McCain’s Economic Strategy: Obama is a SCARY BLACK RADICAL!

by matttbastard

Dean Baker:

This is the first time in the history of the United States that the president has sought to provoke a financial panic to get legislation passed through Congress. While this has proven to be a successful political strategy – after the House of Representatives finally passed the bank bail-out plan today – it marks yet another low point in American politics.

It was incredibly irresponsible for George Bush to tell the American people on national television that the country could be facing another Great Depression. By contrast, when we actually were in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt said: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

It was even more irresponsible for President Bush to seize on the decline in the stock market five days later as evidence that his bailout was needed for the economy. President Bush must surely understand, as all economists know, that the daily swings in the stock market are driven by mass psychology and have almost nothing to do with the underlying strength in the economy.

The scare tactics of President Bush, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, created sufficient panic, so that by the time of the first vote on the emergency package in Congress, much of the public believed that the defeat of the bail-out may actually have had serious consequences for the economy. Millions of people have changed their behaviour because of this fear, with many pulling money out of bank and money market accounts, and adjusting their financial plans in other ways.

This effort to promote panic is especially striking since the country’s dire economic situation is almost entirely the result of the Bush administration’s policy failures.

And now that the mission has been accomplished, it’s once again back to the real number one issue facing the nation: Barack Obama, scary, radical associate of “terrorists”:

Stepping up the Republican ticket’s attacks on Senator Barack Obama, Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday seized on a report about Mr. Obama’s relationship with a former 1960s radical to accuse him of “palling around with terrorists.”

“This is not a man who sees America as you see it, and how I see America,” Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, said in Colorado, according to a pool report. “We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for all of us.

“Our opponent though, is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

See? Obama really does = Osama (or Bobby Seale’s love child–take your pick). Who sez forwarded emails can’t be trusted?

The article to which she referred, in The New York Times on Saturday [link added -mb], traced Mr. Obama’s sporadic interactions with Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weathermen who later became an education professor in Chicago and worked on education projects there with Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee for president.

Yep, that blast from the not-so-distant past. Of course, as Steve Benen notes, more than six months down the road there still isn’t any there there, except perhaps in the feverish imagination of Stanley Kurtz. But when did such middling, inconsequential details like “facts” or “the truth” ever stop a wingnut from opportunistically picking up a heaping pile of bullshit–even a crusty, dried-out heaping pile of bullshit–and then try to smear it all over the face of an uppity, radical negro (who, as Governor Palin so helpfully observed, just isn’t like “us”, or, rather, “you”)?

“Well, I was reading my copy of today’s New York Times and I was interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago,” Ms. Palin said at the fund-raiser in Englewood, Colo. “Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to The New York Times, and they are hardly ever wrong, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. Wow. These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes.

Ok, now I get it. Paying your fair share by investing in the services and institutions that we all benefit from is not actually an example of upholding one’s civic duty, but is, in fact, the moral equivalent of a musty, half-baked left-wing domestic bombing campaign from the swingin’ ’60s (like the NY Times, we won’t bother mentioning a more recent example of a vicious home-grown terror attack, since we all know it isn’t really “terrorism” unless the perpetrators are brown, leftist, or–ideally–both). This, apparently, is what passes for serious, in-depth economic analysis on the Straight Talk Express, as McCain and Palin’s team of mavericks carefully hone their bold plan to address the global–yes, global–crisis.

As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Related: As the credit crunch continues to tighten its death grip on Main Street and, according to economist Nouriel Roubini, the US financial and corporate system lies “in cardiac arrest”, Der Spiegel takes a moment to offer a bitter eulogy for The Reagan Revolution and American economic dominance.

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Greenwald: Right-Wing Hypocrisy is “healthy”

by matttbastard

After surveying some of the rightwing opposition to the $700 billion Paulson bail-out (and acidly noting that such sentiments from these quarters are unfortunately “vital for having any meaningful chance to stop [the Paulson plan]” thanks to the sorry record during the Bush years of craven Democrats in Congress), Glenn Greenwald explains how the sharp, self-interested reversals on display are actually indicative of democracy in action:

The blatant hypocrisy here, while extreme, craven and obvious, is also healthy. Hypocrisy of this sort is actually a vital part of how checks and balances are supposed to work. It is expected that political factions, when in charge of the government, will seek to obtain greater power for themselves, and the check against that is that the “opposition party” will battle and resist — not necessarily out of ideology or principle but due to raw power considerations and self-interest. That is what has been so tragically missing from our political process for the last eight years: while the GOP sought greater and greater government power, Democrats acquiesced almost completely when they weren’t complicitly enabling it. While the Executive was off the charts in terms of the power it seized, the Congress was off the charts in its passivity and eagerness to relinquish its Constitutionally assigned powers to the Bush White House. That’s what has caused the extreme imbalance, with a bloated Republican Party and virtually unlimited presidential power: the failure of Democrats and the Congress to serve as a check on any of that. As their newfound contempt for unlimited power makes conclusively clear, the executive-power-worshipping Republicans of the last eight years — if there is an Obama presidency — will quickly re-discover their limited government power “principles” and won’t be nearly as accommodating.

Related: Jim Johnson on how bipartisanship poses a threat to a healthy US democracy (h/t Crooked Timber):

In terms of consequences, why should we endorse bi-partisanship? That is a fundamentally anti-democratic response. Here I am persuaded by argument by political theorists who, following Joseph Schumpeter (whose conception of democracy is, despite common caricatures, neither a ‘realist’ nor ‘minimalist’), insist that robust competition is crucial to a healthy democracy. For instance, Ian Shapiro* suggests that competition has two salutary effects: (i) it allows voters to throw out incumbents (known more appropriately as ‘the bastards’) and (ii) it pressures the opposition to solicit as wide a range of constituencies as they are able. Given these effects, Shapiro suggests quite pointedly:

If competition for power is the lifeblood of democracy, then the search for bi-partisan consensus … is really anticompetitive collusion in restraint of democracy. Why is it that people do not challenge legislation that has bi-partisan backing, or other forms of bi-partisan agreement on these grounds? …

Among the crucial empirical observations about partisan polarization in the U.S. is that it reflects the economic bifurcation (in terms of wealth and income mal-distribution) among the population. Because the poor participate at relatively low levels, and because many recent immigrants remain unnaturalized (hence disenfranchised), the constituency for a real alternative to right-wing policies remains politically inchoate. The solution to political polarization is to attack economic inequality, to resist anti-immigration policies, and so forth. That might, in fact, require Democrats to stop their headlong rush to mimic Republicans and prompt them to seek to forge broader and deeper alliances between constituencies that do not now see one another as allies. But that would require the Dems to be political rather than play the bi-partisan game. What we need is more robust competition.

That sonic boom you heard was Johnson’s point swooping over David Broder’s shiny pate.

Update: Greenwald pwns the mother of all shameless partisan hacks, “Captain” Ed Morrissey.

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