Friday, November 21, 2008


What good is getting our first African-American president if I can't get a blog post out of it? All I can say at the moment is, I always seem to have more to say about politics when I'm unhappy with how things are going than when I'm satisfied and hopeful.

Here at least is something on the economy: Michael Lewis in Portfolio magazine, on the end of Wall Street as we know it. I'll grade myself on a curve and say I understand about 2/3 of this piece. To me Michael Lewis will always be first and foremost the author of Moneyball, the story of the rise of stats gurus in the management ranks of major league baseball, and a trademark Michael Lewis tone and attitude are evident in both pieces of writing. Moneyball's prophet/cynic Billy Beane is a lot like Steve Eisman in the Portfolio article, the short-selling artist who got rich while foretelling the destruction of the investment banking industry. Lewis humanizes the financial disaster nicely in the part depicting Eisman and his colleagues, on the day the roof came crashing in, watching people on the street in lower Manhattan, knowing their work and vision has been vindicated while feeling the rumble of a Biblical wave of destruction, something like Yahweh's vengeance wreaked on a slack and heedless people. Also interesting is the final scene, Lewis's pleasure or fascination in the company of a charming monster, John Gutfreund, morally repugnant yet proud.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

“Rock On”

(The parting instructions of the Democratic Party poll greeter at my district this morning)

Nothing left to do but watch the returns. The thing about this presidential campaign is, it’s been evident that Obama had the lead and the inside track since late September: since the economic/bailout crisis and McCain’s spastic response to it. So for Democrats, the last month has been an exercise in not jinxing anything, not counting chickens before they hatch. From a practical aspect, of course, Obama’s campaign didn’t want anyone becoming complacent or relaxing, but there’s been a superstitious aspect to it as well: not believing our luck, and fearing that vocalizing would cause it to vanish. Like a baseball dugout where the pitcher is working on a no-hitter. Five weeks of biting one’s tongue produces a weird tension and slightly frenzied mental state.

See here: an Ezra Klein e-mailer fearing “the gods of overconfidence”.

See also here: my favorite schmuck media-head, John Dickerson of Slate, is full of concern for all the pollsters and politicos who will look bad if Obama doesn’t win.

More later.