Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Random Spewage: Coming Back to Life

So We've all had a nice three week break, I think it's time to kick a little life back into this thing... I'll try to fire off enough random topics here that one of them will have to stick =).

First of all, in the news: European political leaders are idiots too. I guess we always knew Berlusconi was scum, so his latest round of Nazi insults should not come as any great surprise. I forget... didn't Italy take some part in WWII as well? Anyhow, not to be shown up, Germany's Gerhard Schroeder has come up with the perfect solution for all of Germany's economic woes: a major tax cut. Germany is already in trouble with the EU for running too large a deficit, now Shroeder want to further ignore EU rulings to make it even larger. I would guess that EU dictates being ignored by one of the Union's most significant members will not be good for its general health and cohesiveness. And to think George Bush doesn't like this guy..

On to the always popular WMD issue.. Having attempted and largely failed to shift the focus from WMD's to humanitarian motivations for the war, Rumsfeld has decided that maybe the terrorist angle will play. After all it's worked for every other issue the administration has run into resistance on. But, as I said, I still think Bush will emerge from this mess with little damage. Ceci has been running through the American President series on DVD (it's a really good documentary, btw), and we just saw the Reagan one. It covered the Iran Contra scandal in some depth. The guy secretly sold weapons to Iran, then illegally funnelled the procedes to the Contras and went to considerable effort to cover the whole thing up. He lied about it on national television and to a congressional investigation. In the end he emerged with barely a scratch and many of his cohorts in the project are now working for the current administration. Bush has reminded me of Reagan in many respects, and I rather think he'll pull this stunt off as well. His administration keeps such a tight rein on information I just don't see anything blatantly incriminating slipping out. I see a lot of little inconsistencies hitting the news, but no cum-stained dress. If Bush is to be beat in the upcoming election it will have to be on mess in Iraq or on the economy.

And speaking of the economy.. I was part of a discussion over the 4th with my venerable Grandpa Martin. He is a very sharp guy, and a political wonk if ever there was one (I think I've told you guys about him in the past). He strongly shares my opinion that the US economy is in for a very rough ride for the foreseeable future due to globalization effects. I found that to be very interesting, because he is generally a fairly establishment-type Democrat. I guess these ideas are starting to get wider audience. It's an issue worth addressing, and one I'm not sure we've really discussed much. One of the reasons this really disgusts me is the general unfair trade situation. As I've said previously I see this less as America's high wealth concentration being dispersed into other markets, and more of a vertical shift of wealth from the middle class (who are losing their jobs in droves) to the upper management and ownership classes (who are exploiting the situation). However, even if this is corrected, wealth would likely flee the US simply because the concentration is so high here compared to the rest of the world. On the surface, from a utilitarian standpoint that would seem good, but I'm not sure I'd really be happy if that happened. For one thing I'm an American, and having the local economy stuck in an extended depression would probably suck on a personal level. Additionally if first world economies are devastated in the process of promoting fair trade, I'm not sure that will really have a net good impact on developing economies. I have to admit I have seen no research on the issue and I haven't thought it through to a level that satisfies me.. Is there some middle road here? Some way to put a very quick end to the exploitative nature of the current trade system, but take a gradual (or even somewhat regressive) approach to trade liberalization in general, with a specific eye towards global economic stability? Or am I just being selfish?

Finally, I'm having some doubt about Howard Dean, although he did get my vote in the moveon primary. By most reports he was fairly moderate as a governor, but is now taking a far-left position as a candidate. And his position on Israel would give Wolfowitz or Lieberman a run for their money. I can't help but wonder, who is the real Howard Dean? I know, Barry, you are a big proponent of his, maybe you can offer some defense.

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