Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I rarely disagree with DougJ, but I fear he's wrong about this:
... As I've said before, the [Chris Christie] lane closure story is bigger politically than the national media thinks.

...Greasing palms and letting your own palm be greased is one thing, though, and being a dick to thousands of motorists is quite another.

The gap between elite media's embrace of blatant assholery (everybody needs to feel the pain, etc.) and the voting public's distaste for it is very wide. In some ways, this gap may be the most important story in contemporary politics. Yes, being an asshole towards mythical strapping young bucks and welfare queens has been good politics for the GOP over the past 40 years, but that's racism, not a universal unconditional love of dickishness.

And yes, the right and its stooges at Washington Post et al. have done a good job of duping the public about the wonders of austerity.... I'd argue they've done it not by convincing people that budget cuts are awesome but by convincing them that austerity will be good for the economy. The public isn't so much laissez faire as laissez les bon temps rouler.
I just don't see that. Ask poll questions the right way and sure, the public says it wants the fat cats not to be coddled and ordinary citizens to be given a break. But just about every time we have a real-world battle over this, the public fails to man the barricades on its own behalf. This isn't just an attempt to punish "strapping young bucks and welfare queens" -- just as often, we (or at least heartland whites) accept the argument that we don't want to trouble the delicate sensibilities of "job creators." And so the bankers don't go to prison, the contaminators of the water supply don't get regulated, and every benefit given to ordinary citizens has to be "offset" by something taken away, lest the rich (heaven forfend) be asked to pay more.

We've been brainwashed not just to hate black and brown "others," but to think of ourselves as those others when we find we're in need. The Benjamin Wallace-Wells profile of Chris Christie in New York magazine last summer was hagiographic, but this anecdote is telling:
One Democratic pollster who ran focus groups in [New Jersey] during the recession told me he'd found less rage than he expected at banks and plutocrats and more directed locally at the schoolteachers and cops whose pensions drove local property taxes higher. "I had one guy in a focus group go on a rant about the pension his father, who was a retired cop, got from the town, that the pension was way too generous," the pollster told me. "His father."
Now, here's what Chris Christie talked about in his State of the State address yesterday when he wasn't (briefly) discussing Bridgegate:
Saying the state’s pension and other debt payment obligations will rise by "nearly $1 billion" this year -- under the plan he enacted -- the Republican called for more talks about pensions and raised the specter of more concessions from public workers.

"If we continue in an era where we believe we can choose everything, let me suggest to you that we are really choosing nothing," Christie told lawmakers. "We need to have the conversation now about further changes to our pension system and about adding further to our state's already-burdened debt load. The time to avoid this conversation and avoid these choices is nearly over, everybody."
Doug writes:
...Republicans and much of establishment media think there's not much downside to being an asshole, that, at best, it's wise Burkean tough love and at worst it's boys will be boys. They're wrong.

Reagan managed to come across as a genial guy. So did Bush in 2000.
Well, unfortunately, according to a just-released New Jersey poll from Quinnipiac, so does Christie:
New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is more of a leader than a bully, voters say 54 - 40 percent today, one of his lowest "bully" scores since the Quinnipiac University poll first asked the question June 17, 2010.

Gov. Christie gets positive marks on key characteristics: Voters say 51 - 41 percent that he is honest and trustworthy; 74 - 23 percent that he is a strong leader and 55 - 41 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

Today's results show more leader and less bully than the 50 - 45 percent results in a July 17, 2012, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University....
We're so used to being abused by our leaders, so used to getting nothing from them except occasional pleasure (or relief) from watching them abuse someone else, that when the social worker comes to the door and sees the welts and bruises, we shake our heads and say no, Daddy doesn't beat us at all.


Victor said...

And in NC, where the Governor and state legislature have already stopped unemployment insurance after 26 weeks, there's a loon named Greg Brannon (R - Psychopath) running for the US Senate against Kay Hagan, who claims that Food Stamps Are "Slavery."

Food Stamps, the last recourse for the unemployed whose benefits have ended!

And guess what?
In a recent poll, he leads Hagan by a few points - in a state with one of the highest rates of unemployment, and hence, a rising number of people depending on SNAP.

There's always chickens who'll support Col. Sanders.

Danp said...

Without slaves, there would be no pyramids. And we are conditioned to love pyramids, so long as we're not the slaves.

Ten Bears said...

The metaphor is apt, but there is no physical evidence slaves built the pyramids.

No fear.

Ten Bears said...

The metaphor is apt, but there is no physical evidence slaves built the pyramids.

No fear.

Victor said...

Ten Bears,
Maybe not, but there's also no evidence that the Pharaoh's were the first "New Dealers," either.

Ten Bears said...

Au contrare Vic, perhaps the most credible theory, backed by physical evidence, is the pyramids were a massive public works. A prehistoric CCC/WPA.

Not that I believe it.