01 February, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

So, has anyone been breathlessly awaiting newly-minted RNC Chairman Michael Steele's words o' wisdom? You'll have a long wait:

Newly-elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele gave a pep talk to House Republicans yesterday, during a retreat to plot strategy for the rest of the year. Steele noted, for example, referencing unanimous opposition to an economic rescue package this week, "[T]he goose egg that you laid on the president's desk was just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful." His remarks became less tethered to reality as he went on.
Steele couldn't praise [House Republicans] enough, and at times, he was at a loss for words. "You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government -- federal, state or local -- has never created one job," he said. "It's destroyed a lot of them."

There are a couple of ways to look at this. First, I suppose, it's worth remembering that when Steele was the lieutenant governor of Maryland, and sought re-election, he and his running mate took credit for creating 100,000 new jobs in their state. They also ran ads vowing to ... wait for it ... create more jobs. This was in 2006. Perhaps Steele has changed his mind.

Indeed, Brian Beutler noted that the government is the nation's largest employer, including paying the salaries of every member of Congress to whom Steele was speaking. Brian added, "I guess that means that when he was the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, he was unemployed. As were his staff members. As are, say, the 1.5 million or so active personnel in the United States armed forces. And so on and so on. All just as unemployed as the people who used to work for that great engine of job creation Lehman Brothers."

Steve Benen's Parthian shot on that post tells me he's getting just a wee bit impatient with rampant Republicon stupidity: "Why haven't the discussions between policy makers from both parties been more successful? Perhaps because of the fatuousness of one side of the argument."

That's it exactly.

And Steele's run of burning stupid didn't stop there. Oh, no. Like all Cons, he had to top himself:

Shortly after being elected RNC chairman on Friday, Michael Steele declared, “We want you to work with us, and for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over.” Today on Fox News, Steele elaborated on these comments:
And for those Democrats and others who just want to put up roadblocks and do the crazy typical play that they normally do — the name-calling, the obfuscation, and the sleight-of-hand — I don’t have time for it. Because there are important issues we have to face on the economy, the war, and issues that affect the poor, and I want to have this party in a position to move on those issues.
Ironically, what he described is exactly what House Republicans have been doing over the past week on the economic recovery package. President Obama repeatedly met with Republicans to get their input on the bill, but instead of working with him on “the economy…and issues that affect the poor,” they made a pact to all vote “nay.”
Think Progress goes on to ask what the great new ideas Steele's proposing are, noting that there don't seem to be any great new ideas. It strikes me that this is roughly akin to asking "where's the beef?" in a vegan restaurant: there isn't any. They don't have a damned thing to offer except failed ideas, a return to the culture wars of the mid-90s, and more egregious stupidity.

You may wonder where some of their economic stupidty comes from. This may provide some hint:

Over the summer, the Washington Post ran a piece from conservative writer Amity Shlaes, explaining that the national economy was fine, there was no recession, and that Phil Gramm was right to call us a "nation of whiners."

Undeterred, in early December, the Post ran another piece from Shlaes, which argued that the federal government shouldn't try to respond to an economic downturn through stimulus investments. In late December, the Post ran yet another piece from Shlaes, repeating the same point, and arguing that FDR's New Deal did not improve the economy in the 1930s.

It's been a month, so the Post decided it's time, once again, to run another piece from Shlaes, this time arguing -- you guessed it -- that Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal didn't work. Indeed, Shlaes insists the Great Depression would have taken care of itself, if only FDR hadn't tried to rescue the nation from financial ruin.

Shlaes is amply destroyed in both Steve's post and here. Yet Cons keep listening to her. The fact that they continue to listen to people who are this fucking clueless probably partially explains why they themselves are so fucking clueless, but not why they're clueless enough to listen to clueless fuckwits themselves.

And when even the CEOs of major companies are telling them they're fucking clueless, and they continue to be fucking clueless, things are truly, truly pathetic:

The Republicans might want to enlist another shill for their anti-stimulus crusade.

This morning, Jim DeMint feebly trotted out the same old same old tax-cuts-fix-everything plan, and was promptly beat down by Barney Frank and those notorious socialists, the CEOs of Google and FedEx.

DEMINT: There are two ways to do [the stimulus], George. One is for the government to take it out of the private sector through taxes and then decide where it's gonna go through political manipulation as they've done in the House. The other is just to leave more money in the private sector for consumers to spend and businesses to invest, that's the American way, and that's the approach we're pushing.

SNUFFLEUPAGUS: All tax cuts, no increases in spending of any kind, yet most economists say that investments, the right kind of investments, create more jobs.

DEMINT: Well, I'm not sure what economists you're talking to ... We have to decide if we want to be a free market economy and let the money stay there or be a government-directed economy which is where we're headed with this plan.

FRANK: ...Let's agree that we're all Americans here, Jim. Nobody's got the "American way" versus presumably the "non-American way." And as far as spending versus tax cuts, I think we need to fix some highway and bridges. I never saw a tax cut fix a bridge. I never saw a tax cut give us more public transportation...

SMITH, CEO FEDEX: No question about it, the infrastructure of the country has been underfunded for a long time, uh, it certainly would be a wise thing to invest in all kinds of infrastructure...

SCHMIDT, CEO GOOGLE: The business community needs action now. There's a sense that things are getting worse...It's time for government action...to get people going again.

And we're supposed to be bipartisan with these screaming ninnies? How?

It's like trying to reason with unmedicated schizophrenics, although with schizophrenics, you can sometimes get them to see reason....


stevec said...

"Newly-elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele gave a pep talk to House Republicans yesterday, during a retreat to plot strategy for the rest of the year..."

I think "retreat" is the operative word here. :)

Woozle said...

Re Steele: On the up side, Steele does not support a Constitutional anti-gay amendment and supports reaching out to pro-choicers. (Box Turtle Bulletin) With him a Republican, though, it seems foolishly optimistic to expect him to actually follow through on (or even not blatantly contradict) that later on. We'll see.

Re no-brainers (Republican congressmen): even the acid test of bringing on a couple of capitalists to say "actually, yes, we'd like to see some infrastructure investment" is unlikely to sway these folks. They know what's Right even if it's wrong, and they're bound and determined to fight for it if they have to destroy everything in order to do it.

Yes, we need to keep countering their arguments so they can't convince more naive-but-sincere onlookers that maybe they have a point -- but it's a holding action.

This is the big, intractable problem that we have to make some headway on by 2012, or we'll be looking at President Palin: how to wrest people loose from an ideology which says they can only trust other people who believe the same things they do.

I mean, that's totally got to go. I don't see any room for negotiation there... though I'm willing to hear arguments to the contrary [FX:rimshot].