The NYT kind of hit a grand slam this morning on some of my favorite topics. So here are the grand thoughts of the day that these writers captured so much more elegantly than I could have:
NYT Editorial Board: They basically pointed out the absolute the mess the country will be in if the Republicans win the Senate. Do they want to govern or obstruct and of course that will be the civil war that will rage in the Republican Party. Those (See Denver Post) who think you are voting for change and an end to obstructionism have seen nothing yet. Here is a snippet:
… are a pretty good indication of what life will be like in Congress if Republicans gain control of the Senate in Tuesday’s election, and if Mr. McConnell wins his race in Kentucky. It’s not just that they are committed to time-wasting, obstructionist promises like repeal of health care reform, which everyone knows President Obama would veto. The bigger problem is that the party’s leaders have continually proved unable to resist pressure from the radical right, which may very well grow in the next session of Congress.
… The Republican Senate candidate in Iowa, Joni Ernst, wants to ban abortions and same-sex marriage and impeach the president. In Georgia, David Perdue, the Republican candidate, said his biggest task is to “prosecute the failed record” of the Obama administration. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, a three-term incumbent in a tough race for re-election, promised voters that a Republican majority “means a stop to the Obama agenda.”
And the editorial points out that Mitch McConnell promises to place riders on spending bills so that if the President vetoes their nonsense, government effectively gets shut down. Change, isn’t it wonderful?
Even better is Timothy Egan’s essay on free speech and the UC Berkley students attempt to block Bill Maher from speaking for their winter commencement because of his comments on Islam. Mr. Egan points out the irony of the students who say they represent free speech trying to prevent him from speaking, and the establishment protecting his free speech rights. Here is a snippet:
Maher’s opponents say they are not against free speech, just university-sanctioned speech that offends them. Right. As the round of commencement cancellations last spring showed, when the only person allowed to speak at official college ceremonies was a platitude-spouting milquetoast, you might as well play elevator music from the podium.
The “values of U.C. Berkeley,” as championed by the Free Speech Movement, mean you can say things that are not approved by the authorities, be they administrators or a clique of humor-curdled censors. Those nearly 800 people who were arrested outside Sproul Hall in 1964 didn’t get cuffed so that a few Berkeley students could muzzle a comedian in 2014.
Oh, and Mr. Egan pointed out in an offhanded way that being P.C. about the intolerance of Islam really should be examined.
Finally, there was my hero Paul Krugman, pointing our once again (and has been since the early 90’s) that the stagflation of Japan was a warning for the rest of us on austerity economic policies that we continue to fail to learn.
What policy failures am I talking about? Start with government spending. Everyone knows that in the early 1990s Japan tried to boost its economy with a surge in public investment; it’s less well-known that public investment fell rapidly after 1996 even as the government raised taxes, undermining progress toward recovery. This was a big mistake, but it pales by comparison with Europe’s hugely destructive austerity policies, or the collapse in infrastructure spending in the United States after 2010. Japanese fiscal policy didn’t do enough to help growth; Western fiscal policy actively destroyed growth.
And he points out why,
that responding effectively to depression conditions requires abandoning conventional respectability. Policies that would ordinarily be prudent and virtuous, like balancing the budget or taking a firm stand against inflation, become recipes for a deeper slump. And it’s very hard to persuade influential people to make that adjustment — just look at the Washington establishment’s inability to give up on its deficit obsession.
conservatives have blocked efforts to fight unemployment out of a general hostility to government, especially a government that does anything to help Those People. In Europe, Germany has insisted on hard money and austerity largely because the German public is intensely hostile to anything that could be called a bailout of southern Europe.
It’s nice when other people do my work for me. I wonder if any of this is seeping in to the alternate reality most conservatives are living in?