Don’t be scary…
Posted January 6, 2015on:
Afternoon Widdershins. It is a wee bit chilly in these parts today — sorry, I had a wee bit of an Al Roker moment there. In any event, a happy Tuesday to you.
Before I wade into my epistolary drivel, I need to announce a programming change here at TW. As Fredster announced last week, real life has demanded his attention on a few matters in the coming months. These things happen. In keeping with Fredster’s preternatural aplomb he will quickly tame these pesky issues, but until then we will see him around the neighborhood commenting while we anxiously await his return to writing regularly.
We are changing up the schedule for posting. MB will continue to post Mondays, Chat will continue posting on Friday and every other weekend while I’ll post on Wednesdays and every other weekend. Or at least that is the plan for now.
It’s the first day of 114th Congress — can I get a collective yippekiya? You will undoubtedly hear about how it is the most diverse in history, blah, blah, blah. That observation depends upon which way the media windjammers are blowing at the moment.
This Congress is 80% male, 80% white, and 92% Christian. If that is progress then our past contains much for which to be ashamed. Of course the numbers of women and representatives of color have moved in the right direction, but there is still much to do to accomplish a representative body that is truly representative.
Senator Mitch McConnell becomes the Majority Leader today. By all reports, it is his lifelong dream. Now if you had spent seven decades in an unceasing march toward a personal goal, you would think assuming the reins of power would bring with it a resounding offering of wisdom — words to live by describing lofty goals from which we could all be inspired. Or you would think wouldn’t you?
Instead, McConnell’s words to his Senate sisters and brothers, “Don’t be scary.” Nothing about the traversing the growing economic chasm between the “don’t haves” and the ultra-rich “have it alls”. Nothing about climate change other than hamstringing the EPA. Nothing about ISIL, terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, foreign policy, torture, Ebola — you get the picture, just “don’t be scary”.
The reason he wants his acolytes to fall into a regular order on the non-scary side is that he wants to demonstrate the election of a Republican President in 2016 wouldn’t be traumatizing to the electorate. In short, it isn’t about governing, it is about consolidating power. It isn’t about good policy, but what makes good politics. It isn’t about public service, but political optics.
His comments were a thinly veiled slap at Sen. Ted Cruz, the anti-Spock who believes with all his being that the “good of the one outweighs the needs of the many.” It is my best guess that McConnell’s time on the Senate mountaintop will be short-lived. The election calendar doesn’t bode well for continued Republican control past 2016 when 24 Republican senators are up for reelection.
There has been a thematic undercurrent from the Republican party over the holidays in the lead up to today. It has been the same tired old harangue about taxes, Obamacare, and government regulation. The only difference is that it is in whispered tones and not on the usual bullhorn frequency. This in the face of the economy growing at a resounding 5% last quarter.
Paul Krugman in a great essay entitled, “Leave the Economic Weapon on the Ground,” put it like this:
You know the spiel: that the U.S. economy is ailing because Obamacare is a job-killer and the president is a redistributionist, that Obama’s anti-business speeches (he hasn’t actually made any, but never mind) have hurt entrepreneurs’ feelings, inducing them to take their marbles and go home.
This storyline never made much sense. The truth is that the private sector has done surprisingly well under Obama, adding 6.7 million jobs since he took office, compared with just 3.1 million at this point under President George W. Bush. Corporate profits have soared, as have stock prices. What held us back was unprecedented public-sector austerity. At this point in the Bush years, government employment was up by 1.2 million, but under Obama it’s down by 600,000. Sure enough, now that this de facto austerity is easing, the economy is perking up.
We shouldn’t worry though — facts won’t get in the way of confusing the new Congress critters. In that facts haven’t confused them about global warming or foreign policy, you can be sure facts won’t sow confusion about something so arcane as the economy. Conversely, what I find scary is that there seems to be no satiating the “have it all” class of the one-percenters. You would think at some point even they would become embarrassed by their accumulation of wealth.
There is reason for optimism though. With every turn of the calendar we are one day closer to 2016 when Mitch McConnell and his merry band of Halloweenies can once again be as scary as they were meant to be.
Take the conversation in any direction you might like and stay warm.
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