Katyn & Nationalism

Arts & Letters links to Anne Applebaum’s “A Movie that Matters”, a review of Andrznj Wajda’s Katyn, published in the NYRB. (The review is worth reading.) Katyn was a tragedy – compounded by the fabric of lies so unconvincingly told during the long Soviet occupation. Applebaum also explores the nature and need for that great passion, patriotism. She quotes Wajda, who argues that the movie was made for those who didn’t remember – the generation that did is mostly gone.

Instead, he said, he wanted to tell the story again for young people—but not just any young people. Wajda said he wanted to reach “those moviegoers for whom it matters that we are a society, and not just an accidental crowd.”

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Bush and the Republican Party

George Moneo raises the issue raised by Peggy Noonan, about Bush’s responsibility for what is shaping up to be a Republican electoral debacle, which gets me thinking…

W is like Bill Clinton in many political, though not personal, ways. The Republican base decided to overlook Bush’s flaws, which were obvious long before 2000, because they thought he was the only halfway-conservative candidate who could get elected. The Democrats’ left wing made a similar bargain WRT Clinton, even though he was clearly unprincipled and, as President, cut deals with Republicans, because they knew that their favorite lefty candidates didn’t stand a chance in any general election.

In both cases the parties’ committed members did the best they could, choosing electability over principle and hoping that things would work out well enough down the road that they would be able to hold their majorities.

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I was walking through a mall recently when I saw a sign that used to be quite common but is now rather rare. They were closing the store to take “inventory” overnight, and the store was scheduled to re-open in the morning.

As an accountant, the word “inventory” immediately perks me up. Way back when I started in accounting, computers were in use for a variety of purposes, such as plant accounting and financial reporting, but they hadn’t really penetrated inventory at retail. Why? Because computing power was expensive, and they didn’t have a solid methodology for tracking individual items (i.e. the bar code sticker and reader).

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Sub-Prime Time

Before this is through, nearly everyone on the planet will have expressed an opinion on the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It’s a little late, but I thought I should get mine in. Here are some points about the issue that I don’t think have been given much discussion.

Mortgage-backed derivatives are not new. Some 20 years ago, FNMA introduced the REMIC (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit). These were pools of mortgages that were split into various tranches or classes of maturity and quality, which were then sold separately, similar to the way today’s collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are sold.

There were some important differences between this first generation and its descendants. I would like to point out some of the differences, since they may highlight the reasons behind the collapse.

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