Monday, November 24, 2008

Those unconscionably big bonuses may also be counterproductive

What’s the Value of a Big Bonus? - The New York Times

Two more strong arguments for universal health care

U.S. Trails Other Nations in Chronic Illness Care - Reuters

Would Passing Universal Health Care Kill the GOP? - AlterNet

Right-wing radio: behind the rancid curtain

Secrets of Talk Radio - Milwaukee Magazine

Maybe we should all send the White House a case of Excedrin

LATE ADDITION: Starving for Change - TruthDig

Obama's picks: deep experience or deep disappointment?

And just how do you combine the experience we need with the change we want?

The largely delighted:

The largely disgusted:

In short, no one knows what it all amounts to, and neither to I. Under the circumstances, I think the shrewedest observation comes from Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher:
[T]he proof will be in what [Obama] actually does....
[F]or people who convinced themselves that Obama was the second coming of Saul Alinsky -- wake up. He never was. He may, however, be the most progressive person we could have possibly hoped to elect as President of the United States.
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to help keep the obstructionists off his back and push him to fulfill his campaign promises to end the war, pass health care legislation and the Employee Free Choice Act, clean up the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, repair our infrastructure, create good jobs and restore the middle class.
That's what he promised us, and while I'm obviously not wild about the dearth of progressives in his administration..., I'm less concerned with who he chooses to implement his policies than with his ability to ultimately do so.

Barack Obama, Honeymoon Killer? - Salon

Ghettoization & The Difference Between Politics & Policy -

A Market-Oriented Economic Team - Washington Post

Obama Assigns Centrists to Make Radical Economic Moves - LA Times

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alien autopsy

The Anatomy of Conservative Self-Deception - TPM Cafe

Kilgore nails the conservatives' core political problem dead-on: they believe a majority of Americans actually agree with their agenda.
[C]onservatives don't seem to have internalized the fact that every major conservative assault on the heart of the New Deal/Great Society legacy (Ronald Reagan's and George W. Bush's efforts to "reform" Social Security, and Newt Gingrich's drive to "contain costs" in Medicare) has failed dismally in the court of public opinion.

[Moreover], during both the Reagan and Bush years, public support for conservative efforts to make the tax system more regressive has declined steadily once the free-lunch assumptions of supply-side economics proved to be a fraud. And there has never, for a moment, been anything like a popular majority supporting the sort of broad-scale reductions in government services that could eliminate the fiscal problems associated with the conservative tax-cutting agenda. There's a reason John McCain's campaign based his fiscal-discipline message on the small but symbolic issue of appropriations earmarks, rather than the big-ticket "entitlement reform" that virtually all movement conservatives support. And for that matter, George W. Bush's "Big Government Conservatism," like its Reaganite predecessor, was an accommodation to public opinion rather than a gratuitous betrayal of conservative principle.

If today's conservatives succeed in convincing each other to embrace a more forthright message assaulting entitlements, progressive taxation, public education, regulation of corporations and Wall Street, just to cite a few domestic policy examples, they are almost certainly cruising for more electoral bruising.

In the same vein, these same conservatives have convinced themselves that an ideologically rigid and reactionary candidate like Sarah Palin is their ticket to victory -- a belief that's so far removed from reality that you'd expect it to be a prominent symptom in the DSM IV. Palin in 2012? Bring it on! Please! Poor delusional bastards.

All work and no play makes Jack a sick boy

All Work, No Play - In These Times

Curing two birds with one stone, part deux

Senate Staffers Begin Mulling Health Care Reform As Part Of Stimulus Package - TPM Cafe

Turning the crazy up to 11

What Doesn't Kill The Far-Right Only Makes Them Crazier - The Huffington Post

Deeper into the pit

College Loan Slavery: Student Debt Is Getting Way Out of Hand - AlterNet

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slippery maneuver restores lucrative tax shelter

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks - Washington Post

Election underscores the South's self marginalization

For South, a Waning Hold on Politics - The New York Times

And that's why, for government, silence on religion is golden

From Tiny Sect, Weighty Issue for Justices - The New York Times

LATE ADDITION: A Case of Religious Discrimination - The New York Times

Boom, bubble, crash

Tax Cuts: The B.S. and the Facts - AlterNet

It's never too early to say goodbye

Goodbye and Good Riddance - The American Prospect

LATE ADDITION: The EPA's Stalin Era - Salon

Board: Pentagon budget must be scaled back

Pentagon Board Says Cuts Essential - Boston Globe

The right wants to hold on to its anger

Entertainingly (for the rest of us), their enemy is fictitious.

Right-wing Media Feeds Its Post-Election Anger - LA Times

In this trek, Obama should go boldly

Bold Is Good - Washington Post

Franklin Delano Obama? - The New York Times

LATE ADDITION: Go For It - The New Republic

Obama poised to undo Bush blunders

We're rediscovering who we are

It Still Felt Good the Morning After - The New York Times

A yearning to be citizens

Activism, Involvement and a Pursuit of the Common Good - That's the Key - The Guardian

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nicely done

In case you missed it....

Who are these people?

I was reading an article in today's NYT about undecided voters. As a political junkie, I've always been baffled by them -- particularly in years like this one, where there are such sharp contrasts between the candidates, and when the party in power has made such a patently spectacular mess of things.

Before reading the article, I rather tongue-in-cheekishly characterized the thought process of the undecideds this way: either they had no guiding principles regarding the proper role and responsibilities of government, or they were incapable of ascertaining which party (hence which candidate) best matches those principles. Hence they were forced into overreliance on the meaningless, contradictory sturm und drang of the political ads and TV pundits.

This year, I thought, it could be boiled down even further: either they have been unconscious for the entirety of the current Administration, or they are incapable of recognizing the flamingly obvious: that it is the Republicans who have screwed things up so badly, and therefore it would be a very bad idea to put them in charge again.

But after reading the article, I think the problem is as much a symptom of the present tendency in the culture to overpersonalize and overpsychologize. Call it the cult of celebrity, or the Oprahtization of the culture, or classic American hyperindividualism. Whatever it is, people tend to forget that a president is enmeshed in, and exercises power within, a system -- that, to achieve his or her goals, the executive must work with allies in Congress and elsewhere. In practice, this means that party principles and priorities tend to be as or more determinative than the individual leader's personality and preferences -- the very characteristics around which many voters' choices pivot (and, after all, that leader chose his party for a reason; the choice is a telling one).

This doesn't mean one ought to be an unthinking straight-ticket voter. But it does mean that party, and the bigger picture, count for more than many people -- particularly the undecideds -- tend to recognize.

Just give us your cash and shut up

Wall Street Banks in $70bn Staff Payout - The Guardian

Banks Take The Money And Sit - Forbes

I really enjoyed reading the Brits' comments after the Guardian article. It always seems that Europeans are much more skeptical, and much less naive, than many Americans about the motives and machinations of the financial Masters of the Universe. I think it has much to do with the fact that European political life is far better balanced than ours, inasmuch as they have an active and vocal left to audibly contradict the conservative narrative (which is substantively the only story Americans have been told for the past 28 years, even during the Clinton '90s -- an interregnum that merely embodied the squishy, pro-corporate centrism of the DLC).

LATE ADDITION: A Question for A.I.G.: Where Did the Cash Go? - The New York Times

No, not McSame -- McWorse

Imagine the unerring economic savvy of Herbert Hoover combined with the sensible foreign-policy instincts of Curtis LeMay.

John McCain: Not More of the Same - The American Prospect

The big job begins Nov. 5th

Obama's Winning Argument - Salon

Keating Five leak investigations pointed to McCain

McCain First, Second, And Always - The New Republic