Timothy Noah

Coodernomics

I have fallen hard for Ry Cooder's song, "No Banker Left Behind," even though I don't entirely approve of its politics, which flirt (inadvertently, I think) with Tea Partyism.     I won't dispute that bankers'  privileged treatment in the 2008 crash merits populist scorn. But unfortunately, without a bank bailout, there probably would have been a worldwide depression. Why not a Woody Guthrie-style protest song about how these behemoths need to be broken up before they resume their reckless behavior and force us to bail them out again?

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I'm not sure that anybody cares, but based on the evidence of Chris Christie's "foreign policy address" last night at the Reagan Library (PDF text here), everybody's favorite undeclared candidate has absolutely nothing to say about foreign policy. The speech began by relating the story of the 1981 air controller's strike, which ended with Reagan firing thousands of air controllers. Er, what does that have to do with foreign policy?

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Fat Presidents: A Survey

Amid speculation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will enter the presidential race, there's been some talk about the weight issue. How does it affect his health? Would voters judge him harshly for it? (Jon Corzine tried and failed to make an issue of it, obliquely, in the 2009 gubernatorial election.) I prefer the historical approach.

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Nate Silver has an interesting post arguing that Chris Christie managed to become a darling of the conservatives without being as conservative as they think he is. He "supported the assault weapons ban and opposed concealed carry laws." He "stated explicitly that global warming was real and manmade." He "stated [in 2008] that 'being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.'” He has "no issue with same-sex couples sharing contractual rights,” i.e., civil unions, though he does oppose abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

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That Explains Everything

If you're wondering why Rick Perry's poll numbers are up even after he threatened to beat up Ben Bernanke and said Social Security was unconstitutional, here's your answer: There's a disturbance in the solar system. Large solar flares have created a "strong to severe geomagnetic storm." Basically, planet earth is getting battered with radioactive particles. "The earth's magnetic field is pretty disturbed," a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association told the Los Angeles Times. We've entered solar flare "season," which actually lasts 11 years.

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Is Perry Debate-Proof?

Take a look at these results from a CNN poll conducted Sept. 23-25 (i.e., after the most recent GOP presidential debate).

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A Roger Ailes profile by Howie Kurtz in the Daily Beast has him offering advice to Mitt Romney ("You ought to be looser on the air") and warning Shepherd Smith not to say nice things about President Barack Obama ("Every once in a while [he] gets out there where the buses don't run and we have a friendly talk"). Kurtz reports that Ailes "has pulled back a bit on the throttle," but the evidence for that is scant. Meanwhile, Ailes' latest criticism of the lamestream media is that (am I reading this correctly?) it's biased against suicide bombers: The talk turns to terrorism.

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Ignorance Is Strength

"It’s not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect,” Rick Perry said today at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. “We need to elect the candidate with the best record, and the best vision for this country. The current occupant of the White House can sure talk a good game, but he doesn't deliver. Matter of fact, remember President Clinton? Man, he could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. And the next day be against ice cubes! The alternative is candidates who stick to principle, stand their ground, because they believe in something." So ...

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Sex and the Military

It is now mandatory that every GOP presidential debate must feature at least one audience reaction of sufficient ugliness to scare the bejeezus out of any political independent who might be watching. There were the spontaneous applause and whistles at the mere mention that Gov. Rick Perry had overseen 234 executions. There were the exuberant "Yeah!"s at the hypothetical suggestion that a person lacking health insurance who goes into a coma be left to die.

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My New Republic colleague Jonathan Cohn's otherwise excellent Sept. 21 post, about congressional Republican leaders' thuggish letter to Ben Bernanke telling the Fed chief not to engage in further economic stimulus, is marred, in its postscript, by an excess of fair-mindedness. Citing the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, Cohn concedes that yes, there was a time when Democrats were equally guilty of trying to interfere with the independent Federal Reserve Board. And so they were.

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