Selective Amnesia

You don’t have to abandon your principles to cut a deal. You just have to acknowledge that there are other people in the world and even a president doesn’t get to stamp his foot and have his way…They believe nonliberals are blackmailers or hostage-takers or the concentrated repositories of human evil, so, of course, they see coalition-building as collaboration. They are also convinced that Democrats should never start a negotiation because they will always end up losing in the end.David Brooks

This is what drives me crazy. Why is it that if Dems stick to their guns they are called immature or irrational but when the wing-nuts do it is a principled stand or a policy difference? Let me clear this up for you Mr. Brooks when you hold up 98% of Americans tax relief for the benefit of the wealthiest 2% by borrowing money from foreign countries and mortgaging our future that is not a difference in policy and that is not negotiating. It is blackmail pure and simple. So my question is how do you build coalitions with people who are willing to block all legislation until they get their way? Sounds to me like they are stomping their feet or holding their breath, but I am no student of politics like you.

Here in a nutshell is why Dems can never maintain the majorities like they did following WWII, they have lost the art of politics. It has only been two short years since one of the worst President’s in the history of America left office and they were given majorities in both Houses and the White House and now they are on the outside looking in. This is the same President who stomped his feet and invaded another country under false pretenses, who passed two tax-cut bills for the wealthy, and presided over the collapse of our economy. Remember how the wing-nuts were on the verge of regionalism and extinction as a major political party? What happened? Most Dems think that the power of their arguments and the strength of their ideas will carry the day. If we just educate the public to what we are trying to accomplish of course they will side with us. No, they won’t. You are bringing a knife to a bazooka fight and you are getting killed.

People on Madison Avenue make a boatload of money figuring out how to sell crap to a bunch of people who don’t need it. I mean really do you need a 500.00 cell phone? The wing-nuts have brought those same tactics to politics and the media. They have used branding to not make the country completely conservative, just more conservative than it was 30 years ago. So now the center is no longer the center. You now have Dems espousing former wing-nut positions as if they were now mainstream and rational.

The Dems refuse to call what the wing-nuts are doing for what it really is, immoral. During the healthcare debate it was never couched in terms of its immorality to allow the insurance companies to continue doing what they were doing to people. Is it immoral to have people dying, going broke, or be uninsurable because they happen to have gotten sick in America? No, it became an economic issue. The same thing is happening today concerning the tax-cuts. It isn’t about morality and fairness it is about economics. As long as Dems continue to allow the wing-nuts to frame their positions in purely economic terms they will continue to be defensible. We are just having a difference of opinion about economic policy so the rational thing to do is to split the difference. As if connecting Social Security, unemployment insurance, tuition support, and earned income tax credits with tax breaks for the rich is morally equivalent. And as long as we continue to allow the wing-nuts and their talking heads to get away with creating this false moral equivalency argument we will continue to lose.

What is going on in America today is not about economics, it is about strategically weakening and eventually removing our safety nets and our middle-class. Think about it what better time to set this in motion than when we were are in the midst of the “great recession” and everyone is fearful and trying to hang on to what little they have. This is no time to increase taxes, this is no time to increase infrastructure spending, this is no time to think about the environment. Basically this is no time to do anything but continue to provide the wealthiest more assistance because we know that if they drink enough champagne eventually some will trickle down on us. Of course it may be a little warm and discolored. This is about shared sacrifice and not about class warfare as the wing-nuts and wealthy apologists continue to claim. If I am receiving most of the benefits isn’t it only fair that in times of crisis I be willing to give back more than those who are not. This isn’t about economics it is about the so-called “Christian values” these folks are so proud to espouse and criticize liberals for not having until it actually requires having to live up to them. I am a Christian unless that means I have to stand up for the poor and sick against those who fund my campaigns, or my reality shows, or my library additions.

You did get one thing right Mr. Brooks we do believe that “these” Dems should never enter into negotiations because as the record plainly demonstrates they have a tendency to capitulate before any punches are thrown. This isn’t about purist versus non-purists it is about basic fairness or have you lost sight of that concept. After the way the teabaggers purified the last election how anyone could accuse the Dems as purist is beyond me. Again, it is how the media covers the traits of the two parties. Wing-nut intransigence and obstructionism is doing the people’s will, but you Dems are just being a bunch of crybabies and whiners. Buck up. The wing-nuts are forcing the Dems to take all of the tough votes so that no matter how it plays out they win. If you allow the tax-cuts to expire you raised taxes, if you put in the tax-cuts you have increased the deficit, and if the economy doesn’t turn around then it was your wasteful spending. Call me crazy but if you are going to get it no matter what, then you might as well do the right thing.

The main problem I have with all of this is that we are about to put more money into tax-cuts than we did in the original stimulus bill. Since when did cutting taxes become a Democratic solution to anything? No, Mr. Brooks it isn’t coalition building when you take on the policies of your adversaries. Would it have been negotiation with al-Qaeda if we had agreed to no longer recognize Israel in exchange for anything? If you begin to change your policies to match the opposition to get their approval that isn’t coalition building or collaboration, it is capitulation and that Mr. Brooks is what has so many angry. There was a time when we knew what the Dems stood for. Today the more I read and hear the less I know what they stand for.

If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction. - Mitch McConnell

The Disputed Truth

Selective Amnesia

You don’t have to abandon your principles to cut a deal. You just have to acknowledge that there are other people in the world and even a president doesn’t get to stamp his foot and have his way…They believe nonliberals are blackmailers or hostage-takers or the concentrated repositories of human evil, so, of course, they see coalition-building as collaboration. They are also convinced that Democrats should never start a negotiation because they will always end up losing in the end.David Brooks

This is what drives me crazy. Why is it that if Dems stick to their guns they are called immature or irrational but when the wing-nuts do it is a principled stand or a policy difference? Let me clear this up for you Mr. Brooks when you hold up 98% of Americans tax relief for the benefit of the wealthiest 2% by borrowing money from foreign countries and mortgaging our future that is not a difference in policy and that is not negotiating. It is blackmail pure and simple. So my question is how do you build coalitions with people who are willing to block all legislation until they get their way? Sounds to me like they are stomping their feet or holding their breath, but I am no student of politics like you.

Here in a nutshell is why Dems can never maintain the majorities like they did following WWII, they have lost the art of politics. It has only been two short years since one of the worst President’s in the history of America left office and they were given majorities in both Houses and the White House and now they are on the outside looking in. This is the same President who stomped his feet and invaded another country under false pretenses, who passed two tax-cut bills for the wealthy, and presided over the collapse of our economy. Remember how the wing-nuts were on the verge of regionalism and extinction as a major political party? What happened? Most Dems think that the power of their arguments and the strength of their ideas will carry the day. If we just educate the public to what we are trying to accomplish of course they will side with us. No, they won’t. You are bringing a knife to a bazooka fight and you are getting killed.

People on Madison Avenue make a boatload of money figuring out how to sell crap to a bunch of people who don’t need it. I mean really do you need a 500.00 cell phone? The wing-nuts have brought those same tactics to politics and the media. They have used branding to not make the country completely conservative, just more conservative than it was 30 years ago. So now the center is no longer the center. You now have Dems espousing former wing-nut positions as if they were now mainstream and rational.

The Dems refuse to call what the wing-nuts are doing for what it really is, immoral. During the healthcare debate it was never couched in terms of its immorality to allow the insurance companies to continue doing what they were doing to people. Is it immoral to have people dying, going broke, or be uninsurable because they happen to have gotten sick in America? No, it became an economic issue. The same thing is happening today concerning the tax-cuts. It isn’t about morality and fairness it is about economics. As long as Dems continue to allow the wing-nuts to frame their positions in purely economic terms they will continue to be defensible. We are just having a difference of opinion about economic policy so the rational thing to do is to split the difference. As if connecting Social Security, unemployment insurance, tuition support, and earned income tax credits with tax breaks for the rich is morally equivalent. And as long as we continue to allow the wing-nuts and their talking heads to get away with creating this false moral equivalency argument we will continue to lose.

What is going on in America today is not about economics, it is about strategically weakening and eventually removing our safety nets and our middle-class. Think about it what better time to set this in motion than when we were are in the midst of the “great recession” and everyone is fearful and trying to hang on to what little they have. This is no time to increase taxes, this is no time to increase infrastructure spending, this is no time to think about the environment. Basically this is no time to do anything but continue to provide the wealthiest more assistance because we know that if they drink enough champagne eventually some will trickle down on us. Of course it may be a little warm and discolored. This is about shared sacrifice and not about class warfare as the wing-nuts and wealthy apologists continue to claim. If I am receiving most of the benefits isn’t it only fair that in times of crisis I be willing to give back more than those who are not. This isn’t about economics it is about the so-called “Christian values” these folks are so proud to espouse and criticize liberals for not having until it actually requires having to live up to them. I am a Christian unless that means I have to stand up for the poor and sick against those who fund my campaigns, or my reality shows, or my library additions.

You did get one thing right Mr. Brooks we do believe that “these” Dems should never enter into negotiations because as the record plainly demonstrates they have a tendency to capitulate before any punches are thrown. This isn’t about purist versus non-purists it is about basic fairness or have you lost sight of that concept. After the way the teabaggers purified the last election how anyone could accuse the Dems as purist is beyond me. Again, it is how the media covers the traits of the two parties. Wing-nut intransigence and obstructionism is doing the people’s will, but you Dems are just being a bunch of crybabies and whiners. Buck up. The wing-nuts are forcing the Dems to take all of the tough votes so that no matter how it plays out they win. If you allow the tax-cuts to expire you raised taxes, if you put in the tax-cuts you have increased the deficit, and if the economy doesn’t turn around then it was your wasteful spending. Call me crazy but if you are going to get it no matter what, then you might as well do the right thing.

The main problem I have with all of this is that we are about to put more money into tax-cuts than we did in the original stimulus bill. Since when did cutting taxes become a Democratic solution to anything? No, Mr. Brooks it isn’t coalition building when you take on the policies of your adversaries. Would it have been negotiation with al-Qaeda if we had agreed to no longer recognize Israel in exchange for anything? If you begin to change your policies to match the opposition to get their approval that isn’t coalition building or collaboration, it is capitulation and that Mr. Brooks is what has so many angry. There was a time when we knew what the Dems stood for. Today the more I read and hear the less I know what they stand for.

If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction. - Mitch McConnell

The Disputed Truth

Bizarro World: The New Left is now the Tea Party

Because of this assumption, members of the Tea Party right, like the members of the New Left, spend a lot of time worrying about being co-opted. They worry that the corrupt forces of the establishment are perpetually trying to infiltrate the purity of their ranks. – David Brooks New York Times Columnist

First of all I want to apologize to all of those people from the peace movement, civil rights movement, and the other groups from the sixties who fought and died for long denied social change in America for this article from David Brooks. Obviously while so many Americans were actually trying to grapple with a social system that they felt no longer represented who they were Mr. Brooks was too young to know what was going on. I have a real hard time taking anyone seriously who writes about a period of history that they did not actually participate in. To me most post-history is either conjecture or an attempt at a mulligan for those who are promoting their own agendas.

At no time has this fact become more true as it is now during the current period in our history when we are about to be bombarded by the “memoirs” of the disgraced Bush officials and their apologists. The three poster children for this period of selective amnesia ought to be Cheney, Rove, and now Brooks. If this column weren’t so dangerous it would almost be laughable. The reason that this column is dangerous is that it attempts to give legitimacy to the tea-partiers as neo-hippies taking on “the man” and “the system”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tea-partiers began as astro-turf bankrolled by the defeat health-care lobbyist and no amount of cover from the right will legitimize them.

What Mr. Brooks fails to realize is that there are profound differences between what the tea-partiers are protesting and the protests of the “new left”. Has he forgotten that there was actually a war going on in Southeast Asia that was taking the lives, dreams, and family members of hundreds of thousands of Americans? Has also forgotten that blacks were living under the crushing oppression of Jim Crow while their civil rights were being denied in all areas of America? Has he forgotten that many blacks were still being lynched, sent to prison, and beaten for trying to express the rights that he and his friends take for granted? His attempts to equate the tea-partiers exploits to those of people who were willing to risk life, limb, and future for a true cause is not just disingenuous, it’s an insult to the memory of all of the slain civil rights workers and anti-war protesters.

To be fair many people may actually believe that President Obama is a foreign-born citizen and is not legitimately President. There also may be those who truly believe that he is leading the country towards socialism through a government take-over of healthcare. There may be those who truly believe that the federal budget was balanced prior to his taking office, that the country was at full-employment, and our economy was flying right along until President Obama’s coup took over in January of 2009. The truth is that we know that the “paranoia” of the sixties radicals was well founded by the release of so many FBI documents and internal government memos. To compare their legitimate fears to those of a bunch of folks many of whom who have some form of government healthcare today who believe that healthcare reform is a government plot to create death panels is unconscionable.

Actually, I am quite pleased that the Republicans are trying to recruit the tea-party folks it will give them a taste of what Democrats go through daily when you have a big tent. When you allow every voice to be heard you are liable to hear some things you weren’t expecting and for a party where everything is scripted right up to the candidates voting record for the next 10 years this could be a little disheartening. I agree the tea-partiers are radical and theatrical but to compare corporate mouthpiece Dick Armey to Saul Alinsky who spent his life trying to improve the lives of those less-fortunate is a stretch even for Brooks.

"Negroes were being lynched regularly in the South as the first stirrings of black opposition began to be felt, and many of the white civil rights organizers and labor agitators who had started to work with them were tarred, feathered, castrated -- or killed. Most Southern politicians were members of the Ku Klux Klan and had no compunction about boasting of it” – Saul Alinsky

For David Brooks to try and give credence to the “straw” and “boogie” men of the tea-partiers as being similar to the new left is criminal. Mr. Brooks, I don’t know where you got your research of the sixties and seventies but you might leave that history to those who were actually there. Another small difference between the two that continually gets ignored by the mainstream media is during the protests of the new left all races were represented because the issues being addressed affected all the people in the country. Where is the “melting pot” with the tea-party movement? If the issues they are protesting actually affected us all like the injustices of racism or the destruction of a senseless war where are the rest of the folks? Are minorities not concerned with losing their freedoms in a communist takeover?

One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide. – Saul Alinsky

I Give Up

I support the Weak and Feckless Approach. Trust is based on mutual respect and reciprocity. If, at this moment of rage and cynicism, the ruling class goes even further and snubs popular opinion, then that will set off an ugly, destructive, and yet fully justified popular rebellion. Trust in government will be irrevocably broken. It will decimate policy-making for a generation.David Brooks, NY Times

I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to blog about the lessons of Massachusetts or the direction the President should take in its wake. But leave it to David Brooks to bring out the worst in me. First let me begin by saying that what happened in Massachusetts was a message but not the one that the talking heads and pundits in the media are determined to sell us.

There's more...

David Brooks Wouldn't Mind a Single-Payer System

Maybe he has said this in the past but if so, I've missed it. His comments come around the two minute mark right after Paul Krugman notes all the flaws in the bill.

It's somewhat exasperating for me because I think I've made the argument that spending 17 percent of our GDP on healthcare is unsustainable and that most other advanced industrial nations that make up the OECD are spending on average around 10 percent of their GDP achieving universal coverage and obtaining better results in terms of socio-economic metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality etc. So while it is refreshing to hear David Brooks admit that our current system is untenable, why didn't he write on the merits of a single payer system considering he has a national podium at the New York Times? And he's right, a single payer system would control costs and I am not convinced that this bill will accomplish that.

Paul Krugman has some thoughts on polling at the end that are also illuminating.

Update [2009-12-28 3:40:1 by Charles Lemos]: After a little research, I found this exchange between Gail Collins and David Brooks in the New York Times back on July 29, 2009 discussing the question "What's Wrong with the Single-Payer?"

I’m not crazy about the public plan. I dislike the idea of the government competing in a marketplace it regulates. I think the temptation to subsidize the public entity will be overwhelming. But I’m not vociferously against it either. That’s because:

A.) I’m not that thrilled with the insurance companies.

B.) I think it will save money, but not that much (the C.B.O. agrees).

C.) (!) I think it will produce small administrative efficiencies.

Democratic politicians throw around statistics claiming that Medicare has much, much lower administrative costs than private insurers. I’ve been told by various economists that this claim is three-quarters trickery. It’s a lot cheaper to administer a targeted population that uses a lot of care than it is to administer a large population that uses little care per capita. Plus you can save a lot of administrative costs if you don’t actually regulate treatments that much.

There's more...

Diaries

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