Some unkind lefties (including “one of my co-bloggers”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2008/10/nation-of-whine.html) were a little dismissive towards “this post”:http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-much-of-financial-crisis-is.html by ‘Dr. Helen,’ blogger and Instaspouse of Professor Glenn Reynolds.

Why the crescendo of economic collapse right before the election? Why didn’t the media and congress act just as concerned some time ago or wait until sometime after the election to go into crisis mode? The timing of the current financial crisis seems too planned and calculating to be just a coincidence. Polls show that people’s number one concern right now is the economy and that for the most part, voters believe Democrats are somewhat more likely to help with the economy. Could it be that the liberal media and those in Congress, knowing that, is blaring the bad economic news from the rooftops in order to manipulate voters into voting for a Democrat? If so, it won’t be the first time.

But now “Barbara Ehrenreich”:http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/588.html (via “Cosma”:http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/588.html ) has let the cat out of the bag and it’s _even worse_ than Dr. Helen suspected.
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Just to be clear, and to head off the accusations of partisanship that the previous post invites, I am usually about as willing to think well of sensible Republicans as of sensible Democrats on education policy. Nor do I mean to criticise McCain for supporting choice. The reason I say it indicates he has no ideas is that everyone is pro-choice now (“we are all pro-choice Georgians!” could be Senator McCain’s slogan); the issue is just what kinds of choice. Choice through the housing market, choice within public school districts, magnets, charters, etc… And, as Laura says:

Vouchers aren’t going any where. Anybody who talks about them really has no clue about the realities of the politics of education.

Vouchers are a very small part of the picture and the only people who doubt this are leftists who see vouchers as some sort of cunning plan to privatise the whole of public schooling. In the next decade, even if McCain were to become President, we might possibly see the emergence of 5 new voucher programs (but I doubt it would be that many, frankly). For readers who care about my own views, not only am I an unenthusiastic supporter of several voucher programs, I’ve even written a whole book expressing my support for school choice (despite the complaint of one prominent academic reviewer I shan’t name, who presumably didn’t bother to beyond the first couple of pages, that I oppose it). Vouchers are a band aid, and I don’t mean that as an insult; I use band aids myself, they’re handy when you have a small cut, and are better than nothing when you have something more serious. But they are only a band aid, and that is the sensible thing to say about them. In policy environments where more comprehensive interventions are not going to happen (Milwaukee in the early 90s, DC in the mid 2000s), sure, go ahead, give vouchers a try (and design the programs so that we can actually study them and figure out what the effects are). But understand that vouchers are at the margins of urban schooling, let alone of the larger policy environment, and talking about them as if they were something else displayed McCain’s lack of interest in education.

Still, I can’t resist correcting McCain on two points.

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Sublime

by Chris Bertram on October 21, 2008

“It’s been there for a few days, apparently”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2008/oct/10/wildlife-conservation . But I first heard this morning. Someone took me round the side of the building where I work and there it was. So big and powerful, I could hardly believe it. Snoozing for now, oblivious to the stream of people passing by to take a look. You almost wonder whether small children would be safe in the vicinity. Not the kind of thing you ordinarily see in the middle of an English city.

Update: I took some pictures this morning ….

Eagle Owl

Pity Jay Nordlinger: ‘A friend of mine writes this morning with a question: ‘At what point will Americans finally get fed up with voter fraud — with what ACORN is doing in Ohio, for example?’ … If something is in the news, they’ll think about it. If it is not — how can such thinking be triggered?”

In fairness, Republicans have to shoulder a lot of the blame. TPM reports on a conference call on ACORN-related voter fraud with RNC spokesman, Danny Diaz

… When we tried to follow up [on charges of vote fraud], Diaz cut us off and shifted the discussion toward a general attack on ACORN for submitting fraudulent registrations.

Yes, the RNC spokesman apparently cut off attempts by members of the liberal media to discuss the very thing Nordlinger thinks the media needs to focus on, in a conference call set up for that very purpose. Very mysterious, I call it.

The program for a supermajority

by John Quiggin on October 21, 2008

As the odds shorten on an Obama victory, the undoubted enthusiasm for Obama is tempered by doubts that a new Democratic Administration, even backed up by strong majorities in both houses of Congress, will really change that much.

However, there’s a case for a much more optimistic view. Given a supermajority in the Senate, or even a win that’s near enough, with some RINO support to override Republican filibusters, some widely respected analysts are predicting marvellous things from Obama including:

* Medicare for all
* Serious financial reregulation
* Union rights
* Ending tax cuts for the rich
* A green ‘revolution’
* Voting rights for all, including DC

In the light of the lame record of the last congress, and of the Democratic Congresses in the 90s, this might seem unlikely. But an article I’ve just read points to a string of quite radical measures passed by the House in the last Congress and blocked only by the filibuster. Furthermore, as the writer observes the conversion of Southern Democrats into Republicans since the 90s means that most Democrats will hold the line on issues like health care.

All in all, it’s given me more cause for optimism than anything I’ve read for a while.

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