Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

What do we have this time? The president's new job package? I guess so. It's at least possible that some of it will be enacted and have some effect on the economy, and what's fairly certain is that none of the options Barack Obama considered but did not include will be enacted, so that's something. You all know about presidential speeches, but be sure to read John Sides, who has the definitive summary of what we know about them.

I know people are all worked up about Perry and Social Security, but I'm not convinced that anything that happened this week in GOP '12 is going to matter.

Syria, Libya, Egypt...what else? Ah, there was movement on the decision about US troops in Iraq going forward. Oddly enough, while I do think that matters quite a bit, I also think the likely choices are narrow enough now that the differences of what actually happens don't make much difference.

I guess the patent law finally got through Congress; whether it mattered or not is beyond my expertise, but from what I've seen I suspect not especially. There was some Joint Select Committee maneuvering, but I didn't really see anything there, either.

So: what am I missing? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. You lefties are so provincial. ;-)

    The German Supreme Court issued a mixed decision on the EU bailouts, but it should serve to chasten the statists. And a German official on the EU Central Bank resigned in disagreement with current policy. And so the Germans seem to be waking up to the monetary and fiscal foolishness in Europe, meaning we'll continue to do so here. Rick Perry isn't the only person in the world ready to charge central bankers with treason, evidently.

  2. Personally, I'd hit on the GOP debate a bit more ... but, for me, it's the execution/applause moment, not the social security moment. I wrote a whole long blog post about why (it's here, if you're interested:, but it basically boils down to this:

    The audience members who applauded all of Texas' executions haven’t spent any time considering what “justice” means; the only contex in which they seem to understand it is when it is used as a synonym for vengeance.

    This is the justice that is done to someone else. Never to them, never to anyone they care about or have even met. That situation is one they cannot even imagine; their privileged position affords them the opportunity to sit in judgment of another person without even considered what life must be like for someone who ends up on death row or for someone who cares about a death row inmate. Indeed, for a great many, their position is so privileged that they do not even recognize that privilege exists.

    This is what underlies the applause and this what underlies Rick Perry’s absolute certainty that not a single one of the people on death row in Texas might be innocent of the crime for which he has been condemned. And this is what separates me from the applauding audience members and from someone like Rick Perry; I know what death row looks like, I’ve talked with condemned men, and because of my interaction with the death penalty in this country I’ve been given a good look at the privileged life I lead.

  3. I was startled to see Eric Cantor being welcoming to Obama's jobs proposal. That was positively a mystery until I read about the Republican pollster's report about the high level of voter outrage. I'm guessing Eric Cantor got the message. This may be a big as Obama's more assertive position.

  4. If Obama's tone from the speech continues, that's a significant change. For two-and-a-half years, he's been giving giving giving on policies. Health care reform, consumer protection, the debt ceiling. Each one, Obama gave away too much. The Republicans wisely waited him out knowing that Obama will ultimately accept any deal he can get -- sometimes without even giving him a vote!

    If Obama is finally sick of getting steamrolled when the polls support his position, and will maintain Thursday's tone, then that's a significant change. If this is just a momentary fire, that probably matters too because then he'll lose all his fightin' cred and his weakness will be indisputable.

  5. Dave (above) said it well. (Like Jonathan B. regularly does.)

  6. Anonymous:
    The German Supreme Court isn't exactly your ally. It doesn't object to widespread European-level legislation and regulation. It objects to a lack of checks and balances.

    While there are checks and balances for the European Commission, it is a relatively weak executive. The actually relevant executive decisions are made by the large economically strong member states: France, Germany, UK.

    The legislative is made up of the European Parliament and the EU Council. The EU Council is made up by ministers (or the heads of government themselves, if the ministers can't come to an agreement) of the member states. The states with the largest voting power that almost can't be outvoted with the necessary supermajority are: France, Germany, UK.

    So the big states can keep the European level from intervening, even if they don't play by the rules. But they could get rid of their own parliaments' checks and balances by putting a matter on the European level, and the other EU members would agree if the alternative is the crisis getting worse.

    So the EU is getting less democratic/republican as the crisis continues. And that's basically what the German Supreme Court objected to.

  7. The change in Obama's tone is huge. Just hope he keeps it up for the next 14 months. Not holding my breath though.

  8. I agree with what Dave and a few others have said that Obama may have found an approach that will work for him -- both politically and in terms of forwarding his agenda. It appears that the Republicans may not aid him but they are averse to dismiss what he said out of hand. And he hit the issue of both jobs and that we are in this together squarely in a pretty focused fashion.

    I think how the Republican debate is playing out matters -- will it be overrun by the base or can the establishment hold on and avoid exposing itself on Social Security and then Medicare.

    But what may temporarily overshadow those two is that the New York race is looking like a nail-biter and if the Republicans win, even if Obama didn't win it all that decisively in 2008, it will be a big setback in how the Democrats feel after the speech and remind people the contrast between Weiner, a robust liberal, and Obama, someone many don't feel is robust enough.

    Finally I think the reaction, as someone else mentioned, of the audience for the debates to Perry's reference to his executions will be a touchstone that will be remembered for years to come (like the Dukakis response on rape and the Reagan saying he had paid for the microphone and Clinton being asked about the sort of underwear he wore). Its one thing for us to be a touch different in this country. But to take pride in some of the ways we are different (if the Europeans have national health insurance it must be bad, that we execute people while most of our industrialized allies don't isn't something to be embarrassed about but something to be proud of) may say something about where our pride can now be invested more into. Scary if you don't find this appealing.

  9. Ambi,

    You've provided a word salad on the EU, but not much relevant to the point, as to the current status of the EU Central Bank.

    Nobody expected the German SC to overturn past actions, even though those are fraught with controversy. But they have laid down a marker as to future actions.

    The ECB's existing bond purchases are questionable now, so future purchases are now VERY questionable.

    That means the PIIGS are vulnerable to default.

    That means the banksters in London, Paris and Berlin are at risk.

    That means the EUcrats will be called to action to assist their bankster buddies.

    That means a populist movement, in Germany in particular, will rise to parry that illegitimacy.

    Sorta resembling what's happening here, in other words.

    You can pretty much lump the EUcrats, the ECB, the Obamistas, Bernanke, Geithner, all together. Then, there's the rest of us on the other side.

    Should be interesting.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?