« Sarah Palin and the Father of Lies | Main | capital »

November 29, 2010

Comments

The Cossacks work for the Tsar.

Or in this case, Democratic Party Ineptitude works for ... somebody.

a President pushing Republican policies and a Democratic Congress beholden to bribes from financial corporations.

My sense at the moment is that there is basically nobody in Congress, or really anywhere at the federal level, who is effectively representing anything I think is important. It's hard to think of anyone who's even trying, really.

Money talks and bullsh*t walks.

It kinda sucks.

This is another of those "Nobody tell Candidate Obama what this guy's doing" moments that Jon Stewart's highlighted repeatedly.

So, Obama played into the Republicans' insincere deficit hysteria, demoralized his base, screwed over middle class government workers, didn't cut the deficit, and in exchange he got...

Wait, they're not even at the negotiating table yet? He got binding promises from the Republicans, right? To... no?

What's the @$!#ing POINT?

the guy's an idiot

Tomorrow is National Call Cogress day. Call your congresscritter and tell him/her to keep their hands off of Social Security. Tell them the Cat Food Commission is a pile dung and doesn't deserve serious consideration. Tell them to look into the liberal/left plans being proposed. Simpson/Bowles should be sent home to their boondocks and never asked for opinions ever again.

What's the @$!#ing POINT?

Punching hippies requires no justification.

Purple Girl, doubtless you have a solution to the Federal deficit that you would like to share with the rest of us. One which doesn't involve Social Security or any of the other recommendations of the Simpson/Bowles commission.

Please don't be shy; we'd all like a better solution (even if we aren't clever enough to come up with a viable one). But you might want to be sure your numbers add up, because people here have this rude habit of checking.

Now even Obama wants to be Chris Christie. ...Vancouver!

wj,

This is my answer to your question for Purple Girl.

I cannot vouch for the NYT's "scoring" of the various proposals in their famous (but apparently not famous enough) balance-the-budget game, but I suspect they used the same "projections" as Simpson and Bowles. Feel free to check, yourself.

--TP

To be perfectly honest, IMO the wage freeze per se is not the end of the world. Folks aren't getting laid off, the scheduled increases are not that large to begin with. At least the folks in question have jobs.

What I find hard to swallow is freezing federal wages at a time when the idea of asking Wall St folks to forgo bonuses, or asking folks making north of a quarter million bucks a year to give up the Bush tax cuts, are considered the most outre thing anyone could imagine.

It's a f***ed up world we live in.

Revolution in...3...2...1

I'm a sick and f*cking tired of paying for the rich to get richer.

Someone needs to take Obama aside and explain to him the concept of bidding against yourself.

After that his instructor might explain that there are lots of federal employees who don't actually make huge salaries and are not taking a break from making big bucks elsewhere and don't have big book royalties.

It's not so much that holding down personnel costs is the world's worst idea (though it's certainly a bad and anti-stimulative one) as that this move suggests that Obama simply has caved in to the idea that he most serious economic issure we face today is the deficit.

Now, maybe he's playing a deep game, and this is a gambit designed to deflect criticism while he pursues more aggressive stimulus policies. But I'm going to wait and see.

Revolution in...3...2...1

In your dreams.

Now, maybe he's playing a deep game

The man's been President for almost three years. If this is some kind of deep game, it's subterranean.

russell, sorry to nitpick, but it's less than 2 years since the inauguration (Jan. 20, 2009).

I don't know about a deep game, but he's obviously a successful politician, and I don't think his skills have suddenly vanished. So, there is some other explanation.

"The man's been President for almost three years."

almost 2?

Almost 2 it is. I blame 11 PM math skillz, or lack thereof.

That, and a JB on the rocks.

So, there is some other explanation.

Yeah, I agree. He's not a particularly progressive/liberal/what have you guy.

QED

There are two kinds of federal employees I know: those that leave to make more money in the private sector and those who leave the private sector in order to trade away their high salary for a lower salary job with more interesting work.

This federal pay freeze isn't the end of the world by any means: it doesn't impact the deficit, and if anything it might prevent some layoffs and free up some budget to keep on some federal employees working on contract. However, Obama basically capitulated to the years-long propaganda campaign by the right to portray government workers as overpaid and gave in to the attempt at whipping up hostility to federal employees. Instead of driving the national dialog, he's just allowing himself to be led by it. Obama doesn't define the center-- he simply looks at what everyone says the "center" should be and moves there, no matter how far to the right that is.

ral,

I don't know about a deep game, but he's obviously a successful politician, and I don't think his skills have suddenly vanished. So, there is some other explanation.

Yes, but being a successful politician and pursuing intelligent policies are not the same thing, especially when unintelligent policies are popular.

Russell,

He's not a particularly progressive/liberal/what have you guy.

To me it's not a question of political philosophy. There are some ideas that are just wrong, and the idea that now is the time for the government to tighten its belt is one of them.

To endorse such ideas because of their superficial popularity is not what I expected of Obama.

If the pay freeze simply means my cost of living raise won't happen, then I don't particularly care.

If it means my other negotiated scheduled raise gets affected, then I'd certainly be pissed. What sucks is that people forget that we had a republican executive in charge for most of the last decade. And typical of that sort of nonsense, a lot of federal employees already had to take a hit. My occupation (air traffic control) got a 30 percent pay cut. The pay will be restored by 2012 (from raises in 2010, 2011, and 2012)... but not if this pay freeze affects it.

And if you want to talk the merits of whether or not I should get my raise, keep in mind that there is more to things than simply how much I make and what job I do. Part of the reason my pay got restored in the first place is because cutting it (and the other related imposed work rules) caused a staffing crisis and pushed a lot of people out of the job. A job with a high burnout rate is not going to magically be able to do more with less.

This is why i think it's pointless to talk about federal employees as some abstract whole. Every situation is different.

It is amazing to me that the Democratic Party STILL hasn't figured out that bidding against themselves doesn't work. Pre-emptive capitulation does not work.

The GOP isn't going to look at this and go "well, golly, those Dems aren't so bad after all. Here, we'll compromise on [insert policy here]." They're gonna go: "Pfft! That's a meaningless gesture. Perfidious Democrat Party! We will yield not one inch!"

wj: Here's one alternative that's all think-tanky and everything. Or you can go make your own at the NYT or similar sites. Here's my nickle version, though: Higher taxes on the people who've profited the most the past decades, and less spending on bombs to blow people up. Then for medium term, how about getting people back to work, even if it means bringing back the WPA until the private sector decides to make jobs, instead of just profits for the execs.

It is amazing to me that the Democratic Party STILL hasn't figured out that bidding against themselves doesn't work.

charitably, i think Obama is trying to be the adult in the room, making himself look reasonable and hoping that it will allow everyone else to stop their politicking and come together for the good of the country.

i also think he's an idiot.

Yes, I know that. I empathize with it, even, since I have that tendency myself.

IT DOES NOT WORK. At least, it does not work in this environment (21st Century National-Level US politics).

You agree, I know.

First off, this is a pay freeze, not a pay cut (let alone a lay-off). So it hardly counts as serious belt tightening, and won't have that huge an effect on the employees concerned. Certainly all of us in the private sector who are seriously worried about layoffs (or already laid off) are not going to be all that sympathetic -- even if it does impact "negotiated raises."

Second, unhappy as any of us may be at the financial industry's huge bonuses, doing anything about them is not something that can be accomplished by Presidential order. It will take an act of Congress. So this constitutes Obama doing the thing that he, personally, can do.

Third, symbolic gestures are important, especially in a political situation. This positions him to say (publicly) to the new Congressional leaders: OK, I've done what I can, now it's your turn. It will IMHO not be sufficient to get them to do anything useful. But it removes from them the "Why have you done nothing" argument.

And, for better or worse, this will be a negotiation conducted publicly. So it isn't a matter of trading away something for nothing. It's more a matter of making the first move in the negotiation, leaving the other side to make the next move. (Or demonstrate an unarguable unwillingness to do anything at all to address the deficit. Which is probably more likely, unfortunately.)

Pay freezes are cuts, unless you're suggesting prices are going down in the future and inflation goes away.

I wish we could get past the erroneous comparisons of federal and private sector workers; it's apples and oranges. There are few, if any minimum or low wage jobs in the federal sector, those are almost all contracted out to the private sector. About half of the federal sector have college degrees as compared to about a third in the private sector.

Symbolic gestures can be important--if they convey the right message. This ain't one of them.

I remember reading some blog somewhere that said that the real damage of the Supreme Court ruling that unleashed money into our politics wasn't that the Republicans would sell out (they sold out years ago) but that the Democrats would.

NOrquist and the Republican party have won. We aren't a democracy any more.

Appalling as it may be, the fact is that we are stuck with this situation for at least two years. So the question becomes, how to deal with it? I may agree more with Matt Taibbi than David Gergen about how the voters made their decision but we have to face the consequences.

The only good outcome I can see is to demonstrate just how intransigent and wrong-headed the Republicans are, while mitigating the damage as much as possible, so that in two years they will be thrown back out.

Taibbi: I'm not saying that they're small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they're all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you're arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They're not basing their positions on the facts — they're completely uninterested in the facts. They're voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that's enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I'm not saying they're beneath serious conversation. I'm saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

'The only good outcome I can see is to demonstrate just how intransigent and wrong-headed the Republicans are, while mitigating the damage as much as possible, so that in two years they will be thrown back out.'

And how is this to be accomplished?

Tabbi suggests Tea Party supporters don't vote based on evidence. He gives little to go on in order to understand what he is referencing. President Obama had strong support among the 18-25 year-old cohort in the 2008 election. It has been my opinion that votes for Obama came more from emotion and his public charisma than from evidence and experience accumulated by these voters. Mind you, I'm not suggesting that there was no evidence that could be used to support a vote for Obama, but that was not the motivation for these young people. The military conflicts started by Bush dominated the news during the period before that election, and that was obviously a negative for the Republican candidate since young people start out with a strong bias against military conflict. But, essentially, these young people don't have much life experience to base a vote on. So, I fail to see how Tabbi can make the distinction that results in his view of the Tea Party.

GoodOleBy, in my experience, older aged republicans expressed irrational, uninformed rage and hatred against public servants like Kerry and Gore while engaging in reflexive defense of Bush and the Iraq war. Also, they embraced a lot of social cowardice in their endorsement of the use of torture. Futhermore, Fox News specifically alienates younger voters, meaning that younger voters end up much better informed than older right wing republicans. I don't know what you're trying to argue, but it really seems like you'd WANT to be on the side of the younger voters, who tend to make better, more informed decisions, while older right wingers froth against not having seen Obama's birth certificate and that Al Gore invented global warming and argen that torture makes them proud to be Americans. Given that track record, I think we can argue that identification as a"tea partier" is just a symptom of cognitive and moral decline-- the ones that remain mentally and morally grounded end up voting democratic.

even if it does impact "negotiated raises."

Why the scare quotes?

Come now, GOB.

The Tea Party is a creation of Dick Armey, for Pete's sake. It taps into that cohort that is the low information voter; that group that believes only they (and possibly Glenn Beck) understand the Constitution.

Need evidence? Fine, look at their candidates. Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, etc. Grifters and kooks.

"I don't know what you're trying to argue, but it really seems like you'd WANT to be on the side of the younger voters, who tend to make better, more informed decisions" (bold mine)

This is simply not supportable. Besides being ageist and blatantly insulting, it is not supported in the Pew reports Doc referenced in the other thread or the Nielson numbers.

Marty, I'm only going off of GoodOleBoy's comment-- if younger voters are the ones making better decisions about voting, as GoodOleBpy says they did, then obviously you'd WANT to be on their side, by GOB's logic.

I'm not going to actually stop any of you from doing it, but I'd really rather that this not devolve into iteration 9,000 of the Fox News Is The Root Of All Evil thread.

I also don't think the pay freeze is a huge issue substantively, but it is in the wrong direction (and $6bn/2 years is not insignificant even by federal spending standards); to the extent it has any effect at all, it will make things worse which, forgive me, I don't think is a very good idea given how bad things are already. And sure, the President can't do much about bank bonuses (other than get some serious criminal investigations underway at all the big banks - not happening) but the Democratic Party as a whole is miserably failing right now.

Where are the second stimulus bills? Where are the windfall tax bills? Where are the Congressional investigations of the causes of the recession? Where are the hearings on unemployment? What on Earth are they thinking?

There are some ideas that are just wrong, and the idea that now is the time for the government to tighten its belt is one of them.

Or, what this really signifies is that Obama still isn't on that page economically. I can see a much better argument being made by standing against this kind of reduction, but I guess that ship has sailed.

Hogan, I didn't realize that quotes around a phrase that I personally wouldn't use constituted "scare quotes". Perhaps I have missed one of the conventions of commenting. Sorry.

The reason that I wouldn't use the phrase is that I have spent a career in a field where there are no group negotiations. If you get a raise, you, personally get it; no relation to whether the guy at the next desk gets one or not, save that there is a limited pool of money for total raises. The closest we come to negotiations is if/when we call attention to something that we did which was especially useful.

And, I admit, I am not really convinced that there is any rational case for government employees belonging to unions that negotiate raises for them. Although I suppose incompetence of government managers to determine who was doing a competent job might be a possibility, if you want to posit that they are.

There's not group raises but there's group pay cuts and freezes?

No wonder you private sector people keep getting fucked.

"I'm not going to actually stop any of you from doing it, but I'd really rather that this not devolve into iteration 9,000 of the Fox News Is The Root Of All Evil thread."

Ok, ok, you're no fun.

and $6bn/2 years is not insignificant even by federal spending standards

$6B = 3 days worth of DoD funding.

BFD.

I know. But it's not insignificant in the way that funding for the NEA is insignificant, for instance. I guess we could argue about the meaning of the term, but generally it would be difficult to get $3bn/year in new spending through Congress (unless, of course, it was for such important purposes as defense, oil subsidies, or tax cuts).

But it's not insignificant in the way that funding for the NEA is insignificant, for instance.

BARTLET
There's nothing wrong with the policy, it's just too small. I could fund this initiative out of my pocket.

TOBY
It's ten million dollars.

BARTLET
Leo could fund it out of his pocket.

wj: Fair enough. I was coming at it from the assumption of collective bargaining, so I thought the expression was transparent enough to stand without highlighting. (And I disagree on collective bargaining for public employees, but that discussion might be a threadjack too far.)

Regarding President Obama's penchant for "compromise" with the uncompromising, again revealed in the ridiculous hostage-taking of Federal employees, this is funny, no, right on, no, funny, no, sad.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/11/30/the-return-of-not-cynical-eno

Taibbi: I'm not saying they're beneath serious conversation. I'm saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

I would call Obama a fool, not an idiot. But Gergen... Dude has been in DC for a LONG time. That kind of tenure turns brains into precious pudding, and it doesn't seem to matter that much who you are.

Of course the tea partiers are largely low information voters, which doesn't mean anyone is 'writing them off' (whatever that means). And it isn't 'elitism' to state a difficult-to-contest fact. [In Argentina, they don't say 'kiss ass'; they say 'suck socks'. Gergen is, like many in his sort of position, a reflexive sock-sucker; I wonder if he even knows he's doing it anymore]. It IS, however, elitism (and 'to the core') for connected lobbyists like Dick Armey to spend lots of money to parlay some people's fears into political agency the results of which does those same people no good. Yes, Joe Sixpack, Rick Santelli really gives a rat's ass about you. He's like McDonalds: he does it all for you!

The tea party thing is NOT simply a creation of Dick Armey, et. al. He's playing on real fear.

"Of course the tea partiers are largely low information voters,"

(My apologies to Jacob)

This is not supported by any facts.

Ever watch Glenn Beck, Marty?

BTW, it is, of course, Gergen who is being incredibly condescending in the passage above, not Taibbi.

Serendipity watch:

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Elitism is the slur directed at merit by mediocrity. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (1917-1986)

A.Word.A.Day

Today's word: kvetch

I think the Tea Party was unleashed by Armey&Accomplices in the belief that they could control the beast, that it would attack only liberals and destroy their projects. But now it seems that what they conjured up could not only destroy their enemies but also harm them that let them loose. There already is an open conflict in the leadership on the Right and it is far from clear, whether the 'old' powers can corrupt the new ones fast enough not to be devoured by them too. To quote the classics:

But I wou'd have you Observe what was told to us aboute tak'g Care whom to calle upp, for you are Sensible what Mr. Mather writ in ye Magnalia of ------, and can judge how truely that Horrendous thing is reported. I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up Somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shal not wish to Answer, and shal commande more than you.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36528044/ns/politics-the_new_york_times/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/Tea-Partiers-Fairly-Mainstream-Demographics.aspx

I'm not convinced of some of the descriptions of tea party supporters being people with low information levels, or somehow being demographically different from the general public, except for their lean to the right.

GOB, I'm actually not convinced by those articles. It's the old 'self-identified' problem. Self identification, in terms of overall ideology (e.g. tea party, conservative, liberal, etc.), doesn't mean much.

I will certainly allow that 'tea partier' is an inexact designation; it can mean lots of different kinds of people. Evidently, plenty of people self identify that way who have above average education and income. But that doesn't tell the whole story, either in terms of who these people are, nor whether they are well informed - you can be well educated and wealthy and have political views which have little relationship to the facts - that happens all the time. Opinions (faith) are more powerful than facts. Americans tend to think that they have not just a right to their opinions, but a right to be respected for them, no matter how irrational those opinions are (Gergen agrees). On the Right, particularly the Christian Right, there is an astonishing, morally flabby, sense of grandiose entitlement which should appall true conservatives. Maybe it does. Too bad there aren't any conservatives in the GOP anymore.

This is not supported by any facts.

Then an enormous number of news organizations are remarkably adept at finding that few, that happy few, of the tea partiers who do not know sh*t from shinola.

Not out of the question, but neither is it something we should really assume, either.

IMO, one of the distinct possibilities on the table is that folks who self-identify as Tea Partiers actually don't know a lot, and/or don't think very clearly about what they do know.

I'm still waiting to hear the Tea Party spokesperson who can express a clear and coherent agenda for fixing all of the things that piss him or her off.

But, of course, it'll be a long wait, because there are no Tea Party spokespeople.

'Americans tend to think that they have not just a right to their opinions, but a right to be respected for them'

And just how was this conclusion reached and are we referring to all Americans, most Americans, certain Americans, Tea Party Americans, republican Americans, or cowboys?

The key word there is 'tend'. And the general attidude is not imo really in doubt. One might change it slightly to 'do not understand why other people don't see their opinions as obvious and undebatable truths'.
Btw, the Constitution itself seems remarkably free of messiahnism.

And just how was this conclusion reached...?


Yes, the key word is 'tend' (thanks Hartmut). I don't have purportedly scientific data for that conclusion, just the results of observation. Religious faith, and by extension *any* kind of faith, is undeservedly sacrosanct. For example, if you believe, contrary to evidence, that Pres. Obama is, a.) a communist/socialist, b.) Hitler, c.) not a US citizen, and/or d.) a secret Muslim, the (yes) tendency in this country is to treat those beliefs as equally valid compared with something either more factual or more open to debate - equally valid because you really really really want to believe them. Then people like David Gergen will patronize you, and Republican politicians will encourage and manipulate you. And then we will have an eristic debate about the phenomenon on ObWi.

Btw, the Constitution itself seems remarkably free of messiahnism.

And thanks again Hartmut. Is it 'conservative' to defend a move from Enlightenment principles to Endarkenment ones? Or Jiminy Cricket epistemology?

Well, you see 'tend' only works for 'group' analysis. If one views Americans as individuals. there will be individual Americans who have the opinion and individual Americans who do not. I suppose this depends on how one think of this organism called 'humanity'.

This ignores a bit the phenomenon of mass produced opinions* crowding out the individual home-made ones. Not limited to political topics, marketing is essentially nothing else. And I think it is impossible for the common human to fully free him/herself from it. Just as an example many atheists are decidely 'Christian' in their outlook, i.e. they consciously or unconsciously use the frames of the dominant religion most of them grew up with. The 'saints' of atheism were quite often sons of religious professionals (rabbis, pastors, theologians etc.). I consider myself an agnostic but my way of thinking is clearly strongly influenced by Lutheran protestantism.

*correct me if I am wrong, I think that is what is called 'memes'.

anybody want to buy a hat?

there will be individual Americans who have the opinion and individual Americans who do not. I suppose this depends on how one think of this organism called 'humanity'.

I am as individualist as the next American, but I think it's a waste of time to pretend that the human isn't an intensely social animal, which some on the Right like to do when it suits the argument at hand. Then it's 'culture' rather than 'society' and all that. Fine. We have developed a culture which very frequently elevates belief over knowing. It's pretty weird.

I am not grouping these people together; they grouped themselves, although 'tea party' is, admittedly a very loose term.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad