E.J. Dionne writes well today:
I’m not accusing Perry of wanting to do any of these things [cut three departments] because I don’t believe he has given them a moment of thought. And that’s the problem for conservatives. Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government.
Perry, correctly, thought he had a winning sound bite, had he managed to blurt it out, because if you just say you want to scrap government departments (and three is a nice, round number), many conservatives will cheer without asking questions.
This is a long way from the conservatism I used to respect. Although I often disagreed with conservatives, I admired their prudence, their affection for tradition and their understanding that the intricate bonds of community are established with great difficulty over time and not easy to reweave once they are torn asunder. At their best, conservatives forced us to think harder. Now, many in the ranks seem to have decided that hard and nuanced thinking is a telltale sign of liberalism.
[..] To paraphrase Bennett from another context, where’s the outrage about a conservatism that is losing both its intellectual moorings and its moral compass?
As we’ve noticed before a majority of the 1% would like to pay higher taxes, just a few percentagepoints more to fix the country and get moving with a mixed approach of revenue and mostly spending cuts.
And numbers now show that this 1% accounts for about 14.000 families, while the 0.1% is a group with an average income of $30 million.
But the problem might just boil down to a handful of people. Most humans can’t handle unlimited power and wealth. You get brain damage. Kochs, Murdochs, Nero, Hitler, Napoleon, Gaddafi, all unhinged rulers with dictatorial powers, all suffering from severe delusional disorders.
Not by the People.
At times it’s starting to feel like the bigger issue now is the loss of legitimacy of the democratic institutions in America. Approval is at times lower than ten percent – and most often both elections and public opinion have ceased to have any real influence on the government.
When folks wonder about the “coherent voice” and “demands” of the growing movement – it’s sort of missing the point. People have lost their means of influence – and disagree with the rulers on issues like economy and foreign policy. It really is that simple.
And when all this is said and done – the boring solution to the whole problem is just passing electoral campaign reforms and get money out of politics. Then we’ll be alright.
The debate in the Reagan Library started out with all eyes on Romney and Perry last night – trading barbs and defending their previous statements and records in both business and politics. The rest of the candidates seem almost irrelevant and out of place at this point, even though these things could still change a lot in the coming months.
One of the biggest highlights was probably in the opening of the show – going straight to Romney and Perry – and Romney establishing authority and the upper hand.
Skip to 8:30 for the first clash. Big moment.
Other notes from the debate:
- Aggressive opening by the moderators. Harris from Politico seemed too nervous and fumbling. A few glitches only made things worse.
- Huntsman seems kind of misplaced. He’s hitting all the wrong notes about experiences overseas and his knowledge of foreign languages. This is not a democratic audience.
- Perry was fumbling and perhaps not ready for the national stage yet. But he might pick up in another round or two.
- Bachmann lost campaign manager Ed Rollins last week, who left the train after Perry entered the race. She’s a sideshow now.
- Mitt Romney has the body language and calmness of a President. Voice, too.
- Romney’s catch-phrase “[Obama] is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have a clue how to get this country working again” rings true.
- Romney is making snippets of Presidential speeches as he goes along, and he’s doing it well. Big picture and mix of reason and emotion. And he’s treating the other candidates as his own group, sort of like co-workers he’s helping, but dominates.
- Perry fumbles massively on science and evolution. He needs to work on his diversions and answers. Mentioning Galileo might not be that smart when he’s trying to discredit scientists in general – as that sort of proves the whole point. Then, as now, part of the ruling classes ridiculed science in order to preserve power.
- Mitt Romney sounds really passionate about his new jobs plan and operational strategy to make America competitive among the nations around the world. And it might be a constructive path. Better education and less corruption in government would be among the first steps. But that’s probably not what he means.
But either way – the race is down to two persons, and the strongest contender against Obama is likely Romney. But we’ll see how the next debates unfolds.
Another great column by Bob Herbert.
Listen to this:
The development of such skills is generally thought to be the core function of a college education. The students who don’t develop them may leave college with a degree and an expanded circle of friends, but little more. Many of these young men and women are unable to communicate effectively, solve simple intellectual tasks (such as distinguishing fact from opinion), or engage in effective problem-solving.
Separate fact from opinion.
It’s a first step.
Posted in Misc
Tagged basic stuff, bob herbert, column, facts, news, nytimes, opinion, politics, saturday, spring, thing of the day, weekend
After some months of disappointments and disbelief – T&P has landed on this: The President is failing – in dangerous times – and should be replaced as soon as possible. Better to have someone like Chris Christie in charge than this. The ship is sinking – and the captain is out playing golf.
So David Brooks nails it today with the phrase “I’ll do it tomorrow”. From his column:
Jonathan Alter wrote a book about Barack Obama’s first year in office called “The Promise.” That’s a great title because it works on so many levels. For example, over the past four years, Obama’s career has been marked by a constant promise: He has continually said he is on the verge of doing something serious abut the national debt.
After the stimulus package passed, he and his aides said it would soon be time to turn to deficit issues. The same promise was made after health care reform. He made the pledge yet again at a press conference this week. Right now is not the time, the president always says, but tomorrow we will get serious.
But tomorrow never comes.
Posted in Misc
Tagged brooks, change, christie, column, enough, failure, news, nytimes, oped, opinion, politics, replacement, sinking, tp
New York Magazine has a good long analysis of the State of the Union in a political perspective and points out some worrying signs about the constitutional structure. The big question is if too much democracy is about to skew things out of proportion.
As the two chambers of Congress were supposed to represent the elite and the masses, the basic idea was that a mix of the two would provide the best rule for the country. Not very efficient, but stable over time.
The problem now is a population of over 300 million, not 4 mill as when the Union was founded. The mechanisms for keeping mass movements within an established functioning political machine could be at loss, especially if you add new inventions like cable and the web.
Growing signs of constitutional short-comings are congressional deadlocks and growing mass movements on the outside of things. The tyranny of the Poll is probably not either really taken into account into the original workings of the executive and legislative brances of government. And the deeper problem with an outgrown Constitution is the paralysis and inability to fix the foundations when it’s suddenly too late. Try to picture a bipartisan Dems & Gop Senate Congressional Bill for Constitutional Reform..
One last point though, not from the article but in general, is the problematic use of words like “democracy”, “masses”, “people” and “elites”. Most are just a bag of good or bad subjective emotions. The “elite” concept of the founding fathers seemed to mean a collection of good-willing intellectual non-selfish humble public servants, as a premise for the well-functioning of the US Constitution.
NyMag story here.
Posted in Misc
Tagged america, constitution, democray, mixed governement, new york magazine, news, oligarchy, op-ed, opinion, people, politics, population, society, us, worry
The high court ruling this week which permits an unlimited amount of corporate spending on election campaigns is nothing short of a fatal change on a systemic level – which could only be explained by an incapacity to understand the long-term consequences for society, even if a handful of people should be quite well off in the next few decades.
After all the criticism of money in politics, the bottom just fell out.
One thing is the growing corporate federal rule at the expence of quality of life and security for its citizens. For some people this doesn’t matter – living in a bubble that just became a little brighter, and a general indifference to the well-being and supression of others.
But the other is the prospect of foreign money ruling the US Government – the lobby has been a worry for decades – but foreign corporations? With China being a $2tr creditor and slowly expanding their world dominion in an incremental and technocratic manner?
Of course, there’s good and bad in everything – and who knows which is the lesser evil – US greedy banks or Chinese governments thinking in centuries and collective good. But either way, it’s almost incomprehensible how the judicial branch just commited a govermental suicide.