The model for the public intellectual includes, preeminently for liberals, I think, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Sad news that he’s passed away. I’d only started the reading the first volume of his autobiography, “A Life in the Twentieth Century : Innocent Beginnings, 1917 – 1950″ (Jr.”, Arthur M. “Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. Schlesinger), a kind of human monument to the liberal life, who, as Taylor Marshal points out, didn’t vote for Jimmy Carter because he found him too conservative (and the best the conservatives can do is promote Conservapedia).The classical historian Michael Meckler wishes Schlesinger had been more grounded in classical antiquity. A fond appreciation by Evan Thomas comes out in Newsweek. An anecdote from 2004 from Josh Marshall -how he tried to explain what a blog is to Schlesinger.
Perhaps trumpeting everything is peachy was a bit premature. After some bargain hunting yesterday, the market decided to drop some more, today. The peso, too, continued its slight dip. Is it just me, or is government’s pointing to OFW remittances and downplaying the overall importance of the stock market, a bit of a retreat from its past talking points?
(Here’s hoping consumer groups monitor power rates to see if rate drops last as long as guaranteed: 10 month in Luzon, 18 months in Mindanao, visayas for 3 months, and at the biggest drop, 31 centavos per KWH, seems to me pure electioneering in the President’s bailiwick right there).
Slate Magazine tries to pin down the causes for the selloff in the US market, and it thinks it wasn’t really about China:
U.S. stock markets have routinely shrugged off negative information during the recent bull run. What made yesterday different? This time, the signs of a slowdown – not a recession but a slowdown – are clearly evident. The plunge in durable goods orders indicated that the manufacturing sector may be in danger of recession. (Thankfully, the U.S. economy relies less and less on manufacturing for growth, which is why a manufacturing recession may not trigger an economy-wide one.)
And the twin turbines that have driven the U.S. economy in recent years are clearly sputtering. When housing is doing well, it stimulates a great deal of economic activity, creates jobs, and makes people feel wealthier – and hence more likely to spend. When housing is doing poorly, the opposite holds. And as today’s new home-sales report confirms, housing is still struggling. Prices and home values are down marginally, but when assets are encumbered with huge amounts of debt – as houses are – it doesn’t take much of a decline to make an impact. (If you put 10 percent down on a house, and it declines 10 percent in value, you’ve lost your entire investment.)
Second, and more important, there has been a precipitous decline in the business of housing-related credit. In recent years, cheap and abundant mortgages have allowed people to buy ever-more-expensive homes with little money down and to borrow against homes they already own to expand and renovate, thus fueling consumer spending. The huge volume of so-called mortgage-equity withdrawal, Alan Greenspan and his Federal Reserve colleague Mark Kennedy have argued, has been a significant contributor to the late consumer-spending binge.
Here, too, the trend may no longer be the economy’s friend. Interest rates are still low. But with subprime-lending operations failing, and with big banks taking big hits to their mortgage portfolios, pressure is mounting among regulators and investors for lenders to become more parsimonious.
Anyway, in finally accepting an opposition challenge to debate, the administration wants to keep the discussion to the economy, while denying the other side any opportunity to discuss inconvenient truths (that the opposition would do well to focus on). This is typical (and comes from an appreciation on which side its bread is buttered). As the Inquirer editorial today puts it (referring to something else),
The thing is, the President could answer all of these questions with grace and intelligence, but she always chooses to question the motivations of those posing them, always espying dark shadows behind the queries, and always demanding that the questions be made along her own line of inquiry, which is predictably favorable to her government. She does not only want to be President, she also wants to be stage manager.
Meanwhile, the Vice President is methodically, but quietly, building his own power base for 2010. JB Baylon points out the attractiveness of Ang Kapatiran.
WTF Department: Danton Remoto, according to an interview he had with Twink Macaraig, didn’t file his candidacy for senator. So he can’t run for senator. And the Comelec has rejected Ang Ladlad’s bid for party list accreditation. Which leaves Danton mulling over running for congressman in the 3rd congressional district of Quezon City. So that leaves me and faithful reader of this blog in the lurch, doesn’t it? Neither of us can vote for Remoto for senator. Which leaves me back to voting for Kiko Pangilinan, I guess…
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