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Catching Up

Friday, April 29, 2011
I've been a wee bit swamped lately and have had to put my series of posts on education policy on the back-burner, but I should be able to return to it soon. In the meantime, here are abbreviated comments on things I considered blogging about.

1. Jill at Feministe loves small plates. All I have to say is - me too! My interest in food materialized at the same time as my interest in small portions. I love nothing better than a nice tasting menu. I think it's a simple matter of diminishing marginal utility: it's a very rare dish that doesn't lose something after the first three bites or so.

2. A disturbingly large percentage of southerners are sympathetic to the confederacy, to the point that they wish it had won the Civil War. Really. One of the most evil political regimes before the 20th century, one that fought a war because they were afraid that someone would take away their slaves. Having grown up in the South I can't say I'm too surprised, although I think part of this poll result is due to the romanticizing of the "Lost Cause," and the fact that our teaching of history has been so distorted that a substantial percentage of Americans think it was about economics rather than slavery. Yes, economics played a role - but the "economics" was about the economics of slavery-based cotton production. It was also about preserving the "southern way of life" - which was based on slavery. And in defense of "states rights" - to allow people to own slaves. Get the picture?

3. A funny faux interview with Alexander Hamilton, using actual quotes of his. I encountered it while reading this piece by William Hoagland. I think Hoagland's interpretation of U.S. financial history after the Revolution is interesting, but I'm not entirely persuaded by his account of Hamilton's motives:

To Hamilton, sound national finance meant concentrating national wealth in a small number of government-connected hands, thus enabling the financing of ambitious national projects. And good U.S. credit meant ensuring that holders of federal bonds — those government-connected high-finance men, the public creditors he hoped would invest in building the nation — could count on staying rich and getting richer by collecting their government interest payments.
I won't belabor the point other than to say that Hamilton never had many illusions about the nation's economic elite, and given the acute lack of specie in the U.S. there was a desperate need for something to use as currency, which a funded federal debt provided. Still, interesting stuff.

4. Booman thinks that liberals need to accept that Democrats have to accommodate moderate Republicans into their coalition, even if it means sacrificing a lot of our goals, in order to hold off the right-wing tide. I would respond that in doing so Obama, Clinton, Carter, etc. have emboldened the right, not held them off. Carter tried to accommodate the Nixon critique of the New Deal, which produced Reagan. Clinton appeased the Reaganites, which produced Gingrich and George Bush. Obama compromised with himself and accepted the Bush legacy, and got Rand Paul. Am I the only one that sees a trend?

5. A nice profile of Paul Krugman in New York magazine. Of course there are the little false equivalences that you always have when discussing politics. There's an odd aside in the piece that Krugman was wrong on bank nationalization - even though failing to do so empowered conservatives in the 2010 elections. Wallace-Wells also suggests that Krugman, by failing to engage intellectually with conservatives, is losing touch with reality. To which I would reply: to engage with contemporary conservatism is the world's fastest way to delusion. Most of them are inhabiting a reality-free Randian universe that exists only in their own adolescent, sociopathic imaginations.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:58 PM
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