"Upstarts" - Johnny Marr
Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all. In DC it is starting off by reminding me of Memorial Days past in Massachusetts -- cold and dreary. But I think we will see 70s this weekend as opposed to 50s today, so not too bad.
Spent the last few days up in the City of Brotherly Love, including about six straight hours on Wednesday of doing nothing but flipping through checks, bank statements, and receipts for a client who is being audited by the Department of Labor. (Yes, folks -- non-tea party groups, yea, even groups that enthusiastically supported the President are nonetheless subject to fairly invasive government scrutiny.) I was noting to the clients that lawyer shows on TV simply never show the kind of tedious work that is a staple of law practice. I propose a kind of Warholian verite, a half an hour of just watching a lawyer sit at a conference table reading bank statements. Multiply by sixteen and you have a realistic day in the life. It will drop law school enrollment faster than Paul Campos could ever hope to. Incidentally, as I noted in comments below, I have also had extensive dealings with the Cincinnati IRS office regarding the continued confirmation of tax exempt status for pension plans. I found the office to be fine to deal with but rather slow. Most applications took about two years to process. Again, these were constituencies allegedly favored by the Administration. The slowness seemed to stem from chronic understaffing, something that is usually viewed as a virtue by the tea party types.
- i have generally considered Michael Kinsley to be one of the brighter lights in "this town" over the last couple of decades. Oh sure, he's got the annoying contrarian thing going and he was knee deep in neo-liberalism, but he has quite often shown a great deal of skill in cutting to the heart of things and he has an admirable writing style. As a result, I was surprised -- his old Slate gig notwithstanding -- to see him peddle absolute idiocy with respect to the issue of austerity and then, when brutally called on it, to double down on his position with the weakest of arguments -- roughly, I'm a good liberal and a smart person, so when I say this sort of thing it deserves respect. Although humilitating for Kinsley -- at least it should be -- the two pieces did have the virtue of revealing the kind of thinking -- or non-thinking really -- that prevails around a journalistic set of people who are simply not very deep or analytical thinkers. Deficit spending to stimulate the economy violates Kinsley's sensibilities for reasons that amount to a feeling -- that it is somehow just not right, a sin of sorts for which there needs to be atonement. Kinsley doesn't really explain so many things, but chief among them is why those who have sinned -- Wall Street, the banks, and their enablers -- don't have to do the atoning.
- I have not read all of President Obama's speech from the other day on the various aspects of the "war on terror" that need to be addressed from GITMO to drone strikes to winding down involvement in Afghanistan. What I have seen struck me as thoughtful and frank in a way that such speeches by presidents seldom are. It seems to me that Obama has come to the conclusion that he has fully established all of the "toughness" bona fides that he needs and that it is time to try and walk back so much of what became normalized in the post-9-11 environment. I know that progress on this front has been entirely too slow for the tastes of many on the left and to a degree I sympathize. But I think that Obama's sense of timing is pretty good. If he can by the end of his secod term end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, close Guantanamo, curb the militarization of anti-terrorism efforts in favor of law enforcement, and establish a generally anti-interventionist enviroment, while still being able to boast of having taken out bin Laden and crippled al Qaeda, I think he will have accomplished much. If he can do this and also get the American people to accept that random acts of terrorism, especially of the Jihadi variety, may continue but will not succeed in turning the world upside down in the U.S., then he will have rendered a great service to the country and the world.
- Why is TPM reporting Ed Markey's tax deductions like they were a scandal? It looks like he basically had large deductions for mortgage interest payments and property taxes. Is there something wrong with this? Oh, he also got $11,600 in Social Security benefits -- well, he's 66 for Christ's sake. Is he supposed to forego the benefits that he has earned? Really stupid stuff and very disappointing given the source.
What's up with all of you?