Brooks and Krugman

Bobo has pissed me off something fierce this morning.  In “The Party of Work” he gurgles that as Republicans reckon with a post-Reagan era, they might best rebuild by first listening to those who have come to this land with the very hopes conservatives should want to affirm.  He starts out by saying that America was first settled by Protestant dissenters, and later goes on to imply that lots of today’s Republicans are their cultural heirs.  Listen up, Bobo — I’M a descendant of those Puritans and I’ll thank you to leave my ancestors out of your little fantasy life.  Oh — he also calls Goldwater, Reagan and Dubyah “ranching Republicans.”  Ranching my ass.  W bought a pig farm, evicted the pigs, and called it a “ranch” so he could play around wearing a big hat.  The asshole was afraid of horses.  Prof. Krugman says “Let’s Not Make a Deal,” and that President Obama should hang tough and hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy.  Oh, if only he’d consent to serving as Secretary of the Treasury.  A girl can dream…  Here’s that infuriating asshole Bobo:

The American colonies were first settled by Protestant dissenters. These were people who refused to submit to the established religious authorities. They sought personal relationships with God. They moved to the frontier when life got too confining. They created an American creed, built, as the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset put it, around liberty, individualism, equal opportunity, populism and laissez-faire.

This creed shaped America and evolved with the decades. Starting in the mid-20th century, there was a Southern and Western version of it, formed by ranching Republicans like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Their version drew on the traditional tenets: ordinary people are capable of greatness; individuals have the power to shape their destinies; they should be given maximum freedom to do so.

This is not an Ayn Randian, radically individualistic belief system. Republicans in this mold place tremendous importance on churches, charities and families — on the sort of pastoral work Mitt Romney does and the sort of community groups Representative Paul Ryan celebrated in a speech at Cleveland State University last month.

But this worldview is innately suspicious of government. Its adherents generally believe in the equation that more government equals less individual and civic vitality. Growing beyond proper limits, government saps initiative, sucks resources, breeds a sense of entitlement and imposes a stifling uniformity on the diverse webs of local activity.

During the 2012 campaign, Republicans kept circling back to the spot where government expansion threatens personal initiative: you didn’t build that; makers versus takers; the supposed dependency of the 47 percent. Again and again, Republicans argued that the vital essence of the country is threatened by overweening government.

These economic values played well in places with a lot of Protestant dissenters and their cultural heirs. They struck chords with people whose imaginations are inspired by the frontier experience.

But, each year, there are more Americans whose cultural roots lie elsewhere. Each year, there are more people from different cultures, with different attitudes toward authority, different attitudes about individualism, different ideas about what makes people enterprising.

More important, people in these groups are facing problems not captured by the fundamental Republican equation: more government = less vitality.

The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.

Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it.

Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.

For these people, the Republican equation is irrelevant. When they hear Romney talk abstractly about Big Government vs. Small Government, they think: He doesn’t get me or people like me.

Let’s just look at one segment, Asian-Americans. Many of these people are leading the lives Republicans celebrate. They are, disproportionately, entrepreneurial, industrious and family-oriented. Yet, on Tuesday, Asian-Americans rejected the Republican Party by 3 to 1. They don’t relate to the Republican equation that more government = less work.

Over all, Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of the six post-cold-war elections because large parts of the country have moved on. The basic Republican framing no longer resonates.

Some Republicans argue that they can win over these rising groups with a better immigration policy. That’s necessary but insufficient. The real problem is economic values.

If I were given a few minutes with the Republican billionaires, I’d say: spend less money on marketing and more on product development. Spend less on “super PACs” and more on research. Find people who can shift the debate away from the abstract frameworks — like Big Government vs. Small Government. Find people who can go out with notebooks and study specific, grounded everyday problems: what exactly does it take these days to rise? What exactly happens to the ambitious kid in Akron at each stage of life in this new economy? What are the best ways to rouse ambition and open fields of opportunity?

Don’t get hung up on whether the federal government is 20 percent or 22 percent of G.D.P. Let Democrats be the party of security, defending the 20th-century welfare state. Be the party that celebrates work and inflames enterprise. Use any tool, public or private, to help people transform their lives.

Oh, by the way Bobo — another one of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.  So he might have been in the room when Benjamin Franklin pointed out that if they didn’t hang together they’d probably hang separately.  That sentiment still applies.  Why don’t you just go rattle around in your “vast spaces for entertaining” and find something else to do.  You’re obviously starting to be embarrassed by the sociopaths you’ve been carrying water for.  Spare yourself the pain and stop.  Here’s Prof. Krugman:

To say the obvious: Democrats won an amazing victory. Not only did they hold the White House despite a still-troubled economy, in a year when their Senate majority was supposed to be doomed, they actually added seats.

Nor was that all: They scored major gains in the states. Most notably, California — long a poster child for the political dysfunction that comes when nothing can get done without a legislative supermajority — not only voted for much-needed tax increases, but elected, you guessed it, a Democratic supermajority.

But one goal eluded the victors. Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.

So President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

In saying this, I don’t mean to minimize the very real economic dangers posed by the so-called fiscal cliff that is looming at the end of this year if the two parties can’t reach a deal. Both the Bush-era tax cuts and the Obama administration’s payroll tax cut are set to expire, even as automatic spending cuts in defense and elsewhere kick in thanks to the deal struck after the 2011 confrontation over the debt ceiling. And the looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession.

Nobody wants to see that happen. Yet it may happen all the same, and Mr. Obama has to be willing to let it happen if necessary.

Why? Because Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even though the nation can’t afford to make those tax cuts permanent and the public believes that taxes on the rich should go up — and they’re threatening to block any deal on anything else unless they get their way. So they are, in effect, threatening to tank the economy unless their demands are met.

Mr. Obama essentially surrendered in the face of similar tactics at the end of 2010, extending low taxes on the rich for two more years. He made significant concessions again in 2011, when Republicans threatened to create financial chaos by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And the current potential crisis is the legacy of those past concessions.

Well, this has to stop — unless we want hostage-taking, the threat of making the nation ungovernable, to become a standard part of our political process.

So what should he do? Just say no, and go over the cliff if necessary.

It’s worth pointing out that the fiscal cliff isn’t really a cliff. It’s not like the debt-ceiling confrontation, where terrible things might well have happened right away if the deadline had been missed. This time, nothing very bad will happen to the economy if agreement isn’t reached until a few weeks or even a few months into 2013. So there’s time to bargain.

More important, however, is the point that a stalemate would hurt Republican backers, corporate donors in particular, every bit as much as it hurt the rest of the country. As the risk of severe economic damage grew, Republicans would face intense pressure to cut a deal after all.

Meanwhile, the president is in a far stronger position than in previous confrontations. I don’t place much stock in talk of “mandates,” but Mr. Obama did win re-election with a populist campaign, so he can plausibly claim that Republicans are defying the will of the American people. And he just won his big election and is, therefore, far better placed than before to weather any political blowback from economic troubles — especially when it would be so obvious that these troubles were being deliberately inflicted by the G.O.P. in a last-ditch attempt to defend the privileges of the 1 percent.

Most of all, standing up to hostage-taking is the right thing to do for the health of America’s political system.

So stand your ground, Mr. President, and don’t give in to threats. No deal is better than a bad deal.


4 Responses to “Brooks and Krugman”

  1. Truth B. Told Says:

    Brooks’ estimation of early Americans brings tears to my eyes. OK kids let’s gather rather the old B&W and sign along with “Davey Crockett”. Oh those were the days my friend. When every white man had a right and a left. He could own a black slave. He could beat his wife senselessly if she didn’t produce an heir with balls. He could hunt w/o a license. He could fish till the sun came down. And this was before the Marlboro Man and the Ford Tough F-150. Then those assembly lines came in and old man anti Semite smug mug Ford decided to publish stories of demons in dreadlocks and yamulkas. Oh it was a day to be Christian and white.
    Where are these people getting their story lines from? Welch? The Birchites are dead and long live Irish Catholics like Bill O’Reilly. Gather round and let me tell u stories of our demise before the cataclysmic tsunami of Latinos and Indians abduct and rape our women and murder our children. Before u know it we’ll all be gay. I harbor no fault with narrow mindedness. I just wish they’d live in Russia where they belong.
    I suppose Ring Lardner had T.Boone Pickens in mind and Ted Turner when he wrote. Where’s old Roy? Howdy Doody was not about a puppet friend to boys and girls. He was a rancher. Now I see the link between hating yogas and vegans and the Republicans. Give it a try Bill. Put on that sheet. They’re still taking candidates, but oh you’re Catholic. Don’t peek.
    Wasn’t this a different country when the land had not a single paved highway? Still they created laws to reign in theft. Joseph Smith who founded the ideology Mitt Romney espouses was a bank thief hung by a mob when he took all the money in the vault. Right out of a cell they grabbed this God Fearing man of the people and hung him. To this day banking is a great job for Mormons. That’s what makes Mitt such a man of faith.
    And who’s stopping Brooks or any person from doing what they want? Let’s face it the Republicans don’t care about the economy. Less taxes means more personal wealth you and I be damned. The long ago tribe of individualists were not afraid of the government I would assert. They just didn’t like taxes. And they didn’t like local and state politicians who were crooks. But this notion of rugged individual is not real. No more real than sports phenoms without chemicals. It’s a book Brooks. One u could have written. When Walden was written this world had already changed. It transpired with Melville. It came to a close with WW1. The advent of the airplane changed America. But it didn’t change the human condition or the spirit of America.
    Republicans are preaching hate obviously. They’re bullies. They’re good old boys who want me to lick their boots and ask for more. And they’re the pantywaist judges we laugh at. Is rugged individualist one who sits on the Supreme Court and makes up laws out of concocted notions? Clarence. Is it a mongrel minded semi cleric short and narrow minded over weight insensitive to human rights Catholic who wishes all blacks be dead who still kisses his friend at the close of each session? Oh we be quiet master Brooks. Have u read Twain? Did u think the Mississippi was the story of a river boat captain? Were u so enlightened that the Pequot was the first of the Trinity? And those Mayflower madams? Well don’t fret. You’ll get your chance in ’16. Your rights haven’t been denied. But I guess you’re one of the now long ago wandering historians who believed the Revolutionary War was all about tea. Yes the right to manufacture tea and spirits. That’s it. And no revenuer would get a hold of my bread.

    Put your hammer down John. Master Bobby wants to whip ya in obedience. The philosophy of small government is nothing but a veiled attempt to rob the life blood of Americans whose fortunes rise and fall with each paycheck not the inherited power and influence of the few. The tens of millions who voted for Obama have the essence of the spirit of freedom. Not the Republicans. The frontier experience? You mean eeking out a life as a farmer? Or being a cotton picker? A grape or tomato picker? Clearly Brooks isn’t listening to the spirit of Democrats who want more education not Medicaid. If your billionaires of Red States were so good at business why did they accept the bailout? Why did they sponsor the bailout?

    Republicans in sheep clothes still are blood suckers with hate on their minds. They don’t inspire the middle class. They cheat them in business. In banking. In loopholes. Your cynicism Brooks is because u think you’re better than hard working people because these so called hard laboring self made billionaires are nothing but scalawags.

  2. Cliff Notes Says:

    Mr. Obama won from the POV that Mitt’s business acumen was suspect. If the president were to walk away from the table without convincing the Republicans of curtailing tax cuts on the wealthy he will be weakened. In this his last term the tax fight and the budget are more important than Obamacare was in his inaugural term.

  3. Laura Billington Says:

    What I’m reading is Brooks taking the Republican party’s alleged ideals and rewriting history to suit. Let’s start with the Puritans. Personal relationship with God? This is a late 20th century notion. Their God was a forbidding autocrat who they sought to placate with their “pure” worship. Moved to the frontier when life got too confining? Much of the Midwest was settled by Scandanavian and German immigrants who farmed, and, later, by Irish, Eastern Europeans, and Arabs who settled in the cities. Charities and families? If you didn’t have family to take you in, there was the poorhouse. And there was no “equal opportunity” if you were female, black, Irish, or Italian.
    I don’t know what kind of “community groups” Paul Ryan is supposed to have spoken of, but except for that photo-op of him washing (allegedly already clean) dishes in that soup kitchen, neither he nor Romney have much of a track record of making contributions to non-church related charities, in time or money.

    Government expansion is bad? Mr Brooks, please explain why the R’s are so sneaky with their rationale for more abortion regulation. They’re not protecting women’s health, folks, and if that were the focus, they’d be pushing for controls to the pollution that threatens everyone’s health. And, um, preventive medical care for all.

  4. patricia boardman Says:

    Amen, Ms. Billington! (And let’s not forget that the budget Mr. Ryan prepared (and Mr.Romney endorsed) would meant that
    private giving to low-income charities would have to multiply more than ten-fold by 2016 just to keep up with House Republican budget cuts.)

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