The Daily Kos Political Book Club is a weekly attempt to look at, and discuss, books with political themes and subjects. Anything from academic analysis, to political history, to political philosophy, to books about political campaigns and politicians, and beyond; I take a broad view of what can be considered a "political book", and I hope you do, too. It's more fun that way.
Due to unforeseen life circumstances, my first attempt at establishing the DKPBC (as it shall henceforth be known) sort of fizzled out after our first book, "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli. You can find that diary here.
But never fear! With myself on much more solid grounding in terms of employment and housing, I feel it's about time that the DKPBC was revived. And to start us off, I have picked a few books that I feel might be interesting.
So, a short thing about debt, and the debate here in the UK. Like in America, it's commonly bandied around by both pro-austerity parties, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats (yes, I appreciate the irony) that the UK, thanks to the Labour party's profligacy, is the most indebted it has ever been.
It's technically true that the UK as a whole holds an astounding amount of debt; something in the order of 492% of GDP is commonly used as the headline scare figure. But what is elided here is that this is mostly private-sector debt, largely due to the financial sector's relatively large role in the economy, and the recession caused by the crash. Labour may, indeed, be partially responsible for that by looking the other way whilst the real-estate bubble continued to grow, but then, so did everyone else. Does anyone really believe that the Conservatives would have introduced and enforced the kind of regulation necessary to prevent the bubble? Then look over here, I've got a rail franchise to sell you.
The argument that's being made, though, is that Labour spent too much money and that is what has done for the United Kingdom, that is why it is doomed. Bear in mind that the current level of net public debt is something like 60-65% of GDP, a piddling amount in comparison to debt levels as a whole. This is argued to be an incredibly high level of debt which will lead to default, misery, and the ruination of everything we hold dear, especially your granny.
"si guarda al fine."
Literally, this Italian phrase (which appears in Chapter 18 of The Prince, "Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith") means something like "one should think of the final result". But it has often been translated into something a little more sinister, a phrase which has been said to sum up the theme of The Prince.
"The end justifies the means."
But does it? And is this what Machiavelli means when he says we should consider the final result?
I'm not a prolific writer. I'd like to be. But when I try to, for reasons of improving my writing skills, or to set down any of a number of swirling, ceaseless ideas, my worst procrastinatory issues come to the fore. I watch old sitcoms. I twiddle my thumbs. Anything to get away from that desperate, hungry screen.
Most of all, I read books. Any books, all books. I'm a voracious reader, and an appreciator of those who can write seemingly effortlessly and beautifully (whilst damning them for their abilities, obviously). As such, I checked Daily Kos for any kind of book-related content (apart from the interesting book reviews that pop up every now and then on the main page), and came across Mark Sumner's book club stuff, which interested me, although I was a little too reserved to contribute.
But reading isn't exactly why we're here, is it?
And so this is fun, watching the Democrats blow a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something vaguely centre-leftish. Of course, since they're not technically a centre-left party, but an agglomeration of almost everyone in America who is not definably crazy, it means you have a party whose ideological range leans from mild social democracy to reactionary social conservatism. It's not exactly the optimum centre-left vehicle. And despite calls for sanity, that only seemed to get everyone excited because it was vaguely ironic, which worries the hell out of me.
Estimates that the Republicans are going to get about 50-60 seats, and about 8 or so seats in the Senate seem about right so far, although it had been argued that there was an extremely wide variance in possible outcomes. It seems like the mushy middle was the best place to go, although there are bright spots in the dark firmament. Not many, though.
More to come, as more votes come in.
Updates under the fold. An elitist fold, hiding the true hatred all left-wingers have for America from salt-of-the-earth billionaires!
The race has now been called for Democrat Bill Owens.
This is a huge win for conservatives.
I don't really even know where to begin. This is insane beyond belief. This is ultra-crazy. This is a grey guy in a suspiciously familiar blue-and-red ensemble going "ME AM CONSERVATIVE. ME WIN BIG WITH HOFFMAN!"
An interesting comparison from the Economist, regarding the election campaigns in Germany:
So I was having a look around RedState...
I know, I know, low hanging fruit. But as a non-frequenter of the right side of the blogosphere, I wanted to see if it was as big a fever swamp as people have suggested. Let me just say that I was not disappointed.
Let me show you an article by one RedState denizen, snarkandboobs. Both of which are highly admirable things, in my opinion, but I didn't see much snark, just a angry fulmination about those radical liberals depriving everyone of their right to eat whatever they damn well please, even if it kills them.
I'm interested in global responses to the financial crisis enveloping the globe, to see how it is affecting people not just in the US and UK, but also in other nations, and how other governments are responding, and what the political fallout is. In view of this, this is rather remarkable.
This is my first diary on Daily Kos; it's not my first written, I have one about the wildcat strikes in Britain that took place in early 2009 in my drafts, but I'm nowhere near happy about that. I'm not American; I'm from Britain, a Scot, but American politics has always intrigued me, especially the elections since I'm a giant elections geek, and I've been a pretty long-time lurker at this site, which has simply become more and more awesome for an elections geek what with the frequent polling and the nifty elections widget. But this is by the by; what's interesting me today is employment statistics. Hooray!
...what, you're not excited?