further on the descent into political prisencolinensinainciusol

…if voters who agree with Obama are inclined to vote for Republicans because Republicans are blocking Obama’s ideas, then not only is 2012 lost, but the descent of American politics into hysterical irrationality is complete.

Steve Benen – The incentive behind GOP obstructionism

19 comments on “further on the descent into political prisencolinensinainciusol

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  1. The descent of American politics into hysterical irrationality is already complete. It was complete when Obama’s administration first started framing things according to a false debate with the supposed centrists who were actually radical so-called conservatives. So the debate appeared rational but was actually hysterically irrational from any rational perspective.

    • I think the idea is that, in a minimally rational process, one in which inputs had some positive logical relationship to outputs, a voter who favored policy X would vote for the politician A committed to attempting to realize policy X. If the result was not-X, and the voter still wanted to achieve X, then he wouldn’t vote for politician B promising not-X, except for reasons that would imply the non-rationality of the system, or a negative logical relationship between inputs and outputs.

      There actually is a politics of vote for not-X to achieve X, but it implies some version of worse-the-better-ism. So, the cunning of history might be that, in order actually to achieve X, the only option is to “intensify the contradictions” – enhance not-X to such a point that a pro-X counter-counter-move overwhelms, re-engineers, bypasses or replaces the system. So, in concrete terms, the failure of the Obama Administration would presumably give the radicalized Rs a chance to run things, and only a reaction against whatever they do would set the predicate for the kind of revolutionary movement that Obamamania may have foreshadowed, but that the real Obama and his real existing coalition, including you and Cornell West, were unprepared actually to effectuate.

      But history moves slowly and haphazardly. The Republican unity government of 2013 might luck out from the gradual lifting of the economic haze, for which natural restoration of economic good health they will unstintingly claim credit, meaning that everything else you and the left hate about the right will be boosted, totally unfairly. So the intensification of not-X might turn into a generational process rather than a mere electoral-cyclical one. I think that would be the nightmare of the left (broadly speaking), a happenstantial boosting of rightwing credibility that we just don’t have time for…

      • I like the Xs. You’re missing the Os, but that’s Okay. I do have to agree that we were unprepared to effectuate the movement. And it’s okay if it all leads there according to the Xs. It’s going to be painful. But it would have been painful anyway, which is why we weren’t ready to effectuate it. The Os part of it is that even though the OWS thing is happening to an extent, the degree to which Obama framed things in connection with an imaginary centrist right was so over the top that it left young people completely baffled. You and I can recover. Some young people have recovered, but what stands in the way of your vision actuating is that disillusionment. It may be too deep.

  2. Actually the reverse is true, when unemployment was at 5%, and the deficit, was a mere fraction of what is now, the media always found a dark cloud, Every military engagement, even ten days into Afghanistan, in the first three weeks of Iraq, was
    a ‘quagmire’ A particularly brutal regional hurricane, was dubbed an act of man, with a deliberately racist tinge, despite the
    shortcomings of the local authorities, Intelligence operations, designed to cordon off key AQ figures, were leaked, and officials
    and companies involved, subject to contempt. The caliber of political leadership, was deemed idiotic, psychotic and malevolent, that;s what the last 8 years were like,

    • Turned out that those clouds were heavier with downpours to come than they looked, that the deficits were set to expand indefinitely with no idea to pay for them except for supply side fantasies, the military expeditions did develop into fantastically realistic facsimiles of quagmires, the hurricane’s immediate and longer term effects were accentuated by human error and inefficiency, and the political leadership did some idiotic things and in some cases its best to convince us that they were in some respect… twisted. And that’s also what the 8 years from 2001 – 8 (not sure why time stopped for you in 2008.) were like – leaving out other stuff, like stagnant wages for the vast majority of U.S. citizens; death, destruction, and dislocation for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan; and a whole lot else.

      • So like Le Carre in his Bill Hayden phase in the first days of the war, we shouldn’t have gone to Afghanistan, or we should have deployed 100,000 troops at the outset. The thing with Krugman, is he was eventually correct, in part because a real estate bubble filled the gap of the previous tech bubble. Of course Sarbanes/Oxley was sold as the solution to the latter, whereas it proved inadequate. As for Katrina, why did Mississippi and Alabama fare better than Louisiana, which
        wasn’t as directly affected, yes the Army Corps of Engineer had a part, but then so did the local
        levy boards that diverted and delayed necessary improvements.

    • Reply to Miggs:
      Which is why we needed something that wasn’t idiotic, psychotic, and malevolent. That was “the hope.” It died when the new administration backed off from its promise to clean house, etc. Same old same old broke the hearts of young people who believed and older people who wanted to believe. For those people who sided with the idiocy, the psychosis, and malevolence in the first place, it became an opportunity for more and that stuff since the Obama administration legitimized it by framing the debate in relationship to the idiocy, the psychosis, and malevolence as if the stuff that had been going for those 8 years wasn’t those things. If he had done what he said he would do, the Xs and Os might have been even more difficult for the reasons CK points out so well and then the trouble may have been more long lasting (another one of his points). We’ll never know. Here, I just want to point out that CK has asked you some great questions in the last few days. Perfect questions. None of which you even tried to answer. If you did really try to answer them I think CK would succeed in helping you turn your back on idiocy, psychosis, and malevolence. As our blog brother, you can’t really be those things. I suggest you answer CK’s questions. Go back, check them out, really answer them and see what happens.

  3. I stop at that point, because the media, turned on a dime. deficits that would have terrified someone in 2005, were found to be necessary but salutory. economic policies like monetizing the debt, ‘the snake eating the tail’ of economics, were given a clean bill of health. How about the Pythonesque parody of Schumpeter in ‘Cash for Clunkers, where perfectly good operating
    vehicles were destroyed, to make room for more debt with more expensive automobiles.

    • Even if I bought your description, why should the world pay for how the media depicted the side you favored? Why should your resentment determine what should actually be done in what passes for the real world? As for the deficit, yes, a financial crisis on a level unseen since the Great Depression, on an absolute level never seen before, was seen to have called for measures that “would have terrified someone [living in what turned out to be a dream world] in 2005.” What are we, innumerate pre-moderns, frightened by the sheer size of the numbers? If the cost of having your free market capitalist utopia was that we had to add three zeroes to all denominations of currency, would you decline the deal?

      We have, or had, a $14 trillion economy that underwent a massive and sudden collapse in demand, and a massive expansion in unemployment. You’ve seen the charts depicting what those terrifying deficits actually consist of – collapse of revenues, increase in transfer payments (unemployment, esp.), ongoing expenditures on the wars, with the evil Stimulus a relatively small porportion, and with on budget discretionary spending static or declining.

      C4C is rather trivial in this larger context.

      • As I used to debate with Rex Caruthers, it’s unclear if our GDP was anywhere near 14 trillion, but seeing as our non unfunded liabilities debt, is equal to our purported GDP, well Micawber would be verklempt.Now the balance sheet in terms of total stimulus to banks, is in the tens of trillions of dollars, and yet it’s like pouring into a singularity.

        • The fact that our GDP – our economy – is to such a huge extent made up of services, financial and other, and consumption (including destructive consumption in the form of military spending) made us even more vulnerable to a collapse in demand, and makes a reflexive response even harder to justify. The debt to GDP ratio is a notion: It does tell us that we’re in terra incognita, but we already knew that: We have people like your Claremont historian and other National Review contributors going on about the “Ruling Class” without, it seems, even pausing to consider the implications of such language. No doubt they at first found the usage amusing. All assumptions about our orange based on selected historical apples become even more questionable. As for “stimulus to banks,” is “stimulus” now your swear word for scary numbers?

    • Codevilla has some good arguments to make, but he’s spent too much time drinking from the National Review trough, I think. Whatever the explanation, he writes as though he’s desperate to say striking things, yet stay in contact with hard right touchstones, so as continually to remind himself and the ideologically like-minded reader whose side he’s “really” on.

    • Possibly not completely off topic, my father tells the story that when he and my mother were first dating he went to dinner at my mother’s house. Starting things off, my grandmother made borsscht and asked my father how he liked it. “Delicious” he said, although he actually hated borscht. My grandmother was so pleased, she made it special for him every time he came over.

      • Don’t think I’ve had борщ since I was a little kid wasting time at my grandparents house, using it to wash down matzoh from the warmer. I’m guessing that matzoh-warmers are pretty rare these days, not that they were exactly a big mass market item even once upon a time.

        But I liked the stuff, and remember it fondly. Don’t expect ever in my life to taste борщ, matzoh, and chopped liver like Ma used to make. Sniff.

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