Battlepanda: September 2008


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plenty of blame to go around

In wake of yesterday's failure of the House to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else, blaming each other for the financial crisis, and the very real prospect of financial meltdown followed by severe recession.

Well, there's no point in assigning blame to just one party when there's plenty to go around. Here's who I'm blaming, in order from least blame to most.

16. Richard Rorty. No, not really. He didn't have anything to do with the financial crisis. But his baleful influence on philosophy continues to be felt, and I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to get a bit of Rorty-hatin' in.

15. People who bought more house than they could afford and now can't make their mortgage payments. This category includes the real-estate flippers. Seriously, what were you thinking? But you get the least blame, because you thought you were only gambling with your own financial well-being, not that of the entire country.

14. Crooked mortgage brokers who sold people more house than they could afford and then passed off those shaky loans to the banks. You're just a bunch of crooks who took advantage of people on both sides of the transaction. For some reason though, I'm not able to work up that much contempt for you. It's probably a personal failing.

13. Banks who bought these shaky loans to people who bought more house than they could afford. You get more blame than the people who you were lending to, because you were gambling with the money of your shareholders.

12. Alan Greenspan. "American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage." I don't know whether anyone actually took this remarkably bad advice in February 2004, but just saying this earns you a spot on my blame list. And in retrospect, it seems pretty clear that you should have popped the housing bubble before it got too big.

11. Conservative populist douchebags who would rather have the country go through a painful recession than have the government do something "socialist".

10. Libertarian populist douchebags who would rather have the country go through a painful recession than have the government do something "socialist". I blame you more than the conservatives, because for the most part - with the exception of Objectivists, anarchists, and gold bugs - you are more intelligent than they are.

9. Liberal populist douchebags who would rather have the country go through a painful recession than bail out some rich Wall Street banker. The politics of resentment is particularly ugly, and I blame you most because you make the rest of us sensible liberals look bad.

8. Lou Dobbs. In a sane world, you'd be distributing your revolting brand of nativist populism in photocopied newletters, instead of having a job at CNN.

7. George W. Bush. You're right about the need for government action in this crisis, but you've screwed up so many times that you have no credibility left, and now no one is listening.

6. Henry Paulson. You brought a terrible, unacceptable bill before Congress, but even after it had been made into an acceptable bill by the Congressional Banking Committees, the American public could only remember how bad the original bill was. And letting Lehman Brothers fail is looking like a really bad judgment call now.

5. John McCain. While trying to shore up your bad poll numbers on the economy, you injected Presidential politics into the bill negotiations at exactly the wrong time.

4. The 133 Republicans who voted against the EESA bill, for putting politics ahead of the good of the country. You're all a bunch of mouth-breathing yahoos.

3. The 95 Democrats who voted against the EESA bill, for putting politics ahead of the good of the country. I blame you more than the Republicans, because I expect better from you. John Conyers, I'm looking at you.

2. House Republican leadership, who couldn't pull together the votes you promised for the EESA, and then blamed Nancy Pelosi for giving a "partisan" speech in support of the bill.

1. House Democratic leadership, who couldn't get 12 more Democratic votes on something this important. For crying out loud, Pelosi, you allowed your committee chairs to vote against the bill! This is not leadership!

I hope I haven't left anyone out.


Monday, September 29, 2008

The economy is not a morality play

To everyone out there - conservative, libertarian, and liberal - who looks at the economy as a morality play in which the Just are rewarded and the Wicked are punished, and who opposed the bailout bill on the grounds that a deep recession is exactly what America deserves for its profligate ways: you can all go straight to hell.

That goes double for the 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats in the House of Representatives who voted against the bill. You've played politics with people's jobs and lives, and if there were any justice in this world you'd all be out on your sorry asses after this election.

Congratulations, though, to Megan McArdle for being the only libertarian blogger I've seen who gets it right. I only agree with Megan about 50% of the time, but I give her a lot of credit for dissenting from her fellow libertarians on this.

Maybe the House will turn around and pass something; or maybe Bernanke can pull off a miracle. But if not, we're going to look back and see today as one of the most spectacular failures of democracy since the trial of Socrates.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. Sulu!

Actor George Takei of Star Trek got married today.
Former Star Trek actor George Takei has married his long-term partner in a Buddhist ceremony in Los Angeles.

Takei, 71, who played Mr Sulu in the sci-fi series, married business manager Brad Altman, 54, in front of a number of his Star Trek co-stars.

They included best man Walter Koenig, who played Chekhov, and matron-of-honour Nichelle Nichols - Uhura.

The wedding - at Japanese American National Museum - came after California lifted a ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple, who have been together for 21 years, wore matching white tuxedos in the ceremony.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I hope she's right

Libby Spencer, writing at AOTP. I hope she's right:

As the estrangement grew, it took on a tone of subtle mockery but in the last week or so, we’ve seen an open hostility take root. The title of this post is a quote from Lily Tomlin that I found at the Politico this morning. Ben Smith, formerly a dependable purveyor of the campaign’s talking points, links to Roger Simon who delivered some prime snark in a piece today ‘apologizing’ for practicing journalism. He asks for forgiveness saying, “It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.”

And Roger is not the only one. In the last week, we’ve witnessed Campbell Brown’s evisceration of Tucker Bounds that scared McCain out of an interview with Larry King. Joe Klein begged his colleagues to “stand strong in this case” and expose the false talking points on Palin. Even the AP, a new GOP stalwart under Ron Fournier, sent out two pieces this week, debunking the McCain campaign spin. And yesterday’s moment of unguarded candor between Mike Murphy, Peggy Noonan and Chuck Todd speaks for itself. The elite media are ready to get off the bus.

The Republicans made their intentions clear last night. They intend to resurrect the same old wedge politics and reignite the culture war. They have no platform to stand on and will try to frame the race around personality instead of issues. Up until now that has been a successful strategy only because the media was on board. But without the media’s amplification, their empty rhetoric won’t reach beyond the far right echo chamber to snare the voting blocks they need in order to have a prayer of winning.

One can only hope that the current breakup continues and ends in divorce rather than reconcilliation. The future of our country depends on it.

We're dealing with a completely ruthless and shameless foe. I've seen the speech, you know what, Palin looks great when she lies. It's absolutely critical that the media step up to the plate, and you know, actually do their jobs and expose her lies. The left blogisphere can do it's part to help focusing their attacks like a laser beam on certified falsehoods and scandals.

It's funny. I read both left-wing and right-wing blogs and the utter depth of of the belief on both sides that the MSM is completely in the pocket of the other sides is astonishing. Especially on the right-wing side. Of course, both things can't be true. The easy thing to do is to say that we're right and they're wrong and deluded. But that would be the easy and lazy thing to do. I think the truth is no matter how completely even-handed the press is, the left and the right will still hold those views.

Reporters respond to incentives just like everybody else. I believe that sometimes coverage is biased in the Republicans' favor because they are better at working the refs. However, when a reporter such as Campbell Brown ask tough questions and looks good doing it, I'm sure that will encourage other reporters to do the same. I'm hopeful.

Excuse me while I go and give some money to Obama.

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The silver lining of McCain's veep pick, for feminists.

No, I'm not saying that I buy the line about "pro-life feminists." Of course not. But I would argue that the Palin nomination is significant from a feminist point of view both as a marker of how far women's rights have progressed in this country, and hopefully as a catalyst for even more change. Think about it this way. It wasn't so very long ago that we feared that not having a White Male candidate will gravely hurt the Democrat's chances. Now the Republicans seem to be shoving a woman in the veep-seat just to compete. What's more, the very most conservative base of the party love, love, love her. Of course, that's because she shares their views, views that are horrendously retrograde in my opinion, but that goes without saying. What's strikes me as noteworthy is that they are rallying to a female in a leadership position enthusiastically with no trace of belittlement, doubt or fear.

The nice things that Peggy Noonan wrote about Palin in the WSJ now seem terribly ironic after she let slip what she really thought on a hot mike. But I think she is onto something here in this paragraph from her WSJ article.

Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not -- and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.

She could become a transformative political presence.

Because she's a Republican, Sarah Palin is immune from a lot of the misogynistic crap that was plastered on Hillary. There won't be any Sarah Palin novelty nutcrackers. This will seem like a terrible injustice to many liberals. But hey, that's the way the mooseburger crumbles. No more bashing her for being a hockey mom or a former beauty queen, m'kay? Certainly nothing about her kids. After the way the Daily Kos disgraced themselves, I think the left as a whole should just STFU on that particular front.

In the long run, that the Republicans are nominating a woman is a sign of progress, for us all. There are plenty of liberals out there bashing her the right way -- for her far-right positions, for her self-aggrandizing fibs. Don't let the sideshow steal the show.

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