Why It Would Be Good for America If the Republican Party Simply Closed Up Shop Today
Erwin Rommel Liveblogs World War II: May 27, 1940

links for 2010-05-26

  • SRD: "You know that guy who came into the restaurant with us and then started flipping over tables, throwing food, screaming at the other diners and smearing his feces on the walls? Yeah. That guy. We’ve never seen him before."
  • OK: "In his memoir he accords a fleeting mention to a pamphlet he wrote at Cambridge with the future literary critic, Raymond Williams, on the Russo-Finnish War. Hobsbawm laments: “Alas, (the pamphlet) has been lost in the alarums and excursions of the century. I have been unable to rediscover a copy.” This is just as well, because the Russo-Finnish War consisted in Stalin’s invasion of Finland two months after his non-aggression pact with Hitler. As loyal Communists, Hobsbawm and Williams supported both the invasion and the pact."
  • RP: "Alan Abramowitz documents.... “Rather than indicating that there is a ‘disconnect’ between politicians and voters, polarization in Congress actually indicates that Democratic and Republican members are accurately reflecting the views of the voters who elected them.” He also suggests that the effect of this is more obvious in the Senate than in the House due to reliance on unanimous consent and the filibuster. It seems that the sooner Obama et al recognize this political reality and learn to work with in it, the better. Recent weeks suggest, however, that the President is getting there."
  • NK: "I believe that during the last financial crisis, macroeconomists (and I include myself among them) failed the country, and indeed the world. In September 2008, central bankers were in desperate need of a playbook that offered a systematic plan of attack to deal with fast- evolving circumstances. Macroeconomics should have been able to provide that playbook. It could not. Of course, from a longer view, macroeconomists let policymakers down much earlier, because they did not provide policymakers with rules to avoid the circumstances that led to the global financial meltdown."
  • HM: "Of all the gaps between elite and mass opinion in America today, perhaps the greatest is this: The elites don't really believe we're still in recession. Or maybe, they just don't care. How else to explain the continual harping on the deficit by editorialists, centrist think tanks and the like when the nation is still enmeshed in the most serious economic downturn since the 1930s? How else to understand the growing opposition to the jobs bills... when nobody has identified any... engine... save countercyclical public investment?... Forty-seven percent... said they were concerned with the economy and jobs, while just 15 percent... over the deficit and spending. Eighty-one percent... thought it "very important" for Congress to address the jobs situation -- more than for any other topic. "There is no significant difference across party lines," Pew reported. Beneath these numbers lies broad public anxiety over job loss and downward mobility."
  • DB: "I'm not quite sure which is worse, the "people in other countries believe crazy things" genre or the "isn't it weird that people in other countries get upset when soldiers enter their homes and point weapons at them" genre. But, anyway, good thing that people in other countries don't think crazy things like the US has WMD!!!"
  • JH: "Geithner’s team spent much of its time during the debate over the Senate bill helping Senate Banking Committee chair Chris Dodd kill off or modify amendments being offered by more-progressive Democrats. A good example was Bernie Sanders’s measure to audit the Fed, which the administration played a key role in getting the senator from Vermont to tone down. Another was the Brown-Kaufman Amendment, which became a cause célèbre among lefty reformers such as former IMF economist Simon Johnson. ‘If enacted, Brown-Kaufman would have broken up the six biggest banks in America,’ says the senior Treasury official. ‘If we’d been for it, it probably would have happened. But we weren’t, so it didn’t.’”
  • MF: "Despite its problems, the euro is very likely to survive the current crisis. But not all of the eurozone’s current members may be there a year from now. In retrospect, it is clear that some of the countries were allowed to join prematurely, when they still had massive budget deficits and high debt-to-GDP ratios. Moreover, some countries’ industrial composition and low rates of productivity growth mean that a fixed exchange rate would doom them to increasingly large trade deficits. For the rest, some mechanism of enhanced surveillance and control may be adopted to limit future fiscal deficits. But, even with a smaller group of member countries and some changes in budget procedures, the fundamental problems of forcing disparate countries to live with a single monetary policy and a single exchange rate will remain."
  • DK: "Do NOT have written communications with the alleged lover of your candidate."
  • PK: "For some reason today’s papers made me feel especially grim about the prospects for economic recovery... growing GDP, but mass unemployment still the law of the land, with only tiny progress so far. What can be done? Well, we could have more fiscal stimulus — but Congress is balking even at the idea of extending aid for the ever-growing ranks of the long-term unemployed. Fiscal responsibility, you see — hey, and let’s make sure estate taxes stay low! We could get tough with China.... Geithner went to China, got nothing .. and pronounced himself very pleased. We could do more through monetary policy... get central banks to commit to a higher inflation target. But the Fed and the Bank of Japan say no, because … well, that’s not what central bankers do.... [S]hibboleths and conventional wisdom are blocking all routes out of this slump. And I worry that policy makers will just sit there, for years and years, all the while congratulating themselves on the soundness of their policies."
  • JF: "his Atlantic item, by Richard Blumenthal's long-time friend Ben Heineman Jr., seems to me to do the fairest job of weighing the overall evidence pro and con. To me it's a more convincing presentation that that of the NYT's ombudsman Clark Hoyt, whom I generally agree with and admire but who in this case seemed (to me) defensive on the paper's behalf. We'll see how the evidence emerges."

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