Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Under the mossy rock...

I usually read Ross Douthat and just smirk.

I mean, the guy is a sort of poster-child for "entitled and clueless". His positions on pretty much every issue can be limned by just looking at any sort of potential subject of political, economic, or social dispute and thinking "Now...what would I think about this if I were a clueless douchebag who never had to face a moment's fear or a minute's want in my entire pampered, deferred-to life..?" and you'd have it nailed.

So I can't pretend I was eager to read his latest editorial about why the Teatards shut down the federal government. I figured I'd pretty much sussed out what he had to say. But I had some idle hands and those are, as you know, the devil's playgrounds. So I clicked the link and off I went.

And I found that he DID have something I needed to read, but not, I'm sure, for the reasons he wrote it. Here it is, in his own words:
"Conservative politicians take power imagining that this time, this time, they will finally tame the New Deal-Great Society Leviathan...and then they make proposals and advance ideas for doing so, the weight of public opinion tilts against them, and they end up either backpedalling, getting defeated at the polls, or both."
At which point I have to admit, I didn't smirk.

I laughed out loud.

In a nation with perhaps the industrialized world's least-comprehensive "social safety net", where a single major illness or screw-up or a couple of cases of hard luck can put you out in the street, where, for example, were I to lose my job through no fault of my own it is entirely possible that I and my entire family will drop into poverty because no one will hire a 56-year-old geologist with a family and a bum hip in one of the shittiest development economies in fifty years...that when you "make proposals and advance ideas" that will make the lives of people like me less secure, more precarious, more likely to end up in poverty in our old age...our opinion "tilts against you".

Can you imagine that?

But there you have it. The inside of the heads of the people who, like Ross Douthat, think of themselves as "small-government conservatives" who..."see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama’s first two years as well."

You note the crucial qualifier here.

The Thirties and the Sixties.

Not the Forties, when Big Government went from a standing Army of 100,000 to one of 8 million. Not the Oughts and Teens when the CIA became part of a Directorate of National Intelligence and the NSA became all of our internet service provider. Not the Fifties, when Ike warned us about the "Military-Industrial Complex" (he left out "Congressional" but, hey, the man had to think of his Party...)

Nope. "Big Government" isn't the National Security Agency. It's not the Department of Homeland Security. It's not the Department of Defense, or the hungry corporate remoras that live off the federal dollar from those organizations; Raytheon, General Dynamics, Electric Boat Company, FLIR Systems, Boeing.

It's poor people.

It's sick people.

It's old people.

It's the "Great Society".

THAT's the evil "Big Government".

THAT's who Ross and his "small government conservatives" want to take out behind the barn and put two into the skull.

THAT's why we are where we are.

Because the people that Ross Douthat talks to, the people who are talking to the numbskulls in Congress, the numbskulls themselves, want to "shrink" government...not by getting rid of all those expensive warships, or by not bombing unpaved parts of the world where someone might be eating some Osama bin Ladin kulfa balls, or by cutting back on agribusiness subsidies, or tax giveaways to Kim Kardashian...but by making sure that I can't get insurance for my pre-existing condition or a pension when I'm too old and sick to work and my broker has looted my 401K.


"And if this attitude sounds more like a foolish romanticism than a prudent, responsible, grounded-in-reality conservatism..." concludes Douthat.

Well, no. Actually. This attitude sounds like the meeching whines of a bunch of sour douchebags terrified that somewhere, somehow, someone they don't like is doing okay because of some tax dollars that they think should be going to the Walton family to buy yet another vacation home.

I'm still waiting for some "prudent, reasonable, grounded-in-reality" conservative to show up with a plan that isn't based on hippie-punching and sour grapes that their side fucked up in 1929.

And if our boy Ross is any example I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

These fucking people...


Ael said...

You think those people are crazy.
I rather suspect that they find their attitudes profitable and hence rational.

Syrbal/Labrys said...

They think they will be the new gentry of the new Dark Ages. Who gives a shit what the serfs think?

Some scientific studies of late have shown that the better off people are, the less empathy they have for anyone else. I'd say that asshat was walking proof of the premise.

FDChief said...

No; I think they are despicable.

I understand that they see their goals as profitable for themselves. It's just the vast mountain of hypocrisy of pretending to be about "small government" and worrying about the Leviathan and then making it all about food stamps and old-age pensions and completely ignoring corporate capitalism and the intelligence and defense budgets.

But perhaps "crazy" works in the sense that I get that they are so buried inside their own logic that they can't "get" that most people don't WANT things to go back to how they were in 1880 or 1905.

Paul Bibeau said...

Yeah! Fuck yeah! Fuckin-A right!

That is it. That's the only thing I have to add.

Lisa said...

I completely agree on Douthat -- "entitled and clueless".

So few editorial writers speak the truth, clearly (understanding they are editorialists.) It's way disappointing. It would be so nice to read incisive & creative thought from either side in a national paper. Everything is hard partisan because of the fear ...

FDChief said...

I hate to go here again, Lisa, but in this case it's simpler than that.

The Democrats, spineless and chaotic as they are, represent some sort of reason, and "politics as usual".

The GOP is utterly, completely batshit crazy.

In effect, about 20% of the U.S. public - call them the "Cheney Fifth", the people who were still giving Deadeye Dick the thumbs up in 2008, the people who believe that we don't have ENOUGH torture and war, or enough spying, or too much coddling of those fat-cat widows and orphans, the people who long for a new dawn of 1895 in America, THOSE people - are holding the rest of the country hostage until they get what they want.

And Rossy Boy is talking to them here.

I'll be the first to say that the D's have their problems. But THIS is NOT one of them. This is the fruit of a long, long shove to develop a domestic Falange in the United States. Well, it's here, and it's doing exactly what it did in Italy in 1922; it's tearing down the structure of republican government.

The U.S. Constitution was not designed, and cannot withstand, such an assault. Jon Chait has a pretty good breakdown of the immense problem this means here:

Here's his frightening conclusion:

“There is no democratic principle on the basis of which it can be resolved, and the mechanisms the Constitution might provide are likely to prove too complicated and aridly legalistic to be of much force in the eyes of the electorate.” This is a fight with no rules. The power struggle will be resolved as a pure contest of willpower.

In our Founders’ defense, it’s hard to design any political system strong enough to withstand a party as ideologically radical and epistemically closed as the contemporary GOP. (Its proximate casus belli—forestalling the onset of universal health insurance—is alien to every other major conservative party in the industrialized world.) The tea-party insurgents turn out to be right that the Obama era has seen a fundamental challenge to the constitutional order of American government. They were wrong about who was waging it."

Lisa said...

"The GOP is utterly, completely batshit crazy.'

Chief, this is too facile a dismissal for an entire contingent. How can we arrive at function when we turn our backs in such futility.

If I saw a robust Democratic counter I would be animated. I do not see it. Where is the Dem's Karl Rove? There is no mastermind, no brilliance or inspiration.

The Republicans win by default. But "batshit crazy"? Then you must tar the majority of your fellow humans with that brush, too. (Not that I'm ready to dismiss that possibility.)