Archive for October 27th, 2008

Today’s good, bad, and insightful:

The Good

I realize that it was published two weeks ago, but the Economist’s article Capitalism at Bay is way too good not to mention.

Roberto Lovato has a plan for when (if?) the election gets stolen. There will be riots in the streets, people!

Christopher Hitchens has yet another seething attack on the GOP’s anti-intellectualism up at Slate.

The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg attacks Joe… the Senator (Lieberman, that is).

The Bad

We’ve launched a helicopter raid in Syria, and the BBC reports that the Syrian foreign minister has called the U.S. out on terrorist aggression. He’s absolutely right. (More on this to come, I feel it)

In quite possibly the most hilarious blog post I’ve ever seen (okay, maybe it’s just sad), Elaine Lafferty says that Sarah Palin’s a Brainiac. And no, it’s not a satire.

Oh, and Ted Stevens is guilty!

The Insightful

‘Twas a good day for the Guardian…

Michael Tomasky says this on Rev. Wright’s revival:

I see that Reverend Wright is resurfacing, just a bit, and I see that Obama said something on the radio seven years ago that pisses conservatives off. Boy. I don’t know, I’ve been wrong before, but it seems to me like they’ll need more than this.

The American people have sized up Obama for the better part of two years now. Polls indicate very clearly that swing voters have decided that he’s not nearly as dangerous and risky as four more years of conservative governance. Late reminders can influence some votes, and depending on how sleazy things get, states like Missouri and Indiana can be tipped back to McCain. But he needs a lot more help than that, and I don’t think Reverend Wright takes him where he needs to be.

And this article by George Monbiot is awesome. Money quote:

Besides fundamentalist religion, perhaps the most potent reason intellectuals struggle in elections is that intellectualism has been equated with subversion. The brief flirtation of some thinkers with communism a long time ago has been used to create an impression in the public mind that all intellectuals are communists. Almost every day men such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly rage against the “liberal elites” destroying America.

The spectre of pointy-headed alien subversives was crucial to the election of Reagan and Bush. A genuine intellectual elite – like the neocons (some of them former communists) surrounding Bush – has managed to pitch the political conflict as a battle between ordinary Americans and an over-educated pinko establishment. Any attempt to challenge the ideas of the rightwing elite has been successfully branded as elitism.

Obama has a lot to offer the US, but none of this will stop if he wins. Until the great failures of the US education system are reversed or religious fundamentalism withers, there will be political opportunities for people, like Bush and Palin, who flaunt their ignorance.

During my brief excursion, readers, I had a chance to talk to some of my relatives that are or have been employed in organizations like the UN, the World Bank, and the IMF. And, my own views included, there was never a consensus on what has caused the economy to drop so much.

One said that it’s a direct result from the subprime mortgages, and the banks went bankrupt because they took too much of a gamble in granting said mortgages, as the subprime folks couldn’t repay their loans, and proved they deserved the “subprime” tag.

Another said is that it’s not the banks, but the government, in supporting the subprime mortgages, as well as the extensive borrowing in the public sector, hence our massive national deficit and our addiction to borrowing from the Chinese. Another key issue that was raised was inflation – the dollar’s value has decreased without wages going up to compensate for it, so real wages have gone down, resulting in worse buying power for the public and private sectors, which ultimately leads to more borrowing.

The third said that, for America, it’s just a psychological issue. People see the market going down, so they feel worse and insecure, so they sell – and, as a result, more people sell because they’re anxious that other people are apprehensive about the market. The reverse is true: when the market is true, more people feel optimistic and buy, and, again, the optimism is contagious, and more people buy. What’s needed to turn the market around? The courage to buy.

All interesting takes, and somehow, I think that all of them are true to an extent. With a collapse of this magnitude, I don’t think that there is a distinct cause — the market was pushed off the edge little by little, not with one fell swoop.