Friday, November 28, 2008

Some Are Still Saluting Free Market

Andrew Sullivan today passes along Charles Krauthammer's response to Paul Krugman's thinking. He may have a point, but haven't we seen "free-market control" just about drive us into the ditch? I think I understand that a pure, survival-of-the-fittest free-market is theoretically wonderful to some people. But how much more evidence do we need that such a pure system carries huge risks when carried out by impure human beings?

Least-Favorite Quote of the Day

"Shoppers continued to file into the store as emergency workers tried to save the man, the newspaper said."
--Chris Dolmetsch at

Will Economic Reform Happen?

Paul Krugman worries that our fixation on the fix of our economic system may crush any possibility of long-term change.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Different Kinds of Christians

It's good to see the Onion come along and explain this.

Especially at Thanksgiving time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Economy is Very Grim

The broad stock market is now down 50% for the year. Very little good news is coming from the financial world. Things look very bleak indeed. Some encouragement comes from how much bad news there is. Most predictions about the economy and financial markets at any moment turn out to be wrong. But one phenomenon has repeated itself through history, When virtually all the experts are convinced that things are terrible, they begin to get better. So, listen to the experts!

Paul Krugman says that the transition between presidencies may carry big risks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lots of People Love Sarah Palin

"Well, as to that whole reason, she’s, you know, just about the only way she KNOWS how to be from her schooling, I mean going to six colleges and getting a journalism only at the end. But gosh, I mean really, can’t we all see that how much she’s done for the base of Lincoln’s party is everyone now knows that even a gal like her can grow up and succeed at success through doors that are open to her, by God! It’s not like, though, we should take for granted that she’s done so much without the benefit of a great language that so many people have shown isn’t even really necessarily mastered besides when they go into politics! Gosh, give her a break here, she’s only tryin’ to say what she meant to say, and not what you’re all trying to tell everyone she was saying anyway."

— Michael Temlin, New York, commenting on Dick Cavett's column about Sarah Palin

Friday, November 14, 2008


We are seeing a sometimes-disturbing backlash to the election of Barack Obama, unashamedly fanned by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and most other conservative talk-radio hosts.

Folks, these people are in the entertainment business. Their job is to attract and hold an audience. Period. You cannot attract and hold an audience with policy discussion. It must be loud, angry, confrontational or otherwise compellingly entertaining. Do not rely on call-in shows for political or policy information. Do rely on them for entertainment.

Don't we know this?

See Andrew Sullivan's blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time for a Media Colonic

We are hearing gobs and gobs and gobs and gobs about how the Republican party might reconstitute itself and even come back to power. I'm somewhat interested in this, but can we PLEASE give it a rest for a while?

My theory is that many excellent reporters did their job well over the last eight years. And their job was to carefully develop sources in power and connected to power. In the last eight years, power was strongly centralized in the White House. This power was usually unaffected and unchanged by new facts, data or circumstances--wherever they came from. If the media reported information contradicting a White House statement or policy, it meant nothing. So reporters were rewarded for sticking to the company line.

The result was a dysfunctional dependency on dribblings from the White House and those connected to the White House, such as neoconservative commentators (who had an Oval Office IV) and very conservative think tanks. Over the last eight years, the more ravenously you ate the scraps, the more successful you were as a reporter.

These reporters are still showing up to be fed at the same places a week after the election, and they're hearing all kinds of stuff. But the scraps don't mean what they used to.

So it's time for the media to stop feeding and have a colonic. Then they need to start over, diligently and creatively reporting what's happening from a wide variety of sources never heard from before.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things Have Changed

"The North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the 'real America' went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points."
--Frank Rich, in today's New York Times

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Theology of Abortion

Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was lambasted for saying that the history of Christian thought shows no consensus on when human life begins. She had done her homework on this. Read more here.

Governing is Not Campaigning

"Bush took Karl Rove into the White House, turned policy into an arm of politics, and governed the same way he campaigned: treat the press as an out-of-favor interest group, control the message at all cost, repeat it incessantly regardless of changing facts, admit no mistakes, show no uncertainty, reward loyalists, and ignore critics or else, if necessary, destroy them. This approach to what’s known as strategic communications won Bush two elections; it also helped destroy his Presidency. Campaigning and governing are not the same. They are closer to being opposites."
--George Packer. The rest of his blog is here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Loud Buzz

Everywhere I go today, people are talking about the election. In the church office, at lunch in the local cafe, at the coffee shop. This is a phenomenal day.

This morning at my polling place, there were just three people in line, though the parking lot was full.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday in Cambria

We are headed home tomorrow after a week-long adventure with the Rin Tin Twins--our annual visit to Cambria. It's cool and fresh here, and the big political issue on Tuesday, as always, is water. In the 21 years we've been coming here, there's never been enough. No new water meters have been issued here for at least ten years--many people who own buildable lots have watched their value fall to almost nothing.

They're planning a desalinization plant, but there's still controversy, especially over how it will be paid for. There's at least one no-growth candidate on the ballot. (They're electing representatives to the Cambria Community Services District.) Some no-growthers don't want anything at all done about water. They like things as they are, thank you very much.

I've always thought of this as a fairly conservative area, so I've been surprised at the large number of Obama yard signs.

"My Wife Made Me Knock on Doors for Obama"

This is a VERY interesting piece from the Christian Science Monitor that gives a moving perspective on the meaning of this election.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A New News Show Actually Worth Watching

It's been a long, long, long, long, long time since I have found a TV news show I can watch and enjoy regularly. Sure, I catch Jim Lehrer once in a while--especially if something serious is going on. I may also surf to one of the network newscasts from time to time. I like Jon Stewart, though he's on a bit late for me--and the reruns seem stale the next day.

I also really like NPR's All Things Considered, Marketplace and Weekend Edition. Morning Edition is too much for my fragile disposition first thing in the morning.

My TV staple for a long time has been a few minutes with CNN, which is a hit-or-miss proposition.

Over the last few weeks, I've been very pleased to find something new, refreshing, thoughtful, articulate, witty and non-bombastic--The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. She's kind of like Terry Gross after a triple espresso. In her interviews, she asks the questions that I always seem to be asking (with the possible exception of "why do so many people choose to be so stupid?")

She pays attention and is respectful to her interview subjects, and usually provides new information about much-covered news items. She has a very rational way of viewing events and their possible impact on us. I don't know how she does it, but, even though she's only 36, she has none of the copycat smarminess of so many of her peers. She may be the most mature program host on MSNBC.

Her program is a gift to my understanding of the world.

Now Here's Some Motivation to Vote!

Krispy Kreme, that's right, Krispy Kreme, is offering a free patriotic doughnut to everyone who comes in on Election Day with an "I Voted" sticker. Sign me up! Quick! What day is today?

Mayor Sanders on Prop. 8