away lives and treasure, and leaving himself with few options. He deserves no more credit for a policy shift than the man serving a life sentence who declares that he will henceforth be law-abiding.

Billmon considers why we wait for the storm

Whiskey Bar: An Inconvenient Al:
". . . the political presumption against rationality is now shared, or at least pandered to, even at the top of the political and cultural pyramid. It’s curious that people who are paid to think and write for a living, and who, like Gore, attended the “best” schools, are now nearly as susceptible to the politics of ignorance as your average conservative talk show host, but then the elite media ain’t what it used to be. Like academia, it’s fighting a losing rear-guard action against the spirit of the times and the angry, irrational prejudices that go with it.

"But even more than academia, the old journalistic bastions of enlightenment liberalism – the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek – are vulnerable to the growing institutional and commercial pressures to tell the customers what they want to hear. And since conservatives are by far the larger and more economically attractive audience, the gravitational pull is perpetually to the right, which these days means the authoritarian right and the artificial reality it prefers to live in.

"In other words, even 'serious' journalism – and by extension 'serious' politics – is no longer a conversation between educated, largely secular elites, with the unwashed masses free to listen in as long as they don't challenge the wisdom of their socio-economic superiors. The masses are now educated too, not to mention economically empowered. And while this hasn't made much of a dent in the American tendency towards anti-intellectualism, it means the opinions and prejudices of the populist right can no longer be ignored or segregated in the fringe world of talk radio. . . .

"if extinction, or a return to the dark ages, is indeed our fate – or our grandchildren’s fate, anyway – I think it will be a Hobson’s choice as to which cultural tendency will bear the largest share of the blame: the arrogant empiricism that has made human society into an instrument of technological progress instead of the other way around, the ignorant prejudices of the masses, who are happy to consume the material benefits of the Enlightenment but unwilling to assume intellectual responsibility for them, or the cynical nihilism of corporate and political elites who are willing to play upon the latter in order to perpetuate the former, which is, after all is said and done, their ultimate claim to power."

The Blogging of the President

Stirling Newberry predicts a Bush slide: "Earlier I predicted a roughly 5% bounce in Bush's numbers - which is approximately what we've seen. However the same leading indicators which showed the bounce, are now turning against him. The people who are now 'marginally attached' to Bush support are the disorganized white working class . . . This is hard core Bush support."

Newberry's analysis is that this group, the Wal-Mart voter if you will, already very unhappy with gas prices, is going to be made miserable by the economy going south, in the days ahead.

Bush and Rove have been pushing back, with noises on Iraq and "victories" in the war on terror.

Is Bush & Co. going to quietly accept a slide into the 20's? The 20's, before a mid-term election, is lynch mob territory.

I have viewed the Bush visit to Iraq, the arrests of the terror-plotters in Miami and Lebanon, the Congressional debate on "cut and run", etc. as a Rovian rehearsal of strategies for pushing up Republican numbers in time for the November election. Does the evident success of these moves indicate that the Republicans will retain control of Congress?

More revelations on illegal spying to come???

Ally Warned Bush on Keeping Spying From Congress - New York Times: "In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters."

Friday, July 7, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Community College Dean Looks at the Macroeconomic Situation, and Panics: Brad DeLong explains that we shouldn't worry overmuch, because the richest, smartest people on the planet cannot be counted on to act irrationally and not in their own interest, even as the inevitable bears down on them:
"to achieve a soft landing requires that a huge number of people around the world watch the real value of their dollar-denominated assets melt away slowly for half a decade without ever being impelled to sell off the dollar-denominated positions in their portfolios. It could happen. It happened in the late 1980s, thanks to the Japanese central bank and the collected investors of Japan. It will probably happen again. It requires mammoth irrationality on the part of investors, and an extraordinary eagerness on the part of central banks to eat enormous losses on their dollar reserves. It is not a rational-expectations equilibrium. But it will probably happen.

But if it doesn't happen again--if there comes a day when the world's central banks and investors all decide that it is time to sell their dollar-denominated assets, then... Well, then we get to see how good a central banker Ben Bernanke really is. There is a really bad global equilibrium out there, which the world economy might jump to at any moment."

Brad fails to note that Japan paid for the privilege of giving Bush I and Clinton's America a soft landing with more than a decade of stagnation. But, hey, someone, somewhere wants to suffer for America's economic sins. Really, they do.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

America in Decline

Vale to Babylon IV | TPMCafe: Sterling Newberry notes American Decline
". . . we are no longer able to speak the language of progress which the rest of the world hopes to share, but instead, we speak the language of protecting our place on the pinnacle, which is increasingly alienating to other nations."
The foolish choices of the Bush Administration add up to the destruction of the United States. They have flushed our honor and dignity down the toilet, for their stupidity and greed.

All eyes on housing

Econbrowser: All eyes on housing:
". . . statistics suggest to me that a recognition that the heady days of rapid real estate appreciation are now over had yet to sink in as of the first quarter of this year.

That troubles me, because it raises the possibility that, when the recognition does sink in, the current 'gradual cooling' could quickly turn into something more impressive."
It is a sad fact of political storms that economic discomfort is usually an underlying factor. Bush's economic policies have aimed, successfully, at bettering the lot of the very rich at the expense of everyone else. This would not normally lead to a recession, per se, but a recession in the aftermath Bush's reverse Robin Hood policies could be nasty. There is a very real possibility of even a mild downturn spiralling into a vicious cycle of economic decline and crisis.