Some other points!--
1) Gingrich claims it's dangerous to push a dramatic long-term solution in response to a shorter-term "crisis." But of course he uses the crisis to push his own long-term solution, a "zero capital gains tax." I personally think we need to respond to this crisis by immediately providing universal health care while postponing indefinitely all plans for "comprehensive immigration reform" and "card check" unionization. Racial preferences in college admissions and contracting should to be suspended for 15 years while the government creates a $700 billion entity to fund charter schools and another of similar size to finance public works projects that provide unskilled, last-resort jobs. This no time to rush into untested schemes;
2) I don't have to imagine what a future administration might do with the unchecked power to spend $700 billion, potentially rewarding friends, etc. I'm worried what the current administration would do. Paulson seems like a straight shooter--but these are Bushes we are talking about. They value loyalty and keep lists. The President tried to put his personal lawyer on the Supreme Court. Enough said. ...
3) Gingrich worries about "a one-week solution that becomes a 20-year mess." I don't see the danger of a 20-year mess. It's only a trillion dollars. It won't take 20 years to spend.
Krugman (like Joe Nocera) wonders what price the government will pay for the toxic assets its buying--will it drive a hard bargain, paying no more than"fair value"-- in which case it wouldn't seem to be doing much to help the firms it's buying from. Or will it overpay, in effect lavishing a taxpayer windfall on Wall Street screw-ups without asking anything in return? The scheme only makes sense, Krugman notes, if
this is mainly a liquidity problem. So if the government stands ready to buy securities at "fair value", all will be well.
Mallaby, on the other hand, worries that there is no market price--no "fair value"--at all, and no way of knowing whether the government will have overpaid:
But under the current proposal, the government would go out and shop for bad loans. These come in all shapes and sizes, so the government would have to judge what type of loans it wants. They are illiquid, so it's hard to know how to value them. Bad loans are weighing down the financial system precisely because private-sector experts can't determine their worth.
In other words, as I understand it, Mallaby says there is too a big liquidity problem, which is precisely what (as Krugman notes) Paulson's bailout is designed to fix--by pricing the toxic assets via a "reverse auction," in which the government pays the lowest possible price, and in effect answers the question "private sector experts" can't.
I don't know if it will work (and I don't see why, to make it work, the government needs to spend all $700 billion). But I don't think both Krugman and Mallaby can be right about why it won't work.
5) Mallaby worries that the government might prop up "the sickest institutions." But in a "reverse auction," in which the government was not overpaying, wouldn't it be mainly the healthiest institutions who could take the low price and still be happy to get the toxic assets off their balance sheets? Or would, in fact, only the weakest and most desperate institutions jump at even a lowball offer?
I don't know the answer. If I did I'd have 13 cars by now. ...
Update: This WaPo analysis is very useful. It doesn't resolve any of the issues, but confirms that the issues, and others, really are issues! ... Key point-: A "reverse auction" is tricky because the securities offered will be different in complicated ways. Hard to compare. But the same--on a lesser scale--goes for houses, no? There's still a market for them. The government would presumably do the best it could, with more of a cushion for error than a typical private buyer (but also with a lot of discretion that could be used to reward friends, etc.).. .... 9:26 P.M. link
Friday, September 19, 2008
Don't unpanic yet, Dems: I know state-by-state polling sometimes lags. But after a week as tumultuously favorable to the Democrats as this past week, if I were an Obama supporter--wait, I am!- I'd want the electoral map to look a whole lot better than this. Or this. ... 3:19 P.M.
His theory is that when racially charged issues like welfare and crime dominated the political rhetoric, racial factors affected voting behavior and the Wilder effect asserted itself. But once welfare disappeared as a salient issue in 1996, political discourse was deracialized and race was less of a factor in voters' mind.
Such a deracializing effect was not unanticipated (if, for example, you read Thomas and Mary Edsall's Chain Reaction.) ... All the more reason for Obama to present himself as a strong welfare reform supporter, whether or not he actually was one in 1996. ... 3:11 P.M. link
McCain Finds His Voice! Or Paul Wellstone's Voice!
"[F]orcing mortgages on people who couldn't afford them"
That's how McCain's now talking in his desperate lunge to the demagogic left. Can you imagine Reagan saying such a thing? I can't. No wonder the Heritage types are on lockdown. ... P.S.: I'd say McCain's new rhetoric was Shrumian, except that would libel Shrum, who's either not that demagogic or knows he could never get away with it. ... Update: David Corn thinks McCain's new mad-as-hell populist act might work. ... More: Alert reader R.A., and also my mother, say it's time to bring up the Keating Five. Let McCain explain that scandal away. Even assuming he did nothing illegal, he certainly wasn't "changing the way Washington does business" when he met with banking regulators on behalf of a rich buddy He was playing the "old Washington game" as it's always been played: Businessmen befriend you and give you contributions while you either intervene or pretend to intervene on their behalf. ... 2:32 P.M. link
Hack Blowback: Obama so deserves to, finally, take this hit for choosing Fannie Mae macher Jim Johnson to vet his VP prospects. (See earlier.)... Did Obama tap Johnson because after two years in the Senate Obama had become part of the "Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling" as McCain charges--or because as a newcomer he was naive about that Washington culture and quickly got co-opted? Either way, it was an obvious, conventional, atrocious choice. ... P.S.: The Obama campaign has countered by releasing a list of McCain aides who lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What the release demonstrates is that while Fannie Mae was a peculiarly Democratic scam--habitually justified as a way to bring home-ownership to the less advantaged--its leaders successfully tried to buy both parties. Still, lobbying for Fannie Mae's disastrous operation (McCain campaign manager Rick Davis) isn't the same thing as running Fannie Mae's disastrous operation (Johnson). ... Update: Even TPM's Greg Sargent concedes, "The hit on Johnson is a rough one for Obama." ... More: "Give it back! Give it back!" ... Raines and Johnson should have taken that sound advice in 2004. They'd be heroes, not radioactive losers. ... 12:02 P.M. link
St. Elizabeth, Mythmaker: Even when she by all rights should be reassuming her position a highly sympathetic figure--maybe she really believed her husband's line about how he couldn't be the father of Rielle Hunter's child--Elizabeth Edwards finds a way to be annoying! From the Detroit Free Press:
Asked whether she has forgiven her husband, Edwards replied: "I don't want to feed the monster, if you don't mind." [**]
She said that had her leg been amputated, instead of a child dying or her husband having an affair, people would not ask: "Are you over that leg thing yet?"
That's it--it's all our fault for being curious! The leg analogy is perfect--I mean, it's not as if she wrote a self-dramatizing book about a child dying ... Oh wait:
... Edwards will visit Detroit on Oct. 15 to talk about coping with life's setbacks, including the loss of her son Wade at age 16 in an auto accident and her 2004 diagnosis of cancer, which recurred last year. Those issues frame the themes of "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers," her 2006 book, updated last year (Broadway Books, $14.95).
In short, she wants publicity when it helps her, and when it doesn't you're a monster for asking. ... P.S.: Mrs. Edwards described her new role as making sure her three children "have an image of their father as an 'advocate for poverty, not for this current picture picture of him to be the only one they carry with them .... So I need to create the picture for them that I want them to have." [Emphasis added] Doesn't sound like she's in the truth business anymore, if she ever was. ...
**--Last month, her husband said, "My Lord and my wife have forgiven me ..." She could have told the Free Press "yes." Or even (if she didn't want to make news) "John addressed that on Nightline." ... 1:37 A.M. link
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Plainly, Obama is testing what the market for his negativity and non-New Politics will bear, daring McCain to go negative.**
Or maybe (just between us) Obama's not-so-plainly persuing the cunning Krikorian Strategy of "baiting McCain as being insufficiently committed to [immigration] amnesty in order to provoke a politically damaging response by the Republican nominee."
Unlike the similar Brimelow Gambit--in which Obama would politely invite McCain to pledge to pursue "comprehensive" immigration reform--Krikorian would have Obama goad McCain into inadvisedly embracing 'semi-amnesty' by ticking him off. An unfair and infuriatingly deceptive ad is much better for this purpose than a fair and honest ad! And an infuriatingly deceptive ad in which Obama doesn't directly reiterate his own support of amnesty is better still. ... Plus you know McCain probably detests Limbaugh. Being tarred by a farfetched association with him should be especially aggravating. ...
P.S,: The point is not simply to get McCain to rub his pro-amnesty position in the faces of his Palin-struck conservative GOP "base." Supporting amnesty--in English as well as Spanish, preferably in a televised debate--could also directly cost McCain non-Republican votes in key battleground states. As alert kf reader J.S. notes, such a McCain statement
would mean that at the height of economic fears, in a fight for the working class vote, as we head into a recession, McCain is reminding everyone about his support for comprehensive immigration reform. This hurts McCain with his base and with low wage workers. [E.A.]
Think immigration and amnesty couldn't be an issue in an area like, say, Scranton-Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania? Ask 11-term incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski, "who is now in serious jeopardy of losing his seat to an anti-immigration upstart." Kanjorski's 9 nine points behind in a recent poll. ... [via Corner ]
Bogus CW Alert: The easy, pro-McCain CW on Obama's ad:
The big problem with this ad: McCain and Limbaugh don't agree on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. It's a pretty low blow, particularly since McCain did see his campaign nearly die because of his support for immigration .... -- MSNBC's First Read, 9/18/08
No! The big problem with the ad is that it brutally misconstrues Limbaugh while attempting to implant an ethnic grievance in the Latino community--not just sleazy but profoundly irresponsible ("divisive," as someone like Barack Obama would say). The ad doesn't directly talk about immigration reform--rather it claims McCain is allied with anti-Latino bigots. ... An attack that actually focused on immigration reform and accused McCain of agreeing with Limbaugh wouldn't be that unfair--McCain did try to pretend he'd flipped against his own immigration reform during the GOP primaries, when flipping was in his interest. ... 9/19 Update: The NYT opts for the E-Z CW, ignores the distortion of Limbaugh's statements--leaving the impression that the ad's characterization of "the nativist wing of [the GOP] and Mr. Limbaugh" is accurate. ...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Lady de Rothschild denounces Obama as an "elitist," endorses McCain. ... She "splits her time living in London and New York." ... P.S.: Lloyd Grove's description --"the flashiest hostess in London." ... P.P.S.: Is McCain saving Ferraro for October? ... . 1:44 A.M.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Can the $9 million raised tonight by Obama at that Beverly Hills Barbra Streisand celebrity fundraiser possibly win him as many votes as the bad publicity from the fundraiser is losing him? I don't think so. ... P.S.: I'm from Beverly Hills! I've learned the hard way that there is no way to make it go down well with the rest of America. (I used to joke that I was from the poor side of Beverly Hills. It didn't help.) 11:36 P.M.
Suckers, Part XVIV: "We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency." Don't just take it from me and Mark Krikorian. Here is what pro-comprehensive immigration lawyerr-types say about whether McCain or Obama is more likely to pass an amnesty-type bill. ... It's not even close:
If we get President Obama, Democrats are going to be euphoric on Jan 20, 2009, and rightly so - being back in the White House, at last, after 8 long and bitter years. Democrats have not been able to pursue their priorities for 8 years and we can expect them to act aggressively on their big priorities immediately after a President Obama takes office. There are at least four Democratic priorities ahead of immigration: the Iraq war, universal health care, budget/taxes and energy policy. These are all large, complex issues and Congress will take most of a President Obama's first term to work on these. In such a scenario, we will not see any significant immigration benefits in the foreseeable future.
If we get President McCain, we will still have a powerful Democratic majority in Congress on Jan 20, 2009. This Congress will be at loggerheads with him on all the major Democratic priorities. ...[snip] ... In this bitter fighting hardly anything will get done legislatively, and both Democrats and Mr. McCain will be looking for opportunities to show the country that they can work on something together.
While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party's anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency. [E.A.]
Of course, he'll secure the borders first! ... More: In Florida, McCain declares immigration one of his "first priorities," blasts Obama for insufficiently supporting the 2006-7 McCain-Kennedy legalization bill. ... Note to Nigerian scam artists: Save your emails and focus them on McCain's "base" conservative supporters. They are the biggest suckers on the planet! Just tell them you hate the MSM and they'll do anything you say. ... 3:56 P.M. link
Monday, September 15, 2008
Does MSNBC (Olbermann et. al) really want Obama to win? Won't their ratings be higher in 2009 if they represent the angry opposition--as opposed to the disillusioned party in power? Just a thought. ... P.S.: This factor might cause them not to worry too much whether their exaggerated anti-Palin and anti-McCain theatrics actually help the Democratic ticket. (Or it might not--I am playing crude Marxist here.) ... P.P.S.: Emails I've gotten in response to the item immediately below suggest that "base" conservatives are well aware of McCain's unrecanted heresies on immigration and stem cells--but these mere issues are overwhelmed by their cultural hostility to the MSM's treatment of Obama and Palin. They're being cheap dates and fools--putting evanescent emotion over consequential legislation--but that seems to be the operative dynamic at the moment. Olbermann doesn't help. (The more firmly the GOP base is nailed down by MSM-hatred, remember, the more McCain can lunge for swing voters by running as a semi-Dem "maverick.") ... 2:33 P.M. link
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Mark Halperin's three pieces of advice for Obama seem sound. (They are 1. Ignore Palin; 2. Get in McCain's head the way McCain's getting in Obama's; and 3. Refocus on the economy in an accessible way.) ... To which I'd add:
4. It's a good week for point 3!
a) MSM outrage doesn't sway voters anymore. It didn't even back in 1988, when the press tried to make a stink about George H.W. Bush's use of "flag factories," etc. After this year's failed MSM Palin assault, it certainly won't work;
b) When Dems get outraged at unfairness they look weak. How can they stand up to Putin if they start whining when confronted with Steve Schmidt? McCain's camp can fake umbrage all it wants--the latest is that an Atlantic photographer took some nasty photos that the mag didn't run!--and nobody will accuse MCain of being weak. That's so unfair. A double standard. Dems can learn to live with it or complain about the unfairness for another 4 years. Their choice.
c) It's almost always impossible to prove that a Republican attack is a 100% lie. Either there's a germ of truth (Kerry did hype his wartime heroism at least a bit) or the truth is indeterminate (i.e., there's no way of knowing what Obama meant by "lipstick"--just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn't mean he didn't think using it now, after Palin's speech, didn't add a witty resonance).
d) Lecturing the public on what's 'true" and what's a "lie" (when the truth isn't 100% clear) plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals--that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.
e) Inevitably the people being outraged on Obama's behalf will phrase their arguments in ways well-designed to appeal to their friends--and turn off the unconverted. ('This is just what they did to John Kerry and Michael Dukakis!' As if the public yearns for the lost Kerry and Dukakis Presidencies. 'Today's kindergarteners need some sex education. Just because Republicans are old fashioned ...' etc. Or 'These are Karl Rove tactics,' which signifies little to non-Dem voters except a partisan rancor they'd like to put behind them.)
Lots of people like bad Disney movies, and don't like the kind of people who sneer at bad Disney movies.
6. There must be some way to disillusion the conservative base with McCain, at least a bit. I know the CW--Palin has locked in the base, freeing McCain to move left. But jeez, McCain isn't moving to the left just on immigration, and he isn't moving subtly. Listen to this new radio ad, which might as well be titled "Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research." That's how often the phrase is repeated. How much more Screw-You-I'm-Taking-You-for-Granted can McCain get? Are conservatives complete suckers?
7. McCain's made great progress with independents by going against his party. Obama can do the same thing. Obvious areas of potential anti-Dem apostasy: Charter schools, firing incompetent teachers, class-based affirmative action, welfare. At least express some doubts about liberal legalism or the headlong rush to immigrant semi-amnesty. Last Tuesday Obama may have tried to make waves by talking about "schools filled with poor teachers"-- a Dem no-no if there ever was one. It got buried by the lipstick pig. So don't complain. Say it again! ...
Backfill: See also this helpfully unimpressed Michael Goodwin column.("No more Mr. Nice Guy, Obama vows. He's going to really start hitting John McCain now. He's going to make voters understand that McCain equals four more years of George Bush. It's a weird decision because Obama has been doing exactly that for four months. The problem is not that Obama hasn't hit McCain hard enough or linked him to Bush often enough. The problem is that he hasn't done anything else.. ...[W]hat happened to that post-partisan uniter who took the country by storm during the early primaries ... Why not bring him back?") ... 11:17 P.M. link
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Only McCain can stop McCain! Mark Krikorian notes that if McCain wins big enough to drag in a Republican Congress, those Republicans might thwart his immigration plans. Krikorian quotes this email from a reader:
The best thing to happen to anti-amnesty Republicans in Congress is the rise of McCain/Palin bringing back the GOP 'brand' and the increasing the generic GOP ballot.
I am helping a local Republican get elected. His message is partly anti-illegal-aliens and the safety issue. We need to end 'sanctuary cities'.
McCain's coattails may help stop amnesty even if he himself will not
That's one reason I suspect McCain would rather win, but maybe not win too big. Or, rather, win without any coattails. A Democratic Congress may be the best partner for him (and not just when it comes to immigration) ...
On immigration, though, there's a counter-counter-factor, which is that any Republican majority dragged in on a McCain/Palin tide is likely to splinter (between anti-amnesty enforcement types and pro-business we-need-labor types) while a Republican minority might well form a united anti-amnesty opposition (after making a strategic decision to get back in power using the hot immigration issue). ...
In any case a) McCain is unlikely to win big, if he wins at all; b) it's very unlikely the GOPs will win control of either half of Congress, and c) if the Dems do retain a majority, then President McCain is significantly more likely than Obama to actually enact a "comprehensive" legalization plan. ...
The one box in the matrix I'm not sure of is President Obama/GOP Congress. In that case, with most of his grander legislative ambitions (on health care, etc.) blocked, you'dthink Obama might well turn to immigration as the one area where he could push through a major, party-building reform (by combining Democrats and pro-business Republicans). But this divided electoral outcome seems the least likely possibility by far--if Obama wins, he will almost certainly have a Dem Congress to work with. ... [Thanks to reader S.G.]... 5:21 P.M. link
Friday, September 12, 2008
You lost me at "de": Headline/byline of an op-ed in yesterday's WSJ--
Democrats Need to Shake
The "Elitist' Tag
By Lynn Forester de Rothschild
Does Lynn Forester de Rothschild actually exist, or did Paul Gigot invent her? ... [That's Lady de Rothschild to you, buddy-ed. Even better.] ... 4:48 P.M.
Attention Ms. Coulter:John McCain is running an ad in Spanish attacking Obama for allegedly failing to support the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that McCain himself has said he no longer supports. ... I guess McCain got the "message" but not the mensaje. ... P.S.: The picture of Sen. Patrick Leahy is especially terrifying. ... P.P.S.: Would McCain ever run this ad in English? ...
Coulter responds: Excerpt--
Kausfiles is maniacally obsessed with McCain's boneheaded support for amnesty, a position Kausfiles admits Obama shares -- but with slightly less enthusiasm -- as this year's excuse to vote for the Democrat.
In the end, Kausfiles will vote for the Democrat because Kausfiles always votes for the Democrat and not because of amnesty. Kausfiles pretends to be waffling only to trick conservative girls into arguing with him.
Coulter is on to me. Except I'm not waffling this time. I'm for Obama. That Obama is significantly less likely to actually enact amnesty is highly convenient for me, I agree. But it's also true. (See Krikorian.) It's equally convenient for Coulter to ignore this truth because it allows her to support the Republican in the race, after she seemed to waffle (or more than waffle) by endorsing Hillary over McCain. If McCain wins, I think Coulter will regret getting drunk and voting for him. ... Actually, let me link to that video again. Repays rewatching! (Coulter: "John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is. He is bad for the country ... very, very bad for the country.") ... 11:41 A.M. link
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Take back their Kramlers: Ron Rosenbaum gets his head out of Pale Fire long enough to give Obama some strategic advice. I normally don't like us vs. them populism, but Rosenbaum's version might be the exception--because it has a precise and legitimate target:
What the campaign needs to do is focus on Wall Street. ... On the fact that the Republican party through its obsessive, greedy, lobbyist driven fetishizing of financial de-regulation has allowed the economy to be turned into a casino ...
Yes, it's true that the Clintonians were in bed with them (and Biden was a shill for the credit card industry) but six years of pure Republican rule handed the economy to the hedge fund creeps, virtually turned the economy into a hedge fund, a huge financial scam. Rather than re tooling it for the new century, they retooled financial instruments for their own disgraceful enrichment. ...
So what if many are Democrats, the more the shame. Obama should run against them too. I think there is a vast untapped resentment out there against the sharpies who have ended up bankrupting and selling out our economy. It's time to hold them responsible, and in a democracy a presidential campaign is the time and the way to do it. [E.A.]
Not a crazy idea. Everybody hates the "hedge fund creeps." And the need for Obama to turn on his own party's leaders (because both parties have effectively been bought by Wall Street) is a feature not a bug. ... Suggested tweak: It's not that Big Finance high earners were greedy, or necessarily lacking in "decency," or that they "[sold] out the economy." They're supposed to be greedy. Their greed was supposed to drive them to create innovative new financial instruments and risk-avoiding strategies that would benefit everyone and justify their absurd paychecks and--here's the winning social-egalitarian theme--the sense they exuded that they were better and smarter than even their Ivy League classmates who went to med school, let alone non-college graduates on "Main Street." The problem is simply that their innovative deregulated instruments and strategies--carefully protected by bipartisan mercenary lobbying--didn't work, producing a calamitous meltdown. Whether they knew this would happen or not doesn't matter. They "screwed up," as Rosenbaum says. Yet they're keeping the inflated paychecks, the lobbyists and (so far) their dominant place in the economic and social pecking order. Wouldn't hurt to humble them. ... 6:22 P.M. link
McCain on the Follieri Yacht. Moral: They're all celebrities. [Even Biden?--ed. I'm thinking ...] ... 12:42 P.M.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Ann Coulter responds, on behalf of getdrunkandvote4mccain.com, to the argument that conservatives should consider that McCain is more likely than Obama to actually enact "comprehensive immigration reform" with its misguided semi-amnesty for illegal immigrants. [See the little column on the right side of her blog, linked above.] Excerpt:
Even assuming McCain were more likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform" than Obama, the difference is between a 10% chance and a 9.99999% chance.
Meanwhile, Obama is more likely to jump-start Islamic terrorism by rapidly withdrawing from Iraq and insanely sending more troops to Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan. In a few years, it won't matter how many illegals we have -- they'll be forced to convert to Islam like the rest of us.
I'd say the difference is more like a 50% chance of passing a semi-amnesty under McCain, compared with a 20% chance under Obama, who will have lots of other things to do and lots of Dem Congresspeople from swing districts he doesn't want to endanger. Amnesty is irreversible, remember, as will be many of its consequences (e.g., an incentive for more illegal immigration, plus a change in the electorate, creating pressure for further amnesties, etc.). ... Meanwhile I think Obama would, overall, put a damper on world terrorism by automatically and at least temporarily lowering the planet's anti-Americanism quotient, translating into fewer radicalized recruits with less tacit support from their neighbors. (Even John Kerry would have done that.) ... Will Obama want to go down in history as the President who snatched defeat from semi-success in Iraq? It's a worry, I agree! But it was much more of a worry before the perception sank in among voters that the "surge" has succeeded. ...
P.S.: What's Coulter's case against sending more troops to Afghanistan? Needs fleshing out! Coulter and the Code Pink protesters in my Venice neighborhood have more in common than I thought. ...