Review of Shape of things to come, Greil Marcus

November 30, 2006 § Leave a comment

 the reviewer didn’t like but..

The big idea is that the United States, alone among the world of nations, subsists in its symbols: Upon the virtue of its symbols it depends for its survival. “Take away the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and perhaps various public speeches that lie behind those documents or pass them on, and as a nation you have little more than a collection of buildings and people who have no special reason to speak to each other, and nothing to say,” Mr. Marcus observes. Thus the intrinsic value of prophecy, which continually calls the nation to account for its promises, holding out the hope and burden of redemption.

Source: NYO – Books

which is powerful, no?


Informed Comment

November 29, 2006 § Leave a comment

To the point. 

Thomas Ricks and Robin Wright at WaPo examine the increasing tendency of the American political class to blame the Iraqis for the political turmoil there.
I see. The US invaded their country, abolished their army, gutted their civil service, occupied their cities, and now it is the Iraqis’ fault.

Source: Informed Comment

Ten Months or Ten Years – Friedman

November 28, 2006 § Leave a comment

 realistic sort of but the implication that it is the Arab/ Islamic fault avoids the deeper issue of western imperialism and our support of Hussein. But given that, could it even be done with 150,000 extra troops? The cost, and the resentment. It would tend to make a major front of Iraq against militant slam, but I fear that it would be like the maginot line: they, now really motivated, would simply go abound it. there are many unanswered questions here. Is it a setup for Bush? What Iran, Russia, China do?

Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq’s institutions and political culture from scratch.

Source: Ten Months or Ten Years – New York Times

Brad DeLong on democratic economics

November 28, 2006 § Leave a comment

 This is powerful. I hadn’t understood that Clinton handed over a surplus that gave Bush the opportunity to cut taxes. I realize that the populists are interested in income redistribution without vitalizing business, and that centrists want to keep things as they are.  We can hope that the fiscal conservatives gain the upper hand in the Republican world and that leads to a kind of contract on  reduction like Clinton undertook. But it will be harder because we are not in an increasing but declining economy, with huge war debt.

Rubin and us spearcarriers moved heaven and earth to restore fiscal balance to the American government in order to raise the rate of economic growth. But whatwe turned out to have done, in the end, was to enable George W. Bush’s right-wing class war: his push for greater after-tax income inequality.

We will try to argue for fiscal prudence and stability in the councils of the Democratic Party. But I fear this is a bellwether–that we will lose, because the choice will be presented as between (i) left-wing things that are good for the nation, and (ii) centrist things that simply enable another round of right-wing class war by the rich and their minions a decade hence.

Source: Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day

a fushion ticket

November 28, 2006 § Leave a comment


Hamilton Jordan, who masterminded Democrat Jimmy Carter’s underdog campaign for the White House in 1976, and Douglas Bailey, the veteran Republican consultant and co-founder of the daily online news briefing The Hotline, have teamed up to lead a grassroots movement that promises an alternative to the partisanship that has polarized Washington. The objective of their movement, called Unity08 (, is to use Internet balloting to forge an independent national ticket for 2008 in which the presidential nominee is from one major party and his or her running mate is from the other major party. Anyone can form a ticket and run, and the organizers hope eventually to attract some recognizable names.

The operating premise is that both major parties have been hijacked by extremists on the left and right, leaving a wide swath of voters in the middle without choice or voice. No one should be fooled by the make-nice talk that followed the recent congressional elections. It won’t last. But Bailey calls it a “breath of fresh air” that moderates showed some signs of reasserting themselves on Nov. 7.


To me the idea that the parties have been coopted by extremes of left and right misses the real point: that both parties are coopted by the corporate interests. For example, from today’s The Note

GOP agenda:
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne seems to think the GOP’s two biggest problems are that the party’s credibility on national security has been “shattered” and pro-market libertarians and pro-family social conservatives are “more aware than ever” that their respective values and interests do not coincide. LINK

and,  for financial realtiy,

Despite significant gains in 2004, the total income Americans reported to the tax collector that year, adjusted for inflation, was still below its peak in 2000, new government data shows.

Skip to next paragraph
The New York Times
Reported income totaled $7.044 trillion in 2004, the latest year for which data is available, down from more than $7.143 trillion in 2000, new Internal Revenue Service data shows.

Total reported income, in 2004 dollars, fell 1.4 percent, but because the population grew during that period average real incomes declined more than twice as much, falling $1,641, or 3 percent, to $53,974.

Since 2004, the Census Department has found, the income of the typical American household has grown along with the rise in average incomes but at a slow pace that, until recent months, had barely kept ahead of inflation.

The tax data, while not as up to date, helps spell out whose incomes were most affected in the recent downturn and why.

The overall income declines of that extended era came despite a series of tax cuts that President Bush and Congressional Republicans promoted as the best way to stimulate both short- and long-term growth after the Internet bubble burst on Wall Street in 2000 and the economy fell into a brief recession in 2001. link


November 27, 2006 § Leave a comment

Bush to move toward conservatives in congress

November 27, 2006 § Leave a comment


But Rutenberg writes: “Republicans close to the White House said Mr. Rove was already arguing that Mr. Bush should move to bolster his support with conservatives, who make up his base and will compose a greater proportion of the Republican Congressional caucus after an election in which many moderate Republicans lost their seats, some to conservative Democrats.”

Source: White House Briefing — News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration –

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