October 14, 2008
Fanning the Flames
WASHINGTON--Are we witnessing the re-emergence of the far right as a power in American politics? Has John McCain, inadvertently perhaps, become the midwife of a new movement built around fear, xenophobia, racism and anger?McCain has clearly become uneasy with some of the forces that have gathered around him. He has begun to insist, against the sometimes loud protests from his crowds, that Barack Obama is, among things, a "decent person."Yet McCain's own campaign is playing with powerful extremist themes to denigrate Obama.
The Gilded Age
Former GOP Representative Richard Baker says he spent about 17 of his 21 years in Congress talking about the need to better regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Today, the erstwhile Louisiana congressman doesn’t seem to know how he should feel about that distinction--validated in showing such prescience, or perhaps embarrassed at having been ignored for so long.
Yes, I understand that Barack Obama has eviscerated Jesse Jackson's racket. Whether he becomes president or not, and he will become president. Obama has also eviscerated Al Sharpton's racket. And that of the other African American parasites who know how to make a speech. This is now serious time for blacks in the United States because there will sit in the White House and increasingly in Congress people who, however cosmopolitan, are also from and of their world, people who are not cynical about it but will bring the best will and the best attention to its problems.
Is the United States finally going the way of Sweden's 1992 bank nationalization plan, as some have been urging? And how does it compare with the UK's own recent plan to inject capital into its financial sector? The broad sweeps of the three plans are similar: The government pours money into a bank in exchange for shares, which it can hopefully sell off at a profit in a few years' time. But the differences are in the details, and they are significant. The first is relative size.
Expect a lot of today's chatter about the new Treasury plan to buy direct stakes in nine banks to revolve around one question: What took so long? A lot of the pain over the last two weeks could have been avoided had the White House announced this plan on September 22. Coming out of a meeting with top Hill Democrats yesterday, EPI economist Jared Bernstein told reporters, "The consensus was so strong towards direct equity injections that there was literally no dissension on the point. ...
October 13, 2008
Next Stop, Ukraine?
With Senator John McCain’s increasing propensity to drop new policy proposals into debates with little explanation, it is worth asking what he meant when he urged viewers to “watch Ukraine.” As it turns out, Ukraine is once again in the middle of a nasty domestic political crisis, this time pitting two former allies from the Orange Revolution--Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko--against one another, with the most likely outcome being yet another early parliamentary election.
Time was when Scranton was known for anthracite coal, America’s first electric streetcar system, and what is said to be the nation’s most heavily Irish population. The last decade, though, has done strange things to the popular image of this old northeastern Pennsylvania city.
Over the weekend, I read the Connecticut Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. It’s actually a rather moving document: a cogent defense of gay rights that efficiently demolishes the chief arguments against marriage equality, while offering what struck me as a reasonable defense of judicial intervention in the matter. If you have a free hour, I highly recommend reading it. A few things popped out at me as I read the ruling: First, the decision lays bare the absurd illogic at the heart of civil unions.
A Problem of Persuasion
Like the recent series of bestselling books by authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher’s documentary Religulous takes ferocious aim at religion in all of its forms.
Washington Post news analyst Dan Balz has written a missive to the campaign press corps urging them to, well, there's no other way to put it: start holding Barack Obama to a higher standard than his opponent. Balz is one of the most prestigious members of the Washington press corps, and his commentary has already been fronted by conventional wisdom-arbiter The Page, so it's likely to be influential. Why should the press train its sights on Obama? Balz says because the election is all but over: He leads nationally in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll by 53 percent to 43 percent.