Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’

The Great Read-cession, Part IX

Confidence MenWe’re wrapping up the financial crisis book reviews with today’s look at two books on the reform efforts that followed the crash of 2008.

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

by Ron Suskind, 2011

 

The last two books I read focused mainly on the government’s response to the crisis, as opposed to the crisis itself. Confidence Men, which got a lot of attention when it came out for its revelations of in-fighting in the Obama Administration, showcases Obama’s response to the financial crisis, both as a candidate and as a new president.

As a candidate, of course, the financial crisis and the housing bubble were a boon to Obama. The sluggish economy of President Bush’s last few years helped Obama’s message of change resonate with the electorate, and John McCain’s incoherent response to the crisis—including his assertion that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” on the day Lehman failed—helped doom his campaign.

But once Obama was elected, the crisis became a tremendous albatross. One problem was that while many within the campaign anticipated a crisis of some kind, nobody really expected it to come so fast and be so severe. Suskind details a scene from early in Obama’s campaign—August of 2007—in which Obama’s economic advisers warn him that, as president, he will need to respond to a housing crisis. But they estimated that the crisis would hit in “year two” of an Obama presidency, and it would cost about two million jobs. In reality, of course, it came before Election Day, and ultimately cost about eight million jobs. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while watching people get concussed…

Why Is Matt Taibbi So Obsessed With Campaign Contributions?

I should start this off by saying that I like Matt Taibbi. His coverage of the financial crisis and other political corruption often delves into issues ignored by most media outlets, and his acerbic wit makes for fun reading. Nevertheless, he often fixates on the wrong aspect of the scandal he’s uncovering, and that usually involves focusing on campaign contributions.

In his blog post about the Iowa caucuses, Taibbi yammers on about how contributions corrupt the campaigning process:

“[T]he ugly reality, as Dylan Ratigan continually points out, is that the candidate who raises the most money wins an astonishing 94% of the time in America.

“That damning statistic just confirms what everyone who spends any time on the campaign trail knows, which is that the presidential race is not at all about ideas, but entirely about raising money.”

This is so logically porous that it hardly needs explaining (but that won’t stop me). Continue reading

Against Voting

Yesterday was Election Day, meaning a lot of people spent a lot of time talking about how important voting is. Voting is the cornerstone of democracy—it’s a cliché, but it’s true. And, as most of the Western world lives in a democracy, we hear a lot about the importance of voting. When President Obama went on The Daily Show last week, he made sure to remind viewers to vote in yesterday’s elections, and you can assuredly find countless celebrity videos and PSAs telling people to vote every November, or risk their corporeal demise.

It’s true that voting plays a significant role in our society, but that doesn’t make it good. There are plenty of things that are important but terrible: the Iraq War, cancer, the Tea Party, religion, the imperial conquests of the British Empire, terrorism, Dr. Luke’s contributions to pop music, infanticide, etc. Like all of these things, voting’s negative consequences so overwhelmingly exceed its positives that voting in democratic elections ought to be considered an immoral act. Continue reading

A Solution To America’s Immigration Problem: Let Them All In

Immigration is one of those evergreen American political issues that never totally goes away and occasionally grows to such levels of intensity that it dominates the political landscape. Right now, the issue is in full bloom, with Arizona’s new Draconian immigration law and the new ad from Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James in which he declares, “We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it.”

Arizona’s law has some notable detractors, like President Obama on the left, and Jeb Bush on the right (although John McCain continued his new brand of despicable political cowardice by supporting it). Down in Alabama, Tim James seems like a long-shot to win the Republican nomination (although no new polls have come out since the “Language” ad). But this is by no means a fringe issue, or one that is likely to go away. Indeed, it’s possible that immigration inspires more fervent feelings than any other political issue, at least in border states.

In all the heated discussion of the issue, though, one important question doesn’t get raised nearly enough: Why are there any restrictions on immigration to the United States? Continue reading