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.
"Gingrich’s staff has these five file cabinets, four big ones and this little tiny one. Number one is ‘Newt’s ideas.’ Number two, ‘Newt’s ideas.’ Number three, number four, ‘Newt’s ideas.’ The little one is ‘Newt’s Good Ideas.’"
“First, in addressing global terror and violent extremism, we need the kind of comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy I called for last August. We need to strengthen security partnerships to take out terrorist networks, while investing in education and opportunity. We need to give our national security agencies the tools they need, while restoring the adherence to rule of law that helps us win the battle for hearts and minds. This means closing Guantanamo, restoring habeas corpus, and respecting civil liberties.”
Perhaps you are forgetting that Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, put the kibosh on any movement towards even beginning to wind down Guantanamo. Obama did exactly as he said he would and got the ball rolling on the Executive side; he is not a dictator (reports on FOXnews to the contrary). The onus is on all of us, the citizens in various districts, for not pressuring our individual representatives to drop their wrong-headed opposition to a return to rule of law. As FDR said (and Obama frequently quoted on the campaign trail) “You’ve convinced me… Now go out and make me do it.” Precisely. The Presidency is not a political-suicide pact. Underestimating the limitless potential for utterly craven demagoguery around this issue doesn’t in any way change the fact that he walked (partway) into a political chipper shredder trying to restore sensibility in this domain. There was never a broad based, citizen uprising in support of making this entirely sensible return to normalcy, so it died on the vine. Period.
We are getting precisely the government we deserve. We vote these tools into Congress and then blame all the rest of those tools in DC because our tool brought in some needless and destructive water management dollars to the district.
Without an educated and engaged electorate, nothing will change. Inventing supposed lies, “flipflops,” or failures on the part of Obama doesn’t educate anyone.
Disgraced Former Speaker Gingrich: [Mitt Romney] is a man whose staff created the PAC, his millionaire friends fund the PAC, he pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC - it's baloney. He's not telling the American people the truth. It's just like this pretense that he's a conservative. Here's a Massachusetts moderate who has tax-paid abortions in 'Romneycare,' puts Planned Parenthood in 'Romneycare,' raises hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes on businesses, appoints liberal judges to appease Democrats, and wants the rest of us to believe somehow he's magically a conservative. [...] But, let's be clear, which part of what I just said to you is false? Why is it that if I'm candid in person and I wanted to be honest in person, that's shocking? If [Romney's] PAC buys millions of dollars in ads to say things that are false, that's somehow the way Washington plays the game. Isn't that exactly what's sick about this country right now? Isn't that what the American people are tired of?
Very Serious Person Bob Schieffer: But Mr. [Disgraced Former] Speaker, what you're saying is 'Folks, Barack Obama is so bad that we'd be better off electing a bald-faced liar to the presidency, somebody that we would never know if he was telling the truth.' That is pretty strong stuff
DFS Gingrich: Well, I'll let you go and check his record, Bob. Look, you're a professional reporter. Did he support Reagan in the '80s or not? The answer is no. Did he vote as a Democrat for Paul Tsongas in '92 or not? The answer is, yes, he did. Did he say that he didn't want to go back to the Reagan-Bush years in '94? Yes, he did. Did he run to the left of Teddy Kennedy? Yes he did. Now, why is it politically incorrect to tell the truth?
Lemkin: I've seen no evidence that Bob Schieffer is a "professional reporter," Newt. Why do you lie so much? I'm surprised Schieffer didn't punch him right in the nose. Shrill, I suppose. Better not to take sides...
In total, the economy has lost close to $1.3tn in annual demand as a result of the collapse of the housing bubble. This explains the economy’s weak growth and high unemployment. There is no simple way to replace this demand.
We can gather together a coven of market-worshipping Republicans and sacrifice all the workers and retirees we want, it still will not replace the demand gap. We can love the private sector as much as we want and it still will not make firms go out and invest and hire when they don’t see demand for their products.
“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular, atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
— Newt Gingrich. Because if anything says secular atheism, it’s radical Islam.
Goes without saying: Gingrich did not scream this from atop a milk crate on some anonymous corner. He said it to someone. Many someones, many of whom control some portion of a major media outlet. None of them said a thing. Or wrote a thing. Or noted this brazenly obvious non-sequitur in any way whatsoever through thought, word, act, or deed. Nor will they ever. That would be “taking sides.” And but also they manage to note, uncritically that he claimed to be there (at the Cornerstone megachurch) as a historian. Wonder if that church paidhistorians as well as Fannie and Freddie? Probably not. Even the Lord has His Limits.
Newt Gingrich, GOP debate 12/10/11: If we do survive, it will be in part because of people like Rick [Santorum] who've had the courage to tell the truth about the Iranians for a long time.
Dan Drezner, Foreign Policy: Even a nuclear-armed Iran led by the current regime of nutball theocrats cannot threaten America's survival. I get why the United States is concerned about Iran going nuclear, and I get why Israel is really concerned about Iran going nuclear. The only way that developments in Iran could threaten America's survival, however, would be if the US policy response was so hyperbolic that it ignited a general Middle East war that dragged in Russia and China. Which... come to think of it, wouldn't be entirely out of the question under a President Gingrich.
Lemkin: Yep. In line with suddenly making this "rotten discourse day" around here, this is just one more symptom, to be filed under "imaginary foreign policy | Serious Person edition." Yes, existential threats to the United States and to "civilized" life on Earth as we know it are real and do exist. Climate change is very, very high on that list and may, in fact, far outweigh any other risk currently facing either the United States or, more generally, humanity itself in a truly existential fashion. That one party is allowed to categorically deny its very existence in defiance of the preponderance of evidence and inevitably in the name of journalistic integrity or "not taking sides" will be, perhaps, marveled at by whatever future race digs through the ashes of our long forgotten society. But there is simply no way a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to these United States at any time in the near- to mid-term future. It is the height of folly to think otherwise and utterly laughable to suggest it on the national stage in the hopes of being taken seriously. And yet one party is allowed to do so frequently and in direct contradiction to any reasonable estimation of the empirical reality of the Iranian situation specifically or Middle Eastern policy in general. And, what do you know, here we are, back at our rotten discourse again. Funny that.
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.
Yet even now, the racialist aspect of the anti-Obama movement has not subsided. Trump has moved from the birth certificate to questioning the president’s academic qualifications for the Harvard Law School. Trump himself was a troubled student (at one point he attended a military school) who nonetheless gained admission to Wharton. His father’s wealth and business success cannot have hurt with that application. Yet he feels himself qualified to pronounce on who is and who is not smart enough to attend Harvard Law. Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude. (And to anticipate a new line of attack – yes, Harvard Law School exams were blind-graded.) He was elected editor of the law review. And his classmates, left and right, universally admired his abilities.
Yep. I’d even leave aside Trump’s (or, for that matter, Obama’s) high school or undergraduate experience. One of them probably got a poor mark in first grade deportment too; that second semester is a killer in Mrs. Jones’ class. But I could truly care less whether either got a “gentleman’s C” in Introduction to Psychology or what-have-you. What happened overall? Where did they go with their respective opportunities, whether it was earned or given?
Obama took his chance and has, by and large, tried to use it for something bigger and better than simple personal achievement and made a tidy living along the way (people tend to forget he’s an entirely self-made millionaire, after all. Worked into a modicum of national prominence, took his chance and gave a killer speech at the DNC, and has basically milked that ever since. In the best sense of the term “milk,” of course.). Trump, on the other hand, is something of a societal parasite. Bankrupt at least three times and generally in the swoop in and use somebody else’s money to capitalize on a given situation that may or may not turn a profit…ultimately producing nothing but worse architectural outcomes for cities like New York. Working only from this weirdly myopic perspective that Trump seems to be inviting, I think I take Obama without hesitation, thank you very much.