Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff for Joe Biden (and a Bloomberg View columnist) gives you a peek at the plan. Klain has a piece in Bloomberg where he puts the outline of what the administration needs to do to spin the car bailout properly if it hopes to make it a campaign positive. Klain’s suggestions are offered to form the basis of a narrative which will be polished and become a center-piece of the record of Barack Obama. The reason for beginning now is obviously an attempt to condition the public, which was very much against the bailout (and mostly remain so), to the supposed positive aspects of the takeover by government.
Of all the policy challenges I saw Obama tackle in my two years in the White House, none was more complex than turning around the U.S. auto industry. When the president took office, the industry was in free fall. Sales of cars and trucks, which had topped 17 million in 2006, fell to 10.6 million in 2009. Two of America’s three major automakers were insolvent, kept alive by weekly inflows of federal cash. U.S. automakers had an unsustainable cost structure, were badly trailing their foreign competitors in the production of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, and seemed unable to make the hard choices needed to arrest their downward spiral.
The course the president chose was unexpected and risky. Most Americans remember that the administration decided to "bail out" the car companies — and indeed, the president did extend more loans and support to the industry. But he attached to the aid a series of controversial and painful conditions that ended business as usual in Detroit.
Call it “gutsy call II” if you will, but in reality, it is far from the picture that Klain ends up painting. Both the car companies were headed toward bankruptcy – a financial condition they had earned by their poor practices and sellouts to unions. Obama’s bailouts certainly ended “business as usual” for those two companies but not in a positive way.
One of the consistent memes is that had Obama not acted, GM and Chrysler would have gotten the equivalent of a death sentence by having to go into bankruptcy. By death sentence I mean the administration and its bailout supporters imply millions would have been thrown out of work and those two companies would have forever disappeared.
Uh, no. As Jim Manzi at NRO explains:
First, in the event of a bankruptcy, you don’t burn down the factories, erase all the source code on all the hard disks, make it illegal to use the brand name Chevrolet, and execute all of the employees. Others take ownership of the assets, and the employees go on with their lives. Some of these assets will be put to use generating revenues, profits, and taxes, and some of these former employees will get jobs or start businesses, and generate revenues, profits, and taxes. In order to measure the effect of the bailout over, say, five or ten years, you have to compare the actual taxes collected to what would happened over this same period in the counterfactual case where the bankruptcy was allowed to proceed. What owners would have bought the factories and IP assets, and what would they have done with them? What businesses would the former employees have started? Who would have moved to Arizona and retired? What new industry clusters will evolve in Arizona because of this transfer of people?
And what would have come out of the bankruptcy? Leaner companies better equipped to address the market and turn a profit. What wouldn’t have come out of the bankruptcy are the level of union pensions and benefits the administration preserved. Obama, through his bailout and modified bankruptcy made sure those were weren’t destroyed. Consequently you have pretty much the same conditions that existed prior to the bailout still in existence today with the added twist of more union control.
GM, for instance, just before it announced it had “paid off” its government loans, lost 3.4 billion dollars. Hans Bader, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute destroys the myth of GM’s loan payback with an extensive investigation into the real story. It is a story of known falsehoods being tacitly approved by the White House and the Treasury Department because the administration was desperate for some good news at the time. The Chrysler loan payback, as I noted recently, is of the same stripe. More smoke and mirrors from the “transparent” administration.
But back to the bailouts and the reasons. The defense offered for the bailout is this:
The White House report said the money invested in GM and Chrysler ultimately saved the government tens of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs, including the cost of unemployment insurance and lost tax receipts that the government would have incurred had the big Detroit auto makers collapsed.
Again, that assumes nothing comes out of any bankruptcy proceedings. Nothing. And, as Jim Manzi of NRO explains above, that’s simply not how it works. It is an assumption without any real world foundation. We’re talking a zero sum assumption by the administration where no assets are bought, no one goes back to work, everyone is unemployed and no one can find a job. That’s just not the way bankruptcies (or the real world) work.
Second, some of the profit GM makes today would have been made by other companies that picked up some of the slack if the company lost market share after a bankruptcy. They would pay taxes on these profits, and as far as government receipts are concerned, money is money. How would auto industry structure evolve over time given whatever changes happened to the assets currently owned by the legal entity GM, or the employees currently paid by it?
Anybody who tells you they can answer all of these questions reliably is full of it.
Indeed. Again, the White House and its cronies must push the black and white version of this to make it saleable. If they can’t make you believe in their “either/or” scenario, then they can’t sell the lie. They’re banking on a large degree of economic ignorance to sell this. But they know that if they rely on the fact and figures they’re going to end up on the wrong side of the argument. So Klain says, break out the smoke and mirrors once again – sell it on emotion:
First, tell the story with fewer numbers and more emotion; less prose and more poetry. Rescuing the auto industry isn’t just a matter of saving jobs and factories — it means preserving a uniquely American manufacturing tradition. Cars are more American than apple pie or hot dogs (which, unlike the automobile, were both invented in Europe). We couldn’t have won World War II without this "arsenal of democracy"; as Walter Reuther famously said, "England’s battles were won on the playing fields of Eton, but America’s were won on the assembly lines of Detroit." The president needs to jujitsu Republican critics who accuse him of failing to understand American exceptionalism by pointing out his success in saving this exceptionally American industry.
You have to love the fact that even Klain doesn’t believe his own nonsense, but has no problem advising the president to use it. Note too that Klain seems not to remember that one of the reasons that GM and Chrysler were on the ropes had to do with the American public choosing competitive foreign cars over the American cars from those two companies (and with the VOLT, we see GM again in the same condition. But he feels if he wraps it all in emotions and not facts (a variation on “hope an change” that worked so well in 2008), they can fool enough voters into accepting the narrative or at least, not caring about it.
Second, equally emphasize the pain that was imposed as a condition of support, and the hard and unpopular choices the president made. It was a plan of “shared sacrifice,” in which executives were fired, workers lost jobs, benefits and pay were cut, and dealers were shut down. The story of the tough choices the president made along the way must be told to convince the public that this wasn’t a handout.
Of course, this plays into the part of the narrative in which you must believe their “either/or” scenario – that is had the government not acted, millions of jobs would have just vaporized. Of course, what Klain describes above would most likely have been the result of normal bankruptcy proceedings minus the $50 plus billion government money injected into GM. They don’t what that known though. And, naturally, they don’t want any speculation about what would have emerged, how many jobs would that would have entailed, etc.
If you start down that road and use the history of bankruptcies and the emergence of companies from that situation as a basis, you’ll have a very difficult time swallowing the administration’s story. So avoid those facts at all costs and concentrate on “emotion” and “pain”.
Finally – Klain advises the White House to crank up the propaganda:
Third, let the people of the auto communities tell their own stories — encouraging homegrown viral videos and other uses of social and new media. This is a lesson I learned the hard way during the 18 months I was part of the White House team that struggled to explain the benefits of the Recovery Act. We used visits by the president and vice president, videos posted on WhiteHouse.gov, as well as endless statistics and charts and maps and graphics on Recovery.gov — and yet nothing got the job done. Finally, two ice-cream shop owners made an iPhone video that told the story better than we ever had, by showing how a single small business loan rippled across their area to create jobs in countless other businesses.
The White House needs a similar personal narrative to tell the auto rescue story, or it will risk being denied a return to Victory Lane in 2012.
So there is the plan – “emotion, pain and propaganda” – that Klain claims the administration should use to sell something that is about as un-American as the internment of Japanese/American civilians during WWII. The most interesting part, of course, is Klain understands that if they get into the specifics of this “deal” and the facts come out, it ends up looking like a very poor decision. And Klain knows that the opposition, once it finally settles on a candidate and its own narrative, is going to seize on this subject as a part of their attack on the Obama record.
He instinctively knows that any chance of blunting that, or making it a non-issue, requires that the administration’s narrative be out there actively being pushed now and that it has to be spun properly for it to work.
How do you counter this? With facts. And the facts are aplenty. There is no shortage of factual information that can gut these arguments and show them for what they are – emotion and propaganda. The opposition also has to use “American exceptionalism” in its proper way and point to the fact that the administration misusing “exceptionalism” in its version.
And that doesn’t even start to get to the really long-run considerations of what effects this has on rule of law and moral hazard (or if you want to make the case for the bailout, social solidarity and degradation of the working class).
One of the things America prides itself on is “rule of law”. That is a large part of our exceptionalism. We also founded a country that attempts to avoid the moral hazards that abound in this sort of a situation. We are and for the most part always have been a meritocracy. You get what you earn. We don’t buy into exceptions because they’re “too big to fail”. We understand that freedom means the freedom to fail and we don’t bail out –selectively- failures. We don’t throw good money after bad, and we certainly don’t expect our government to interfere in that process.
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You perhaps recall that the AGW doomsayers, via the UN, announced in 2005 that by 2010 there would be 50 million “climate refugees” driven from their homes by the adverse effect of global warming.
It’s always nice to check up on the accuracy of such predictions to gauge how well they jibe with reality.
In this case, it’s a complete miss. As most of us know, the measured “global temperature” has been steadily going down (as the natural cycles of the earth again do what they’ve done for billions of years). So what’s the status of all of those refugees?
Well, Gavin Atkinson gives us a nice little update based on the recent census data from various “at risk” places. Remember, we were supposed to see the first effects of warming on the “very sensitive low lying islands of the Pacific and Caribbean”.
Nassau, The Bahamas – The 2010 national statistics recorded that the population growth increased to 353,658 persons in The Bahamas. The population change figure increased by 50,047 persons during the last 10 years.
The island-nation of Saint Lucia recorded an overall household population increase of 5 percent from May 2001 to May 2010 based on estimates derived from a complete enumeration of the population of Saint Lucia during the conduct of the recently completed 2010 Population and Housing Census.
Population 2002, 81755
Population 2010, 88311
The latest Solomon Islands population has surpassed half a million – that’s according to the latest census results.
It’s been a decade since the last census report, and in that time the population has leaped 100-thousand.
How about all those cities that were going to be underwater because of melting glaciers and ice packs?
Meanwhile, far from being places where people are fleeing, no fewer than the top six of the very fastest growing cities in China, Shenzzen, Dongguan, Foshan, Zhuhai, Puning and Jinjiang, are absolutely smack bang within the shaded areas identified as being likely sources of climate refugees.
Similarly, many of the fastest growing cities in the United States also appear within or close to the areas identified by the UNEP as at risk of having climate refugees.
When it all comes down to it, AGW increasingly appears to fall in the category of the usual lefty doomsaying that never lives up to the fear factor with which its proponents attempt to radically change the way we live in order to supposedly save us from ourselves. Think the population bomb with fossil fuel as the target instead of government mandated population control.
Of course the unfortunate thing is many of our politicians on the left and a whole raft of politicians throughout the world (and particularly in the UN) continue to push this farce. The reason is simple. There’s a whole lot of money to be extracted from this scare. World governments can cash in on a “problem” they’ve literally invented out of thin air.
So don’t look for it to go quietly into the night. All that crap about putting science first is just that. They’ve picked their side for obvious reasons and intend to push it all the way to the bank.
That’s one of the reasons stories like this need to be highlighted – so when they inevitably try to get in you wallet again, you have something to fight back with. This is the reality of their predictions – and it is completely the opposite of what their “science” told them would happen.
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It’s a cold day in hell here as I favorably quote someone who I usually savage. And I have to revise my thoughts on the left not getting irony – apparently some do. Who am I taking about? Joe Klein. Yup that Joe Klein, TIME’s Joe Klein. He actually gets it:
Revolutions everywhere–in the middle east, in the middle west. But there is a difference: in the middle east, the protesters are marching for democracy; in the middle west, they’re protesting against it. I mean, Isn’t it, well, a bit ironic that the protesters in Madison, blocking the state senate chamber, are chanting "Freedom, Democracy, Union" while trying to prevent a vote? Isn’t it ironic that the Democratic Senators have fled the democratic process? Isn’t it interesting that some of those who–rightly–protest the assorted Republican efforts to stymie majority rule in the U.S. Senate are celebrating the Democratic efforts to stymie the same in the Wisconsin Senate?
An election was held in Wisconsin last November. The Republicans won. In a democracy, there are consequences to elections and no one, not even the public employees unions, are exempt from that.
I know … you’re wondering, “what did they do with the real Joe Klein”, but hey give the devil his due (keeping with the cold day in hell metaphor) – he’s exactly right.
The other Klein, the Ezra type, not so much.
Let’s be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions.
That, sir, is irrelevant. Whatever “fiscal problems” are present need to be solved by having across the board spending cuts and that’s the point of requiring public service labor union members to pitch in a little more on their benefits. Essentially what Wisconsin is trying to do is put state employees on an even par with private employees in terms of benefits.
Here’s the bottom line of what is triggering these protests:
Besides limiting collective-bargaining rights for most workers—excepting police, firefighters and others involved in public safety—it would require government workers, who currently contribute little or nothing to their pensions, to contribute 5.8% of their pay to pensions, and pay at least 12.6% of health-care premiums, up from an average of 6%.
Wow. No more free lunch. Can’t imagine that, can you? You know, actually having to pitch in for your pension and health-care? Privately employed citizens have been doing that forever. So why are the public sector folks exempt? Well that’s the dirty little secret isn’t it?
Let’s go to Matt Welch for the answer:
We are witnessing the logical conclusion of the Democratic Party’s philosophy, and it is this: Your tax dollars exist to make public sector unions happy. When we run out of other people’s money to pay for those contracts and promises (most of which are negotiated outside of public view, often between union officials and the politicians that union officials helped elect), then we just need to raise taxes to cover a shortfall that is obviously Wall Street’s fault. Anyone who doesn’t agree is a bully, and might just bear an uncanny resemblance to Hitler.
There is Wisconsin in a nutshell – distilled as well as you’ll find it anywhere. These deals were mostly pay for play and the state’s taxpayers were sold down the river. I noted some months ago that the Democrats have become the party of public service unions instead of the party of the blue collar worker. They are dependent on the money and machine those powerful unions provide to stay in power.
And when that machine falters? Well, you get tantrums like this. Remember the union protesters in Illinois a few months ago clamoring for the governor there to raise taxes instead of cutting their benefits? Just like Ezra Klein they want to lay off the fiscal mess on others instead of recognizing its reality and understanding that the free ride has come to an end. It doesn’t matter if the unions had anything to do with the mess – the mess says everything is on the table. That’s the only way out of the mess.
But, this is Armageddon for the Democrats and their stakeholders. If states succeed in breaking the hold public service unions have on government, Democrats stand to lose substantial power. That explains why President Obama has entered the fray. While he wouldn’t back the protesters in Iran because it might be seen as meddling in the internal affairs of the state, he has no qualms whatsoever of meddling in the internal affairs of the state of Wisconsin. Apparently elections only have consequences when he wins.
What has the unions so terrified of the Walker plan? Well here’s the plan:
His plan allows workers to quit their union without losing their job. He requires unions to demonstrate their support through an annual secret-ballot vote. He also ends the unfair taxpayer subsidy to union fundraising: The state and local government would stop collecting union dues with their payroll systems.
Under that plan, union membership would be an actual choice instead of a mandated requirement to hold a job. Horror of horrors. How dare a governor advance something which actually enhances freedom (choice = freedom) – why that makes him a dictator, of course and akin to Hitler.
Make no mistake, these protests in Madison aren’t about democracy, freedom or liberty. They’re about the left’s power and something they love to project on the right and Wall Street – selfishness. The protests are a collective tantrum from adolescents who refuse to acknowledge that their special-interest Candyland no longer exists and while it did, it existed on the back of the tax payers who were made to unwillingly subsidizing their way of life.
This is the wrong fight, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Democrats are on the wrong side. Public sector unions are not popular and despite Ezra Klein’s denial, are held responsible for some of the fiscal problems the states face (like pensions):
A new poll from the Washington-based Clarus Group asked:
Do you think government employees should be represented by labor unions that bargain for higher pay, benefits and pensions … or do you think government employees should not be represented by labor unions?
A full 64% of the respondents said "no."
That includes 42% of Democrats, and an overwhelming majority of Republicans. Only 49% of Democrats think public workers should be in unions at all.
So, as you watch these “protests” keep them in context. They’re an astroturfed attempt, orchestrated from the highest office in the land, to keep the power current structure in place that underpins the political power of the Democrats. This isn’t about rights or liberty or freedom, this is about power and money. And it has finally unmasked the left in this country and revealed what it is really all about.
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And why was the Oscar nominated 2007 “documentary” film banned?
Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore’s Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash.
Or said another way, it was propaganda that even those who were made to look good found so dishonest they refused to show it. A communist regime. One steeped in propaganda designed to make them look good.
Yup, Michael Moore’s work in a nutshell.
More irony? This info was contained in a confidential cable released by Wikileaks and Moore just helped bail Wikileaks founder Julian Assange out of jail.
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Get your “Captain Krugman” decoder rings out and follow me through this Paul Krugman piece.
Today the line of attack on what he calls the “Obama-McConnell tax cut deal ” is to put forward the argument that the reason we’re in this mess to begin with is because of the debt carried by American families. Yes, that’s right – you did it, now shut up and take the medicine. Oh and the banks – yes, the banks because they “abandoned any notion of sound lending and because everyone assumed housing prices would never fall”.
Yeah, you guessed it – not a thing about the Community Reinvestment Act, Congressional pressure on banks to lend to very marginal borrowers or Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It was you, dear citizen … and the banks. The government? Sparkly clean by omission.
Anyway, because that debt is so high in relation to income and the families are in the middle of trying to deleverage that debt, they’re not spending much – or as much as is needed to kick start the economy, in Krugman’s opinion (they might if they had more but then that means even deeper tax cuts and Krugman ain’t going there). And of course there’s that problem with high unemployment to factor in as well.
So, backing into this favorite theme of the past two years (Deficit? Screw the deficit – spend, spend, spend), what or who should be spending to get the economy going?
Why yes Sparky, he means the government.
What the government should be doing in this situation is spending more while the private sector is spending less, supporting employment while those debts are paid down. And this government spending needs to be sustained: we’re not talking about a brief burst of aid; we’re talking about spending that lasts long enough for households to get their debts back under control. The original Obama stimulus wasn’t just too small; it was also much too short-lived, with much of the positive effect already gone.
It’s true that we’re making progress on deleveraging. Household debt is down to 118 percent of income, and a strong recovery would bring that number down further. But we’re still at least several years from the point at which households will be in good enough shape that the economy no longer needs government support.
But wouldn’t it be expensive to have the government support the economy for years to come? Yes, it would — which is why the stimulus should be done well, getting as much bang for the buck as possible.
Remember that last phrase because that’s the point of the post. Now, with all of that background, Krugman says that this “Obama McConnell tax cut deal” will provide some stimulus but not the sustained stimulus Krugman says is needed from government. And that first stimulus was too small – even though it was much larger than Krugman said was necessary at the time. Nope a massive stimulus is still needed no matter what we have to do to pump that money out there (even while the Fed is trying to sponge up the multi-trillion dollar spill of cash they tossed out there before):
The point is that while the deal will cost a lot — adding more to federal debt than the original Obama stimulus — it’s likely to get very little bang for the buck. Tax cuts for the wealthy will barely be spent at all; even middle-class tax cuts won’t add much to spending. And the business tax break will, I believe, do hardly anything to spur investment given the excess capacity businesses already have.
This is the point where cognitive dissonance smacks right into the Krugman “reasoning”. A) he wants a new and much bigger stimulus – that’s no secret. B) he claims this bit of stimulus (tax cut deal) will “cost” more (deficit) than it will deliver (bang for buck). C) you can’t be trusted (shades of Clinton) to spend your own money the way the government would (perfectly, of course – properly, with no waste, and at exactly the right time and in the right place – having a coughing fit yet?).
For such a supposedly gifted economist it is like he missed Econ 101 in favor of Propaganda 101. Either that or he really does believe, in the face of much evidence to the contrary, that a government spending money in a recession always returns “more bang for the buck” than does an individual (millions of individuals) in a market being allowed to keep and spend more of his money. I am forever at a loss to explain that sort of thinking.
Pushing money out into an economy just to be getting it out there isn’t going to solve our economic problems. In fact, if government has to be the big consumer of loan money to do so, guess what there’s less of for the private side of things? Can you say “vicious circle”?And what does Krugman think a pure borrowing-based second stimulus plan is going to do to the debt? Given the “bang for the buck” we received with the last stimulus, what makes Krugman think this one would be a better deal and superior to letting people keep more of their own money?
What I expect, instead, is that we’ll be having this same conversation all over again in 2012, with unemployment still high and the economy suffering as the good parts of the current deal go away.
The long and short of it is, this about isn’t economics, it’s about politics. What Krugman wants is anything he can call economic improvement because he knows that Obama and the Democrats are in awful political shape. His belief is if the Obama administration will quickly pass a huge stimulus and pump money into the economy, things will look somewhat better than they do now and he can make rosy predictions that should help carry the day for Obama’s re-election in 2012. If it all collapses after that, who cares? There will be plenty of time to make stuff up on the fly again and, of course variously blame the Republicans, the American people and, of course, the banks for any problems the economy may suffer.
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Strongman Hugo Chavez says the flooding in Venezuela that has resulted in 70,000 homeless and 32 deaths is easy to understand. It’s the result of “criminal capitalism” and it’s effect on the world’s climate:
"The developed nations irresponsibly shatter the environmental order, in their desire to maintain a criminal development model while the immense majority of the earth’s people suffer the most terrible consequences," he said on Venezuelan television Sunday.
You may be wondering why this sort of stupidity is even worth mentioning. It is worth mentioning because it is a sterling example of the nonsense that has been precipitated by AGW scaremongering that I discuss below. This is a dictator’s excuse, however absurd it sounds, for his regime’s inability to control the flooding in his country.
"The world’s powerful economies insist on a destructive way of life,” he said on Sunday. "And then refuse to take any responsibility."
I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what taking "responsibility" would mean. In the past this would be viewed as another in a long line of failed socialist dictators who, because of their crippling of their country’s economy, have rendered unable to cope with natural disasters. But with the convenient excuse of AGW to pin the blame on, and by extension the richer nations, shifting the blame is a natural.
Any bets as to whether this will be a topic in Cancun?
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If you’ve ever wondered what pure “spin” looks like, you have as your most current example an article under Nancy Pelosi’s name in USA Today. It is a marvel of context free and, frankly, fact free verbiage designed to do nothing more than paint an alternate picture of reality. It is an attempt to effect how history will be written. And it is laughable on its face.
Essentially what Pelosi does is provide a list of discredited Democrat talking points in essay form, never once acknowledging that most if not all have been debunked, shown to be untrue or simply a figment of very fertile imaginations.
My favorite part is where the soon to be minority leader, if that, finally lays out the welcome mat for Republicans – after 6 years of all but shutting them out of the Congressional process.
And, in the running for the most appalling lie among many is this line included after Pelosi lists the “accomplishments” of the 111th Congress:
And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.
Good lord. An estimated 6 trillion in further debt heaped upon the country during her watch and she has the audacity to play the PAYGO card? This and the previous Congress under Democratic rule have been the most profligate in our history. And Ms. Pelosi attempts to say everything has been paid for?
Democrats – if you keep this person in your leadership after her 4 years as the Speaker what little is left of your tattered credibility is as good as gone. She is divisive, extreme, partisan to a fault and the perfect leader to ensure you don’t see a majority in the House again for a decade or so. She is the gift that keeps on giving for the GOP.
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In this episode, and apparently not content with the fact that the left has failed to make Nazi, brownshirt, racist or thug stick to members of the Tea Party, someone named Charles Postel attempts to equate “conservative” with the John Birch Society (JBS) – and other labels. Amazingly (or not), it is Politico running this nonsense:
The Populist Coxey started a tradition of marching on Washington for economic and social justice. Consider the 1932 Bonus March of jobless veterans. And Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. The focus of that march, often forgotten, was both civil rights and government action to create jobs.
Not all marches on Washington, however, have pursued populist goals of economic justice. In 1925 and 1926, members of the Ku Klux Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. They protested threats to the Protestant religion and the white race posed by communism and immigration. These echoes seem to resonate in the current tea party slogans about birth certificates, immigrants and Muslims.
The tea party leaders disavow any racist appeals from their ranks. But historically, whether it was the JBS or Goldwater, the radical right has often had a soft spot for bigots.
An amazingly dishonset and blinkered view of the Tea Party. William Jacobson sums it up rather well:
The argument by extreme reflects left-wing epistemic closure, an inability to engage in meaningful discussion of the failures of big government, resulting in a series of strawman arguments and extensive hyperbole meant to marginalize those who disagree.
We have seen this time and again. It seems to be all they know.
I really want to take these people seriously, but it is hard. But then again, what do I know, I am the mob.
As the left continues these attacks it appears it doesn’t understand that those that are actually being marginalized by such attempts to demonize Tea Parties are – the left.
In this particular case, perhaps Roger Pilon at CATO@Liberty says it best. Calling them “desperate” he says:
This is absurd. An obscure assistant professor teaching in a middling university writes an opinion piece comparing the Tea Party movement to the John Birch Society — indeed, even to the Ku Klux Klan — and Politico Arena asks us to take it seriously for comment?! Res ipsa loquitur: The several recent elections speak more loudly than this professor ever will. Back to adult fare.
Indeed. And, as an aside, it appears QandO isn’t the only place plagued by obscure professors from middling universities. But Pilon is question is on the mark – what were Politico’s 3 layers of editors thinking by running this? Is it simply an indicator of another supposedly unbiased media source giving us a peek behind the curtain of reality? Such screeds do indeed point to a certain level of desperation on the left that is unseemly but fairly consistent. Why Politico felt compelled to put their credibility on the line to air it, however, remains a mystery.
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And that is that the Southern Poverty Law Center is cynically paranoid and into fear mongering. “Cynically” because its all about donations – no fear, no paranoia, no money.
Strangely silent during the “hate Bush” years, it has suddenly again found its voice now that a left of center government is in office and it can serve up its “right rage” paranoia. However the SPLC never seems able to find any left wing hate (well except for a left leaning radio station that allowed some anti-semetic ranting apparently). Don’t believe me? Visit their website and type in “left wing hate”. Prepare to be inundated with instances of alleged right wing hate. Even the recent crash of an airplane into a Texas IRS office by a guy who left a letter blaming Bush is spun into a typically right-wing attack.
And check it out when they actually do go after a minority group as a ‘hate group’. They rationalize their doing so by saying if we go after white hate groups “we cannot be in the business of explaining away the black ones.” But they sure try:
Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms.
But the question is are they left wing or right wing? In the world of the SPLC, every hate group is right-wing or unspecified.
Blaming Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, Lou Dobbs and Sarah Palin for the rise is “right rage”, the SPLC claims:
“Another Oklahoma City is very much a possibility.”
Really? Like the rage of the Tea Parties, which DC police describe as one of the best behaved “protest” crowds ever?
Nope – it’s all about the usual nonsense with the “Patriot right”:
The growth of Patriot groups comes at a time when the number of racist hate groups stayed at record levels – rising from 926 in 2008 to 932 in 2009, according to the report. The increase caps a decade in which the number of hate groups surged by 55 percent. The expansion would have been much greater in 2009 if not for the demise of the American National Socialist Workers Party, a key neo-Nazi network whose founder was arrested in October 2008.
There also has been a surge in “nativist extremist” groups – vigilante organizations that go beyond advocating strict immigration policy and actually confront or harass suspected immigrants. These groups grew from 173 groups in 2008 to 309 in 2009, a rise of nearly 80 percent.
These three strands of the radical right – the hate groups, the nativist extremist groups, and the Patriot organizations – are the most volatile elements on the American political landscape. Taken together, their numbers increased by more than 40 percent, rising from 1,248 groups in 2008 to 1,753 last year.
Of course nowhere in this “report” will you find out the size of these new groups. Hundreds? Thousands? Or three nutballs who’ve splintered off from one of the other groups and put up a website? No telling. But do note, it’s all about the number of “groups”, not about the number of actual people involved in the “Patriot groups”. My guess is that would work toward badly diluting the paranoia the SPLC is trying to build.
Oh, and don’t forget the huge increase in violence:
There are already signs of radical right violence reminiscent of the 1990s. Right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers since Obama’s inauguration. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the president. Most recently, as recounted in the new issue of the Intelligence Report, a number of individuals with antigovernment, survivalist or racist views have been arrested in a series of bomb cases.
Of course the Ft. Hood and Little Rock Recruiting station killings were worse than any of that. There’s the Ft. Dix bomb plot and the Ft. Jackson 5 – none of them apparently worth mentioning. Nope – it’s all about the “radical right violence reminiscent of the 1990s” when it was Rush Limbaugh that was the cause.
And, let’s face it – as usual, these press releases come out from the SPLC just about the time it is pimping a new quarterly report, this one entitled “Right Rage”. It’s revenue generation time. What better way to scare up money than by scaring donors into opening their wallets.
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Just to make sure you knew how horribly indecent Republicans were, Dana Milbank leads the charge against Sen. Coburn in the Washington Post today:
Going into Monday morning’s crucial Senate vote on health-care legislation, Republican chances for defeating the bill had come down to a last, macabre hope. They needed one Democratic senator to die — or at least become incapacitated.
At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon — nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation’s passage — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. “What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight,” he said. “That’s what they ought to pray.”
It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads — but without his vote, Democrats wouldn’t have the 60 they needed.
While Dana and his media brethren certainly have difficulty escaping that conclusion, a more fair-minded and disinterested party might take note that the historic snowfall over the weekend, which caused local and federal government offices to close, is a more likely catalyst to Coburn’s prayer request. But fairness was not on Dana’s mind. Quite to the opposite, he attempted to draw a false equivalence to the tirade unleashed by Sen. Whitehouse at ObamaCare dissenters:
But Democrats weren’t in the best position to take the high road Sunday evening. One of their own members, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) had just delivered an overwrought jeremiad comparing the Republicans to Nazis on Kristallnacht, lynch mobs of the South, and bloodthirsty crowds of the French Revolution.
“Too many colleagues are embarked on a desperate, no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, obstruction and fear,” he said. “History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from southern trees.” Assuming the role of Old Testament prophet, Whitehouse promised a “day of judgment” and a “day of reckoning” for Republicans.
For some strange reason, while referring to Whitehouse’s comments as “ugly”, Milbank forgot to include the following tasty selections of hate:
“Voting ‘no’ and hiding from the vote are the same result. Those of us on the floor see it. It was clear the three of them who did not cast their yes votes until all 60 Senate votes had been tallied and it was clear that the result was a foregone conclusion. And why? Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? All to break the momentum of our new young president.
They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one.”
Seemingly the conclusions of that statement escaped Dana.
Never fear, however, as our intrepid journalist manages to balance the ugliness and comes to this inescapable conclusion:
The day’s ugly words [from Sen. Whitehouse] were a fitting finale for the whole sorry health-care debate of 2009. Democrats have finally — and after jettisoning any trace of government-run health care while swallowing new abortion restrictions — found their way to success; the overnight vote proves they have the numbers to prevail in the remaining votes this week. But it certainly wasn’t pretty.
Senate Democratic leaders made the bill fit their fiscal requirements with a series of budgetary gimmicks, and even then the final cost estimate didn’t instill confidence. The Congressional Budget Office sent lawmakers a letter on Sunday saying it goofed and overstated the cost savings from the bill by half a trillion dollars. Then there were the goodies given out to buy the votes of Democratic holdouts, most notably Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), who got a “Cornhusker kickback” in the form of an extra $100 million in Medicaid payments for his state. On the Senate floor Saturday, Republicans forced Democrats into the embarrassing position of objecting to similar payouts to the other 49 states.
But all of that put together wasn’t quite as noxious as the two sentences that escaped Coburn’s lips on the Senate floor.
Don’t you feel all informed now? Good thing for us insufficiently nuanced Americans that we have the likes of Dana Milbank to help us keep score as to who is ugliest amongst our Senate representatives. Otherwise, we might have all these wonderful conclusions escaping us as easily as those “noxious” words escaped Sen. Coburn’s lips. Instead, we might be tempted to pay more attention to blatantly ugly slurs that drip like venom from the mouths of our ObamaCare heroes. And we can’t have that now, can we?
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