FIGHTING WORDS

Adam Serwer: “So in the past day, the following things have been happened: The idea that there was outside pressure from the administration to close the case has been shown to have no evidentiary basis, the commission has been exposed as deliberately attempting to damage the administration with this investigation, and Adams’ claim that the Voting Section does not intervene on behalf of white voters has been proven conclusively false. This story should now be over. It won’t be, but it should.”

Eric Alterman:”The Journal editors warned against the “temptation…to settle for a lowest common denominator stimulus, for the sake of bipartisanship.” But this was only the beginning. “The transformed political landscape should also boost other Bush initiatives,” the editors argued. They went on to argue that Bush should use the attacks to demand more offshore oil drilling, greater authority to negotiate free trade agreements, the approval of all of Bush’s nominees to various offices and a whole host of things that had nothing whatever to do with protecting America from terrorism. Meanwhile, eight years later, with a new president, one could find the editors making an almost perfectly contrary argument.”

Chris Hayes: “This all seems eerily familiar. The conversation—if it can be called that—about deficits recalls the national conversation about war in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. From one day to the next, what was once accepted by the establishment as tolerable—Saddam Hussein—became intolerable, a crisis of such pressing urgency that “serious people” were required to present their ideas about how to deal with it. Once the burden of proof shifted from those who favored war to those who opposed it, the argument was lost.”

FIGHTING WORDS (“RAW CAPITALISM IS DEAD” EDITION)

William Greider:”The step-by-step rescues that the Federal Reserve and Treasury have executed to date have failed utterly to reverse the flight of investors and banks worldwide from lending or buying in doubtful times. There is no obvious reason to assume this bailout proposal will change their minds, though it will certainly feel good to the financial houses that get to dump their bad paper on the government.”

Dean Baker: “Financial institutions should be forced to endure the bulk of the losses with taxpayer funds only used where absolutely necessary to sustain the orderly operation of the financial system. The bailout must be designed to minimize the opportunity for gaming. The bailout should be designed to minimize moral hazard.”

Robert Reich: “Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?”

James Kvaal: “Congress should also follow rapidly pass expansions of unemployment benefits and investments in clean-energy jobs. The immediate consensus behind passage of Paulson’s plan shows that, when it comes to addressing our country’s most urgent problems, money is no object. Congressional leaders did not blink at the 12- or even 13-digit outlay. We should remember that when it comes to other priorities, such as universal health care.”

Christopher Hayes: “But more than that, advocating a “strong dollar” under these circumstances is some old-school, hard money nuttiness. After donning a variety of ideological suits these last few days, McCain seems to have found his inner Andrew Mellon.”

SOCIAL CAPITAL

This past week, TPMCafe brought together some smart folks to talk about whether there’s a resurgence of organizing and what to make of it. One of the more interesting contributions was from the woefully-under-appreciated Chris Hayes, who wrote:

The entire Industrial Areas Foundation method (utilized by a young community organizer named Barack Obama while organizing on Chicago’s far south side) involved leveraging the social capital of parishes towards achieving the interests of the community members. That’s an oversimplification, but it gets at something essential about Alinsky’s approach: you find the sources of pre-existing power in a neighborhood and you try to build on them. The $64,000 question is to what degree the internet can instantiate social capital in the very real and immediate way that neighborhood parishes did in the Back of the Yards. Much of the post 1970s decline in organizing (and indeed the fate of the Democratic party and progressives) can be tied, I think, to the unraveling of much of the social capital our constituencies used to have. This process has been documented quite famously by Robert Putnam and Theda Skocpol. So can the internet reverse the trend?

WHOSE UNITY?

Christopher Hayes on Obama’s announcement:

In his speech, Obama recited moments in American history when politics became something more than the mundane mechanics of governing and effected a true transformation of the polity: the civil war, the New Deal, the civil rights movement. But the problem is that those were moments not of unity, but of extreme polarization. The South only granted rights to black citizens under force of arms, armies of unruly war veterans gathered in Washington DC during the Great Depression to demand the government provide them with a safety net, and when Martin Luther King Jr went marching through the South, he was met with batons and firehoses and accusations that he was dividing people and stirring up trouble.