In the Arena

Republican Fantasyland

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I was having a drink with a Republican strategist the other day and he said, “Jon Stewart was right. We’re running a Clint Eastwood campaign, running against a version of Barack Obama that doesn’t exist.” Exhibit A is this Fred Barnes piece in the Weekly Standard, which begins with this rather remarkable paragraph:

President Obama is outside the ideological mainstream, viewed as very liberal by an electorate that’s moderate or somewhat conservative. His domestic policies are unpopular, notably his health care law, economic stimulus, and spending plans. His foreign policy initiatives — curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons program, improving America’s position in the Middle East, fostering better relations with Russia — have failed. The public wants Obama to jettison his ineffective economic policies and implement new ones. But he refuses.

Notice the absence of facts, polling data. Notice the absolute wrongitude of Barnes’ foreign policy postures: the truth is, the American people — and most foreign policy experts who are not neoconservatives — believe that Obama has been a very successful foreign policy President. The public has mixed feelings about Obama’s domestic policies, which have not been a roaring success, but not nearly the utter failure that Republicans seem to have imagined in their Fox-Rush echo chamber. The stimulus prevented a Great Depression. Most of the health care plan hasn’t been implemented yet, and the parts that have been are wildly popular, especially the “pre-existing condition” rules and the extension of coverage to children up to the age of 26. As for spending, Obama’s proposed balance of new revenue and entitlement reform, though relatively modest, is deemed far more realistic than the Republican tax-cuts-forever-and-ever mantra.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Sept. 7–14)

These are not “very liberal” policies. They used to be Republican policies, especially the health care provision and the intelligent use of force overseas against our al-Qaeda enemies. The notion that Obama is anything beyond a moderate liberal is laughable, especially given the wildly right-wing Romney positions on social issues, foreign policy and the aggrandizement of the plutocracy.

There are more than a few things Obama has done wrong; both the health care and financial-reform laws could be greatly improved with creative impact from an opposition party that wanted to work in the country’s best interests rather than paint the President as a fantasy radical. But it seems clear that Romney, and his adoption of the most extreme Republican positions on a range of issues, is having a tough time selling himself to the American people. It would be good for all of us if the Republicans finally rejected the hateful, radical Fox-Rush siren song and returned to their true traditions of foreign policy realism and domestic conservatism. But I think the party needs to exorcise its demons before it rejoins the American mainstream.

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gnirol
gnirol

"The notion that Obama is anything beyond a moderate liberal is laughable, especially given the wildly right-wing Romney positions on social issues, foreign policy and the aggrandizement of the plutocracy."

Yes, but in order not to label themselves as "wildly right-wing", in order for today's brand of Republicanism to appear centrist, they would have to label King Herod and Generalissimo Franco as extreme liberals too.  And this rhetoric has worked.  They would not be able to break 40% otherwise, yet we find Romney statistically tied with the president in most polls.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

The Wannabe Emperor has NO CLOTHES!

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

NIT WIT Mitt = HITLER. Think about it. 

 

VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET. Save the USA.

ranger99
ranger99

The reality of the situation is that very, very few people actually consider themselves "Republican" and the majority of those individuals are either stark raving mad or woefully uninformed.

How could Romney do anything BUT slide to the far, far right?  Those are the only people left in the party.  The GOP "big tent" is long gone.  It has been replaced by a tiny cadre of hate-filled, no-compromise, wannabe anarchists who view ALL government as evil.

The only reason that Romney isn't being totally blown away in the polls is that the average American doesn't pay any attention to what is actually being said and done.  They simply vote "R" because "That's what my daddy did and gol-darnit that's good e'nuf fer me!"

Pathetic.

Ali Goria
Ali Goria

That is a ridiculous statement. The popular vote in 2008 was 45%. So if you want to claim those 45% citizens are now Democrats LMFAO. And yes, MOST government is evil. Or haven't you tried to buy a Big Gulp in NYC lately? 

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 Ali,

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This is a 12 day old post.

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I was wondering, would you like to prove the author correct about Republicans not knowing anything about reality or have posts from people like you already proven Joe Klien's point sufficiently?

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Maybe you could take the cake and, literally, claim that the earth is flat.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

First the big gulp is exempt since 7-11 is a store and not a restaurant.

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Second New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is a Republican.

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Third you can buy as many 16 ounce sodas as you could. Back when Ronald Reagan was president the biggest sodas were 16 ounces. If the lack of huge sodas was tyrany then I guess the 1980s weren't heaven on earth.

benskott114
benskott114

If we just say "The stimulus prevented another Great Depression" enough times, then that makes it true, despite the absence of any proof, or even any way of getting proof. I say all we did was push our problems to the future, and make the downturn last a lot longer, and perhaps go a lot deeper. I've got as much proof as you do.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 Bensk,

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"despite the absence of any proof" except for 92% of all economists.

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There is no proof that it is raining outside, except for both our own experiences and weather reports - but who trusts these elitist experts  and your own lying eyes when a random radio entertainer tells you otherwise..

benskott114
benskott114

Is that the same 92% of economists who had no idea the housing crash was coming?

Overdependence on "experts" has done a lot of things. It's made America fat, poor, and stupid, for example. Experts have their place, obviously, but only a fool blindly believes everything they say, even when there is a consensus.

But hey, groupthink and accepting as truth anything someone in authority tells you is cool, too. Especially when those in authority used it as an excuse to increase their control over our lives. Like Rahm said, never let a crisis go to waste!

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

"Is that the same 92% of economists who had no idea the housing crash was coming?"

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Just because you weren't listening to real estate experts does not mean that they were not warning you.

.

Welcome to the dead zone

Real estate survival guide: The great housing

bubble has finally started to deflate, and the fall will be harder in

some markets than others.

By Shawn Tully, FORTUNE senior writer

May 5, 2006: 12:14 PM EDT

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) -

The stories keep piling up. In many once-sizzling markets around the

country, accounts of dropping list prices have replaced tales of waiting

lists for unbuilt condos and bidding wars over humdrum three-bedroom

colonials.

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http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/0...

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The real estate "bubble burst" was not until 2007.

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This was a warning one year in advance.

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"Overdependence on "experts" has done a lot of things."

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In preference to taking random guesses the way people did during the middle ages?

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"But hey, groupthink and accepting as truth anything someone in authority tells you is cool, too."

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This coming from somebody to the right where within 12 hours the same story commentary nearly verbatim comes from hundreds of blogs at the same time.

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Look up "New Black Panther Party" and you'll find the same article on the same dates stating almost word for word the same thing but still missing the true ending which is that the two mischievous men were put in jail. 

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 On

Obama's balance sheet: 

 

+ affordable healthcare for all Americans 

+ gas at 2.94 a gallon  

+ jobs are available for all who are willing to

work 

+ protections for young immigrants who have been

working on behalf of USA 

+ gay/human rights take a large step forward 

+ gays serving openly in the military 

+ new housing starts moving upwards 

+ DOMA is effectively demolished 

 

In less than 4 years he has managed to overcome much

of the gargantuan mess created and left to him by the previous incompetent

Republicrap administration. 

 

In less than 4 years, he has managed to accomplish

more than any US president since Lincoln. 

 

And now, the SCOTUS has guaranteed him 4 more years

in the White House! 

 

GOBAMA 2012!!!  

YES WE CAN!!! YES WE DID!!! YES WE WILL!!!

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

Galton, over here at the end of the thread.

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You are a classic example of Republican Fantasyland.

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From 1936 onward, Republicans have, in varying degrees, tolerated or accepted the facts of Keynesian fiscal policy.

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Starting in the mid 1990s with Newt Gingrich parallel to the explosion in right wing talk radio, there have been new, radical right wing Republicans who have denied Keynesian Economics without any alternative.

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Things got added on over the decades showing an approximate multiplier effect based upon how the money is either not taken by the government (tax cuts) or spent by the government (spending).

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Each income level has a different capacity to spend as a portion of income.

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Those prior to government spending who are eating insufficient amounts of food or inadequate housing will, upon employment, spend the largest share of their paychecks while those with the highest incomes will spend the lowest percent since there is a finite amount one can spend.

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Like a rightwing libertarian leaning counterpart to a follower of Mao, you, for no explainable reason, throw away more than 75 years of economic studies.

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That doesn't even get into how in 2008 John McCain supported what considered a conservative idea of Cap and Trade (which was practiced for chlorofluorocarbons under George H W Bush and considered very conservative when I was in college) are, for no known reason, throwing away proven environmental science, too.

 

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 "Your premise is incorrect, because you don't know what you are talking about."

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All in all: Sartor must be wrong since it is not the same thing my AM radio talk show hosts and Fox News tell me is right.

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Remember, of course, I go to a doctor if I am ill, an attorney if I need to sign a contract or do something involved with law.

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I go to an economist about economics.

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You are going to entertainers for your history and your economics.

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This is what separates us in the real world from people like you in right wing fantasyland.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 Galton,

.

You fail to recognize that academics are always finding ways to attack commonly held beliefs. This makes great PhD dissertations. 

.

I have a relative who works for a University as a research fellow and I am aware of the generalities of writing a dissertation.

.

So, when you seek out academic sources, a small number will have a good sounding argument against the accepted norms. However, this person may or may not be correct.

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As somebody who needs to differentiate between accepted opinion and well argued by untrue alternatives, one must look at what the majority say.

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One can not write a dissertation and get their PhD in any topic by arguing that somebody else is completely correct. They must add on additional information or contradict previous dissertations.

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You found some very interesting outliers.

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However, you have not found what is likely true.

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Unlike Classical or neo-Classical Economics, New Keynesians have a narrative along with the numbers.

.

A person previous making no money gets hired during a recession and....

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A person already making a great income gets a tax cut and...

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A bank takes in a new deposit and...

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Overall, if one has had an income near $ 0, it makes sense that when you bring in money and expect to continue earning this much for at the very least six months if not for two years, you start spending 100% of it.

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If you get hired too briefly, you may bank most of your money.

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If you already are covering your bills comfortably and get a pay increase or a tax cut, you may bank that money.

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If a bank takes on a deposit, they are not necessarily going to lend it to a builder or a business owner. They are most likely to lend it to an individual who is going to purchase a house which already exists. Hence, savings is not equal to investment.

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If a business has high earnings due to increased business, they are likely to expand and hire and, therefore, invest much of their added income.

.

These narratives tell you why hiring poor people to fix roads for six months to two years is a good idea.

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Crowding out, which, also, has a less personal narrative, lets us know that the hiring can not be significantly longer than two years before it undoes the good it had done.

sauceboy
sauceboy

I think Romney has officially become McCain circa '08 in that his campaign is now clearly without a strategic, much less a strategic imperative.  His campaign is now almost entirely tactical, as was McCain's this time in '08 - its held together entirely by a deep and feckless hope in the news cycle rescuing him, with his only ammunition a reflexive sniping that won't move many hearts and minds.

He's in the worst of dilemmas - he needs a game change, but a game change would only solidify views that he's grasping at straws, trying to change the rules of a game that he's only grasped in the 11th hour.

It's always possible he could turn it around.  But given that he's constitutionally unfit to be a candidate, much less POTUS, it doesn't seem like a good bet, regardless of the Vegas odds you give me.