Heroes no more

by Maria on November 7, 2007

Just as Heroes Season II is finally hitting its stride, the Hollywood writers strike may cut it short. The producers are shooting an alternative ending that could air in early December, finishing the series half way through. That would be a shame, because this series is pacing itself pretty much like the last one. Both started slowly, with disparate characters wandering around doing lots of exposition but not much plot. Then the first narrative arc took off, feinted left in the middle of the season and revealed the real drama which peaked in the season finale. You really need the full dose for the plot to culminate. And the hotness. Twenty-odd episodes of hotness.
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Vouchers in Pajamas

by Harry on November 7, 2007

Pajamas Media is hosting a debate between Laura at 11D and Megan McArdle on school vouchers. Laura is first up, and might welcome some friendly faces.

It seems that the Revolutionary Communist Party has a large notice running in the latest New York Review of Books. I have not actually seen that issue yet, but over the weekend, a friend wrote to protest:

Simply staggered that you have not signed onto the full page ad in the NYRB (Engage!) demanding that the voice of Bob Avakian be projected and protected. You, who have done so much to keep Avakian before the masses. You, who have chosen *not* to join voices including Mumia Abu Jamal, Rickie Lee Jones, Aladdin, Ward Churchill, Chuck D, Cornel West, and Michael Eric Dyson.

Don’t you know that Martin Niemoller said that “first they came for the communists?”

Okay, my mistake. It is also true that I have neglected to blog about the doings of Chairman Bob for months now. In part, though, that has been because the Chairman went AWOL for quite a spell there. No new articles or interviews with him appeared in the party press, and after a while it became reasonable to wonder what was up. Something cardiac, perhaps? Involving rich pastries?
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Your votes or your wallet

by Henry Farrell on November 7, 2007

“Megan McArdle”:http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/11/the_rich_really_are_different.php claims that I “got”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/11/06/a-little-rich/ Michael Franc’s op-ed wrong.

Democrats indisputably represent more rich voters than Republicans; their constituency is the people in their district, not the people in their district who voted for them. Moreover, politically, this matters a great deal. The guy from Heritage is actually making a good point: the constituency of the Democrats will force many of them to support the interests of the rich, even where they might ideologically prefer to oppose, because doing so is good for their district.

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by John Holbo on November 7, 2007

I’m reading The Conservatives Have No Clothes [amazon], by Greg Anrig. Pretty good so far, but:

It is difficult to overstate the impact of the Heritage Foundation – along with the much broader network of conservative think tanks, foundations, university-based programs, activist organizations and media affiliates – on U.S. public policy and debates over the role of government in recent years. (p. 2)

Phrases like ‘it would be difficult to overstate’ are a delicate way of saying it would be difficult to state. But it’s a lot. But Anrig’s thesis hinges on how much:

The philosophies of the leading individuals who financed movement conservatism are far outside the mainstream. (David H. Koch ran as a vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, receiving just over 1 percent of the vote – a typical showing for libertarians running for public office even today.) But the institutions receiving their largesse needed to concoct strategies for simultaneously keeping those founders happy while also building a broad political coalition.

The real wonder of the conservative enterprise has been its ability to transform the rudimendary desire of a handful of wealthy families to gut the government into a set of public policy ideas that would help to accomplish that goal while sounding appetizing enough to attract large numbers of voters. Rather ingeniously, the simple, easy-to-understand ideas they developed are largely consistent with each other and elegantly link to a broader story line that the conservative movement has effectively sold with remarkable sophistication. That’s how the right won the war of ideas. It’s also the underlying reason why those ideas are failing. (p. 11)

One should, of course, read the book before judging; but I expect a lot of skeptics would fire back promptly that this is shaping up to be a too-easy false consciousness thesis. The whole ‘appetizing enough to attract lots of voters’ bit doesn’t sit easily with the ‘far outside the mainstream’. (Why did Ron Paul raise 4 mill. from 40,000 individual contributors in a single day? Obviously he’s still polling at the traditional, libertarian 1%. But there’s something a bit more going on, surely.) I’m actually pretty sympathetic to Anrig’s overall case, but what is precisely difficult is rigorously refraining from overstating the degree to which his basically plausible, coherent narrative is accurate. Just how influential has Heritage been?

one hundred and fifty days after

by Ingrid Robeyns on November 7, 2007

Today is 150 days after the Belgian elections, and there is still no government. The crisis is as deep as it was when I last “wrote about it”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/09/19/the-ingredients-of-the-belgian-cocktail/. There have been partial agreements between the negotiating parties over the last weeks, but for none of the crucial issues there is an agreement yet – the situation of the Francophone population in the Flemish border communes around Brussels, a solution to the crisis in the election district Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, some aspects of the welfare state reform, and the government budget.

And it is a crucial day: the Commission Internal Affairs of the National Parliament (where the Flemish make up the majority) has a meeting today, and the Flemish parties have threatened that if there is no (for them acceptable) compromise (or at least the beginning of a compromise) on Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde in the coalition negotiations, they will use their majority position to vote for the splitting of this election district. Such a Flemish-Francophone majority-minority decision would be unheard off for Belgian political norms, since it would basically imply that the Flemish majority imposes its will on the Francophone minority. All political commentators argue that this would only deepen the political crisis.

I haven’t been following each and every detail of Belgian politics in the last two months – even for a Belgian it is rather complicated, and the constant political incidents and provocations (from both sides), which have continued even after the negotiations have been resumed, are making me tired and slightly depressed. Readers who had more time and energy to follow the debate are very welcome to expand below. In the meantime we’ll be waiting to see what happens on this crucial day – the Commission Internal Affairs meets in 4 hours and 55 minutes, and so far there is no sight on any solution for Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde in the coalition negotiations.

Oz elections

by John Q on November 7, 2007

It’s election time here in Australia, and there are some reasons why readers Down Under (from our perspective)
might be more interested than usual.

George Bush has no more reliable ally than the Liberal (=conservative) government of John Howard. Howard has backed Bush straight down the line on Iraq and climate change, and (unlike Tony Blair) raised no objection when Australians were held in Guantanamo Bay for years on end. The general assumption among political hardheads until about a year ago was that, although these positions might be unpopular, Australians would not vote against an incumbent government when the economy was going well. Labor was ahead in the polls, but no-one really believed it. But after a change of leaders at the end of 2006, Labor moved to a large lead in the polls, which it has kept ever since.

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