# Looking Forward: The coming stupidity

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Jan 18, 2010.

1. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaRegistered Senior Member

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Reagan got massive tax cuts and military spending increases thru a Democratic congress by taking the case to the people. Obama needs to "get some skin in the game" and take more of an active role in designing and selling any healthcare reform to the American people. If he could build public support for a reform package, the people would be pressuring Republicans to come on board rather than organizing protests all over the country against the reform.

I think many Americans would support an expansion of Medicare if Obama could convince them that it wouldn't drive us even closer to fiscal insolvency. But he needs to make that case to the American public. Ever increasing deficits make that a hard sell. He's got to get the budget under control (IMO) before the public will support any increase in government.

His policy of just ramming things thru and bribing anyone that's opposed has provoked a reaction that has inverted the 2008 election theme with the Democrats now viewed as the problem and Republicans the party of change, even in Massachusetts.

Last edited: Jan 19, 2010

3. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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Hmm.. except weren't you just asserting that he needs to act more like Reagan, and simultaneously push for "massive tax cuts" and vastly increased spending (i.e., huge deficits)?

If one were cynical, one might note that "the people's" attitude towards deficit spending seems to depend very strongly on the party affiliation of the President in question. One might even suggest that a certain faction views deficit spending as a political football: an advantage to be exploited ruthlessly while in power, and likewise a liability to be opposed "on principle" when out of power.

5. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaRegistered Senior Member

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I was using Reagan as an example of taking the message directly to the people. What his message was is irrelevant. That he got it passed despite congress being held by the opposing party is.

7. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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Okay. How is it, then, that any program that runs deficits is held to be a hard sell to "the people?" Has the attitude of "the people" with respect to deficits changed to radically in the past 20-something years? "The people" - even the so-called deficit hawks - barely made a peep about the issue for the preceding 8 years.

Are "the people" you speak for here anyone other than the Teabaggers?

I mean, I realize that populist rhetoric is supposed to work like that, but it's still coming off as fairly presumptuous. Especially the part where you attribute all disapproval of Obama to questions of liberalism, and not simple performance, or even insufficient leftism.

8. ### nirakar( i ^ i )Registered Senior Member

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Obama ran as the embodiment of change but it turns out that Obama's policies are barely distinguishable from Bill Clinton's and Bush senior's. Republican voter's may be loyal to Republican's who betray the Republican base but the left leaning independents (who are the largest block in Massachusetts) will not support people who betray them.

The fact that David Brooks liked Obama should have been a clue that Obama was a status quo politician but the left chose to ignore the evidence that Obama was for status quo. Obama's appointments starting with Rahm Emanuel should have ended the debate about where Obama fits politically.

In David Brook's elitist fantasies the smart people support war like he does and the stupid people are isolationists. Brooks like everybody else chooses to see what he wants to believe.

The coastal educated people should consider the value being careful to not let their smug superiority cause a backlash against everything they believe in among the people they consider to be inferior.

Obama recognized and praised Reagan's tactic of taking his issues to the people and then relying on the people to control congress. But Obama does not seem to have the audacity to use that approach to leadership. In Obama's defense Reagan never tried to do anything that angered the big money unless he had the support of bigger money. Looking at who Obama appointed I suspect that Obama also supports big money which would explain why David Brooks liked him.

Clinton's reducing the deficit was good but otherwise Clinton was a bad president who accelerated the destruction of the American manufacturing base without having any understanding of what he was doing and what it's long term consequences would be. Clinton does not deserve credit for the tech boom which masked the economic fundamentals.

Scott Brown won.

Obama took America in a Centrist pro corporate direction and that is why Scott Brown won. The people wanted somebody who would represent them not the corporations. Scott Brown is a "fuck you" to the corporate Democrats. The Scott Brown election is not a rejection of of center left populism.

Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
9. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaRegistered Senior Member

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12,461
There are some critical differences between the Reagan deficit and the Obama deficit. Spending money on a military build up to defeat an empire that had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at us and therefore constituted an existential threat to the United States is quite different from maxing out the credit card on social programs. War is a limited expense. Eventually wars end, then the spending goes down. Social programs never end. Their costs just continue to grow and grow.

Another major difference is that. like it or not, we've racked up quite a bit of debt. A debt so high that other nations are begining to question our ability to pay it back. Nations that have used the dollar for years as their reserve currency are now starting to look elsewhere.

Putting something on your credit card is one thing when you've got great credit and not much debt; but when your credit cards are maxed out it's a different matter.
Is that who voted for Scott Brown in that bluist of blue states, Massachusetts? Just "tea baggers"?
That's my read on the situation. And it is the consensus interpretation: What is yours? Do you actually attribute Obama's drop in popularity and his recent electoral loses to "insufficient leftism"? Seriously? This is what drove a state that where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 to elect a Republican?

10. ### pjdude1219The biscuit has risenValued Senior Member

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and than jacked the payroll taxes on those he got to support them.
how do you build public support for something when the media and people like you are all to willing to repeat falsehoods?

So before he can do anything to ensure we have health care for our citizens he has to fix all the problems bush created?

?? they weren't viewed as a party of change. Croakly was just a crappy candidate. So his policy of offer concessions to the republicans to make the bill better for corporate america and worse for everyday americans is wrong. So we agree the dems should juyst ignore the republicans and do what needs to be done.

11. ### pjdude1219The biscuit has risenValued Senior Member

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Wait so electing someone of the party that's best know for kneeling down and sucking corporate america off is saying fuck you to corporate america. First off corporate dems? while owned by corporations unlike the republican they didn't go willingly

12. ### NorsefireSalam Shalom SalomRegistered Senior Member

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Bowing to corporations is a bad thing too. Reps who do that aren't good.

13. ### pjdude1219The biscuit has risenValued Senior Member

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They don't bow they are in bed with them.

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That too.

15. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaRegistered Senior Member

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By using that Obama charm that people used to always talk about, I suppose.
Yes. That's the job he worked so hard to get.
I'm sorry, but the fact that Coakley wasn't the best candidate was just part of it. In a normal environment, that wouldn't have mattered. She'd have criused to election against an unknown like Brown. It was only public anger over the Dems that gave Brown a fighting chance. The fact that he was a great candidate and she sucked just put him over the top.

16. ### pjdude1219The biscuit has risenValued Senior Member

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That doesn't work when people label you as being slick and conniving. it can be a disadvantage.
So he should ignore major problems so he can fix problems that you supported being created
anger against the dems was a minor role. the death blow came in my opinion from having all the disadvanteges of an incumbent with out any of the benefits.

17. ### fellowtravelerBannedBanned

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323
REPLY: I think you are right on about reducing human population or at least containing its growth. Yet it is NEVER mentioned by ANYONE running for any elected office. Thanks for bringing it up. ...traveler

18. ### fellowtravelerBannedBanned

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323
REPLY: The right wing is as stupid as they get. They are more likely to be " blue collar workers " than you seem to think. They are the Sarah Palin supporters. They are religious zealots. They oppose birth control which is leading this world into an overpopulated madhouse. Do you know any of these types ?
I know a lot of them and somehow manage to get along with most of them. I do not want them running my life in any way. I guess I share the same basic crude instincts and for that reason we get along. I never gave it much thought before but perhaps that is why I get along with them as well as I do.
Some profess all this religious non-sense that goes out the window after a few drinks. I have some great times with these types for that reason. They are incapable of an intelligent conversation about anything but are up for having a good time. It is a strange world. And many intellectuals seem to think too much to have much fun, though by no means all of them. I have had my very best times with what might be called HEDONISTIC INTELLECTUALS. They tend to be leftists. I cannot recall one who was not. Accept life for what it is and make the best of it. Something like that. ...traveler

19. ### Mr. Greality.sysValued Senior Member

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5,190
No it hasn't.

We know a collective buffoon when we see one.

Any one of us can offer the appropriately considered solution.

20. ### countezeroRegistered Senior Member

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5,590
I can't accept much of your critique due to the reality that the American electorate is better educated and has more access to information about its government and its public officials than at any other time in history. And yet, the quality of our government and the quality of those doing the governing seems to be in decline. . .

This could be a case of peaks and valleys though. The British, for example, had a gilded generation of leaders who systematically set about the conditions that helped create two world wars. Many of these same people -- smart though they were -- also re-arranged the Middle East -- as depicted in A Peace to End all Peace -- and left us with the mess we have today. The interesting parrallel -- to the US -- is that this awful group of leaders arrived at the time Britain was most powerful. Britian, of course, recovered and it got better leaders down the road. Maybe we will get the same?

Or maybe we are just ungovernable, like the Roman Empire, circa 180 AD. I was recently abroad and was constantly asked about Obama and his popularity. I am not big fan or big hater of the man, so I told the truth: His historic highs have become historic lows, and only part of this is probably his fault. I mean, can anyone seriously imagine a president these days who doesn't polarize half the electorate after 1 year in office? 9/11 gave Bush something of a honeymoon, and even without two wars, I think he ended up with low numbers no matter what. Not because of him or his policies, but just because half the country is always ready to get steamed these days. We are, it seems, increasingly a moody rabble...

21. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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37,329
If I had a hammer ... I might still use a screwdriver

I hear what you're saying, but the fact that the American electorate has better access to information, or even that they are more educated, doesn't necessarily translate into practice. To wit, in school the most common phrase I ever heard about myself from teachers is that I didn't "apply myself". In this case, I didn't do my homework. That I was allegedly smart made no difference in my grades, as I wasn't using that alleged intelligence the way the school intended.

Likewise, the fact that something is a hammer doesn't mean someone knows how to use it. That they know how to use it doesn't mean they will actually use it. And I've had that conversation before:

"Why are you hammering that in with a screwdriver handle?"

Where's the hammer?

"Downstairs on the shelf above the dryer."

Oh. (Resumes hammering with screwdriver handle.)​

I was over at a cousin's house today, attending to their autistic son. While I was there, his older brother came through on his way to work. We talked for a bit, and the young man is certainly politically engaged. But I still wonder where the hell he's getting his information. They have cable, a newspaper subscription, and a wi-fi network in the house, yet I had trouble understanding anything he was saying. Despite the information availability in their house, this young voter had no clue about the facts asserted in the mainstream public discourse, or the actual facts of the situations he was discussing. If, for instance, you can coherently connect Sarah Palin to the 2012 apocalypse to health care in the context that no doctors are actually interested in the health of their patients, you're doing better than I am. Really, he's a nice kid, but absolutely clueless despite having better access to information than I do. (I have the internet; no cable news, no daily paper. He also has a closer branch of a better library system than I do.)

The thing is that he's young; his priorities are elsewhere. He cares enough about certain issues to have opinions, but not enough to take the time to learn about them. Right now he worries about getting to work on time and impressing his girlfriend. I wouldn't fault him for this, per se; he's just an example.

And I've seen it many, many times over the years. I've known plenty of people who had opinions about things and, despite their access to information, a lack of knowledge about their chosen issues.

Or the Bible. Imagine a devout Christian in her late sixties. A traditional "proper" wife whose focus is homemaking and community. And she often talks about her Bible studies. Yet one day, she starts off about Communism, and I pointed out the bit in the fourth chapter of Acts about how the first generation of apostles after Christ lived communally. She had no idea, apparently, that this passage existed. It flabbergasted her. And she came back with a couple of Old Testament citations, and a New Testament bit that recalled those older passages; they were well and fine, as Bible passages go, but they didn't do anything to contradict the passage from Acts. They were about the importance of work as a community asset, which sounds vaguely Communist to me.

Or a Biblically-derived argument against homosexuality. The whole "lifestyle choice" thing? I've raised a particular link about that here many times before. I pointed out to a devout Christian I know that it seemed odd that God would forgive one lifestyle sin while condemning another.

"What do you mean?"

Well, take your Mom for instance. She got divorced and remarried.

"Yeah?"

In a Christian church.

"Yes. What does that have to do with anything?"

It's not allowed.

"Says who?"

Jesus.

"Where?"

Luke.

"Really?" (Looks it up.)​

And, yet, the thing is that this sort of thing—

"Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."

(Luke 16.18, RSV)

—doesn't make much of a difference to those particular advocates, anyway. Still, though, it's something that would seem to me of some importance to Christians. I mean, being the words of Christ, and all.

The question might thus arise as to how people missed something like that, and I think the answer is much the same as it is for the Voter's Guide.

Many people watch the news. They hear the pundits talking, listen to the interviews, and it's apparently not a journalist's job to call bullshit on obvious bullshit. But watching the news is a fairly passive experience. It's easy to do, since you're doing it anyway. Otherwise, though, the most part of their priorities are taken up with work, maybe an investment portfolio or the mortgage or taxes, the kids if they have any—school, church, sports, music—and other relatively mundane practical necessities.

For contrast, I have quite a bit of time on my hands, comparatively. I can watch the pundits or read the editorial, and then track back to the original news stories, and even to the source documents if I can find them. That's how I end up laughing, as an example, at the conservative pundit railing about liberal bias on the Supreme Court, when all the Court did was uphold a decision by a conservative state court (e.g., Roper v. Simmons, 2005).

I would suggest that, despite the information availability, not many people have either the time or, should they have the time, the will to do that kind of rather basic research into an issue that interests them.

Additionally, I know some very well-educated people that have their opinions and actually refuse to engage the public discourse. They start from the premise that people are either stupid or crazy, politicians corrupt, and journalists useless, and go from there. In addition to being well-educated as far as a paper standard goes, they're actually pretty smart. But as to the details of the issues? They deliberately avoid having a clue. And this can sometimes be embarrassing, like the time a friend of mine voted against the very kind of minority scholarships he received to go to college, but didn't realize until a while after the election what he'd done. It was, to the other, a memorable moment for me; I rarely see that friend fuck up so obviously—usually, it's just losing his keys, or dripping gasoline on his shoes when he's in a hurry.

Indeed, the American electorate is better educated and has greater information access than in prior times, but I don't know to what degree we can be assured that people are using that education and information. Are they really "applying themselves to their full potential", to borrow a phrase?

I wouldn't disagree. My father is a believer in the political pendulum. In fact, most people I know accept it to a certain degree. However, an underlying question is whether, if we were to graph the oscillation, it would describe an upward, downward, or stable mean.

I think our political system has been in decline at least since the 1980s; one could easily argue since Nixon, and there is also a fair suggestion to be had about 1968. Others still would look at Kennedy's assassination, Ike and the military-industrial complex, Harry S., and we can have this argument all the way back to Garfield's corruption, Lincoln's refutation of the Confederate secession, or Jefferson's usurpation of the Constitution in the Louisiana Purchase. Things have definitely been tumbling, though, at least since the United States truly emerged as an international power after the First World War.

But, to return to the Reagan years, there seems to be a kind of transition that occurred then. Or began. It was something of a flip compared to the liberal hippie days. Suddenly, disrespect wasn't bad, but cunning politics. Scandal couldn't possibly have anything to do with law and principle, but only politics. When the heat turned up in '93 with Clinton's inauguration, political discourse began what seems a well-defined and sustained slide into the gutter we now have. This is accounted for in part by right-wing radio, but also by cable news and the internet, and for a leftist like me, capitalism as well. After all, with a shitload of new bandwidth to fill, capitalists wanted to fill it with something for profit. Even my beloved NPR is part of this. I was listening to some woman covering the Haiti earthquake, and the question was, "What do you see? What is your experience?" And all I could think was, I don't fucking care! After a while, it all starts sounding the same. The wreckage. The suffering. The mourning. The outrage. The stench. This, apparently, is what sells, not a dry and detailed discussion of why the French are pissed off at the Americans, what's wrong with their argument, and who all in Europe is distancing themselves from France in the matter. I heard a report Monday about Bill and George coming together for Barack, and the entirety of the thing was a thin lede, a description of what was said, and sound bites from each of the major players. That's it. Oh, and a ridiculous web address if you want to donate.

They're just filling up space, passing time, abusing bandwidth.

Thus, one of the problems with information ability is the quality of that information. Few people dig through statutes and statistics, read the bills or judicial decisions.

But more to the point about peaks and valleys, I would suggest instinctively or intuitively—I'm not sure what factors would need to be included to offer an accurate measurement—that the mean point between peak and trough is a lower figure than ten years ago, and that lower than ten years before, and so on. I'm not sure when this trend began, though.

That's entirely possible, too. It seems odd, I know, to cite a video game, and repeatedly, but I'm still a fan of the statement from Deus Ex that if you orient a society around the lowest qualities of its people, those qualities will be reflected in the leaders.

To take a recent minor event, the flap about Limbaugh praising a health system that was one of the models for the 1993 effort, which was decried as socialist. To the one, it's striking that conservatives don't seem to understand the irony others perceive. To the other, though, I don't think it matters. Some people just want to oppose; it's a cornerstone of their identity.

And, just to cover bases, before you or anyone else reminds me that we have those types on the left, too, I'll simply note that, while true, we've never, in my lifetime, had the public ear the way the Palin, Limbaugh, and Tea Party crowds do. We're Communists, Anarchists, and revolutionary Leftists. We were the enemy over a century ago, and people still don't give us much of a break. Our heyday came in the middle of a war, when people either envied or were disgusted by an eruption of hallucinogenic, free-love protest. I don't know if they enforce the law, but it's still on the books that registered Communists can't work for the federal government. There's nothing in there prohibiting a delusional Christian fanatic from taking a federal paycheck. Hell, we even put a motto on our money for those people.

I sincerely hope that we are seeing the death throes of a certain, extreme conservative ideology. Unfortunately, that would suggest they get one more run, and will fuck things up even worse than Bush and company. That may be the valley—or peak, if one is so inclined—or it may be symptomatic of a people who cannot, or will not, be governed. Or it may be symptomatic of an ignorance concomitant to overspecialization.
____________________

Notes:

Weigle, Luther, et al. The Bible: Revised Standard Version. National Council of Churches USA. 1946. Quod.Lib.UMich.edu. January 20, 2010. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rsv/

22. ### nirakar( i ^ i )Registered Senior Member

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I was looking for Brown and Coakley's positions on Trade Policy, the dollar and the Yuan, the loss of the manufacturing base, and their thoughts on ecomic policy in general beyond whether to raise or lower taxes. It seems that nobody asked and they didn't tell. If you can't find Brown's and Coakley's views on trade policy then you can't say that the electorate is educated.

The media gives the whole range of coverage from cat fight to horse race but nothing else. The media seems to dislike detailed policy debates. The media blames the public and says that the public has no appetite for more substantial reporting.

23. ### nirakar( i ^ i )Registered Senior Member

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What other option did they have? Either Both Parties kneel down and suck corporate America. The Dems just pretend they don't do it while the Republicans change the subject or pretend they like it and it is good for us.

Both Brown and Coakley were completely dependent on corporate money for their shots at victory and therefore either one of them would be unrepentant corporate whores. If you start looking into the candidates it seems that neither candidate was interested in anything other than winning and having the high status job.

The only option the voters had was to send a symbolic message. AS far as the loyal Republicans dancing about gleefully and thinking that America is moving in there direction, they are as foolish as the loyal Democrats who thought the same thing when Obama won.