Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘2000

Strikes and Gutters, Ups and Downs

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Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you. It was obviously a tough night for Democrats but on some level it was always going to be—with unemployment at 9.6% and millions of people underwater on their mortgages the Democrats were doomed to lose and lose big. On this the stimulus really was the original sin—if it had been bigger and better-targeted the economic situation could have been better, but it wasn’t and here we are. Unlike 2000 and 2004 I think this election stings, but it doesn’t hurt; a big loss like this has been baked in the cake for a while.

Remember that as the pundits play bad political commentary bingo all month.

As I mentioned last night, overs beat the unders, which means my more optimistic predictions were 2/3 wrong: Republicans overshot the House predictions and Sestak and Giannoulias both lost their close races in PA and IL. But I was right that young people can’t be trusted to vote even when marijuana legalization is on the ballot. Cynicism wins again! I’ll remember that for next time.

I was on Twitter for most of the night last night and most of my observations about last night have already been made there. A few highlights from the night:

* Who could have predicted: Democrats are already playing down the notion that they’ll get much done in a lame duck session. They’d rather punt to January particularly the big issues, like tax cuts. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Don’t even bother. On taxes, the outline of a compromise is there, having been floated by Vice President Biden: the rates might stay in place for a larger number of wealthier Americans. The Estate Tax, which jumps up to 55% in January, will probably be restored at a lower rate. Capital gains taxes will also be higher, but not as high as they’re slated to be. Supporters of the START treaty are very worried. Gee, maybe Obama shouldn’t have appealed DADT after all.

* Last night’s big Dem winner: implausibly, Harry Reid. Second place (of a sort): Howard Dean, whose entire happy legacy as DNC chair was wiped out in one fell swoop last night—and then some. Fire Kaine, bring Dean back.

* Last night’s big Republican losers: the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin specifically. The crazies cost them the Senate.

* An upside: most of the losses last night were from bad Democrats, especially the Blue Dog caucus, which was nearly decimated. The progressive caucus only lost three seats and now constitutes 40% of the Democratic House caucus.

* Most of the progressive online left is saddest to see Feingold lose, I think.

* Personally happiest to see Tancredo lose in Colorado. That guy’s completely nuts.

* At least losing the House means we don’t have to deal with individual Senate egomaniacs anymore.

* Weird proposition watch: Denver votes down UFO commission. Missouri prevents a feared pupocalypse. Oklahoma bans Sharia law, thereby saving freedom forever.

* The most important proposition, and the most important victory for the left, was probably California’s Proposition 23 on climate change, which went down. Quoting the HuffPo article: “California is the world’s 12th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and its global warming law, passed in 2006, mandates the largest legislated reductions in greenhouse gases in the world.” This was a big win.

* Sad statistic of the night: “Meg Whitman’s personal spending on her campaign: $163 mil. Natl Endowment for the Arts 2010 budget: $161.4 mil.”

* And Republican gains are bad news for higher education. This is probably especially true for state universities in North Carolina, where Republicans now control the state legislature for the first time in a century.

Anything I missed?

Saturday!

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* io9’s 20 best science fiction books of the 2000s. I say any list missing The Years of Rice and Salt, Accelerando, *and* Cloud Atlas is pretty deeply suspect.

* A federal judge has halted implementation of the ban on funding for ACORN on the grounds that the law is a bill of attainder.

* “Those scores on the prestigious test are in the same range as would be expected from children who never attended school and simply guessed at the answers,” said Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager of Detroit Public Schools, during a press conference Tuesday.

* David Rakoff’s oral history of the Gore presidency. A nice idea whose execution is marred by some badly forced jokes and a total inability to write like Jon Stewart, Josh Marshall, or anybody else.

* And the Morning News has your photos of abandoned shopping malls.

Happy Saturday

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Happy Saturday. You’ve earned it.

* On the Yankee payroll. Via Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

In 2002, the Yankees spent $17 million more in payroll than any other team.

In 2003, the Yankees spent $35 million more in payroll than any other team.

In 2004, the Yankees spent $57 million more in payroll than any other team. I mean, it’s ridiculous from the start but this is pure absurdity. Basically, this is like the Yankees saying: “OK, let’s spend exactly as much as the second-highest payroll in baseball. OK, we’re spending exactly as much. And now … let’s add the Oakland A’s. No, I mean let’s add their whole team, the whole payroll, add it on top and let’s play some ball!”

In 2005, the Yankees spent $85 million more than any other team. Not a misprint. Eight five.

In 2006, the Yankees spent $74 million more than any other team.

In 2007, the Yankees spent $40 million more than any other team — cutbacks, you know.

In 2008, the Yankees spent $72 million more than any other team.

In 2009, the Yankees spent $52 million more than any other team.

Congrats again on that World Series.

* Ryan recommends Paul Fry’s literary theory course from Yale Open Courses. I’ve downloaded all the lectures and they’ll be joining me on my run tomorrow.

* First, Let’s Kill All the Credit Default Swaps. Related: an NPR interview on The Greatest Trade Ever, which tells the story of how a middle-of-the-road hedge fund manager made billions during the financial collapse.

* Al Gore, revolutionary.

When making his Oscar-winning 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore arguably had it easy: it’s fairly straightforward to grip an audience when you’re portraying scenes of apocalyptic destruction. The new book pulls off a considerably more impressive feat. It focuses on solving the crisis, yet manages to be absorbing on a topic that is all too often – can we just come clean about this, please? – crushingly boring. Importantly, it seeks to enlist readers as political advocates for the cause, rather than just urging them to turn down the heating. “It’s important to change lightbulbs,” he says, in a well-burnished soundbite, “but more important to change policies and laws.” Or perhaps to break laws instead: peaceful occupations of the kind witnessed recently in the UK, he predicts, are only going to become more widespread. “Civil disobedience has an honourable history, and when the urgency and moral clarity cross a certain threshold, then I think that civil disobedience is quite understandable, and it has a role to play. And I expect that it will increase, no question about it.” People sometimes express incredulity that Gore, who was groomed for the presidency almost since birth, seems so resolved that he’ll never return to electoral politics. But here’s a vivid example of the benefits of life on the outside: how many serving politicians would feel able to come so close to urging people to commit trespass?

A friend reminds me that Al Gore was elected President of the United States 9 years ago today.

* And Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book argues that positive thinking is destroying America.

Sunday Links 2

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Sunday links 2.

* For all you IJers out there, Infinite Summer has your David Foster Wallace humor minute.

* Hate crime protection for the homeless? Hate crimes are, in general, a very thorny legal issue, but in light of so much violence directed specifically at the homeless it makes sense to see them as a class in need of additional protection.

* Terminator 4 was so good they’re going to make Terminator 5.

* Polling headline of the week: ‘GOP’s Rating with Latinos Falls to Margin of Error.’

* Rachel Maddow on the success of astroturfed right-wing protests since the Brooks Brothers riot in 2000. Via Cyn-C.

* And Eric Holder is still inching towards prosecution of the Bush administration, though in terms of scale and scope the proposed investigation remains far too cautious.

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August 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Great Moments in Presidential Inaugurations – 2

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The Bush inauguration, 2001, from Fahrenheit 9/11.

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January 20, 2009 at 4:54 am

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On Disappointment

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In 2001, the United States elected* a small, petty, and startlingly incurious man to its highest office and allowed him to remain in charge of the country despite both stark incompetence and outright criminality for eight full years.

Now, for the first time, that man wants to tell his side of the story. Be sure to watch through the long sections of video quotation near the end where Stewart just lets Bush talk. There are those who still, unbelievably, say that despite everything Bush is a “good guy” who was just in over his head—show them this video, show them Bush’s last unrepentant rant.

This is not a good or decent man. This is a deeply destructive idiot who now, at long, long last, limps off in disgrace to the judgment of history, while the rest of us set about cleaning up the things he wrecked.

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* sort of

Written by gerrycanavan

January 14, 2009 at 4:00 pm

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The Zeitgeist

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If artists depend on angst and unrest to fuel their creative fire, then at least in one sense the 43rd presidency has been a blessing. Eight years is an eternity in the life of a culture, and when we look back on an era, we do it through pinholes: a movie here, a book there. What will stand out, decades from now, as the singular emblems of this moment in history? Newsweek asked its cultural critics to pick the one work in their field that they believe exemplifies what it was like to be alive in the age of George W. Bush.

Battlestar Galactica
American Idol

Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart
The Corrections
Black Hawk Down

Cohen’s Borat
Green Day’s American Idiot
Far Away
Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life

Battlestar is a decent if limited pick, and Idol a fairly inspired one, though not for the reasons given—but the exclusion of The Wire is simply criminal, not to mention Sopranos and Deadwood, and (yes) 24. For film, it might actually be The Dark Knight, or else There Will Be Blood. (Maybe Children of Men?) For books—surely the hardest category—it’s probably The Road, for a few reasons. I’m too illiterate in music to even begin to answer: the best I could manage would be a half-serious suggestion of Gnarls Barkley, or else just name a Springsteen album because that’s how I roll.

Via The Chutry Experiment, who points (among other things) to the unforgivable omission of viral video.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 16, 2008 at 1:55 pm