Next stunt, please!

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 11 2008 8:38 PM

Next Stunt, Please!

Plus--Can I vote for McGovern?

(Continued from Page 6)

Many Democratic friends are asking me why I'm not highlighting the National Enquirer's Sarah Palin Affair story, given the constant harpi ... I mean comprehensive coverage in this space of John Edwards' affair. It's not that I think the Enquirer's Palin reporting is necessarily off. It's not that I'm not curious! ... But Palin's spouse isn't and wasn't suffering from cancer, and Palin is not running on the basis of her good character  as demonstrated by her loyalty to her suffering spouse. ... Isn't Palin running on 'family values'? Sure. But it seems to me she's running on 'we're-an- ordinary-messy-family confronting ordinary messy problems and we'll work it out' family values, not 'we're-a-near-storybook-perfect-faithful-couple' family values. And whatever happened or didn't happen was over a decade ago ("around 1996") and they seem to have worked it out.** ... Having an affair and still saving your marriage--now that's family values in action! It's almost the opposite of hypocrisy. ... Plus if Palin gets the vote of every spouse who has ever cheated, Obama's going to lose and poor Gwen Ifill isn't going to earn out her advance. You wouldn't want that. ...

**--Reader S. emphasizes the timing: Edwards was cheating on his sick wife even as he was campaigning on the basis of his loyalty to her. If he'd simply had an affair twelve years earlier, it would have been a different case. ...

P.S.: Bill Clinton's affairs were, in part, important because they empowered Hillary in internal Clinton White House policy disputes, most notably the debacle of her health care task force. (He owed her.) If I thought Sarah Palin was so indebted to Todd Palin because of whatever happened in 1996 that he would as a result exercise extraordinary power in the McCain or Palin administration, then I'd say we should treat whatever happened in 1996 as a big deal. But I don't see that, even though Todd Palin is apparently not a passive political spouse. ... 4:30 P.M.  link

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I've tried A! I've tried B! ... I haven't tried M! McCain's behind. It's October. If Palin doesn't change the momentum tonight, isn't it getting to be about the time when you'd predict McCain would do what all the insiders said he wouldn't do, namely turn his campaign over to Mike Murphy to see if that will save him? ... It's not like Murphy's being subtle about letting on that thinks he could do a better job than current campaign manager Steve Schmidt. .... 3:15 P.M. link

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We helped bankrupt the banks. Now we're doing the same thing for health care! What does "mental health parity" legislation, which has now been incorporated into the big "rescue" bill passed by the Dem-controlled Senate, have to do with the nation's financial crisis? ... P.S.: Actually, the thinking behind the push for "parity" and the now-questionable decades-long push to extend mortgages to "underserved" groups seems eerily parallel: 1) Stodgy/greedy old bankers say they can't afford to lend to minorities who don't meet traditional mortgage criteria. But we have a noble social goal to fulfill and we know they're wrong! ... 2) Stodgy/greedy old health plan administrators say they can't afford to cover hard-to-diagnose mental problems (e.g., anxiety) and substance abuse to the same extent that they cover easy-to-diagnose physical problems. But we have a noble social goal and .... 1:55 A.M. link

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TARP, Baby!Veteran Fannie Mae critic David Smith builds on Andy Kessler to explain why Paulson's "troubled-asset" purchase plan may make sense. The taxpayers could even make so much money that the governement could fund .. national health care! (Take that, Jim Lehrer.) ... As usual, Smith's post is exceptionally easy to follow for those (like me) who don't understand fancy financials. It's a particularly useful antidote to Krugman's critique--which seems to assume, in at least one of its forms, that the government will only pay the current, going, distressed market price for the assets it buys. Smith argues it could pay more than this going, "immediate" "market" value and still a) be driving a reasonably hard bargain, b) boost the economy by freeing up capital, and c) make money down the road. .. In part that's because the market in "troubled assets" isn't completely rational right now, something that shouldn't surprise leftish economists. In part it's because, as Smith and Kessler note, the government (unlike an ordinary purchaser) can goose the economy to make sure its "troubled assets" regain some of their value. .. Two obvious problems: 1) Goosing the economy usually means inflation. Kessler is not wildly convincing on why this isn't a threat; 2) Smith seems to assume that of course real estate will bounce back if the economy does. But why? A bubble is a bubble. A growing economy didn't bring back the tech stocks that were overpriced in the 90s--unless someone got rich off their old Pseudo.com stake without telling me. ...

Smith responds (via e-mail):

Two points. (1) Smith's Law of Inter-generational Revenge: Inflation is the revenge the young take on the old for the previous generation's overspending. Yes, I expect inflation to rise, and the question is whether its rise stalls the economy. (2) Unlike tech stocks, which rode on anticipated future earnings, real estate has earnings (homeowners' cost of occupancy); and real estate is a necessity, not a luxury. You can consume less or more real estate, but you've got to occupy something." ...

5:11 P.M. link

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Monday, September 29, 2008