Saturday, May 26, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

I'll start with the Egyptian elections...don't have any clue how it matters, but surely it fits. Then there's the Euromess, for all sorts of reasons. Did anything that matters happen in the Iran negotiations? I don't think so.

Back in the US...I don't know that any of the campaign stuff this week mattered, outside of the House primaries on Tuesday. I strongly suspect, for whatever it's worth, that the SpaceX launch matters. Don't know whether anyone will agree with me on that, but I suspect it easily tops the Facebook stock stuff. Oh, and I'm not sure if it's really this week, but there was an AP story about the Army no longer taking new recruits last year with various black marks, now that the recruiting pinch of the Iraq war is over, with the Army (apparently?) surviving the last decade in pretty good shape. There were quite a few scare stories in the middle of the last decade about what Iraq was doing to the Army, but it seems to me those turned out, eventually, to be a false alarm. Anyway, I'll say that might matter.

What else? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. Reports of the Chinese economy slowing down might end up mattering esp if Europe's austerity recession isnt going to magically lead to a free market-fueled economic expansion in the next few months. This time next year we might be in a world wide downturn, with Pres Romney signing an austerity suicide pill into law.

  2. "Gibson testified that Banks raped her on the Poly campus. Banks said the encounter was consensual.
    Rather than face a prison term of from 41 years to life, Banks accepted a plea deal that [led to his spending 5 years in prison]."

    Plea deals to minimize court costs are off the hook. We know from examples (like Sharpton's trumped up Mangum case) that even the most implausible rape accusations are taken seriously, that the consequences for even unimprisoned men are awful, and that the accuser often isn't punished for lying to put a man in jail. But this dude was railroaded by a life-ending sentence into five years of prison over nonsense. Potential prison sentences are too long. And the rape-liar, her mom, and her attorney should all be locked up.

  3. Egypt is very confusing. The Muslim Brotherhood is close to the Army and only the leftists and liberals represent the true spirit of Tahrir square. Yet the secularist candidate represents law and order. The United States is propping up the military by giving them aid. No, we're trying to undermine Egypt by sowing disorder through pro-democracy groups. The military tries to discredit liberals by indicting said pro-democracy groups, and El-Baradei of all people agrees that they should go on trial to preserve national sovereignty. Neocons and liberal hawks--remember when they were for a democratic Middle East--sometimes entertain the idea that Mubarak is preferable to a democratically elected MB, at other times want to plant the final nail in the Egyptian alliances' coffin by cutting off aid to the military. The latter position ironically puts them in league with the far left, both here and there, in seeing American aid as the root of all evil. The military is happy to portray the US as the root of all evil for their own reasons.

    I guess the common link is whether the military is pro or anti revolution, pro or anti Islamist--I think the ambiguity suits them.

  4. You know, I think Facebook is interesting, not the JP Morgan malfeasance (what ever becomes of that sort of thing) or even the falling stock price (IPO priced at 20X sales; Google's was 5X sales, so no surprise there). The interesting thing is the dwindling Q2 profitability, at the exact exquisite moment when the company most needed to step on the gas.

    Interesting because it shows how poorly we learn the lessons of history, even recent history. Seems like just yesterday that and a phalanx of similar, exotic e-equities received inflated valuations because the intertubes threw out all the old rules.

    It turned out there was money to be made on the intertubes, but only as a substitute for where money had been made previously. Amazon is profitable as an alternative to Wal-Mart. Google works because the Yellow Pages did. YouTube is (apparently) successful for the same reason old free network tv was.

    Though we anonymous losers have been motivated, throughout history, to revel in how teh awesome our casserole was last night, no one has ever figured out how to turn that human universal into a viable business model. It appears increasingly likely that Facebook might just be the latest casualty in that quest.

  5. We've committed to staying in Afghanistan until at least 2024. Frankly, I think we're just fighting McCain's 100 year war on the installment plan.

  6. I think the fact that Romney looks not so far behind Obama in the polls is quite important though its hard to say if that's a this week thing. I think the Steve Coll piece on Facebook is a kind of touchstone on Facebook and the Silicon Valley and perhaps, in some senses, the opposite side of the Netscape IPO which ushered in the financial and public's fascination with the Internet and the financial implications (i.e. the economic entities can continue for a while beyond the seed corn that fed them).

    However, for a progressive I think the most important part of this week is what is missing. The president's campaign for reelection looks so soulless. And I've been a defender since his first day in office. Tom Friedman's piece this morning is so on target. Its great that he may forestall a GOP entry into the White House. But what is he running on? What does he stand for? And how well are we prepared for the decision from the court on health care (whatever the decision it would have been nice if the politics favored public policy approaches addressing this outcome). At least the rumblings on the Norquist pledge are signals that eventually (several elections from now) there might be some hope on the revenue front, some hope.


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