Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

I'm a bit behind, but it's not too late for What Mattered This Week?

Start with Syria, still.  What about the government developments in Pakistan?

I suppose I should include the South Carolina primary. Talked about that one already.

In policy, we had the demise of SOPA/PIPA.  I'm inclined to believe that the hype about the future of lobbying and all that is dramatically overdone, but that the policy decision is important. Open to arguments to the contrary on either. Also, the Keystone decision, for now at least, and the contraceptive coverage decision.

What else? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. Potentially awful week in the realm of Romney Inevitability. Consider:

    One week ago, Perry was a badly wounded animal, limping along and deflecting any sense of urgency from the Anyone-But-Romney crowd. Now he's gone, with a (potentially meaningful) Gingrich endorsement as parting gift.

    One week ago, the GOP made the unusual decision to nod to spoiled ballots and a statistical tie in declaring no winner in Iowa, ostensibly to protect their chosen nominee, Romney, from looking like a loser. Today, Santorum is the official winner in Iowa.

    One week ago, Gingrich, presumably influenced by party movers suggesting that his future book signings at the Palookaville Barnes & Noble were at risk of no longer being sponsored by the machine, disavowed his own anti-Romney movie and conceded that the race would be Romney's after SC. Today, Gingrich is the SC winner and talking about knocking Romney out in Florida.

    I suppose there are many ways to interpret the above, and even the most negative anti-Romney interpretation doesn't mean Romney's candidacy is finished.

    But man, if I'm Romney I'm definitely feeling pretty paranoid after this week.

    1. I don't think Romney does paranoid, or he would've given up when the party base passed him over a dozen times in a row.

      We've seen this week that he does embarrassed (over his tax returns). But he's a Mr. Fixit, so he'll be figuring out how to defend those returns and how to eviscerate Gingrich, and the sooner the better on both. (I loathe Newt.)

      Big news: Christie will say yes if Romney asks him to be VP. Romney should be listening to Christie a lot.

  2. After a bad weekly unemployment report last week, this week was back on a positive track.

    Yes, that weekly number bounces around a lot, and yes we've seen winter 'green shoots' wilt in the spring ... but there a number of signs that recovery is finally taking hold.

    If so, good news for pretty much everyone - with the conspicuous exception of the eventual GOP nominee.

    1. I agree, although I think it's going to be a while before confidence really takes hold, and therefor, although trends are promising for Obama, I would want the antacid concession at campaign HQ at least through the early fall. People are in a very sour mood, battered by unemployment, rising gas prices, a campaign season of which they are completely sick before it even begins, and the usual impact of winter weather and post-holiday blues. At the moment, they are understandably suspicious of good (or at least non-lousy) economic news that so far has not helped them in any noticeable way. They have endured green shoots, recovery summers, market surges, and hiring bounces that have all
      come to zip. If I were at the Obama campaign the trend in gas prices would have me on Valium. Talk of a return to $5 gas is spooking everybody. The reality could crush the recovery like a boot coming down on a bug, not least because it would send people's sense of economic security right back into the sub-basement just at the critical moment.

  3. The grass-roots lobbying effort vs. SOPA/PIPA could be harbinger of more such efforts in the future, however look at the two major reasons it succeeded. One section of the corporate 1% joined the movement, and appeal found willing ears on both major sides of the political spectrum, among both conservative/libertarian and liberal/radical heavy internet users. With a little more time, a more conventional lobbying effort that succeeded in bringing together these elements might have been just as successful. The speed with which the effort was mounted was the most impressive and novel feature of the campaign.

    And secondly, it's a very very long-term process, which has been going on for at least ten and maybe even twenty years, it's a trend that will wax and wane with the seasons and whose outcome is very disputable, yet I would say that what mattered this week was a new, higher degree of self-selection into a process of politico-cultural differentiation and sub-cultural formation, creating a distinct sub-culture of radical Republicanism that responded to Newt Gingrich's message (particularly in South Carolina yet to some extent nationally as well). To this analyst it is a culture of radical ignorance that specifically responded to Newt's amazingly hypocritical and mendacious performance in parlaying the debate forums into fact-free bursts of emotional hatred directed against blacks in general, the non-Fox media in general (or should we say the sub-culture's mistaken impression of non-Fox media), and ultimately aimed at Barak Obama in particular, yet however one characterizes this sub-cultural movement, its emergence into a perceptible phenomena worthy and capable of scientific study took a big step forward this week.

  4. The paramilitary arrest of Dotcom in New Zealand, over a Hong Kong incorporated company where users may upload encrypted files from all over the world. Unlike DropBox or most other filesharing groups, MegaUpload did not allow the DOJ to inspect people's files without a warrant.

  5. 1. The clearing of the GOP race (with Perry gone, even though he wasn't doing much, having him gone made the choice clearer (and in combination with the Palin endorsement (in essence), provided the right for the first time a candidate to combine forces around (and someone who could take it to their favorite bugaboo, the "mainstream media." Newt's response to Juan Williams may go down as one of the low points in this GOP contest in terms of how the GOP looks. In earlier times the establishment would have been all over themselves apologizing profusely. No more (and no more establishment). The party of Lincoln huh?

    2. The success of the efforts to focus on Romney's taxes and his being a vulture capitalist. It means that the GOP, in reaching out to its populist sentiment, may play into the one area that they have been united against -- more taxes -- at least some places. Wouldn't be something if Romney gets elected and as an early piece of business proposes to close the carried interest tax break and gets it passed. Highlighting in somewhat stark relief that our tax code is upside down in terms of progressivity, at least going from the upper middle class to the wealthiest should make many hopping mad -- especially those who have done pretty well, worked incredibly hard, but are way out of reach of the top .01 percent.


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