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…and both can be used to stab yourself in the eye.

My mood lately has been one of agitation and restlessness.  My recent attempts at writing blog posts have reflected those moods, and have also been utter garbage.  Interesting/important news events have occurred, and I have commentary, but have not converted it into compelling prose.  In time, I will.

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Osama bin Laden was buried at sea because the United States worried that a land burial might create a place where bin Laden supporters could go to be placed under surveillance.

Here’s a narrative: A radical president came to power in the United States, gaining control of the white house, senate, and house or representatives.  With the opposition powerless to oppose his actions, the president rapidly expanded the role of government, made drastic increases to government spending, and in a real sense changed the fundamental nature of American democracy.  Eventually, a grass-roots conservative opposition took form, spread rapidly across the population, gained political power and began to pull back changes made by the radical president, George W. Bush.

Liberals weren’t the only ones wandering in the desert during the Bush administration; fiscal conservatives had no representation in office.  As a fiscal conservative, Obama isn’t any better.  Thus fiscal conservatives have every right to be angry, energized, and pushing for change of leadership.  The timing may seem conspicuous–where were fiscal conservatives when Bush was in power?–but their position is entirely valid.

Understanding tea partiers motivation is an imposing task; they have risen so rapidly that it’s difficult to understand what drives them.  They’ve been diagnosed as know-nothings, racists, and lunatics.  They’ve been said to follow Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the Koch brothers.  And surely, in a movement this large, some are, just as some small number of Obama supporters actually are socialists, communists, or members of radical groups.  But fiscal conservatives seem to be the ones effecting change: consider that senate winners Rubio, Toomey, Paul, and Kirk are legitimate thinking fiscal conservatives, while senate losers Angle and O’Donnell are not.

Racism, ignorance, and stupidity have no place in politics.  Fiscal conservatism is sorely need, and thus far it seems to be the primary beneficiary of the tea parties.

Anne Applebaum writes:

In theory, there could be a third way. If the Republican Party were serious about the deficit its leaders could, just for example, eliminate subsidies for farmers and homeowners. They could raise the retirement age and “privatize” Social Security. They could simplify our hideously complex income tax. They could impose a carbon tax instead. They could even do some of this together with President Obama. In practice, I’m afraid that for the next two years, we’ll be watching the Millers and the Murkowskis struggle for the soul of the party. As Alaska goes, so goes the nation.

A part of me has been quietly applauding the tea parties’ growth in influence, as evidence by my favorable linking to article that fail to fall in step with the barrage of criticism the parties have faced.  The tea parties’ stated policy goals–cut taxes, reduce the deficit, don’t cut any major spending programs–indeed are contradictory.  But all political philosophies face internal trade-offs.  As Republicans, and tea-party Republicans specifically–gain some measure of influence over policy, they’ll be forced to confront these trade-offs, and the results may prove promising.

If the tea-party movement leads to the re-emergence of a political party, or even a branch of a political party, that is actually fiscally conservative, I’d see that as a positive.  If, in the short-run, the Republican resurgence slows the Obama administration’s ability to enact further legislation, I think that’s okay.  And if increased political awareness and enthusiasm from conservative Americans leads to more thinking and talking about politics, that also sounds okay.  Thus, as a contrarian moderate I tentatively admit: I’m not particularly phased by the tea parties or their members’ increased power, and on the whole see the movement as a net gain for America.

Ross Douthat here.  Jonathan Haidt here.

I’ll have more to say about the tea parties, extremists on both sides, and the culture wars soon. For now, I think  there’s something quite wrong with the mainstream (liberal) narrative about the tea parties, but I can’t put my finger on it. These two pieces are heading in the right direction.

When I read this:

Google is using its vast database of web shopping data to construct the ‘Google Price Index’ – a daily measure of inflation…is working on “predicting the present” by using real-time search data to forecast official data that are only released with time lags.

I think to myself, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Google needs to find revenue streams other than search. At some point, Google is going to realize that

  • Google is all about processing information
  • Wall Street is all about processing information
  • Google would be very good at doing what Wall Street is doing
  • Doing what Wall Street is doing (better) would create an enormous revenue stream.

I found this quote by Victor Navasky, as relayed to the Economist by Jay Rosen, pretty interesting:

There’s an ideology of the left, an ideology of the right, and an ideology of the centre. The news system is on guard against too much left or too much right. It is defenceless against any excesses in the ideology of the centre. There you can be as extreme or didactic as you like.

In my earlier piece on the political spectrum I took care not to criticize left and right or praise the center. Media’s goal shoul not be to keep policy discussions balanced; it should be to present the strongest arguments being made, regardless of which “side” they’re coming from.

Here’s Rosen’s list of media outlets practicing the right kind of journalism:

Advertising Age. Gawker. Wired. Voice of San Diego. The New Yorker. The Economist. (Disclosure: You’re The Economist!) Rachel Maddow. Frontline. The New York Times. West Seattle Blog. Texas Tribune (Disclosure: I’m an advisor there). “To the Point” with Warren Olney. The Atlantic. “This American Life”. The Guardian. Jon Stewart.