Jots with dots 11/11

Conservative outrage du jour: Jonathon Gruber, on video as “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” You could easily say “lying is a huge political advantage.” I don’t know how it’s not fair to call playing on ambiguity, opacity, and misdirection ‘lying’. But in politics the bar is high if you want to call someone a liar and make it stick. We are right to be reminded I guess that it’s OK for liberals to lie, as there’s not a moral equivalence between liberals lying to further the greater good and the Republicans lying for the Koch brothers. And this certainly qualifies amirite? I tell ya, that “we have to lie (a little / sometimes / often) to get past the recalcitrance of the stupid American voter” is a Democrat touchstone if there ever was one, from the dorm room to campaign war room. What’s the word…. I’m thinking its ‘anti-democratic’.

This certainly puts the lie to the value of the CBO, insofar as superficially earnest arguing liberal sycophants liked to throw that out there as a trump card. Its BS. Give them fake numbers, they’ll give you a fake forecast.

#Pointergate. This is again one of these things where people need to lose their jobs pronto. Ideally Hodges would be able to defenestrate the leadership of entire departments. It’s disappointing that can’t happen.

Now that ain’t ‘gang signs’, sayeth me, a middle aged white guy. But as a cultural matter I was moved to contemplate where the hand signs thing comes from. Fair to say it’s kind of urban and street, and mostly just plays off hip-hop iconography. So really, it’s just Hodges saying ‘I’m down with this guy’ and him saying ‘I’m down with Hodges.’ It’s goofing.

At WWP, both Joey and the Dooosh have critiques up on Pointergate. You’ll all probably remember that I’ve critiqued Lambo’s political insight as poor at best, trading entirely as it does on tropes that flatter liberals for their intelligence and supposed lack of bigotry. I don’t see any real weakness in his analysis here, however.

The President’s economic ‘successes’. I don’t think there’s any characterization to be made that convincingly argues for the mastery and adeptness of Obama economic thought. They got lucky. There’s been an energy boom in the country, one which Democrats wouldn’t have allowed had it happened on public land.

The stimulus didn’t do anything, the left / center critique is it was too small and too focused on tax breaks. What has occurred since 2010 is a kind of budgetary stasis identical to the Clinton / Gingrich stalemates of the 90’s, which makes for some economic stability. And QE, which has benefitted the wealthy as asset prices have been buoyed. Yay trickle down.

So yeah, the economy is ‘OK’, with a certain vibrancy of institutional commerce. I’m hooked onto one of those teats, and as a credentialed middle ager I can pull down 100K until the time comes that economy moves past me and I can’t. Its perilous, there are high barriers to entry, and I don’t think it’s a ‘good’ economy, certainly as evaluated against progressive aspirations. Where the money is going completely disqualifies the notion this is a ‘good’ economy.


7 thoughts on “Jots with dots 11/11

  1. pm1956

    So i am going to go all “meta” on the honesty thing…

    Been some interesting stuff recently on this topic (honesty), specifically about a new book out there that is making waves (

    Of course, Leo Strauss was and is a darling of the Right.

    One of his main points is that honesty is not good. Well, that is an oversimplification, but it does bear on what Gruber is saying–honesty gets in the way of getting good things done. This goes back to Aristotle, and his conception of the noble lie. Noble lies are things like religion and myth and stories about American Exceptionalism and the idea that Yes, you did indeed build that. None of these things are really true, but most people believe them. And, for the sake of society and the good functioning of society, it is important for people to believe them. But Truth is also important, isn’t it?

    And this gets to another issue–elitism. Do people really know what is good for themselves? Should the dumb be allowed to vote? (a point you alluded to in one of your earlier posts). And yes, there is all sorts of irony here, when it comes to politicians. But all politicians (both right and left) really are elitists. They play at populism, but they really aren’t. Seriously, you don’t think that Ted Cruz (who went to Princeton and Harvard Law and was apparently an arrogant sob)really is religious? Really believes all that tripe his father (a preacher who might well believe the Bible is the word of God) spouts? He is simply using it to dupe the foolish voters of Texas and the GOP to obtain power. In that sense, he is no different than Ronald Reagan (who was certainly an atheist).

    All of which sort of gets back to the story of Socrates death–he was condemned to death for corrupting the youth of Athens–really, for asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions. No one in power really likes truth tellers.

    Soylent Green, anyone?

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      Right. By this rationale, is it Ok to exagerate and (noble) lie a bit about say the dangers from carbon induced global warming? Not saying that happens, but it would be ok would it not?

      1. pm1956

        The logic behind it is basically that the ends justify the means–so lying is Ok if the result is positive.

        this is why Strauss is so controversial, even as a conservative. Most Straussians are conservatives, and very serious elitists. They have no problem with lying to the masses–because the masses could never understand, much less make informed choices–anyway. Krauthammer. Kristol, all of the neocons are all Straussians.

  2. pm1956

    And on the economy…

    compare and contrast Obama’s proposed economic solutions, with those proposed by the GOP in opposition.

    Yes, the economy now does indeed leave some things to be desired. If the proposals from the GOP had instead been adopted (cut the deficit! no quantitative easing! Cut spending!) we’d be like Europe–moribund.

    Give credit where credit is due–Obama saved our economy, and he did it over the objections of the GOP, whose policies would have led to stagnation and depression and even more unemployment.

    (of course, those are just the stated policies of the GOP–if McCain or Romney had been elected, who knows if they would have followed their own policy prescriptions…honesty and transparency and consistency are not values often associated with political parties, and the GOP in power usually leads to massive deficit spending, despite their suppposed concern for deficits).

      1. pm1956

        remember 10% unemployment? remember the Dow losing 50% of its value (from 13264 on 12/31/2007 to 6,600 in March 2009) ( Remember the banking crisis? With Lehman failing and people wondering which would be next? Remember people wondering if GM would survive? And Ford, also?

        That was the legacy of Bushonomics that Obama had to deal with. Remember the GOP opposing the “bail out” of Detroit? Opposing the “bailout” of Fannie and Freddie? Opposing stimulus proposals?

        you talked about how difficult times were for you back then. You can thank Bush and the GOP for that crisis, and for what you had to go through. Obama saved your ass, your house, your marriage, your family, your career. You can thank Obama for the fact that you still have all of that.


      2. Erik Petersen Post author

        Moy? I am self-conscious about sounding churlish, but I don’t think so… if I do say so my damn self.

        I think you’re in too much embrace of a great man in history thing. George Bush didn’t invent mortgage securitization, and he didn’t invent mortgage debt swaps. I don’t even think its fair to say his ministration suffered from a lack of concern, certainly no less than an SEC that gets bullied around during Obama’s tenure. Bush signed the bailout bill. The stimulus was a non factor, this is acknowledged by the Krugmans of the world.

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