Open Thread: Zeitgeist 2012

(h/t commentor PsiFighter37)
And on a less elevated tone, Professor Krugman’s diagnosis of the DC zeitgeist and the “GOP’s Existential Crisis“:

We are not having a debt crisis….

No, what we’re having is a political crisis, born of the fact that one of our two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road. The modern Republican Party’s grand, radical agenda lies in ruins — but the party doesn’t know how to deal with that failure, and it retains enough power to do immense damage as it strikes out in frustration…

Since the 1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big problem: The programs they want to kill are very popular. Americans may nod their heads when you attack big government in the abstract, but they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?…

[L]ook at where we are now in terms of the welfare state: far from killing it, Republicans now have to watch as Mr. Obama implements the biggest expansion of social insurance since the creation of Medicare.

So Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the collapse of a decades-long project. And with their grandiose goals now out of reach, they literally have no idea what they want — hence their inability to make specific demands….

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46 replies
  1. 1
    Raven says:

    Off your ass
    And on your feet
    Out of the shade
    And into the heat

  2. 2
    Keith G says:

    The programs they want to kill are very popular.

    And those programs are 100% necessary to run a functioning modern and diverse, very large democracy. Those programs are essentially a cost of doing business. Those programs do need to be modernized and made more efficient, but they need to do what they are doing or we will certainly come to a point of fracture.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Earl says:

    There is about a one-second clip of this in the middle of the video that must have stirred up a whole lot of dust in here…

  5. 5
    dan says:

    A lot of their goals had the effect of annoying Godless liberals. They enjoyed that aspect of it so much that annoying liberals became a goal unto itself. But liberals have ended Republican wars, gotten national healthcare, seen that gay marriage and legal pot are gaining traction, protected the safety net.
    Liberals aren’t so easily annoyed now and it is driving them CRAZY.

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    @dan: When you’re winning it’s much easier to be amused by the antics of republicans instead of pissed off.

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    This is extraordinary news, because the last thirty years have also encompassed my entire adult life thus far.

    In the eighties, I saw the Screw-You culture infect the Fortune 500 corporation I managed to get a position in. I was to get a college degree with their help and climb the ladder; I was to have a career there, with life insurance and a pension. This is what I was promised when I was hired. But three years in, a whole new set of management came in and ruined the place, and I left.

    Then, the first Bush stopped letting the serfs deduct loan and credit card interest; this was how my first husband had spent the money to get custody of his daughter. (For a man to do this in the eighties gives you an idea of how bad it was, and how urgent that he do it.) We were on such a knife edge this took us from having some spending money, to having none.

    In the nineties we ran our own computer business, but there was no way we could afford health insurance. My health problem put us over our heads in debt. This is why he ignored his health problem… until he was suddenly dead.

    We couldn’t afford life insurance either, of course, so I washed up in the town where I am now with the intention of going back to school…. but that had changed, too. In shock and treading water, I did manage to finish that degree, but I’m still in debt.

    I did find another husband as the 20th Century dawned, but he has a chronic illness, and it was another round of crushing debt as we financed the treatment his drug insurance refused to cover.

    Then, under the second Bush,the credit card companies were allowed to play with the due dates until someone got late, then smacked with loan shark interest. We had to go into debt consolidation, so the crash of 2007 didn’t matter to us! We had nothing to lose!

    Though it did threaten my job… when people are in trouble, the last thing they do is go on vacation.

    Sorry for the long post, but I just couldn’t stop with the Republican Highlights of my life. At least, unlike so many of their victims, I have some left.

    And I intend to use it to put a stake in their philosophic heart. Dying? Let’s hope so!

  8. 8
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Krugman? But a lady called him and ideologue on the TV so this must all be false.
    Seriously, what kind of world is it when the three people we get political straight talk from are a comic, an economist and another comic pretending to be someone else?
    And you know exactly who I mean. They’re doing the entire Fifth Estate’s job.

  9. 9
    Valdivia says:

    OT–but the AIPAC crowd are charging very very hard against the Hagel supposed nom at Defense. This will be the new Waterloo apparently.

  10. 10
    JGabriel says:

    Correction to Formatting Error in Comment #7:

    So John Boehner and the Republicans won’t tell us what specific spending cuts they want, but lookee here, they’re all set to tell us all the specific details of the temper tantrum they’re gonna throw if they don’t get their way.

    Jonathan Weisman @ NYT:

    If no deal is reached, Republicans are increasingly talking about a more hostile outcome in which the House passes legislation that extends tax cuts for the middle class, sets relatively low tax rates on dividends, capital gains and inherited estates, and cancels the across-the-board defense cuts, but leaves in place across-the-board domestic cuts.
    Then House Republicans would engage in what Mr. Boehner, in a private meeting last week, called “trench warfare,” a running battle with the president on spending, first as the government approaches its statutory borrowing limit early next year, then in late March, when a stopgap government spending bill runs out.

    Going by what the House Republicans have planned for — by what they’re willing to tell us and what they’re not — I guess we know now what the GOP really wants: trench warfare.

    (ETA: If possible, could a moderator delete the brain fart I posted at Comment #7? Thanks.)


  11. 11
    Linda Featheringill says:


    I can appreciate your rant.

    How are you doing now? Are you okay?

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    The modern Republican Party’s grand, radical agenda lies in ruins

    Krugman’s a bit optimistic. I think they’ve completed a lot of their economic agenda, and they are still checking off more items (see Michigan over the past week). The social agenda has largely failed, but even there they’ve managed to roll back abortion rights to a substantial degree. And they helped prevent reversal of their older victories on things like the war on drug users, though that appears to coming soon.

    The question is whether we are at the turn of the tide, or whether they will be able to inflict more misery on a mostly undeserving country through a combination of lying, thieving, and very public bribery. I’d like to think we are…

  13. 13
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    OT but can anyone else here run a streaming video in 720 HD? That’s what the one in the post opened up at. If I do any higher resolution that 360 I can’t stream anything. And that’s early in the morning when no one else is hitting the cable. Forget it in the evening when the TV and xBox are going.

    Off to work!

  14. 14

    @MikeJ: Ummm, sorry, not amused. Still fucking pissed off as hell about what they did as a party, as leaders of government, and as individuals. These soulless motherfucking criminals made war, torture and militant nationalism acceptable norms, and what couldn’t be co-opted to serve party ideology they broke so no one else could use it. The national party may be a bit disheveled after the last two national elections, but the ratfuckers are working pretty Gaia-damned hard to fuck things up at the state level – see Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio. And the wave of fringe lunacy that once hid under white hoods in backwater meeting rooms and rural fields now runs for Gaia-damned public office and infests talk radio and cable news shows.

    I disagree completely that “one of our two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road.,” I think the two-bit sonsabitches are just turning the page on a new chapter, with Citizens United, a shitload of State legislatures and a freshly gerrymandered congressional map checked off on the to-do list.

    Liberal, progressive, Democratic leadership and supporters must play the long game to undo even a portion of the damage done to America by these bastards. 30 years of shenanigans is going to take that many decades or more to fix, because these now-I’m-out-of-adjectives motherfuckers aren’t going anywhere.

  15. 15
    PeakVT says:

    @Valdivia: I’m 110% with Atrios on this: enough with the GOP daddies at the DoD. So if Obama is serious about nominating Hagel (I have no idea if he’s considering it at all), for once I hope AIPAC is successful.

  16. 16
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    This Fiscal Cliff business has been referred to as a ‘hostage crisis’ a number of times. Yet it’s still being dealt with as though it’s a political one. I wonder just what negotiating tactics you’d use if you treated the GOP like a dude in a surrounded building with a gun to an innocent person’s head.
    The problem here is that there’s really nobody to negotiate with. Orange John is the spokesperson but not the leader in any sense. There’s no consensus at all in the GOP ranks and plenty of them would be glad to pull the trigger in the name of making a statement about the purity of their vision for minimal government.

  17. 17
    amk says:

    @PeakVT: Yup. Krugman’s political instincts are meh.

  18. 18
    JGabriel says:


    So if Obama is serious about nominating Hagel (I have no idea if he’s considering it at all), for once I hope AIPAC is successful.

    It’s definitely under consideration — the administration has vetted him. Whether it’ll go beyond that, I don’t know, but I agree with you: Sick of Republicans running the DoD. We should be putting a Democrat in charge.

    After all, Democratic leadership got bin Laden, not the GOP.

    Why we would want to put the DoD in the hands of the party that failed to get bin Laden and lied us into war in Iraq is beyond my understanding. It just makes no damn sense to me.


  19. 19
    The Red Pen says:

    IT’S NOT OVER YET! (The collapse, in slow motion)
    (Make sure you swallow your coffee before clicking link)

  20. 20
    kay says:

    @The Red Pen:

    They’re running into trouble even there, with the voter fraud bullshit.

    Husted in Ohio said last week that voter fraud is extremely rare. I think actual election officials (as opposed to national media celebrities) are angry. The Tea Party group out of Texas made pains in the asses of themselves in Ohio. They harassed local Bds of Elections, annoyed voters, filed ridiculous lawsuits, and generally made more work for everybody.

    Unlike activists out of Texas and paid media people who are paid to promote voter fraud, Bds of Elections members live in the communities where they work. It’s a hell of a lot easier to accuse voters of fraud from the pages of the WSJ and the TV studio than it is to face actual voters where you live and work.

  21. 21
    PurpleGirl says:

    @The Red Pen:

    After reading a fair bit of that diatribe, I believe we need to dissolve massive quantities of valium into the drinking water of Texas and most of the red districts in the rest of the country. These people need to calm the f*ck down.

  22. 22
    Keith G says:

    @JGabriel: One thing seems certain though, if the anti Hagel side pus up a hard enough fight Obama support for him wil unravel like a cheap suit. At least that’s the lesson learned from yesterday.

    With tough fights over Medicare coming up in the near future, I hope Obama has a way to counter that notion.

  23. 23
    The Red Pen says:


    Husted in Ohio said last week that voter fraud is extremely rare.


    These people need to calm the f*ck down.

    Yes, but it’s just not going to happen. These are people who will claim that we know Barack Obama does not have a birth certificate in the same way we know that water is made from hydrogen and oxygen. To them, voter fraud is not an allegation, it’s an acknowledgement of established fact.

    2014 is going to be a lot more fun (for us) than 2010.

  24. 24
    kay says:


    Local bds of elections wouldn’t cull voter reg lists at the direction of the Tea Party because that process is governed by a specific statute, and the morons arrived in this state knowing nothing about Ohio law. Nothing. They didn’t even bother filing observer certificates, and THAT’S been required since 2006.

    Bds of election members want to keep their jobs, partly because they get state-provided health insurance. It’s a great part-time time job if you’re self- employed. They were naturally reluctant to start throwing people off the voter rolls based on the allegations of Tea Party internet sleuths, because that’s against the law.

    When the Tea Party failed at the county level, they sued Husted.

    They didn’t make a lot of friends in Ohio.

  25. 25
    Chris says:



    We pretty much had a consensus around 1900 that this robber baron shit wasn’t working out and the government should use its power to help people. But the forces of conservatism were able to block most progress for a generation, and we had to wait until the 1930s, the Great Depression and a nation on the brink of revolution for shit to really start getting done.

  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    @kay: What you say about the local nature of the real argument very true. I think it is really important that we nurture and mobilize folks at the local level to speak out and give clear guidance to their local boards of elections as well as ensuring that state officials understand that there will be immediate consequences for attempted skull duggery.

  27. 27
    mai naem says:

    @PeakVT: They didn’t give a crap about abortion anyway. Abortion is just an issue to keep the rubes come in voting for you so that you can rob the general American public to pay the American superwealthy.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Thanks, Linda, we’re not too bad at the moment. The gamble worked: his condition improved. We did reach the end of the debt consolidation, so while still don’t have much, we have more wiggle room in the monthly budget.

    We are actually giving each other, and other people, gifts for the first time in years! Happy Holidays, everyone.

    Hang in there.

  29. 29
    gene108 says:

    @The Red Pen:

    To them, voter fraud is not an allegation, it’s an acknowledgement of established fact.

    Most of the right-wingers I’ve encountered, who favor ID laws aren’t so much believing voter fraud is a problem, but rather figure what’s the harm in having a safe guard in place anyway.

    It’s the sort of attitude that enables people to not be bothered about the USA PATRIOT Acts I & II (greatest acronym ever, whoever thought it up deserves an award), because in their world view such laws – ID Laws, illegal drug laws, national security state laws, etc. – do not pose a significant burden on them and therefore the upside to such laws – preventing voter fraud, catching terrorists, etc. – far outweighs the downside, like not being able to vote or being falsely arrested.

    As long as the “since it doesn’t affect me, why would it harm other people” mindset exists, there will always be tacit or explicit support of laws that “inconvenience” other people.

  30. 30
    Chris says:

    @mai naem:

    Other than the Catholics I don’t even think that many of the tubes care about abortion. Paul Weyrich pretty much admitted that the only reason Southern WASP evangelists joined his crusade was because they were mad at the liberals for desegregation.

  31. 31
    1badbaba3 says:

    Please proceed, Nazis.

  32. 32
    tamied says:

    @Raven: Very cool!

  33. 33
    kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I’m really proud of our voter protection structure in Ohio. It’s high quality. It’s organized and thorough and smart. We wouldn’t have had to put it together had it not been for the voter suppression surge beginning in 2005, so I suppose we have conservatives to thank for it.

    The voter fraud thing has turned into yet another grift on the Right. They held national meetings and conventions where their media stars were paid to speak instead of training and recruiting locally. I was getting these panicked emails from liberals about ” a million” True the Vote volunteers, but that was all marketing and money raising.

    A million volunteers is A LOT of volunteers. There are about 60,000 liberal or Democratic voter protection volunteers in all the swing states combined, as a comparison. Conservatives just made up a REALLY BIG NUMBER . It’s a ludicrous number, ” a million”.

    It’s an enormous amount of hard, boring drudge work, learning the state codes and rules, training the volunteers, staffing 88 counties w/ iteration protection people on election day, etc.

    I knew the True the Vote claim was bullshit, and I knew people like John Fund at the the WSJ were making money off it.

  34. 34
    Chris says:


    Sounds like the entire machine runs on grift and is lying to itself as much as the old CPSU. Not just on ideological issues like economics or biology, but now even on electoral issues. How the fuck you can run a campaign when your operatives are all just taking your money, spending it on themselves and then lying about how it’s going, I don’t know. I guess the answer is you can’t, huh?

  35. 35
    kay says:

    @Keith G:

    Local GOP lawyers can’t be involved with a clown show like True the Vote because they live here and practice here. If the Democratic effort WAS a clown show (like True the Vote) we wouldn’t be able to recruit local lawyers, because they don’t want their name on it.

    We get high quality people because the “local” nature acts as a check on stupid behavior. People who come from Texas ( like True the Vote) don’t have that, they can alienate and enrage and then just go home. That’s s not true of our volunteers. We live and practice here.

  36. 36

    Atrios has several areas of expertise. The defense business is not among them: IMO Hagel’s actually a good choice.

    GOP, so he’d (well, normally) not get much resistance during the Senate confirmation process. But he’s also one of the ‘grown ups’, who just might be serious about long-term changes at the DoD.

    He also wanted to withdraw from Iraq before it was cool (2007). Good luck finding any DLC contender who had the stones for that.

    ETA: If only we had some front pager who worked as a DoD policy analyst. Then we could have a nice thread on the subject.

  37. 37
    ShadeTail says:

    I think Krugman is wrong about one crucial detail. He says the GOP can’t make specific demands because they don’t know what they want. Not true. They can’t make specific demands because they *do* know what they want, and they dare not speak it out loud. Their only option to get what they want is to bully President Obama into taking the bullet for them.

    Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for everyone else), the President is refusing to play that game.

  38. 38

    I believe I’ll smack the next person who asserts that the GOP is dead now, or dying now. That infamous 27% number still exists and if you very generously suppossed a 50/50 split that would still put that number in charge of the GOP. The idea that they can’t put a Pres in office ignores how actually close the last election was. We’ve let people persuade us that 51.3-47.something is a thumping. 2% do something else and you’ve got a different result. If the GOP is dead then why the sweating over a couple states?

    You only have to pull an element or so out of the ’12 election to get a Romney result in that one and not all GOPers who might run are as personality challenged as Mittens.

    As for scams, or grifting… well, anybody notice any REAL efforts to do something about the dislocation of wealth in this country by … shhhh … Democrats? There was a period in ’08-10… I know who was in Congress and who called themselves Democrats or “caucused with” Democrats – results are what they are.

    If you’re going to propose the death of GOPerism you sure the hell better do something about the electorate who elects so-called Democrats and who will go GOPer at the drop of a lie. I know the Democratic Party isn’t as left as I am and isn’t at all likely to be considering the voters, but given that, maybe it’s a lot early to start sending out the obits.

  39. 39
    Ed Drone says:


    As long as the “since it doesn’t affect me, why would it harm other people” mindset exists, there will always be tacit or explicit support of laws that “inconvenience” other people.

    I’ve often fantasized about being president for a day, and using every PATRIOT act ability I have to secretly arrest and imprison every single Congressman and Senator and their families, with the promise to release the hostages families once the Goddamned law is repealed. If they don’t like the powers being used on them, then GET RID OF THOSE POWERS.

    [Complete this sentence; neatness counts:]

    Sauce for the goose is sauce for the _______.


  40. 40
    DFH no.6 says:


    Krugman’s a bit optimistic.

    Yeah, more than just a bit, I’d say.

    Krugman further elucidates:

    “So Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the collapse of a decades-long project.”

    It would be pretty to think so, wouldn’t it?

    But call me extremely skeptical. I believe that movement conservatism’s decades-long project (which I see as working to make our society over into something like a fascistic, neo-feudal state) remains hugely well-funded, well-respected by all the Very Serious People in media, and still pushing hard in the long game.

    In ruins? Collapsed? Not hardly.

    We’re not even to the point yet where the Terminator gets burned in the gas truck explosion. The fascist motherfuckers remain strong and dangerous.

  41. 41
    PeakVT says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: Hagel is a horrible choice. It took decades for the public to stop giving the GOP undeserved credit for being better on defense, and that was mainly because the GOP screwed up so completely. Why help them recover? There are plenty of Democrats capable of heading the DoD. Heck, I think it would be better to sacrifice a Senate seat than to give another Republican the SecDef job.

  42. 42

    The ‘partisan optics’ of the SecDef choice are irrelevant to me. Especially since low-info voters aren’t going to pay much attention to what party the new SecDef hails from. It will be Obama’s policies implemented, regardless.

    Few normal people could even tell you who the current SecDef is, much less his political party.

  43. 43
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @Ed Drone:

    Sauce for the goose is sauce for the turkey.

  44. 44
    Mike G says:

    The programs they want to kill are very popular.

    Republicans are big enthusiasts for government spending — they just hate when it’s social welfare that helps people. Because these programs demand administration that is actually competent and motivated rather than the Repuke standard of grifters looking to enrich themselves and their cronies.

    Repukes love spending when it’s for the authoritarian purpose of punishing or bossing people — the Pentagon, elective wars, the Security State of prisons, cops and surveillance.

  45. 45
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Mike G:

    Repukes love spending when it’s for the authoritarian purpose of punishing or bossing people


    Fascists who want our society to resemble a feudal state, updated for modern times.

  46. 46

    Just so it’s been noted, here’s the closing sentence from Krugman:

    Our best hope is that business interests will use their influence to limit the damage. But the odds are that the next few years will be very, very ugly.

    I suppose what “few years” means is a question…

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