• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    eurobrat on I’m speechless.
    pm317 on Better Adversaries
    pm317 on Why not cut out the middle…
    bellecat on Why not cut out the middle…
    Sweet Sue on Another day at the zoo
    pm317 on Another day at the zoo
    pm317 on Another day at the zoo
    Alessandro Machi on The War on Solstice
    Alessandro Machi on The War on Solstice
    Alessandro Machi on The War on Solstice
    pm317 on The War on Solstice
    pm317 on The War on Solstice
    Ga6thDem on The War on Solstice
    pm317 on The War on Solstice
    Alessandro Machi on The War on Solstice
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    June 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « May   Jul »
     12
    3456789
    10111213141516
    17181920212223
    24252627282930
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Could Obama have fixed the economy?
      I want to revisit this. Obama was the last person who had a real chance to change and fix things. A crisis is an opportunity. FDR used the Great Depression to change America. Reagan used stagflation to change America. Bush used 9/11 to change America. Obama could have used the financial crisis to change America. […]
  • Top Posts

Seizures and Frolics

Wayyyy too close for comfort

The title was inspired by one of Katiebird’s text messages.  One of my neighbors smelled burning rubber and called the fire department.  It could have been just a fascinating but horrific thing to watch, except that all of our houses are connected.  A fire broke out in a row of townhouses in the next development over and took out eight units.  So not cool.

Anyway, I went out to take pictures to document the event and didn’t smell anything but apples and cinnamon from her unit.  She has elementary school aged kids and I’m assuming they eat a lot of Mott’s.  No fire.  No smoke.  She must be having a seizure.  I hear you can get funny smells just before one.

Doesn’t John Roberts suffer from seizures?  I think I remember reading that somewhere.  He was on vacation and had one.  Odd, I thought, but probably happens to everyone at least once in a lifetime.  This was not the case with Roberts, if I remember correctly.  He has had more than one.  Anyway, probably no big deal.  I’ve never heard of seizures turning a conservative into a liberal.  But maybe it made him a bit more sympathetic to the people with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance.  If Roberts didn’t have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, he might very well be uninsurable due to his infrequent seizure history.

But then I started thinking about the pre-existing condition crowd and the Walker strategy in Wisconsin.  My mind went on one of its unchaperoned frolics again.  Wasn’t it Pelosi who said that the ACA was very carefully constructed?  One of the questions put before the court was whether the ACA was severable.  Could you strike down the individual mandate without affecting the young adult on parent’s insurance, anti-rescission and pre-existing conditions sections?  I’m guessing that you really can’t because without the individual mandate, there is no mechanism for paying for the other provisions.  So, striking down the mandate while leaving the other provisions intact, or striking the ACA down altogether, would have been pretty bad optics during the election year, especially for the Republicans.  So, maybe the Democrats, with the helpful advice of the health insurance industry, have crafted a sort of divide and conquer strategy.  In this case, the pre-existing condition crowd is coercing us to get onboard.  We’ve been divided into two groups and the fate of one hinges on the other.

I can’t say I blame the pre-existing, anti-rescission crowd for desperately wanting the ACA to stand. The problem is that they seem to be incredibly happy to force the rest of us into extremely high premium plans without cost controls or competition.  And because they are content and because their individual stories stir our sympathies, any attempt to change the ACA in the future may be very hard to do without a congressional hearing featuring an epileptic giving a gut wrenching story about how lowering the costs for millions of Americans would negatively impact their healthcare needs. It doesn’t even have to be true.  The health insurance industry will use it as a fear tactic to keep rates high for all of us.  Make one false move and the grand mal cases get it first.  That’s how propaganda and manipulation has worked for politicians in the past.  They’re good at this stuff.  But in this case, I think the Democrats who constructed this policy were in on it too.  They will use the vulnerable to force the rest of us into high cost private insurance.  There will not be an affordable alternative with cost controls and competition until this crop of Democrats are gone.

I’m glad that people who weren’t previously covered now have what they need.  But I fear that they took whatever they could get and what happened to the rest of us really didn’t matter.  That strategy has been successful so expect the same thing to happen to Social Security as well.

The fallout of this law won’t hit us for awhile but it’s coming.  There’s only so much blood you can extract from Americans before there is nothing left to tap.  We are losing our standard of living, some of us sharply, in the past decade.  Everything costs too much, not because of inflation so much but because we just don’t have money anymore.  Housing isn’t really getting any cheaper, gas prices stay stuck on “high”, home heating and cooling- ridiculous.  Fees for everything are skyrocketing.  Everytime you turn around, some private entity or public utility has their hands out for more. Student loans are burdensome. And now, everyone will be forced to buy private health insurance like we are forced to buy auto insurance.  We’ll be made to feel irresponsible if we don’t forgo every other responsibility in our lives to make our payments on time.  How much can we afford to cut back on food, clothing, education, etc, before it just isn’t sustainable anymore?  Did the Democrats give any thought to this while the industry lobbyists and professional orgs were lining their pockets and whispering sweet nothings in their ears?

BTW, the silver lining in all of this is that the price of prescription drugs is probably going to fall quite a bit because new drugs aren’t getting approved, leaving us with more and more cheaper generics.  So, whatever you think of big pharma, they’re not going to make out all that well under the ACA unless they produce the generics themselves and keep the prices artificially higher than they might have otherwise been.

The whole scenario reminds me of an article I saw in Forbes or one of those financey type journals recently about how you know when a company is on its way out.  Unfortunately, I neglected to instapaper it.  But I do remember the general idea.  At some point, the irrational exuberance that went to the heads of the owners after they have a couple of lucky breaks starts to hit reality.  Scoring a big one and growing larger without thinking down the road about sustainability leads to desperate measures to shore up profits, eventually leading to the company eating its own and going under. By the time they realize their mistakes from two steps back, it’s generally too late to do anything to correct course. That’s what’s happening to Pfizer right now and the pharma industry in general.  But I could see it happening to the Democrats as well.  They thought they scored the big kahuna when they got Obama elected and they let it go to their head with the ACA.   But they haven’t put the work into fixing the underlying problems with healthcare in this country and there is only so much money that can be extracted from Americans before impoverishing us reaches its limits. There is a finite amount of money and we are hitting it. That puts us in an even tighter spot in the future when employers can no longer afford to offer benefits, more people get hired on as contractors, wages refuse to rise, more money gets siphoned off to big insurance companies, the rest of the economy struggles because no one can afford to buy anything but the bare necessities and the cycle continues to have an impact on business.

There’s going to be a reckoning for failing to tackle the big interests that stand in the way of lower cost health care for everyone.  You can’t delay the inevitable forever.  And some of us voters are getting sick of being invisible to the politicians who are not giving us their best efforts and taking the political risks that are necessary to make the system less exploitative. If you are a politician and you went into it to be a good public servant, part of that commitment means you may have to fall on your sword to do the right thing.  Do it or get out.

*********************************

Re: The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs

Will the Republicans and Libertarians finally see the light in Colorado Springs? Will the prayer of thousands of religious conservatives prevent destruction followed by looting?  Probably not but maybe hiring more police and firemen might. Hey, where are all those brave vigilantes when you need them?

Back to you, Libertarians…

More on the unfolding disaster there:

The Gazette in Colorado Springs (H/T Atrios)

Charles Pierce on foolish consistencies

Background material from This American Life.  The residents should have seen this coming but cause and effect is not the religious conservative, libertarian’s strong suit.

Oh, well.  Maybe they can all retreat to their churches and ride it out.  But do these churches have an obligation to help everyone?  What about gay couples who are burned out and their families?  What about Muslims?  Do they have to put up with a sermon, bow their heads and pray before eating, agree to be saved?  Just curious.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Quoth one:

“In this community that has seen so much division through the years, there’s a strong sense of unity that ‘we’re all in this together,'” Ridings said in an e-mail newsletter to EPA members. “From what I’m hearing, Christians in town are doing a wonderful job of living out Matthew 5:16, letting their lights so shine that others would see their good works – gifts of money and food, homes and churches as shelters – and glorifying God.”

Oh, please, gag me with a spoon.  Is he saying that they wouldn’t be doing all of these things without God holding a stick over their heads?  What does glorifying god have to do with anything?  Presumably (wait for it), God will be credited for visiting his wrath on Colorado Springs for some offense after this is all over.  What kind of psychopath is this god anyway?

BTW, I just love the bumperstickers that say, “Focus on your own damn family”

When all of this is over and Coloradans petition FEMA for emergency relief, it would teach them a lesson if we gave them a really hard time about it and held up some bill they were hoping for in order to get it or made all of the parishioners at New Life Church pee in a cup. Or made them sit in their own filth for days waiting for the national guard in a convention center or prevented them from traveling to Denver to stay with relatives. But that would be wrong.  It would be wrong not because we are Christians but because we are AMERICANS and we are all in this together.

I doubt this lesson will sink into to the pious, self-righteous, hardass, stingy, snobs who live in Colorado Springs.  Fortunately for them, fellow Americans who are in distress are not subject to intelligence or character tests.

**********************************

My “frolic” for today is to finish up the zillion projects I have going at one time.  I will be busy.  I’ve promised myself a dip in the pool later if I’m good.  And then, I might take on this crazy idea: faking a Beni Ourain rug with a cheap wooly bully base layer from Lowes and some fabric dye.  I must be nuts but I really like the look and I can’t afford to buy one for $6000.  This solution is much more in my price range. This is what it will look like (Or something like it):

**************************

One more thing: I rarely feature ads because they drive me crazy but this one has been popping up on my youtube subscriptions and I like it so much, I thought I’d share it.  If you’ve ever been a parent of a driven kid, not necessarily an athletic one but one who trains themselves to do something with such an intensity that they are completely oblivious to the mess they are making, you’ll love this ad.  Some of the kids in this commercial are amazing.  But the setting is so ordinary.  Just typical suburban living rooms, kitchens and hallways.  The message is that spilled milk (or tuna wiggle, fruit compote and duck fries) is ok when it comes to your kids chasing their dreams.  I agree.  Anyway, kudos to Bounty.  Great job.  Now, if only your papertowels were a little less expensive…

Advertisements

“Nothing is so unworthy”

“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be ‘governed’ by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct”

– From a White Rose leaflet.

Read about it here.

In this country, we have one party that is catering to base instinct against gays, women, immigrants, the unemployed, the sick, the non-religious and the poor, and no one in that party or in the other party has been responsible enough to condemn it.

We’re paying and will continue to pay heavily for that silence.

SCOTUS vs ACA

Update VII: Well, he’s wrong about this:

Boehner: “What I’m concerned about is a law that’s driving up the cost of health care, and making it harder for employers to hire people.”

1.) The LAW doesn’t drive up the cost of health care.  Rather, it does absolutely nothing to rein costs in.  That’s what makes it such a bad law- it’s every Republican’s wet dream, including the opportunity to now call it a tax!  It will now become the new political football between the parties, replacing the abortion bugaboo that’s just about run its course.  You could say that like Roe v. Wade, the ACA is also one of those laws that is incomplete and doesn’t address the underlying issues but will be used as a proxy until we all cry uncle in 40 years.  Except for the individual mandate, it doesn’t follow any of the principles of good health care policy which would include increased competition and cost controls.

2.) Employers find it hard to hire people because employees insist on getting paid.  Many Republican politicians come from states that once didn’t pay people as a matter of principle.

Boehner: “The number one concern for families and small business people is the cost of health insurance, and the Republican health care reforms will in fact lower health care costs.”

HOW does that work, John?  You guys don’t have a plan that doesn’t leave every man, woman and child vulnerable to high cost insurance plans or no plan at all.  Come to think of it, this is what ACA does too, except now more people will have the opportunity to hand over their small personal fortunes and savings accounts to insurance companies.  What is it Republicans have to be angry about?  You’ve got nearly everything you ever wanted.  Was it because a plan than no one but a Republican could love was forced upon you?
I want to move to Micronesia.

Update VI: I find myself hating the ACA because of the individual mandate even though in principle, I know that universal coverage is needed for a health care policy to be effective.  The reason is that with the ACA, we have disincentivized competition and cost controls.  Without those two pieces in the policy, this thing is going to feel like an albatross around the neck for the consumer and the Democratic party.  Sure, you can go without a high cost policy but when you do end up going to the hospital for some emergency that could have been treated with a lower cost insurance plan, you’re going to get socked with a tax when you are least able to pay it.

The characteristics of good health care policy are not a mystery and yet, this president and his party has declined to implement them in this law.  (See this excellent Frontline episode on what those characteristics are and how our elected officials have completely f^*(ed us over with the ACA)

As Lambert says, you can’t buff a turd.  This is the worst of all worlds for the vast majority of people who are forced to buy insurance on the individual market.  You’re made to feel irresponsible if you don’t put paying your health insurance the very first priority among a long list of monthly expenses.  There is no public option, insurers are not required to offer a reasonably priced option, no Tricare, no Medicare for All, no mandatory expansion of Medicaid. And zero cost controls on hospitals or providers. You’re either a “have” or a “have-not” now.

Bottom line: Poor policy is no substitute for no policy, especially now that it has been “decided” and is “over”.

Thanks Dems.  You deserve everything that’s coming to you.

Can we have Hillary now?!

BTW, Lambert has a very insightful post on what the new socio-political landscape now looks like.

Update V:

Obama: For those who don’t currently have health insurance, “this law provides an array of quality affordable private health insurance plans to choose from.”

Define “affordable” and “quality”, or “array”.  For that matter, why can’t we have a public option?

Obama: “Today the Supreme Court also upheld the principle People who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance”

Has he seen what individual policies cost in NJ where the “array” starts at about $1000/month for a basic, high deductible policy??  Who the hell can afford that?!

Update IV: Here’s a snippet of Democratic party reactions from a NYTimes summary of the impact of the ruling:

“This decision is a victory for the American people,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House. “With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class [Really?  That’s not what my source in the health insurance business is saying.  She says more consolidation among big companies, less competition], more coverage for families and greater accountability for the insurance industry.”

Jim Kessler, the senior vice president of Third Way, a liberal research group in Washington, said the president’s campaign team and his Democratic allies now had a challenge ahead of them to explain the ruling.

“I think it’s a big win for Obama if they handle it right,” Mr. Kessler said. “What they need to be saying is to declare that the fight is now over. It’s been decided by Congress. It’s been decided by the courts. This is now over. It’s in the past.”

You gotta give the Democrats credit for utter cluelessness.  No one does it better.  Yes, let’s craft an expensive, inadequate bill that burdens average Americans with private sector insurance premiums at a premium or slap them with a tax when they don’t pay it, and “tell them tough titties if they don’t like it because it’s over, looooosers.  We’re done talking about conservative non-plans or medicare for all or public options.  Did you hear us, nation?  It’s OVER!  Get in line, let’s Unify.  “People all over the world, join hands, get on a LOVE train, LOVE train…”

(Karl Rove sits in a corner and smiles like a Cheshire Cat.)

In a way, this concretizes (is that a word?) all of the worst aspects of insurance into law. There will be no competition.  Sure, the insurance companies will gripe about not being able to deny coverage mercilessly but they’ll get over it.

{{damn}}  I was really hoping for Tricare.

Update III: IANAL but this tweet by Dave Dayan concerns me greatly:

SCOTUSBlog: “rejection of Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause… a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws”

Is there a poison pill slipped into this ruling?

Update II:  Ok, I think I see how this is going to play out on Fox:

Supreme Court Rules that Obamacare Tax is Legal.

Well, that didn’t take long:

Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.

Update: The ruling came down a couple of minutes ago.  The NYTimes editors are reading it now.  You can follow it at the Elections 2012 page.  Also, follow coverage live at SCOTUSblog.

Andy Carvin tweets:

SCOTUSblog: “The individual mandate survives as a tax.” Does that mean the commerce clause version is dead, but a tax version conceivable?

Yes, this makes sense to me.  In a way, we are all forced to pay into the medicare system even if we can’t use it until we get older.  We pay for it with payroll taxes.  So, if the universal mandate is to stand, it has to be through a similar tax.  Otherwise, the ACA would force people to purchase insurance at whatever price the market would bear, which is what is happening now.  So, would this push us *closer* to medicare for all?? What are the chances that this SCOTUS would actually do something positive for the public?

Or, are they anticipating a firestorm from the private sector and libertarians, as Digby has suggested?  This might actually put Obama in more of a pickle this year if the answer is to raise taxes and spurn the free market.  No one would be happy except the uninsured.

And who cares about them, right?

{{sneaky bastards}}

Other questions:

1.) If you don’t have a job, how can you pay the tax?

2.) Would there be a mechanism to pay the tax at time of service?

3.) Would this make it more or less likely that employer provided health insurance benefits would continue?

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog sums it up this way:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

Soooo, is this a win for Romney?  Or Obama?  Does this mean that we still have to pay through the nose?  Because that would be a loss for all of us, unless we get to pay a tax at the point of service, which wouldn’t be so bad if you set aside funds to cover it, I guess.  But what kind of money are we talking about here?

*******************************

The ruling should be out sometime this morning and, presumably, all hell will break loose.  If it stays intact, Romney will have to figure out a way of condemning pretty much the same healthcare bill he signed into law in Massachusetts.  If it is rejected, in whole or in part, Obama is going to have to figure out how to run on a new “accomplishment”.

Either way, we’re stuck with outrageous health insurance bills.

So, to the poll:

What’s that you say, Bernie?  Medicare for all?  It’s short, it’s got a good beat, you can dance to it:

And the military has socialized medicine.  {{snort!}}  Yep, pretty much.  I was raised on socialized medicine.

Jeffrey Toobin weighs in.  He thinks the individual mandate is in jeopardy based on oral arguments.

Nora Ephron’s most famous scene

Nora Ephron, screenwriter for “When Harry Met Sally”, 1941-2012

******************************

Brooke’s going to Germany today.  For those of you who don’t follow this blog, Brooke received an achievement award from the Federal Republic of Germany for a summer study in Nuremberg.  She’s only been studying it for less than a year and no one at home speaks German.  Many thanks to her aunts and grandparents in Texas who gave her a push in the right direction.

It just goes to show you that when a kid develops a passion for something and spends all summer in the basement teaching themselves, maybe it’s ok to leave them alone and let them do it.  It’s too bad that we expect kids to become adults and learn the hard ways of the world too soon when they could be developing their talents.  This is a concept that tends to go over the heads of most conservatives.  We are wasting our nation’s most valuable assets when we deprive young people of educational and cultural opportunities and put them to work too soon before we’ve discovered what they’re good at.

She’s very excited and has been packing for the last couple of days.

Should be good…

Call me with a Kazoo

It looks like too much fun…

Point – Counterpoint on Getting Away With It

Paul Krugman and Robin Wells have written a review of three recently released books (four if you count Mann and Ornstein’s book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, which I have read and highly recommend).  The title of the piece, Getting Away With It, focuses primarily on Noam Scheiber’s book The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery on the Obama administration’s capture by the financial elite in the immediate aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008.

I haven’t read the books they reviewed yet but my Audible credits are coming around tomorrow.  However, I do have some differences of opinion on some of their interpretations.  Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Krugman and Wells live in Princeton and don’t visit the central PA too often so they’re not exposed to how the Tea Party contingent really lives.  Even I don’t know that mysterious tribe all that well but I’ve had to sit at holiday dinners with them so I have a bit more of a clue.

First, there is criticism of Cory Booker and Bill Clinton’s defense of Mitt Romney’s role in Bain capital.  Krugman and Wells think this has something to do with Clinton and Booker’s sympathy with the finance industry.  I’m not so sure.  Instead, I’m reminded of something James Carville said recently:

In focus groups of Pennsylvania and Ohio voters, the Democracy Corps found an American public that is struggling to pay for everyday items and racking up student debt. Regardless of their education or economic status, these folks haven’t seen signs of an economy recovery – and don’t expect to see one anytime soon.

“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction.  They are living in a new economy – and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country.”

Even so, write the authors, these voters don’t know all that much about Mitt Romney. And, what they do know about him isn’t all that positive.

“Respondents immediately volunteer that Romney is rich, out of touch, and in the pocket for Wall Street and big finance. ”

The voters in these focus groups sound a lot like the Wal-Mart mom’s we listened to last week: they know that three years may not be enough for Obama to have fixed the economy, but they don’t know what he’ll do to make it better.

That means, say Carville/Greenberg, Obama shouldn’t try and beat Romney on the “are you better off than you were four years ago” argument. Instead, they should try to beat him at the “how are you going to make things better over the next four years.”

“It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance – and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction.  They are wrong, and that will fail.  The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy; they know who is mainly responsible for what went wrong and they are hungry to hear the president talk about the future. ”

It is true that voters and campaigns are more complex than they are often portrayed in the media. That said, elections are also pretty simple. Voters are either happy with the status quo or they aren’t. When they aren’t happy with what’s happening to them now, they look to their other options.

So, if voters already know what Romney is and who is responsible for the mess we’re in, then clubbing them over the head with Romney’s history with Bain Capital, or his adolescent insensitivities or his absent minded treatment of the family dog or Anne Romney’s horses and houses, is a wasted effort.  What voters want to know is what Obama is going to do about the lousy economy and the more the Democrats keep harping on Romney’s business and family, the more angry they’re going to get that Obama is evading the question.  So, Ok, Romney was a businessman and he was very good at his job.  Let’s move along now because the election is getting closer and the Democrats have yet to seal the deal.  How is Obama going to fix things?  What is his vision of America?  Where are we going?  If he can’t give a convincing answer by November, he’s out of there.  (But why wait?  Why not replace him now?  But I digress)

The middle section where Krugman and Wells detail how Geithner ran the show for the banksters and Obama tried to negotiate with a party that doesn’t believe in negotiations has been done before in Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men.  I don’t think there’s anything new here except that Krugman and Wells confirm what all of us have been thinking.  Obama as a politician sucks.  He squandered his Democratic majorities and his famed “judgement” lead him to appoint political asskissers like Larry Summers and finance industry mole Tim Geithner.  Their opening critique of Thomas Frank’s book Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right sums up why this was a very bad combination:

Frank focuses on what is, as he says, “something unique in the history of American social movements: a mass conversion to free-market theory as a response to hard times.” It is indeed remarkable. After all, for three decades before the financial crisis American politics and policy had been increasingly dominated by laissez-faire ideology, by the belief that markets—and financial markets in particular—should be allowed to run free. Then came the inevitable crash. But far from demanding a return to stronger regulation, much of the American electorate turned to the view that the crisis was caused by too much government intervention, and rallied around politicians aiming to dive even deeper into the policies that led to crisis in the first place.

How did this happen? Frank’s answer is that it was the bailouts that did it. By doing things Geithner’s way—by bailing out the bankers without strings or blame—the Obama administration left an understandably angry American public with the correct sense that someone was getting away with something. And the right proved adept at exploiting that sense. The famous February 2009 rant by CNBC’s Rick Santelli that started the Tea Party movement was a denunciation of TARP, the big bank bailout passed in the waning days of the Bush administration (although a plurality of voters believe that it was passed under Obama). True, Santelli focused all his ire on a tiny piece of TARP, the planned aid for troubled homeowners (aid that mostly never materialized), not the much bigger aid for banks. But at least he was blaming someone, which the Obama administration was refusing to do.

And by the time Obama began, tentatively, to suggest that some bankers might have misbehaved a bit, it was too late. The entire Republican Party and much of the electorate had settled into a narrative in which the financial crisis of 2008—a crisis that followed fourteen years of hard-right Republican congressional dominance and eight years in which hard-line conservatives controlled all three branches of government—was caused by…too much government intervention to help the poor and, especially, the nonwhite. As Frank writes:

“Back to the usual, all-purpose culprit: government…. The feds forced banks to hand out special loans to minority borrowers…and…the entire financial crisis was a consequence of government interference.”

Moving along to Thomas Edsall’s book, The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics, they get only part of the mental picture of the Republican party voter.  There is a dominant narrative of scarcity, which is ridiculous because there’s plenty to go around if the wealthy would just get off their massive piles of ill gotten booty.  Edsall says the Republican party voter is also scared of losing dominance:

So where does the embittered politics come from? Edsall himself supplies much of the answer. Namely, what he portrays is a Republican Party that has been radicalized not by a struggle over resources—tax rates on the wealthy are lower than they have been in generations—but by fear of losing its political grip as the nation changes. The most striking part of The Age of Austerity, at least as we read it, was the chapter misleadingly titled “The Economics of Immigration.” The chapter doesn’t actually say much about the economics of immigration; what it does, instead, is document the extent to which immigrants and their children are, literally, changing the face of the American electorate.

As Edsall concedes, this changing face of the electorate has had the effect of radicalizing the GOP. “For whites with a conservative bent,” he writes—and isn’t that the very definition of the Republican base?—

the shift to a majority-minority nation [i.e., a nation in which minorities will make up the majority] will strengthen the already widely held view that programs benefiting the poor are transferring their taxpayer dollars to minority recipients, from first whites to blacks and now to “browns.”And that’s the message of Rick Santelli’s rant, right there.

Now, the GOP could in principle have responded to these changes by trying to redefine itself away from being the party of white people. Instead, Edsall writes, the response has been to “gamble that the GOP can continue to win as a white party despite the growing strength of the minority vote.” And that means a strategy of radical, no-holds-barred confrontation over everything from immigration policy to taxes and, of course, economic stimulus, some part of which would be paid to minorities.

Ok, this is where I think it would help for Krugman and Wells to visit Central PA.  I don’t doubt that the Republican voters in the South (and Arizona) are very concerned with brown people.  It is an irrational fear with some historical roots in segregation in that part of the country.  But the irrational Republican leaning voters that *I* have to put up with aren’t bothered by immigration or african Americans.  Noooo, they’ve got their knickers in a twist over the degradation of the culture from loose women and gay people.  They’re concerned that the Christians are losing their edge and immigrants are probably a lot more religious than the young’uns who believe in evolution that they pick up in those satanic public schools.

I appreciate Robin Wells’ perspective on the south and racial tensions that linger and I’m not denying that this is what is motivating nuts in Alabama to turn school kids into the INS.  But it’s not the South everywhere and the operatives in the Republican party are very good at picking at the fears of an older generation that sees itself besieged.  It watches way too much Fox News than is good for it and is scared to death of death. They’re consumed with stories of pedophiles, violence, rape, murder, burgled houses.  They’ve lost the ability to connect cause with effect.  The world is mysterious and chaotic.  The Republican party is worried about losing its numbers because these older, easy to manipulate voters are dying off and the new American voters that are rising to replace them are Internet babies who aren’t particularly religious, are open to gays getting married, like their contraceptives, thank you very much, and are pretty comfortable with diversity.  If it were only white people, they’d still have time, but it’s all this modernity that’s creeping in with the information superhighway that is dooming the Republican party.

It’s not that the Republican party is becoming a refuge of white voters. The problem is that the Republican party becoming the party of the id.  Every phobia, prejudice or dark archetype that lurks in the human soul is being given permission to run free without any inhibitions.

The guy I wrote about the other day, Bryan Fischer, even admits that this is part of the plan.  He is going to make it safe to discriminate against gay people.

Democrats are missing the point here.  It’s not just race, and by the way, it is perfectly reasonable to disapprove of Obama’s performance without being a racist or harboring racist tendencies.  Krugman knows that the Republican party is insane but he doesn’t realize that the way they’re doing it is by giving their voters permission to act like barbarians and making it feel like civilization.  There is no one responsible in the Republican party who is calling a halt to the bad behavior.  So long as that continues, the party will continue to devolve into a mob of human animals all seeking their own power.  They’ve only got a small window of opportunity to kill the New Deal so the operatives have to amp up the crazy now.

If there were a God, now would be a good time to ask for his or her intervention.

This morning in Central New Jersey

Nice thunderstorm.  Ahhhh….  I’m snug under the covers listening to Krugman’s 201o lecture at the London School of Economics titled “The Night they Reread Minsky“.  Get it?  The Night they REREAD Minsky?

Nevermind.