Archive for Republicans
Paul Krugman this morning writes about “the inflation cult,” doomsaying pundits and supposed economic experts who, economic rain or shine, predict that a steep rise in inflation is coming anytime now and, quite reliably, get it wrong time after time.
Part of that appeal is clearly political; there’s a reason why Mr. Santelli yells about both inflation and how President Obama is giving money away to “losers,” why Mr. Ryan warns about both a debased currency and a government that redistributes from “makers” to “takers.” Inflation cultists almost always link the Fed’s policies to complaints about government spending. They’re completely wrong about the details — no, the Fed isn’t printing money to cover the budget deficit — but it’s true that governments whose debt is denominated in a currency they can issue have more fiscal flexibility, and hence more ability to maintain aid to those in need, than governments that don’t.
And anger against “takers” — anger that is very much tied up with ethnic and cultural divisions — runs deep. Many people, therefore, feel an affinity with those who rant about looming inflation; Mr. Santelli is their kind of guy. In an important sense, I’d argue, the persistence of the inflation cult is an example of the “affinity fraud” crucial to many swindles, in which investors trust a con man because he seems to be part of their tribe. In this case, the con men may be conning themselves as well as their followers, but that hardly matters.
This tribal interpretation of the inflation cult helps explain the sheer rage you encounter when pointing out that the promised hyperinflation is nowhere to be seen. It’s comparable to the reaction you get when pointing out that Obamacare seems to be working, and probably has the same roots.
Not just economists, but the country (and perhaps the entire Republican Party) seems to be in the grip of an economic cult concerned with much more than inflation — that’s just a symptom. As Krugman suggests, ethnic and cultural (and class) divisions factor into it. Digby has written repeatedly (and just yesterday) that many of the same people “have always been wrong about everything.” And yet, their followers keep listening. Conservatism never fails. It is unfalsifiable. I wrote last week that the Koch brothers’ evangelism for the their libertarian Kochification Church resembles recruiting techniques used by cults.
Hey, let’s start a meme.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
North Carolina’s Republican House Speaker, Thom Tillis, wants to be the state’s next U.S. senator. He’s finding it a tough sell. Tea party members and Republican small businessmen oppose Tillis for pushing for toll lanes on I-77 in his own district and elsewhere in the state. Then, someone anonymously slipped a provision into a must-pass budget bill that “allows warrantless drone surveillance at all public events … or any place which is in ‘plain view’ of a law enforcement officer.” Privacy advocates from left to right cried foul.
Next, Tillis was been pilloried for “mansplaining” both in his debate with incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan and in a TV ad where he uses “simple math” (just numbers on a white board) to show how math is lost on Hagan. The Tillis ad spotlights the average 7% raise he claims state teachers received under his leadership (only after the loud public outcry over Republican education cuts in an election year). Well, not so fast.
When Gov. Pat McCrory wrote to welcome teachers back to the classroom, he touted a “substantial” pay raise that amounted to “an average pay increase of 5.5 percent for teachers.”
That might have been exciting news, except that legislative leaders have been touting a 7 percent average pay raise for more than a month. House Speaker Thom Tillis trumpets that 7 percent figure as “simple math” in a recent campaign ad for his U.S. Senate campaign.
I guess math is hard for Pat and Thom.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Our friends on the right get almost gleeful whenever they see an opening to use their superior command of economics to explain to liberals how the world really works.
Yet, the basic concept they themselves have trouble wrapping their brains around is “no free lunch.”
Gov. Sam Brownback’s tea party-driven economic experiment in Kansas is taking a toll. The latest poll shows him trailing his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, by 8 points. The Kansas City Star says Brownback is “paying a political price for bold leadership.” This is what bold leadership looks like:
Brownback has slashed income taxes, cut thousands off welfare, curbed abortion rights, tried gaining control of judicial appointments and made a failed attempt to cut arts funding.
When the moderate wing of his party stood in the way, Brownback successfully campaigned for conservatives more in step with his political philosophy so he could exert a tighter grip on the statehouse.
The result? His state’s economy is headed into the tank after slashing income taxes at Brownback’s urging, with more cuts scheduled and growth below projections. Standard & Poors downgraded Kansas’ credit rating in August. Davis charges that another Brownback term will bring cuts to Kansas schools.
Five hundred women from across the state gathered last week at the Taking Back Kansas convention in Wichita, put on by Women for Kansas and chaired by Lynn Stephan. The bipartisan group aims to turn out Brownback, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in November. Most of the candiidates they support are Democrats.
“Women in this state are scared,” Stephan said. “We’re going broke” under the leadership of Brownback’s tea-party fiscal ideas. Schools and hospitals in some small towns may have to close, she said, and then “the town will dry up and blow away.”
Although she considers herself a moderate Republican, Stephan said that “the Republican party abandoned me 10 years ago.”
That’s about two decades after the party abandoned reality for the magical thinking of trickle down economics and started worshipping the Market as a deity.
As much as conservatives discuss curtailing entitlements, many of them behave as if they are entitled to kick ass on any country they feel is stepping out of line, and to doing so without paying for it. They feel entitled to beat their chests about how exceptional America is, and entitled to the public infrastructure their parents and grandparents built with their taxes and sweat in making it a world power. Yet they seem to have no sense of pride in maintaining it. Not their responsibility. They’re taxed enough already.
They complain their taxes are too high, and all the while the country is running a budget deficit that proves they are not paying enough to cover its costs and to keep it from crumbling. A report last year ranked U.S. highways 18th in the world, behind Korea, Luxembourg, and Saudi Arabia.
Point this out, and conservatives insist that the problem is government is spending too much. That we need to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse — the bane of Republicans’ perpetual motion economy.
See, America could maintain its infrastructure, fund top-notch schools, and support a costly global empire indefinitely without raising taxes just by eliminating the friction of waste, fraud, and abuse.
And by installing this simple device — one that big oil companies have tried to suppress — your car can get 500 miles per gallon. Order now!
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
With the imposition of a state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit, a local activist says half the voting population of Michigan has, essentially, lost the right to vote. As we noted during our recent visit, they’re also cutting off the water to thousands of Detroit families and headed towards privatizing the water and sewer systems. Sally Kohn looks at The Republican Occupation of Detroit:
Why would any city want to privatize its water system? A report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) shows that water privatization fairly universally leads to higher prices for cities and consumers and, in many cases, decreased efficiencies. In fact, the track record for water privatization is so abysmal that CAI found more than 20 American cities that had once privatized their water have taken back control of their systems since 2002. If water privatization is bad for the city of Detroit and its residents, who is it good for? Corporations. Which is where the state’s interest comes in.
Government governs best that’s closest to the people? Not so in Michigan. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s GOP may hate what they decry as the nanny state, but they are just fine with a paternalistic daddy state.
Under Governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-led legislature, North Carolina is headed there as well. Michigan just got there first.
Yeah, I’m talking to you hot pants! You so fine I want your vote to be mine. Didn’t you know I was a free-market Love God? It’s because I’ve got “invisible hands” but it feels so good when they make the market run in perfect harmony, you know what I’m sayin’?
Hey, sweet cheeks, don’t get upset. I’m just trying to bring the debate down to your level, honey! Are you getting me yet? Are you voting for me yet? Do ya love me Baby? Do ya? Can you fetch a cool glass of privatized water for me Baby?
I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.
A Good Read
Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.
Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.
The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.
First, there was slavery. This is something new, writes Charlie Pierce.
A few weeks back, I quoted this in the Citizen-Times:
“It’s just sad when a political party has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. I am not willing to defend them anymore.”
– retiring Wisconsin state Senator Dale Schultz, the sole Senate Republican to oppose early voting limits
Except that’s not all they are pouring their energy into.
Each week, Moral Monday groups in Raleigh protest legislation passed by political vandals bent on unmaking the 20th century in North Carolina. The vandals’ allies are at work attempting to do the same across the country, uprooting the systems put in place that built America into a superpower. Not weapons systems, but systems put in place by the people and for the people to make their lives just a little bit better.
Political vandals wearing flag pins and waving Gadsden flags consider those systems — the country everyday Americans built in the 20th century — an abomination, and believe themselves to be our betters, not “traditional” Americans. This week, Cynthis Greene shot back at NC Speaker Thom Tillis for saying so:
Let’s just be clear, Thom: I’m not interested in your brand of tradition; I’m interested in the best, most humane traditions of our state. And I think you need a history lesson: Our North Carolina was a state that opened some of the nation’s first public health departments and publicly funded libraries—signs that at least some people in government cared about public health and education.
Not that Tillis, his bosses, or his acolytes will hear any of it. They’re too busy trying to work around a legal inconvenience called the North Carolina constitution, as Gene Nichol observed last week:
When our legislators move beyond the enactment of preferred policies to restrict access to the courts, or breach judicial independence, or constrain rights of expression and petition, or trump local government prerogative, or tilt the electoral playing field, they alter the structure, balance and legitimacy of government. They declare: “There’s a new sheriff in town, it’s our way or the highway and we’ve widened the on-ramp.” Huey Long must be proud.
Indeed. Yet it is more than just arrogance, but a kind of religious fervor. What markets itself as political ideology has, in fact, become more like a political cult full of fundamentalist zeal lending “a new kind of systematized cruelty” to our politics, as Charlie Pierce put it over at Esquire:
We cheer for cruelty and say that we are asking for personal responsibility among those people who are not us, because the people who are not us do not deserve the same benefits of the political commonwealth that we have. In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate. We set the best instincts of ourselves in conflict with each other until they tear each other to ribbons, and until they are no longer our best instincts but something dark and bitter and corroborate with itself. And then it fights all the institutions that our best instincts once supported, all the elements of the political commonwealth that we once thought permanent, all the arguments that we once thought settled — until there is a terrible kind of moral self-destruction that touches those institutions and leaves them soft and fragile and, eventually, evanescent. We do all these things, cruelty running through them like hot blood, and we call it our politics.
Ben Jealous calls for massive voter registration in the Southin a report for the Center for American Progress:
The first and most important lesson is that massive voter registration can overcome massive voter suppression. Our analysis shows that registering just 30 percent of eligible unregistered black voters or other voters of color could shift the political calculus in a number of Black Belt states, helping blacks elect candidates who share their concerns or alternatively, forcing all candidates to pay attention to the community’s concerns. Registering 60 percent or 90 percent would change the political calculus in an even greater number of states.
Jealous speculates it would take $6-7 million to sign up the 350,000 unregistered black voters in South Carolina, for example, and change the political calculus there, as well as in other southern states. He’s calling for another Freedom Summer to do just that.
The parties can find a billion dollars to spend on presidential races. Jealous thinks we all need to get a clue and spend a tiny fraction of that to change politics in the South. Republican margins of victory in states across the “Black Belt” are substantially less than the number of unregistered people of color there. The extreme right knows this, and knows that demographics are not in their favor for the foreseeable future. Hence the wave of voter suppression efforts across the South and elsewhere.
The report is here.
Your daily GOP in two Tweets from progressive radios’s Angie Coiro:
— Angie Coiro (@Angie_Coiro) June 11, 2014
— Angie Coiro (@Angie_Coiro) June 11, 2014
Hmmm. Maybe marijuana should be legalized and the tea they are drinking should be banned.