mercredi, novembre 19, 2008

What's out there?

It's scary how many primeval emotions "No Drama Obama" arouses among some people in America.

I became really aware of this while doing a post for "Get Religion" on a story by Lisa Miller of Newsweek. "Is Obama the Anti Christ?" blared the title. Not that there's any evidence that Miller believe this, of course.

But apparently there's a segment of the populace who believe that it's possible that Obama is the Beast who will bring in the Apocalypse.

When Al Quaeda leaders call Obama a "House Negro" we can shrug our shoulders--what else can we expect from an organization that hates us? But when Americans are writing into Rapture websites and wondering if this is the end times, we might want to be a little attentive.

According to stats Miller pulled from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, one -third of white evangelicals believe the world will end in their lifetime -- and that's just the white ones!

What does this have to do with Obama? One commenter wrote that he thought Obama could be, if not THE Anti Christ, an anti-Christ.

He was mocked by other posters. But I have a feeling that a lot of us are walking around so pleased and proud that we are able to elect a black President that we don't notice that some other people are not only unhappy, which is par for the course...but that a much smaller number also see Obama as (gulp) evil.

As I've said here, I'm not a Bill Ayers fan (oh, that was a horrible transition). Although I'm glad he's come out to discuss his behavior as a Weatherman, I still think there's a whole heck of a lot he's not telling about what really went on with that group. And people who remember his misdeeds and the bombings well, which I do not, are really pissed.

I think what bugs me about him is that while I heard general regret, I didn't hear anything truly penitential in his tone. Instead, I heard that snarky kind of self-righteousness found most often in certain academic and political elites, both on the right and the left. Wouldn't it be easier just to say you are sorry and get on with your life?

But one thing the former Weatherman and now professor told Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" got my attention. He said he got death threats during the campaign. When Gross asked him if they had subsided after the election, he said no. They have increased.

There some strange stuff going on out there, and hopefully our law enforcement officials are paying attention. A lot of us aren't.

Even Bill Ayers, former bomber, finds himself on the right side of the law , friendly with his local police, and asking for their protection. What a difference 40 years makes.

PS -- Read (see link) today's Freakonomics column on why some counties went from red to scarlet for McCain. Dunno if he's right, but he takes apart the argument that this is simply all about racism and suggests the truth is more complicated.

lundi, novembre 17, 2008

But he too has drifted...

I'm linking a wonderful column from today's NYT. Written by conservative columnist Bill Kristol, "George W. Hoover" is a warning to Republicans: don't make the same mistakes you did in the 1930s! Or the perception of mistakes (grin)...

Take a look at this excerpt:

"I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism."

Less doctrinaire!

No kidding.

I can't often say that Bill and I are singing in the same choir,but I gotta tell ya, these words were music to my skeptical ears.

I also agree with the sentiment in the next paragraph. There's got to be some kind of regulation or perhaps some kind of punishment, beyond the inevitable trouble that occurs when bubbles burst. Sure there were many perps (many pimps, too) but a lot of people are the innocent victims of these drive-by market drunks.

The problem is: what kind of regulation would give the markets maximum freedom? Regulation of any kind is going to be like poison to some conservatives. If you truly believe that markets function best when everyone exercises their own self interests, then why should you have to have someone else checking up on you?

In a sense, I admire the purists -- being a devotee of unregulated markets is like being a totally committed atheist. It's very hard to remain devoted to a hard, no intervention perspective when all around you, you see a society in disarray from people who gamed the system.

By the way, I'm skeptical about Obama's disclosure forms, too ---you can't always screen for potential conflicts of interests. But I also admire him for trying.