Quote of the Day

“Yes, total debt in the U.S. economy, public and private combined, has risen dramatically relative to G.D.P. No, this doesn’t mean that we as a nation have been living far beyond our means, and must drastically tighten our belts. While we have run up a significant foreign debt (although not as big as many imagine), the rise in debt overwhelmingly represents Americans borrowing from other Americans, which doesn’t make the nation as a whole any poorer, and doesn’t require that we collectively spend less. In fact, the biggest problem created by all this debt is that it’s keeping the economy depressed by causing us collectively to spend too little, with debtors forced to cut back while creditors see no reason to spend more.

“So what should we be doing? By all means, let’s restore the kind of effective financial regulation that, in the years before the Reagan revolution, helped deter excessive leverage. But that’s about preventing the next crisis. To deal with the crisis that’s already here, we need monetary and fiscal stimulus, to induce those who aren’t too deeply indebted to spend more while the debtors are cutting back.

“Unemployment, not excessive money printing, is what ails us now — and policy should be doing more, not less.”  Emphasis added.

Paul Krugman, from “The Urge to Purge,” NYT

The Best Article in a Decade

Wherever you live on the political spectrum, you absolutely must, must read Bruce Bartlett’s truly amazing article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community,” in The American Conservative.

He talks about the censorship that the right, especially Rupert Murdoch, has tried to impose on him and about how this former supply-sider has come to agree with Paul Krugman on how to deal with the Great Recession.

A little background if you don’t know Bartlett.  He worked for Congressman Jack Kemp, for Heritage, in the second-term Reagan White House, at Treasury under Bush 41, for Cato, and wrote for all the top-line conservative publications.

Some excepts:

“My book, ImpostorHow George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, was published in February 2006.  I had been summarily fired by the think tank I worked for back in October 2005.  Although the book was then only in manuscript, my boss falsely claimed that it was already costing the organization contributions.  He never detailed, nor has anyone, any factual or analytical error in the book.

“Among the interesting reactions to my book is that I was banned from Fox News.  My publicist was told that orders had come down from on high that it was to receive no publicity whatsoever, not even attacks.  Whoever gave that order was smart; attacks from the right would have sold books.  Being ignored was poison for sales.

“I later learned that the order to ignore me extended throughout Rupert Murdoch’s empire.  For example, I stopped being quoted in the Wall Street Journal.  Awhile back a reported who left the Journal confirmed to me that the paper had given her orders not to mention me.  Other dissident conservatives, such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan, have told me that they are banned from Fox as well.  More epistemic closure.

“Annoyingly, however, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis [of the economic meltdown] was identical to my own.  I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.

“For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman.  The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.

“The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist.  In fact, he’s barely a liberal — and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today.  Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.

“At this point, I lost every last friend I had on the right.  Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming.  People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me.

“So here we are, post-election 2012.  All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them.

The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism.  We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day.

“At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure.  They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris.  Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.

“I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left.  Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat.  But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me.  When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.”  Emphasis added.

I haven’t had Bartlett’s distinguished career, but his story, especially over the past four years, is my story ideologically and philosophically.


Mitt Adviser Shocked, Shocked, He Says, by GOP Backlash

Senior Romney adviser Dan Senor said this on “Morning Joe” today:

“The Friday night before the election, we were in Cincinnati for this huge rally … Tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, a hundred top-tier Romney surrogates were at the event. I’m backstage with some of them, I won’t mention their names, but they’re talking about Romney like he’s Reagan. ‘His debate performances were the best performances of any Republican nominee in presidential history. He’s iconic.’ They were talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. And in fact, some of them were already talking to our transition to position themselves for a Romney cabinet.”

“I won’t say who they are,” Senor said. “They know who they are. They were on television, it was unbelievable, it was five, six days later, absolutely eviscerating him.”  Emphasis added.

This guy is in politics for a living, and he’s surprised at this?  How naive can you be?  “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”  Mitt won himself a lifetime ticket to the proverbial orphan’s picnic.

They Are All Randians Now

The chattering classes all along the political spectrum have been saying that the GOP is in an identity crisis, that they know they want to run from Bush 43, but haven’t yet figured out exactly what they’re running to.

The chattering classes are wrong — the GOP has definitively chosen a new identity:  they may give lip service to Ronald Reagan, but they’re really kissing the behind of another dead person — Ayn Rand.  They are all Randians now.

Nixon famously said we are all Keynesians now, and that was true.  The Dems had a leftist take on Keynes, and the GOP had a rightist take on him, but everybody believed that when the economy was bad, as during a garden-variety recession let alone a Great Recession, the government should spend to make up for the lack of private sector demand.  The difference was that when things were good and humming along, the Dems wanted more government spending than the GOP did.  It was a difference of degree, not of fundamental ideology.

Ayn Rand is a different ideology.  This is not the GOP of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, either Bush, or McCain.

Republicans, Independents, and the teeny, tiny sliver of Dems who are voting for Mitt need to think long and hard about this — are they really Randians?  Is this what they believe?  It’s not just that this isn’t your father’s GOP, this isn’t even the GOP of 2008.  Reagan famously said that he didn’t leave the Democratic party, it left him.  Well, now the Republican party has left him as well.   Everyone who is voting for Mitt should stop and reflect if the party has left them as well.

Mitt himself isn’t really a Randian, he’s an empty vessel, but he picked Paul Ryan because Mitt recognizes that Rand has filled the vacuum Bush left, and Ryan is her deaf, dumb, blind disciple — Paul “Tommy” Ryan.

The “Other” threatening our country isn’t a fictional Kenyan Muslim Socialist, it’s a Russian atheist who wrote fiction.

Noonan Plays the Reagan Card, Beautifully

Peggy Noonan is considered one of the keepers of the Reagan flame, and that gives her great credibility with the GOP and conservatives.

Today, in the light of her harsh criticism of Mitt and his campaign, Fox News’ Chris Wallace questioned her conservative bona fides in an interview with Politico, telling them, “Some of the people you’ve mentioned, like Peggy Noonan, sometimes they’re New York City’s idea of conservatives.”

Asked to respond, Noonan emailed, “The column speaks for itself.  Can’t say more, on a conference call with the board of the Reagan Foundation.”

As Jon Stewart would say, “Boom!”

Quote of the Day

“In short, Mr. Ryan’s [budget] plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices.  And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress.  Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.”

David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director, “Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan,” NYT

Krauthammer Gets with the Program

Having called Ryan’s budget a “suicide note” last year, now Charles Krauthammer doesn’t just bring Ryan back from the dead, he compares him to the Gipper:  “I think Ryan has that Reagan-like quality.”

And how high would you like me to jump, Mr. Ailes?  Both funny and pathetic.


Mitt Isn’t an Empty Suit, He Has No Clothes

I wrote earlier about Mitt’s message-less campaign.  He’s got an ad out criticizing President Obama for not visiting Israel in his first term (although Obama did as a presidential candidate).

Really?  Mitt thinks he’s going to win because Obama hasn’t returned to Israel since he became president?   Who is coming up with this stuff, and how can Mitt be buying it?

The GOP Saint Ronald Reagan never visited Israel during his two terms.  Bush 43 went only at the end of his second term.

Mittens, your advisers are like a hopeless group of Scrabble letters.  You need to dump them and pick new ones.


The Dumbest Editorial Ever?

The San Diego UnionTribune has a really pathetic editorial up, “Romney in a landslide.”

They analogize President Obama to Jimmy Carter and Mittens to Reagan.  And boy do they stretch!  For example, they use the people who went to Chick-fil-A last week to show their opposition to gay marriage as helping Mitt the way frustration over the hostages held in Iran helped Reagan.  Come on, really?

I remember 1980, I remember my husband and I being thrilled to get a mortgage at 14%.  Yes, young ‘uns, 14%.  I remember thinking that if I was voting for Reagan, which I did, having voted for McGovern and Carter, then Reagan was going to win in a landslide, which he did.  But this time I’m voting for Obama.

The people comparing 2012 to 1980 either are too young to remember 1980 or they’re just thumb-sucking, wishful-thinking Mitt-lovers.  The GOP has done its very best to make things as awful as possible for Obama (and therefore for all of us).  They haven’t succeeded in making them Jimmy Carter awful.

1980 was the year of the Reagan Democrats.  2012 is not the year of the Romney Democrats.

Mitt the Wimp

Back on October 19, 1987, Newsweek had a cover story on George H. W. Bush and “The Wimp Factor.”  He won in 1988, basically because the country wanted a third Reagan term, but lost in 1992, when he ran on his own, with the Reagan glow faded.  He famously looked at his watch during a presidential debate and sounded too patrician when he asked for “just a splash” more coffee at a NH diner.

Newsweek latest cover is also about “The Wimp Factor,” this time applied to Mitt, who is not running as the vice presidential heir to a popular president.

The story is sure to generate some buzz for Newsweek, which desperately needs it.  It won’t help Mitt because the Gucci loafer definitely fits.  He’s much more of a wimp than Bush 41, who was a fighter pilot in WWII and ran the CIA.  He’s definitely a “just a splash” guy.

What Newsweek calls wimpy, I call preppy.  I believe that the less preppy-seeming person usually wins.  Both Obama and Mitt went to prep school (Obama on scholarship).  But Mitt seems so much more preppy, just as John Kerry and Al Gore both seemed more preppy than Bush 43, even though all three went to elite prep schools.  Bush played the pork-rind-loving Texan all the way to the Oval Office.