Sunday, January 13, 2013


I don't buy Annie Lowrey's hypothesis that the depravity of American politics may be the result of the economic downturn, with the implication that everything in Washington would be hunky-dory and fully functional if we could just get back on the path to prosperity:
Consider how different our politics might be today if the economy had not collapsed in 2008 and not been mired in sluggish growth ever since. A ballpark estimate suggests that if the economy were to grow one percentage point more than expected in each year over the next 10, the deficit would shrink by more than $3 trillion. That would be more than enough to set the ratio of our debt to our annual economic output on a comforting downward trajectory. Moreover, it would happen without making cuts to a single program, like Medicare or food stamps, or without raising a single dollar of additional tax revenue.
But Republicans were hell-bent on destroying Social Security back in 2005, long before the downturn started. Prior to that, when the economy was looking pretty good during Bill Clinton's second term, the GOP's 2000 presidential candidate insisted that taxes were way too high. The right always wants us in a war over taxes and social programs. It doesn't wait for severe downturns to start these wars.
"I do think that part of what we're seeing -- the nasty tone of our politics, the anti-immigrant sentiment -- has a lot to do with the fact that the average American family has now seen no increase in its real income for 15 years," said [Benjamin] Friedman, [a] Harvard economist.
But there's been a nasty tone to our politics for much longer than fifteen years. How far back do you want to go? The first Clinton term? The campaign against Mike Dukakis? You think it's just the past fifteen years? The Monica Lewinsky scandal, incidentally, began fifteen years ago this week, if you count it from the first appearance of Lewinsky's name on the Drudge Report. I don't think that happened because we all knew middle-class wages were about to flatline. It happened because Republicans have been in a state of total war with Democrats and liberalism since at least the beginning of the Clinton presidency.

I blame Murdoch and Limbaugh. I blame Reagan -- yeah, he may have negotiated with Tip over drinks, but the public face of his presidency was all attack, all backlash. I blame the corpocrats who gave us the Powell memo, and the anti-liberal infrastructure the right went on to build. Our politics is nasty and divisive because one side wants it that way.


Ten Bears said...

It started with Nixon's Chief of Staff: Dick Cheney.

Victor said...

"Divide, and conquer!"

And, a long time ago, the Conservatives stopped caring if whether what they conquered was either whole, or functional - as long as, after they conquered, THEY could rule!

"I'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven," became their mantra.

These are sick, sociopathic, Anarchistic, and Nihilistic, people - and, I use that last work, grudgingly.

They are psychopaths. PERIOD!!!

Examinator said...

Well it worked for the Viking for several hundred years! ;-)

Your comments are sound up until you the last two lines where you started to sound like them.

the psychological facts are if you have a system that is based on combativeness between two sides you *inevitably* just get that... no progress no compromise just partisanship.

Humans are very easily led as innumerable psychological experiments have shown ... see this video
What surprises me the fact that we keep doing the same thing expecting a different result.
Partisanship has been with US politics since its inception.
I posit it was a common enemy that got the constitution and USA off the ground.
What is needed (but this side of a real catastrophe is a non starter) is a rethink on the political process.

Ideally the system should neutralises any extra ordinary powers. No parties, no corporate influence or religion on politics. All three prove the the reality of long term organizations i.e. the interests of the organization invariably over rule that of the individual...the tool becomes the master. The politicians serve their parties, who serve the entities who fund their advertising propaganda etc. And the people serve the church not the personal god.
In organizational theory the first law is that the primary objective of any organization is ITS longevity/survival.

People actually measure/identify themselves by their role or the corp they work for rather than who *they* are as people.
I reckon we have it back to front.

Rand Careaga said...

I see the so-called "end of the Cold War" as one element, the country's metabolism being violently affected in the 1990s by the sudden necessity of consuming domestically much of the rhetorical toxins formerly produced for export.

Cliff said...

catch up already, this was covered years ago:

The 15-page plan begins with an acknowledgment that television had emerged as the most powerful news source in large part because "people are lazy" and want their thinking done for them:

Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.

With that in mind, the anonymous GOP official urged the creation of a network "to provide pro-Administration, videotape, hard news actualities to the major cities of the United States."-snip-