Monday, July 19, 2010


Friday, July 16, 2010

What Digby said

And wouldn't you know it, people seem to be falling back on tired, conservative tropes. I think that might be because nobody in the damned Democratic party can be bothered to explain to them any other way of thinking about this. (It's a "center-right" country dontcha know.) So yeah, a little ideology would be quite helpful, but only if we actually want to solve these problems rather than hasten the pace of the country's implosion.

Right - and I don't think "implosion" is hyperbole on her part. Conservatives would rather destroy the country than let the Democrats score a point. I'm sensing that this is something that no one on his staff wants to tell the president.

Memo to Rahm

David Kurtz, over at Talking Points Memo:

Democrats in Congress wield the power of the majority and the advantages of incumbency but they're also facing a potential trouncing at the polls in November.

So how are congressional Democrats planning to use the tools still at their disposal to hold on to their majorities?

OK, well, I mean what popular proposals are Democrats planning to make Republicans vote against between now and the August recess, when the 2010 campaigning really heats up and they can beat them up over their no votes?

Um, OK, what about a coordinated legislative strategy on jobs and the economy that builds relentless pressure on Republicans as the elections approach making them vote for popular items that drive a wedge between them and their base?
Alright then, maybe a coordinated communications strategy with the White House?
Hmmm, how 'bout coordinated communications strategy amongst themselves?
Ookaay, perhaps agreement that they're on the same team?
Collective recognition that losing in November is a bad thing?
Yeah, I should have known better than to ask.

Memo to Obama political team: what good does it do to "put [incremental] points on the board" if the other team is outscoring you??

My 8 year old nephew could come up with better strategies than the clowns at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Oh, and Rahm? Yeah, yeah, you're a fucking genius. Right.

My only question is, COULD YOU EXPLAIN TO ME HOW YOU COULD BLOW A LEAD LIKE YOU HAD IN JANUARY 2009? All you had to do was look beyond the trees of particular policies and see the forest of opportunity you had in 2008 to COMPLETELY REMAKE THE POLITICAL CONVERSATION IN AMERICA ALONG PROGRESSIVE LINES.

But no: you did the fucking DLC thing and tacked to the right (ALWAYS to the right) which communicated to the American people that THAT'S WHERE YOU THINK THE SOLUTIONS ARE: ON THE FUCKING RIGHT!

And now you and the Democrats are, ludicrously, facing a trouncing in November.

Do me a favor, Rahm: when the Democrats get their asses handed to them in November, I know you'll want to blame the Dirty Fucking Hippies, or "Extremists" or Liberals or all the other people you're helping the Republicans to demonize, but instead of wasting our and the country's time on that, why not do the honorable thing and resign?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Renaissance or Status Quo?

Josh Marshall, on the signs of a Republican resurgence in November:

In general, I think the big political tell over the last couple months is the mounting evidence of a stalled recovery coupled with the fact that administration is basically backed into a position of immediate fiscal retrenchment which means we may be tossed back into the water. But this time with our hands tied behind our back.

My own sense is that the first 19 months of Democratic control of the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government has been a missed opportunity, and an enormous one.

When Obama and the new congress took office, they had a country which was staring terrified into the abyss, angry at the oligarchs who created that abyss, and ready to be led in a new direction by the soaring rhetoric of Hope from their new president. The Reagan/Gingrich-Era conservative revolution was about played out, and people were ready for a change.

This was a shining, golden opportunity for a charismatic Democratic leader to begin a New Era in American political life. The story the Right had been selling for decades - that if only government got out of the way of business, it would boom and benefit everyone - was now easy to dismiss as the fairy tale it was: Between 1980 and 2010, the productivity of the average America worker increased by over 40%, while the median wage barely budged. All the benefit of those productivity increases went to the top of the wealth ladder, and stayed there. People were actually talking about things in just those terms.

The thing is, none of this has changed. The opportunity is still there, if only the Democrats will only seize it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Speaking of David Brooks

His latest column is the usual concern-trolling nonsense I expect from his unctuous, oily mouth. The real treat is in the comments that follow it:

Twice a week you write a column, and the thesis of that column is always the same: we, the little people, ought to want to suffer a little more in order to make sure that our reptilian corporate masters become incrementally wealthier.

Here, the superstructure you build upon your predetermined thesis is that those entrepreneurs in Racine and Yakima, to whom you have surely actually spoken rather than just making them up, are more concerned about debt than they are about the recession. Facts do not back up your assertion. Repeated public polling has shown that Americans are much more concerned about jobs than they are about debt. You dismiss the stimulus bill, whose only real problem was that it wasn't large enough, by claiming it didn't create jobs, when the more accurate statement would be that it didn't create NET jobs: it merely prevented millions more jobs from being lost.

And, of course, we could balance spending on stimulus by raising revenues, specifically by raising taxes on corporations and the very wealthy. But since you are paid very, very well by our reptilian corporate masters, you would never suggest that taxing them at the 70% rates that were commonplace until the upper class really took power with the ascension of Reagan, as such a restoration of the progressive tax code would force them to purchase a slightly less opulent second yacht. And how would THAT look?

You mock the more liberal among mainstream economists by basically calling them eggheads whose theories don't work in the real world. But the truly laughable and demonstrably false economic theory is the one which claims that making the wealthy wealthier at the expense of everyone else will result in greater prosperity for the nation. It has been tried, over and over again, and we've been trickled down on enough. This country needs more stimulus and unemployment spending, not less: while there are indeed long-term debt issues, these can be addressed quickly and easily by cutting military spending and restoring the progressive tax structure that made America prosperous throughout the mid-20th century.

NY Times's cluelessness, and the Decline of Trad Media: Related?

[T]his is just the Times typically looking at the nation's problems through the lens of the upper class -- as Linda puts it, "stories about the recession where people struggle along without their nanny, and find that the recession reconnected them with their soul, instead of making them live in a refrigerator box."

David Brooks specializes in the "Recession Is Good For Our Souls" Genre of editorializing.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brad DeLong for White House Chief of Staff

The situation is grim. So why isn't everybody running around with their hair on fire?

Why aren't there irresistible political demands for more government action to steer us toward a better economic recovery --or at least to hedge against a double-dip in what seems likely to be called not a "recession" but a "depression" when historians get around to writing about it?

I have my theories:

1. widening wealth inequality and an upgrading of the class position of reporters and pundits, who are no longer ink-stained wretches immersed in mainstream America;
2. the collapse of union power, which ensures that nobody who sees real workers on a daily basis sits at the table when the deals are made;
3. increasing job security for the powerful in Washington, aided by the growth of the lobbying apparatus that envelops the mixed-economy government;
4. the collapse of professional integrity among the Washington press corps, which no longer dares to call balls and strikes as it sees them, preferring to say only that the Democrats say it was a strike and the Republicans say it was a ball, and that opinions on the shape of the earth differ.

I don't know which theories are right. But the situation does leave me feeling like one crying in the wilderness. (Say not "we are children of the market!") I cry out to boost aggregate demand -- by banking policy, by monetary policy, by fiscal policy, by spending increases, by tax cuts, by anything -- I don't care what! (Well, I do, but not by much)

This really gets at the heart of things. The American leadership (in government and the press) are failing their fellow citizens.

1. The President needs to pull himself together (cough fire Rahm cough) and address the country's suffering with that famous eloquence of his -- and then follow up with effective policies, or else risk destabilizing the country.

2. We on the left need to make ourselves way, way more active and visible to those who lead the country. We no longer have the luxury of self-indulgent despair. We need to get busy.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Some Thoughts on Middle Age

I think back to me at 18, and for all the tumult of being that age, my life stretched before me with seemingly limitless, even frightening, promise. I had not yet known failure of any significant scope. I had yet to have my heart broken. I was going to change the world, dammit, and I wanted answers, and clear ones at that.

Things seemed simpler, or maybe it was easier to convince myself they were. Men in my peer group typically did a stint in the armed forces, and I enlisted in the Army with scarcely a thought to the justice of my country’s causes, or the effects of propaganda on my decision-making.

If my body ached, it was my own damned fault (well, mine and rum’s, anyway...). Time had yet to start insisting on its supremacy, had yet to supply me with the pains of its passage – pains of both body and mind. I understand the temptation in men my age to vainly try to hold on to a mercilessly vanishing youth — but that would require me to surrender wisdom, too, and more; being 18 again would mean the erasure of some memories by which I mark the years, experiences which have softened and mellowed the fabric of my soul.

I would lose the morning I got up before dawn, walked out into a meadow and watched the sun come up over the Vermont mountains and frosted-blue grass and fiery autumn woods. I would lose my first real love, and the way her face looked that one night as the moon lit its contours with blue and sacred light; I would lose the moment, praying the Stations, when Christ showed me His pain with such tenderness that I wept and gave Him some of mine.

Bob Seger once said in a song, "I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then."

Me? Nah. For all the melancholy and aches and increasing limitations, I’ll keep the lessons I’ve learned.