Monday, April 11, 2011

Beltway Math Rant

The reason the Idiot Punditocracy is held in such contempt in this blog is very simple. Watching Rep. Pete DeFazio on the Cenk show — Cenk is a decent progressive despite having spent too much time in the Dylan Ratigan ghetto — the Congressman, another one of the very few, brave, tough ... Democrats laid out what passes for deficit-cutting math in Georgetown cocktail parties: President Obama added $400 billion to our deficit by extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires just so he could cut $38 billion off our hides, the struggling middle class and the poor, and boast through crocodile tears with the Washington Monument as a background prop that he made such "painful" cuts that were (YAY!) the largest in history — a line later repeated by White House political adviser David Plouffe.

Okay. So you take those cuts off our hides for no good reason, and now you're ready to draw your little line in the sand, White House? Excuse my French, but go fuck yourselves. You're the sorriest excuses for Democrats I believe I have ever seen. So what does this have to do with the Idiot Punditocracy? They're colluding with the White House and the Republicans to lay this bullshit false narrative on the rest of the country. From Jeanne Cummings, who was so concerned this narrative wouldn't take she touted wingnut extraordinaire Allen West as an authority on "entitlement reform," to punditocrat John Heilemann who co-authored the "inside" politics book of the season, Game Change, gone Hollywood and suddenly in demand to opine grandiloquently on budget and economic issues, of which neither he, nor Chris Matthews, nor Cummings, nor Andrea Mitchell, nor that fraud Paul Ryan, with the glint of the zealot in his eye, who arrogantly framed the "debate" by saying it's not about a budget but a "cause," are economists, i.e., experts. Well, fuck him and his refried trickle-down Reaganomics, too.

It is about "a budget"— but most of all, it's about people who are hurting out in the real world, right here and right now, while the politicians posture and the Idiot Punditocracy frames the false narrative. The Republicans are predictable. We all know what lies they're going to tell — Boehner: "We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem." Right. We've had a revenue problem for at least the last eleven years — and I would argue the last seventy years, come 2012, back to the days when a Republican president, Dwight David Eisenhower, last balanced the budget with a little help from the highest tax bracket for millionaires of 91 percent. If I had my druthers, I'd opt for soaking the rich; it's the most responsible thing we can do, if we're serious about this debt; the least they can do is accept it without a fight, if they're patriots, given the damage the affluent class has done to this country. It may be too late; the damage may be irreparable.

You know those alternative history books and 'What If' scenarios played by historians? Well, here's my 'What If' scenario: If we had a Democratic Party worth its fucking salt, with real backbone, conviction, and values, this mythical party once embodied by RFK, JFK, LBJ, FDR, and 'give 'em Hell Harry', this Democratic Party would have (a) passed a a budget with more domestic spending, because it's the right thing to do in recessionary times, (b) cut billions in defense, because it's the right thing to do to curb the war economy, and (c) followed the leadership of an assertive President confident in the rightness of  his "cause" who informed Democrats, Republicans, and the American people early on of his inalterable intention to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, while asking for the American people's support to return the Democratic majority in the House. This is how the debate should have been framed, coopted, and owned by the Democratic Party, in an ideal political and historical scenario.

Could he have done it? Harry Truman did. And Barack Obama is no Harry Truman. Yet, if boldness were one of his qualities, he would have embraced his inner Truman. President Obama is a decent man. He knows what the right thing to do is. Guaranteed the Democrats wouldn't have suffered their historic losses in the November midterm elections, and the Tea Party would have been eclipsed much sooner than now had this scenario become reality. Could it have been any worse? The Tea Party is finished, it's running on fumes, the American people have seen through it and rejected its radical prescriptions. But the Idiot Punditocracy, the President, and politicians of both parties in D.C. have yet to get the memo. Why? Naked self-interest.

The Idiot Punditocracy has decided to protect its own self-interest while having its fun reporting the ballgame with this phony narrative. One that is, actually, a confluence of D.C. political and Beltway Media interests: Republicans get to drive the narrative; the President gets to tack right and act like a Republican, only slightly less toxic than the Teabaggers leading Boehner around by the nose while Ryan fulfills their "profligate, radical, and unpopular beyond your wildest dreams" ideas, as proclaimed by our ever-optimistic Rachel. Oh yeah, and of course, the Idiot Punditocracy get to keep their entitlements, paid for by us, the middle class, thank you very much. But they'll never admit their reporting was in any way  influenced or colored by pocketbook issues. Hey, you know, that's for the rest of us; that's how we vote. The Idiot Punditocracy, aka the Beltway Media, theirs is a noble calling; they even get to interview Woodstein on Moron Joe and Hardball. Me, I don't feel so optimistic ... sorry, Rachel.

You can tell how serious the Idiot Punditocracy is on reporting the FACTS about this hideous "cause-budget" of Ryan's by the prominence of actual experts (in this case, economists) on their shows: Cenk (Robert Reich), Lawrence (Robert Greenstein), and Rachel have reported extensively on the issue with experts' quotes. Big Eddie's bailiwick has been the turmoil in Wisconsin, and he's also tackling this head-on. As for the rest ... pfft. Where's Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman? He's off the ABC Sunday show probably because he shot down wingnut windbag regular George Will once too often. Paul Krugman banned. Let's face it, Krugman's voice is so antithetical to everything the Idiot Punditocracy wants to push, he's been effectively banned everywhere else, too.

The Idiot Punditocracy is flipping the middle class and poor the bird, telling us to take our medicine because, hey it's not so bad — Ryan says, let us eat cake.  Historically, though, the cake-eaters have had the last laugh. One thing is certain: The Ryan budget and this top-down cutting frenzy will inevitably lead to social unrest. Bob Herbert's words, not mine, in his swan song from the Times. It's a catch-all euphemism for a lot of things — none of them good.

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