Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Six Of One

Megan McArdle has written an interesting piece pushing back against the argument circulating on the Right that Obama's (and Bush's) wasteful fiscal policies are risking hyperinflation, instead supposing that we will have to endure a fiscal crisis instead. She might be right, but it looks to me like a distinction without a difference.

The next big economic bullet we have to contend with is the threat that the government's access to credit in arbitrarily large amounts will be lost or reduced. As that happens, interest rates will rise and the federal government will have to make some very difficult decisions. Megan's argument seems to operate under the assumption that when push comes to shove, the feds will choose to cut entitlement benefits rather than attempt to inflate away the debt. If that's true we have certainly not seen any movement in that direction so far. I know if I owned long term Treasury debt I would be less than reassured by Megan. Furthermore the actual bondholders don't necessarily believe her either, their problem is that they really don't have any good alternatives.

The Obama Recovery

I agree with James Pethokoukis (and other commentators with a similar line) in the main, but his tone seems a bit churlish to me. The fact that GDP grew at 3.5% last quarter is good news, even if for technical reasons that number is exaggerating somewhat the growth in the real economy.

Instead of quibbling about whether last quarter's GDP growth rate was 3.5% or 2.0%, I would simply emphasize that appearances notwithstanding, we are actually in a recovery right now. This is what recovery looks like when Democrats are in power. If the voters want something better, they can vote Republican.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Obama On The Couch

“Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother’s milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career,” I wrote in Feb. 2008. He shares the resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.” - David Goldman aka Spengler

We've seen quite a bit of this sort of thing from various people on the Right over the last year or so. Steve Sailer in particular has made an extensive study of it.

I have no particular beef with armchair psychoanalysis of political figures or prominent people in general. In many circumstances it's the only way to make sense of them. It's just that in this particular case I don't buy it, at least as it pertains to Barack Obama's performance as President of the United States.

Even if we accept that young Barack Obama was weaned on anti-Americanism, the 47-year old President Obama understands the gravity of his job and has circulated in "respectable" society long enough to render some analyses like Spengler's wrong if taken too literally. This is not just some speculation by the way, but clear from his performance through nine months in office. If Obama really intended to be the American Salvador Allende (and I for one was worried about it), he would have gone about things much differently.

No, the thing I fear about President Obama right now is that he is not just the President but also the First Groupie. Like some of his rockstar-worshipping fans, he in love with the sound of his own voice. As a consequence, he manages through atmospherics. The President's warm sonorous baritone isn't just a matter of soundbites, but serves in lieu of real engagement with America's problems.

Dede the Dissident Conservative

The tide has turned very quickly for Dede Scozzafava in the special election for Congress in the 23rd District of New York.

Just a week or so ago, prominent establishment Republicans wanted the Right to coalesce around Republican nominee Scozzafava when it was clear that conservative insurgent Doug Hoffman had the message and the momentum in the race. Now, in the last day or so and less than a week before the election, Scozzafava has not only dropped out, she has endorsed the Democrat in the race, Bill Owens.

Now Dede Scozzafava hasn't written any books about sustainable agriculture or climate change, but she seems to me to be the pol's version of the dissident conservative. We are led to believe such people are supposedly motivated by reasons of high principle. But it's a crock. What really counts is the repudiation of the legitimate lower case r republicans left in America, ie, people like the Palins.