Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christopher Buckley, William F. Buckley's son endorses Obama

Author Christopher Buckley son of the "patron saint of conservatism" William F. Buckley, a self-described "small-government conservative" and "libertarian" on other issues has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The firestorm has caused him to resign from National Review the magazine WFB founded, which is often credited with helping launch the modern American conservative movement.

Buckley describes Obama as a "first-class temperament and a first-class intellect"

on John McCain:

John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

On Obama:

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Economic Mess - Bailout Nothing New Really

For a historical and global perspective of what the US Govts bailout/rescue plan Britain's The Economist

[H]istory teaches an important lesson: that big banking crises are ultimately solved by throwing in large dollops of public money, and that early and decisive government action, whether to recapitalise banks or take on troubled debts, can minimise the cost to the taxpayer and the damage to the economy. For example, Sweden quickly took over its failed banks after a property bust in the early 1990s and recovered relatively fast. By contrast, Japan took a decade to recover from a financial bust that ultimately cost its taxpayers a sum equivalent to 24% of GDP.

All in all,[B] America’s government has put some 7% of GDP on the line, a vast amount of money but well below the 16% of GDP that the average systemic banking crisis (if there is such a thing) ultimately cost[/B]s the public purse. Just how America’s proposed Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) will work is still unclear. The Treasury plans to buy huge amounts of distressed debt using a reverse auction process, where banks offer to sell at a price and the government buys from the lowest price upwards. The complexities of thousands of different mortgage-backed assets will make this hard. If direct bank recapitalisation is still needed, the Treasury can do that too. [B]The main point is that America is prepared to act, and act decisively.

Basically, the "bailout" is nothing that hasn't been done elsewhere, and the consequences for doing nothing could have been devastating.

Seen this shit happen in the 3rd World with much, much smaller and less complex economies, but the fundamentals are the same.......

one scenario, similar to what happened in East Asia, Russia in the late 90's, which dominoed into South America...

The trouble is that because of its large current-account deficit America is heavily reliant on foreign funding. It has the advantage that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and as the financial turmoil has spread the dollar has strengthened. But today’s crisis is also testing many of the foundations on which foreigners’ faith in the dollar is based, such as limited government and stable capital markets. If foreigners ever flee the dollar, America will face the twin nightmares that haunt emerging countries in a financial collapse: simultaneous banking and currency crises. America’s debts, unlike those in many emerging economies, are denominated in its own currency, but a collapse of the dollar would still be a catastrophe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are Republicans Getting Dumber???

....Or at least more anti-intellectual as David Brooks argues in the NYT.

[O]ver the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

Ultimately, this has meant that the more educated sections of society have been staying away from the Republican party:

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.