Sunday, November 25, 2007

Views differ on shape of earth

There's a now tired joke, about how, if a Republican asserted that earth was flat, journalists would feel compelled to write a story headlined, "Views Differ on Shape of Earth".

The crabbed inability of journalists to write in a straightforward way in the face of sources determined to lie or obfuscate was on full display today, as the Washington Post reports that the U.S. is losing the war in Afganistan:

U.S. Notes Limited Progress in Afghan War: "The contrasting views echo repeated internal disagreements over the Iraq war: While the military finds success in a virtually unbroken line of tactical achievements, intelligence officials worry about a looming strategic failure. "

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Not Over -- Just Beginning

Via Atrios the Wall St. Journal reports that the mortgage crisis has just begun, with a wave of interest rate resets coming in 2008, which will combine with foreclosures depressing prices to create a very unhappy situation.

It is worth remembering, at this point, that this mortgage banking crisis is the direct result of bad policy, of not regulating the banks to prevent their predatory and profligate lending.

The economy -- the Bush economy -- is falling to the mat. It is not a knockout, I think. But, it is the economic downturn, which will motivate an increasing political storm.

Friday, November 23, 2007

That reason is Iraq

The American Scene:
The debacle of Iraq has completely changed the way many at least some on the left talk about foreign policy, has midwifed the birth of a kind of left-wing realism. It is the left (or a portion thereof) that has taken up the mantle of the Reality-Based Community. In the same way that some conservatives (Larry Kudlow, for example) have begun to embrace a kind of unified-theory-of-nonsense embracing neo-creationism, the idea of tax-cuts as revenue-raisers, and the conviction that we are winning in Iraq, I believe there is an emerging group of left-wingers who are going to take empiricism seriously across the board, and not just when it comes to scoring points against the Bush Adminstration.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Since the beginning of this blog, the one element for a perfect political storm, which has been missing, is the economic 'hard times'. Bush has managed to alienate a solid majority, without the usual critical ingredient of hard times. But, maybe that's about to change. Nouriel Roubini sees a hard landing.

It is increasingly clear that by now that a severe U.S. recession is inevitable in next few months. Those of us who warned for the last 12 months about a combination of a worsening housing recession, a severe credit crunch and financial meltdown, high oil prices and a saving-less and debt-burdened consumers being on the ropes causing an economy-wide recession were repeatedly rebuffed [by] the consensus view about a soft landing given the presumed resilience of the US consumer.

But the evidence is now building that an ugly recession is inevitable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

A political storm, as I have written many times, is a dramatic event, the telling of a moral fable as it were, on the political stage. It is an almost inevitable consequence of policy, which is so catastrophically bad and unwise as to have highly visible catastrophic consequences. The political storm is the accountability moment.

Not all bad policy has such immediate consequences. And, plenty of bad policy, due to the ideological blindness of its progenitors or the self-interest of its beneficiaries, resists any accountability moment.

Joseph Stiglitz writes in Vanity Fair, on The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

Monday, November 5, 2007

Getting it Wrong

Michael Hirsh
"After six years of propping up and making excuses for Pervez Musharraf, . . .

"Washington doesn't have many friends left to call on in Pakistan -- perhaps the No. 1 generator of anti-U.S. terrorism in the world today. That's the dilemma that democracy crusader George W. Bush faces after Musharraf, one of his firmest allies, took the dictator's path and declared martial law on Saturday. . . . "

"Musharraf has completely de-legitimized himself in the eyes of the Pakistani public, and Washington has virtually no friends in a part of the world where Al Qaeda has established a new safe haven. 'I agree with [Musharraf] that we are facing a political crisis, but I believe the problem is dictatorship, I don't believe the solution is dictatorship,' Bhutto told Sky News. 'The extremists need a dictatorship, and dictatorship needs extremists.'

"Americans have always been uneasy about dancing with dictators. But in the age of terror such a policy can be very costly. Musharraf's method of maintaining his thin legitimacy is an example of just how costly. In order to keep himself in power, Musharraf has cut deals with the Mutahhida Majlis Amal (MMA, or United Action Council), a coalition of Islamic parties, and barred the parties of his main secular political rivals, former prime ministers Bhutto and Sharif. This was an attempt to 'create the illusion that radical Islamist groups were gaining power through democratic means, thus minimizing the prospect that the international community—especially the United States while Pakistan offers support in the war against al Qaeda—would press for democratic reform,' scholar Husain Haqqani wrote in his recent book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. But because these Islamist groups have continued to grow in power and influence, they may no longer be controllable.

"The monster that Musharraf cynically nurtured to keep himself in office is now threatening him personally: Al Qaeda elements that have found increasing support in friendly areas of Pakistan controlled by Islamists have tried to assassinate him twice. Some U.S. officials now fear that that this nuclear-armed nation is teetering on the verge of chaos, and the result could be every American's worst nightmare: that nuclear material or knowhow, or God forbid, a bomb, falls into the hands of terrorists."

What Digby said

Political storms are transformative -- a critical mass of the population realize the error of their ways, or at least an error in the way of some elite and powerful group, and sweep away that group and the supporting assumptions, which kept that group in power.

One reason, aside from the impotence of the Democratic Congress, that I know that The Political Storm has not swept America is the Giuliani Campaign -- really the whole Republican field apart from Ron Paul seems majorly detached from reality, but Giuliani is both the front-runner, and the Republican candidate most favored by Bush, himself. As digby at Hullabaloo puts it: ". . . it really appears to me that the Republicans may just nominate someone dumber than Bush and crazier than Cheney. And without the morals of either of them. How is that even possible? "

How indeed?

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Logic of Empire

Anthro writes on the critical logic of Empire versus the Logic of Democracy.

He explains why Cheney may have already won, or why he may well win the game, even as he loses power. Those, who follow have many strong incentives to mirror the behavior of Cheney, even in trying to reverse what he's done, and so may end up just accepting revolutionary premises Cheney has brought to American foreign policy and American conceptions government.

There's a strong case to be made that 2004 was the critical election, and the good guys lost, and there's no going back.

So many people seem to be hypnotized by the logic of illogic. Simply arresting Bush and Cheney and the rest and shipping them off to stand trial for war crimes at the Hague is apparently unthinkable. Simply withdrawing posthaste from Iraq is simply unthinkable.

Well, the U.S. has been going down the tubes, because so few have been willing to think. So, maybe it is time some started.