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Banking on teh Crazy

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I haven’t yet commented on the Republican governors considering declining their state’s stimulus money (or actually doing it), mostly because I haven’t yet figured out what I think about it. Steve Benen calls it a race to out crazy one another, but that seems a little too credulous for my liking.

First of all, the obvious connection between Governors Jindal, Palin, Barbour, and Sanford is that they’d all like to be President, and are all clearly convinced that opposing the stimulus is your best bet in the Republican Party. And I’m sure that’s a wise calculation, but there’s a bit of a difference between opposing the bill and actively turning down money for your state. As I noted the other day, national politics is relatively short on governors who served during economic downturns, mostly because it’s hard to accumulate a list of accomplishments to run on as a result. You get to cut spending on state services, and that’s a hard sell to make down the road, even to the national Republican Party. So I suppose these governors are trying to distinguish themselves, but it seems a little odd all the same.

For one thing, they’re taking an awfully big gamble. Congressional Republicans opposing the stimulus bill makes sense; if it works you’re not going to get credit regardless, but if it fails, or is seen to have failed, you can gain from having opposed it. Now that it’s passed, any governor actually thinking about turning down the money is betting on an awfully big stretch; that their state’s economy will do better than the rest of the country without the money. That’s the only way this can really work out as a positive for them, and the only way they could really sell this nationally. Obviously that’s quite a bit unlikely, and the downside is much starker; the national economy recovers, at least somewhat, while your state continues to suffer, or even to recover at a pace slower than the national average. In that case you’ve not only hurt your own personal political career, you’ve provided an incredibly stark, side by side comparison of two competing worldviews, and if you bust you’ll have a hard time defending your entire ideology for a generation or so. It won’t be an abstract debate over competing economc theories, it will be an objective assessment of the two theories played out in real time.

Of course, it’s also possible that the governors are trying to short circuit the plan. That theory would be bolstered by what has been refused so far; Jindal wants to refuse additional millions for unemployment insurance, and Sanford is going to refuse money to make buildings more energy efficient. These are not only some of the most popular aspects of the package, but also among the most stimulative. The wrench in this view, I think, it that it’s just hard to see how refusing money to be spent in Louisiana or South Carolina is going to have a huge ripple effect on the national economy. Neither state is all that big, and there’s nothing particularly special about either state that gives it a disproportionate impact on the national economy. So the most likely outcome is that these state economies lag behind the rest of the country, which is bad for the citizens in those states, but also bad for the governors managing the situation as well.

It is, in other words, totally crazy.

It’s Easy to Solve Difficult Problems…

Monday, January 5th, 2009

…when you just create your own reality to operate in.

Seriously, I understand that “in the name of balance” the most discredited of all conservative hacks must forever be presented with the most prominent of platforms to shill their nonsense, but shouldn’t a media outlet as prestigious as The Washington Post demand that your Op-Ed submissions at least be of a level that could pass a political science class at any major university.

As Marc Lynch points out, the main problem here isn’t that Bolton is still a crazy warmonger and imperialist, but rather that he seems totally ignorant of really basic facts surrounding Israeli-Arab solution. Namely, his proposal that the Palestinian question be solved by giving Gaza to Egypt and parts of the West Bank to Jordan is completely unworkable if for no other reason than the simple fact that neither Jordan nor Egypt want any parts of it.

But on another level, Bolton really does the public a service by demonstrating how committed to an imperalist ideal neoconservatives are, and how little sense their thinking makes in the real world. For instance, when Bolton says …”the West Bank in some configuration…” he’s referring to an agreement in which Israel would seize control of the choice parts of the West Bank, presumably expel Palestinians living there, and then hand the scraps to Jordan. It’s obviously pretty indefensible if you’re trying to work out a fair solutions between both parties, but it makes a lot of sense if you’re trying to come up with a “solution” that serves the interests of Israel while creating more problems for the Arab parties. What doesn’t make a lot of sense is why, exactly, Bolton imagines Jordan would want any part of this agreement, and in this Bolton reminds us of how little actual thought goes into neoconservative “thinking.”

3 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

From Michael Calderone:

Joe Biden will be making his first appearance on “Meet the Press” this Sunday since joining the Democratic ticket, an NBC spokesperson just confirmed.

As mentioned earlier, Obama will be on “This Week” and McCain on “Face the Nation.” So when’s Palin’s turn?