Sunday, April 22. 2012
Some scattered links I squirreled away during the previous week:
Henry Farrell: Happy Krauthammer Day:
It's that time of the year again -- it's been five months plus five months
plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus
five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five
months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months
plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus
five months plus five months plus five months since Charles Krauthammer
Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We've had
five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven't found any, we
will have a credibility problem.
I'll confess that I was a bit disappointed last week, when Charles
Krauthammer didn't make the cut for Atrios' shortlist for Wanker of the
Decade (he did get a nod-in-his-direction though; Fred Hiatt's nod was
intended to honor the Washington Post's editorial page as a whole).
But having reflected a bit, I think this was the right call. To be a
really first rate wanker, you have to be at least partially oblivious
to what you are. I've always had the sense that Krauthammer knows exactly
what he is -- nasty and thoroughly mendacious. Not a wanker then, but
rather worse than a wanker. He's whatever it is that Karl Rove is (when
rugose and squamous entities drag out their tortured forms from under
rocks, to caper and desport themselves beneath the gibbous moon, they
console themselves at least they're not working for American Crossroads).
By the way, next year will be the tenth anniversary. Still writing for
the Washington Post, still syndicated, still on the talk shows.
Ed Kilgore: Journey to the Center of Ted Nugent's Mind:
In a nugget from last weekend's National Rifle Association annual meeting,
Ted Nugent offered this warning:
"If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either
be dead or in jail by this time next year," Nugent said, according to a
video posted on YouTube by the NRA. "If you can't go home and get everybody
in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America hated administration,
I don't even know what you're made out of."
Don't know if this means we need to put Ted on suicide watch come
November 7 if things don't turn out his way, or just let the police
know he's threatening to do a crime so he can get himself incarcerated.
But it's a fine reflection of the wingnut mind at its deepest that he
seems to think us godless socialists care enough about his ravings to
TPM reports that the NRA has scrubbed Nugent's video from its website,
after Romney distanced himself from it. TPM also reports that
Bishop of Peoria Compares Obama and Contraception Mandates to Hitler and
Stalin. There are plenty of sane reasons one might be unhappy with
Obama, but his opponents keep resorting to insane ones -- suggesting
they may be insane themselves.
Paul Krugman: The Drywall Chronicles:
So Mitt Romney gave a speech at a closed Ohio drywall factory, which
he tried to use as a symbol of Obama's economic failure. The symbolism
was perfect -- not as an illustration of Obama's failure, but as an
illustration of just how stupid Romney thinks we are.
Even regular reporters noticed that the factory in question closed
under, yes, George W. Bush -- a fact Romney failed to mention, although
his campaign scrambled to cover for him afterwards.
What I didn't see mentioned was the point that this was a drywall
factory -- that is, a supplier of a product largely used in home
construction. It's one thing to say that Obama should have revived the
economy as a whole; it's another to say that he should have brought
back the housing bubble!
Krugman also provides a chart comparing job losses during the first
3 years + 3 months of the Bush and Obama administrations:
If you bother doing the math, you'll also notice that Bush's job
losses were cushioned by growth in public sector jobs, whereas Obama's
total was made much worse by public sector job cuts. Bush started out
with a much milder recession, and his main remedies were tax cuts for
the superrich and the fiscal stimulus of big post-9/11 military deficits,
which, uh, didn't work very well. (From 2004-07 the economy under Bush
did grow, but almost exclusively from the unsustainable housing bubble.)
Krugman brings this up because Romney's proposed solutions are pretty
much the same as Bush's: tax cuts for the rich, and more wars.
I'm beginning to think that Obama's big mistake wasn't that his
stimulus package was too small (although it was) but that he didn't
end the Bush tax cuts as soon as he entered office (perhaps keeping
some of the bottom end cuts, but not necessarily the "middle class"
ones he wanted to keep). Had he done so, he wouldn't have been nearly
as vulnerable to complaints about his deficits -- they would pretty
much vanish when the economy picked up -- which would have given
him more leeway to spend in constructive fashion, or at least more
resolve to fight back against debilitating cuts.
John Quiggin: The Coming Boom in Inherited Wealth:
Inequality is up, even more so -- 93% of additional income in the
US in 2010 went to the top 1% -- but some argue that "those at the
top were more likely to earn than inherit their riches." Depends
on what you mean by "earn" but Quiggin adds:
The fact that currently wealthy Americans have not, in general,
inherited their wealth follows logically from the fact that, in
their parents' generation, there weren't comparable accumulations
of wealth to be bequeathed. More generally, starting from the
position of relatively (to earlier periods and to the current one)
equal income and wealth that prevailed between about 1950 and 1980,
growing inequality of income must precede growing inequality of
wealth, since wealth is simply the cumulative excess of income over
consumption (and US high-income earners have not been notable for
restraint as regards consumption).
So, given highly unequal incomes, and social immobility, we can
expect inheritance to play a much bigger role in explaining inequality
for the generations now entering adulthood than for the current
recipients of high incomes. That will include direct transfers of
wealth as well as the effects of increasingly unequal access to
education, early job opportunities and home ownership.
One more thing to emphasize is that over the last few decades,
the right-wing movement was almost exclusively financed by people
who were born to wealth -- the Kochs, Olins, Richard Mellon Scaife,
the Coors, and so forth. Same for major figures in the movement,
from Bill Buckley to Bill Kristol, and for that matter G.W. Bush.
Aside from the Kochs, most of these figures are far from the top
of the list, but their politics starts from their aristocratic
sense of entitlement. Back in the more equitable 1950s, before
greed became something to brag about, it seemed more likely that
at least some of the fortunates might redirect themselves to
public service -- the Kennedys, even the occasional Rockefeller
and Harriman. Less so now, as the concentration of wealth occurs
alongside a diminished sense of social responsibility.
Adele Stan: Koch Coughs Up Another $Mil for Pro-Walker Group:
The group is called The Republican Governors Association, which has
bought up $3 million worth of advertising to defend the recalled
Wisconsin governor. One reason this caught my eye is that Koch
Industries got a nice headline in the Wichita Eagle last week for
their generous donation to help out with tornado recovery in south
Wichita: they donated $100,000. Koch's headquarters are in Wichita,
but they're on the north side of town and weren't affected by the