Showing posts with label The Cult of Balance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Cult of Balance. Show all posts

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Perfect Explanation

I've been thoroughly enjoying the new Aaron Sorkin show on HBO entitled The Newsroom. The show centers around a news anchor named Will Mcavoy who has a Howard Beale like moment at Northwestern University and changes his career path forever. He, along with his ex-girlfriend producer, decide to report the actual news without any of the usual bullshit we see in the media today.

The show is filled with all the atypical, frenetic Sorkin dialogue and last Sunday's episode had a line worth noting as it perfectly sums up the "liberal" media.

If the Republicans tried to pass a law that said the Earth was flat, the headline the next day from the Times would be Democrats and Republicans Debate Shape of Earth. 

The Cult of Both Sides perfectly explained by one of the best writers of this generation.

Monday, August 01, 2011

One Giant Shit Show

Our nation's leaders have finally come together and will pass a bill at some point soon to raise the debt ceiling. The last few weeks have been one giant shit show and, now that it's all over, I thought it prudent to devote a post to the various thoughts I've had over the course of all of this. As always, I welcome your summative comments as well:)

To begin with, I am SO fucking tired of the "Washington's Broken' story line. It's not even remotely true and it's just a bunch of media drivel. Government ain't pretty, folks, and it never has been in our history. "Broken" was the Civil War, not an argument over spending and taxes. Let's declare a moratorium on this, shall we?

And while we are on the subject of whining, the professional left can go fuck themselves. They are disappointed in Obama and are "abandoning" him. To go where, exactly? Rather than wasting energy complaining, they should use that energy to go and find the 45 percent of the people in this country that don't vote and light a fire under their collective asses. Don't blame the president for the fact that he has to deal with a large bloc of completely intransigent people. Transform the Tea Party into a massive minority, send them back to their short wave radio set, and then maybe some of your wishes for government will come true. AP News had a good story on this recently.

Here's the truth: The overwhelming majority of senators and House members do what their constituents want them to do. Or, more to the point, they respond to people in their districts who bother to vote. Nothing is dearer to politicians than re-election, and most have a keen sense of when they are straying into dangerous waters.

A McClatchy-Marist poll this year found that 71 percent of registered voters want political leaders in Washington to compromise to get things done. If those voters skip key primaries, however, they may have little say in the matter.

Exactly right. Not only do these complainers have to get out and vote themselves, they have to get 10 other people to vote as well. That's how it fucking works so if you don't like the outcome, do something about it. No one said it would be easy.

Getting back to the media...what a load of shit they were during this debate. Paul Krugman absolutely nailed it perfectly in this recent piece.

News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

To me, this is essentially what happened. The current form of the GOP basically got everything they wanted. There was no additional revenue at all because of the anti-tax catechism of the right. They wouldn't even allow subsides to in the final plan even though basic economics proves that they too distort markets just like taxes. And what more proof do we need that the Bush Tax Cuts didn't work? We extended the cuts last year. Where are the jobs? In fact, our economy is stalling. That's not what I was told would happen. As Krugman notes in his piece, reality doesn't seem to matter.

From this point forward, we need to decimate the Cult of Balance. As Krugman notes,

For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.

But making nebulous calls for centrism, like writing news reports that always place equal blame on both parties, is a big cop-out — a cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior. The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.

This is what I have been saying for quite some time on here and it is now time for people, and especially the media, to accept this reality. We are spending far too much time managing the fantasies of the right and coddling their paranoia. In trying to be fair and think that "everyone's a winner and correct," we are holding back our country from solving the problems we face.

We can't continue to work with people who are closet fascists. Heck, some of them aren't even in the closet. They want everything exactly their way and are, conveniently, never wrong. Krugman summarizes this well.

As you may know, President Obama initially tried to strike a “Grand Bargain” with Republicans over taxes and spending. To do so, he not only chose not to make an issue of G.O.P. extortion, he offered extraordinary concessions on Democratic priorities: an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, sharp spending cuts and only small revenue increases. As The Times’s Nate Silver pointed out, Mr. Obama effectively staked out a position that was not only far to the right of the average voter’s preferences, it was if anything a bit to the right of the average Republican voter’s preferences.

Remember, though, he must fail...even if reality is starkly different.

We already have a centrist president. Indeed, Bruce Bartlett, who served as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration, argues that Mr. Obama is in practice a moderate conservative.

Mr. Bartlett has a point. The president, as we’ve seen, was willing, even eager, to strike a budget deal that strongly favored conservative priorities. His health reform was very similar to the reform Mitt Romney installed in Massachusetts. Romneycare, in turn, closely followed the outlines of a plan originally proposed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. And returning tax rates on high-income Americans to their level during the Roaring Nineties is hardly a socialist proposal.

While I'm not happy with the way things turned out, I'm not going to blame the president. At the end of the day, he has to govern. And when you are dealing with a large, immovable object that the American people (the ones that could be arsed to vote, that is) put into office, you have to do the best you can. He did.

This entire affair should serve as an excellent example of what the GOP is all about these days. If you don't like it, do something about it.