April 13, 2012 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

And these featured articles-

Please join me at 2 am (or later in the day) for Formula One: Shanghai Qualifying.

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Your Vote Counts!

Does the 2012 Presidential Election Matter?

Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism

Friday, April 13, 2012

The 2012 election … is at this point a completely empty enterprise, bereft of substance, or integrity.  This is new to our era, reminiscent of the late 19th century electoral landscape which was dominated by policy consensus around corruption and plutocracy while electoral contests were organized around “bloody shirt” smear campaigns.  Populism intruded briefly, but there’s a reason that time period was known as the time of the robber barons.  It’s increasingly analogous to our time.

In 2003-2004, a large Democratic field and George Bush bitterly debated questions of war and peace.  In 2007-2008, both parties saw significant debate between multiple candidates in which they argued about a whole set of questions, from war to civil liberties to the financial crisis.  The financial crisis was probably determinative in 2008, with the lead seesawing between the two candidates until John McCain “suspended” his campaign.  There was a substantive amount of deceit, of course, in previous contests, and it’s true that many of the promises were not real.  But at least the candidates had to debate in a way in which their words had to bear some resemblance to the world in which voters resided.  But this time, there is literally no relationship between the reality of the policy questions and the political debate.

For instance, at the same time as the Rosen spat occurred, this week we also saw a report from the Inspector General of TARP that Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department has simply not implemented a $7 billion program intended to help families hardest hit by foreclosures.   That could have been a scandal of sorts, with the Republicans attacking the administration for incompetence and the administration making arguments about its economic stewardship.  The major problem facing our economic structure is the collapse of the housing finance system, with 96% of mortgages at this point backed explicit by government.  Yet, no debate, nothing.  It’s millionaire kabuki.  There are now murders happening around the foreclosure crisis.  Nothing.  No pressure from the left, or the right.

Major policy initiatives, such as the JOBS Act eliminating accounting requirements for companies using public equity markets, are now bipartisan, beyond debate.  AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka is apparently “personally disgusted” by that bill, but he can’t help but argue how Barack Obama is the President for the middle class.  The Democratic campaign will center in at least some part on tax justice and economic fairness, with the Republicans decrying class warfare.  Yet, the data on inequality betrays that this narrative is completely disconnected from substance, from reality.  Without an debate over the policies that led to this endpoint, it’s hard to figure out whether the 2012 election matters.  Since Obama is still taken seriously when he promises to redress inequality immediately after signing the JOBS Act, this debate can’t happen.

This is not to say that politics is the only route to social change, it certainly is not.  And this is not a “your vote matters” argument.  It doesn’t always matter.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.  What is striking is how little pressure is coming from the populace, towards the political elites in both parties.  The Republicans have a bitter class divide within their party, but they have quickly clamped down on the populists in their midst.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama can give stump-speeches on his support for the middle class with a straight face.  Until this dynamic changes, and someone or something forces a real debate that reconnects substance and politics, our American decline will continue.  Until then, the debates in DC will happen behind closed doors among powerful interests, and the public will only witness a fierce kabuki performance over Hilary Rosen’s tweets.


Haredevil Hare

On This Day In History April 13

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 13 is the 103rd day of the year (104th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 262 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1742, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah premieres in Dublin, Ireland.

Nowadays, the performance of George Friedrich Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings. In churches and concert halls around the world, the most famous piece of sacred music in the English language is performed both full and abridged, both with and without audience participation, but almost always and exclusively during the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. It would surprise many, then, to learn that Messiah was not originally intended as a piece of Christmas music. Messiah received its world premiere on this day in 1742, during the Christian season of Lent, and in the decidedly secular context of a concert hall in Dublin, Ireland.

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Messiah (often but incorrectly called The Messiah) is one of Handel’s most famous works. The Messiah sing-alongs now common at the Christmas season usually consist of only the first of the oratorio’s three parts, with “Hallelujah” (originally concluding the second part) replacing His Yoke is Easy in the first part.

Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. In 1789 Mozart orchestrated a German version of the work; his added woodwind parts, and the edition by Ebenezer Prout, were commonly heard until the mid-20th century and the rise of historically informed performance.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Neons 3

Late Night Karaoke