Inequality as Usual by Ross Douthat (The New York Times)
The latest census figures show the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everybody else widening — rather than shrinking, as some economists expected — during the crash of 2008. An August report from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch suggested that middle-income Americans, buried in real-estate debt, will have to wait much longer than the rich to see their finances rebound.
This landscape will put liberalism to the test. Since Ronald Reagan was elected nearly 30 years ago, Democratic politicians have promised that their program could reverse the steady post-1970s growth of income inequality without sacrificing America’s economic dynamism.
But having promised win-win, they may deliver lose-lose. In the short run, Barack Obama could preside over an America that’s more economically stagnant and more stratified.
There’s only so much that politicians can do about broad socioeconomic trends. The rise of a more unequal America is a vexingly complicated issue, whose roots may wind too deep for public policy to reach.
Liberals, though, have spent decades telling a more simplistic story, in which conservatives bear all the blame for stagnating middle-class wages and skyrocketing upper-class wealth. So it’s fair to say that if a period of Democratic dominance doesn’t close the gap between the rich and the rest of us, it will represent a significant policy failure for contemporary liberalism.
Is this guy a complete moron? The policies for decades (which have mostly been controlled by Republicans) has created our situation. No shit, Obama isn’t going to quickly turn it all around even if he wanted to. That doesn’t mean it would necessarily be hard to do. I don’t know if Obama is the man to do it or not, but that isn’t the point. The point is that Douthat apparently has brain damage.
Almost anything is easy to do if enough people wanted to do it. But the GOP has always been good at polarizing the public and using that to their benefit. They’re doing it even now. Sure, if you constantly undermine the president, he will fail. Duh! The question is whether you want the president to fail and some people apparently do.
When the public becomes angry enough and finally directs that anger towards the real problem, then things will change. But as long as the ranting pundits and obstructionist politicians hold sway, the world will continue on as before (and by before I mean long before Obama).
The Politics of Spite by Paul Krugman (The New York Post)
So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.
But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.
To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences [...]
How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?
The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.
[...] The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.
The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.
It’s an ugly picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America’s real problems has to understand.
Suck on that, Douthat!
Study Says Reporting on Economy Was Narrow by Richard Perez-Pena (The New York Times)
A study to be released Monday of financial news coverage this year found that government, Wall Street and a small handful of story lines got the bulk of the attention while much less was paid to the economic troubles of ordinary people.
Thanks for stating the obvious. It’s an indisputable fact that news reporting is so biased as to be simultaneously sad and funny. All the poll proves is that everyone knows mainstream media is in bed with big business (and big government).
Reports on Bailouts Says Treasury Misled Public by Louise Story (The New York Times)
The inspector general who oversees the government’s bailout of the banking system is criticizing the Treasury Department for some misleading public statements last fall and raising the possibility that it had unfairly disbursed money to the biggest banks.
Official lies to public. Big government is profitable to big business. Okay… where is the breaking news?
Obama’s Meeting With the Dalia Lama Is Delayed by John Pomfret (The Washington Post)
In an attempt to gain favor with China, the United States pressured Tibetan representatives to postpone a meeting between the Dalai Lama and President Obama until after Obama’s summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month, according to diplomats, government officials and other sources familiar with the talks.
For the first time since 1991, the Tibetan spiritual leader will visit Washington this week and not meet with the president. Since 1991, he has been here 10 times. Most times the meetings have been “drop-in” visits at the White House. The last time he was here, in 2007, however, George W. Bush became the first sitting president to meet with him publicly, at a ceremony at the Capitol in which he awarded the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’s highest civilian award.
The U.S. decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China that also includes soft-pedaling criticism of China’s human rights [...]
“We’ve got the classic case of a Western government yet again conceding to Chinese pressure that is imaginary long after that Chinese pressure has ceased to exist,” said Robert Barnett, a Tibetan expert at Columbia University. “The Chinese must be falling over themselves with astonishment at what Western diplomats will give them without being asked. I don’t know what the poker analogy would be. ‘Please, see all my cards and take my money, too?’ “
I’ve been willing to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt because he hasn’t been in office long. However, this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Whether or not he succeeds in his goals, I think I may have just lost all respect for Obama as a person. There has been evidence that he was backpedalling on his campaign promises, but this action flies in the face of decency. Our country is truly going soft when we try to suck up to one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.
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