…about Christine O’Donnell
Lesson 1: The danger of closed information systems. Well before the crash of 2008, the U.S. economy was sending ominous warning signals. Median incomes were stagnating. Home prices rose beyond their rental values. Consumer indebtedness was soaring. Instead, conservatives preferred to focus on positive signals â€” job numbers, for example â€” to describe the Bush economy as â€œthe greatest story never told.â€
Too often, conservatives dupe themselves. They wrap themselves in closed information systems based upon pretend information. In this closed information system, banks can collapse without injuring the rest of the economy, tax cuts always pay for themselves and Congressional earmarks cause the federal budget deficit. Even the market collapse has not shaken some conservatives out of their closed information system. It enfolded them more closely within it. This is how to understand the Glenn Beck phenomenon. Every day, Beck offers alternative knowledge â€” an alternative history of the United States and the world, an alternative system of economics, an alternative reality. As corporate profits soar, the closed information system insists that the free-enterprise system is under assault. As prices slump, we are warned of imminent hyperinflation. As black Americans are crushed under Depression-level unemployment, the administrationâ€™s policies are condemned by some conservatives as an outburst of Kenyan racial revenge against the white overlord.
Meanwhile, Republican officeholders who want to explain why they acted to prevent the collapse of the U.S. banking system can get no hearing from voters seized with certainty that a bank collapse would have done no harm to ordinary people. Support for TARP has become a career-ender for Republican incumbents, and we shall see what it does to Mitt Romney, the one national Republican figure who still defends TARP.
The same vulnerability to closed information systems exists on the liberal side of U.S. politics as well, of course. But the fact that my neighbor is blind in one eye is no excuse for blinding myself in both.
Read the other lessons here.
The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the cityâ€™s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Centerâ€™s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.
One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the eventâ€™s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.
Perhaps the most fascinating political conundrum of the 2010 election is one faced by GOP senators, almost all of whom voted for TARP and supported some of the other bailouts in the thick of the financial crisis. The good news is that, for all their shortcomings, the bailouts did the trick, preventing a deeper economic crisis. The bad news is those bailouts are now considered political poison by the tea partying conservative base.
That puts Republicans in a strange position: unable to say the legislation failed, but at pains to distance themselves from their vote nonetheless. Over the past couple days, I’ve asked a number of GOP senators whether, nearly two years later, they think the bailout bill was effective. Their answers were revealing.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who’s retiring at the end of the year and is therefore unencumbered by the need to defend himself from the GOP base, has nothing to run away from.
“It was extremely effective,” Gregg told me. “Not only was it effective and stabilized the financial industry, it also returned to the taxpayers almost $20 billion in interest and dividends that they would have otherwise not have.”
The Right wing media and the Tea Parties are playing chess while the Left and the mainstream media are playing checkers.
While they can be disparaged as being narrow minded ideologues possessed of an authoritarian personality, Conservatives in the U.S.–and the extreme Right wing that has now become the center of the GOP–have long been masters of using emotional and moral appeals to motivate their public. While the Democrats are hamstrung by an issues based approach to politics, Conservatives have mastered the art of creating an alternate world of political facts and reason (enabled by the Right wing media echo chamber) where the reality based community need not tread.
This week the note being struck is that liberal infiltrators (in the guise of “agent provocateurs”) are targeting the Tea Parties in order to smear and discredit them. Without any factual substantiation (and ignoring the racist, bigoted, and violent rhetoric that is common at the Tea Party gatherings) the Right has succeeded in reframing the narrative which surrounds the tea baggers. Now, freed from any responsibility for their own actions, the Tea Parties can point to some imagined villain as being responsible for all things disruptive and violent at their protests. [Read the rest from Chauncey DeVega via OpenSalon]
These people gotta lotta gall, in my opinion. I can see why it is important that some dude harasses a racist at a rally, don’t get me wrong, but let’s also keep in mind that there’s something to be said for attracting that type of element in the first place. The Nazis don’t feel comfortable just strolling down the street in most places — and frankly, this dude with the camera seems to be the only person who cares. Get serious, ninjas. Oh… and PLEASE!
At a Tea Party rally in Greenville, S.C., last week, a speaker tried to figure out just what, exactly, is wrong with Graham. “Barney Frank has been more honest and brave than you. At least we know about Barney Frank, nobodyâ€™s going to hold it over his head.”
He continued, “Look, Iâ€™m a tolerant person. I donâ€™t care about your private life, Lindsey. But as our U.S. senator, I need to figure out why youâ€™re trying to sell out your own countrymen, I need to make sure you being gay isnâ€™t it.”
This is the language of a political movement that sees itself defending a peculiar, limited version of democratic politics. Academics have a term for this idea: herrenvolk democracy. The basic idea is that there is supposed to be equality, and even unanimity on crucial matters, among qualified citizens. And if someone breaks the consensus, it’s not so much a sign that there needs to be an argument about this or that issue. It just casts doubt on whether that person was a legitimate member of the group in the first place. (Note that Graham himself has criticized the use of “racial epithets” on the right.) [Read the whole story from Salon.com]