Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tip of the Tam to Paul Krugman

Even if often hidden behind the pay wall of the Gray Lady, Paul Krugman's New York Times work usually manages to get out to the poor masses. In fact, The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive seemingly appears to be at least tolerated by the Professor. His recent The Conscience of a Liberal is certainly one of my must reads this fall and winter.

The growing gap between the haves and have nots is surely something we've got to grasp and hopefully solve. If we can't keep and ideally grow the middle class then our nation/world is surely headed in the wrong direction. Professor Krugman has long been working in this fertile field and I look forward to understanding what he's sharing.

Even now portions of this heavy hitter's thinking are available at TPM Cafe's Book Club. Yesterday's The awful truth, and the better future is likely just the start of good things to come. To offer just a portion of yesteday's work I'll clip the following:

But what I learned when doing research was that the most consistent source of the rightward drift of American politics in the face of growing inequality is race. In fact, the simplicity of the story is almost embarrassing: American politics changed because Southern whites started voting Republican after the civil rights movement.

To give you a sense of just how little there is to be explained once you take this shift into account, here’s a statistic from Larry Bartels, my Princeton colleague. Everyone knows that white men have left the Democratic Party. But what everyone knows isn’t true, if you exclude the South. In 1952, 40 percent of non-Southern white males voted Democratic; in 2004, that was down to, um, 39 percent. (And no, the choice of years doesn’t matter – a fitted trend line tells the same story.)

Not this Southern white for the record! I've been voting under the rooster (Democratic) in I think nearly all races since I got the franchise. Also, that statistic group was one that surprised me. On behalf of the South I'm sorry. Thankfully Professor Krugman is relatively optimistic that race is losing the power it once held in voting patterns. Regretably, the Deep South is behind the balance of the nation in this trend. Thoughts? Peace ... or War!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reading and listening lets you ...

Last night, after some time with Baby Plaid, as I drove back to Auburn, the Loveliest Lillage on the Plains that I'll miss terribly, for one particular person living here especially, I used AM radio for enlightenment and entertainment (the XM/Sirius portable option remains beyond my budget) as I dodged deer. I stumbled across Willie Cunningham. Oh mercy! I'll not attempt to delve into the depths of his wingnuttery beyond a few ideas to follow.

Given Willie's soliloquies on the media (interesting that Willie belongs to Premiere which is owned by Clear Channel) being to blame for all that is hurting our nation and their support for the dark forces of the Clintons, coupled with his cheerleading for conservatism, even Bu$hCo (making him a little odd among the right these days) for the most part, I was surely bothered. Claiming we live in the best of times was another of his reliable themes, again taking his fantasy of a liberal media fooling the American people to ridiculous levels. I'll give old Willie one that the media distracts our voters yet that's another day's posting. A little jingoism here and a little religiosity there, Willie kept the right wing's Mighty Wurlitzer pumping air as good as anyone could I suppose. He's a Great American after all.

As Willie claimed the American soldier for the right wing I was also frustrated yet I was simply baffled upon hearing Billy explain how the American soldier deserved a Nobel Peace Prize rather than that dastardly Al Gore. Huh? Fuming, I reflected back on a recent FireDogLake post titled "The Rules of Power" from Ian Welsh and a reference to Hannah Arendt in a comment (#35 for the record) which contrasted nicely with Willie's "reasoning". Typical top drawer work from Ian. Reflecting back on what I'd read just this Saturday let me find some measure of peace.

"A position not founded upon reason cannot be swayed by argument!" came to mind. And is reasoning really part of the equation for much of the GOP and the rabid right? I'll continue to try to learn and engage. But I'll pretty much pass on trying to engage with folks like Willie and the alleged million or more that make up his brand new audience. As a replacement for Drudge with first guests like Surely Sean and last night's Dinesh D'Souza and ... is Willie up to the task of keeping the noise going for the true believers? If not then the right's bench is deep with "talent" I'm sure.

As an aside, I'll admit to being weak on some of the heavy hitters like Hannah Arendt yet at least one of her works will be added to my Amazon wish list. Perhaps I'll have some time to read soon? Hope springs eternal. Packing and then heading to the Northwest on Wednesday. Likely little if any posting will occur in next few days yet we'll see how that goes. I do hope to start back writing and perhaps even rebuilding some regular traffic here should that prove possible. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Who'd Have Thunk It?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another reason to flee the classroom ...

Eduwonkette on KOS and also Marc Fisher of the WaPo both give us something to ponder after looking at the sorta kinda incentive plan that NYC is apparently going to be trying. Perhaps after five years I'll be ready to give teaching another run but with developments such as these I'm hardly optimistic. Peace ... or War!

Dragging Up the Past

Off Fort Benning's Sand Hill since October 12th (Amen ... yet I worry that my right shoulder will never be the same!) and headed slap across the country to Fort Lewis at the end of the month. I'm still not clear, although clear enough to proceed I suppose, on Uncle Sam's policy on blogging by soldiers so likely just one post for now. More to follow I hope (There's plenty I've been stewing on indeed ... although I've admittedly been as news deprived these last few months as I've been since I was embryonic!) if I saddle back up on Old Blogger.

An especially scary slate seeking the White House from the GOP this cycle and yet I fear the masses will hardly grasp the radicalism these candidates are spouting in their present effort to secure "the base" that makes up a large chunk of today's Republican party. Rudy Giuliani appears to be their boy yet it is way too early. Coverage like what I'll reference below, at least for the rare voters that bothers reading even these common resources, might help educate those on the fence as to some of the perils of going with the GOP's "I'm not Hillary but can beat her in the general" candidate of choice. I'll have plenty to offer on the Democratic candidates (Is there still hope for Progressives?) later I hope, even if merely offline, yet the term "Yellow Dog Democrat" surely applies in 2008 for not just this ornery Scot.

I was pleased to see Michael Cooper and Marc Santora of the Gray Lady today up on MSNBC with their "Mideast hawks help to develop Giuliani policy : Team includes Podhoretz, Pipes and Rubin" piece. I'd noted Fareed Zakaria's recent "Stalin, Mao And … Ahmadinejad? : Conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history's greatest mass murderers" where he also pointed out the lunacy of Norman Podhoretz. In that I was already aware of old Norman's influence on at least Rudy, if not most of the GOP's field, the blogging sirens were calling especially lovely to me.

Truly we've got to understand the past as this old history teacher so often preached. That Dubyah needed all the help he could get to try to understand pretty much anything is a given. However, from Grandpa Fred on down, the GOP's team doesn't exactly seem that "sharp". So is this peril and/or opportunity? How the Vulcans (and yet another book is added to the Amazon list!) influenced a weak-minded "leader" elected by a weak-minded electorate is hardly a past lesson I want to be dragged through again. And I'm hardly sure the American public will pay enough attention to the details to set things straight. Thus the use of The Donald in our image. One works with what they've got I suppose. Peace ... or War!