The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for September, 2008

Quote of the Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 30, 2008

“It’s the economy stupid” -Clinton campaign mantra 1992


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Image of the Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 30, 2008

The nail that sticks out gets hammered in -Thomas Chudalla

The nail that sticks out gets hammered in -Thomas Chudalla

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CD of the Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 30, 2008

Elvis Costello –My Aim is True

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Is Paulson a one-trick pony?

Posted by Bill Nance on September 30, 2008

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson said last night that he will continue to work with congress to pass a bailout bill.

But I am honestly starting to wonder: Is Paulson, the former head of Goldman-Sachs unable to think past his experience as a stock broker? It’s an old saw that to a hammer, all problems look like a nail. Could this be Paulson’s achilles heel?

The actual problem for most people seems to be the drying up of credit. Would we be better off working to address that specific problem rather than doing an end-run by addressing bad debts held by brokerage firms and investment banks?

Ar there things the Fed and the Treasury could do which are already within their authority to ease the situation until a new administration takes office? Congressional Republicans seem to think so, and I’m beginning to wonder if they aren’t  correct.

As a consumer and non-economist I am in the same boat as most Americans: I simply don’t understand the problem in enough detail. But I grow increasingly skeptical that the solution proposed by Paulson is the correct one.

As has been pointed out by more than one member of congress, this administration has got it wrong on virtually every single major issue it has come up against. Betting $700 billion that the Bushies are correct this time when they’ve been nothing but wrong before, seems to be unwise.

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Quote of the Day II

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

“Think about this: Someone hurt my feelings, so I’ll go hurt the country!” -Democratic Congressman Barney Frank talking about Republican house members who claim they voted against the bailout bill because Nancy Pelosi made “a partisan speech” before the vote.

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Bailout plan fails: Now what?

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

The house failed to pass the proposed bailout plan for Wall Street today, followed shortly thereafter by a 700 point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The vote count can be found here.

My take:

I’m honestly not sure how to feel about this news. One part of me wants to pass the bill, as crappy as it is, to prevent even more damage to the economy.

On the other hand, I’m tempted to let the chips fall where they may and deal with the mess then.

The case to be made in favor of the bill seems to be that a lot of very smart people think the proposed bailout would inject enough cash into the markets and remove enough bad debt to get the market at least stable. Of course the problem with it is the same as the arguments in favor. Many economists are saying this plan wouldn’t really address the problem adequately and the government would be out $700 billion for no tangible result.

Of course the government can always do nothing. -At least for now.

What might happen as a result? Well, a lot of very large banks and brokerage companies could go belly up. This will hurt those with investments in those companies and the credit market, already very tight at the medium to large-sized banks, could pretty well come to a halt. This in turn would have large effects on other parts of the economy which depend on the availability of credit for their operations.

Still, that problem might be one that’s easier to solve, or at least promises to bear better results, than the current proposed bailout.

It’s a Hell of a situation, and no matter what course we take, it looks like we’re in for some serious economic pain. But the economy has tanked before, and eventually, it has pulled out again. It’s easy to say that when you’re well-situated. It’s a lot harder to take when you’re already struggling. Having been in both positions I can sympathize with both. But on balance, I wonder if the harm form massive debt being added to the current staggering amount won’t do as much harm as the crash the doomsayers foretell.

I guess we’re going to find out.

Posted in economy, News & Analysis, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The far right and it’s opportunist allies owe America an apology

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

Ever since Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980 with the full-throated support of organizations like Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, the far right and theocrats in America have been working hard to push their agendas with lies, red herrings and straw men substituting for honest debate.

The culture wars, which really got started in earnest in that year have since shaped American politics. George H.W. Bush was anathema to these groups in 1980.  Bush was an old fashioned Rockefeller Republican, disdainful of the back-woods religionists and self proclaimed red-necks. Only the hapless and sissified Michael Dukakis was able to win him a term in office in 1988.

Adding to the actual divides in American society were the opportunists. Men and women who saw a chance to make a quick buck exploiting the far right, and were particularly adept at manipulating the press and the media, as well as organizing people around particularly divisive social issues.

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Posted in Barack Obama, Election 08, John McCain, Journalism, News & Analysis, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Affirmative action in history courses

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

As you may or may not know, I’m somewhat of an historical enthusiast. One of the things I enjoy is finding out little details in great historical narratives which add color and depth to the greater story.

An excellent example of this was the story of Harriet Tubman, the heroic escaped slave who returned over and over again to lead other escaped slaves from slavery in the south to freedom in Canada. Learning about Tubman’s courageous actions (and that word courageous doesn’t do adequate justice to her actions) helped personalize for me the deprivations and horror of slavery. I get the same feeling when I read Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, or the diary Joseph Plumb Martin.

So last night when I heard a re-broadcast of the Boston University’s World of Ideas I was excited by the prospect of hearing about Agrippa Hull, a black Revolutionary War soldier who was also an orderly to General John Patterson and to also Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an important but little known Polish General who was in charge of building fortifications at West Point.

I wasn’t terribly interested however, in a lecture on the need for affirmative action in history courses.

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Posted in education, history, Left-Wing Nut-Jobery, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quote of the Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

“the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the sme time, and still retain the ability to function.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald The Crackup (1936)

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CD of the Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

Carole King –Tapestry

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