Monday, September 10, 2007

Dumbness On the March

The "Cashmere Mafia"? So desperate I don't know what to say. Meanwhile, back in "reality," Paul Krugman's column today makes some important summary points:
  • "four years of economic growth [Bush-style] have produced essentially no gains for ordinary American workers."
  • the growth went to a tiny economic elite: "Corporate profits rose 72 percent from the second quarter of 2003 to the second quarter of 2007. The real income of the richest 0.1 percent of Americans surged by 51 percent between 2003 and 2005."
  • "trickle-down economics" has been refuted - i.e. the dumb idea that when rich folks are even richer, they help the overall economy.
  • we need a "new Neal Deal."
We also need a philosophical basis for a New Deal, and that will mean an unwinding of a lot of recent American culture - love of Darwinist selection, belief in hierarchy, endless consumption of spectacles of other people's wealth, etc. We won't have another New Deal unless a majority starts believing that equality and solidarity are ethical and effective (like I was saying yesterday about Michael Moore and the French). Right now we think that billionaire fund managers "earned" their money naturally and fairly, and act like we want to worship them as gods.

Speaking of worship, Maureen Dowd's piece yesterday on Fred Thompson, gets it right about the American strongman impulse. "Dying for a daddy, the Republicans turn their hungry eyes to Fred." But she then succumbs to her own daddy fantasy of blasting Osama bin Laden "forward into the Stone Age," in a weird update of Richard Nixon. She also responds to bin Laden's latest tape by stuffing her fingers in her ears while making "blug blug blug" noises with her mouth. Dowd's column helps explain why so many folks distrust "liberals," by which they often mean elite media fence sitters. Dowd doesn't want Fred Thompson as daddy, but she wants somebody to kill Osama. Is that NOT wanting a daddy? Who's her daddy?

Is the public any less confused? A NYT poll published this morning shows that more Americans think the surge is working now than they did two months ago and that their preferred candidate for president would be "flexible" about withdrawing troops. To complete the discrediting of their judgment, the majority, long after the military supports an unjustified invasion, then botches the occupation from day 1 (remember the destruction of the archeological museum and most ministries other than that for oil?), fails to get proper equipment to the troops, tortures prisoners and covers it up, mistreats vets in military hospitals and covers it up, violates the Geneva conventions in various ways starting with its operation of Guantanamo, fails at its core job of keeping the peace in Iraq, and sends one politicized general after another to the Hill to say how well it's all going - after all this over 2/3 of the public trusts military commanders "to bring the war in Iraq to a successful end."

It's true that this was a forced choice question, and the alternatives were the White House and Congress. Doh! But how about picking "none of the above," to show we're not completely dumb?

Read the article for the contrary view that the American majority is not simply hoping that force will eventually win, and clinging to their deep faith in force, but showing "nuanced concern" about a situation they realize is complex.

I wish. It's actually simpler to explain these poll results by assuming the majority wants the control without the killing, and thinks maybe a partial withdrawal will reduce that.

The Times should ask, "whom would you say you trust the most with successfully resolving the war in Iraq?" - US military commanders, the Iraqi people, or a consortium of political and religious leaders from the Islamic world? Would the US military commanders beat local folks and local leaders by the same score they beat the ridiculous Bush? Probably, and then we'd have to wonder if we are exporting democracy (!) or handing out a strongman for everybody.

Meanwhile, a piece on network TV's fall lineup (thanks Lisa!) asks "where is the middle class?" And correctly answers, "Demeaning itself for money on reality and game shows, of course!"

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