Balkinization  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"It's incredible"

Sandy Levinson

I'm not referring to the idiocy that has taken over our national political system. That is all too credible, given both the contemporary zeitgeist, our defective Constitution, and the consequences of systematic congressional-district gerrymandering that has turned the Republican Party over to Tea Party lunatics.

Rather, I think it worthy of not that almost no one belives the United States Government these days. That, I take it, is the meaning of the soporific market reaction. Sophisticates, rightly or wrongly (I think wrongly) believe that because default would be lunatic, catastrophic, cataclysmic, etc., then it won't happen. (I invite you to reread by posting from last week reminiscing about the Cuban Missile Crisis.) So it really doesn't matter what Obama, Boehner, or any other public official says. The view is that they're all posturing, playing, a la the Weimar parliament, to their bases, but that, at the end of the day--or 11th hour--rationality will take over, and the chumps will be those who took the threat of default seriously. (I wonder how many of you would be willing to pay me, say, $40, for my 100-1 wager (where I win $100 if we default).)

But, of course, it's not simply the shouting about default, or, for that matter its consequences, since part of the Tea Party lunacy, led by the egregious Michelle Bachman, is that default really won't matter (rather than generate one of the largest tax increases in our history, known as rising interest rates on any future debt by any and all levels of government, for starters). Rather, the right wing has now made a fetish of rejecting anything the government might say about global warming. Many on the left, like myself, see no reason to believe much that the government says about foreign or military policy these days.

A few of us are old enough to remember the birth of the "credibility gap" during the Johnson Administration. It's alive, well, and pervasive. Is it of "constitutional import"? Well, how can a government govern if no one really trusts even leaders one voted for, let alone the opposition? I don't think the Constitution is to blame for that, incidentally. One has to look elsewhere. James Stewart has a new book out (which I've not read) that argues that our culture is one where we simply don't expect people to be truthful anymore. (That's the brilliance of Stephen Colbert and "truthiness." John Kyl lies through his teeth about Planned Parenthood. Just accept it. Every now and then lightning strikes a liar--Martha Stewart, (maybe) Roger Clemons--but no serious person could believe that they are more than a sideshow to the basic problem. Jimmy Carter said he'd never lie to us, and I'm not sure that he violated that pledge. But even at the time that was regarded as the height of naivete, because of course we expect our presidents to lie whenever it's convenient to achieve their agenda.

Comments:

If the consequences of default truly are cataclysmic, there's no reason to take your bet regardless of the odds. A true cataclysm would wipe out all counterparties. Thus, I conclude from your willingness to place a bet that you also don't believe in a cataclysmic outcome. :)
 

Sandy:

I would suggest that both the GOP and the Dems are acting as rational agents of their electorates. We have a fundamental divide in this country over the proper scope and power of our government that is being played out between the parts of our divided government.

As a member of the Tea Party movement, I accept that you are telling the truth about your progressive positions and you honestly believe that your positions are best for the country. You would be wise to accord us the same understanding, especially since Tea Party voters heavily outnumbered self identified liberals in the last election.

Other countries go to war over divides like this. I am proud to see that we are attempting to work out our disagreements and reach a new consensus democratically. We will muddle through until the next election decides this argument - at least for another cycle.
 

Our yodeler "lectures" (to be kind) Sandy with this:

"You would be wise to accord us the same understanding, especially since Tea Party voters heavily outnumbered self identified liberals in the last election."

Can the Tea Party hold enough bake sales as our yodeler noted on another post at this Blog to financially arm Tea Partyers with enough dough-nuts to even feed themselves? Whether our yodeler is truly representative of the Tea Party movement based upon his comments during the Bush/Cheney 8 years at this Blog is most questionable; he is more of an opportunist than principled as demonstrated by his vile hatred of Obama from day one. Consider his hyperbole:

"Other countries go to war over divides like this."
 

Shag:

One of the prime motivators of the Tea Party movement is the generally correct belief that what I call in my book the Credentialed Elite (David Brooks' "educated class, Rasmussen's "political class or Prof. Codevilla's "ruling class") dominating academia, the media, professions and the bureaucracy dismiss middle Americans like themselves as lunatic, uneducated hicks who should be routinely derided and suppressed when necessary.

You, Sandy and the rest are welcome to sniff and continue the derision to your heart's content as it simply pours gasoline on an already raging fire.
 

Our yodeler's caution:

" ... as it simply pours gasoline on an already raging fire."

can be remedied if the Tea Partyers of his ilk would cease self-emmoliation.
 

"Well, how can a government govern if no one really trusts even leaders one voted for, let alone the opposition? "

By shooting people who don't obey orders. That's who most governments through history have managed to govern, after all.

I think the actual disconnect here, is that the political, ruling class have become so self-contained, so isolated from the general populace, that they have trouble grasping the fact that the general populace isn't buying their BS anymore.
 

Another way of paraphrasing Brett's last comment is that the ultimate triumph of (one aspect of) the 1960's is that almost everyone now "questions authority," so much so that there is very little remaining of the notion of "authority" or "authorities," at least at the level of society in general. Your authority is my charlatan and vice versa.
 

Other countries go to war over divides like this.

Indeed, Bart. There's a Patriot in Norway with similar ideas. He could probably use your legal counsel, come to think of it.
 

BD: Other countries go to war over divides like this.

mattski said...Indeed, Bart. There's a Patriot in Norway with similar ideas. He could probably use your legal counsel, come to think of it.


Actually, I was thinking of our Revolution, the 1848 revolutions and the current Arab Spring.
 

@Bart,

I'm new here, but do you always spew this stuff without having a thoughtful conversation?

If you think government is involved in too many things, that's fine. I would tend to agree, but you lose my respect if you defame and inflame rather than posit something constructive.

If you think that Social Security is bad, then fine, have a discussion about it, but you have to do it on the merits and consequences. If you think that we get involved in overseas wars when we shouldn't and we should downsize the military, that's fine, but to be taken seriously you need to be willing to talk about what that would really mean to the people of the United States.

You seem angry. I guess that's OK. But to be respected, you have to be willing to rationally discuss the issues that you think are important. I think that is what our country is about.
 

Andrew:

I am in response mode on this thread replying to other's comments rather than raising any issues myself. Also, I am not the one calling others lunatics and the like. You may want to direct your anger management observations to more appropriate parties.
 

It looks like Andrew is well on his way to realizing that Blankshot Bart is a dishonest troll.
 

Andrew:

Exhibit 1 above.
 

Sandy, the claims of politicians have always been discounted by the public, and wisely so. So that's not new.

The difference now is the deliberate production of ignorance has led to a vast swath of the public believing claims that were manufactured to advance other interests. When nature fails to oblige (e.g. inability to finance meaning no money), people get the sense that someone lied to them, but they're too misinformed to identify who it was.

Yes, this is sad. The idea of an informed citizenry was nice while it lasted.
 

Actually, I was thinking of our Revolution, the 1848 revolutions and the current Arab Spring.

So, you refer to our country as "other countries"? That's curious.

Also, I am not the one calling others lunatics and the like.

Bart, I referred to Tom Friedman's lunacy above. But, credit where it's due, yes, I think you're a lunatic.

Andrew, something you should know about Bart: he argues opportunistically, saying whatever pops into his head at the moment, with no regard for consistency from one day to the next. What consistency you will find from Bart is his love of violence as the ultimate arbiter of disputes and his thought-free condemnations of "liberals".

Here are a couple of Barts favorite themes: 1) War is about killing the enemy. Emphasis on the last 3 words. 2) The "true enemies" of America are the liberals.

Infer as you wish.
 

Exhibit 2
 

Exhibit 2 of what, Bart?

Did you refer to your own habit of walking away from substantive evidence refuting your rote right-wing talking points?

*That's a reference to the Friedman-Petraeus thread.
 

Secrecy demands lies and from the development of the atom bomb onward as the concentric circles of government secrets expanded lies became a high virtue, in service of The Nation. Since economic supremacy was one of the lynch pins of maintaining The Nations power it follows that no words that might hurt confidence in the economy must be spoken, until now.

Now the universal urge to exhibit economic confidence among some politicians has been trumped by the more basic instinct of punishing their political and cultural enemies as three generations of resentment can no longer be contained. Then too the belief in The Nations economic supremacy is so threadbare that trying to make the case has become impossible. Making the trend to pure reaction easy.

While The Nation suffers economically global corporations are doing wonderfully. Their trick has been to convince the reactionaries that corporations are part of and represent The Nation. While instead C is as American as Mecca and GE as American as the Great Wall of China. This is the new ascendant lie embraced so lovingly by the rugged individuals of the populist right. Go figure
 

mattski said...

Did you actually say that linked Bartlett op-ed claiming that Obama was a conservative was "substantive evidence?"
 

You can lead a horse to water, Bart.
 

James Fallows' column at The Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/five-reasons-the-house-gop-is-to-blame/242673/

7/28/11 "Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame" includes an interesting chart displaying the contributions of Bush/Cheney to the deficits to compare with Obama/Biden.
 

The right wing always looks better when facts are kept out of the discussion.
 

Hmmm. I don't believe Congress will pass an increase by July 31. IMHO 50-50 that Congress passes an increase by August 2. I don't believe the government will default on payments to bondholders either. I'm not willing to give you odds, but I'm certainly willing to bet even up. I don't think traders are naive, and I don't think Intrade is naive. The critical premise being: markets aren't naive about things that involve money. Please let me know if you're serious about a wager.
 

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