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Handouts for the rich, good. Handouts for the poor, irresponsible.

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 05:28:22 AM EST

from the diaries. -- Jérôme.

I'm no economist, much less a banker, but the sums of money being thrown at the "liquidity crisis" in the banking sector look pretty scary to me.  $200 Billion dollars in one go just recently. That's a lot of liquidity.

Meanwhile Bush says that the housing market meltdown was caused by too many houses being built.  Tell that to the people made homeless by foreclosures on their Mortgages and who are now living in tent cities throughout the land.  Surely the real "liquidity crisis" is with the 99.9% of the population who have seen no real increases in their wages over the past 30 years, and many of whom have seen their real living standards decline?

$200 Billion dollars spread over a million homeless people would buy every one a $200,000 dollar house - support the construction industry and help to create a much more stable housing market.  But somehow it seems to be morally wrong to give money to the poor whilst there is no moral hazard in giving the same money to the rich bankers who helped to impoverish the poor in the first place.


But what I find really galling is that none of the Presidential candidates appears to be able to say so.  You would have thought that promising $200 Billion in housing, health, welfare, and education services available to all would make for a pretty good vote catching platform, not to mention the huge boost it would provide to the American economy.

But somehow that would be irresponsible, it would be inflationary, it would be socialism, it would create a "nanny state", it would interfere with people's freedom, it would undermine the work ethic etc. etc. etc.

Funny how the same money given to the rich - who have walked off with all the profits in the good times - seems to have none of the above deleterious effects on their moral character nor on the welfare of the nation.

So why are none of the candidates raising this issue?  All seem to have been fulsome in their praise of Bernanke's handling of the crisis.  None seem to have a problem with the huge sums of money involved, not to mention the risk guarantees provided to JP Morgan to take over Bear Sterns for a song.

Maybe I have gotten this all wrong, and we are really talking about "funny money" here - the Central bank just printing more Dollar notes to free up the credit markets and provide much needed credit funding for productive enterprises in the real economy.  If it were simply a case of short term loans which will be repaid in due course, perhaps I could buy that scenario.

But risk is risk, and the US taxpayer seems to be carrying the can.  If you do happen to be in the unfortunate position of requiring a sub-prime mortgage to fund your home you will certainly know all about it.  You will be paying penal rates of interest and the threats of legal action won't be long in coming if you fall behind on your payments.

So why doesn't the state simply nationalise those banks which have been irresponsible in their lending practices - much like the loan sharks were put out of business?  Why shouldn't the bankers and their shareholders carry the full consequences of their profligacy - much like the irresponsible home owner who can't make the mortgage repayments because he has gambled his money away?

If you object to the state running banks as a matter of principle or ideology, they can always be sold back to investors when the situation has stabilised.  If the taxpayer has shouldered the risk, surely he should also  be able to profit from the sale of those banks back into a healthier market?  This is what seems to have happened in Sweden in the 1990's when they had a similar banking crisis.

But surely the biggest lessons of all should have been learned after the Great Depression when Roosevelt's New Deal rescued the US from the robber barons and speculators who had run the country into the ground? And yet the candidates don't seem to invoke his memory all that often.  Have the American people forgotten?  Do they not realise what it took to fix the country last time around.  Are the candidates correctly judging the mood of the electorate when they rule out such a Rooseveltian discourse as part of their campaign strategy?

If so, the American people only have themselves to blame.  They have been taken for a monumental ride and seem to glory in being taken for fools.  Obama has just spoken very movingly on the race issue, but is that what US politics is still really all about?  Can you still be disqualified from mainstream discourse if you advocate an end to public squalor and private wealth?

I'm sure McCain is a very fine man.  But he hasn't distanced himself in any meaningful way from the economic policies which have driven the US to the brink of bankruptcy.  Bush inherited record surpluses from Clinton and in a few short years squandered the lot.  Now America may never again achieve the economic ascendancy it enjoyed at the turn of the millennium.  Empires rise and fall but are the American people still being bought off with bread and circuses whilst Nero fiddles, and Rome burns?

It is difficult to see how any serious politician could be elected to power in any major European Country with such a blatant disregard for economic performance and social justice.  Berlusconi, Aznar, and Blair, had their moments, but none have impoverished their nations in the way Bush has done.

That any Republican, no matter how heroic, could still be running neck and neck with the leading Democrat contenders is a matter for shock and awe.  It is not about McCain personally, but about the people who are funding his candidacy, and who will be running his administration should he be elected.

Even Clinton and Obama don't appear to be proposing radically different economic programmes.  The issues are about gender and race, about values and patriotism, about national security and foreign policy, about globalisation and the effects of free trade.

But why is no one challenging the hand-outs to the rich?  The hugely inflationary policies which will destroy the American economy and cost the dollar its preeminent position in the world?  Do Americans not know that the wealthy are taking their wealth elsewhere?  That they are being treated like the citizens of a banana republic/dictatorship with no more control over their own destiny than the average peasant whose land has been stolen for "development?"

Money spent on bail-outs for bankers and tax cuts for the rich can just as well be spirited abroad or spent on conspicuous consumption on largely imported products.  Money spent on housing, health and education creates good jobs and retains that wealth within the country.  Ultimately it increases the productive capacity of the nation.

The American people are conniving in the underdevelopment of their own country.  The means their masters have used to undermine and under-develop many third world countries are now being turned on their own people.  The world has learned the lessons of imperialism.  It seems the American people have some catching up to do.

Display:
But surely the biggest lessons of all should have been learned after the Great Depression when Roosevelt's new deal rescued the US from the robber barons and speculators who had run the country into the ground?

And yet the candidates don't seem to invoke his memory all that often.  Have the American people forgotten?  Do they not realise what it took to fix the country last time around.  Are the candidates correctly judging the mood of the electorate when they rule out such a Rooseveltian discourse as part of their campaign strategy?

American public discourse had shown a great art of ignoring some particular issues and questions. That art surely improved in the last decade, with monopolization of the media and further monetarization of electoral process. Big money is behind this art, you may bet.

Don't Americans realize the situation? Why the candidates keep mum on this? For one thing, most Americans are too busy with keeping their jobs, saving their investments and mortgages. If they have time to realize, they are just happy that they are not so hopeless (yet) as others. In their thinking, all that matters is having some competitive advantage somewhere; so long as they do not feel as belonging to the negative half of a Gaussian bell curve of any sort, they prise themselves as certain achievers. As they notice how hard it is to keep "middle" living standards, they respect those at the top tail a lot assuming proportional "hard work". What teachers, preachers, bosses, TV anchors and electable politicians talked relentlessly all the time for 30 years, that gets imprinted deeply. Taking care of anything but your self-interest has become a tabu. Americans may run from "nanny" government with revulsion, but they embraced a dependence on "invisible hand" (whatever it is) fully.

I would say adopted to "political reality" eagerly and well. McCain is not exactly the same man as in 2000, and the Clintons learned to love power interests willingly. Outright discussion of real economic developments and social consequences was tried so long ago that no one know how that works anymore. The best we can imagine is Obama stealthily planning sane economic policies when in the White House. But he is not the favorite of the deciders anyway, and their confidence that Obama can be beaten is growing. Just wait till he gets the nomination...

It's a Welfare State - If You're Rich

by das monde on Wed Mar 19th, 2008 at 10:52:15 PM EST
das monde:

The best we can imagine is Obama stealthily planning sane economic policies when in the White House. But he is not the favorite of the deciders anyway, and It's a Welfare State - If You're Rich

Great comment, great links.  Thanks for this.  I particularly liked the National Review comments about Obama's speech lacking absolute moral reference points - and the second link which measured everything in terms of what the "markets will like".  It seems that money IS the THE absolute reference point for conservative morality.

And the market is their preferred measure of value because there you get one dollar one vote - whereas in politics you only get one person one vote - extremely unfair, if you have lots of dollars.

Once you make money rather than people your God or primary reference point, all of the neo-conservative discourse follows as a natural progression.  The task of a truly humanitarian politics is to transform the paradigm into one where politics becomes ascendant over economics, and where Government acts as if people actually mattered.

Those who have sold their souls become neo-cons.  But the devil they worship will also destroy them, because once pou've bought, you can also be sold.  (With apologies to poemless...)

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 10:32:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oops - don't know how these links got left out of my last quote... it seems you can only copy and embed one link at a time

das monde:

... planning sane economic policies when in the White House. But he is not the favorite of the deciders anyway, and their confidence that Obama can be beaten

das monde:

and is growing. Just wait till he gets the nomination...


"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 10:38:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The links are still there, on the same page :-)

I see that I made a significant omission myself. The last big paragraph should start with

I would say politicians adopted to "political reality" eagerly and well....
by das monde on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 07:45:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't Americans realize the situation?

We do, but there is no action because there is still so much to lose. You are not going to take a week off of work to go protest in DC when you'll lose your job in the process and never get another job when you have a conviction on your record.

During the labor movements of the 19th and 20th century, the workers had bargaining power and little to lose. There is no bargaining power today when there is unlimited labor (in terms of the size of the world market it services) available in Asia for 20% of the cost. That cannot be competed with outside of the high end white collar workers that Asia cannot provide enough of along with some high end manufacturing. Many people today do live paycheck to paycheck, but a job loss doesn't mean starvation - that was less certain 100 years ago.

Fox News didn't hide the fact that the recent $30 billion given to JP Morgan was a straight seizure of middle class assets. Some commentators described it as necessary, others, importantly, did not. There is a "reality" threshold at which the American media will report the truth - that threshold was hit after Katrina and we're hitting it again. Still nothing changes, and that's a triumph of early 20th century propaganda that taught us that this is the way things must be, which is now part of our culture. This is the main driver of inaction. It's not coming from the same language still being used today.

DailyKos isn't run by early 20th century propagandists or the corporate media, but the minds of the users were formed by them through the culture the users grew up in. And it shows. "Bootstrap deprogramming" - relearning our interests in this case - will take a generation. That's one reason it's pointless to rail against the American public, and let's be honest about what purpose these diaries serve - we're all getting an ego boost by writing our "told you so" pieces. Europe needs to remember it lives in the same world. Sarkozy's election is the most recent proof.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 04:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And let me be clear, this is not a pie fight hit piece. As fun as those can be.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 04:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, things need to get worse before they can get better, and we have too much to lose even if we have lost a lot, also in Europe.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 04:49:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solzhenitsyn, writing in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" wrote something to the effect that so long as people have possessions, and are still attached to them, you have some hold over them.  But if you take away everything they have, they are free again, because their is nothing more that you can take.

I hear you when you say that people have too much to lose and still have an often diminishing vested interest in the system.  If your pension is dependent on your investments you are much more invested in the success of the system than (say) a French civil servant, who has a state pension as of right, and doesn't have to care whether the economy goes down the tubes or not....  (What do I have to say to get Jerome's dander up these days?)

But if its the economy you're worried about, why support McCain?  He has almost no economic or administrative record to speak of, and at least Bill Clinton had some track record on that front.  Why trust the neo-cons when they no longer trust each other and refuse to lend to each other?

Believe me, this diary has nothing to do with any egotistical "I told you so" pleasures.   I won too many arguments and lost too many wars to fight that sort of caper.  What happens in America effects us all, and yes, Sarkozy/Blair show we too can get things wrong.  We have our own neo-con tendencies to resist, and it doesn't help one bit if another one wins in the US.  The EU simply isn't designed to fill the leadership vacuum that now exists in world affairs.

But we need a completely new kind of leaderhip, and part of that has to be a recognition that the currently dominant neo-con ideology has failed.  And yes, we need Americans to live up to at least a small part of their idealistic self image and stop acting like the big bully on the block.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 07:31:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... there were communists in Ireland. I thought they could not exist given the overwhelming success of "liberal" "reforms" in that country?

The rich deserve the money they have, and the poor deserve what they have (or not) as well. It's simple.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 05:16:22 AM EST
As you know very well, the "Celtic Tiger" (now deceased) had very little to do with classic neo-liberal anglo style reforms, and a lot to do with social partnership, combating exclusion, providing mechanisms for resolving industrial relations and national conflicts, improving public education, and removing the protective barriers which protected and insulated a very in-bred and incompetent local bourgeoisie from real competition and the requirement to engage in real innovation and entrepreneurship.

The market led reforms ideology which you so elegantly critique in your Anglo disease series conveniently edits out these other factors and concentrates on the tax cuts - one factor amongst many.  However France could also learn a lot about the mechanisms and institutions which Ireland has evolved to resolve conflicts of interest.  Your ideas of conflict resolution seem still to revolve around burning cars at barricades 1968 style...   That should get you going!

As for communists, no we only have the pinko smoked salmon socialist variety here, some farmed, and some wild.  Arguing that the state has a duty to act in the interests of its citizens is hardly communism, is it?  It is politics 101.

As a business manager throughout the 1980's and 1990's I was always amused to hear my more Thatcherite colleagues extol the virtues of self-interest and "greed is good".  But woe betide a Union leader who sought to do the same for his members!  That sort of idiocy has long passed out of mainstream business thinking in Ireland, and I would hope out of Europe as well.

What I have advocated above is quite simply that the State has no business in under-writing the profits of the rich.  If the public interest requires that certain risks be covered off and insured, the state has a duty to ensure its taxpayers will also reap the benefits when taking those risks pays off.  That is simple business logic that any business person would apply to the same process if s/he were taking on certain risks.

The notion that only the private sector can make profits, and only the state should bear the losses is so infantile, it beggars belief.  It is the ultimate nanny state ideology - for capitalists.  Who's state is it anyway?  Since when was a democracy not of and for the people?

The triumph of the neo-liberal agenda is that it has persuaded people it is in their own interests, moral and otherwise, to carry the risks of economic activity, whereas capital is entitled to a virtually guaranteed rate of return.  Real business isn't like that, and doesn't require military interventions around the globe to make profits possible.  You should ask the Irish!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 06:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Arguing that the state has a duty to act in the interests of its citizens is hardly communism, is it?

That's the key point, and it's the proverbial dead wildebeest on the table - economic exclusion isn't just an attack on personal prosperity, it's a denial of citizenship.

As Clinton keeps implying - some people don't matter. To the extremists on Wall St and in Washington, no one matters. Other people certainly aren't equal participants in the 'unreal economy' - they're useful chattels who can be robbed and then disposed of when no longer needed.

This is about bedrock democracy, not just cash flow.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 07:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US is a post-democratic state - implicitly so since Reagan or maybe Carter; explicitly so since Dubya.

The language has been so corrupted that it is hard to imagine a political discourse where your points could be made.  In contrast to the USSR and Orwell's state, the US elite have privatized the debasement of language - with awe-inspiring results.  Our mainstream "media" are poisonous.

by cambridgemac on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 09:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said that "no one can make you inferior without your permission".  My problem is that American citizens appear to have colluded in their debasement - quite why I do not know:  Perhaps misplaced loyalty to their founding myths, perhaps nostalgia for a simpler time when social mobility through hard work was a reality for many, perhaps a perverted religious piety.  But you can only take blaming the MSM so far.  At the end of the day people have to buy into that sort of stuff, and if they stop listening ad stop watching and turn to the internet and other sources of information the MSM have a problem.  And what the hell is a "post-democratic state" anyway?  You have to buy into that debasement of democracy for it to be possible.  Most Americans have an amazingly positive "CAN-DO" attitude to life.  It's time they really did democracy and did for the plutocrats.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 01:29:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Roosevelt never spent time in Abu Grahib or Guantanamo.

Of course people can make you feel inferior without your permission. People aren't hermetically sealed psychological objects, with perfect freedom of action.

Subject any culture to a propagandistic noise machine, cut education, eliminate outside sources of news, repeat talking points tens of times every day, play up baser instincts and ridicule or scorn kindness and collective responsibility, and you'll be able to turn almost any barbarity into common wisdom.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree and yet I beg to differ.  You added the word "feel" to my quotation.  Of course people can make you feel inferior.  What Eleanor Roosevelt was saying was that at the end of the day you have to take responsibility for your own life - and blaming the MSM, the political system, the jobs situation etc. - while all having a degree of validity - is ultimately a cop out.  And remember when she said those words - the memory of Slavery was a lot more recent, and racial segregation and discrimination was the order of the day.

The Black Consciousness movement in the US and in South Africa under Apartheid was all about not accepting the dominant (white) definition of who and what you are.  And yes it isn't easy.  Torture and discrimination were rife in both instances.  But most American's haven't been to Abu Grahib or Guantanamo either, and the deprivations they endure are nothing in comparison to what many peoples have endured in many countries subjected to imperialism and war.

In fact the US is almost uniquely privileged in that it  has had over 150 years of relative peace, with no major war fought on its soil, no foreign domination or exploitation.  It ill befits the American people to now play the victim, 9/11 notwithstanding, and I for one think they are a much greater people than that.  They have brought an amazing inventiveness and energy to many fields of science and commerce.  It is time they addressed the obvious flaws in their polity with equal energy and vision.

We do them no favours by asking any less of them.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 09:00:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS - Thanks for the promotion Jerome - an endorsement by Europe's leading alternative banking economist must mean I've gotten something right!!!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 07:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, great questions, thanks, Frank.

I started writing a comment a couple of hours ago, but it got way too long, so if anyone wants to, they can go see it as a diary...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 09:00:46 AM EST
Really they do.

This is really just excellent writing, Frank. Really.

by redstar on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 11:47:54 AM EST
Many thanks, but I think my piece may have been at least subliminally inspired by yours on Nobody's crying for you, America..  Because I think the American people are being screwed as much as many others around the world, and it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to see this happening.

When I see McCain taking the lead in Presidential polls I really wonder sometimes what it will take to wake people up.  Only Americans can end the hypocrisies and the exploitations, but it would be wrong to say that Europeans do not sympathise with them in their plight.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 01:05:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have been making similar points in your comments to various threads recently, so this reads like a synthesis you have been brewing for some time.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 04:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if it is, you are more prescient than I.  I just sat down and wrote it in one big splurge in half an hour, with little idea of what I was going to write beyond a vague sense that brilliant and all as Obama's patriotism/race speech was, there was an elephant in the room that the candidates did not seem to be addressing.  Why bail out the bankers when you can't even look after the basic needs of your own people?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 07:48:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there is this comment of yours to TBG's diary yesterday:

Frank Schnittger:

Contrast that with the sense of entitlement that Hilary seems to exude:  Its our turn as Democrats, and as Women, and as Liberals she seems to be saying.  It's about HER, not about YOU.

What is remarkable is that financial America is falling apart at the seams - and yet Obama gives it barely a thought.  Military America is suffering humiliation in Afghanistan and Iraq - he doesn't go there.

But you have one comment from 10 days ago in which the theme is already present in a form closer to that of this diary:

Frank Schnittger:

What I find strange about this crisis is the seeming disconnect with what passes for political debate in the US Presidential election.  Have McCain, Obama, Clinton et al given the slightest indication that they understand the magnitude of what is going on?  Does winning the Presidency depend on reflecting the voters apparent denial/ignorance of what is going on?  It seems that the reality of the financial meltdown and the failure of the "reform" ideology is so far out of sync with the comfortable cliches of politics-as-you-were that we are in danger of providing a democratic mandate to Neroism - a collective fiddling while Rome burns.


It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 03:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touche - I'd forgotten I wrote that.  Somehow I always consider comments to be more in the way of instant response, throwaway, or fun remarks which I don't keep a separate physical or mental record of - whereas a diary is, or should be, more in the way of a considered view which you might have to stand-by, justify, or admit as mistaken some time later - the sort of thing that can come back to haunt you if a stranger googles your name.

This particular diary came out of the blue, whereas I have perhaps 20 others planned which I may write if time and inspiration permits and if I can do the necessary homework to feel I can say something worthwhile.  Maybe sometime I should do a "meta diary" on all the topics I would like to write on but don't yet feel able - and invite everyone else to chip in their topics - and then perhaps a few collaborative diaries might emerge.

Anyway, many thanks. I feel honoured that anyone would read and recall my comments so closely  - I'd better be more careful about what I say in the future!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:11:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm behind in my reading and I was just catching up on some recent comments to Jerome's diary, so I had just recently reread your old comment.

However, regarding comments, at least on this site comment threads are as valuable and valued as diaries. I have a tendency to develop ideas in comments over time, which sometimes results in a synthesis diary.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 01:06:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't keep up with all the US election discussions so this may have been said elsewhere but I can't help wondering if Americans consider Bush to be the problem rather than the Republican way itself?  

Maybe the line of thought with some Americans is that McCain isn't Bush so things couldn't possibly be as bad if he were President and there is a failure to realise that McCain isn't offering any solutions to the problems Bush has caused.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 04:29:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a lot to that, particularly as McCain has been on the opposite side to Bush on certain key debates such as that on torture.  The larger problem is that American politics is very personalised and often very much revolves around the issue of the "character" of the candidates themselves.

Unlike France, where there is a strongly held view that a candidate's private life is his own business, his/her character is often of the essence in the US.  Thus Elliot Spitzer had to resign as New York Governor for engaging a call girl service without almost no consideration of the key role he has been playing in exposing corporate malpractice in Wall Street.  Surely the most important current issue in that state.

The debate about the Presidential candidates - McCain, Clinton and Obama almost always revolves around their personal qualities rather than around their policies and party/business/political affiliations and the interests they represent.  Part of this is a media creation - it is very hard to interview an abstract concept like an "interest" and most people are bored by the minutae of policy debates.

The personal hatred and vitriol which accompanies "political" debates on US blogs and media is quite shocking to an outsider more used to the concept that people are people and what matters is policy, allegiances and competence.

I also can't help feeling that a lot of this has to do with the very individualistic form of religion which has evolved in the US where it is all about having a personal Saviour and about your personal responsibility and moral probity - as if all else follows from that.  Thus Bush was really only doing God's work...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 04:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Unlike France, where there is a strongly held view that a candidate's private life is his own business
You mean there was before Sarkozy came along.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 11:48:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well yes and no - Sarkozy has certainly made an exhibition of himself, but it is anything but clear that the French electorate approve

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 01:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the press get used to it (and Sarkozyś friends own the press) then it will set the expectations of the press for the next Presidential term.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 26th, 2008 at 03:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once you let the genie of public prurience out of the bottle, it is very hard to put it back in again.  Even if the public wanted to maintain the tradition of respect for privacy, it is not in the interests of the media to respect this.  So you are probably right, Sarkozy has changed the ball game - and probably for ever, if not for good.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 26th, 2008 at 05:27:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Recall thatt for middle-class and upper-class professional democrats, Wall Street is Social Security. So it makes sense for them.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 04:44:53 PM EST
New York Times: Taming the Beast (by Paul Krugman on March 24, 2008)
We're now in the midst of an epic financial crisis, which ought to be at the center of the election debate. But it isn't.

Now, I don't expect presidential campaigns to have all the answers to our current crisis -- even financial experts are scrambling to keep up with events. But I do think we're entitled to more answers, and in particular a clearer commitment to financial reform, than we're getting so far.

...

Hillary Clinton has not, as far as I can tell, made any comparably problematic economic claims. But she, like Mr. Obama, has been disappointingly quiet about the key issue: the need to reform our out-of-control financial system.



It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 11:47:30 AM EST
Did I read somewhere that Hilary has just announced 30 Billion aid for troubled mortgage holders?  If so, it can hardly be coincidental that this is precisely the amount  of risk indemnity offered to JP Morgan.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 01:11:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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