Tuesday: Exasperation

How to administer a dope slap

Update:  I didn’t know this but today is “Pay a Blogger” day.  Jeez, is it that time again?  It seems like it comes earlier and earlier each year.  We now have a button in the left sidebar but it may disappear and reappear randomly.  Zhat vay, ve vill train you to hit zhe bar vhen it appears.  Ve haff found zhat habituation leads to disinterest.  Yah?  Zo, hit zhe button vhen you zee it.  Proceeds will help me get to various events and will keep Katiebird in her technical manuals.

I haven’t criticized Paul Krugman for awhile now, and I don’t really like to do it.  I feel like we’re almost neighbors, what with Paul living just down the road a-spell and all.  Theoretically, I could run into him.  {{Paul shivvers at the thought of that and considers hiring body guards}}

It’s not that I disagree with him in any way.  In fact, I don’t.  But one of his latest blog posts bugs the stuffing out of me.  In Mission Not Accomplished, Krugman writes:

Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum say the right thing about revelations that big banks got very easy terms during the financial crisis: the real scandal isn’t so much that those banks got rescued as that the rest of the population didn’t.

For sure, the Fed and Treasury should have driven harder bargains. I think the political landscape would look different and better right now if the Obama administration had in fact taken at least one big bank into receivership. But in the crisis, money had to flow freely, and the truth is that the gifts bankers received are more a source of annoyance than a source of current problems.

What’s unforgivable is the way policymakers, both at the Fed and elsewhere, basically declared Mission Accomplished as soon as the panic in financial markets subsided and stocks were up again.

This is not news to any of us who have been paying attention.  It’s certainly not news to Krugman either because I read his blog and column pretty regularly.  No, what ticks me off is that we have another example of citing male bloggers as having had a great revelation, in this case Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum.  Kevin, Paul?  Kevin, “I trust Obama’s judgment because he’s smarter than I am” Drum?  Or Matt Yglesias, who snickered in 2008 that if only the Clinton voters knew how the party powerbrokers were setting things up they’d go with their second choice and stop wasting everyone’s time (but they won’t do that because they’re not that bright)?  Come to think of it, that post by Matt Yglesias in The Atlantic in 2008 has to be the most stunning example of what the Obama contingent was thinking when they decided to f^%& over the Clinton voters that I have ever seen.  Let me cite it for you because it really is that breathtaking:

After all, consider the situation in Pennsylvania. All indications are that a clear majority of Pennsylvania Democrats would prefer for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee than for Barack Obama to be the nominee. But there are few indications that they understand the real structure of the race — that a miracle Obama comeback in PA would mean that Democrats enter May with a nominee and a financial advantage, whereas a sizable Clinton win in PA may mean that Democrats don’t get a nominee until August and that that nominee, who’ll almost certainly be Barack Obama anyway, will have a much tougher time winning in November. I think if voters better-understood the situation, they’d be much more inclined to vote for their second-favorite Democrat in the race, much less eager to do volunteer work for Clinton, much less inclined to donate money to her campaign, etc. But people won’t understand the dynamic unless it’s explained to them by credible party leaders.

Did you catch that?  What Matt said was that he was talking to party movers and shakers and they told him that it didn’t matter if Clinton won Pennsylvania or any other state after that.  The party had already decided that she wasn’t going to be the nominee no matter how many people voted for her and that continuing to vote for her wasn’t going to change this outcome.  I cited this Yglesias post back in March 2008.  MARCH.

So, Yglesias and Drum haven’t had the best judgment in the world and they’re late to the “bailing out the banks was only part of the solution” party.  It doesn’t surprise me.  Neither one of them live in the middle class of the research worker that my friends and I live in.  They don’t know what it’s like to experience a devastation of their industry or see every one of their friends go through a layoff.  They don’t know what it’s like to be unable to find anything but contract work with no bennies in spite of degrees in the hard sciences.  Life is hard out here.  Three days after Thanksgiving, there is no one at the Mall and the parking lots are not full. I haven’t seen Central New Jersey’s retail sector look like this since 2008.  Matt and Kevin are somewhat insulated from that by what Elizabeth Bennett would call “their connexions”.  Why are guy bloggers so much more likely to have “connexions” that lead to jobs that pay?  Can you answer me that, Paul?  Greg?

By the way, in a couple of years, will we be reading Matt and Kevin’s posts that say, “Golly!  We don’t have a research infrastructure anymore.  The finance guys and MBAs with executive hair at all of our research companies gutted their R&D departments in order to extract “shareholder value” and big bonuses.  And now, there are no new therapeutic agents in the pipeline.  Dadgummit! Why didn’t I know this until now?  I thought President Obama, whose judgment I trust more than my own, said we needed more STEM workers.  Why are hundreds of thousands of them destitute or working for Wall Street?”

In any case, Elizabeth Warren was a proponent for bailing out the middle class way back in 2009 in that notorious interview that she had with Adam Davidson on Planet Money, an interview that we and other bloggers have cited on more than one occasion to make the same point that Yglesias and Drum are just now figuring out.  By the way, did you notice the dismissive contempt that Davidson had for Warren in that interview?  I wonder if guys realize they sound like this to those of us who know they are full of it. And if it is true that Matt and Kevin are suddenly discovering that, “Hey! We should have given money to people who weren’t rich so they could keep their jobs and pay their mortgages.  That way, we would have refilled our bank and treasury coffers from the bottom up!”, should Paul Krugman be using them as examples of bloggy enlightenment?  Putting aside whether female voices are underrepresented in the more prestigious online opinion journals, how do Slate and Mother Jones justify putting on their payrolls two people who have been so disastrously behind the zeitgeist, with histories of suspending their own judgments to adopt the clueless or malicious opinions of others, especially now that we know that our own judgment was correct and theirs was wrong?

Over and over again, we have seen male bloggers used as voices of authority in online opinion pieces.  Whether this is just a bad habit or preference doesn’t matter.  It could be that Paul Krugman is surrounded by sycophantic, toe licking, ego-massagers and these people just happen to be male grad student types and Yglesias and Drum seem familiar to him.   But if we want to make sure that voices like Christina Romer’s and Elizabeth Warren’s are not trampled on in meetings with the next president, we need to encourage Krugman and Sargent to go outside of their comfort zone.  We have to make sure that the public gets used to hearing opinions from people other than the toady male grad student types as authority figures at the grassroots level so that future presidents have a harder time ignoring and dismissing them.  Don’t whine about it three years later, Paul.

If Krugman is wondering why it took so long for the powers that be to realize that helping the middle class should have been a priority, he need look no further than Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum and Adam Davidson.

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A little off topic: I found this clip of John Dominic Crossan, scholar of early Christianity, on the dangers of fundamentalism.  He sounds like what I have been trying to say about the malignant nature of fundamentalist Christianity.  I guess you need to live with it up close and personal to understand how dangerous it is.  When I say malignant, I am saying that fundamentalist Christianity spreads, it doesn’t contribute to the well being of society because it isn’t interested in the survival of that society, it’s harmful to other people that don’t follow its strict interpretation of scripture and the best you can do is suppress it and keep it in check.  You will never be able to eliminate it.  That’s why it has been such a disaster for the country to continue to treat fundamentalism so respectfully.  We must challenge it a lot more strenuously because it is dangerous if it gets out of control.

Tuesday: Someone needs a dopeslap

So, James Clyburn has correctly identified the problem behind the resistance to solving the impending budget crisis.  The Republicans have taken a “no new taxes” pledge, like they always do, and have decided that closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and multinational business community is equivalent to new taxes.

Congress and the White House could reach a budget deal if only Republicans would relent on their pledges to not raise taxes, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Tuesday on MSNBC.

Speaking on “Morning Joe,” the third-ranking House Democrat said talk of the GOP being open to closing some tax loopholes may be a non-starter among Republicans who have signed no-tax pledges.

“If you consider closing loopholes raising taxes, that keeps us from having a good conversation about where to go from here,” Clyburn said. “And that’s the problem.”

Ok, great, now we’re getting somewhere.  The bastards are never going to budge from their “starve the beast” theology.  Their whole goal in life is to make sure that they NEVER have to pay for some slacker working dude, no matter how hard that person works.  “Who the F%^& do these working people think they are anyway?  Pensions, health care, social security, where does it stop?  Oh, sure, they deferred their compensation for their future retirements but that’s because they’re suckers.  It’s not our fault they were stupid enough to think we were really going to give it to them.  They’re LOSERS in life.  If they can’t figure out how to eat what they kill, is that OUR fault?”

It’s a good thing that Clyburn is on the case.  I’m sure he will protect the interests of the working class (that’s anyone who doesn’t live on their interests).  By golly, he’s going to hold firm.  He’s not going to yield an inch.

If lawmakers don’t raise the debt ceiling before the Aug 2. deadline, the federal government will default on its obligations. Should that happen or even come close to happening, creditors have warned, the nation’s credit rating could plummet.

Clyburn said Congress may resort to a short-term deal to avoid default “if we can’t get a longer term deal.”

Noooooooo!

No short term deals.  That’s just what they want.  You need to hold the line, throw down the gauntlet, take no prisoners.  You need to say there must be shared sacrifice or there will be no deal and then, get them to vote on their share of the sacrifice *first*.

Can we get some new players here?  Is there no one here who knows how to play this game?

Jeez.

 

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