And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
Mitt Romney: our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917.
Barack Obama: I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works.You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
Sean Hannity: Marines still use bayonets, so maybe somebody should educate the president about how the military works.
"The proposition that Barack Obama was actually saying — literally — that business owners don’t build their own businesses doesn’t make a lick of sense. Unless, that is, you’re already convinced that he believes this, and only now has he finally tripped up and admitted it. In that case, it makes all the sense in the world. And what does this contempt for business owners translate into, policy-wise? An increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 39.6%. Apparently this is the rallying cry of today’s socialist revolutionaries."
— Kevin Drumtouching on just how hard it is to deal with what Paul Krugman calls “invincible ignorance.”
The ultimate wages of absolute epistemic closure on the modern GOP unfortunately extend far beyond simply causing them to nominate national embarrassments like Christine O’Donnell every now and again and into actual peril for the Republic.
The two political factions officially have their own “facts.” One of those factions has a 24/7 news organization, the most popular such outlet in the country, dedicated to using anything and everything as “indisputable evidence” of their set of facts; when usable material doesn’t show up on a given day, they resort to creative editing and outright fabrication. That’s what’s happening here. Obama made comments about infrastructure; creative editing makes it into a comment about business in America. Next thing you know, the Boston Globe runs a story on their front page implying there is no empirical evidence (e.g. the text of Obama’s speech as delivered); therefore “GOP says Obama hates business; Democrats say otherwise…” and no conclusion about the veracity of the claims is made or even implied. Unacceptable.
Research has repeatedly shown that once this inaccurate information such as this is “out there,” there’s just no stopping it. Primacy always wins. Even people who know the information in question is false in hindsight have difficulty accepting the “new” and correct information.
How then does Obama “prove” he isn’t a secret socialist? When did he stop beating his wife? These and other questions will plague us until the non-FOXnews contingent of the American media wakes up, realizes there’s no there there, drops this view from nowhere approach that gives us only unusable he-said-she-said nonsense, and starts thinking and acting critically (but without malice, obviously) in all dealings with figures public and semi-private. Short of somebody utterly and unexpectedly disrupting the media as it stands today, I see no other way out.
Supposedly this is a compelling cartoon that shows how ‘crazy’ those public sector unions are.
Indeed, but the failure here is in getting the message into the head of Joe Private Sector that he’s the one getting the raw deal and the answer to that is most definitely not making sure that everyone has all benefits stripped from their job too.
The GOP and their media enablers have spent over two decades convincing him that, in fact, he shouldn’t be getting any benefits and neither should anybody else, regardless of whatever contracts those parties have entered into. Unless and until Unions and The Democrat figure out that it will require a similarly sustained, unyielding, and focused message to undo any of that, nothing will change. And, assuming the staus quo prevails or worsens, sooner or later, everyone will end up losing pensions, health care, weekends, limited hours, paid vacations, and anything else they can pry from a working populace all too eager to hand over anything and everything for a simulacrum of a chance at actual advancement. You know, lotteries and such.
But, man, think of the efficiencies our Galtian overlords will have achieved. That will be something to see.
Loser liberalism, by implying that all fortunes are created equal, alternately goes too easy on scoundrels and comes down too hard on people who are merely prosperous. [Even “low” paid] folks working on Wall Street are making a living in an industry that’s systematically dependent on implicit and explicit government guarantees. Making a living as a patent troll is totally different from making a living as a genuine innovator. Dentists enriching themselves by blocking competition from independent dental hygenists and tooth whiteners aren’t the richest people around, but their income represents a healthy share of ill-gotten gains. A viable egalitarian politics needs to find a way to distinguish between “malefactors of great wealth” whose revenue streams need to be systematically reappropriated, and people who are just paying higher tax rates because of the declining marginal utility of income.
Reasonable people are going to disagree, of course, as to who exactly the malefactors are and what policy levers can and should be used against them. […] But there’s something deeply unimaginative, cramped, narrow, and — I think — fundamentally incorrect about this vision of America where everything is on the level, but people need to pay a top marginal income tax rate of 39.5% rather than 35%.
I’d say Yglesias has provided us with a rather trenchant distillation of just how warped our national political discourse has become.
Extending his example, the Republicans more or less universally call this potential 4.5% rise in top marginal rates on the richest of the rich “pure socialism,” or, at best, anti-American, anti-jobs, anti-whomever they’re talking to at that moment. That approach tends to be a conversation ender and the point at which the MSM says something along the lines of “we’ll leave it there.” And but also it’s unclear to me how you even address the broader issues in the economy that Yglesias rightly lays out without at least being able to have a semi-sane discussion about tax rates and revenues. If that 4.5% rise can be effectively dismissed using “socialism!” just how is a national candidate supposed to make the more nuanced and complex point?
I’d say it can’t be done in the current media environment. It is not possible. The slow motion implosion that is the GOP’s series of primary debates is a symptom, not a cause. The underlying rot is fundamental to the discourse itself; the growing and brazen willingness to use that rot for personal gain (e.g. by lying your ass off to score temporary political points even within your own party) is simply the work of our old friend the invisible hand. Fix the discourse and you’ll functionally eliminate the lying and its various outgrowths, such as but not limited to uniform one party partisan intransigence that the predominant national discourse inevitably blames on both political houses in Congress. A truly honest assessment could never reach such a illogical conclusion as that. Obviously one party is more to blame in any gridlock situation. Say so. You’ll put the Daily Show right out of business.
Considered relative to our long-term national health, the truly successful national candidate needs to disrupt the discourse itself. On the surface, this would seem a relatively straightforward thing for a President to do (despite the ineffective nature of Presidential speeches)…Obama did make some early feints in the direction of cutting off their air supply but ultimately (and predictably) chickened out. And, frankly, a frontal attack that simply refuses to speak to FOXnews (or similar organizations) will never work; journalists love nothing better than circling the wagons over perceived slights. You’ve got to destroy their memes by making them functionally irrelevant and you cannot do that by simply not talking to anyone but your chosen scribes.
If Obama really wants to be the modern TR, I’d say that’s where to start: with the discourse. Be smart. Explain, but not in novel form. Short, declarative sentences and concise paragraphs. Pick one thing; this cycle it’s going to be an outgrowth of what Yglesias is distilling above. Explain that. Repeatedly and in simple language. People already understand it in a deep sense, but they need you to give those feelings voice (Elizabeth Warren is proving the true power of such an approach; the application of the traditional GOP meme(s) actually increased her popularity). Explain. Say nothing else. If they want to show the President, some of this stuff will have to be included. Never leave that message behind, even for a second. Also provide it to your Congressional allies. Anyone who goes off script loses financial support, chairmanships, or whatever idiotic perks matters most to them. It’s our rotted discourse or the country. Choose one.
"The question of whether the Herman Cain sexual harassment story will hurt his presidential campaign sort of misses the point that there is no Herman Cain presidential campaign. There are certain things you do when you run for president. You try to raise a lot of money. Cain is not doing that. If you can’t raise a lot of money, you campaign heavily in early primary states, trying to get some early success that can snowball into later primaries. Cain isn’t doing that, either. You hire a staff of political operatives. You at least pretend to know something about world affairs. You try to attract as many people as possible to your events. Cain, by contrast, frequently charges admission.
Cain is executing a business plan. It’s an excellent plan. The plan involves Cain raising his profile as a conservative personality, which he can monetize through motivational speaking, book sales, talk shows, and other media. Cain’s selling point is that he’s a black conservative who can capitalize on the sense of white racial victimization that has mushroomed during the Obama era. Accordingly, Cain assures conservatives that they are not racist, as proven by their support for him. Indeed, it is the liberals who are racist, as evidenced by their opposition to Cain.
If Cain were campaigning to be president, the scandal would hurt him. Since he is instead campaigning to boost his profile, it will help him."
— Jonathan Chait clearly and succinctly tells you everything you need to know about the Cain Train.
Compare and contrast Jonathan Chait’s approach to Paul Ryan’s fantasyworld with dread Liberal Mouthpiece NPR’s view from nowhere approach in which Ryan is simply allowed to say whatever he wants, without challenge or even follow up of any kind.
Day by day, hour by hour, brick by brick NPR is building its own tomb. Once they’ve chased off all thinking individuals from their “coverage,” a defunding move by the GOP will be a non-event. NPR has vastly higher listenership than FOXnews and still, occasionally, reports facts. Therefore NPR must cease to exist. This is who they are. This is what they do. They want to destroy you, NPR, and you are going out of your way to help.
LA Times: "Investors are looking past the budget situation and realizing this is an austerity plan," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. "We have an economy that's struggling to stay afloat and we don't have the ammunition to keep prodding it forward."
Kevin Drum: Oh really? Now you tell us? There are really only two options here. (1) The Times is wrong. (2) The Times is right and America has the stupidest goddamn investors on the planet. For months they sat around cheering on the tea partiers and declaring solemnly that the federal budget was just like a household budget and we needed "real action" on the debt in order to build confidence in the economy. Then, suddenly, when they got it, they realized that what they really wanted wasn't dumb slogans but actual policies that would help spur the recovery. And that means looser monetary policy and fiscal stimulus.
Lemkin: I'll take #2 for $1000, Alex. Tea Klan nonsense works because it feels good. It's fun to rage away and tilt at grand conspiratorial windmills. Never you mind that actions have consequences, many of which will have direct and painful consequences in your lives. FOXnews and its political wing, the GOP, have a President to defeat. Nothing else matters. Pure electoral nihilism.
"In short, the Boehner plan would force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor. It would do so even as it shielded all tax breaks, including the many lucrative tax breaks for the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations."
— Robert Greenstein, writing about the “Boehner plan” at the nonpartisan CBPP.
Said it approximately one billion times: this isn’t some side affect. It’s the intended consequence. The debt ceiling is simply a useful construct for ramming the same old policy of “zero social safety net, all wealth and benefits to top 2%” GOP dream government setup. All it is, was, or ever will be. If they fix the debt ceiling this morning, they will be using the next federal budget (which will need to be done to have a government post-September) to push the exact same line by this afternoon.
The GOP does not care about deficits. If they did, they’d have taken any of the four increasingly huge deficit cutting plans offered them. They want low to nonexistent tax rates on the top 2%. Simple arithmetic will show anyone that this means eliminating the social safety net; as Ezra Klein has noted: the federal government is better thought of as an insurance conglomerate with a large standing army. To cut taxes to “GOP preferred” levels, services have to go. And to get rid of those hugely popular and helpful services, a large number of people using them have to be convinced said services (and government in general) aren’t working or even in their interest at all. This is the core GOP governing strategy in fifty words or less. Everything they have done and said in the past several decades of tight, lockstep messaging with the aid of the most popular “news” network on television has been aimed at and in service of making those 48 words reality.
Everyone not already up the ladder will kindly go die in the streets. Today they’re using the debt ceiling, tomorrow it will be the FY2012 budget, the next day it will be veterans benefits or whatever else comes to hand. And until they are forced to pay a steep political price for steadfastly using gridlock and economic hostage situations as a negotiating strategy, they will continue to use them. That Congressional and Executive Democrats seemingly haven’t figured this out yet is why they fail.
"Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too."
— Michelle Bachmann, speaking to FOXnews about her “official” campaign launch. One problem: the John Wayne who is from Waterloo is, in fact, notorious “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy. Slight difference.