A Good Question

Kevin Drum asks a solid question:

Is there something about having a New York Times column that makes you lose your mind? Obama wants to push taxes on the super wealthy back up to 2001 levels. He wants to move in the direction of carbon pricing and universal healthcare, just like he promised repeatedly during the campaign. He wants to increase defense spending, but increase it slightly less than the Pentagon would like. Stimulus outlays aside, the budget as a whole is up only moderately compared to two years ago.

If you object to this, fine. But Cohen doesn’t. “After the excesses of Reagan-inspired deregulation and the disaster that unfettered markets have delivered, the pendulum had to swing.” But how much less could Obama swing it and still be making any noticeable difference at all? What, exactly, has Cohen so worried? He never says. He just loses himself in a paroxysm of stammering cliches. Has he been taking lessons from Maureen Dowd?

It really is quite amazing that so many people are so worked up about the changes Obama is making. The way people are reacting, you would think that Dennis Kucinich was elected, and the first thing he did was disband the military and start a 2 million man Department of Peace. Sure, what is happening is more “liberal” than what we have seen the last decade (and considering Clinton was no flaming liberal either, we could say several decades), and yes, the budget is large and made me want to vomit when I first saw the number. But this is not socialism, we are not “soaking the rich,” etc. Nothing radical has happened at all, and if anything, it is the far left who has every right to be pissed impatient because Obama is moving so slowly and so cautiously, and from a progressive standpoint is little more than a muddling centrist.






60 replies
  1. 1
    The Populist says:

    Note to righties: Wage stagnation is one reason we are where we are. To continue rewarding the super rich is pointless. This tax break (as dumb an idea during a "time of war" as I’ve ever seen) has done NOTHING to grow the economy via your trickle down theories.

    The middle class worker has seen their wages stagnate while the rich got richer. Productivity increased and still no reward for our efforts. To me this is almost socialistic. Shit, when the workers of the Soviet Union worked their asses off for the state the rewards went to the men in power. They may have acted like everybody was equal but the "man" got the steak dinner while the commoners ate crap.

    To sit here and say we are going socialist is dead wrong. What Obama is doing is long overdue. Time to make the system fair for all, not 1% of the population.

    Oh and don’t be idiots. If you think Obama is a socialist yet Palin is not, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

  2. 2
    anonevent says:

    But the entrenched in DC and Wall Street want everyone to think that Kucinich was elected president. Every small change that Obama makes moves the country left. The only way to prevent that right now is to make every single thing that Obama does seem like it’s going to destroy the country.

  3. 3
    Mike G says:

    Who would have guessed that for your 250,001st dollar, a 35% tax rate is all-Murkan full-throated capitalist Jesus, but 39% is satanist Pol Pot Stalino-Maoist islamusoc ialism.

  4. 4
    valdivia says:

    maybe he is making up with the Villagers for the Iran article?
    More seriously I have stopped reading the NYT except for Rich. Dowd is so so vapid reading her makes me want to vomit and cleanse my brain with acid.

    Good to see Tunch did not eat you.

  5. 5
    donovong says:

    If this is a "muddling centrist," then I want alot more muddling, please. Gitmo, SCHIP, health care, Iraq withdrawl, cancellation of Bush Executive Fuck You Letters and a bazillion dollar stim package in six weeks? That’s muddling i can believe in!

    At the rate Obama is going, I may get my fucking pony before the 2012 elections!

  6. 6
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Further examples of how the blatherati are way behind the people.

    The people are pretty much okay with what Obama is doing. The cackling classes are just …. cackling.

    I think what has the pundits in a snit is the feeling that nobody is listening to them. And, nobody is.

  7. 7
    valdivia says:

    PS apropos of enraging. Elisabeth Drew has possibly the most Villager CW article in the NYRB about Obama. First she says Obama is a rookie who does not know how to govern and is naive while saying that he got the republicans into a corner. Huh? Can she contradict herself anymore? Oh and she claims Obama travels too much and is not adminsitering things and has too many huge gaps in his daily schedule. Head exploded after reading that.

    Not that I am being ageist or anything but I saw her at a party a few years ago and back then she already looked like she belonged in a museum. Why not give a chance to younger voices instead of sticking with these antiquities? Okay, rant over.

  8. 8
    Joshua Norton says:

    OT a little, but poor Joke the Non-Plumber is suing Ohio for hurting his feelings

    These right-wingers are really sensitive about "frivolous lawsuits" – unless they happen to be the ones suing.

    You’d think Joe the Cliche could cowboy up instead of needing the big warm hug of perpetual victimization that he and his ilk sneer at in everyone else.

    I hope he can bleach the pit stains out of his best t-shirt before the trial starts so he’ll have something pretty to wear.

  9. 9
    Laura W Darling says:

    Finally just finishing TDS from last night. The best LOL for me was the stock ticker circling Obama’s head. Such a great visual.

  10. 10
    dmsilev says:

    @donovong:

    If this is a "muddling centrist," then I want alot more muddling, please. Gitmo, SCHIP, health care, Iraq withdrawl, cancellation of Bush Executive Fuck You Letters and a bazillion dollar stim package in six weeks? That’s muddling i can believe in!

    Obama is redefining ‘centrism’. In the long run, that might be the most important thing he does.

    -dms

  11. 11
    John Cole says:

    @Joshua Norton: That was bullshit. That shouldn’t have happened.

  12. 12
    gbear says:

    we are not “soaking the rich,”

    We’re not? Damn.

  13. 13
    jrg says:

    What are you getting at, John? Are you saying that the Republicans would not be calling a Democratic president "Soc ialist" if it were not for the stimulus bill?

  14. 14
    jlo says:

    Perhaps Cohen is misdirecting his fear at Obama because he knows that out in the provinces there are people (like me) who want to see some fucking heads chopped off. :)

  15. 15
    AnotherBruce says:

    For the record, I think that we as a nation could use a little more of that "socialism" that the right is so afraid of. A national health care system, a well regulated banking system. More government aid to education and infrastructure. That’s what I call "socialism".

    And while were at it, if they’re going to accuse Obama of "soaking the rich" over a 3% tax increase, he should really do it, return to the 70% tax bracket that we had in the 1950s and 60s. Because we were never had quite so properous a middle class as we did when we soaked the rich. After running this economy in the crapper, they deserve a good soaking.

  16. 16
    Comrade Stuck says:

    a muddling centrist.

    Damn right! Whatever it means. We could have had John McCain on his big change idea of getting rid of earmarks that are less than two percent of any bill. That would have exhausted the Maverick into a long nap before his next big brain fart. Instead, we have Speedy Gonzales on MUP fuel. I know it’s not socialism, and I agree in principle with about everything he’s doing, but it is so fast in coming, I wonder if a country that’s been reshaped by Reaganism free wheeling and reckless elemental Capitalism can withstand the stresses of so much change so fast.

    I’ve been so free of worry, at least for the good intentions of the Obama admin., and it’s near perfect fealty to campaign promises kept, I’m nervous about not being nervous. It’s like being down big in a marathon poker game and drawing a great hand and going all in to get your losses back. Somebody or something could still have you beat.

  17. 17
    The Populist says:

    These right-wingers are really sensitive about "frivolous lawsuits" – unless they happen to be the ones suing.

    Amen!

    They hate the ACLU until they are rescued by them (and then still hate on them!).

    They claim to be the defenders of the constitution yet shit on it at every turn.

    They love talking up vouchers because they love education while they cut, cut, cut it wherever they can. No Child Left Behind my ass.

    They hate filibustering until they were out of power.

    They hate ethics reform, yet act like they are so righteous.

    Freedom of religion? Nope…they like talking about public displays of religion unless it’s a jew, muslim, hindu or buddhist then they get offended and attack those people.

    Yep, they hate on welfare until all their money is gone.

    They hate socialist health care programs but still use it when they get it (ahem, Senators, Congressmen?).

    Hypocrites each and every one.

  18. 18
    AnotherBruce says:

    Oh crap, I forgot that the word is "sockalism" and now I’m in moderation hell.

  19. 19

    How are we soaking the rich?

    If we wanted to soak the rich we would have taxed them when they WERE making money.

    Now they are just on living off the taxpayers. That’s not taxable.

  20. 20
    The Populist says:

    For the record, I think that we as a nation could use a little more of that "socialism" that the right is so afraid of. A national health care system, a well regulated banking system. More government aid to education and infrastructure. That’s what I call "socialism".

    They claim to love small business and a socialized health care system would take a huge burden off the backs of small business owners. Yep, the right sure don’t get it.

    Oh and Richard Shelby…the reason Toyota and Nissan can employ a worker cheaper than the unions is simple: Japan foots the health care costs, idiot.

  21. 21
    The Populist says:

    We’re not? Damn.

    Nope, if Obama wanted to "soak" the rich, he’d propose taxing them at 50% and up.

  22. 22
    Walker says:

    People like Cohen are selfish bastards who live in this fantasy world where they do not get any services from the government, and so they should not have to pay any taxes.

    Why doesn’t Cohen do us all a favor and go John Galt? I am sure the Times could use the money they save no paying him.

  23. 23
    Sirkowski says:

    I don’t think the far left as any right to be pissed about Obama, but that’s a different story.

  24. 24
    The Populist says:

    People like Cohen are selfish bastards who live in this fantasy world where they do not get any services from the government, and so they should not have to pay any taxes.

    But that’s total b.s. The roads are paid for by taxes. Police, fire are too. Parks are funded by taxpayers. So are street lights, sidewalks, turn signals and animal control (if he lives in the hills, animal control is important).

    Man I hate morans.

  25. 25
    El Cid says:

    I’m not kidding: the U.S. establishment — including its punditocracy lackeys, even the well intentioned ones — reacts to any potential outbreak of actual liberalism, however minor, as if it were the Russian Revolution.

  26. 26
    cyntax says:

    @Sirkowski:
    True, even if only because he’s never made his relatively moderate and centrist stances a secret.

    But it would nice to see him relinquishing the whole "privilege of the unitary executive" a little more quickly and definitively than his administration has to date.

  27. 27
    Martin says:

    Obama should have proposed the 91% top marginal rate under Ike. Then when everyone went ballistic, offered to back that down to the 50% under Reagan.

    Problem solved.

  28. 28
    Atanarjuat says:

    President Obama is doing a good job, and he hasn’t even been in office two months yet.

    I’m inspired by his leadership and foward-thinking proposals to set this country back onto the path of growth and prosperity.

    -A

  29. 29
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @valdivia:
    It’s impossible for me to believe that in say, the past decade or so, there’s been no one talented enough to replace the fossils, phonies and hacks who infest the Op-Eds.
    Those worthy scribes make unretracted factual errors, recycle old columns, get it wrong most of the time, and/or use their columns for thinly disguised conservative cheer leading. If any of them were founts of wisdom whose life experience enabled them to explicate current situations I’d be happy to have them opine for as long as they cared to do so. They aren’t capable of explication and their life experience consists of hanging out with like-minded people and then shoving their world view down our throats while inferring that we’re the stupid ones if it gags us.

  30. 30
    donovong says:

    Somebody with half a brain stole Atanajuat’s pooter and is suddenly making sense.

    Or, maybe…..?

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    Oh and she claims Obama travels too much and is not adminsitering things and has too many huge gaps in his daily schedule. Head exploded after reading that.

    I said it down below, but I’m trying to get it started as a meme, so I’ll say it again:

    The Villagers need to realize that Obama is the President of the (whole) United States, not the Mayor of Georgetown.

  32. 32
    AnneLaurie says:

    Is there something about having a New York Times column that makes you lose your mind?

    No, but since I’m guessing most of the regulars make over $250K a year, it does give the blinkered Media Village Idiots a very personal incentive to whine about having to chip in a little more towards running the country. President Obama’s first hundred days are becoming a real-time exploration of just how selfish and stupidly narrow-minded the supposed "intellectual elite" can be, just when the Greatest Depression Evah demonstrates how many "financial geniuses" are either thieves or idiots or both.

  33. 33
    gnomedad says:

    Somebody with half a brain stole Atanajuat’s pooter and is suddenly making sense.

    Or, maybe…..?

    It’s a trap!

  34. 34
    jwb says:

    I scanned the comments to the column, and he does appear to be getting slaughtered—not that I think any of the Times columnists read them. I also found this a very curious follow-up to his two Iran articles, where he got himself in the cross hairs of the neo-cons.

  35. 35
    JL says:

    @cyntax: Holder’s releasing the legal opinions that Bush was working under was a start. Although, Obama wants to move forward, I do think that we will see more documents released.
    Do you think that it’s possible that Obama might use some of those documents for leverage to help pass Health Care Reform?

  36. 36
    Changeroo says:

    It’s easy to understand why this crowd would favor any approach that "soaked the rich" with higher tax rates. It’s pretty obvious that none of these folks could ever hold a job that paid anything near $250,000; in fact, it’s difficult to believe that very many among them can actually hold a job irrespective of the pay scale. Living off the government teat appears more likely for many.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    @donovong:

    It’s a trick. Get an axe.

  38. 38

    Dick Nixon made hay with the ‘Elite Liberal Media Conspiracy’ lines, that’s a ways back. The media seemed to give up under St Ronnie, facts had no bearing on his winning the public and their attempts just looked ELMCish. Between corporatization and Administration "traitors" rhetoric and just plain potty training they do see Obama’s programs as ‘way left.’

    The left knows it is entire horseshit, but expect the theme to continue until the public revolts. If they do.

    There are things the media generally doesn’t get, they don’t get guns, they get the politics of it, but not the actual things. They get the DC politics, the on the ground piece misses them – some went a lived the roots during the election, they were astonished. A lot of the media knows the actual numbers that show what has happened economically but it doesn’t fit the theme of Nixon on.

  39. 39
    gwangung says:

    It’s easy to understand why this crowd would favor any approach that "soaked the rich" with higher tax rates. It’s pretty obvious that none of these folks could ever hold a job that paid anything near $250,000

    Pretty obvious you’re wrong.

  40. 40
    cyntax says:

    @JL:

    Do you think that it’s possible that Obama might use some of those documents for leverage to help pass Health Care Reform?

    That would be a 10 on the scale absolute craftiness. But we’ll see.

    Obama’s done a really good job of sticking to winning strategies and not getting distracted by getting individual wins in the news cycle column, so I’m inclined to bid my time on pretty much any given issue to see if I like the long-term results.

    Having a cautious sense of confidence in our leadership continues to be such a strange feeling…

  41. 41
    priscianus jr says:

    I’ll tell you what’s worrying them, John. It’s the slippery slope… the slippery slope to socialism…

  42. 42
    SLKRR says:

    @donovong:

    The Atanamadinejad-bot must have keyed on the phrase about leftists being pissed at Obama and the algorithm automatically assumed anything leftists are pissed-off about is, by definition, awesome.

  43. 43
    JWW says:

    John,

    I don’t read tea leaves but your response may very well lead me to. I see no confidense in your response, only pondering. You are waivering on what the current comment to the blog temperature. You feel and know what has taken place so far, I see you don’t like it but just holding out.

    I hope you are all really feeling stimulated and confident. The real HOPE, the American people finding their own confidence.

  44. 44
    Svensker says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    I hope he can bleach the pit stains out of his best t-shirt before the trial starts so he’ll have something pretty to wear.

    A cautionary laundry note for Joe: bleach can turn pit stains yellow and make them nearly impossible to remove. Ammonia or vinegar are much more effective.

  45. 45
    JWW says:

    You voted for;

    No pork on my watch? Current Omnibus Bill, Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, and a $1.8 million pig odor and manure management program from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

    I say if you buy a house near a hog farm you will smell hog shit, if you buy a house near an airport you will here aircraft, if you buy a house near a rail system you will here the train.

    I see the study as well spent money. Oh, it will produce a job, for six months. Then I can start my unemployment all over again.

  46. 46
    jcricket says:

    Did anyone see this research about how pundits are wrong so often they’re worse than flipping a coin?

    He studied pundits and discovered they were, to a rough approximation, always wrong when making predictions. He took 284 pundits and asked them questions about the future. Their performance was worse than chance. With three possible answers, they were right less than 33 per cent of the time. A monkey chucking darts would have done better.

  47. 47
    Farley says:

    @JWW: And Chambliss of Georgia sponsored earmarks for poultry and blueberries.

    Huh. That reminds me of a recipe for chicken berry porkulus. I know I have it around here somewhere…

  48. 48
    The Populist says:

    It’s easy to understand why this crowd would favor any approach that "soaked the rich" with higher tax rates. It’s pretty obvious that none of these folks could ever hold a job that paid anything near $250,000; in fact, it’s difficult to believe that very many among them can actually hold a job irrespective of the pay scale. Living off the government teat appears more likely for many.

    The person who tends to make that comment is the one pulling welfare. Jealousy doesn’t suit you son.

    I make 150K a year. I don’t NEED the government but if I ever did, I’d do it with pride knowing I paid into the system and was productive. Guess what? Your hero Joe T. Plumber admitted to being on welfare. Does that mean he’s a socialist now?

  49. 49
    gwangung says:

    No pork on my watch? Current Omnibus Bill, Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, and a $1.8 million pig odor and manure management program from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
    I say if you buy a house near a hog farm you will smell hog shit, if you buy a house near an airport you will here aircraft, if you buy a house near a rail system you will here the train.
    I see the study as well spent money. Oh, it will produce a job, for six months. Then I can start my unemployment all over again.

    If you spend a few million and reduce smell and odor, that helps both the pig farmer AND the people near them.

    WHY IS THAT A PROBLEM?

    Idiot.

  50. 50
    The Populist says:

    President Obama’s first hundred days are becoming a real-time exploration of just how selfish and stupidly narrow-minded the supposed "intellectual elite" can be, just when the Greatest Depression Evah demonstrates how many "financial geniuses" are either thieves or idiots or both.

    When the good ol’ boys and gals of Mississippi, Arkansas, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, N & S Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky start whining that they need help we will filibuster and ignore them.

    Oh who am I kidding…if any of those lemmings needed help, we’d help them. Know why? Folks like many who post here care about people, even idiot wingers. See, I don’t wish death to people in bible belt states they way they wish death on Californians, Washingtonians, New Yorkers, etc.

    Yep, when you wish for a terrorist attack on people like me, you are the evil one. I may still help you but would you help me? I doubt it.

  51. 51
    The Populist says:

    WHY IS THAT A PROBLEM?

    He’s a simpleton. Why is it wrong to pay to make those who live near farms lives better? It employs somebody so I don’t get this hatred towards investing in new technology whether it’s making pig shit smell rosy or inventing a new type of solar cell battery.

    Who’s to say it can’t be marketed and sold to others outside the USA, thus creating more jobs IN the USA?

    These morons don’t fucking get it.

  52. 52
    The Populist says:

    I don’t read tea leaves but your response may very well lead me to. I see no confidense in your response, only pondering. You are waivering on what the current comment to the blog temperature. You feel and know what has taken place so far, I see you don’t like it but just holding out.

    John has said he doesn’t like all this spending but what’s the alternative?

  53. 53
    JWW says:

    sorry about the misspelling of "hear".

  54. 54
    jl says:

    That Roger Cohen column was one of the dumbest, most ignorant and knee jerk foolish things I have ever read.

    Half of our high toned columnists and pundits are fools.

    I hope these useless dingbats all Go Galt after the top marginal rate is raised by a piddly 14%. Then there might be hope for the country. Might be good to raise the top rate to 50% (which would be about a 60% increase), so he might stay in France, and help make that country dumber.

    This clown makes me sick. He has flaunted his sophisticated suave Frenchiness and discussed the fine points of fine living there repeatedly. But when this high incomed ass is asked to make a very small sacrifice to keep his own country out of dunghole, he is suddenly very ‘concerned’ about Frenchiness, and in a totally dumbass ignorant way. What a jerk. This miserable nincompoop takes his very low-taxed income over to live it up in France because it is nice there, but he is too damn cheap to pay a very slightly higher (but still too low to be fair) rate on his top bracket to keep is own country from living like a bunch of animals. I think that is what the stupid column was all about, really.

    If the current "free market" US is a meritocracy, how come so many of our best and brightest are dumb and ignorant as a box of rocks. How come so many rich people are so ignorant, they do not even understand how marginal tax brackets work?

  55. 55
    gizmo says:

    Eliminating FOX, CNBC, CBS, and ABC would go a long way toward fixing what is wrong with this country.

  56. 56
    jl says:

    Some people do not seem to understand how the federal stimulus is supposed to work, and their lack of understanding shows. Their arguments are completely self-contradictory and incoherent. They may have drunk the reactionary kool-aid so completely that they cannot reason logically anymore. Or they are so cynical that they just make up whatever sounds are needed to damn government intervention, and do not care if they make any sense.

    Look, the federal stimulus spending is supposed to be temporary. It is supposed to last just long enough for the private economy to recover then the federal stimulus goes away. Which is actually a point in favor of funding research now that might be more expensive to pay for later.

    According to these ignorant and illogical people, if the stimulus lasts a long time, then it is sneaking socialism and ulterior motives into a stimulus bill, and is a scheme to displace the private sector permanently, since everyone knows that the stimulus is supposed to be temporary.

    But when they see a temporary spending program, then it is useless because it is temporary.

    Unfortunately, this group includes the vast majority of Republican elected officials, and mainstream pundits.

    And Krugman is right, a lot of the criticism against some of the spending programs is just finding something that sounds funny, and making Beavis and Butthead jokes about it.

    "volcano monitoring" yeah, stupid… heh heh.. heh heh…
    Most citizens will not fall for that kind of idiotic criticism.

  57. 57
    Les Miserable Fulcanelli says:

    Let’s end the Federal/State welfare system, red or blue. You send a buck to the feds, you get a buck back. I’m sick of watching states compete to give their asses away to corporations, many of them foreign entities, to bring jobs into their States. It seems that if you hold any sort of reasonable line with the companies, you lose to another state willing to hold it’s cheeks open to get the jobs. The they go to the Feds to make up for the shortfall from giving their asses away, no?. So the losing states wind up subsidizing the job winning states with federal tax dollars and losing jobs too boot. Amirite? Or am I wrong… WTF?

  58. 58

    […] 6, 2009 by js3262 He’s back to the New York Times mode….in other words, he sucks. yes, that’s my analysis. breathtaking, […]

  59. 59
  60. 60
    Ash Can says:

    @Changeroo: The only thing "pretty obvious" is that posting this has made you look like an ass.

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