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February 26, 2009 04:35 PM UTC

Thursday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“A civilized society that can no longer feel outrage, can no longer be civilized.”



30 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

  1. It’s like a kid in your class that you don’t necessarily like or agree with, but you still don’t want to see them muttering to themselves in the hall or throwing up in the bathroom.  Yikes you guys, calm down and get it together.

    1. A healthy opposition is really useful even if you don’t kowtow to their ideology. The fact is an opponent is a better editor than a fellow member of the echo chamber. The Republicans are going to be far more likely to notice that we forgot to carry the 1 in some provision than the people on our side whose eyes aren’t fresh.

      When the opposition is functioning, they are actually reading the bills and they make technical amendments all the time which the bill sponsors typically get up and say “this is a friendly amendment” and it passes with no difficulty.

      But unfortunately Leviticus doesn’t say anything about carrying the 1, and if that’s the Republicans’ source of legislative information then we have no functioning minority and the quality of legislation will suffer.

      1. a two-party equilibrium, with the parties representing variations on a similar theme reincarnated in the same or different names every so often. So, we started off with the Jeffersonians and Federalists (less government centralization v. more government centralization), moved through a few variations of Whigs and Torries (same theme, with the added flair of Jacksonian populism and the beginning of the log-cabin iconography), and then moved into an era of Republicans (initially, more government centralization) v. Democrats and other populist parties (Greenbacks, Progressives, etc.). Culminating with Hoover and FDR, the Republicans and Democrats rotated around the center, such that the Democrats became the “more political centralization” party, and the Republicans became the “less political centralization party.” And I suspect that the dance will continue indefinitely, whether the names remain the same or not. I think that it’s a basically functional tension.

        Both sides of this thematic division (more or less political centralization) have used morality and religion in various ways at various times with various degrees of success and public value (though political imposition of religious morality is inherently a “more centralization” position). But while the tension between secularism and religiosity has been an important social theme that has always had some political parallel, I don’t believe that it is the organizing theme of our political divisions, nor do I think that it is likely to become so (at least not in the foreseeable future).

        The “threat” to this arrangement of a functional tension between those advocating more political centralization and those advocating less that has emerged over the past few decades has resulted from several simultaneous developments. One is that the Democrats came to be in reality the more fiscally responsible of the two parties (a position that had belonged to those who advocated less centralization), because the domestic programs and modest foreign aid they favor are so much cheaper than the military imperialism that the Republicans increasingly indulged in. So Republican credibility as being the side reining in spending evaported, while simultaneously it became the home of religious fanaticism (a movement that involves more political centralization) attempting to institute a de facto theocracy.

        While there are overlapping groups of Americans who favor this or that moralistic or religiously bigoted agenda, Americans on the whole don’t like the state to legislate morality more than necessary to a functional criminal code (ie, securing people from the predatory behaviors of others). So what has happened is that the Democrats have become the home of one balance of more and less political centralization (federally protected civil rights and individual choice of moral values) while the Republicans have become the home of another (religiously moralistic tyranny and militant nationalism, on the one hand, v. economically illiterate libertarianism on the other). In other words, the more functional and more just aspects of both sides of the tension gravitated to one party, while the less functional and less just aspects of both sides of the tension gravitated to the other.

        In a way, the Republican abandonment of fiscal responsibility and embrace of moralistic tyranny rendered them utterly redundant (as the Brits would say), and left the Democrats with a virtual monopoly on reason.

        But the underlying tension persists: More or less political centralization? The optimal balance, I believe, is using government primarily to reduce transaction costs and internalize externalities, as well as to regulate markets to the extent necessary to balance the maximization of equality of opportunity with the maximization of economic robustness. But there will always be those who pull too far toward redistributive justice, who, if too successful, succeed only in creating an equality of empoverishment. And there are always those who pull too far toward individualism and a fetishized notion of “liberty,” who, if too successful, succeed only in creating a cruel society favorable to the most ruthless and visciously indifferent to unnecessary and unjustly distributed suffering.

        To reestablish the tension around that optimal center (or around a center slightly skewed to one side or the other) either the Democrats will bifurcate, or, far more probably, the Republicans will re-occupy saner ground. Some here have argued that the dynamics are such that the Republicans in office are driven toward fanaticism and obsolence: I’m not sure about this one way or the other. But, if so, then the moderate and reasonable ground that they abandoned just right of center will become a vacuum sucking in conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who wish that a party existed that represented their views.

  2. The repubs have a strategy of talking to their base, consolidate it, and keep it fired up.  Their main bullhorn is the ability to command the public radio waves.  They are on message; anti-minority, anti-gay, veiled attacks on women, attack the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. They are counting on economic disasters continuing to cause unrest in the electorate.  Their message is simple, unambigious, and CONSTANT.  They may be able to duplicate their win of 1994.  I hope not.

    Catch the “Aunt Polly” scolding that Gail Schoettler gave “Tom Sawyer” boyles in the Post??? Guess she told him. ..Except she forgot to mention that she lost that election.

    And, her boss will be on the boyles show, tomorrow.

    When newspapers die, talk radio will be king….and NO ONE will say the emperor has no clothers.

    1. Talk radio works for the Republican base, but that’s it. No one else listens to it (with the exception of a few liberals that listen to NPR and AirAmerica). So all that gives then is their base.

      People go to the internet now. And the younger they are the more they use just the internet. So it will be those companies that figure out how to deliver news (and ads) via the net that will be our new source.

      1. But, see my posting of Monday a week ago and the subsequent discussion,  about the power of cheap radio.  The republican base may count 47 million people.  Being able to talk to their base, 24/7, without having to buy broadcast time is a tremendous advantage for the Republicans.

        You live in an internet world.  There are a lot of people who do not. They live in the radio world. As newspapers close down, radio will be more important and more immediate.

        If the economy continues to “crater,” what electronic media will survive is a question.  i happen to think the “blackberry” model with everything on a cellphone may be the newspaper of the future. ….with a subsequent lost of analysis.  However, right now, the republicans can reach their base with an ease that the dems cannot.  

        And the message which the repubs are deliberately sending is vile…anti gay, anti woman, anti minority, anti non-christian.  We have to pay attention.

          1. I am just saying that the repubs have a strategy, it involves communicating with their base in a way the dems cannot.

            Young kids are leaning left. Hell, in my family, we have those who don’t even use pencils.  And wouldn’t know what to do with a newspaper, let alone a radio.

            BUT, the issue is not how you get your news…the issue is who is influencing you…and how.  That is the point.

            I think with kids, regardless of what happens to the economy, they will continue with cphones etc.  But cable and Internet may become a luxury for a hell of a lot of others.

            And kids are not the only demographic. They are the future, but right now we have to live in the present.  For illiterates, older people, and the economically marginal, radio is important. And, the repubs are hanging on, there….they can use it to reach their base with the message (which everyone of this elitist blog has been criticizing) which resounds with that base.

            That is my only point…and I think it is valid.


        1. And despite their attacks, Obama’s positives on the economy went up from 63% before his address the other night to 80% AFTER.  Almost nobody but Rush and DeLay even tried to talk up Jindal’s abysmal performance, not on style OR substance. The Rs were the ones who commanded the message for a long time but that was then.

          1. But, what happens as this country sinks further and further into a economic hole???  Obama is not claiming miracles; we are in for a long haul. So, the country is being divided by the repubs. …and the two sides are not talking to each other.

            the repubs are poised to exploit those emotions ranging from dissatisfaction to panic, which we can expect to occur as things get worse before they get better.

            Here is an example of the power of talk radio.  boyles has attacked both newspapers; local radio 24/7 has been claiming credit for killing the Rocky because it was “too liberal” (my god)….today, Dean Singleton was on the boyles show…kissing ass….as were rocky mt out of work reporters who needed the exposure and couldn’t risk being targeted by the morning show…..these people are not the “republican base”…..and boyles was gracious in victory…didn’t gloat at all.

            Now, I don’t think that talk radio killed the Rocky or has the Post on the ropes.  However, there are a hell of a lot of people who believe that.

            I try to listen, read and respond to a wide variety of media sources…including blogs. …..people are divided by the source of their news…and no one is talking to the other side….at least, here, we’ve got Barron X and Libertdad….Laughing Boy (who has been strangely silent)

            Right now, I feel like the electorate is being drawn and quartered…..tied to four horses all pointed in different directions….just waiting for the signal to run.

              1. I thought he would be back by now.  I suggest a LB watch…we may have to mount a rescue mission to Mexico….I would be good to go…rusty walker,  archaic spanish, not withstanding..

    2. As we saw in the last election. They do fine in talking to their “base,” but that base is shifting to become more and more to the far right. And the more they talk only to their base, the more Democrats have the opportunity to pick up everyone else.  

  3. Some 13,000 soldiers are under the Army’s stop-loss orders. But they have yet to receive the bonuses of up to $500 per month to which they are entitled under the law.

    It’s unacceptable that these soldiers have not yet received a dime of their bonus money.

    Under the stop-loss program, active duty soldiers have been forced to stay in the military past their enlistment period. Some critics have referred to it as a “back door draft” because it has kept soldiers in uniform despite the fact they wanted to leave the military.

    The Army, which has been the only branch of service to use stop-loss in the past five years, said that with the country at war, it has been necessary to issue orders to retain soldiers with certain skills and experience.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates has wanted to end the policy, but the number of soldiers in stop-loss actually has risen from 8,540 in May 2007 to 13,200 in December 2008. According to the Congressional Research Service, that’s almost 10 percent of the total number of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Last year, Congress added $72 million to fund the $500 monthly bonuses for those with stop-loss orders. This was seen as a way to partly compensate them for the disruption in the plans they had made for their post-military lives. The initiative funds were supposed to be be available after Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. The Pentagon was charged with devising a plan on how to make the payments.

    To date, no such plan has been submitted.

      1. …”sometime.” There’s other issues as well, such as the  lack of staff from Udall’s office in the Springs, where Sen. Bennett has hit the ground running. (With most of Sen Salazar’s staff, but give him credit for taking it over.)

        I’ll get the usual spam reply from Rep. DeGette. I’m going to be emailing someone at Perlmutter’s office later, and I might hit up a friend over at Rep Coffman’s office if he’ll talk to my Dem ass.

        1. Rep. Coffman would be all for giving soldiers what they’re owed.

          Why wasn’t this in the $200 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan funding? $72 million is a pittance compared with what we’re spending in Obama’s budget.

          We owe our servicemen and women so much more than we’ve given them in recent years. I completely agree with you Dan, this is unacceptable.

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