24 November 2010

Summary of the ongoing

QE II: Good. Overdue. Kind of an odd admission that monetary policy should have been tried at the outset however instead of a massive fiscal stimulus that was used to expand government programmes without the usual justifications. I don't buy the Austrian Business Cycle approach, primarily because the nations that have more monetary stimulus in response to this seem to be pretty stable and still kicking and especially because monetary policy looks like it caused and extended the Depression, several previous "panics", and the early 80s recession (deliberately in that case). This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Federal Reserve's ability to carry out its primary charge of course, but it is an endorsement of its ability to do something. Just a question of whether it wants to.

START ratification, not happening: Bad. Pointless political posturing involving an old adversary that apparently the Republican base is still easily afraid of (Russians are coming!, those evil Commies!). I don't think that ratification particularly improves or degrades our national security. Nuclear arms don't get used and we'd have enough either way to deter attacks of that kind by nuclear nation-states. What would help is that we'd be spending less money on maintaining and securing our nuclear arsenals and that would free up resources for other, probably wiser, uses of the money. Considering the deficit and the continued ability of the US to field military forces for conventional uses is kind of a big deal for national security, I'd say reducing that deficit by getting rid of useless stuff in the budget is a lot smarter even if it somehow magically makes us less safe in the minds of Mitt Romney and others. Mainly because it provides a diplomatic "victory" to Obama and Clinton.

Korea (War 2?): This I need to keep an eye on. I'm not an expert on the DPRK's inner power workings, but I'd guess that, like the torpedoing of the destroyer last year, there were some deliberate internal power struggles shaking out in the form of belligerent acts. The questions are how does the ROK respond (the sinking of the destroyer went through international channels to try to line up China against the action, I think this was marginally useful), and do these belligerent acts continue and even escalate?

The ongoing saga of to be groped or not: I don't understand how this sudden belligerence by civil liberties advocates is written off as personal inconvenience. We who give a shit have been complaining since the outset. When body scanners were shown to be an ineffectual giveaway to a corporate lobby, when we had to take off our shoes for no apparent reason, when people were detained without explanation at border crossings or for bordering planes and some of them tortured and/or detained for years despite no evidence of wrong-doing ever being presented (and usually, eventually released, without any compensation for the state's behavior), when no fly lists could be gone around by people who know to do so (ie, terrorists or spies) and couldn't be gotten off of by the many thousands of innocents who were targeted by them, when we passed the PATRIOT act and then again when we reauthorized its powers despite their documented abuses, when we've expanded and militarized the drug war at home, and so on.... We don't stop complaining about abuses of power and line crossing simply because the public's line keeps moving inexplicably further toward "MORE SECURITY!" Or because the administration changes and says "Trust us, we're not those other guys".

Personally, the track record of Obama on this, an issue that libertarians might expect at least some sympathetic ideas and actions from liberals (civil liberties), is so bad that I'm ready to write him off finally. I already didn't care for the rhetoric of protectionism or the Keynesian approach rather than the monetarist approach to the economy (even a mixed system would have been palatable coming as it does from a modern American version of liberalism), and the focus on health care rather than education was redeemable, but not for a health care bill that didn't fix anything important (long-term deficit and health care inflation are still out there). So far I'm not seeing a litany of accomplishments, but of woe here. Therefore, I don't particularly care if he loses in 2012 as long as it's not to some completely batshit insane Republican (Romney, Palin, Gingrich, probably Pawlenty). Give me one of the governors (or ex) who sounds like they actually care about governing (Daniels, Christie, Johnson) and I might consider them passable. I'm not sure that this will be the case, sadly. I'm actually fairly convinced that the GOP and in particular its membership of conservatives and social conservatives in particular is rather deranged at present and will do something to guarantee another 4 years of Obama.

I might say this is fine if there were issues that Obama has supported or championed that I cared about. But I'm mostly seeing yet another vile politician whose supporters ignore failings because it's "their guy". Look its bad enough when people do this when there's some asshole on their favourite sports team that they overlook because he's got the right colour jersey on. Do we really need to extend this us-them dynamic of thought to politics? Are we that lazy? I guess so. I think it's kind of pathetic to parrot out platitudes because someone says so and never bother to check that they actually know what they're talking about. Never mind the facts, I KNOW this guy is evil and this one is not because they're on my team!
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