Democrats & Liberals Archives

Risky Experiments?

I know, same video as the one across the way. But really, I felt I had to speak my peace about this particular phrase in that video: “Risky Experiment.” What strikes me immediately is that we already tried a fifteen year risky experiment: Letting the Republicans run things. That and their healthcare policy. And their energy policy. And their economic policies And their military policies. Risky experiments indeed. It’s sad to have to remind folks of this, but those risks we took didn’t pan out.

On the economy, we took the risk that an underregulated finance system would, with its freedoms, be more productive, that the financial companies would police themselves, out of their own self-interest.

How did that risk turn out? With the worst Recession in recent history. That after Enron and other scandals made it clear that it wasn't working back then. We're cleaning up the dysfunctional mess of that economy now, even while the Republicans stand on the sidelines, make snide comments, and get in our way, raving about socialism and all their other criticisms. They don't figure that with the extremity of their failure, the extremity of the measures needed to keep everything from collapsing was high. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Well, as I commented some time ago, the situation was pretty damn desperate in fall of 2008.

They bet that they could let Lehman Brothers collapse, and that the market would self correct. Instead, it self-destructed, the entangled financial obligations of that bankruptcy causing ripple effects that would put tsunamis to shame. Remember that when Republicans talk about just letting the banks drop, that when they actually tried to do that, in keeping with their principles, the results were disastrous. That is the hard, inconvenient reality that they deny when they carp at the bailouts from the sidelines, when they tell Americans what they would like to hear, rather than what would be honest to say.

On the military side of things, we went into Iraq, and adopted more warlike saber-rattling with North Korea and Iran.

How did that turn out? Iran greeted our belligerence with some of their own, and elected Ahmedinejad in order to have their own blusterer in chief. Turns out being bad at the economy and good at shooting your mouth off is not something limited to politicians in this country. Too bad they're having such trouble getting rid of him. North Korea took the opportunity to show us the nuclear middle finger, testing missiles and bombs with little regard for the rhetoric coming from our shores.

Well, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, allowing an insurgency to develop in Iraq that shouldn't have been allowed to get past square one. It took three years for the Republicans to admit that a change was needed, and then there idea was to double down on the troop levels, something that in years earlier, they had even claimed was a dangerous idea. Of course, by the time they got around to it, people wanted out.

Fortunately, the change in tactics helped redeem the situation. Too bad it took thousands of American and Iraqi lives and the catastrophic loss of an election fro the Republicans to suddenly decide change was good. Their gamble was that sheer will and tenacity, absent an actual change in policy, would be able to turn around the war. Therefore, it was "stay the course" until the end. It was a gamble they lost, but they'll never admit it.

They bet that we could leave Afghanistan alone, that Bin Laden was defeated and never would recover from the blow we dealt him. That we're still fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda soldiers several years on indicates that this too was a lost wager.

The bet on the Republican energy policy, after 9/11, hell, before it, was that continuing to consume massive amounts of foreign oil wouldn't cause us any more problems. It was also that deregulating energy markets would lower costs, that alternative energy solutions wouldn't need any other stimulus than the market itself, that things would just fall into place.

Notice that sudden drop in oil prices, following the economic collapse? That wasn't all reduction in demand. That was finance companies selling off their energy derivatives, among other things.. Oddly enough, the middlemen of the investment banks (or what use to be the investment banks) had a thing for buying up oil supplies and artificially raising the price. Whereever deregulation has been attempted, we've seen prices rise, seen the traders manipulate the market by turning generators off and on.

But needless to say, high or low, we're still paying money to folks, of whom a significant number regard it as charity to give to those who want to kill us. We're financing a threat to our national security. The Republicans would have us betting on our own domestic oil supply, but that's a bet we would never be capable of ante-ing up to. We no longer have the reserves for that. We do, however, have more wind and solar power than we would ever need, there at our disposal. But it won't be a free lunch extending our electrical grids to accommodate these sources, nor an easy engineering challenge to deal with the less than constant nature of these energy sources.

One bet that the Republicans had no trouble letting the automakers make was that cheap gas would last forever. Yet again, a bad bet. In fact, so bad that it's literally bankrupted two of the major companies. Fortunately, though, the bankruptcies were the kind that companies can recover from. If the Republicans had had their druthers, they would have let these companies fail, making the bet that America could let the car companies collapse, and not feel the economic consequences. (or at least deserve the economic consequences and learn better.)

Yeah, that works. Everything squares, just like it does in textbooks and on college term papers. Works even better if you're not in that class of people that has to take the brunt of this correction.

And, at last, there's Healthcare. The Republicans want us to continue their experiment, continue our wager on their judgment with the continuation of healthcare as privately funded. After years of rising costs, they want use to continue being scared of the government's intervention on Healthcare.

They promised we would avoid bureaucracy. We didn't. They promised we'd keep the decisions between us and our doctor, and that we wouldn't be denied care because of some arbitrary policy. Yet we were.

Americans seem to have gained little and lost much from the bet they made on the Republican's private enterprise strategy.
The Republicans want us to make that bet again. In fact, they want us to make all the same bets we did before on them, trust them to get things done right.

All the bets we lost. Let's not mince words here. We lost those bets.

Trying to prove that low mileage vehicles wouldn't do harm to the economy, the Republicans allowed our domestic car makers to fall behind in efficiency once again, this time with catastrophic effects on the business those automakers did.

Trying to prove that the Free Market could handle the collapse of major institutions, that intervention was unnecessary, the Republicans helped ignite one of this country's worse economic crisises.

Trying to prove tax cuts would generate more revenue than they would lose, the Republicans once again proved that the Laffer Curve is a bad joke of economic policy.

Trying to prove that Vietnam's loss occured because we didn't fight hard enough, or beat up the media enough for its coverage, they just repeated many of the same kinds of mistakes, even if Iraq's failures weren't absolutely the same as Iraq's.

Trying to prove that those Frenchies and Swedes got it all wrong on healthcare, the Republicans succeeded in letting the Insurance Companies become exactly the kind of burden on taxpayers that they predicted government would be.

The Republicans engaged in all too many policies debates making the same wrong bets, over and over again, unwilling to change the horses they were placing America's money on, because the structure of their bets has always centered around a greater wager: the bet that they could prove the Democrats wrong on the policies they instituted, the policies that would come to define American policy for most of the twentieth century, and which even now forms the paradigm for what most people expect from their government.

Regardless of what they've said, what browbeating the Republicans have inflicted about what horrible, socialist, atheistic, fiscally irresponsible people the Democrats are, and how anti-American half of all Americans are, the Republicans now advise us on what our course of action should be, having more or less failed miserably on policy, taking their own advice.

There's no question that many of the Democrats and Liberals policies carry risks with them. But so did the Republican's and Conservatives policies. Those risks turned out to be bad risks. If they were loans from the bank of public trust, those risks would be toxic assets.

And now the Republicans are back, wanting us to once again lend them our ears, lend them our trust, lend them our exclusive loyalty. They are once again telling us what horrible investments the Democrats would be, having done everything they can to make sure the Democrats could not carry out their promises.

They can spin out the propaganda and the heated rhetoric, the paranoid warnings of encroaching socialism and government run amok. But the truth should be brutally clear from all that the Republicans got wrong.

Turning to the Republicans, while they continue their current course of action, while they continue to push their agenda unrepentent of the serious errors of their leadership, is a sucker's bet. It's time for America to take its chances with somebody else.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at July 24, 2009 2:33 PM
Comments
Comment #285027

Stephen

Democrats have more power than any Republicans have had since 1932. They hold all the cards in a way George Bush and the Republicans never did. You can keep on repeating and reinterpreting history, but the government now belongs entirety to Democrats. We hear that the Republicans screwed up. Let’s see how the Democrats do.

BTW - this North Korean/Iranian/Russian etc thing doesn’t really seem to be going so much better under the new regime. Maybe the fault lies with those A-holes in those countries and less with any American, whether it is Clinton, Bush or Obama.

Posted by: Christine at July 25, 2009 9:59 PM
Comment #285028

S.D.
Democrats have had congress since 2006. Now you have the Presidency to boot, so far the only change I’ve seen is who’s running the show. Same BS, different group. Republicans how about writing about the democrat screw ups so we can have something different to read and discuss.

Posted by: KAP at July 25, 2009 11:10 PM
Comment #285030

Christine-

Democrats have more power than any Republicans have had since 1932.

The recent Republican Congress and its President were more powerful, not on account of numbers, but the ability to get people to work in political lockstep.

I would, and would not like the Democratic Congress to learn from this. Would, because they need to act more like a cohesive part, but would not because a certain level of dissent and ideological flexibility is necessary within a party to keep it health.

You can keep on repeating and reinterpreting history, but the government now belongs entirety to Democrats.

The subject of my article is what the Republicans did as Congressional Majority, especially under Bush. I’m making a case for why people should not return to the Republican party.

And though we have clear majorities, that could be theoretically overwhelming, our power in practices is a different matter. But even if we exercised our theoretical power to the fullest, the Republicans are still in there, and still wreaking havoc. It’s becoming harder for them, to be sure, now that we have 60 seats won, but we have two senators in poor health, and some senators that seem to have confusion about which letter is after their names, confusion we might have to clear up for them.

But all that aside, the whole point of your argument seems to be that because Democrats aren’t using their majority well enough to wrest control of things from the Republicans, they don’t deserve to exercise their rights as a majority. Debateable perhaps, but what alternative is being offered?

The whole point of this declaration that everything will now be the Democrats’ fault (although nearly all the problems we’re dealing with are legacies of the Republican’s policies), is that if everything’s the Democrat’s fault, then the Republicans can blunt all the criticism that came at them for the actions of their majority and their most recent president.

Then, presumably, everything can get back to normal, and folks can acknowledge that things are just going to have to be done their way.

But like I’ve explained to others, the logic is wanting. The fact that the Democrats could screw up or might screw up, doesn’t mean the Republicans magically become better governing officials. It means they’re simply doing their best to pull any alternative leaders into the muck with them. A sad strategy to be sure, especially for Republicans.

You can’t make the argument that Democrats are no better than Republicans without implicitly conceding the argument that Republicans lost their bets, defaulted on their promises. The filibustering serves, in this case, as a way to make sure the Democrats don’t do any better.

So, ostensibly for the good of the Country, everybody gets to wallow around in the Republican’s failure until we admit fault and let them come back in charge.

This is not some see-saw. It was not some cycle of determinant variation that brought the Democrats back. If the party’s are not forced to deal with their previous errors before they return, then the back and forth has no point.

Democrats should not be treated as if they are are responsible for the conditions that they come into office dealing with. They should be held responsible for what they do on their own watch, their decisions and policies.

The Republicans should be held accountable for their behavior, and not let back into power until they repent of what they did.

KAP-
The real change of pace would be Republicans critically reviewing their own party’s failures, which, as I have documented exhaustively, have been plenty. A real change of pace would be Republicans giving up on their party-line obstruction of the senate, or at least letting items come to the Up and Down vote they were so insistent on when we made a handful of filibuster threats over the federal judges Bush wanted to appoint.

That would be different.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 26, 2009 1:43 AM
Comment #285031

Stephen,

Let me start by saying I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican but I would say my politics lean a bit more to the Left. As convenient as it may be to blame the Right for the dire situation our nation finds itself in, I believe we both know that our government, as a whole, has failed us. Years of our elected officials serving the interests of both Corporate America and Labor Unions (one of which I have been a member for 20 years) along with a complete disregard for authentic fiscal responsibility by our local, state, and federal government has not surprisingly led into an era of extremely complex problems. The kind that will require fundamental changes in the way we our governed. I agree with the points you have highlighted in your blog the problem is that this is all redundant information. It is obvious that you are well informed on the issues of the day; thus, what I ask of you (and anyone else that mistakenly believes that the path to solving these issues is to lob rocks back and forth across the partisan divide) is to channel your knowledge and energy into executing a strategy of encouraging responsible discourse that ultimately leads to solutions. I don’t mean to single you out. There are very few outlets for honest political discussion these days. I sense a passion in your writing and believe you could be catalyst for change in the way we share our views.

Thank you for the work you do and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Randy

Posted by: Randy at July 26, 2009 1:44 AM
Comment #285033

KAP & Christine
Right. BHO has been in office for six months already. He should have everything fixed by now. Yes the Dems had congress since 2006. I shudder to think how bad things would have been.

Posted by: bills at July 26, 2009 2:45 AM
Comment #285036

Christine,

I’m guessing you forgot about the “Hammer”. Your honest and loyal servant, Tom Delay.

Posted by: gergle at July 26, 2009 3:59 AM
Comment #285039

Randy
Well said.
bills
Maybe things could have been better. WE’LL NEVER KNOW.

Posted by: KAP at July 26, 2009 9:31 AM
Comment #285040

Stephen

I understand why Democrats want to avoid responsibly. It has served them well to point fingers. But the argument that Republicans had more power with fewer seats than Democrats have with more because Republicans are more focused doesn’t really work.
“But even if we exercised our theoretical power to the fullest, the Republicans are still in there, and still wreaking havoc.” - it is always a problem with the democracy thing that other people have some influence.

I am not saying that Democrats don’t deserve to run things. ON the contrary, I am saying they ARE running things. Yet they still want to play victims.

“The fact that the Democrats could screw up or might screw up, doesn’t mean the Republicans magically become better governing officials.”

You are right, but you may have copied this argument from Republicans. That is exactly what they said a couple years ago (names reversed of course.) And their argument is proving true. Democrats have controlled Congress since 2007. So far we have not seen anything to brag about. BTW – lots of our problems happened on their watch, to use your term.

Many people voted for “change” w/o specifying what they meant. They seem to have vaguely thought it would mean they would have more money and happier lives. Politics cannot deliver these things to the all the people, since all politics can do it take from some Americans and give to others, while enriching middle-men. Although as Democratic nominees have shown, if you don’t pay your taxes you can have more money and still demand higher taxes for others.

Congressional Democrats are not worse than Republicans, but they are not better. The problem with all politicians is that they try to do too much that people should do for themselves. They get the arrogance of power. Republicans took over from corrupt Democrats in 1994, but they soon succumbed to the call to power. The Democratic return did not even hold out the hope of restraint.

The Democrats seem headed for a crash up of monumental proportions. I don’t take any pleasure in this, since they are driving the vehicle but we are all passengers. My only hope is that the crash up helps us understand the limits of politics are a way of making us all happier and more prosperous.

BillS

Stephen is talking about Democrats in congress too. They were elected in 2006.

I am not asking them to solve all problems, some of which are beyond the scope of politics. All I am asking is that they stop pretending they don’t hold the power that they do.

Democrats hold all the cards, not just some of them. It is all up to them. They should proudly accept the responsibility instead of talking about Republicans.

Gergle

Simple math. Not in our lifetimes have Republicans held such a monopoly of power as the Democrats have now. Don’t shirk.

Posted by: Christine at July 26, 2009 9:44 AM
Comment #285042

Randy-
Both parties have failed. But one has been willing to turn to voters and change its behavior for the better. The other is playing a three-card monty of misdirection, trying to turn their fatally flawed judgment on the economic crisis, policies which would have beggared the nation if implemented, into their moderation of the Democrats.

I can’t reconcile with that attitude. You write of my information being redundant. I don’t believe so. I believe people have forgotten much of what happened less than a year ago. We’ve forgotten, for example, that the Republican’s initial response to the economic crisis is exactly what they advise now: let all the companies that we’re bailing out sink or swim on their own, let the market teach them their lesson.

Only when we did that once before, the results were a historic loss of capital and wealth.

If the Republicans, both Bush and the House and Senate Republicans, had been less ideological in their approach, if they had not simply left the market to its own devices, we might not have ever needed a stimulus plan. We might not have needed to bail out so many companies at so high a cost, simply to keep our economy from collapsing any further.

The Democrats were never hot to expose themselves politically on this issue. We were never eager to start looking like profligate spenders once again. I think that needs to be emphasized. What I also think needs to be emphasized is that the Republicans ended up accepting these policies those months ago, out of the same necessity that we use them now. The big difference, though, is that the Republicans at this point, probably figuring that the trauma of the events of 2008 are a fading memory, have decided to revise history, and make it seem like the Democrats have just spontaneously gone on a spending spree.

How do I reconcile with that? That believing that Americans have sufficiently forgotten the way this economic crisis got aggravated by their actions before, that they can now turn around, and yet again advise Americans that we must do exactly what got us in this deep crap to begin with? That’s not conservatism that I can advocate our party being bipartisan with.

That’s an active denial of responsiblity, both in its deceptive omission of the results of these strategies last time, and in its refusal to respond to failures from before with new strategies that avoid those mistakes.

Or to put it plainly, I think the Republican Party is so gravitationally tidal-locked to its politics, that even a crisis of historic proportions cannot persuade them to learn from their mistakes, to change policies, even if that means their policies resembling the other party’s.

I started out here as a critic of the Iraq war who believed that the Bush Administration was simply not learning from its mistakes, or wanting to be forced to abandon its positions, regarding those errant policies. I wasn’t a pacifist decrying the war on moral grounds, but rather someone who felt that there was a dangerous and frightening disconnect between policy and the feedback of information from that policy, that we had people who were running the war into the ground, trying to run it their way, and save face for their party and politicians.

It wasn’t ideological. I was actually much more hawkish pre-Iraq war. I’m a big fan of the military, as far back as I can remember. It was always ironic to me that rather than acknowledge the problem and remove this obstacle to further progress in the war, that the Adminstration’s policies essentially, were to deny anything was going wrong, and attack the press for reporting it. The Administration could have put forward a reasonable rationale to both their voters and their rivals in government as to why they were going to change policy. Few people would have looked harshly on them for being responsive to events on the ground, to admitting errors and not trying to zombie-fy the battleplan that didn’t survive contact with the enemy.

Instead, they undertook the political equivalent of a kid on the playground, playing guns, suddenly declaring himself or herself bulletproof. They would allow no questioning, and they would not question their own judgment. They rendered our policy a rigidly ideological thing, and as a result, we lost any chance of acheiving many of the goals of reconstruction that we initially went in there with.

So much of these debacles the Bush Adminstration got saddled with came about because they were fundamentally unwilling to admit problems, and do what had to be done, painful or not, to resolve those problems.

I don’t see that having changed, and having seen all that this country has been through because of this rigidly ideological approach to governance, I don’t see the point in compromising with that.

We did not elect Barack Obama and all the others so that this nation could remain on its current trajectory. The Republicans have acted almost in complete lockstep with each other to make sure that trajectory remains the same. If I have to choose between defeating the purpose of every goal of necessary reform that we need in this country, and abandoning the bipartisanship that I’ve treasured and advocating, I will let go of the former.

We need to get this country back in better shape much more than we need to be friends with Republicans who have reacted to the elections rejecting their party with increasing hostility to change.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 26, 2009 10:03 AM
Comment #285043

Christine-
If we wanted to avoid responsiblity, we could have thrown this election, let the Republicans handle the mess. The Republicans had more power because their party was more unified, ideologically purified of most of its dissenters. But that’s also what got them in trouble. If everybody’s thinking the same thing, nobody’s thinking.

That, from my observations, has not changed. And yes, the Republicans are wreaking havoc, using their lockstep minority to block nearly every bill of consequence from even coming to a vote.

This is not about playing the victim. This is about stating a fact. I mean, it’s like blaming somebody who got caught up in a catastrophic pile-up for being late to work. You’re trying to credit the Democrats with the failures that the Republicans themselves have done a great deal to deliberately engineer.

You misinterpret my argument about the Democrat’s potential to screw up making the Republicans better governing officials. The Republicans proved their incompetence, their rigidity of ideology, their unwillingness to confront problems. The Democrats have not yet been given the chance to fail, before we’re declared worse than failures, active agents of our own country’s destruction.

I would be thrilled to be grading the Democrats on their own merits, thrilled to see our policies be put to the test to work or not work, but that is not something the Republicans are allowing. They have decided at this crucial point, when reform is necessary and there are compelling reasons to get things done now, that it’s more important to make sure the Democrat’s leave a light footprint on policy than to get things actually done to help the country that desperately needs it.

How I can I compromise across the aisle, in a time like this, with the other side wanting no part of a real, practical reform of America’s policy landscape? How can I countenance the continued unwillingness to depart from policies that I know have failed, and will fail again?

I would love to sit down one day, and speak peaceably with Republicans and Conservatives, to see both party’s cooperating on matters of great importance.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party has decided that to save this country, the Republican Party must save itself, and that anything it does to obstruct the Democrats and drive down their popularity with voters is justified, even if the policy consequences are severe. That much more motivation for people to embrace the right thinkers. If I sound bitter, it’s because I have seen more than my fill of people putting the fortunes of themselves or the party ahead of actually making policy that gets things done, and done right.

I hope you understand that I don’t expect people to agree with me just because I believe what I do so fervently. All those links up there help tell the story that leads me to conclude what I conclude here: that the Republican Party has staked out its positions in disregard for the results that have already come of those policies.

I didn’t support the Republicans before when they attempted to use patriotism as a shield for policies that failed the nation’s best interests. I will not sugarcoat my assessment of what their current rhetorical efforts would lead to, if we followed their logic.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 26, 2009 10:26 AM
Comment #285048

S.D.
Do you really think the Democrats are going to save this country? I know the Republicans won’t. The only people that can actually save this country is the voters by getting rid of the overpayed a—holes we now have in congress, and I mean both parties. If people keep pulling the party lever at election time it will never happen. I see many on the red and blue columns that do exactly that and it is, using an Obama quote “acting stupidly.”

Posted by: KAP at July 26, 2009 1:08 PM
Comment #285050

Stephen

Democrats say Republicans have no leadership. How can they act in lockstep?

The inconvenient truth is that many of the policies being pushed by Nancy Pelosi (Obama has more or less abdicated to her) are just unpopular with anybody who is not a lefty. This includes all Republicans and evidently a large number of Democrats. Maybe it is the policy that is wrong.

Think back to 2005. Bush wanted to push what he called the ownership society. Democrats used all their power to stop it and it didn’t go anywhere. Some Bush supporters blamed Democrats, as you are doing now with Republicans. Bush made the mistake of trying to push something that was too far out for all Democrats and a large number of Republicans. Sound familiar?

Nancy Pelosi is giving everybody the “my way or highway” option. Republicans and many Democrats are just going to say no. But the failure comes from Democrats, who control all the power. The Democratic leadership is not formulating policies acceptable to other DEMOCRATS. To their credit, many Democrats are not selling out principle to party leadership. Maybe get better leaders, but don’t blame Republicans.

I will say again what is the simple truth. The Democrats do not need a single Republican vote to pass what they want. They hold all the power. If they were smart, they would try to tailor their policies to be acceptable to all Americans, but they at least need them to be acceptable to all Democrats. Given all their advantages, if they fail, they are fools.

Posted by: Christine at July 26, 2009 1:37 PM
Comment #285055

Terrible news for Republicans- the economy is bottoming out, and the recession is coming to an end. The stimulus has worked, and the follow-on portions seem likely to provide exactly the kind of targeted impetus to create jobs.

That will be the next huge hurdle- preventing another slow, jobless recovery, and ensuring rising worker wages creates a ‘trickle up’ scenario for the wealthiest one percent, who will undoubtedly see their taxes revert to the rates of the Clinton era.

A crucial piece of the puzzle will be controlling the costs of health care. Universal health care is the obvious solution.

It is unfortunate a small number of ‘pro-business’ conservative Democrats may be able to join with Republicans and prevent health care reform. To her credit, Pelosi has done a great job, and she still feels sure she can bring this one home. I’m inclined to take her word for it.

The conventional wisdom is that delaying health care reform is a disadvantage, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. As the success of the Obama administration’s economic policies become more and more clear, his clout will increase, as will the clout of the liberals responsible for saving the country’s economy.

Let’s run the 2010 midterms as a health care referendum. Over 70% of Americans want reform. Let’s do it.

Posted by: phx8 at July 26, 2009 3:26 PM
Comment #285056

phX8

The first stimulus worked. The second stimulus (the one they pushed through in January) has not yet been deployed.

I agree that the economy is bottoming out. Recessions end. This was a bad one. Unemployment went almost up to 1982 levels. We needed to do something and we did. But I am afraid that the second stimulus, when it starts to hit, will compound trouble and slow the recovery.

Concerning health care - most of us want reform. I think we should just go right to a Scandinavian style health care system. But what I fear we will get is the U.S. system extended to everybody w/o the cost controls (rationing, limiting lawyers etc) that the Europeans use to hold health care costs lower.

Posted by: Christine at July 26, 2009 4:53 PM
Comment #285057

“The first stimulus worked. The second stimulus (the one they pushed through in January) has not yet been deployed.”

Christine I assume you are referring to the stimulus package GWB signed into law in February of 2008 as the one that worked. The unemployment rate has doubled since then so how do you figure it worked? The DJIA was double what it was one year later, so how do you figure GWB’s stimulus package worked?

Posted by: j2t2 at July 26, 2009 5:44 PM
Comment #285058

j2t2

I was thinking of the work done by treasury and the Fed last fall. It stopped the free fall and pumped liquidity. I recall it was a bipartisan affair. Bush and the Democrats can take credit.

Besides, your quarrel is with phx8. He thinks the stimulus worked. I am just saying that the second stimulus could not have worked yet, since it is not deployed (despite all the rush to pass it w/o reading).

BTW - even the first stimulus was wasteful, but a little overflow is justified by the urgency. The second stimulus has been nothing but overflow that has not even been set to work.

Posted by: Christine at July 26, 2009 6:10 PM
Comment #285059

I have no quarrel, Christine, I was simply trying to understand why one would think the first stimulus passed in 2008 worked. It seems we agree that it didn’t. It seems to me PHX8 is speaking of the 2nd stimulus package put in place this year not the tax rebates package of 2008.

Thanks for clearing that up, I am glad to see you are not defending the 2008 stimulus package.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 26, 2009 6:21 PM
Comment #285062

Christine said: “But what I fear we will get is the U.S. system extended to everybody w/o the cost controls (rationing, limiting lawyers etc) that the Europeans use to hold health care costs lower.”

That is a legitimate concern, Christine. But, the Scandinavian, or any other European universal health care system, was not put in place by a single year’s legislation. Look at the history of those systems, and you will see that they evolved to where they are today. That is the nature democratic politics, regardless of which democratic nation you wish to look at.

Fell swoop reforms are rare, and occur only during or after wars or deep intractable recessions or depressions. (Brazil’s economic reforms, is an excellent example, as is Britain’s health care system.)

What is required, is a consistency and perseverance to get to the end product over time. That is the Achille’s Heel of American politics with our two party system, which reverses course on long term projects, on average every 12 to 16 years.

As soon as one approach is well on its way to success, the other party gets elected and destroys that success in order to blame their rival for the failure and secure their 12 to 16 years of power. It SUCKS! Big Time! And the problem lies with our decentralized and localized educational system and voters conditioned by local politicians to reelect them regardless of the results of their tenure. Keep ‘em ignorant and you keep them supportive and following the incumbents. It is too true in so very many districts around the country.

American needs a national educational standard which is enforceable. But, the Right hates “national” and the Left hates “standard”. So, educational reforms our nation desperately needs is nowhere in sight in our foreseeable future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 26, 2009 7:12 PM
Comment #285063

KAP-
Got anybody handy?

Democrats should at least being given the opportunity to do their best, before they are judged for having failed.

But of course, that won’t happen, so we’ll just have to struggle through. The Democrats, though, are at least trying to take care of the issues, not just themselves.

Christine-
The Democrats say they have no one to lead them in a new direction, not that they have nobody to lead them.

And how can they act in lockstep? Well they are. I don’t know what you call it when just about every Republican in the senate acts in concert not just one or even just a few times, but hundreds of times over the last few years.

As for Nancy Pelosi? Convenient scapegoat for Republicans. But if you really look, you’ll find her control over conservative Democrats is weak. She had plenty of opportunities to flex her legislative muscles, and she hasn’t employed them. But of course, say Pelosi to a bunch of Republicans, and the propaganda summons up this far left liberal who’s all powerful.

Why? Because they need an excuse to react in a kneejerk fashion. A San Francisco Liberal represents a good opportunity for them to do that, no matter what her actual policies are.

If she really had a “my way or the highway” approach, you wouldn’t be seeing the Blue Dogs hang up so much legislation.

But you say, doesn’t it mean that the leadership’s policies are too liberal even for some Democrats?

Well, it depends on how you define the context of that statement. As a Population, liberals and Democrats stand behind the President. As a delegation, they are a lagging indicator, relics of thirty years of Republican dominance and influence.

The trick is to think of it in terms of why The resurgence of the party waited until 2006 and 2008. That’s when Democrats really started pushing liberalism again. It’s something people have missed.

But it’s not what many Politicians in Washington are comfortable with. Some may never be. I can tell you this: when they pass legislation, their numbers will go up.

Let me ask you something as well: when Republicans complain about a “my way or the highway approach”, why don’t they simply unite with conservative Democrats to vote down the legislation? Why the need to just block things?

If the Republicans weren’t taking that tack themselves, the other Democrats could say “negotiate with them”, and that would happen. It’s almost habit among many of our Washington politicians. Just look at our persistent efforts at negotiation with Senate Republicans.

Ask yourself something else: if this really were something spontaneous, wouldn’t the response be less organized? Doesn’t betray the presence of a strategy that this is being inflicted upon just about every piece of major legislation Democrats try to put through?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 26, 2009 7:26 PM
Comment #285064

Stephen,

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

The point I was attempting to make is simple. I have rarely been open to new ideas from someone who starts off the conversation by telling me that I’m an idiot. I don’t believe I am alone in this view. And I am not suggesting that you have done this to me. Rather I submit to you that this appears to be the approach you have chosen when sharing your views about, or with, Conservatives.

As insightful as your writing is it comes across as white noise. The same one-sided blah blah blah that is shoveled to us on a daily basis. I get it. Conservatives=BAD, Liberals=GOOD. And again, as someone who is admittedly far more Liberal than Conservative, I agree with and support your views. The problem is that as a strategy, and I want to emphasize the concept of strategy, portraying conservatives as the Boogey Man does not leave space for an honest, integrity driven debate of which the ultimate goal is resolution to our common problems. And let me be clear. I am not suggesting that the answers to our problems are to be all buddy buddy with our adversaries.

So I guess the question I have for you and many others is…Have you entered into the political blogosphere merely to be a Town Crier?….Or, do you intend to use your gift as avenue to real change. I hope it is the latter because the movement needs people like you.

Randy

Posted by: Randy at July 26, 2009 7:29 PM
Comment #285065

S.D.
We have to many career politicians on both sides of the aisle and it is time to get rid of them. I wish I did have someone in mind. The career politicians are there for the money and the prestige, not you or me. I’ve been trying to vote out the congressman in my district for the last 3 elections, but because I live in a predomanetly democratic county it’s hard. To many people just pull that party lever, and they don’t think about what kind of a—hole this guy has been. And like I said it’s acting stupidly. I think the republicans are haveing fun watching you democrats fight among yourselves, I even think it’s hillarious to think democrats who have the majority can’t get things together between themselves. That is why we need to vote these guys out and get some new blood in congress, maybe then they can work together for the betterment5 of this country.

Posted by: KAP at July 26, 2009 7:47 PM
Comment #285067

Christine,
On a model for socialized medicine, I agree with you. There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. Every wealthy country in the world except the US has socialized medicine, so it should be easy enough to pick and choose among the models that works best. Conservatives make up a bunch of weird stuff about how socialized medicine means a totalitarian government. Obviously, Canada and the EU are not totalitarians.

The American Medical Association is one other opponent to reform. The supply of doctors is intentionally restricted in order to keep doctor pay high. In fact, we could train many more qualified doctors than currently are being trained. Who knows? Perhaps one day we can catch up with Cuba, and make the export of medical care a rule, rather than an exception.

Didn’t the stimulus package include $200 billion in tax cuts, which were implemented as soon as the bill passed? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that was already in place.

For those who do not remember, Hillary Clinton ran on universal health care. Obama never did. I voted for Obama in spite of this stand. Today, Obama is fighting an opposing party which reflexively opposes everything. It’s dissent for the sake of dissent. The GOP is utterly pointless. They literally have nothing to offer as an alternative, unless doing nothing counts as offering an alternative. I’ve never seen such a useless bunch of people.

A handful of ‘pro-business’ Democrats may join the opposition, and even a handful may be enough to tank meaningful reform. Pelosi can probably get it done in the House, but the Senate is less certain.

Posted by: phx8 at July 26, 2009 9:01 PM
Comment #285069

Randy said “Rather I submit to you that this appears to be the approach you have chosen when sharing your views about, or with, Conservatives.”

Randy I have to disagree with you. I think Stephen goes out of his way to express his point without insulting repubs and conservatives considering the tone of the conversation on most blogs and on the am radio and TV talk shows.

“As insightful as your writing is it comes across as white noise. The same one-sided blah blah blah that is shoveled to us on a daily basis.”

Again Randy I have to disagree with you. On numerous occasions Stephen has tempered his remarks. In fact I sometimes think he is to mild in his disagreement with many conservatives. What specifically would you suggest he do to counter the rhetoric when the only message many conservatives hear is from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Malakin, Ann what’s her name, O’Reilly and the many other extremist that spew misinformation and insults daily?

When a person has been conditioned by the likes of the afore mentioned individuals polite and respectful conversation is regarded as a sign of weakness. Politically correct speech is frowned upon and ignored by those that follow the talk radio jocks. Yet Stephen manages to make his point while not stooping any where near to the low levels demonstrated daily by the talk radio crowd.

When Stephen includes so many examples of the risky experiments as he did in such a fine manner in this article why would you think this information would be insulting to those on the right? I do not see any insults just facts to consider as an opposing view to the RNC advertisement. It would be a very thin skinned person to feel insulted over what Stephen has presented IMHO. Angry, yes. Angry that the conservative leadership has mislead so many otherwise decent Americans for so long, yes, extremely angry, but not at Stephen.

Randy how would you address the issue Stephen has raised, specifically not conceptually, to demonstrate this avenue of change you speak of?

BTW what movement do you speak of? Movements scare me as we have seen the leadership of the conservative movement mislead many of us for years.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 26, 2009 9:48 PM
Comment #285075

There are some interesting parallels between the Rep(alas,and a few Dems)position on health care delivery reform and what was going on during the riegn of the railroad monopolies. They bought influence and protection through what is esentially bribery of varing degrees of legality. They used their power to cripple economic developement in whole regions of the country, much as the health insurance industry is crippling economic developement in the whole country so they could maximise profits.They demanded rates based on what a farm or other business could afford to pay,even demanding to inspect company records,not unlike the practice of requiring the inspection of medical records. They maintained this extortion for years, until they finally got some competion and laws were passed to limit their power like common carrier rules. The answer to our current delema lyes in a similar approach. We must develope some real competition to the insurance monopolies. The fastest way to do that is the public option, coupled with restriction on existing condition exclusions and cherry picking. If this competion was likely to come about without government involvement it would be preferable, but it has not and is not likely too within the time frame needed to pull us out of the near depression the failure to address the problem, among many other factors, has left us. The time is now. The oppostion to ANY real reform in congress is acting exactly like the railroad congressmen did. Their goal is to protect the vested interest that controls them. Shame. I wish that BHO would start playing hardball. “Congessman X is opposed to this aspect. Congressman X has recieved $100,000 in campaign contributions from X insurance company and his wife is on the board of directors X-cross at $500,000 a year.” etc.Point is to make it clear that the best interest of an individual congressman or party is also in the best interest of the people.

Posted by: bills at July 26, 2009 11:08 PM
Comment #285076

j2t2,

Thank you for taking the time to call me to task concerning my comments. I hope I am up to the challenge.

Let me start with the easy question: BTW what movement do you speak of? Movements scare me as we have seen the leadership of the conservative movement mislead many of us for years.

Answer: This was only a general reference to good people fighting the good fight.

Your next question: What specifically would you suggest he do to counter the rhetoric when the only message many conservatives hear is from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Malakin, Ann what’s her name, O’Reilly and the many other extremist that spew misinformation and insults daily?

Answer: For the people who have fallen under the spell of Limbaugh, Hannity, Malakin, Ann what’s her name, O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Micheal Savage, Rodger Hedgcock, Keith Oberman (just being fair) I have no suggestions on how to “counter the rhetoric”. Sadly these talk show hosts market their brand of politics towards individuals who would rather be told what their opinion should be instead of trusting their instincts and forming an opinion of their own. I don’t waste my energy with this group be it Conservative or Liberal. Furthermore, I think your question makes an assumption that most Conservatives can’t distinguish between the misinformation spewed by the fore mentioned talk show hosts and the dire realities all of us face as citizens. This has not been my experience. My approach to political discourse is……wait for it……here it comes… drum roll please!!!…I LISTEN ACTIVELY WITH THE INTENT TO LEARN SOMETHING. I know it is not sexy. And I may lead to me, dare I say, agreeing with a Conservative from time to time. But have we all lost site of the fact that the purpose of all this discussion is to have an educated electorate that can with confidence and conviction make good decisions on how we as a nation should be governed?

Let’s not kid ourselves. Political discourse rarely leads to the either side having a come to Jesus moment. I do believe though that honest, integrity driven communication, as boring as it may be, is the only proven way to go.

Your last question: Randy how would you address the issue Stephen has raised, specifically not conceptually, to demonstrate this avenue of change you speak of?

Answer:I don’t believe I would have taken the same tack Stephen took with this issue. I see this commercial as purposeful attempt to pick a fight. It’s a trap. The intent of the add was not to intelligently inform Americans of why we should not support the Democratic Health Insurance reform proposal. It was clearly meant to create a level of doubt in whether or not Americans should trust the decision making ability of Barrack Obama. Because if you can’t trust his decision making ability then how can you support his Health Insurance Reform or anything else he pushing.

If I was to engage the blogosphere in regards to this issue I would ask if anyone supported this style of influence peddling. I would also ask for other examples of purposeful misrepresentation of issues and see where it goes from there.

Thanks again for giving me a chance to clarify my position

Randy

Posted by: Randy at July 27, 2009 1:13 AM
Comment #285082

Randy-
If you look at my entry, as others have described it, you’ll see plenty of links offered in support of my admittedly harsh critique.

I’m not telling people they’re wrong based on some partisan principle. Results are what I am interested in, so results are the yardstick by which I measure the policies.

I am harsh with the GOP, with my focus on the politicians in particular, because they have unmoored themselves from any sense that their policies must be judged on their real world merits, not merely on their philosophical orthodoxy.

It’s not that conservatives are bad and liberals are good, it’s that I’m seeing little regard for the actual consequences of their actions, and that is not something I can forgive from those with their responsibility. I don’t like it from Democrats, either.

I don’t intend to portray Republicans as responsible for all of the ills. I’ll admit Democrats helped the Republicans implement those policy changes. The basic redeeming difference is that while Republicans have proven unwilling to cast away positions that have proved false, the Democrats are willing to change things, at least some of the time.

Not much of an improvement, but I will take what I can get.

And I will tell people this: the Republicans have the capacity for self-correction. Once they start moderating their politics with a results oriented approach, and a commitment to the effective function of the government, they’ll be in a much better condition to move forward into the new century.

But as of right now, they are behaving as an obstacle, and I believe they must be treated as one. Until we can find the crack in their armor that enables us to defeat their imposition of this gridlock, we ought to, with facts and blunt truth, batter at their arguments.

I’m often motivated to write to respond to what I see as deficits in the current discourse. What I realized, as I watched that video featured across the way, was that the Republicans in Washington constantly talk about the riskiness of our policies, while they push policies and stay the course on strategies, that to be blunt, haven’t worked. If we measure risk in a cost/benefit analysis, then clearly, a risk that doesn’t pay off was not the best bet to take.

Logically, then, if the Republicans wish to speak of what risks are good or not, we have every right to examine their credibility on their own risk taking. And if we look at the past few decades, we see the risks that the Republicans had us take, the wagers they had us make, didn’t turn out as claimed.

And as such, the Republicans sense of what’s risky is itself faulty. Yes, Democrats can be wrong, but Republicans have failed in a systematic way to get things right.

This doesn’t, in any way, speak to the riskiness of our strategies. But if their critique is to speak of the risk that comes with trusting us, then the Public should at least be given the chance to go back and review how strong the Republican Party’s judgment has been, as of late.

Republicans created the commercial in question, yes, with the interest of casting doubt on healthcare. The question I ask of the Republicans, is why we should trust their judgment on what’s risky, given all the gambles they’ve fallen short on.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 27, 2009 11:01 AM
Comment #285104


Stephen, it is sad that commercials, especially ones filled with misinformation, can have a major effect on our political decisions. I consider it another democracy failure by our government.

We the people own and lease the airways. Our government could use this power to create a national forum in which the major issues of the times could be debated. Such a forum would give the people the opportunity to base political decisions on knowledge and logic rather than partisan retoric and scare tactics.

By the way Stephen, according to many House Democrats, the major obsticle preventing their healthcare reform is President Obama. His unwillingness to support any specifics, even those set forth in his universal plan he supposedly supported during the campaign.

Obama is saying the current healthcare system is broken and it is going to get worse. He is saying we need a new healthcare system so Congress, you pass it and I will sign it.

Obama’s desire to be a concensus president rather than a true leader is a death nail for any progressive legislation.

Meanwhile, the drug companies and the healthcare companies are flooding Congress with political contributions.

Posted by: jlw at July 27, 2009 4:11 PM
Comment #285114

Stephen,

Thanks for the thoughtful exchange of ideas. I look forward to more of the same in the future.

Randy

Posted by: Randy at July 27, 2009 9:28 PM
Comment #285116

jlw-
No, however pure we would try to make any forum for discussion from tricks and deception, people would still use the same kind of arguments they would. You’d just create a market for people to perform in that venue, as opposed to doing so on a commercial.

The only way to truly confront the problem is to admit that there will always be those who are skilled in oration, skilled in rhetoric, skilled in logic, skilled by other means, and then admitting that, seek out the people who are the match for the shady characters putting forward these organizational and political lines.

We win by making good on the promise of our equality.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 27, 2009 9:43 PM
Comment #285320


Stephen, I wasn’t talking about a forum that is anchored by Ann Coulter and Rachel Maddow. I was promoting an impossible forum in which the politicians are forced to defend their positions on major issues. A forum in which everything these politicians say is subjected to almost immediate fact checking. Imo, such a forum would lead to a greater understanding of the issues and the workings of government by the people. Even if half of the people in the country don’t watch,
they will be decussing the forums issues wherever they gather, work, church, etc.

I would rather have had you address the second part of my comments dealing with the House Democrats and their displeasure with Obama’s approach to healthcare reform.

Posted by: jlw at July 30, 2009 3:39 PM
Comment #285321


Stephen, I wasn’t talking about a forum that is anchored by Ann Coulter and Rachel Maddow. I was promoting an impossible forum in which the politicians are forced to defend their positions on major issues. A forum in which everything these politicians say is subjected to almost immediate fact checking. Imo, such a forum would lead to a greater understanding of the issues and the workings of government by the people. Even if half of the people in the country don’t watch,
they will be decussing the forums issues wherever they gather, work, church, etc.

I would rather have had you address the second part of my comments dealing with the House Democrats and their displeasure with Obama’s approach to healthcare reform.

Posted by: jlw at July 30, 2009 3:41 PM
Comment #285323


Stephen, I wasn’t talking about a forum that is anchored by Ann Coulter and Rachel Maddow. I was promoting an impossible forum in which the politicians are forced to defend their positions on major issues. A forum in which everything these politicians say is subjected to almost immediate fact checking. Imo, such a forum would lead to a greater understanding of the issues and the workings of government by the people. Even if half of the people in the country don’t watch,
they will be decussing the forums issues wherever they gather, work, church, etc.

I would rather have had you address the second part of my comments dealing with the House Democrats and their displeasure with Obama’s approach to healthcare reform.

Posted by: jlw at July 30, 2009 3:42 PM
Comment #285449

jlw-
That forum you’re describing is the one we’re using now.

You imagine that a forum can be purified of the BS, but that will not happen, at least not in any permanent way.

I say this from the perspective of a communications theorist. Any message I could send could be incorporated or altered in order to support another view entirely, if the person were smart enough, or brazen enough.

I insist on factual back-up the way I do because it has been my experience that people can argue anything, and that you’ve got to provide something else, on top of rhetoric, to impede the misdirection and dishonesty that some will attempt.

I do not believe in a system that can, with simple passive structure, prevent any and all dishonesty or use of irrational emotional appeals. I believe that it’s not good enough to have people telling the truth, we need them telling it in a way were it is actively competitive with the falsehoods others use. We have to be well informed in truth, to counter those who present themselves as knowledgeable, rightly or wrongly. We have to be logically rigorous as we can be, to counter those who do and do not use logic equally well. We have to be savvy to the tricks of rhetoric and rabble-rousing that people employ, so we can counter them, and if needs be, use them.

We cannot simply assume, as happens in movies, that an amateur with passion will necessarily overcome professionals with training. After all, it’s professionals who write those lines!

That’s why I take the approach I do. That’s why I became a blogger. That’s why I use facts, less than emotional shots as the basis for my posts and comments. Because I know better than most the treacherous relationship between words and meaning.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 1, 2009 11:51 AM
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