Friday, February 20

The Lost Art Of Rhetoric, Vol. XLVII

Q: Why did my sump pump have to quit working just when I had water in my basement from heavy rains?

A: Because if it quit working some other time you wouldn't have noticed.

THIS brings us to three matters: 1) Michael Tomasky's piece in the Guardian, via Drum, which says that while "everybody" in Liberalville is saying the President should quit trying to reach out to Republicans, they're wrong because what he's really doing is reaching over the heads of Congresscritters to the country at large; 2) David Brooks' Friday tree-killer, in which the liver-jarring-but-not-entirely-unexpected 84º turn that takes us from dully motoring past fields of Moral and Economic systems still nestled in their winter blanket of Individual Responsibility to OMIGOD YOU'RE HEADING STRAIGHT FOR THAT GROUP OF UNWISE MORTGAGE-SIGNING PEDESTRIANS! almost as suddenly finds itself driving through the shell-blasted landscape inside Brooks' skull, as Reaganism collides with Well, But The Government Has To Do Something or Rich White People [here disguised as You n' Me (!)] Might Start To Feel The Pinch! and 3) that I really should be in the basement doing something constructive right now.

But first, Bobo. The civil war that breaks out between the Brutal Industrial North Half, as in paragraph 2:
The Bush and Obama administrations have compensated foolishness and irresponsibility. The financial bailouts reward bankers who took insane risks. The auto bailouts subsidize companies and unions that made self-indulgent decisions a few decades ago that drove their industry into the ground.

and the Philosphically Agrarian South of graf 11:
It makes sense for the government to intervene to try to reduce the oscillation. It makes sense for government to try to restore some communal order. And the sad reality is that in these circumstances government has to spend money on precisely those sectors that have been swinging most wildly — housing, finance, etc. It has to help stabilize people who have been idiots.

might be chalked up to his need to spout his side's talking points for the first 400 words, lest he be deprived of his lunch money, again; I mean, God Knows in the Present Unpleasantness the Profligate Obama Administration is just as guilty as that Bush Administration Mr. Brooks never criticized substantially until it was Too Late, in the same way the fireman who busts down your front door is just as destructive as the arsonist who torched the joint and brought him there. But the thing I find most interesting here is how neatly this underlines one of Brooks' little scams. He's not a Libertarian, despite having mouthed Friedmanisms for twenty years, because he'll throw in the occasional moralism which, unlike Meganjane, he intends us to imagine apply equally to himself, should he ever be cornered. Like Libertarianism and the necks of turtles these Moralisms are instantly retractable in case of approaching danger. So that now, with the utter ruins of both the Church of Unfettered Market Manipulation and the supposed ethical standards on which our supposed Moral and Economic System was supposed to be based, Brooks is suddenly responsible for the failure of neither, since he was too ethical to be a real Libertarian, and too Libertarian to be a moralist. At least when the check arrives. On or off the fucking bus, dude! (It's a form of transportation for poor people, Mr. Brooks.)

This, by the way, is somewhat akin to the lesson from Carmel, Indiana and its sixty years of Modern Republican hegemony, and it's the one reason they or David Brooks should be consulted about anything: to serve as bad examples. The Republican model, which is that so long as you're generating shitloads of money they'll be there to help, is now clearly on display. Of course, it exempts The Government in cases where The Government is trying to rescue small rodents trapped in The Money Pyre, but then, Republicans do not handle Bad Times. It's in their charter, alongside avoiding public transportation.

But, fuck, if it's now a good idea to try to damp down Market Oscillations, (These Be Our Countrymen! sez Dave) as fine a euphemism for Flaming Bags of Cosmic Shit Falling From the Sky as you're likely to get, why wasn't it a good idea when Our Moral Economy was grinding down the lower classes for the last quarter century? Don't tell me, I think I can guess.

One final note: you're crowding fifty, Mr. Brooks. This is the age at which you can be expected to have quit parroting crap like "Propeller Heads" at least twenty years previously, let alone repeating the goddam thing in consecutive public utterances. Word. (Can't wait for The News Hour tonite; I've got a yard on the trifecta.)

Now then, Kevin Drum told me yesterday that, as Tomasky had said, we should all stop criticizing the President's post-partisanship on accounta it's really a canny play for those Republican constituencies, and not based on any real belief that the elected Republican can change his spots, or stains, in case you're into that whole accuracy thing. We do not pretend to speak for the roughly 100% of Liberals Mr. Tomasky identified as taking the misstep, but we can say that, for our part, We Weren't Fucking Born Last Night, and last year's Democratic primaries were not the first time we heard windy claptrap being sold as the Music of the Spheres, Vol. 2. It might be a fine idea if it works, but as a lead-pipe cinch it falls a little short. Like, for example, thirty years of effective Republican rule short. Don't remember Reagan being too troubled dealing with Democratically-controlled Congresses; I just remember him going over the heads of the hapless Democratic leadership to gain the support of actual voting Blue Dog representatives who agreed with him already. Don't remember much effort at bipartisanship during Impeachment, though somebody might have thought to present Joe Lieberman with a handsome framed picture of himself. Had our current Post-Partisanship actually succeeded in garnering more votes than, oh, ZERO, y'all'd be proclaiming it the first step to a New Era, and no mention of Johnny Reb and Susie Homeschool who are supposedly out there awaiting objective reports on the results of the new President's programs. Right. Like they're more open-minded than the scalawags they send to Washington. Who were, one hastens to add for the benefit of columnists who don't follow politics all that closely, frequently motivated in the Stimulus vote by the threats of primary challenges back home two years hence.

I sure don't think the President should say, "Okay, tried that; fuck 'em." Not now. What I do think is that the whole routine was a chimera, but I'm not prepared to say it's Obama's hand that's been manipulating it. We got a much-worse Stimulus bill for having courted Republican votes; so be it. But as the much-mistranslated Chinese proverb goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins under your feet. Not with the first step, which may be 180º wrong. The blame this time lies with the Congressional Republicans. But the idea that this Thieves' Den of a party can be worked with in its present form is like a bad stretch of highway with barely enough room to turn 'round. How far do you travel on it before you decide if you're getting anywhere?

Now if you'll excuse me I've got a basement o' crap to stare at before I give up.


Julia said...

last year's Democratic primaries were not the first time we heard windy claptrap being sold as the Music of the Spheres, Vol. 2

preach, brother.

Although it was the introduction of the big puppet people appearing in Ronco ads.

bjkeefe said...

Grumpiness brings out the best in you.

[4000 additional words of gushing elided.]

cavjam said...

"The auto bailouts subsidize companies and unions that made self-indulgent decisions ...."

Along with the Bush/Obama equivalence, there's the above; though I marvel at the careful elision of "directors and upper management" from the equation, and how the workers are, according to this "thought process," not part of the company. Mr. Bobo apparently doesn't realize that inherent in the definition of such words as "management" and "director" is the job of decision-making. Of course, if he has some evidence that the UAW forced management to spend more on advertising than engineering and design or forced management to let bean-counters override engineering and design or forced management to build huge piles dysenteric dung on wheels, I'd be willing to listen.

Oh, and that whole "it makes sense for the government to intervene to try to reduce the oscillation" bit is straight outa 1936 Keynes and was to apply always, not just when the effluvia hits the jet stream. Going back to von Mises and the Austrians in the '80s was the equivalent of medicine going back to humors and bloodletting. And the patient is paying the price.

ArtSparker said...

Oscillation or ossification?