Nice Job Breaking It, Democrats

The 2010 midterms are over and done with, and the results speak for themselves. I wanted to say a few words about how we came to this.

Over the past two years, the Democrats had historic majorities, and they utterly squandered them. Except for health care, all the major progressive policy initiatives that should have been addressed – workers’ right to organize, immigration reform, climate change, GLBT equality, repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure – were ignored, while the Democrats wasted months and months in futile negotiations with Republicans who, predictably, voted en masse against the finished product anyway. They had more than enough time to work on all these things, if they’d negotiated intelligently: offering specific points they were willing to make concessions on, in exchange for an agreed number of votes. Instead, they inexplicably let the Republicans drag the process out and watered down the bills in exchange for nothing.

Despite all the right-wing media frenzy, I tend to think that most of the Democrats’ losses stemmed from voters’ anger over the economy which, ironically, is one of the things the government has the least direct control over. The incumbents took the brunt of it, and the Democrats had the bad fortune of being the majority of incumbents. Even so, the Democrats seem devoid not just of progressive sympathies, but of even the basic instincts of political self-preservation that should motivate them to pass laws which appeal to the kind of people who vote for them. And the few accomplishments they do have, they fled from at the first sign of criticism, rather than trying to make a forceful case for the benefits of the bills they did pass.

Obama’s record so far is not nothing; he’s passed a stimulus bill that saved the country from a far greater economic disaster, revived the American auto companies from bankruptcy, taken some important steps toward improving public education, and passed a historic, if flawed, health insurance reform bill. But I hope he’s content with these accomplishments, because they’re going to be all he has to campaign on when he runs for reelection. I can say with confidence that nothing is going to be achieved between now and 2012.

The Republicans are a party whose strategy can best be described as political nihilism. Their top priority is to deny Obama a second term; they’ve said so themselves, and they’re nothing if not consistent. With that in mind, we can expect them to block everything he wants to do. Any political commentator who fantasizes that the Republicans will have to get “more serious” about governing now they’re in power, or offer more than the reflexive obstruction they’ve offered the last two years, is deluding themselves. In the next Congress, we can expect stagnation, government shutdowns, and most likely, an endless parade of invented scandals for the House to “investigate”. They’ll probably try to impeach him. It’s the exact same playbook they used on President Clinton, and we’re going to see it all over again.

And in the meantime, global warming is not going to wait while Congress is mired in deadlock. The rest of the world, especially emerging powers like China, India and Brazil, are making huge investments in green technology and infrastructure that are going to be the basis for the economy of the 21st century, while the U.S. falls further and further behind. The gap between rich and poor will continue to widen, and the already stressed fabric of government will be ruptured still further. By the time we change course, there may be damage done that will take a very long time to repair, if it’s repairable at all.

If there’s anything for progressives to take solace in, it’s that we can expect the Republicans to be similarly unsuccessful at repairing the economy – through active malice in this case, rather than incompetence – and we can expect, in another two years, that the voters’ anger will similarly fall upon them. But that, I realize, is no comfort to people who are suffering now, and who now have little hope of seeing their situation improve any time in the near future.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Charles

    Grayson and Feingold were two of the most vocal in congress. Yet both were voted down.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The two biggest mistakes the Dems made:

    1) Giving health-care reform so much weight, and then knuckling under to the conservative minority in virtually every detail of it.

    2) Refusing to dare the Republicans to filibuster on things like unemployment insurance extensions back in June. Which Republican who’d voted to refuse an extension of these benefits would’ve been able to explain that?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Their top priority is to deny Obama a second term; they’ve said so themselves…

    I thought they were claiming their top priority was to repeal health care reform?

    Still, what pisses me off is that the Dems made a bunch of concessions to the Reps on health care, concessions that were designed to make it not work. That way, when it fails because of the crap the Reps put into the bill, they can claim that it was doomed to failure all along and that universal health care can’t/won’t work. Well, when one party is actively sabotaging efforts, then yeah, it’s pretty certain that things won’t work. Then, the Reps didn’t even vote for it so that they can claim they were smart enough not to vote for stuff that wouldn’t work. It’s so infuriating that the Dems let them do this crap and that the people who end up suffering over these petty BS games are the people who need health care and don’t have it or the people who have their lives ruined due to health complications because the current system is effed up.

  • Chet

    Except for health care, all the major progressive policy initiatives that should have been addressed – workers’ right to organize, immigration reform, climate change, GLBT equality, repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure – were ignored

    Here’s where you’re wrong: bills to the effect of all of the above – every item of the progressive agenda – passed the House. And during the short period of time that Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority, which was approximately four months or so, Democrats passed historic legislation, including the American Care Act. During the time that Democrats did not have a supermajority in the Senate, almost nothing passed.

    So, the math seems pretty clear. The problem isn’t Democratic underreach, the problem is that the Senate doesn’t operate by majority rule. If your analysis of the election and the failure of progressive politics in the past two years doesn’t begin with the simple fact that the Senate operates by minority rule, then your analysis is wrong. Case closed. And of the “missing” progressive agenda items you mention, Senate reform is not even on the list, though clearly reforming the Senate would have made all those progressive items possible. How do you explain that?

  • Maynard

    Here in South Central Texas, every Repub just linked their Dem rival to Obama somehow. It was, unfortunately, very effective.
    Did anybody else see something similar?

  • The Vicar

    You’re giving the Democrats too much credit on their desires. This was not a case of “let’s pass a bunch of legislation — whoops, gotta compromise with those naughty Republicans”; it was a case of “let’s use the Republicans as an excuse to avoid passing any legislation”.

    There is ample evidence, for example, that the “compromises” in the health care bill were made unilaterally by Obama before the bill even came to discussion in Congress, as part of a backroom deal with the insurance companies. Had the Dems actually wanted to negotiate, they would have started with the “extreme” position — single-payer, which Obama has admitted in the past is the only sensible way to deal with the problem — and made the Republicans talk them down to a compromise. Instead, they never even mentioned it, and spent the whole time pretending they were going to add a public option. And, of course, let’s not forget the way Obama has directed the government to avoid prosecution of criminals in the Bush administration, has refused to halt our indefinite, uncharged detention of foreigners, has claimed the right to have American citizens assassinated, has refused to simply order DADT to stop… everything in Obama’s direct power remains undone.

    On every issue, if you examine the Democrats’ tactics, you will see that they never intended to take any positive steps, and were looking for any excuse to avoid action. By and large, the blame for this can be laid directly at the feet of Pelosi, Reid, Obama, and possibly Rahm Immanuel (if he was as influential as sometime suggested). These are not people who are gullible morons, and even if they seriously believed at the beginning of the term that the Republicans wanted to negotiate in good faith, they must have noticed after a few months that this was not in fact the case.

    Oh, and by the way, Chet: the Senate does not exactly work by majority, but you’ll notice that the Democrats never actually forced the Republicans to filibuster. Merely the threat of a filibuster was enough to stop any action being taken. Think what a campaign ad it would have been to be able to show, quite graphically, that the Republicans were deliberately acting against any action at all being taken. Instead, they let the Republicans get away with merely threatening, and this is the result.

    Time to get rid of the all-too-common idea that the Democrats really want to do anything about the mess we’re in. They are only too happy to shirk their responsibilities.

  • Katie M

    Thanks Adam, as if I didn’t feel lousy enough :(

    Sorry, I’ve been angry since last night. It’s not totally the fault of the Democrats, I think. The Tea Party is poison.

    @Maynard-here in Pennsylvania, they tried to link Sestak with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. This despite the “scandal” after the primary when they alleged that Obama tried to convince Sestak to step aside for Specter.

  • Nes

    @Maynard

    Same thing in MN’s 6th district. Michelle Bachmann – who you’ve probably heard about as she’s a tea party celebrity, has appeared with Palin, and is running in what I believe is the most expensive rep race ever – tried to link her Dem challenger, Terryl Clark, to Obama, Pelosi, and Reid in several ads. She ended up winning with about 52% of the vote with Clark only getting about 40% and the rest split amongst 3rd parties.

    Frankly, that result doesn’t surprise me at all. She almost certainly could have done it without smearing Clark at all.

    Let me tell you, it’s wonderful to live in a district where your rep wants to eliminate public education (or, at the least, reform it to be nothing more than job training), teach ID in science classes (since she can’t get rid of the schools), ban abortion, ban gay marriage, tear up ANWR, denies global warming, and wanted to start a McCarthy-like witch hunt for congresspersons who hold “anti-American” views, amongst other odious ideas.

  • http://chl-tx.com/instructorsview TXCHLInstructor

    Believe it or not, not every atheist is a Democrat. Or, for that matter, a one-issue voter. Some of us are even Libertarian. I find it refreshing that Obama managed to do for the Democrats what Nixon did for the Republicans. Only it didn’t take him nearly as long.

    The claim you made for the ‘stimulus’ bill (“he’s passed a stimulus bill that saved the country from a far greater economic disaster”) is disputed by those of us who know some basic economics. Government ‘stimulus’ is only possible by robbing Peter to pay Paul, while raking off a percentage that results in a net loss. Other claims you made are equally biased, and inaccurate.

    Democrats came swarming in thinking that they had a permanent majority in 2008. Republicans made essentially the same mistake last decade, and may have done so again last night; time will tell. The main trouble is that the US has become essentially a one-party state. It just changes names occasionally. The only important difference between Republicans and Democrats is which sections of the Constitution they want to use for toilet paper (http://chl-tx.com/instructorsview/the-constitution-of-the-united-states/).

    The Tea Party is not poison, it is (part of) the antidote. There are a few things I don’t much care for about the Tea Party, but if they manage to get the limited government part right, the superstition components of their agenda won’t amount to much. Religions can be handled easily by playing both ends against the middle, especially since there is so little consensus there even in the Tea Party.

    Now let the Libtard flame-fest begin!

  • Fargus

    I’m sorry, TX, I missed the part where Ebon claimed that all atheists were Democrats. Could you cite it for me? Me, I had been under the impression that he was using this, his blog, to voice his own opinion. Sort of like, you know, what a blog is for, you know?

    It’s fine to hold differing views, but your rhetoric doesn’t help. Saying there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats doesn’t help. Saying that anyone who disagrees with you on stimulus doesn’t know basic economics doesn’t help (I know his name’s probably anathema to you, but Krugman has a damn Nobel Prize in economics and he’s a huge stimulus advocate).

    As espoused by the Tea Party and the far right of the Republican Party (which are actually the same thing), the “limited government” ideology is nothing but an article of faith, clung to tenaciously for its own sake. That’s the difference right now between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats have people in their party who are interested in results. Republicans are only interested in the fulfillment of their ideology no matter what the results.

  • David

    “Some of us are even Libertarian.”

    I’m sorry.

  • David

    The positive result I saw last night was a rather definitive rebuke of the Tea Party when it came to actual election time. Angle, O’Donnell, Miller (who lost to a write-in candidate!), etc. The Tea Party Revolution cost the Republicans the Senate and a more commanding lead in the House.

    Basically, the Republicans are going to have to find some way to deal with the Tea Partiers (who quite frankly are very angry and anti-establishment) if they are going to save their prospects for victory in 2012, because the TP is nothing but electoral poison on the national scale.

  • Chet

    There is ample evidence, for example, that the “compromises” in the health care bill were made unilaterally by Obama before the bill even came to discussion in Congress, as part of a backroom deal with the insurance companies.

    Well, that’s clearly 100% wrong, Vicar, and the proof of that is that the House passed public option health care – just as the House voted to repeal DADT, the House passed a much larger stimulus bill with a much smaller tax cut component, passed campaign finance reform, passed both cap and trade and a carbon tax, voted to close GITMO, even voted on single-payer health care (though that did not pass.) So, in fact, everything you say Democrats didn’t do, they actually did do, in the House. That’s right, Pelosi’s House, who you excoriate as a “do-nothing”, passed about 200 bills. You can see some of them here.

    Oh, and by the way, Chet: the Senate does not exactly work by majority, but you’ll notice that the Democrats never actually forced the Republicans to filibuster.

    Well, that’s clearly also 100% wrong. In fact, the 111th Senate filed for cloture more than 140 times, the largest number in the history of the Senate. Contrary to your nonsense the 111th Senate Republicans have set the record for the largest number of filibusters.

    Time to get rid of the all-too-common idea that the Democrats really want to do anything about the mess we’re in.

    Right, that makes perfect sense – Democratic politicians expend an enormous amount of time, money, and trouble to seek political office, all because they don’t want to do anything. Boy, they must really be relieved by yesterday’s election – soon a very large number of them will be under no obligation to legislate at all, by virtue of no longer being legislators!

    Oh, wait, no, that makes no sense at all.

  • Fargus

    Good response, Chet, though you fail to dispatch the zombie myth that the “real” filibuster is Republicans standing there talking until they’re blue in the face. With the filibuster, the burden is on the 60, not on the 40. It’s on those advocating, not on those obstructing. Frank Capra owes the nation an apology for giving them this mistaken notion.

    Every time cloture is filed, an inordinate amount of Senate time is consumed. The intention to filibuster is the intention to take up that time, and the leadership of the chamber has to calculate whether it’s worth it to spend that time on that issue, or whether it should be shelved in favor of other things.

  • Rollingforest

    @Ebon: I blame the blue dog Democrats mainly. If they had sat down with the other Democrats and compromised on the health bill, they could have passed it quickly and moved on to other things instead of being dragged down.

    You are right though that this election is entirely about the economy which the president has the least control over.

    @TVCHLInstructor: The stimulus is not “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. The stimulus is like borrowing money to start a business. You go into debt now, but you use the money to grow the economy, paying it back later and getting us out of the recession. If you’ll notice, the economy was dropping like a stone at the beginning of Obama’s administration. But after the Stimulus was passed, it stopped dropping and (very slowly) began to rise again.

    @Fargus: Actually the Majority Leader of the Senate could require a traditional filibuster if he so chose which would require the minority to keep talking indefinitely or drop the filibuster. We need to do this more often.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster_in_the_U.S._Senate#Current_U.S._practice

  • Chet

    I blame the blue dog Democrats mainly.

    Well, you’ll be happy to know that they basically got killed yesterday. Most of the Democratic losses in the House, in fact, were from the Blue Dog caucus.

  • The Vicar

    Well, that’s clearly 100% wrong, Vicar, and the proof of that is that the House passed public option health care – just as the House voted to repeal DADT, the House passed a much larger stimulus bill with a much smaller tax cut component, passed campaign finance reform, passed both cap and trade and a carbon tax, voted to close GITMO, even voted on single-payer health care (though that did not pass.) So, in fact, everything you say Democrats didn’t do, they actually did do, in the House. That’s right, Pelosi’s House, who you excoriate as a “do-nothing”, passed about 200 bills. You can see some of them here.

    That’s because the goal of the Democratic Party is not merely to do nothing, but to do nothing while appearing to be hard at work. They use the bicameral structure of Congress as a diversion for the gullible. “Look”, the fundraisers say, “at all the things our party has voted for!” and they are very careful not to add “and look at the way we carefully made sure none of them actually got through both houses”, even though that’s the real accomplishment.

    Remember: the Senate does not require 60 votes to pass a bill, but a simple majority. The only thing 60 votes are required to do with respect to ordinary legislation is to vote for cloture. So a “supermajority” is only required to guarantee passage, not to make a reasonable attempt. (And, for that matter, reconciliation also only requires a simple majority, a technique the Democrats would have been perfectly justified in using on all the items you mention, and deliberately did not use.)

    The official Democratic line does not deny that Obama had closed-door meetings with representatives for the hospitals and insurance companies — despite his promises that the process would be entirely transparent and televised. Russ Feingold said that the bill we got in the end was what the White House wanted, and Daschle’s book and interviews show that Obama had negotiated the public option away in July of 2009, although after he realized what he had admitted he started to sputter and tried hard to walk it back. And, of course, if you think Obama was really serious about getting the best coverage possible — why didn’t Obama give any of his famous eloquent speeches during the runup? His silence was almost totally inexplicable if you believe he was really fighting for it; his one talent is eloquence. (Well, okay, his fine speeches are usually paired with later doing the exact opposite of what he has just spoken about — vide FISA and telecom immunity, DADT, erosion of civil rights, etc. etc. etc. — but at least he doesn’t trip over his tongue like Bush did.)

    Well, that’s clearly also 100% wrong. In fact, the 111th Senate filed for cloture more than 140 times, the largest number in the history of the Senate. Contrary to your nonsense the 111th Senate Republicans have set the record for the largest number of filibusters.

    Sorry, I was still thinking about health care when I wrote what you were quoting, not the general case. Apologies for not being more specific. Yes, they have voted for cloture a lot, but never on big-ticket items. It has almost always been when the bill at hand is something minor that the Republicans have been fighting for the sake of obstructionism. When it really matters, the Democrats don’t bother. All part of the show — the quickness of the hand deceives the eye.

    Right, that makes perfect sense – Democratic politicians expend an enormous amount of time, money, and trouble to seek political office, all because they don’t want to do anything. Boy, they must really be relieved by yesterday’s election – soon a very large number of them will be under no obligation to legislate at all, by virtue of no longer being legislators!

    Oh, wait, no, that makes no sense at all.

    Do you seriously believe that all the ex-Congressmembers who don’t actually want to retire don’t have lucrative jobs waiting for them in think tanks or in the private industries which they helped prevent regulate? There is more than one way to pass money to a legislator, and the crude means which you seem to expect are the only means have long since been abandoned. There is a lot of money to be made by making an elaborate show of effort and purposely failing; ask any jockey.

  • Chet

    That’s because the goal of the Democratic Party is not merely to do nothing, but to do nothing while appearing to be hard at work. They use the bicameral structure of Congress as a diversion for the gullible.

    Now you’re just alleging a bizarre conspiracy theory.

    Remember: the Senate does not require 60 votes to pass a bill, but a simple majority. The only thing 60 votes are required to do with respect to ordinary legislation is to vote for cloture.,

    Right, and now every bill is subject to cloture. Every bill always has been, but until the age of the Civil Rights Act, Senators had a “gentleman’s agreement” to always vote for cloture. But now they don’t. Now, every bill is subject to a cloture vote basically in lieu of a straight up-or-down vote on the legislation. In other words, every bill is now subject to minority filibuster.

    So a “supermajority” is only required to guarantee passage, not to make a reasonable attempt.

    If you’re a legislator who knows that the minority party now insists on cloture for every bill, there’s nothing at all “reasonable” about attempting to pass a bill without knowing you have the 60 votes for cloture, just like there’s nothing reasonable about a House representative trying to pass a bill until they know they have the votes for it to pass. You only get one bite at the apple.

    And, for that matter, reconciliation also only requires a simple majority,

    Absolutely wrong. Reconciliation requires a simple majority plus the permission of the Senate Parliamentarian, who – surprise! – is a Republican. Another instance where the Senate operates by minority rule.

    And, of course, if you think Obama was really serious about getting the best coverage possible — why didn’t Obama give any of his famous eloquent speeches during the runup?

    He did. Why do you think he didn’t?

    Yes, they have voted for cloture a lot, but never on big-ticket items.

    Yes, for big ticket items. The American Care Act was subject to a cloture vote in the Senate. DADT, as you’ll recall, was subject to a cloture vote that failed – no surprise when there’s only 57 Democratic Senators and the Senate runs on minority rule – but contrary to what you said before about making “reasonable attempts” to run into the brick wall of the filibuster, you listed DADT as an example of Democrats not doing anything.

    Clearly, you’re not discussing this issue in good faith, since you’re criticizing Democrats for doing exactly what you’re saying they should have done.

    Do you seriously believe that all the ex-Congressmembers who don’t actually want to retire don’t have lucrative jobs waiting for them in think tanks or in the private industries which they helped prevent regulate?

    I hope some of them have something lined up, since they’re now unemployed. But again, most of the losses were in the House, and you’re drastically overestimating the riches available to a failed Representative. They just aren’t all that prestigious. I know that plays hell with your desire to believe you’re the victim of a vast conspiracy, but there it is.

  • Katie M

    @Nes-”Let me tell you, it’s wonderful to live in a district where your rep wants to eliminate public education (or, at the least, reform it to be nothing more than job training), teach ID in science classes (since she can’t get rid of the schools), ban abortion, ban gay marriage, tear up ANWR, denies global warming, and wanted to start a McCarthy-like witch hunt for congresspersons who hold “anti-American” views, amongst other odious ideas.”

    Wow. Makes me all the more grateful that my rep was the late John Murtha, and now one of his aides has won. I think my district will be in good hands :)

  • Rollingforest

    @ Chet : Well, I’m not really happy since we don’t really have the opportunity to move forward politically now. I hope when blue dog Dems get elected again that they take into account that voting conservatively won’t save them from a Republican wave and that they need to pass bills if they truly care about their country.

    If you think long term, then this election becomes less gloomy. With the Republicans in charge of the house, Obama has something to motivate Democrats to vote in 2012 when he needs them. If the economy improves at least partially by then, I think he has a really good shot at reelection. Also, the Tea Party drags the Republicans down in non-Republican years. Even in a huge Republican year like this one, the Tea Party scared voters in Delaware, Colorado, and Nevada enough to back the Democrats, allowing them to keep the Senate. While I think the Tea Party will be weaker in 2012 because they won’t go to rallies if they can rely on the Republican House to block bills, but if Sarah Palin gets nominated for President, this could help Obama do quite well in the election(her negatives are 55%, which is very bad if you are running for office). It’s a risky strategy, sure, but it may pay off hugely.

    @ The Vicar : What’s the point of making a reasonable attempt if it’s going to be filibustered anyway? I don’t see how 56 senate votes is worth any more than no senate votes if the bill is filibustered. I think the Democrats do need to call the Republican’s bluff and force them to actually talk until they collapse and then pass the bill anyway.

    Reconciliation only works for items dealing with the budget. I’m surprised the Democrats were able to use it on the health care bill, but it can’t work for everything.

    No the bill we got in the end was NOT what the White House wanted. That’s why they spent all of the time earlier arguing for a public option. That is too much energy Obama spent on this for it to be just a game.

    Obama was campaigning all over the country before the election. He campaigned in Illinious, Rhode Island, and Virginia all within the days before the election and had been doing so for weeks before hand.

    Campaigning is grueling work (one local congressman campaigned for 24 hours straight without sleep in the week before the election). There are much easier ways to make money than being a congressman. So I do think that the congressmen are serious about changing the country. We need to hold our representative’s feet to the fire to make sure they do their job, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

    @ David: I know this is a political post, but I don’t think that the atheist movement can afford to harass anyone because of their political beliefs. We need all the support we can get and yes that includes from Libertarians.

  • Eurekus

    Without becoming too involved in American politics I have to say Australian politics is not much better. Even though we have a strong economy the current government has missed the opportunity in introduce much needed reforms. Climate change being the most conspicuous.

    Will the cycle of political stupity ever end?

    Surprise, surprise, we all now have to watch China. She’s coming at us with a full head of steam especially with their smart investments. Why can’t we look and learn from them?

  • The Vicar

    Now you’re just alleging a bizarre conspiracy theory.

    No, a bizarre conspiracy theory would be that a major hospital acting at the behest of the government secretly inserted cones of radioactive material into children’s noses to study the effects, or that recent changes to the immigration law in the U.S. are being driven by the for-profit prison industry. And both of those are apparently true. I am merely making a claim of widespread corruption among our elected leaders, coupled with an understandable reluctance to let this be known, which, though unfortunate, is hardly surprising.

    You, on the other hand, are assuming that the Democrats in Congress are innocent and pure-hearted but moronic, and took the better part of two years to realize the Republicans (and that schmuck Joe Lieberman) were not acting in good faith. I find that difficult to believe; I would find it hard to believe that it could take them a week. Heck, I knew it was going to happen beforehand, and you probably did too. In fact, I find it harder to believe that they are morons than that they are evil, and one of the two has to be true under the circumstances.

    The Democratic Party, like all organizations which exist for a long time, has become more “about” the preservation of the organization than anything else. It will be exactly as pro-corporate as it possibly can, in order to attract large donations (as it does), and will keep up a pretense of being populist in order to prevent any new organizations from forming politically to its left. This is a highly successful strategy — evolution in action — as can be seen by the number of people who will say “I agree with the Green Party’s platform, but I don’t want to throw my vote away on a party which can’t win so I’m voting Democratic.” I have heard this strategy described as “sucking all the air out of the room”, which is certainly evocative.

    I hope some of them have something lined up, since they’re now unemployed. But again, most of the losses were in the House, and you’re drastically overestimating the riches available to a failed Representative. They just aren’t all that prestigious. I know that plays hell with your desire to believe you’re the victim of a vast conspiracy, but there it is.

    You will find that in six months, every single one of them will be:
    1. Hired by a “think tank”
    2. Hired by a company whose interests they furthered in their legislative career
    3. Living off of a spouse/significant other/relative who is employed by a company whose interests they furthered in their legislative career
    - or -
    4. Genuinely “I’ve made my pile and I can afford to relax” retired

    What’s the point of making a reasonable attempt if it’s going to be filibustered anyway? I don’t see how 56 senate votes is worth any more than no senate votes if the bill is filibustered. I think the Democrats do need to call the Republican’s bluff and force them to actually talk until they collapse and then pass the bill anyway.

    You know that “enthusiasm gap”? The one that kept all the Democratic voters at home this time? Where do you think it came from? It came from the fact that the Democrats kept refusing even to try to pass things, even during the period when they had 60 votes in the Senate. If the Democrats always give up before they even start, why bother voting for them?

    No the bill we got in the end was NOT what the White House wanted.

    Funny, the people in the know say it is. Daschle says Obama started off with the assumption that there would be no public option, and around 6% of Americans would not be covered after the bill’s passage.

    That’s why they spent all of the time earlier arguing for a public option. That is too much energy Obama spent on this for it to be just a game.

    Obama gave no speeches about the public option for a surprisingly long period during the runup to the vote; I remember not just wondering about it but seeing columnists start to raise the question. And, incidentally, as I have said his meeting with the insurance company and hospital reps early on is a matter of record. Maybe you think they were playing tiddlywinks or something, but I doubt they would refrain from talking about the issue at hand.

    Obama was campaigning all over the country before the election. He campaigned in Illinious, Rhode Island, and Virginia all within the days before the election and had been doing so for weeks before hand.

    So what you’re saying is: Obama can be relied upon to do a lot of work on campaigning, but not on popular support for bills. Well, maybe that inspires you. I, for one, would feel a lot better about him if it were the other way around.

    Campaigning is grueling work (one local congressman campaigned for 24 hours straight without sleep in the week before the election). There are much easier ways to make money than being a congressman. So I do think that the congressmen are serious about changing the country. We need to hold our representative’s feet to the fire to make sure they do their job, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

    I am giving them credit where it’s due. They aren’t due any.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Hi Vicar, I’m curious: What would you say to the fact that the conservative Blue Dogs were decimated in last night’s election (they lost about half their caucus), while the House Progressive Caucus lost only four seats? Is that the result you think they intended?

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    The single biggest problem the Republicans may face in 2012 is that ‘Obamacare’ might actually turn out to be hugely popular. If people quite like the ability to quit their job without their family’s healthcare being rescinded the perhaps the Republican naming strategy might backfire in a quite amusing way.

  • Samuel

    Ebon
    “Obama’s record so far is not nothing; he’s passed a stimulus bill that saved the country from a far greater economic disaster,”

    Congradulations banks! No matter how much money you lose, the government will make sure that you get it all paid back. AND you get to spend it on bonuses to! This is the clearest example of moral hazard I can think of. Don’t worry though, we will prevent it from happening again… just like we learned from the S&L crisis.

    “The Republicans are a party whose strategy can best be described as political nihilism. Their top priority is to deny Obama a second term; they’ve said so themselves, and they’re nothing if not consistent.”

    I should point out that the Republicans are not all entirely insane- the Democrats stance on the space program (lets cut programs and then complain when it costs money to restart them) the military (see above) or nuclear power (hippies and the coal industry- a great alliance) means that the Republicans are correct on some issues.

    “Hi Vicar, I’m curious: What would you say to the fact that the conservative Blue Dogs were decimated in last night’s election (they lost about half their caucus), while the House Progressive Caucus lost only four seats? Is that the result you think they intended?”

    How does that counter the idea that the Democrats are only interested in maintaining power? If they had any principles they would be against torture. That the Blue Dogs are more idiotic and paid the price isn’t a surprise, but the conclusion that makes the Democrats progressive is a fallicious conclusion- they are just progressive in comparison. Just like Castro would count as a progressive next to Stalin.

  • hourlily

    The Democrats dropped the ball in the campaign, too. Instead of bragging about what they did accomplish these last two years, they tried to appeal to Tea Partiers. That’s not the way to energize the base. http://www.whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

  • http://www.commonsensethoughtcontrol.com Tawnos

    I’m just frustrated about the initiatives here in WA and in CA. I-1100 should have been a shoe-in, and as of right now it’s highly unlikely it will pass. Proposition 19 should have been at least 50/50, but I would hope for much more than that on the “yes” side. Democratic leaders in CA screwed that up horribly, and I’m not sure what stupidity makes up the 52% of the population who wants to keep liquor under state monopoly. I strongly suppose there is a correlation between religious influence and high concentrations of no on 1100 votes. They were behind temperance before, and I am not surprised to see them behind it again.

    Additional frustration comes from the sheer apathy from the 18-30 crowd. Is it really that much to ask people to vote?

  • Chris

    The Republicans are a party whose strategy can best be described as political nihilism. Their top priority is to deny Obama a second term; they’ve said so themselves, and they’re nothing if not consistent. With that in mind, we can expect them to block everything he wants to do.

    Doesn’t this directly contradict your “if only they had negotiated intelligently!” point? You can’t negotiate intelligently (or at all) with someone who values your failure above his or the country’s success. Anything you agree with, *including his own ideas*, he will oppose in order to thwart you. That *actually happened* on some issues. When the other side’s response to *everything* is “No, and you’re a filthy commie for suggesting the thing I said last week”, negotiation is impossible; they’re a portable impasse, capable of instantly repositioning to block any and every path.

    The only thing you can do in that situation is try to look like the reasonable party putting the country’s welfare first and hope the voters pick up on it. And actually pass whatever you can actually pass, watered-down half-measures or no, because while you’re waiting for the next election, people are still dying of lack of access to health care.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    The single biggest problem the Republicans may face in 2012 is that ‘Obamacare’ might actually turn out to be hugely popular. If people quite like the ability to quit their job without their family’s healthcare being rescinded the perhaps the Republican naming strategy might backfire in a quite amusing way.

    Why Keddaw, you hit the nail on the head! That’s exactly why they never wanted it to pass and why they are committed to destroying it. They know that if the Democrats enacted meaningful health care reform, it would doom the Republican Party.

  • Andrew T.

    Ron Johnson’s win in Wisconsin over Russ Feingold is especially disappointing. I live there, and in fact specifically chose to move there to get away from the religiously-motivated bigotry and coal-centered corporatism that permeated every aspect of life in another state.

    For the record, Johnson is a unapologetic corporatist, global warming-denying loon whose campaign promises were built on nothing more than vague generalities and reactionary rhetoric against the usual bogeymen du jour. Furthermore, near as I could tell, his campaign had less visible support than John McCain’s in a state that Mr. Obama had won statewide: Just how he was able to pull ahead is something I haven’t totally wrapped my mind around.

    Most of the other points burning on my mind have been expressed in the OP already. Although it’s a small condolence, I’m relieved that the circumstances we live in are not worse: The segue of the 2002 election into the Iraq war was one of the most surreal and disturbing moments of my life.

  • Alex Weaver

    Saying there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats doesn’t help.

    On the contrary; the claims that laughter is the best medicine don’t seem to have been validated experimentally, but it’s known to be wonderful stress relief. If it weren’t for the rest of the post it was embedded in that claim would have left me in a far lighter mood.

    (Seriously, no rational progressive claims the Democrats are perfect or even close, but arguing that there’s no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties is like arguing that there’s no difference between being kicked in the shin and having a running chainsaw shoved up your ass “because they both hurt.”)

  • Demonhype

    “”Some of us are even Libertarian.”

    I’m sorry.”

    My sentiments exactly, though far more polite and succinct.

    I have no trust for atheist Repubs any more than gay or black Repubs–at least, not the way the Repubs are right now. And I can’t stand libertarians no matter what their religious beliefs. You don’t need to believe in God to have a dangerous and unfounded ideology. (ie, “free hand of the market will save us if we just let the rich businesses do as they like without any regulation”. We tried that. It didn’t work. And I, for one, don’t relish living in a neo-feudal society.) Sure, lots of people will starve and die, the structure of everything will collapse, but in the end there will be balance. The kind of balance wherein you have millions of emaciated people on one end of the scale and one morbidly obese person on the other.

    Problem with the Dems is that in many cases they are nutless, which is not a good trait to have when you’re fighting the intentional malice that is the Republican party. So the Rethugs want to filibuster? As many said here, let them! Call their bluff! And then highlight that at election time! Caving to a threat simply gave the Rethugs ammo and allowed them to set up the bill for failure and in the end, as has also been said, they voted against the end product.

    These fascists are here to play hardball and we need to do the same. Compromise is good, but you can’t compromise with someone who has no intention of compromising with you, who sees you as the anti-American anti-Jesus enemy of the state and sees compromise as a sign of weakness. Or in some cases, have no concept of compromise (like my brother’s GF, who thinks that to compromise means “you give in and give me my way entirely”, rather than give and take.) Compromise can be admirable, and the desire to compromise is admirable, but it takes two equally willing parties. The moment you realize the other guy has no intention of cooperating with you–that he, in fact, wants to pull you down–then compromise time needs to be over.

  • The Vicar

    Hi Vicar, I’m curious: What would you say to the fact that the conservative Blue Dogs were decimated in last night’s election (they lost about half their caucus), while the House Progressive Caucus lost only four seats?

    What would I say? I’d say “good riddance, goodbye worthless chair-warmers, don’t bother to write, die in a fire”. If you think I’m somehow on the Republican side because I dislike the Democratic leadership, you are very mistaken. I dislike the Democrats, when all is said and done, because they are not sufficiently different from the Republicans.

    Is that the result you think they intended?

    Not exactly; I am fairly sure that, to the Democratic leadership, losing control of the House is a small dark cloud with a large silver lining — it means that they now have a much better excuse for their failures. Obama can now whine about how the mean old Republicans won’t let anything get through the House instead of having to come up with excuses for why the party which controls both houses of Congress and the Presidency can’t pass anything significant. And it means that their control of the Senate is now worth a lot more in the sort of indirect bribery which makes Washington DC go round. The narrower the margin of Democratic control is, the greater concessions they can demand in exchange for selling out to the Republicans.

    I’m also sure that they are ecstatic that they got rid of Feingold. Not that he was quite the angelic figure that some on the left think — some of his votes have been extremely questionable — but he did occasionally tell the truth, and that is dangerous when your goal is to fool the rubes.

    On the other hand, I doubt they are truly happy that the Blue Dogs were so hard-hit.

    A brief digression on the Democratic party: in the late 1980s, a bunch of the up-and-coming Democratic figures decided that the way to make the Democrats politically viable was not to seek absolute ideological purity (in which they were probably right) but to move the party as a whole to the right (which was a very stupid idea). They founded the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) to promote right-wing Democrats, and essentially became the Democratic Party leadership. The result was Bill Clinton, who gave us NAFTA and more Alan Greenspan and the repeal of Glass-Steagall and who was too damn stupid to keep it in his pants when he knew the Republicans were looking for any excuse to smear him, and a lot of people with “(D)” after their names who would have been Republicans had they been elected ten years earlier. This, in turn, has had several effects:

    • With no real left-wing presence in Washington D.C., the echo chamber effect, always present, has turned dramatically to the right.
    • Since the Democrats have a stated policy of moving to the right to try to take votes from the Republicans, and the Republicans have a stated policy of moving to the right to try to turn the clock back to 1860, mainstream political discourse ratchets rightward at all times. (Ever wonder how a corporatist like Obama can be called a Socialist? It’s not just because the Republicans have descended into hysterical shrieking, although that’s a part of it. It’s also because genuine Socialists have all been left out of the Democratic Party by design.)
    • Now that the rightward shift has put the country in the gutter, which was the inevitable result of three Republicans and a DLC Democrat (Bill Clinton was the exemplar of the DLC Democrat), there is no real left to wrench public policy back to any point where we stand a chance of getting things fixed back up.
    • Remember all those votes under Bush where the Republicans would vote in lockstep and there would be a fairly large chunk of Democrats who went along with it? DLC influence.

    So: the Blue Dogs were not some sort of aberration; they were precisely what the Democratic Party has been trying to accomplish for about two decades. Finding out that they were the first to go must be painful, even if the loss of the House is not. But never fear; inside the beltway, I’m sure that it is easy to convince yourself that the real reason for the losses is that the Blue Dogs were too liberal.

    (It amuses me, by the way, to see that some Democrats claiming now that Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice than Obama for the Presidency; Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were essentially the same option in two different skins. The only difference is that where Clinton has been a “third way” DLC hack since the late ’80s, Obama has made himself into a “third way” DLC hack. Clinton has had no problem supporting everything Obama has done, and continues to make hawkish speeches criticizing other countries for committing the same crimes our government has committed over the last several years, and continues to commit.)

    I don’t know that the Democrats would necessarily have been successful had they avoided the rightward move entirely. But it is always useful to have a record of integrity, and “I told you so” is not a bad platform to run on after a crash. A leftish Democratic Party could have done the latter. Now, instead, they were forced to run on “well, really we only enabled the other guys to do this, so really they’re much worse and you should vote for us” which is hardly compelling.

  • http://Godlesspoetry.blogspot.com Zietlos

    Ahh Democrats. And Republicans.

    There is one way to put things really simply:

    You know Canada’s healthcare, which is famously awesome compared to the USA’s? The one time the NDP got in power, just once, it was what they did. No compromise, send it through, they knew they would not get reelected, but that the bill, their legacy, once put into law could not be rescinded easily without huge public backlash. The USA really should have copied not only our healthcare system, but how we put it into effect too.

    The NDP is our socialist party. I, as an accountant and university-educated atheist, vote for them, because unlike the weathervane Liberals, and the practically USA conservatives, the NDP actually at least pretends to care for the citizens.

    And anyone who calls PROPER stimulus spending “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is clearly uneducated in economics. Keynes frick’n spent the world out of the great depression. Tax when times are good, and save, then spend when times are bad. It is as simple as putting away summer harvest food for winter, even the basest farmer knows the greatest economist’s ultimate theory.

    (Bank Stimulus: 100,000 Million dollars.)
    (Bank Bonuses: 100 Million dollars.)
    (Net Bonus to stimulus: A tenth of one percent.)

  • http://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/ Verbose Stoic

    Zietlos,

    I think you need an update on your Canadian political history. It would be safer to say that Saskatchewan created health care, not the NDP (who didn’t exist when it was first proposed in Saskatchewan).

    From the wiki article on Tommy Douglas:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Douglas

    “Douglas is widely hailed as the father of Medicare, and took the opportunity to take his cause to the federal stage. Thus, in 1961, he retired from his position as Saskatchewan’s premier and turned over this job Woodrow Lloyd, taking leadership of the federal New Democratic Party.

    The Saskatchewan program was finally launched by his successor, Woodrow Lloyd, in 1962. The success of the province’s public health care program was not lost on the federal government. Another Saskatchewan politician, newly elected Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, decreed in 1958 that any province seeking to introduce a hospital plan would receive 50 cents on the dollar from the federal government. In 1962, Diefenbaker appointed Justice Emmett Hall—also of Saskatchewan, a noted jurist and Supreme Court Justice—to Chair a Royal Commission on the national health system—the Royal Commission on Health Services. In 1964, Justice Hall recommended the nationwide adoption of Saskatchewan’s model of public health insurance. In 1966, the Liberal minority government of Lester B. Pearson created such a program, with the federal government paying 50% of the costs and the provinces the other half. So, the adoption of healthcare across Canada ended up being the work of three men with diverse political ideals – Tommy Douglas, John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson.”

    The NDP were never in power federally, and the federal matching program seems an important step. The official adoption was done by a Liberal government, with the first federal proposals being done by a Conservative government. And it took 5 years to do it.

    Provincially, it could be ascribed to the CCF in Saskatchewan … but as I said since Douglas, Diefenbaker and Hall were all from that province the province should get more credit than the party. And it took all three parties to make it happen, which was not present in the U.S. example.

  • Yahzi

    “Well, you’ll be happy to know that they basically got killed yesterday. Most of the Democratic losses in the House, in fact, were from the Blue Dog caucus.”

    Why yes, Chet, I am happy.

    It’s not so much that I want ideological purity out of the Democrats as I want less appeasement. The Blue Dogs discovered that the electorate is smart enough to vote in a conservative if they want a conservative. Good riddance to them.

  • bbk

    Very well put. But there are silver linings. Progressives now make up a majority of the Democrats in the House and young voters should come out again in 2012 to vote even more progressives back in. Obama shouldn’t have too much trouble getting re-elected, either. And if good things come from health care reform, things will get better for sure. There were enough investments made to at least get a progressive foot in the door and over the long term break out of the reactionary cycle.

    Whether the Democrats really did enough or whether it was a failure to promote themselves seems debatable. But this is what I think happened. Obama had gotten a huge boost from young voters who don’t normally turn out for the polls and most of the Democrats who lost their seats have lost because those voters didn’t come back out again to vote for them. In all honesty, I think that the grass roots of the Democratic party has dropped the ball on this one. The Huffington Post started posting woo while CrooksAndLiars and DailyKos basically turned bitter soon after the elections. All the pundits and bloggers who are sore over how it’s a failure for Obama to do this or of progressives to do that are missing the point. All they did this whole time was nitpick the one man who actually had support from millenials.

    How do they expect to bring those voters out on behalf of a bunch of Blue Dogs who stood up against Obama every chance they could? Had any of them exhibited even an ounce of solidarity with the man who has the support of these voters then liberals might have reigned the day. But they didn’t show much solidarity and they didn’t do anything else to secure those votes. In my opinion, Obama has done a tremendous job for America’s youth and he’ll continue to get their support. If you look at the issues from the perspective of a college student, Obama’s health care reform and education reform were timely and alleviated the biggest pain points for that population. By contrast, I haven’t seen a single blogger write about the reform without heavy qualifications about how far from perfect it is. Seems like they’er not thinking of anyone but their own age group. By the time he’s up for re-election, those students will be enjoying the benefits of these policies. He’ll point that out and run with it. I don’t see too many older people talking or even thinking about how the current set of candidates would be seen by millennials. The only way they’ll even approach it now is with bitter resentment, blaming these voters for failing to save the day. So, of course they lost. The more they expect young voters to support their politics as if it’s just a matter of course, something they shouldn’t even have to work for, the more they’ll keep losing this way. It’s just another case of politicians completely failing to understand the youth vote.

  • http://Godlesspoetry.blogspot.com Zietlos

    Thanks Verbose. Now I just feel silly. Rather than an example of pushing forward a goal, Canada merely showed that working together can create greater things than bickering pointlessly. Still an equally good lesson, but I have learned something today. :)

    bbk, I am thinking I am agreeing with you as well.

  • The Vicar

    But never fear; inside the beltway, I’m sure that it is easy to convince yourself that the real reason for the losses is that the Blue Dogs were too liberal.

    Ah, I saw a news story this morning saying that Obama was now considering extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. You know, the ones which are responsible for a huge portion of the U.S. deficit right now? The rightward ratchet moves on…

  • bbk

    Ah, I saw a news story this morning saying that Obama

    And that’s where you seem to have gone wrong. Obama said that Democrats need to extend tax cuts to the middle class and provide business some certainty. As even the WSJ noted:

    Hmmm, went the collective corporate musing: What type of certainty might that be? A compromise on extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest?

    Sounds like you heard those words from someone other than Obama.

  • The Vicar

    Blast, another perfectly good opportunity to make money through a bet foiled by the anonymity of the Internet. Because I’d be willing to bet some cash that in six months the tax breaks for the wealthy will at least be renewed if not permanent; the Wall Street Journal’s job is to pretend that Obama is a Socialist to keep the rich donating to the Republicans. Just as I would have been willing to bet on DADT continuing, Gauntanemo staying open*, the “Too Big To Fail” banks not getting any significant punishment, us still having military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and numerous other topics which were obvious sucker bets to anyone but someone loyal to the party — rather than the principles — of the Democrats.

    *The sickest thing about our current policies on detainees, by the way, is not that we have them in the first place, or the existence of the Guantanemo Bay prison, loathsome though it is. It’s that Obama’s official policy is to press for trials for detainees — but only for those against whom we have evidence. That is, it is the Democratic Party’s official policy to keep the innocent locked up without trial. So if you happen to be doing your grocery shopping in Kabul when U.S. troops sweep through pulling in everyone they see, you’ll be locked up for life precisely because there is nothing against you. But don’t forget — they hate us for our freedoms.

  • Samuel

    Demonhype
    ” (ie, “free hand of the market will save us if we just let the rich businesses do as they like without any regulation”. We tried that. It didn’t work. And I, for one, don’t relish living in a neo-feudal society.)”

    You know Feddie Mac, one of the companies responsible for the current mess we are in? It is a government sponsered enterprise. There are a bunch of regulations that helped encourage the current financial crisis we are in. Blaming the free market for these things is common and a bunch of BS. You get these incidents when the government and the market screw up together- you need the government to make the right conditions and the market to exploit them.

    It is like the great depression, which was almost entirely caused by the government. You had a business cycle which depressed the economy and then bank runs (which, due to regulation on banks restricting their size made it easy for them to collapse) and drying up of money (due to the fed restricting the money supply) and collapse of international trade (due to a trade war from an attempt at begger they neighbor policies) and the governments attempt to fix things that lead to a second depression in 1937. Apparently freezing wages during deflation is bad.

    So while libertarianism doesn’t really work as an ideology, using that out of hand to tar the idea of fewer regulation is just guilt by association. There is no reason that businesses can’t just use regulations in order to benefit themselves- after all, to be an oligopoly you need to have high start up costs to enter the field and what are regulations to businesses but start up costs?

    So the answer is not always “more regulations”. I for one prefer more taxes if you think someone is accumulating too much money, but it appears that alot of people don’t like to be honest about the fact they think someone is gaining too much power and wealth and attempt to hide their changes under layers of bullshit.

  • http://atheistwiki.wikispaces.com Jon Jermey

    I suspect that their rightful scepticism about climate change was a big factor in getting the Republicans elected. So many lies have been told about ‘global warming’ — sorry, ‘climate change’ — sorry ‘climate disruption’ — and such vast amounts of money have been spent for no perceptible benefit, that I can understand people getting cheesed off. With long-term allies of the AGW movement like Nature, the BBC, Scientific American and the Royal Society backing towards the exits, it won’t be too long before real science regains the upper hand.

    It’s interesting, as an atheist and AGW sceptic, to see how many of the wishful thinking arguments put forward by theists recur in the AGW movement. The ‘Precautionary Principle’ is just Pascal’s Wager in disguise. “Can you prove it’s not true?” is a common response by both parties, when of course the onus of proof is on people making extraordinary claims. And we have the much-lauded and rapidly disintegrating ‘consensus’.

    Funny how easy it is to identify a Death Cult when the leader wears robes and a pointy hat, and how hard it is when the leader wears a white lab coat.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    @ The Vicar : What’s the point of making a reasonable attempt if it’s going to be filibustered anyway?

    One of the basics in any battle is to force your opponent to fight on ground of your choosing.

    Let them filibuster against Every single proposal. Certainly enough stupidity will come out to make for good ads in 2012. Force them to stake out their ground so that every voter is clear about their stance, on, say, no more unemployment insurance extensions. It is true, as Sun Tzu wrote, that the best generals win without a battle. Right now, without forcing a filibuster, the Dems are conceding the Republicans exactly that favor.

  • Samuel

    Jon Jeremy

    I suspect that their rightful scepticism about climate change was a big factor in getting the Republicans elected.

    http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/2008platform.pdf
    2008 Republican party platform:
    pg 42

    By increasing our American energy supply and
    decreasing the long term demand for oil, we will be
    well positioned to address the challenge of climate
    change and continue our longstanding responsibility
    for stewardship over the environment.

    It may amaze people but the entire Republican party is not insane. Just their stance on social issues because they are a bunch of pseduofascists.

    and such vast amounts of money have been spent for no perceptible benefit, that I can understand people getting cheesed off.

    You could say them same thing about the war on terror… in fact even if you support the governments effort (holy shit did we waste a couple trillion) you would say the same thing. You aren’t supposed to see a benefit- if your doing things right there will be no difference between what people expect. If you are doing it wrong than there are explosions in the streets.

    The ‘Precautionary Principle’ is just Pascal’s Wager in disguise. “Can you prove it’s not true?” is a common response by both parties, when of course the onus of proof is on people making extraordinary claims. And we have the much-lauded and rapidly disintegrating ‘consensus’.

    Pascal’s wager doesn’t work because there is an infinite variety of religions. If there was only one religion on Earth and there it was possible it was true (aka non-supernatural) than it would be valid.

    Amazingly enough global warming fits that criteria. As does locking your door to keep out theives, buying insurance and every other risk precaution people take.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Funny how easy it is to identify a Death Cult when the leader wears robes and a pointy hat, and how hard it is when the leader wears a white lab coat.

    Yes, because virtually all those climate scientists are either completely incompetent or are lying to us all for some reason. (I’m tempted to make a joke right now about tinfoil hats, but I’ll resist.)

  • Alex Weaver

    Yes, because virtually all those climate scientists are either completely incompetent or are lying to us all for some reason.

    More to the point, there is a very important difference between science and theism – scientists present data. You can look at the data, you can follow the math, and you can come to the same conclusions, or you can stick your fingers in your ears and yell “I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I?”, as if it were remotely relevant to the topic, until your gaping troll maw fills with rising sea levels and neither the planet nor humanity lose anything more by your drowning than it already had otherwise.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The problem with the Pascal’s Wager analogy visAGW is that in religion, believers pick up their winnings — or pay off their loss — in a hypothesized after life; in AGW, the winners and losers will collect, or pay, while alive. Under those circumstances, it makes sense to err on the side of caution.

  • Alex Weaver

    in AGW, the winners and losers will collect, or pay, while alive

    Also, Pascal never proposed that one’s choice in the wager would affect generations on end of one’s children.

  • bbk

    I suggest that global warming deniers use Pascal’s Wager to jump off a bridge just in case gravity got turned off. It would really help the rest of us move climate science in the right direction. And a fine demonstration of the scientific method, too.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    Okay, some serious debating going on here. Let’s see if I can get it covered…
    To the Liberals: Yes indeedy we would all love to live in Denmark, the happiest, liberalest, safest, everyone-is-taken-care-of-est place on earth. But we can’t. Because this is America. We have entirely different circumstances and the short of it is that GOVERNMENT IS INEFFICIENT. It is so corrupt here. It is seemingly incapable of doing anything right. And the worst part is that we are paying for it. You are so caught up in how good government could be on paper that you ignore the blaringly obvious contradiction that goverment can dig its way out of debt by crippling businesses(Fascist talk for evil huge corporations that make money by turning brown people into Soylent Green) and spending even more. The debt is already GIGANTIC. We are talking ENORMOUS. The only cure is to make things less crazy in Washington, by shrinking it. It is NOT, as the liberals would have us believe, giving huge rewards for failure to big business and bloodsucking unions and ignoring inconsequential things like basic economics and the principles of actual competetiveness. And for those of you that shrilly put forth the “slippery slope” nonargument that Republicans would let people starve in the streets and totally remove any semblance of regulation on big business, shame on you. You have chided other small minded people for using the same tactics with regards to gay marriage and bestiality and all that nonsense. Furthermore, is that argument supposed to convince us that the current state of affairs is even remotely acceptable? Just how far is too far? Just how much is too much?
    Republicans, don’t think I have forgotten about you.
    Since when has it been acceptable for a political party to accept total responsibility for all things that the religious want? You have a monopoly on Christ, and it is poisoning your policy and scaring away people that would support what you do, myself included. And WHY are you so allergic to listening to your own advice? Military spending is exactly the kind of wasteful, bloated, inefficient and ill-applied government you claim to want to fix, yet you use funding increases, some even refused, as a cheap bat to beat your opponents with under the guise of “national defense.” WHY have you let the environment and the food industry slip through your fingers without regret? And WHY, WHY, WHY is your primary educational concern “balancing” evilutionist propaganda with “intelligent” design aka Jesus did it?! I mean, what the heck?! And I won’t even speak of the creature you call Palin.
    So there you have it. I hereby declare the Moderates the winners by default.

  • Alex Weaver

    And for those of you that shrilly put forth the “slippery slope” nonargument that Republicans would let people starve in the streets and totally remove any semblance of regulation on big business, shame on you. You have chided other small minded people for using the same tactics with regards to gay marriage and bestiality and all that nonsense.

    There’s a difference in that these things actually HAPPENED in the past and the Republicans have openly attacked the programs that dramatically reduced the degree to which they happened in the more recent past.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    Yes, perhaps radical Republicans want(ed?) explosive deregulation. But have those few ever succeeded? or, in the end, did more rational minds temper the madness?
    You miss my point, though. Government can’t get anything constructive done with all this demponizing and hype. ‘Yeah it’s radical, take it or leave it’ is just an attitude that will get no one anywhere. We need good old-fashioned bipartisan elbow grease. We need programs like the New Deal, a moderate Democratic program that most importantly WORKED. Democrats liked it. Democrats hated it. Republicans hated it. Republicans liked it. All was well in the world of politics, because proper compromise leaves both sides wanting but leaves them both better off for it. There is so much room for improvement that hurts nothing but saves us all it isn’t even funny, but radicals have proven themselves incapable of making those necessary changes. The politics and programs have failed. It is time for the middle of the road to shine again.

  • Samuel

    JJames

    It is so corrupt here. It is seemingly incapable of doing anything right.

    http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

    The US is 22nd. While not great it is better than France, Taiwan, South Korea and Israel.

    But have those few ever succeeded? or, in the end, did more rational minds temper the madness?

    I’m going to say Reagan managed to pull of deregulation. I might be wrong, but if there was one Republican president who could do it, it was him.

    We need good old-fashioned bipartisan elbow grease.

    The democrats tried that for universal health care. It… didn’t work. At all. Not to mention on social issues the moderates are all idiots. Apparently egalitarianism is a radical position in this country (Clinton was the one who passed the Defense of Marriage Act), along with such ideas as torture is bad. On the bright side the Dems and Reps show bipartisanship on those issues- isn’t that nice?

    We need programs like the New Deal, a moderate Democratic program that most importantly WORKED.

    Er, America was in a depression longer than most other countries- in fact we managed to have a second depression (Roosevelt Recession) in 1938 because of it. The New Deal helped prevent people from starving to death, but it didn’t bring the country out of the depression.

    Not to mention it wasn’t moderate. FDR attempted a partial takeover of the economy that the supreme court blocked (Blue Eagle Campaign).

  • bbk

    Agh!

    @JJames: 1) You don’t vote for someone because they are some sort of amorphous balancing force that will be tempered by someone else. There is no excuse for electing nutcases to government! That was just about the most profoundly anti-intellectual line of reasoning I’ve ever heard. That’s not being moderate, that’s being ignorant of corruption and lunacy. Only someone who is Libertarian could call for this under the guise of “moderation”.

    2) The government is broken because Republicans break it. The solution isn’t to hand it over to them for the kill. That would in fact be the most anti-intellectual political drivel I’ve ever heard, and I’ve already heard this one millions of times from dozens of Libertarians.

    @Samuel: You are half way right. The New Deal was in fact responsible for bringing the country out of depression. But you’re right, it was a heavily watered-down version that left many liberals angry and dejected. “Roosvelt’s Depression” sounds like a boatload of crap. I’ve never heard of it until now and looking into it I’ve only found a single source coming out of someone peddling Austrian school sophistry, clamoring to get back to the gold standard and abolish the Fed. Does it not worry you that the Austrian school is thoroughly discredited? And that the only people who truly embrace it are Protestant fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists?

  • Samuel

    Type in “US unemployment 1930s” in google and you get a large number of graphs that look like this:

    http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2009-02-16-USUnemployment_1930_1950d.jpg

    That increase in 1937 is the Roosevelt Depression. This was known to contemporaries- the Democrats lost 72 seats in the 1938 election because of it. Needless to say people argue about the causes. Either it was due to slackening of government work programs or the incredibly hostile business environment/deflationary government measures slowed the economy down.

    “The New Deal was in fact responsible for bringing the country out of depression.”

    No it wasn’t. The US was in a depression for over a decade. No previous depression or recession was that long. And you can’t claim that it was a unique characteristic of this depression because some countries managed to get out faster.

    “Does it not worry you that the Austrian school is thoroughly discredited?”

    I’m not a member of the Austrian school.

  • bbk

    @Samuel, I’m sure that in 1937 the Republicans talked about the Roosevelt Depression just as they talk about Obama’s War and Obama’s Recession today. That doesn’t mean that any serious economist looking back at the time will call it that.

    Secondly, the New Deal was a series of programs enacted over 5 years. Most of the New Deal programs we recognize today were enacted later in the Depression. To say that they had 10 years and didn’t work is dishonest. They did not have a steady run.

    In fact, your “Roosevelt Depression” of 1938 was a sharp departure from New Deal policies. To imply that anything Roosevelt did can be attributed to New Deal policies is fallacious if not dishonest. That’s why the “Roosevelt Depression” sounds like a weasel phrase to me and your use of it to bash New Deal policies just confirms that this is exactly what it’s meant to be.

    In 1938 Roosevelt decided that it was time to balance the budged, reign in spending and get out of debt. In other words, in 1938 Americans have had enough of the New Deal and economic recovery. It was time for fiscal conservatism. Roosevelt was dealing with 11% unemployment, liberals hadn’t been able to pass truly revolutionary policies that would have sped recovery along any further, and Roosevelt felt Republicans nipping on his tail, going after his throat for the coming elections. Perhaps Roosevelt was trying to go for a compromise to stem future political losses? It was a political blunder, but it wasn’t a New Deal policy. Either way, it was a fiscal conservative downturn. In every respect, it was the second half of a Depression caused by conservative policies through and through.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    I DON’T think that we should fight bats**t crazy with bats**t crazy. That would be counterproductive and asinine. Like I said, I am rooting for more Moderate people. Or did you ignore my anti-Republican rant as well? Giving the country to radical Republicans is like pissing on the bill of rights. I agree, had I ACTUALLY SAID TO FIGHT RADICALS WITH MORE RADICALS, it would be an unintelligent line of reasoning.
    There, satisfied?
    It is BECAUSE we throw gas on the flames that the system is damaged. Don’t you see that none of this craziness is helping? And it almost seems as if you don’t want to concede that there is such a thing as too far left! So long as there is a D- in front of their names, the sun shines and the world keeps on spinning! Too much goverment? Hah! India can make a car at 1/10nth the cost as in the U.S.? No problemo! Slap a tax on that mother! The red tape have ground the country to a screeching halt, what do we do? Why, create a beuracracy to analyze the issue over the next three decades an give them no expectation of results with a payroll 50% greater than other analysts and throw in immediate pensions! A little girl has scraped her knee in Iowa, how do we adress this? Mandate kneepads and helmets at all times while playing outside! Oh, no, everyone not workng for the government is uneployed! How do we fix this one?! Simple! Everyone now works for us!…
    I am really curious now. We have hashed out a million times how far right is too right(WAY too far, it seems), but just how far left is too left for you guys? And don’t forget, there is such a thing as too moderate!!

  • bbk

    Your anti-Republican rant was just a Randian, Libertarian rant. It was even further right than most Republicans. I don’t see why you’re calling yourself a Moderate. Just admit that you’re Libertarian and that you worship Ron Paul. You’re a radical right-winger trying to pass your views off as mainstream. Just stop it, it’s giving me a headache.

  • bbk

    @Samuel: I almost forgot… The bout of fiscal conservatism and the Republicans that took charge in 1938 ensured that economic recovery didn’t get underway again until 1939, first when demand for war-related exports went up and then as mobilization began for WW2. At that point, massive amounts deficit spending created thousands of good paying jobs and thousands of women entered the workforce for the first time. Of course, war spending created a recession afterwards as most of the major economies lay in ruins, but that’s a different story for another day. Even if the New Deal didn’t meet your extremely high standards for success, there is nothing but failure when you look at what happened under conservative policies. So you can say that the New Deal was a dismal failure but that doesn’t give you a shred of evidence to say that conservative policies would have been better. The inexorable conclusion is that the only possible way that the New Deal could have been improved upon is by making it even more liberal.

  • Samuel

    “That doesn’t mean that any serious economist looking back at the time will call it that.”

    Regardless of the name we can agree that there was a recession in 1937, no? I didn’t mean to imply he was responsible (I blame the Fed for most of the problems).

    “Secondly, the New Deal was a series of programs enacted over 5 years. Most of the New Deal programs we recognize today were enacted later in the Depression. To say that they had 10 years and didn’t work is dishonest. They did not have a steady run. ”

    Hoover actually started smaller scale programs at the beginning of the depression. As for length even when the government did nothing (in essentially all previous depressions) the downturns did not last 10 years. Note that other countries recovered faster than the United States and had smaller second downturns, if they had them at all.

    “In every respect, it was the second half of a Depression caused by conservative policies through and through.”

    Social security taxes came into effect in 1937, shrinking spending. Also the Fed doubled the required reserve ratio. Those are not remotely conservative policies.

    “So you can say that the New Deal was a dismal failure but that doesn’t give you a shred of evidence to say that conservative policies would have been better. ”

    Conservative policies would be every other previous depression (do nothing). The longest previous depression was 6 years. The benefit of the New Deal was preventing people from starving to death. While this is admirable and an important feature of government, this isn’t exactly solving the problem.

    I’m not against Keynesian programs, but given its successes after the Great Depression compared to what the New Deal accomplished, it looks sort of pathetic.

    “At that point, massive amounts deficit spending created thousands of good paying jobs and thousands of women entered the workforce for the first time. ”

    The New Deal had previously done the same thing. If the 1937 depression was caused by cutting of the tap, you should have gotten a similar problem at the end of the war instead of the temporary structural unemployment.

    “The inexorable conclusion is that the only possible way that the New Deal could have been improved upon is by making it even more liberal.”

    Do you count NIRA? Because if that was adopted you can say goodbye to economic recovery.

  • Samuel

    Does anyone have a measure on how successful the New Deal was?- this is not my specialty so I will retract if we get an expert on the subject.

    I’m going by did not end the depression as showing it didn’t solve the problem, but since a large part of the problem was caused by the Fed, it could have been the perfect solution and still be not help enough. I agree spending can work, but so does simply waiting, so how big was the difference between the two?

    Trying to compare with other countries might work- do you know if there was another country that had similar levels of international trade and government economic intervention we can use for comparison?

  • bbk

    Hoover actually started smaller scale programs at the beginning of the depression. As for length even when the government did nothing (in essentially all previous depressions) the downturns did not last 10 years. Note that other countries recovered faster than the United States and had smaller second downturns, if they had them at all.

    What other countries did is irrelevant. I’m guessing that you’re trying to imply that since Paraguay is not in the USA and the New Deal was in the USA, then it’s either impossible for Paraguay to recover or else the New Deal made things worse for the USA. Smells like a false dichotomy.

    Nevertheless, some other countries fared even worse than the USA and for longer lengths of time. The USA was not an outlier in the way you’re implying. If you wish to compare circumstances of each individual nation and the actions they took on a case by case basis, go ahead and try to find some relevant examples. I’m sure you won’t be able to take quite as authoritative a stance if all the facts are laid out, though. Same goes for comparing the length of time of random anonymous depressions in the past. Like, when the economy was largely agrarian, when there wasn’t that much to “recover” in the first place.

    Also, Hoover did everything possible to exacerbate the depression. It’s like giving water to a guy you just shot in the head and saying that you kept him from getting thirsty. I don’t know why you would mention Hoover in any other context than the severe damage he did by carrying out his “do nothing” conservative policies.

    I don’t know why you would bring up NIRA since, throughout the two years that NIRA was in effect, the economy recovered. And I don’t know what you mean by “if that was adopted”. The Supreme Court ruled it to be unconstitutional one month before it was set to expire. So, it was adopted, the economy grew while it was in effect, and it got shut down by conservatives who were more or less grandstanding just to make some stupid point about showing the unions who’s boss.

  • Samuel

    “Nevertheless, some other countries fared even worse than the USA and for longer lengths of time.”

    You mean like Canada which was dependent on trade with the US? Can you name them?

    “Like, when the economy was largely agrarian, when there wasn’t that much to “recover” in the first place.”

    So both other countries and other times don’t count.

    “Also, Hoover did everything possible to exacerbate the depression.”

    Hoover created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Emergency Relief and Construction Act, Agriculture Marketing Act and the Davis Bacon Act.

    All of the programs became parts of the later New Deal.

    “I don’t know why you would bring up NIRA since, throughout the two years that NIRA was in effect, the economy recovered. And I don’t know what you mean by “if that was adopted”. The Supreme Court ruled it to be unconstitutional one month before it was set to expire.”

    The NIRA didn’t have much effect because many business leaders stood up to the government over it.

    http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=66&page=transcript

    Aside from “fair competition” (which was never defined) the act also had these gems:
    Section 3e
    ” shall make complaint to the President that any article or articles are being imported into the United States in substantial quantities or increasing ratio to domestic production of any competitive article or articles and on such terms or under such conditions as to render ineffective or seriously to endanger the maintenance of any code or agreement under this title, the President may cause an immediate investigation to be made by the United States Tariff Commission, ”

    Trade war- because nothing helps the economy like banning cheaper imports.

    Sec 4b
    “Whenever the President shall find that destructive wage or price cutting or other activities contrary to the policy of this title are being practiced in any trade or industry or any subdivision thereof,”

    So yeah, you can’t lower your prices or your wages…

    Sec 9b
    “The President is authorized to institute proceedings to divorce from any holding company any pipe-line company controlled by such holding company which pipe-line company by unfair practices or by exorbitant rates in the transportation of petroleum or its products tends to create a monopoly.”

    Or we will take nationalize your company.

    Sec 9c
    “The President is authorized to prohibit the transportation in interstate and foreign commerce of petroleum and the products thereof produced or withdrawn from storage in excess of the amount permitted to be produced or withdrawn from storage by any State law or valid regulation or order prescribed thereunder, by any board, commission, officer, or other duly authorized agency of a State. ”

    Did I mention we will also be regulating consumption rates?

    “So, it was adopted, the economy grew while it was in effect, and it got shut down by conservatives who were more or less grandstanding just to make some stupid point about showing the unions who’s boss.””

    Comparitive economic growth is what we are arguing, remember? Also the reason it got shut down is because it let the federal government set prices and wages for everything. Government price fixing is bad. Helping to build monopolies is bad. Keeping wages high during deflation is bad.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I’ll probably write a longer comment later, but I wanted to remark on this:

    Too much goverment? Hah! India can make a car at 1/10nth the cost as in the U.S.? No problemo! Slap a tax on that mother! The red tape have ground the country to a screeching halt, what do we do? Why, create a beuracracy to analyze the issue over the next three decades an give them no expectation of results with a payroll 50% greater than other analysts and throw in immediate pensions!

    This is certainly a striking contrast between the hidebound bureaucracy that is the U.S. and the glorious free-market paradise that is India. Unless, that is, you happen to know that India has a notoriously complex and sprawling bureaucracy, and also subsidizes food, fuel and fertilizers to the rural poor on a massive scale. It’s almost enough to make one suspect that there are other factors contributing to the relative cost of goods.

  • bbk

    You mean like Canada which was dependent on trade with the US? Can you name them?

    You still seem confused and insist on comparing apples to oranges as if they were all fruit. No other country except Germany was hit by the depression as bad as the USA, so it goes without saying that those countries would recover sooner. Yet, some took longer.

    Re: Hoover. My analogy still stands. Hoover didn’t try to do anything progressive until it was already too late and he still didn’t do enough.

    Re: NIRA. Ah, I see why you mentioned it. You wanted an opening to start quoting from it and apparently I bit. Well, the fact remains that the economy still recovered while NIRA was in effect. So was it destructive or was it ineffective? Originally you seemed to claim that it would have destroyed the economy, but now you seem to be saying that it was just a failed policy that didn’t change anything. So, I’ll point out that legislation was passed later on that addressed NIRA’s perceived shortcomings.

    I’m trying to understand you. Perhaps you could be saying that NIRA extended the length of the Depression and this could be a valid point except that we’re still left with the fact that this was a time when the economy was recovering. So what difference does it make? You can’t blame the length of the Depression on NIRA, that’s for sure.

    I understand that you’re a monetarist and that furthermore you probably discount any kind of policy initiative except for such that would abolish the Fed and restore the Gold Standard. To that I have to say that it really makes no difference what standard we’re on as you could pretty much do the same thing. The Gold Standard got suspended just about anytime there was a need for major spending, which until the Great Depression had always been a war. In that respect the Gold Standard just presents government with an inconvenience and an excuse to empower fiscally conservative politicians.

    In the end, you seem to be avoiding the fact that the recovery stalled the minute that FDR cut spending. Recovery took place from the moment the dollar got floated as if in a time of war to the moment FDR decided to balance the budget again. Everything else that puts the blame on the Fed boils down to sophistry, including Milton Friedman and now Bernanke. Even if raising interest rates to control the money supply was a realy bad idea and it set the stage for depression, it doesn’t diminish the usefulness of demand side economics at all. Yes, the Fed should have bailed out the banks to prevent runs, but let’s not forget that they were bound to gold and couldn’t legally increase the money supply any more than the President could increase spending. Want to know of a country that recovered faster than the US? Britain – they floated to pound sooner and started recessionary spending.

  • Samuel

    “No other country except Germany was hit by the depression as bad as the USA, so it goes without saying that those countries would recover sooner. ”

    Strike- Canada and Australia both had higher rates of unemployment. Others were probably worse. I guess checking is to difficult?

    “Hoover. My analogy still stands. Hoover didn’t try to do anything progressive until it was already too late and he still didn’t do enough.”

    Origional arguement

    Also, Hoover did everything possible to exacerbate the depression.

    Stike 1- lying

    “Well, the fact remains that the economy still recovered while NIRA was in effect.”

    I am trying to show that the government adopted policies that were hostile to business and that helped slow recovery. As such saying it was recovering doesn’t help because we are arguing about rate.

    “In the end, you seem to be avoiding the fact that the recovery stalled the minute that FDR cut spending.”

    I showed that two other factors were also in play at the same time. Given that deflation was responsible for the Great Depression in the first place, I don't see why claiming that is odd.

    “Yes, the Fed should have bailed out the banks to prevent runs, but let’s not forget that they were bound to gold and couldn’t legally increase the money supply any more than the President could increase spending. ”

    Strike 2- You have no idea how the Fed works. I could explain, but to be honest it isn’t worth the aggravation of showing how loans work.

    “I understand that you’re a monetarist and that furthermore you probably discount any kind of policy initiative except for such that would abolish the Fed and restore the Gold Standard. ”

    Strike 3- I am not a monetarist, but since you are so convinced you already know my position, I guess there is no point in me continuing. I have better things to do- bye.

    Note- my position is that while government spending in a recession is a good idea, the New Deal was also hostile to business to such an extent it interfered with recovery.

  • bbk

    Strike- Canada and Australia both had higher rates of unemployment. Others were probably worse. I guess checking is to difficult?

    Firstly, no they didn’t. The USA hit 37.6% and Germany hit 36.2%, whereas no other countries came close. Secondly, that gets us to the question of how unemployment is measured. It’s pretty hard to compare because each country uses a different standard. Also, you might have found some other measure that includes farm workers or something.

    Stike 1- lying

    Absolutely not. He was either malicious or ignorant, but he was certainly aligned with the very rich. Not that FDR was much better, but at least FDR listened to some advice once in a while.

    Strike 2- You have no idea how the Fed works

    “Works” must be the operative keyword. I know perfectly well how it works, probably much better than you. I also know that it didn’t work the same way in 1929. The Fed was required by law to secure 40% of its notes with gold. The Bretton Woods accord hadn’t been established yet so the dollar wasn’t the de-facto world currency the way it has been for the rest of the century. The Fed couldn’t just sell off a bunch of Treasury Bills to an endless supply of buyers and without having to worry about risking the USA’s gold reserves. While the Fed made some horrific mistakes at the time, they had a completely different mindset than the Fed does today. Not the least of which is that Keynesian economics hadn’t seen the light of day yet, either. Don’t commit the Historian’s Fallacy and talk about the mistakes the Fed made as if by today’s standards. The very best advice at the time was to increase deficit spending and it would have worked quite well if Hoover got off his ass early enough and if FDR kept listening to people who knew better than him instead of going back to balance his budget. These presidents weren’t economists, that’s for sure. But they had the right tools and the advice was there. They chose ideology. That’s why the depression took so long.

    Strike 3- I am not a monetarist, but since you are so convinced you already know my position, I guess there is no point in me continuing.

    You certainly haven’t made your position clear. You seem to be against something in the New Deal, but I’m not sure what. Unions? Social Security? Unemployment insurance? Who knows, I don’t. The New Deal wasn’t “anti business” any more-so than the depression, was it? It’s not as if the free hand of the market was creating a paradise for everyday Americans. 99.9% of the people who fault the New Deal are conservatives with an ideological ax to grind. So the onus is on you to separate yourself from the mix.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    Okay, that is totally unfair. Rand Paul rented a blimp(Skyship 600, British made SUHWEEETNESS!). Therefore, he can do no wrong in my eyes. :) Oh, and Ebon, two things: 1, why the heck do we not have that here? If it works great, then I say go for it. Yet I get the niggling feeling there is a “but” in there somewhere. 2, I’m a little sad that no one answered my question, how much government is too much? When it starts to interfere with your civil liberties? or is “too liberal” an oxymoron? I will be the first to admit that Denmark and Sweden are hyperliberal and by any of Glenn Beck’s standards should be a smoldering stain on the bottom of God’s boot. Do THEY have something magical that we could successfully emulate over here? I would like to hear from you.

    And no, bbk, I am not a libertarian. Their cavalier morals and “boom-and-bust” economics scare me a bit. I am just willing to go with whatever has been shown to be successful.

  • The Vicar

    Just an update: the White House has announced, via David Axelrod, that they are willing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich without a fight. They’re just waiting for the Deficit Commission, which Obama created and staffed with anti-Social-Security-and-Medicare right-wingers (a.k.a. the “Catfood Commission”), gets back to us on December 1. That was even faster than I thought — I at least expected Obama to pretend it was a tough decision. And on the same day, the trial balloon for staying in Afghanistan until at least 2014 came through.

    Wow, those Democrats sure fight for what they believe in! …which is apparently nothing at all.

  • bbk

    No offense, but I’ll wait until a reputable news source reports on it. The Huffington Post sucks. This sort of subversive garbage is the very reason why Democrats lost. Just on Sunday Obama was on 60 Minutes talking about the destructive cost of extending the tax cuts for the rich and how it’s a horrible idea that they have to fight. Meanwhile, these woo peddling paranoid pothead nincampoops are feeding on their own defeatist cynicism. They’ve declared defeat a long time ago and now they’re re-declaring it again. And nothing even happened yet.

  • bbk

    By the way, Vicar, the second link to mcclatchy is even worse. It’s an unverified rumor from an unnamed source and the White House already responded to it, denying the whole rumor as an outright falsehood. This is what you base your opinions on? Let me get this straight: Republicans get elected and seek to undermine the president, military officials with heavy ties to Republicans and defense contractors want to undermine the president, and you’re getting your facts on unnamed sources and sensationalist headlines? Man, you’re just a stalwart defender of everything that’s right and good in this world, aren’t you?

  • The Vicar

    Well, let’s see. In practically the very first vote in which Obama participated as Senator after he got the nomination, he voted for the FISA extension bill with immunity for prosecution for the telecoms who helped with warrantless spying. This was directly counter to what he had said repeatedly before getting the nomination. (That is, he specifically promised that he would vote against any bill which included that provision.)

    Then there’s all the times he spoke in favor of a public option and the speech where he said that single-payer was the only sane way to handle health insurance, both of which took place after he had already negotiated with the insurance companies and the hospitals to guarantee that there would be no public option, let alone single-payer. (And that in a closed-door meeting, after he promised that everything related to healthcare would be broadcast live!)

    Or the way he said we would spend stimulus money on green energy projects? Didn’t happen. Instead we got a stimulus which was 40% tax cuts — which (predictably) has failed to do much for the economy. (And, incidentally, Obama gave speeches during the campaign in which he said that tax cuts were not a valid form of stimulus. Gee, what a surprise!)

    Who could forget how we were supposed to pull out of Iraq — except that that has now been redefined to mean we will pull “combat troops” out of Iraq. Not only is the total number of U.S. personnel there higher than it was in 2006, but we have accomplished this by putting non-”combat” troops into combat. Mission accomplished! What’s next, a move to burn more coal instead of oil so we can claim we’re using less energy?

    He promised to end “extreme renditioning” — i.e. capturing people, sending them overseas, and then torturing them. Hasn’t happened, and White House flunkies have been defending the practice, so presumably he wants it to continue. In fact, he has also put forward the claim that the president can have U.S. citizens assassinated without trial or even warning — not even Bush claimed that power officially. Remember the rule: don’t give an office power unless you are willing to see the worst possible person hold that power — imagine what Palin would do with that!

    And, of course, who could forget the promises he made about ending DADT, which have led directly into his total refusal to take any action which would actually end DADT, and his direction to his legal staff to defend it.

    If you go to Politifact’s Obameter, where they track promises, you’ll get a pretty rosy picture. Hey, more promises kept than broken! Great!

    …until you start looking into which promises are kept and broken. The little, trivial ones, which involve starting task forces or switching small amounts of pork from one project to another make up the bulk of the “kept” section. (Hey, it’s nice that he’s pushing for expanded broadband service areas — I’m on AT&T’s terrible DSL service, which stops working properly from 4 PM to 4 AM every day, and misery loves company — but isn’t it a little disingenuous to give it the same weight as, say, the public option?) The things which would have had a direct effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans are all either “broken” — ending income tax on seniors making less than $50000 a year, allowing prescription drug importation, allowing mortgage modification on bankruptcy, and of course the public option — or else they are listed as “in progress” or “stalled” without noting that representatives of the White House are actively working against them, as with the end to extraordinary renditions or DADT; they’re not stalled, they’re broken — Obama just hasn’t had a chance to sign the broken promises into law yet. Give him time.

    (And that’s ignoring the fact that Politifact is following the “it’s only a promise if he wrote it down and said ‘I promise’” rule. If you start counting the various places where he said in a speech that there was only one acceptable policy to push for, has since done work on that area of policy, and has done the exact opposite of what he said was acceptable, or similar types of non-”promise”, his record goes deep into the red very quickly. It’s the Obama version of Clinton’s “definition of ‘is’” weaseling — “it wasn’t a promise when I told you we should fight for X in a highly publicized speech because I never actually said I would do that”.)

    In other words: when Obama says something about an important subject, you can generally count on him actually doing the opposite. Maybe at his yearly press conference, he’ll ignore a question about it or something. More likely he’ll see his shadow and we’ll have two more years of rolling over for the Republicans. We’ll have a renewal of those tax cuts as soon as Congress can hand him the bill, and Obama will claim that keeping a hundred thousand troops in Afghanistan until 2014 is a compromise even though the Democrats get nothing in exchange, and justified by reports from the Pentagon (which, as always, will fail entirely to report anything unpleasant and make entirely unwarranted optimistic predictions).

    And don’t look to Congress for help; they deliberately did not take action on this before the election because they knew what they were going to do, and it isn’t the thing you seem to expect. But what can you expect from Nancy “We Refuse To Even Consider Impeaching Bush” Pelosi and Harry “Let’s Reward Lieberman After He Stabbed Us In The Back” Reid?

  • bbk

    Great, I read your entire comment hoping you might address my concerns over your use of disreputable sources but all I got was a laundry list of distorted anecdotes. Even if your response was 100% accurate, it still wouldn’t give an ounce of credibility to these rumors and slanted headlines. You’re way out of line and into full blown paranoia. You’re full of biases and fallacious reasoning. You’re practically inventing a single, overly simplistic cause to explain the correlation of a handful of cherry picked events that confirm your preconceived notions.

  • Alex Weaver

    Oh, for Samuel: you might want to read over this and then come back and tell us what exactly the flaws are.

  • bbk

    Vicar, perhaps not surprisingly at all, the White House called out the Huffington Post story for being “overwritten” (i.e. sensationalist bullshit). It’s obvious that the Huffington Post is doing it’s best to undermine public confidence in Democrats. They’re trying to push a self-fulfilling prophecy that claims that progressive politics are impossible. Perhaps we should all follow Ariana out to a commune and buy herbal remedies from her while we grow our own beets.

    By the way, the best strategy is to push for a permanent extension of the middle class tax cuts, using a balanced budget argument, and offering a qualified compromise for a temporary extension for the rich, but only if necessary. The only winning strategies for Republicans are to make all the cuts permanent or everything temporary. They need to be able to hold the middle class hostage in order to push any of their policies through. Obama is ensuring that they’re either pitted against the middle class now or right before the elections. In chess, this is like offering the queen as a sacrifice in order to set up the opponent for a checkmate 2 moves later. Nothing would bring the house back into Democratic control faster than an entire party of Teabaggers vying to extend tax cuts for bankers and oilmen with no one else to hold hostage right before an election. It’s a good compromise that will either help the economy and the budget or else it will help ensure another four years of liberal control down the line.

    Only the idiotic pundits at the Huffington Post can’t seem to realize this and shut their traps, but hey, the liberal media has always been its own worst enemy. They’re simpletons who can’t see more than 1 move in advance so to them, this can only be the loss of a queen. Their paranoid delusions of defeat make them see any temporary extension as a total loss, as a sign of cowardice and corporatist malice on the left. And they’re willing to twist the president’s words and start rumors in a selfishly cynical attempt of making themselves sound prophetic.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I’m late, but…

    J.James “And for those of you that shrilly put forth the ‘slippery slope’ nonargument that Republicans would let people starve in the streets and totally remove any semblance of regulation on big business…”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. A) Poor people starve in alleys, and B) The Republicans are just fine with rent seeking legislation.

    Samuel “(Clinton was the one who passed the Defense of Marriage Act)”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. Presidents don’t pass unvetoable bills (Note all the D’s). They sign them. Or don’t. Either way, they’re Law.

    bbk “Perhaps we should all follow Ariana out to a commune and buy herbal remedies from her while we grow our own beets.”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. Beets grow themselves, man.

  • The Vicar

    Gee, what a surprise. Obama is caving on those tax cuts for the wealthy, after the Democrats refused to hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire on the issue during this session. And, lo and behold, we also announced plans to stay in Afghanistan through 2014. And — continuing a tendency I noted above — he announced the tax cut “deal” while taking a jab at the left in his base, who did quite a lot of his campaign work in 2008 and definitely won’t be doing so in 2012. (In fact, I think chances are good that historians will someday mark this as the point where Obama definitely lost his reelection. The right has a motivated base and, thanks to the Citizens United decision, practically unlimited money, whereas the left has Obama sitting around complaining about anyone in his base who dares to criticize him. Which side do you think is going to win in that fight, hmmm?)

    You can abuse me all you like, but it looks very much like I have a much clearer view of how Obama acts than his defenders do; I’m predicting his behavior correctly, they aren’t. If, instead of discussing politics, we were talking about physics or chemistry, you wouldn’t bother continuing to make your claims.

    Which raises the question: given that Obama behaves exactly as though my explanation of his actions is right, (that is, regardless of what’s happening inside the black box of Washington D.C., functionally Obama is exactly as bad as I paint him), what does that say about his supporters? Are they secretly in favor of all the awful things going on which are a direct result of Obama’s actions, or do they somehow think, even after two years of evidence to the contrary, that Obama is really both competent and actually interested in doing anything good? Clearly, the Catholic Church isn’t the only place where abuses by those in authority will be forgiven and forgotten by the victims.

    Next prediction: Julian Assange will be stopped in some way over the next six months, whether it be trumped up accusations in Sweden, an extradition to the U.S., or simply a “disappearance”. (The charges against Assange in Sweden may well fail. After all, the Swedish prosecuter already announced that the accusations weren’t actionable, and only got revived — and made into actual charges — after the publication of the diplomatic cables and the announcement that WikiLeaks was going to publish leaks from a “too big to fail” bank. Depends on how openly the Swedes are willing to be U.S. pawns.) Obama’s supporters will continue to ignore the “innocent until proven guilty” rule and howl about how Assange is guilty of rape — or terrorism if he is acquitted. The end of Assange will, in the long term, actually aggravate the problem of leaks, since WikiLeaks has actually been redacting the documents it receives before publication, a practice which will probably end now that it has been demonstrated that whistle-blowing of any sort will be prosecuted by means fair or foul. Over the long term, the “solution” employed by the U.S. will probably be an attempt to censor the Internet on behalf of the U.S. government, along the lines of similar attempts in China. (Heck, there’s already a bill in Congress which would allow carriers to restrict “harmful traffic” without any attempt to explain: harmful to whom? Since Obama was key in ensuring that the telcos would not be prosecuted with cooperating with illegal wiretaps under Bush — see the FISA vote mentioned above — I doubt he is suddenly going to develop serious ethics about abuse of the system now.)

    About WikiLeaks, by the way: aren’t we constantly being told, when Obama’s TSA and Homeland Security are committing outrages against privacy, that the innocent have nothing to fear from invasions of privacy? Guess it makes a lot of difference whose ox is gored.


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