Archive for August 2011

Because Soshalism, That’s Why!

August 31, 2011

Further evidence of the Kenyan Mooslim’s utter failure to grasp the essentials of free market economics.

Bonus flashback [Huffpo link]:

On the auto bailout, despite GM going public last week and sending billions of dollars back to taxpayers, Perry still insisted that it wasn’t successful and said the federal government shouldn’t be involved in private sector growth.

Double bonus flashback:

In 2009, Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama’s plans for rescuing the automobile industry were “tragic” and “a very sad circumstance for this country.”

Of course, this being Romney, he now says that this tragic idea was really his in the first place, which contortion is one of many reasons that Rick Perry is the most likely GOP nominee.

Image:  Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Pulcinella and the Tumblers,  1797.

Sanity in Texas!

August 30, 2011

Dallas, even! Home of Mark Cuban

Now, Cuban’s politics are generally a bit bonkers, to put it excessively kindly — he is, (wait for it) a Randian, seemingly of the high-functioning sort, and endorsed Michael Bloomberg in the 2008 election (sic!)  This time around, he’s signed on to one of those centrist third party rich-guys’ playgrounds so beloved of Thomas Friedman.

At the same time, he isn’t frothing at the mouth about the current President.  He complains that the Obama administration has been insufficiently transparent, which may be true, but would be a low-on-my-list concern given what’s happening in, you know, reality.

But, even if Cuban were born at night, it wasn’t last night.  None of the GOPsters running impress him, he says, because “all of them are just spouting ‘doctrine’”….

That’s one word for it, but at least he noticed.

What caught my eye in that interview, though, wasn’t the horse-race stuff, nor his transparent (and justified) pleasure in his Dallas Mavericks’ defeat of “the Evil Empire,” Miami. (Pat Riley = Sauron — works for me.)

Rather, here’s the guy who became the supermodel-on-the-wall of every dot-com geek when in 1999, he sold his company, Broadcast.com, with all of its mighty $13.5 million in quarterly revenue sales, to Yahoo, in exchange for $6.5 billion in stock.  And then he took the necessary next step, turning a ton of that stock into cash fast.

So, lucky, good, and filthy rich.  And he wants to pay his share to the country in which his success could occur:

Cuban did say he agrees with Warren Buffett’s recent assertion that the wealthiest Americans should pay more taxes.

“He’s right,” Cuban said. “Not only should we pay more taxes . . . there should not be a differentiation between capital gains and regular income.”

Well yeah.  More of this please — backed by lobbying money to defend the principle.

Image:  Francisco de Goya, Las Gigantillas, 1791-1792

When Romney Meets Perry

August 29, 2011

Thanks to the wonders of my wayback machine, I gained this glimpse of the likely course of the first Romney-Perry exchange in the GOP Presidential primary debates:

You’re welcome.

Eternal Vigilance…

August 28, 2011

… is the condition upon which God hath given liberty to man, you know.

And while “liberty” is rapidly rising to the level of “patriotic” as a word as hollow as Annie Dillard’s frog, all of John Philpot Curran’s fury still holds iwhen we’re talking the defense of our own minds in the face of the relentless, repetitive, numbing, booming bullshit machine of the right.

Case in point?  The usually estimable David Leonhardt, economics correspondent and soon-to-be Washington bureau chief for The New York Times.  In today’s Week in Review section, he’s written a mostly fine piece on the vexing question of why Bush appointee Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has led the central bank to its current state of inaction in the face of all the economic hardship the United States now endures.

Most of the piece is on the money — so go read it. In brief(ish…remember who’s blogging–ed.) Leonhardt notes, correctly, that within the academic community both liberal and conservative economists are having a robust debate about exactly what the Fed can and should be doing.  But, he documents, the Fed has essentially collapsed the public debate to whether we should worry about essentially flat inflation at every waking moment, or merely most of them.

Leonhardt accurately diagnoses the incentives that make this intellectual vapidity the soft option for Fed chief and his colleagues:

Mr. Bernanke knows that if he errs on the side of passivity — worrying more about inflation risks than unemployment — he risks only a modest flogging from colleagues and politicians.

He even takes the next step and correctly identifies the reason why the penalty to be feared for taking action is assymetrically worse than that for the rolling disaster we now endure while the engineer dozes at the switch:

If he leans the other way, he risks being accused of, well, treason.

Yup:  he calls out Rick Perry by name and the GOP by clear implication for creating a political context in which the price of acting to aid the economy is a traitor’s badge.

So, Leonhardt knows this bully-boy intellectual thuggery is happening, and he knows its bad, and he talks about options to be taken even now — and all this is a good thing for whatever chance we have of wresting the economic debate back from the strategically ignorant who are transferring wealth, public and private, from the middle class to the richest among us.

But despite this quite explicit truth-to-power approach, you can find in this piece evidence of just how destructively successful the right has been in conditioning the basic structure of political debate over the last decade and more.  Leonhardt talks about the organization of the Fed as one of the real impediments to the adoption of policies that might trade general economic advantage for pain for the banks.  He talks, reasonably enough, of Obama’s choice of inflation moderates, rather than doves for the appointments he controls.  But then he says this:

The Obama administration has also been slow to fill some Fed openings. At least one of the 12 seats has been vacant since Mr. Obama took office, and two are now.

And whose fault is that?  Leonhardt’s account clearly blames Obama and his administration.  This is false.  The Obama team was slow — that part is true; but the responsibility for current vacancies lies squarely with a GOP Senate minority determined to block any move that might lead to an effective economic policy.

Leonhardt himself certainly knows this.

How can I be so sure?

Because his own newspaper has fully covered the key events that expose Republican knavery on these appointments.  First, Obama made appointments to all the vacancies more than fifteen months ago.  The nominees were all economics thinkers of the kind that Leonhardt seems to feel is missing from current Fed discussions.  What’s more, Leonhardt undoubtedly knows the story of my MIT colleague, Peter Diamond, an expert on unemployment and social insurance of eminence sufficient to have earned him the most recent Nobel Prize in economics, whom Obama nominated for a Fed governorship three times.

Diamond, recall, was blocked by career sucker-off-the-federal-teat Richard Shelby, point man for the destroy-the-country-to-save-it cabal now operating under the name of the Republican Party.

On his withdrawal from the nominating process, Diamond, again in the Times, pointed out what a disaster the Shelby doctrine for appointments would be for the future of intelligent policy making, of governance.

I’m picking on Leonhardt here not because he’s complicit in all that knavery.  You can tell from his writing over several years that he did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday; he knows who’s doing what, and for what reasons, and he’s spent a considerable amount of time exposing lots of Republican nonsense on everything from — well, stupid inflation tricks at the Fed now to GOP misdirection on the healthcare debate.  He is, genuinely, one of the good guys, and I’m extremely happy that he will be leading the Grey Lady’s Washington coverage heading into the next election cycle.

But that’s my point:  the notion that both sides do it, seems to be almost surgically implanted in the current journalistic frame for political reporting — and that makes it hard to think and write clearly about contentious issue even for those who clearly understand that both sides don’t, at least not in remotely symmetrical ways.  And the constant dinning of Obama’s culpability for more or less everything, including the damn four hours of rain delay in yesterday’s games at Fenway, makes it way to easy to grab the first factoid — Fed vacancies! — as evidence of mutual malfeasance.

But that means that Leonhardt’s readers don’t get the correct story.  Just to belabor the obvious one last time: Leonhardt’s story boils down to the notion that the Fed is failing now for two reasons:  fear of the pressure brought by Republican hacks shouting “treason!” and(at least partially) the Obama failure to appropriately populate the Fed board. But if you don’t know that the same Republican brown shirts shouting down reasoned deliberation are the ones making it impossible for Obama to execute his nominating power, then you can’t figure out who’s responsible for our current policy paralysis.

Eternal vigilance, baby.

Images:  Jean Clouet, Portrait of a Banker, 1522

Rembrandt, Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem, 1630

You Know It’s Tough All Over…

August 26, 2011

…When even the usually reliable Carl Hiaasen can’t crack a joke.

I’m a devoted reader of Hiaasen’s fiction — I’ve even tracked down one of his early co-authored novels.  And while rage at what the greedheads and buffoons have done to his beloved Florida animates everything he writes, he’s managed to retain both a capacity for awe and fun in the face of the absurdity that is that hallucination of a state.

So I had high hopes of some get-away-from-it all when I picked up his latest,  Star Island.  Some old favorites are back, notably Clinton Tyree, (aka Captain, aka Governor, aka Skink), and Chemo (don’t ask).  It has a promising premise, involving a drug-and-fame-addled tone-deaf pop star, a plucky and lovely lookalike, an utterly unlovely papparazo, with a bit of real estate fraud, GBH by sea urchin, and more thrown in for spice.  It looked good in the airport bookshop…

But nothing’s funny.  I finished it over lunch today, and it turns out that no one has any righteous joy at even a temporary triumph over the forces of huckster-evil.  No innocents wise up and save themselves amidst hilarity.  There isn’t really even any righteous revenge:  even when the sea-urchin attackee gets killed, it’s only for being a common or garden variety fraudster; his demise comes off stage; and he leaves us with only minimal Hiassen/Florida flamboyance.

For the rest?  The book reads OK.  There are a few fine set pieces — the best of which was Skink’s assault on the condo-deal tour bus.  Hiaasen’s a pro, and his basic craft hasn’t deserted him.  It’s only his astonished joy at the pure ridiculousness of his chosen home that’s MIA.

My diagnosis?

Hiaasen doesn’t write politics explicitly into his books — politicians, yes, but he mostly focuses on more generally human folly (to which are heir even Florida pols, only nominally accorded co-species status).

But the reality that he and we confront right now seems to have outstripped his capacity to mock.  Florida, as so often, is once again a test tube environment in which national pathologies grow in virulence — and monotonously self-destructive people just aren’t funny.    Just to take one of its most prominent current f**k-ups, Rick Scott is not to be cloaked with grandeur of any of these guys, but irony is a thin shield against the kind of implacable malice and/or stupidity that can find Hiaasen with every morning’s newspaper.

Nothing funny doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless; best not to laugh when there’s so much work to be done between now and November, 2012.  And certainly, Rick Scott — whom I take here as a stand in both for Florida’s woes and the current disastrous state of the GOP nationally — is inducing some serious buyer’s remorse.   But, while I know it is probably just me, reacting to one of my favorite summer authors having a down book, I have to say I was struck by how hard it is even for someone who has made a fine career out of laughing at life’s rich pageant just ain’t finding it easy to smile anymore.

Image:  John Singer Sargent (sic! — color me surprised too), Muddy Alligators, 1917.

My Kindergartener Could Solve Differential Equations Better Than That

August 25, 2011

Man, I so need a break from politics now.  Given that the Party of Lincoln has decisively transformed itself into that of — oh who the hell knows…say Tomato Hookworm-Space Aliens, and we can’t seem to build asylums fast enough to cage the crazy, I just hit the wall.

I know that I haven’t been posting much lately  –  the consequence of a summer deconstructed by the there-and-back-again frenzy of trips to surreal cities (Shanghai, Qatar) and the blessed internet-free cloister of the mountains.  But truly, my (unaccustomed) silence is born of the sense that the fools and knaves really have managed to gut the American, and perhaps the human experiment for good and all — or at least for that foreseeable future that includes my son’s maturity.

I don’t actually think that’s necessarily true, for a lot of reasons, including this one.  But still and all, it is good to read some stuff that had nothing to do with dominion and the amount of creativity some people can bring to bear on screwing the most vulnerable among us.

Like this, for example:

At a glance, a painting by Jackson Pollock can look deceptively accidental: just a quick flick of color on a canvas.

A quantitative analysis of Pollock’s streams, drips, and coils by Harvard mathematician L. Mahadevan and collaborators at Boston College reveals, however, that the artist had to be slow — he had to be deliberate — to exploit fluid dynamics in the way that he did.

The linked article at the Harvard Gazette is a bit of bait and switch.  Pollack wasn’t a physicist, of course, except in the sense that one of the qualities that distinguishes a great center fielder, for example, is the ability to solve the equation describing the curve traveled by a batted ball swiftly (and subconsciously) enough to make the most astounding catches seem …routine (almost).

But even if there is a difference between living physics and thinking  about it, there is a crucial overlap as well:

“My own interest,” said [mathematician/physicist] L. Mahadevan, “is in the tension between the medium — the dynamics of the fluid, and the way it is applied [written, brushed, poured …] — and the message. While the latter will eventually transcend the former, the medium can be sometimes limiting and sometimes liberating.”

Pollock’s signature style involved laying canvas on the floor and pouring paint onto it in continuous, curving streams. Rather than pouring straight from the can, he applied paint from a stick or a trowel, waving his hand back and forth above the canvas and adjusting the height and angle of the trowel to make the stream wider or thinner.

Simultaneously restricted and inspired by the laws of nature, Pollock took on the role of experimentalist, ceding some control to physics to create aesthetic effects.

The hunt for a deep connection between science and art is an old preoccupation of practitioners of both of those creative crafts.  I’ve written about instances of this cross-cutting desire in a couple of my books — Bach’s joining of the “society of musical sciences” in 1747; Einstein’s invocation of aesthetics, (calling Bohr’s 1913 theory of the atom an instance of “the highest form of musicality in the sphere of thought)” and so on.

Einstein’s quote captures what I think of as the nexus of the art-science connection:  a shared sense of both method and motivation.  For motivation:  artists and scientists don’t always find it easy to articulate why they do what they do — but when they reflect out loud on such questions, they regularly do in language that sounds strikingly similar.  Both guilds celebrate the pleasure of a rich problem, the joys of working things out, the sense of seeking deep truths and so on.

And by method, I mean not specific technique or intellectual apparatus: no one suggests that Pollack was actually solving the equations of fluid dynamics to derive the correct physical gestures he would need to produce the effects he wanted.  Rather this is a thought about process — about the combined impact of experimentation and seemingly spontaeneous imagination on both artistic and scientific investigations.  Here’s Mahadevan again:

The artist, of course, must have discovered the effects he could create through experimenting with various motions and types of paint, and perhaps some intuition and luck. But that, said Mahadevan, is the essence of science.

“We are all students of nature, and so was Pollock,” he explained. “Often, artists and artisans are far ahead, as they push boundaries in ways that are quite similar to, and yet different from, how scientists and engineers do the same.”

That’s a bit of a waffle, I’ll admit:  artists and scientists work the same way — except when they don’t.

But still, I get the point imperfectly made in that quote:  artful people across a wide range of domains share some crucial qualities of mind.  Here, Mahadevan calls out the two I think of as vital:  a delight in empiricism, and that sense of wonder in the face of material existence that sparks in the imagination glimpses of solvable problems.

That’s about all I would want to say on this, so I’ll sign off, with just this one last, probably unnecessary swerve back to my immediate political neuroses.  There are lots of ways to parse the catastrophic state of the Republican Party now — and by catastrophic, I mean for the nation, in that I don’t care if the GOP goes the way of the Whigs, but I’d rather they didn’t do so by partying as if it were 1861.

You can see that party’s debacle as rooted in class warfare, with uber-wealthy elites bankrolling a faux-populist insurgency.  You can, as Dennis G. does here, powerfully and accurately, trace the roots of the current fiasco in anxiety (and worse)n in the face of demographic (and, I’d add, technological and geo-political) transformation.  You can see strains of the millenia-long urban/rural battle. (In that context, I’ve long thought that Jane Jacobs late and less well known book Systems of Survival had a lot to say.  And if anyone were to suggest that there was pleasure as well as insight to be had in digging up the Mumford classic, The City in History, I’d not disagree.)

But to all of that I’d add this:  what’s been striking in the know-nothing ascendency in the GOP — the Rick Perry phenomenon and all the rest — is not so much that a grifter-Texan would have a pitch-perfect feel for every neurosis of the Republican primary electorate.  It’s that people who actually really do know better — I’m looking at you Mitt Romney — are trying to toe the same line, parroting the orthodoxy that empirical knowledge matters not in the face of certain revealed truths, and that active human agency (government!) cannot solve problems.

Artists, they are not.  Scientists neither.  In power they should not be.

Images: Jackson Pollack at work in his East Hampton studio, before 1956.

Willy Mays’ game-saving catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.

What I learned on my summer vacation — thanks to an 11 YO boy…

August 22, 2011

…obsessed with Top Gear:

This factoid, for one thing, retailed somewhere on the long journey north and east of Mt. Diablo into the uninhabited quadrant of California:

“Daddy:  did you know that the Zonda R has got a V-12 engine and weighs less than a Ford Fiesta?”

“Why no, son.  I did not.”

But, good father that I hope to be, come the return to sporadic internet service, I did a little research and came up with something to show my son.  Sadly, though, it  may be the most perfect expression of the pron aesthetic I’ve ever seen, all desire, all objects, and that driving, relentless beat:

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And yes,  I know that gazillion dollar non-or-barely-street-legal-cars are mere distractions from the chaos of our times — but as a bonus, check out the single craziest bit of flying my (admittedly non-pilot) eyes can recall seeing.*  The pilot here seems to be someone for whom juggling six knives while balancing a cyanide tablet on clenched teeth does not sufficiently engage:

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How about that dipsy-doo over the runway? Pray to FSM that this flyer never chooses a second career in an Alitalia cockpit.  I don’t want to be approaching Rome when the boredom gets to him…

More serious (aka depressing) blogging to come.  But for now, consider this a wretched excess open thread.

*And I saw the head test pilot for British Aerospace show off the Harrier at the Farnborough Airshow right after the Falklands War.  He could make that little plane do all kinds of tricks — but this Italian guy so far out-crazies him that it just ain’t funny.  (For an example of just how weird the Harrier could be, check out this clip from a later Farnborough display.)

Send in the Clowns

August 22, 2011

It’s the end game in Tripoli.

From the Guardian’s live feed on events there:

10.45pm: Libyan rebels are now within two miles of the centre of Tripoli, AP reports…

…and this:

11.04pm: Al Jazeera is reporting that two of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam and Al-Saadi, have been arrested and another son, Muhammad, has surrendered.

And so on.  All, as commenter Jenny points out in the last thread, without a single US casualty.

Which means that there are some folks who have some ‘splainin’ to do.  Republican folks.  Would-be presidents.  E.g:

Romney (to Hugh Hewitt, March 21, 2011):

America has been feared sometimes, has been respected, but today, that America is seen as being weak.

We’re following the French into Libya.

I appreciate the fact that others are participating in this effort, but I think we look to America to be the leader of the world. You know, the cause of liberty can endure the mistakes that are inevitable consequences of human fallibility. But liberty’s standard can’t prevail if it’s not proudly, decisively and consistently held aloft.

Bachmann, March 30, 2011:

The Minnesota Republican, who’s weighing a run for president in 2012, said had she been in the Oval Office and faced with the choice of intervening militarily in Libya, “I would not have gone in.”

Bachmann, April 16, 2011 (warning:  Politico link):

Michele Bachmann laced into President Barack Obama at a South Carolina tea party rally Saturday, saying his decision to take military action in Libya was “foolish” and that he’s “not on our side anymore.”

Pawlenty, March 29, 2011:

President Obama’s “timid” response to the crisis in Libya made it more difficult to remove Moammar Kadafi from power, former Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty charged Tuesday.

Pawlenty, who became the first top-flight Republican to form a presidential exploratory committee last week, said that he supported the U.S. airstrikes against the Libyan dictator, but would have acted sooner when rebel forces had “substantial momentum.”

“Now we’re in this position of having the president of the United States saying Kadafi must go, but we’re not going to necessarily make him go. And that’s untenable,” he said.

(I know that he’s out now — but Pawlenty was still a semi-seriously-taken candidate at the time.)

Rick Santorum (I know, I know…but just for giggles) winning the flip-flop award on March 20, 2011 (warning, another Politico link):

Flip: Santorum led the way among GOP presidential hopefuls in calling for airstrikes on Libya. He invoked Ronald Reagan’s 1986 bombing campaign against military targets in Libya, ordered as retaliation for an attack on a West Berlin nightclub that killed two American servicemen masterminded by the Libyan secret service.

“If you want to be Reaganesque, it seems the path is pretty clear,” he told an Iowa radio station earlier this month.

Flop:  But in a Sunday phone interview from his backyard in Pennsylvania, Santorum said that action made more sense 12 days ago because it looked like “a little nudge and a push” from the United States could tip the scale for the rebels. He’s upset that the U.S. has not been insistent on regime change and faulted the administration for making the comment that it was time for Qadhafi to give up power without continuing to insist on that over the weekend….

The former senator speculated that Obama might have only agreed to go along with the military option under pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“He’s not decisive,” Santorum said of Obama. “He’s being the military for the [United Nations]. The French were the first ones out there. He’s following the lead.”

Backflip:  He expressed fear that rebels inside Libya may not be friendly to the United States.

“Maybe folks have better intel, but I’m not confident I know what the makeup of the rebels are,” he said. “From everything I’ve seen reported, we don’t know that.”

Ooops: And he raised the specter that Qadhafi could survive because of Obama’s early indecisiveness, which would mean potential retaliation against the U.S.

“Under any score, I don’t know how you could play this worse than this president has,” he said…

Except, just to reprise the thought with which we began:

TRIPOLI, Libya — Rebels surged into the Libyan capital Sunday night, meeting little resistance from troops loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and setting off raucous street celebrations by residents hailing the end of his 42 years in power.

And so on.  All, as commenter Jenny points out in the last thread, without a single US casualty.

You can, and many have and will, argue hard about the merits of US action in Libya, or inaction in Syria.* But if you are a Republican — or an actually sane American, for that matter — who believes in both a robust and effective foreign policy, there is not a single clown seeking your vote on the GOP side who would seem to merit your trust.

That community organizer in the White House, though?  Unlike the all-hat-no-cattle types we are increasingly seeing over there, he may take his time, but he does seem to get his man.

Should make for interesting cognitive dissonance over on the dark side. Recall that Qaddafi outlasted Reagan and both Bushes.  Then consider that the chief alternative to crediting Obama’s administration for the crucial support that has enabled the Libyans to come to the point of ending that miserable reign is to praise — wait for it — the French…

…and you have what some might call a jalapeño suppository up your philosophical fundament.

Wouldn’t you say?

*That said, I’m betting Assad is getting a little nervous, just now.  Obama has finally called for his exit, and, as has been demonstrated again, this President may grind slowly, but he seems to do so with a certain…how to say it?…emphasis.

Image: Ernst Ludwig Kirshner, Two acrobats – sculpture, 1932-33.

A Stranger in a Strange Land

August 22, 2011

I’m not saying Mitt Romney won’t be the Republican nominee next year — though if I were a betting man, I’d lay a small wager (pizza scale, not rent money) that he’ll fall short.

But I do believe that planners at the DOD see Romney’s ear as the US Strategic Tin Reserve — and that can’t be good for either a potentially (faux) populist-dominated primary battle, nor for a general election against someone who has some experience in running against the clueless rich.

The latest gaffe? Romney, like McCain, has a housing fetish:

The San Diego Union-Tribunebroke the story of Romney’s California plans this weekend:

“Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure. No date has been set to consider the proposed coastal development and site development permits, which must be approved by the city.”

Three years ago, Romney bought the “oceanfront manse in La Jolla” for $12 million. His campaign says the house on the property is too small for Romney’s large extended family…

Oh, and one more thing:  what’s up with a resident (and former governor of) Massachusetts plunking down hogsheads of cash to buy sand in La Jolla in the first place?  Must be that old sailor-down-to-the-sea thing:

SanDiego.com reports Romney said last year that the oceanfront property stirred up memories of his (also fabulously wealthy) childhood:

At a book signing in nearby University City last year, Romney explained why he bought the house.

“I wanted to be where I could hear the waves,” he said. “As a boy, we spent summers on Lake Huron [in his native Michigan] and I could hear the crashing waves at night. It was one of my favorite things in the world. Being near the water and the waves was something I badly wanted to experience again.’”

Ah.  The soul of a Romney.

One thing, though.  Last time I checked, Massachusetts had a pretty nice coastlineWaves too, and tides, and oysters — and even famous rich people with compounds and all.

The moral of this story: it’s not that Romney has more scratch than you and me and all our friends that makes him suspect.  It’s that he’s rootless, a citizen not of a place but of a class.  His passport is green, issued by the sovereign meta-state of Richistan.

And fine — he’s a wealthy man; it’s a truism that this fact does not as a necessary corollary render him a bad person (though it does amplify his capacity for evil if he swings that way, of course).  But there’s rich and rich, and for some, Romney clearly included, an utterly secure material condition renders the experience of most of those the former one-term governor would seek to govern simply inaccessible. And that’s not good, either for a candidate or the country.

Image:  Titian and workshop, The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross, before 1576.  Bonus points to those who spot the Romney-specific family reference in the grouping.

August 4, 2011

Barney Frank has written a clear, detailed and carefully reasoned explanation of why he voted against the debt ceiling bill.  It’s long enough to send most of it below the jump, but I want to highlight on the front page what my congressman had to say about our job now:

Dear Friend,

I appreciate you taking the time to let me know of your views on the debt limit.  As I will explain later, I think part of the reason that we wound up with a very unsatisfactory bill – one that I voted against – is that there was a disproportionate volume of communications from people who take a wholly negative view of virtually all government activity.  Fortunately, now that their efforts have called some fundamental values into question, a more broadly representative sector in the American public is speaking out and I think that will have a good result. [emphases added]

That is:  keep those cards and letters coming, now, through the summer, and all the way to Christmas.

There’s a lot more, all worth reading, reminding us (me) that despite the relatively negligible damage done up front by this deal, the potential remains for much worse to come.  To get Frank’s take, keep reading. (more…)


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