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Archive for July, 2011

Help us Obi-Wan Pelosi: You’re our only hope

[ 86 ] July 31, 2011 |

The Democrats are slowly figuring out that in the long run it doesn’t pay to negotiate with the political equivalent of suicide bombers.

“We all may not be able to support it,” she said. “And maybe none of us will be able to support it.”

Liberals in her caucus are set to revolt. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), a leader among House progressives, blasted the deal in an official statement earlier Sunday.

“”This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it,” he said.

As for what alternatives are available to allowing the lunatic wing of the GOP to send the economy off a cliff, here’s an interesting suggestion.

Update: In the wake of Obama’s announcement of a deal Pelosi issued a very equivocal statement, saying that she looked forward to reviewing the agreement with her caucus “to see what level of support we can provide.”


Best Wishes

[ 3 ] July 31, 2011 |

…to Dave Cameron.

I used to be disgusted

[ 154 ] July 31, 2011 |

Now I try to be amused.

The deal they were discussing, this person said, resembled the bill that Mr. Boehner won approval for in the House on Friday more than it did the one that Mr. Reid had proposed.

It would immediately raise the debt ceiling by about $1 trillion, accompanied by a similar range of spending cuts, and set up a new bipartisan committee that would work to find deeper cuts in exchange for a second debt limit increase that would extend through the 2012 election.

A failure of the new committee to win enactment of its proposal could then set off automatic spending cuts across the board, including to entitlement programs.

Of course nothing fills the Village with joy like a bipartisan committee. (The Ghost of David Broder may arise just to write a column about this triumph of the sensible center over partisan politics). The Democratic leadership appears to be trying to sell this thing by claiming that automatic cuts in defense spending will “force” the committee to come up with something more palatable than the big cuts in Medicare and non-military discretionary spending which will also automatically take place next year.

Upate: The proposed deal may be slightly less horrible that it appeared at first glance, in that the Bipartisan Committee will consider tax increases as well as spending cuts. (That the automatic cuts in Medicare are framed as coming out of the provider side rather than from beneficiary payments is mostly a political fig leaf, given that direct cuts to providers will to a significant extent become indirect cuts to beneficiaries). I doubt the current Congress will actually go for any recommendation that includes real tax increases, and therefore the most likely outcome of this deal is that the automatic cuts will take place.

In sum this deal will probably result in fairly massive spending cuts and no revenue increases, at a time when the economy remains in a deep recession in all but the narrowest technical sense. That this is happening under a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate naturally raises the question of the extent to which the Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular are getting rolled, and the extent to which this outcome reflects something close to the genuine policy preferences of large swathes of the contemporary Democratic party.

CNN gives its readers a wide range of views on how to solve the budget crisis

[ 41 ] July 29, 2011 |

Ranging from a former GOP senator, to another former GOP senator, to another former GOP senator, to another former GOP senator, to a former GOP congressman, to Ronald Reagan’s budget director.

All balanced out by this guy . . . sorry, this guy.

Favorite album covers

[ 143 ] July 29, 2011 |

As we slouch toward the Eve of Destruction, it fills me with a certain melancholy to contemplate the passing away of many features of a once-great civilization. One in particular, first severely wounded by the scale of the digital compact disc, and then slain altogether by the mp3 player, is the vinyl record album cover.

Here are two three personal favorites:

on the beach

london calling


Feel free to link to others in comments.


[ 20 ] July 29, 2011 |

It took less than a day, but LGM called for his hiring, and the US FA took note and duly responded.  Correlation, or causality?  You be the judge.  And for our next trick, we’ll solve the manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Considering how swift the appointment was made, especially in light of the past difficulties the US FA have had with negotiating with Klinsmann, it’s safe to assume that this hiring was a done deal before Bradley was fired.

What I like about this hiring, as I implied in yesterday’s post, is that Klinsmann is more likely to give the next generation a solid look.  Bradley was in stasis, and we were left wondering how the next generation would be discovered, let alone develop.  Plus, Bradley let Giuseppe Rossi get away.  Klinsmann is a solid tournament manager, as evidenced by Germany’s 2006 run with an sub-par side — my German mate in Plymouth during that tournament predicted that they wouldn’t get out of the group stage, and yet they finished third.  His brief tenure with Bayern was largely successful, and he’s credited with revamping their youth academy.  Consistent with his negotiations with the US FA, he demanded considerable control at Bayern, and was eventually sacked for not getting along with the directors.  Hopefully the US FA have given him acres of space to just get on with his job.

What I don’t like about this hiring: Klinsmann scored 30-odd goals for Spurs.

While Bradley’s career with the USMNT is over, and I believe his replacement is a superior choice, he should be lauded for the run in the 2009 Confederations Cup, especially that match against Spain in the semi finals, which I posted about here at LGM at the time (I’d link to the posts, but I can’t seem to make the archive work that far back.)


[ 149 ] July 29, 2011 |

The heart of the matter:

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.

More From the Murdoch Crime Family

[ 7 ] July 28, 2011 |

I’m sure Brooks didn’t know anything about this either.

The Blame…

[ 86 ] July 28, 2011 |

does belong squarely on one side, although the inept response of Obama and many congressional Dems to the hostage-taking must be mentioned.

And also, although this seems missing the reports I listened to while driving around lovely Oregon, the House vote is just a kabuki.

Yes: “Boehner’s offer is like a kidnapper who offers to give you back your child in return for $100,000 and your other child.”

Bradley Sacked

[ 10 ] July 28, 2011 |

Bob Bradley has been sacked as head coach of the USMNT, allegedly because of the performance of the side during the CONCACAF (could somebody please rename the regional association?) Gold Cup.  This has been long in coming, and Bradley has had his share of detractors since replacing Bruce Arena following Germany 2006.  Of course he was always second choice; and the then first choice, Jurgen Klinsmann, is without a job at the moment.  The side is going to go through a fallow period over the next five years or so as a solid generation ages with no visible replacements playing with decent European clubs, which makes the gig less attractive than it was in ’06.  However, we require a top shelf manager who knows the game at the highest level, which, I’m sorry to note, rules out any extant MLS managers.

Give Klinsmann what he wants, and get him in now.


Most Prominent Politicians (XII): North Carolina

[ 64 ] July 28, 2011 |

North Carolina has probably underperformed in producing politicians of stature more than any other state. The South is full of powerful senators, representatives, and cabinet members. Not North Carolina. As best as I can figure out, it has never produced a president, VP, Secretary of State, Majority or Minority Leader, Secretary of the Treasury, or virtually any other indispensable individual in American political life. I believe it has one very minor early Supreme Court justice. Also, one short-lived Secretary of War. Its signers of the Declaration of Independence all managed to die young. Even in the Confederate government, North Carolina was underrepresented.

I don’t have a good reason for this. North Carolina has never been a densely populated state (at least until the very recent past), but neither has Mississippi or Alabama and they have much more significant politicians. It is surrounded by two relatively major states (in the early republic at least) in Virginia and South Carolina, but unlike the tiny states that surround Massachusetts, it’s not like NC leaders went to make their fortunes in Charleston or Virginia.

1. Sam Ervin–Senator from 1954-74. Most known for his lead role in prosecuting the Watergate scandal. Also played a role in bringing down Joseph McCarthy. Opposed civil rights legislation, as virtually all southern politicians did, but also was a leader on civil liberties issues, which most southern politicians were decidedly not. Building on his popularity after Watergate, Ervin made an album which I understand has the most unlistenable cover of “Bridge over Troubled Water” ever recorded. I actually saw this album in a record store in Eugene a couple of years ago. I don’t know why I didn’t buy it. I wonder if it is still there.

2. Furnifold Simmons. The utterly loathsome Simmons was a senator from 1901-31. The leader of the state Democratic Party in 1898, he led the charge to destroy the biracial political movement in Wilmington with maximum violence. Wrote the disfranchisement bill in North Carolina in 1901. Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 1913-19. Lost his seat after doing nothing to help Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election as Furnifold was dry and Smith wet.

3. Jesse Helms. Racebaiter of the New Right. Produced virtually no legislation, but a forebearer of the Republican feast of insanity to come.

4. Nathaniel Macon. Speaker of the House, 1801-07. Leader of the Jeffersonians who eventually criticized Jefferson for allowing government to grow too large. Senator, 1815-28. Turned down John Quincy Adams’ offer to run as VP in 1828, which is hardly surprising given that Adams and Macon had completely different philosophies of governing.

5. Zebulon Vance. Most prominent NC politician of the Civil War era. Governor during the war. Resisted Jefferson Davis’ call for the draft and in general sought to protect his state from Davis. Was elected to the Senate after Reconstruction.

6. Hugh Williamson. Represented NC at the Constitutional Convention. Was a major player behind the scenes to getting it through the states (did not write the Federalist Papers, but was close with Hamilton and Madison at the time). Wrote the 3/5 Compromise. Was briefly in Congress but retired early and did not play an active role in the early republic.

7. Josephus Daniels. Newspaper editor who race-baited his way into national prominence (very similar to Helms). Called for the crushing of the bi-racial political coalition in Wilmington. Was called the precipitator of the riot. Became Secretary of the Navy under Wilson. Banned alcohol from Navy ships under his watch. Ambassador to Mexico under FDR.

8. Thomas Ruffin. Really a state-level politician and judge. Here because of his 1829 decision as Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court in the case of State v. Mann which codified the fact that a slave master could literally do anything he wanted to a slave with no retribution. You can read more about this here.

9. Elizabeth Dole. Senator (not that she worked at it), 2003-09. Secretary of Transportation under Reagan, Secretary of Labor under Bush Sr. Long-time Republican insider. I may be overrating her, but given the competition, this seems reasonable.

10. William Alexander Graham. VP on the losing Whig ticket headed by Winfield Scott in 1852. Secretary of the Navy under Millard Fillmore. Was among the senators elected in 1866 by an unreconstructed South who were rejected by the Senate.

Wow, was that exciting.

Next: Rhode Island.

Life On the Dole

[ 108 ] July 28, 2011 |


One of the most devastating economic effects of long-term structural unemployment is that a significant number of people become more or less permanently unemployed. The political effects of such unemployment, however, are complex. Consider this passage from The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell’s 1936 study of the effects of the Great Depression on the industrial areas of northern England: Read more…

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