• comment on a post The World Rejoices, The American Radical Right Moans over 3 years ago

    Donald Trump wants to see the death certificate before he will believe it.

  • There is an book called Empires of the Word by historical linguist Nicholas Ostler that looks at the rise of global tongues such as English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Swahili among live languages and Greek and Latin among dead ones.

  • the United States to India or China because the settled indigenous languages in North America were essentially wiped out by colonization. 

    Vast stretches of the Western Hemisphere are mono-lingual because the native inhabitants were wiped out thus eradicating their languages. The linguistic diversity that exists in Eurasia and Africa did once exist in the Americas but 500 years of European immigration eradicated much of that diversity. It's frankly amazing that indigenous tongues are still common in parts of Mexico and the Andes. In the US, only the Navajo have retained their language in any numbers. There are some 200,000 native speakers but of these less than 5 percent are monolingual. 

    Russia isn't as monolingual as you purport it to be. No doubt the Russian expansion eastward post 1750 in which Russia gained 55 square miles per day, basically an area slightly larger than San Francisco, over a 150 year period eradicated many languages in the sparsely settled north Eurasian tundra and steppes but remarkably Russia still counts 101 living languages. The US counts 176 living languages but these are mostly immigrant, non-native languages. Australia and Canada are the countries with an experience most like the US. 

    Worldwide, the trend is towards fewer languages, each with more speakers. In both China and India, Mandarin and Hindi are gaining speakers at the expense of local regional languages. What is really remarkable is how countries like Spain with six major plus a few minor regional languages and the Netherlands with three major languages and several distinct regional dialects have retained their linguistic diversity.

  • on a comment on "In Love with the Idea of Obama" over 3 years ago

    Well I think you're right that on many issues there would have been little difference between Obama and Clinton. For me personally, I liked Clinton because a) she didn't vote for the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy but mostly b) she sees Republicans for they are. It's hard to say what the US healthcare debate would have looked like under a President Hillary Clinton but I do get the feeling that she would have been more involved. But then again, the corporate control over the political process would have likely produced a similar outcome. One difference, though, I get the feeling that Scott Brown would not won in Massachusetts if Clinton had been President. 

    If I have a complaint about Obama, it is how he doesn't effectively use the bully pulpit of the Presidency. I suspect Clinton would have done a better job in this. There's also the fact that Clinton has better working class sensibilities. The President seems tone deaf when it comes to the working poor which is surprising since he spent his adulthood on the south side of Chicago.

    No doubt we would not have had the birther nonsense but would have been treated to a repeat of Clinton Deranged Syndrome so probably a wash.

  • No doubt, it is a work in progress.

  • It is apparent that you do not understand that DC lacks home rule and that according to the Constitution, it is Congress that has the final say over laws in the District. So here the citizens of DC through their city government have chosen to subsidize abortions for the poor and fund a needle exchange program. But Congress is now overriding the elected representatives of the District telling Washingtonians how they can use their own LOCAL funds. Unfortunately in this regard, the Constitution is so outdated that DC remains a colonial outpost disenfranchised. Its single member in the House doesn't even get a vote.

    Moreover, it is also clear that you don't realize that the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976 already prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions so you can rest easy, your tax dollars do not fund abortions anywhere in the US except in cases rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. 

    No other federal capital in the world has its citizens disenfranchised. This is the reactionary Christian right legislating their morality on the hapless residents of the District simply because they can.

    And who the hell cares about the Founders think about our world? This isn't 1789. 

  • on a comment on Beyond Obama over 3 years ago

    She would be great but highly unlikely. Obama is planning on raising $1 billion dollars for his 2012 re-election campaign. Who knows what 2016 will require but it certainly won't be less. It is also tough for non-politicians to make their first run for elective office the Presidency. If Warren were to run for Governor in Massachusetts or Senator first, I think then you can make the case that she use that springboard for a run at the White House.

    Wesley Clark, on the other hand, is an interesting idea.

  • on a comment on Beyond Obama over 3 years ago

    Well one has to take Hillary Clinton at her word. She has on more than one occasion said that she is not interested in pursuing elective office.

    There are few possibilities such John Hickenlooper of Colorado or perhaps Peter Shumlin of Vermont but these are hardly household names even to most Democrats much less to a wider audience.

  • comment on a post Just Desserts for Chocolate Carter over 3 years ago

    Referring to the President as a "Chocolate Carter" is a not just an affront to decency but also historically inaccurate. The troubles that beset this Administration are far different than those that confronted the Carter Administration. To advance the meme that Obama is another Carter is play into the right-wing's hands.

    Jerome has decided to allow a 19 year old college student in Savannah, Georgia who writes polemical drug-infused rants under a pseudonym to front page on MyDD.

    That's his decision. Mine is not to write any further on a blog in clear disarray.

  • comment on a post It's the Democracy, Stupid? over 3 years ago

    You might look into a topic before you write on it.

    "A signature beauty of the American system is that we have wonderfully smart mechanisms that allow for the change that is often necessary."

    Very much a debatable topic. Numerous writers - George Packer, Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, Eric Alterman, Ezra Klein, Gail Collins among journalists; Mike Lux, Chris Bowers, and myself among bloggers; Norman Ornstein, Mickey Edwards, Matthew Mayer and Barbara Sinclair among academics (to name just a few) have written on the limitations of our Constitutional system and its increasing inability to produce meaningful legislation quickly or transparently. It is not just that our politics have become poisonous which is a separate matter but that there are good reasons to believe that the American political system is showing its age and has design flaws. But I guess in your view we are all just over-educated elitist establishmentarians apparently beleaguered to boot.

    The US Constitution is now 221 years old. Being the first modern written constitution, it served as a model for other political constitutions the world over sometimes almost word for word, clause for clause. But whereas other countries have found and corrected the designs flaws, we haven't.

    In México, for instance, the Districto Federal is modeled on DC. Originally residents of the DF were denied voting and representation rights. That was long corrected (in the 19th century) but here DC is still denied voting representation in Congress. 

    I have written at least three major substantive posts on the dysfunctional US Senate noting that it over-represents rural, conservative interests and under-represents urban, progressive interests. This isn't even controversial. Any political scientist can tell you that rural interests are over-represented in Thailand, Japan and the United States. It's common knowledge and the reason is that in the US each state gets two Senators. I've argued that this is becoming an issue that is tearing the fabric of the country apart.

    Now other countries have Senates but they are able to overcome representation problems in different ways. Australia has a bicameral legislature. Its House is a pure Westminster system but its Senate is more like the US Senate than a British House of Lords. While each Australian state is guaranteed 12 senators and territories each get two, they are elected via proportional representation. That has a huge impact. It's why five Greens were elected to the Senate and why only one Green was elected to the lower House which is elected in a first past the post single member district system. Electoral systems do make a difference.

    Colombia elects its Senate nationally. That is no Senator represents any Colombian department (province) but must run on a national list. Moreover, Colombians living abroad get to vote and both indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities each get their own Senator. In Uruguay, the 30 member Senate is also elected nationally but unlike Colombia which uses a first past the post system, Uruguay elects its Senate via proportional representation. These electoral mechanisms provide a far different outcome and thus impact policy. The Senates in Colombia and Uruguay have a national constituency instead of a local provincial one. In Uruguay's case, that representation is proportional to the desires of the electorate.

    In Brazil, each state gets three Senators in the Brazilian Senate. Even though the Senate has more competences - the Senate must approve govt appointments and all treaties - than the Chamber of Federal Deputies, there is no difference between them when it comes to voting laws; there is not an Upper and a Lower House. Every law must be approved both by the Chamber and the Senate (and eventually promulgated - or vetoed - by the President of the Republic); if one of the Houses changes anything in the draft of law being appreciated, the draft returns to the other House for a new appreciation. Senators are elected for a eight year term; every four years, either 2/3 or 1/3 of Senate is renovated in a first past the post system. The Chamber is selected via proportional representation. But the biggest difference between Brazil and the US is that Brazil is a multi-party system while the US is technically a two party system though some argue that it is effectively a mono-political system (i.e. corporatist). Multi-party systems have one advantage, they tend to forge consensus. Belgium is the big exception to this tendency but Belgium's has other factors that explain its dysfunction.

    Argentina is another country whose Senate is chosen just like the US. Each Senator serves a six-year term with a third of the Senate elected every two years. Each province get three Senators. Buenos Aires also get three Senators because the city has been made into an autonomous district separate from the historical province of Buenos Aires. However, Argentina does not use a first past the post system to select its Senators. Instead, the party with the most votes is awarded two of the province's senate seats and the second-place party receives the third seat.

    But Argentina, like most Latin American nations, have much more powerful executives. Latin American presidents have power of decrees. In Argentina, that power is known as Decrees of Necessity and Emergency (DNUs) and is often referred to as a decretazo. Carlos Menem and Néstor Kirchner were both profligate in their use of DNUs, signing an average of 67 a year each. DNUs have the force of law but are temporary, that is, they expire. Laws require Congressional approval and are permanent. Often a President will issue a decree and then attempt to codify it into law later. Kirchner, for example, used decree powers to jump start Argentina's high speed rail project and then sought Congressional approval later. His wife and successor, Christina Fernández de Kirchner ran into problems when she tried to raise export taxes on soy and wheat via a decretazo.  She was forced to back down and ultimately the Congress overruled her. Chávez and Ortega rule by decree. The National Assembly in Venezuela has effectively abdicated its constitutional powers and widen Chávez's presidential powers. My point is that institutional design matters. And ours has serious flaws. I personally would like to see way the Senate governs itself changed but ultimately giving Wyoming and California equal representation is a fatal flaw. Until that changes and until the role of money in politics changes, you're going to get poor public policy outcomes. 

    As per James Fishkin, he is a professor of Communications at Stanford and someone with whom I am well acquainted. I've heard him speak a number of times and I've read his work. He's one of the foremost advocates of deliberative polling which is a subset of the Deliberative Democracy movement which judging by the tenor of your post you've never heard of. It's not exactly a new movement. John Rawls now deceased and Jürgen Habermas still alive have long written on the subject. Amy Guttman, formerly at Princeton and now the President of the University of Pennsylvania, has written extensively on deliberative democracy. In fact, she and Dennis Thompson, a political scientist at Harvard, have a new book on Deliberative Democracy out just last month. Their 2004 book Why Deliberative Democracy? is highly recommended for anyone interested in political theory. 

    More importantly to your diatribe towards Klein, deliberative polling, Fishkin's speciality, has been used to derive public policy the world over with great success. In the United States, the Utah 2050 project used it to develop a long-term land use and transportation infrastructure policy. County and city governments in Texas and Vermont have used deliberative polling to help set energy policy. Denmark used deliberative polling in its decision to adopt the euro. And Australia used deliberative polling to formulate policy on aboriginal issues and as well over the constitutional debate over whether to remain a monarchy or become a republic.  

    I'm not sure how the above leads to a comment like this:

    "This fantasy experiment of Joe Klein’s is straight out of some sterile utopian future where sex is banned."

    Clearly, you don't know what you are talking about. Klein is talking about local governance participating in determining budgetary priorities. Nor is Thomas Friedman advocating for Chinese-style authoritarianism, he's simply pointing out the obvious - the Chinese are getting things done and we're hindered by our political process. He wants to fix our broken government, not replace with it a Politburo. Senator Bennet of Colorado has said pretty much the same thing when he complained about the arcane rules that govern the Senate.

    But to trash Klein's kleroterion reference without doing the necessary background research is just poor scholarship. You might look into a subject before you dismiss it out of hand. 

    And does a "symbiosis of ganja and righteous indignation" imply that you were stoned when you read/wrote this? if so, I think that's highly unprofessional. The readership deserves better than drug-fuelled rants. You should know that members of Congress still read MyDD on occasion. In the two years, I've been associated with MyDD, I have never seen a front-pager use profane language like you did in a previous post. It's uncalled for and it reflects poorly on MyDD.

    You write well stylistically speaking but your posts are more off-the-cuff rants than anything else. While you add to the growing encyclopedia of Obama Deranged Syndrome, I can't say I've learned anything reading your rants. 

    But what do I know I'm an over-educated elitist. 

  • The other name for Treasury now being bantered about is Michael Bloomberg.

  • I did read that Swedish authorities recognize that they have failed to better integrate Islamic immigrants into Swedish society. And they note the language barrier. 

    There is also a sense that what's driving the events in Malmö is the larger Israeli-Palestinian question.

    But there also seems to a role that mosques play in radicalizing Islamic youths. The irony is that many of these immigrants, not all but a sizable number, are secular Muslims but the younger generation turn to Islam to a degree that their parents didn't. 

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly. The time for that was 18 months ago but that's now a sunk cost. One has to encourage the Administration to get its act together.

  • Your comment is not factual. You are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own set of facts. The first stimulus worked. It lifted the economy. The problem with it was too small and then the mix. It contained too many tax cuts and not enough actual spending. Furthermore that spending was spread out over two years. 

    David Obey wanted a $1.3 trillion stimulus. Christina Romer argued for a $1.2 trillion. Treasury officials argued for over a trillion. They were overruled and the Administration in a quixotic pursuit of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins went for a political compromise instead of doing the right thing economically.


  • on a comment on Man In the Mirror over 3 years ago

    Lehman, an investment bank, had failed. Still commercial & community banks across the country were failing at rates not seen the early 1930s but the entire financial sector had not collapsed. The danger in October 2008 was of a systemic crash. Capital is to the economy what oil is to a car engine. Without it, everything grinds to a halt. That was the danger in October 2008, that everything would have ground to a halt. Instead of 9.2 percent unemployment, we would have been looking at 25 percent. Businesses by the thousands would have failed because the system was starved for liquidity. The credit market tightened and banks were calling in loans. Just to throw one metric at you, look at the LIBOR-OIS spread. The 1-month LIBOR-OIS spread averaged 6 basis points from January 2006 to August 2007. During the credit crisis of late 2007 that continued to build into 2008, the spread continued to widen to over 100 basis points. On October 15th when Lehman failed, the LIBOR-OIS spread was 364 basis points. The LIBOR-OIS spread is a meaure used to gauge the health/credit worthiness of banks.

    And you overlooked what I said in the very next paragraph:

    "The issue I have is that no concessions on future business practices were extracted from Wall Street."

    The bonuses were indefensible but again the onus should fall on the Bush Administration, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner who at the time was the Chair of the NY Fed for not having a negotiated a better deal for the taxpayers. The TARP has been largely paid back at a profit for the Treasury Dept but still there is no doubt that in October 2008 concessions on a strict regulatory environment could have been extracted from the banking sector.

    To gratiously attack the TARP at this point is to advance a right-wing meme and does a disservice not just to the Obama Administration but to the country at large. The misinformation out there is appalling and moreover we live in a country where economic literacy is a rare commodity.


    The issue I have is that no concessions on future business practices were extracted from Wall Streetnot


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