Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Emporer's New Budget

The Republicans have unveiled their alternative budget. And there's no there, there. Apparently, the Repubs have elected to for a circular firing squad and whale away.

I am of mixed thoughts on this. In theory, I should want a robust opposition. If nothing else it raises the game. But really. Given their behavior over the last 16 years (especially), I just can't muster anything other than unbridled glee at the conjunction of their utter, complete psychotic exactly the moment the media has finally decided to notice that they're kinda crazy.

Seriously. Go look at the "budget" really is more of what Bush gave ya. Only with even less detail.

I'm the one in the corner crunching popcorn and laughing myself sick.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What On Earth Is Happening In The Economy?

Several folks have taken a stab at explaining Geithner's plan.

Brad DeLong finds much to admire. My favorite question from his FAQ? "Q: What if markets never recover, the assets are not fundamentally undervalued, and even when held to maturity the government doesn't make back its money? A: Then we have worse things to worry about than government losses on TARP-program money--for we are then in a world in which the only things that have value are bottled water, sewing needles, and ammunition. "

Mark Thoma compares and contrasts the Paulson version, Geithner version and Nationalization with a simplified exercise involving cars that blow up (well the engines at least...but only some of them!).

Paul Krugman has now actually made his way out onto the ledge and really looks like he's going to jump.

These are three "liberal economists" and just look at the range of opinion, this doesn't include any conservative/Chicago School economists. And who cares what the conservatives think? They and their desperate need to adhere to their orthodoxy caused the mess.

For reactions, considered and otherwise, I give you Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings: "As someone who thinks that levels of compensation in the US are absurdly unequal, and that this is bad for the country, it's tempting to say: oh, go ahead, you idiots. Keep your sense of entitlement to other people's money. Make people come after you with pikes and tumbrils. See if I care."

Also this rather elegant summing up on the difference between what your head and you heart tell you, by Ezra Klein: "Intellectually, I'm of the crowd that thinks the A.I.G. bonuses don't deserve the continued focus of the political system. One tenth of one percent of the money we've given to one company should not obsess us. But whenever it comes up in conversation, I'm shocked at the depth of my own fury. And here's why: Not to sound naive about this, but the absence of patriotism that galls. The lack of responsibility is sickening. These bankers delivered an almost mortal wound to the American economy. Their actions threw millions out of work and wrecked the retirement savings of tens of millions more. [...] They should be begging for a shot at redemption. They should work without pay, without sleep, without credit. They should wear sackcloth and ashes. But more than that, they should be trying to help. The damage they wrought might have been unintentional, but that doesn't absolve them of responsibility for the aftermath. What we've got, however, is an economic hit-and-run, with one wrinkle: The collar-popper peeking out of the bloodied Porsche is willing to stick around if we pay him for his time. Give him a bonus and he'll dirty his hands with CPR."

Me? How the fuck should I know? You just saw three major economists disagreeing and two very rational people who basically said that despite what their rationality tells them they'd be happy to attend a Festival of Blood for Wall Street types. Weird huh? I get all pissed off, right up until it becomes an actual crisis, then I get all calm.

Except for when Repubs talk about the debt, and how we're stealing from future generations. From THEM I want to know where their oh so tender concern for my daughter was when THEY were in charge of shoveling money to their cronies in no bid contracts and tax breaks for their buds. THEY can go fuck themselves.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This Says It All

Normally, I don't quote in the entirety or I just provide a link.

You should read all of this, so I'm pulling it all in.

My name is Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I'm a social liberal. I'm pro-choice. I believe in the right to die. I believe in gay marriage. I'm against the death penalty. And, and as we've recently seen, I don't believe that all kids should be raised by married parents. I also like being black. But I'm clear that most of my views are to the left of most black people. By and by, I hope that isn't the case. But it is today, and understanding that difference is

I think one of the biggest problems with the GOP is that they they mistake their deepest held beliefs for mainstream American beliefs. The root of the current conservative crack-up probably lies in Iraq, but the one event that exposed it all, for me, was Terri Schiavo. Here you had a sitting President, a gaggle of Senators and congressmen bending over backward to argue that government was a better arbiter of a woman's fate, than her husband and her doctors. The moment Bill Frist decided to give a diagnosis via video tape, I felt the wind shift. When it comes to the end of their days, most Americans would want their spouse--not the Senate Majority Leader--to be the final authority.

The point is that you have to be able to distinguish your deeply held beliefs, from the electorates. I think much of the GOP's trouble stems from the inability to discern the difference. That whole "Real America," "Real Virginia," small-town snobbery bit, isn't an act--they actually believe it. I've never understood the whole "Center-right country" meme, because it's ultimately self-serving--and then self-defeating. It blinds you to the hard work of arguing, cajoling and fighting with the electorate, until they see your point. It's interesting that so many of their most dominant voices of the GOP (Steele, Gingrich, Limbaugh) have either never won an election, or haven't won one in a decade.

I keep thinking about the big things that have always kept me from being a conservative--the knee-jerk worship of a past that branded me half a man, the elevation of the loud imbeciles who think science teachers should be using the Bible, the toleration and baiting of bigots who cloaked themselves in the garb of "States Rights," and now run under the garb of "protecting marriage." The common denominator here is an unreflective veneration of what was, a belief that tradition, no matter how backwards, can heal all. Thus it's only right, that Steele, Gingrich and Limbaugh make up the leadership.

It's not that I think liberals are without flaw, but to argue that our most strident members should be our public face, would seem silly. As Ross intimates, if most liberals thought
it was good idea for Howard Zinn Randall Robinson, or Noam Chomsky to be a spokesperson for the Democratic Party, I'd think we'd all gone insane. If Democratic politicians were scared to disagree with Keith Olberman or Michael Moore, I'd be a man without a home.

But these guys think that they are America. They delude themselves with that "center-right nation" analysis, and then mask their losses by claiming they didn't really lose. They think the problem is their wardrobe, their slang, their hairstyle. This is what black folks call Project-Bougie or--more aptly put--just plain trifling. The GOP is out shopping for a new dining set, a new couch, a flat-screen--anything to make the crib look a little more inviting. Meanwhile the water bill is two months past due. The lights are off. And the eviction notice is in the mail.

Holy Crap, that puts it all in to words for me. Finally someone said it, and far more eloquently than I've been able to manage.