Thursday, April 14, 2011

Counting the votes, seeing the forest

There is much rejoicing that not all of the House Republicans voted for the budget measure. But this isn't a proof that Boehner didn't have the votes; after all some House Democrats voted for it.

Let us look at the forest—the political consensus—rather than the trees—individual politicians. The vote shows that a bipartisan coalition of conservative Democrats and non-Tea Party Republicans is the governing consensus of the USA. Which was already pretty obvious.

Now…will this coalition address unemployment? Nope? The housing crisis? Only on technical issues. The banking disaster? Nope.

...and global climate change and other international environmental issues?

Houston, we have a problem.


On the Deficit Speech

Obama is campaigning, at least that's my take on it. And, as with all of Obama's campaign speeches, it's important to listen to what is not there. I like Thoma's remarks on the speech; he quotes Krugman and Delong and adds "this proposal turns its back on those who are still unemployed." And also the people who are being thrown out of their homes and the people who want a trustworthy banking system.

This will become the leftmost marker of Congressional debate, with the rightmost being very far right: the Ryan plan. So what we get will likely be worse than this in significant ways. Obama may be hoping that, like Reagan, he can use his popularity to pressure Congress. With high unemployment and people losing their homes every day, I don't see how. Half the public, maybe, is convinced that cutting social programs will somehow magically restore their jobs, and none of our elected leaders have even tried to kill that zombie idea: maybe it has eaten their brains.

Hard times, no leadership.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Brief Note on Uncritical Support of Obama

Personal loyalty to rulers is not a democratic virtue.

"Serious People"

When I hear people talking about how a plan is "serious" about the US budget, when I hear talk of "necessary" pain, I know that that the pain is unnecessary and the plan is junk. A person who has made bad mistakes, and who needs to do hard things in their life to set them as right as possible, may talk like this. But that's not where this is at. This about making the elderly and poor suffer, and further impoverishing the majority of the USA.

And that is what it takes to be "serious" in the politics of these times: making your "inferiors" suffer. Because, if the Serious People couldn't do this, they might have to undertake some austerity in their own lives.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What the Democrats Might Do

John Cole, complaining about criticism of Obama and the Democratic Party leadership.
I honestly don’t know what exactly the Dems are supposed to do.
He goes on to say “raise more money, volunteer more time, and walk more precincts in 2012”—to work even harder for a party and a leadership that has consistently failed and often betrayed him. I don't agree, so instead I offer this answer, slightly edited from comments.

  • Get out there & start talking up Keynsianism. Remind people how of Hoover’s failure in 1930, and FDR’s budget balancing in 1937. Criticize the investment banks for gross malfeasance, the mortgage banks for fraud, and the health insurance companies for price-gouging.
  • Get out there & start talking environmentalism. Start talking science. Start talking jobs. Start talking union. Start talking women’s rights. Start talking freedom and equality—remember those?
  • Investigate the Koch Brothers. Investigate ALEC.
  • Stop lying to the public. Stop telling people it’s really OK when no way it is. Stop making deals with the devil.

Without these things—without some positive program and the will to advocate it—“raise more money, volunteer more time, and walk more precincts in 2012” will at best keep matters as they are, and matters as they are are pretty grim. I don’t believe the Tea Party Republicans can sustain their fever pitch of madness, even with ALEC/Koch funding. They are losing credibility with the public, and they will not regain it. But without some realistic, compassionate alternative there will be no change, except from the currents of history.