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Voyage of the Damned Old Party.
December 25, 2012 12:59 PM   Subscribe

"This is all out of Lord of the Flies and Karl Rove is Piggy and we’re supposed to all chase him around with spikes and throw him on a fire?" An assortment of popular conservative pundits are trapped on a luxury cruise with well-heeled members of their audience, right after losing the election. One question hangs in the air: who is responsible for this loss?! Hilarity ensues.
posted by markkraft (108 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is some wonderful freaking reportage right here
posted by The Whelk at 1:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


"Who is responsible for this loss?!"

America.
The Real America.
The 90% Who Can Never Afford a Cruise Like That.
Duh.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:12 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


Boy, I can't think of a better Christmas present than to read about these vile unpleasant asocial deluded individuals suffering, all locked together in a big metal box. Schadenfreude to the max..
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:15 PM on December 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


After dinner was a program called the “Light Side of the Right Side.” A frenetic, tightly wound man named James Lileks, a National Review columnist from Minnesota, warmed up the crowd with one-liners: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put 50 million Democrats up there as well!”

Why can't Lileks just stick to writing about bad interior design and unfashionable cookbooks? That stuff is hilarious. Sigh.
posted by jokeefe at 1:15 PM on December 25, 2012 [37 favorites]


I'm continually so incredibly fascinated that a group of people can be so out of touch to be surprised in the least that Romney lost.
posted by nevercalm at 1:16 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm continually so incredibly fascinated that a group of people can be so out of touch to be surprised in the least that Romney lost.

These are National Review readers. I find it hilarious that writers for that publication of the gall to call out their own readers for living in a dream world. You can't lie to your readership for decades and then berate them for being uninformed.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on December 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


Remember this is the National Review where blaming social ills on literal demons is a common occurrence.
posted by The Whelk at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


Ah, this is what I was trying to say: It's one thing to drink your own Kool-Aid, it's a whole other thing to deny the existence of Kool-Aid, fluid containment vessels, the ingestion of fluid by human beings, and well, like...breathing. I've never once desired the sinking of a ship so desperately whilst reading an article on the internet.
posted by nevercalm at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


It is full of gems.

“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:21 PM on December 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


Why can't Lileks just stick to writing about bad interior design and unfashionable cookbooks? That stuff is hilarious. Sigh.

I have been friendly with Lileks in the past -- he has interviewed me, and we have chatted often via social media, and he helped judged a limerick competition I organized once. I think he's a genuinely funny and decent person. And so I choose to ignore the fact that his politics seem like utter madness to me. I'm sure mine do to him as well. But at least he doesn't avoid me for this, and I don't steer clear him of him, and so there is a place we can mutually meet with respect.

Which makes him better than 90 percent of what passes for politics in this country just now, and that refusal to compromise, refusal to respect reasoned difference, is what's killing us.

That being said, Obama went into office speaking the language of compromise, and has compromised, to the degree that the American left will ofter accuse him of being more conservative than Nixon. There seems to be little similar willingness to find common ground from the leadership of the right.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [46 favorites]


Remember this is the National Review where blaming social ills on literal demons is a common occurrence.

He's not joking.
posted by empath at 1:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Where's an iceberg when you need one?
posted by orme at 1:29 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, did anyone go on The Nation's recent cruise? Looks like it was on the same damned boat.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this a one way cruise?
posted by Catblack at 1:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm continually so incredibly fascinated that a group of people can be so out of touch to be surprised in the least that Romney lost.

Well, Romney won 47.8% of the popular vote against Obama's 50.6%. It wasn't such a crushing defeat. If you are surprised by the fact that some people who are mostly surrounded by like-thinking conservatives didn't expect it, then maybe you live as much in a bubble as they do.
posted by Skeptic at 1:38 PM on December 25, 2012 [18 favorites]


Looks like it was on the same damned boat.

Yup, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam of the Holland-America Line. Gotta hand it to the Dutch, they are some canny businesspeople...
posted by Skeptic at 1:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Under the shade of some palm trees, Ralph Reed took off his shirt and fed an orange to a giant iguana.

That's a sentence to be proud of. And an image I will have difficulty getting out of my head.
posted by feckless at 1:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


Rob Long was a screenwriter and producer for Cheers and wrote the wonderfully funny satirical memoir about Hollywood, Conversations With My Agent.
I had no idea he was a card-carrying conservative and National Review contributor
posted by Bwithh at 1:49 PM on December 25, 2012


And an image I will have difficulty getting out of my head.

That's a scene from Nightmare of the Iguanas.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Then Hassett pivoted to the liberal media. “I actually think that Goebbels was more critical of Hitler than the New York Times is of Obama,” said Hassett, tucking into a piece of strudel. “I was in the middle of the fight against the propaganda, and I have stories like you wouldn’t believe. These people are so evil. They’re basically Fascists. It’s unbelievable.”"

And that's enough for me.

These seem like the sort of right-wingers who eschew science, in which case they probably think it is a miracle that an 86,000 ton ship can float. If they even think about it at all.
posted by marienbad at 1:59 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be honest, it seemed such a gross, heavy handed parody that I was stunned that the article was factual! I mean, in all seriousness, those scenes would have easily graced a Tom Wolfe novel in its sheer hilarity. When you read F. Scott Fitzgerald the wealthy are flighty but weirdly delightful as spoiled children of the Jazz Age. In this article, they just seem to be awful; truly awful.
posted by jadepearl at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


A similar article from 2007
posted by Brian B. at 2:17 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dailykos: In the wake of a dismal election, conservatives took a moment to have a gigantic sad. On a boat!
posted by localroger at 2:22 PM on December 25, 2012


As much as I enjoyed this story, I couldn't help but feel sad. Where is the way forward with these people? The seem so filled with fear. They are rich, privileged and safe, and yet they huddle in terror against the demons of their own imaginations.

You all laugh, but sinking the boat might be a kindness for them. At least they would, at the end, know certainty.
posted by SPrintF at 2:22 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Honest question about the "blame-it-on-Karl-Rove" thing - is the situation the GOP is in really his fault? I mean, I was under the impression that he was an antagonist to the Tea Party people, who are the ones who brought in the *real* horror show and shoved aside a bunch of Republican establishment people, opening the doors for people like Bachmann and Cain. Isn't Rove the establishment guy?
posted by gertzedek at 2:34 PM on December 25, 2012


This really happened? I thought it was satire.
posted by chillmost at 2:36 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Where is the way forward with these people?

Over the edge of their flat Earth.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:39 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, part of the problem is there is a massive business opportunity in hustling right wingers and keeping them terrified, so of course their media and press keeps them in terror.

Buddies of mine that like shooting, for example, have told me that gun shops by them are like Wall Street banks just before the depression because between the election and the Newtown shootings everyone's convinced Obama is literally going to ban all guns, so guns and ammunition are all being hoarded with near-religious fervor.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:41 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thank you for posting this.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:47 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, the specter of the national debt. Do these people realize it was their boy GWB who vastly inflated it, and it's their reluctance to pay taxes that maintains it? I try to respect people like this, at least a little bit, but it's hard when I'm convinced they're lucky, ruthless, delusional and not too bright.

And Lileks is, frankly, reprehensible. Isn't his stated position that being a Muslim is equivalent to being a terrorist? (Doesn't mean he cannot be pleasant to be around, I guess.)
posted by maxwelton at 2:53 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by photoslob at 2:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]



Well, Romney won 47.8% of the popular vote against Obama's 50.6%.


Obama won because of Obama Republicans like myself. I am not using the term lightly. In environmental policy, for example, every "socialist" idea Obama has pushed forward is an idea that was first proposed by right of center economists some time between 1920 and 1980, which was discussed IN DEPTH in the National Fucking Review in the early 1990's in the context of the acid rain mitigation, and many of which were legislated and implemented in various contexts by the George Herbert Walker Bush.



Yo, GOP, you want out of the wilderness? Be republicans again. I'll vote republican. I won't vote batshit crazy.
posted by ocschwar at 2:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [77 favorites]


“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”

You know, I almost never read quotes and hear a voice to match, but I can't be the only one that distinctly heard Malory Archer deliver that line.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 2:56 PM on December 25, 2012 [44 favorites]


Where is the way forward with these people?

Their age is repeatedly brought up through the article. These people were political players in the 1980's. I doubt they'd care much to compromise at this point and why should they?

Old people always go on cruises. It's the Republicans doing kegstands in Ft. Lauderdale that are of real interest.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I was under the impression that he was an antagonist to the Tea Party people, who are the ones who brought in the *real* horror show and shoved aside a bunch of Republican establishment people, opening the doors for people like Bachmann and Cain. Isn't Rove the establishment guy?"

That's part of the reason they blame Rove.

He is actively disliked in large part because he is, from their point of view, a RINO... one who consistently sells conservatives a false bills of goods. He's like Lucy holding the football... which is something they much more prefer him doing to Democrats than to Republicans.

On Election Night, they suddenly realized that despite their respect for Rove's rapacious nature, he was a loser. A bad loser. A sore loser. A loser tied to the former two-term POTUS who shall not be named... the one who didn't dare turn up at the last GOP convention. And Republicans *hate* losers, because they tend to be control freaks who do not like to reflect upon their ultimate powerlessness.

As always, the answer for the failure of Republicans is that the Republican in question wasn't quite conservative enough, not tough enough, not idealistically pure enough, etc. The answer, from their point of view, is nominating someone even further to the right next time.
posted by markkraft at 2:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


about the "blame-it-on-Karl-Rove" thing - is the situation the GOP is in really his fault?

Rove was one of the major proponents of the drinking their own koolaid belief that Republican victory was inevitable, right up to challenging the Fox news wonks when they called Ohio for Obama. He's rumored to be the source of the "creating reality" quote from the early aughts which revealed a river of hubris wide and deep enough to carry this cruise ship they were on.
posted by localroger at 2:58 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The answer, from their point of view, is nominating someone even further to the right next time.

Since the election I've occasionally been catching Hannity on the radio on the drive home. Both the projection and refusal to acknowledge reality are so striking it's hard to be offended, and the schedenfreude is better than the finest quality caviar.
posted by localroger at 3:00 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Then, at 3 p.m., the group gathered into the Showroom at Sea, a three-tiered amphitheater decorated in a bright-red Art Deco style, for the first of several sessions deconstructing the loss."

Randians... at sea... in an art deco ballroom. What could go wrong?
posted by boo_radley at 3:16 PM on December 25, 2012 [45 favorites]


... everyone's convinced Obama is literally going to ban all guns, so guns and ammunition are all being hoarded with near-religious fervor.

To be fair, this happened back when Obama was elected on '08, too. Though, it seems a bit more widespread and enthusiastic this time around.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:20 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Well, Romney won 47.8% of the popular vote against Obama's 50.6%."

Actually, it was Obama 51.0%, Romney 47.3%... Obama actually got about 2% more of the national vote than Clinton did in his second term.

In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by about 500,000. In comparison, Obama won by about 5 million.
posted by markkraft at 3:20 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


That said, overall, Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats in this recent election. Democrats and Republicans both saw a dip in turnout. Democrats lost 4.2 percentage points (33.0% to 28.2%), while Republicans dropped 1.2 percentage points.

I think that's what scares GOP pollsters the most: demographics have shifted to the point that the Democrats don't need highly motivated voters to beat them... they just need to point out how scary things will be if the GOP wins.
posted by markkraft at 3:42 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Many onboard could recall a time when Buckley himself had cruised alongside them, in the nineties

But conveniently forgot that he was also present in the aughts, and a pariah among them, scorned and pushed aside even on earlier versions of this very cruise, because of his dissent on matters like the Iraq war which he ultimately deemed a catastrophic mistake.

The best thing about these people is that they eat their own, that they will not long endure the presence of anyone who is not at core utterly stupid. Sooner or later the less rabid or less intellectually feeble among them will be forced to dissent on something, and be torn to shreds.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:43 PM on December 25, 2012 [27 favorites]


... everyone's convinced Obama is literally going to ban all guns, so guns and ammunition are all being hoarded with near-religious fervor.
To be fair, this happened back when Obama was elected on '08, too. Though, it seems a bit more widespread and enthusiastic this time around.


According to my friends in those circles the larger numbers are due to more sane people being involved. These aren't people who think the government is coming to get them or their guns or anything; They're people who think there's a chance that the sale of semi-automatic rifles may shortly be illegal.

In addition despite more guns being sold there hasn't been the ridiculous run on ammunition this time around. By and large it seems like the stockpilers already did their Obama thing and what we're seeing now is latecomers.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:58 PM on December 25, 2012


I enjoyed reading that so much I went to the fridge after the first page and got out some Christmas dinner leftovers to savour along with the article. The only way it could have been better is if the cruise had turned into The Exterminating Angel.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:13 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The debt, like an evil monolith, seemed to shadow the brows of everyone there, precisely quantifying their apocalyptic fears. America, by rejecting them, had rejected math itself, they felt, and therefore reason, and therefore reality.

This is true. This is absolutely, 1000% true.

But where the fuck were these guys in 2000? Or in 2004, when Bush singlehandledly doubled the Federal debt, computed to GAAP standards, to win a few million senior votes with the expansion to Medicare. Bush Jr., all by himself, incurred more real debt than all other Presidents before him combined, and where the fuck were these people then?

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. If anyone left math and reason behind, it's these people, hiding partisanship and racism behind a veneer of bookkeeping. They failed us so dismally, by not fighting against stupid spending and unnecessary wars and the retreat into using bullshit, made-up statistics to manage the country, instead of facts, that they honestly deserve to lose a lot of that wealth.

But, somehow, it will not be the rich that pay the price for their incompetence and inaction. It never is.
posted by Malor at 4:28 PM on December 25, 2012 [50 favorites]


Not, by the way, that Obama is any angel. He's just running up insane debts now, instead of making insane promises that will wreck us later.

Deploying all those trillions to tell the economy to keep doing the same stupid shit that got it in trouble in the first place will, in the history books, be widely regarded as insanity.
posted by Malor at 4:31 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


That was a great read, but only six pages left me wanting more; I wish it were a novel.

What William F. Buckley Would Think of Today’s GOP.

Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson interviews Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley. (Filmed: 7/29/98)
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


los pantalones del muerte: "“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”

You know, I almost never read quotes and hear a voice to match, but I can't be the only one that distinctly heard Malory Archer deliver that line.
"

*realization dawns*

Holy fuck, when I read that in the article I missed the last "the" in the quote. (I dunno if I was imagining some teetotaler conference or what.) It reads even worse with it there.
posted by Lexica at 4:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Current deficits are almost entirely the result of the economic downturn and the Bush tax cuts.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 5:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Honest question about the "blame-it-on-Karl-Rove" thing - is the situation the GOP is in really his fault?

About as much as the Iraq invasion was the fault of Baghdad Bob.
posted by fleacircus at 5:14 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is having a national debt at 100% of annual GDP considered by conservatives to be apocalyptic? Don't these people have a mortgage?
posted by goethean at 5:39 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually think that Goebbels was more critical of Hitler than the New York Times is of Obama,” said Hassett, tucking into a piece of strudel.

Brilliant.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:43 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Actually, Hassett as Mitt Romney's economics adviser is about as funny as Goebbels doing popularity public relations for Hitler.

Hassett was the author of the infamous "DOW 36,000" best seller in 1999 right before the market crashed to 7,500. Today, 14 years later, it is barely 13,000, a third of his prediction. The American economy dodged a bullet.
posted by JackFlash at 6:16 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, Romney won 47.8% of the popular vote against Obama's 50.6%.

This site says 47.29% and 50.98%. A difference of 4.7+ million votes.
posted by Brian B. at 6:19 PM on December 25, 2012


This is great, it reads like a Bioshock prequel.
posted by aerotive at 6:20 PM on December 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Under the shade of some palm trees, Ralph Reed took off his shirt and fed an orange to a giant iguana.

This is in the director's cut of Wild Palms, right?

did anyone go on The Nation's recent cruise?

Ana Marie Cox wrote a piece about a Nation cruise about ten years ago or so. It was pre-Wonkette, on her personal blog, so it's probably gone forever, but I recall chuckling at it. I remember thinking that I'd might actually pay for the opportunity to watch Hitchens and Cockburn brawl drunkenly on a cruise ship. In this instance I like to imagine Goldberg in his Starfleet uniform holding court over his prune juice at the bar while Lileks bitches about everything that annoys him about the help at Target.

I note that there's no mention of KLo in this piece; I wonder if she's too much of a downer for even this crowd to want to travel with.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:41 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's Metafilter's own Lileks, fwiw.
posted by NortonDC at 7:54 PM on December 25, 2012


lol debt hawks. I will borrow money ALL DAY at less than 2%. Especially if I can print it.
posted by sfts2 at 7:59 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


The caption writer missed a brilliant opportunity on the first page:

Evangelical operative Ralph Reed with an iguana (at right)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:08 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


"I note that there's no mention of KLo in this piece; I wonder if she's too much of a downer for even this crowd to want to travel with."

Alex Pareene has been re-tweeting her today. She's very drunk on wine and Jesus and self-loathing, that's for sure.
posted by bardic at 8:23 PM on December 25, 2012


> I note that there's no mention of KLo in this piece

I noticed that, too. Poor KLo. She seems like someone sorely in need of some fun in her life.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:24 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"lol debt hawks"

Yeah. Basically it's free to borrow money right now, and the best economic policy would be for Obama to load up pallets with 20's and 50's and airdrop them into poor neighborhoods. When inflation inches up to 2% or so, stop doing it.

Debt hawks don't care about the debt, it's a religion of forced suffering concern trolling as "serious" public policy. And when a white president raises the debt they simply don't care (just as Dick "deficits don't matter" Cheney.)
posted by bardic at 8:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Randians... at sea... in an art deco ballroom. What could go wrong?
Not enough for my tastes...

--

Lileks is a great guy: twenty years ago, I was his weekly Friday night pizza order-taker at Green Mill, and when out of the blue I asked him to come talk to my high school English class, he never batted an eye. (It was a great talk.) His "Taste Test of Cheap Beers" column from about 1990 still makes me laugh. And I have his first four books, all signed.

Yeah, Bunny, Lileks & I don't agree on politics any more. But you're very right to note that at least he has the grace to discuss things with people instead of GO! TO! WAR! over every last point.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:51 PM on December 25, 2012


She seems like someone sorely in need of some fun in her life.

Having looked at her twitter feed, I'm happy to report that KLo was on the boat after all.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:04 PM on December 25, 2012


lol debt hawks. I will borrow money ALL DAY at less than 2%. Especially if I can print it.

You do realize that the only reason money is so cheap is because the Federal Reserve is printing it in massive amounts, injecting it into the economy in an attempt to stimulate it?

It's dangerous for money to be this cheap, as we saw with the housing bubble, and as we will learn again with the eventual popping of the Government Debt Bubble, and again and again and again as we keep inflating new bubbles with printed wealth tokens.

Real wealth takes work to create. You cannot print your way to prosperity.
posted by Malor at 9:08 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brian B.: "A similar article from 2007"

I was coming here to post the same story Brian did, which is really a gem and shouldn't get lost in the shuffle. Actually, though, I realize now that the version Brian linked is shorter than the original version I remember reading, which you can find in full here.

Let's just put it this way: If you liked Joe Hagan's piece, you'll love Johann Hari's, which has definitely stuck with me ever since I read it. It sounds like the mood was quite different back then, understandably so. I started to collect some excerpts, but it's really too good to chop up into bits, so I'll just quote the lede:
I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, both chilling and burning, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. "Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she says. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe."

I am getting used to these moments – when gentle holiday geniality bleeds into... what? I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, " Of course, we need to execute some of these people," I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. "A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country," she says. "Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that's what you'll get." She squints at the sun and smiles. " Then things'll change."

I am travelling on a bright white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, a casino – and 500 readers of the National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been "an amazing success". Global warming is not happening. The solitary black person claims, "If the Ku Klux Klan supports equal rights, then God bless them." And I have nowhere to run.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


Malor: "You do realize that the only reason money is so cheap is because the Federal Reserve is printing it in massive amounts, injecting it into the economy in an attempt to stimulate it?"

Heh, this is a new one on me! Interest rates are super-low *because* the government is printing money? Isn't the usual claim that the government printing (too much) money will lead to inflation, which would of course lead to higher interest rates?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:30 PM on December 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


Thanks for posting that, Brian B. & Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell. I was trying to find that earlier. This paragraph has stuck with me since I first read it.
"Aren't you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?" Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. "No," Podhoretz replies. "As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf War I, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran." He says he is "heartbroken" by this "rise of defeatism on the right." He adds, apropos of nothing, "There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we're winning." The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn't he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley "a coward". His wife nods and says, "Buckley's an old man," tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.
posted by brundlefly at 9:31 PM on December 25, 2012


Johann's piece is okay, but he seemed to go more out of his way to stir things up rather than just sitting back and listening. As a result it doesn't feel like people were as authentic with him.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a word for sympathetic joy on behalf of another person experiencing Schadenfreude?

Because I haven't RTFA yet but I'm experiencing this thing I have no word for yet reading the comments here.
posted by Schmucko at 9:48 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The reason why money is so cheap right now is because people are flooding to treasuries right now. In fact, Krugman had a post on just that a couple days ago.


Not only is debt super cheap right now, but we have a ton of money we need to spend anyway in the form of infrastructure improvements. Why not do it now when it will create jobs, rather than later when we're now in a liquidity trap?
posted by professor plum with a rope at 9:48 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think what Malor is trying to say is that the Fed is buying federal LT debt, and that's why interest rates are low. Except that phase of Fed action is largely over.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 9:51 PM on December 25, 2012


Like I said austerity is an ideology, not an actual fact-based practice.

It would make perfect sense for America to make huge investments in infrastructure right now in order to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The US deficit will come down when the economy goes back up like it did in the 1990's.

But we can't do that because Ron Paul or something.
posted by bardic at 10:05 PM on December 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


One of the things that's most fascinating about the 2007 account versus the 2012 is the marked (near) absence of Fear of a Brown Planet-ism. The ability of these people to pivot at the most basic sub-intellect level is truly jaw-dropping.
posted by dhartung at 10:14 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, this is a new one on me! Interest rates are super-low *because* the government is printing money?

Yes, absolutely. The Fed's balance sheet has skyrocketed over the last few years, and because of continued mortage operations, printing money to buy mortages, basically, it will swell from about $3 trillion now to about $4 trillion by the end of next year.... roughly a 25% increase in the base money in the money supply, the actual Fed balances.

The only reason money is so cheap, interest rates are so low, is because the Federal Reserve is holding them there. It has decreed that Interest Will Be X, and it will print any amount of money required to hold interest rates at X.

We would be seeing wicked inflation already, except that other governments are holding their currencies at par with ours... our dollar printing should be making dollars weak, but they print their currencies, and buy our dollars, soaking up the excess, but then flooding the world with THEIR currencies. And, as a result, their inflation rates are very high and going higher. It's being hidden out in the edges of the global economy but it's still there.

But this is sort of a gigantic rubberband, one that will snap back, hard. When foreign governments print their currency to buy dollars, that means they're holding dollars, and then dollar-denominated securities. So that's another huge debt position, on top of all the others..... the government owes huge amounts, the private sector has a staggering debt burden (although it has decreased a little over the last few years), and then the economy as a whole has yet ANOTHER monstrous debt overhang, all those trillions of printed dollars that are being held by foreign central banks, trying to maintain the status quo.

Eventually, those countries are going to figure out that the inflation is hurting them too badly to continue, and when confidence finally collapses, and they decide they want out of dollars, the snapback on all that suppressed energy is going to be extraordinary.

Isn't the usual claim that the government printing (too much) money will lead to inflation, which would of course lead to higher interest rates?

This is exactly what's happening, actually, it's just that the inflation is artificially being held in foreign economies, being stored up, like water behind a dam. But interest rates are ultimately exactly what the Federal Reserve says they are, because they now have a demonstrated willingness to print money to buy anything, not just short-term debt, and not just government Treasuries.

When your central bank is directly intervening in the mortgage market, trying to juice it with money printing, things are fucked up.

Doug Noland talked about the Nasdaq Bubble, and then the Housing and (ultimately) Credit Bubble, and then the Government Finance Bubble, each one bigger, each one coming out of attempts to dodge the fallout from the popping of the one before. It occurs to me now that we may actually be seeing the Dollar Bubble.

If we do have a dollar bubble, and that bubble pops, we are done as a world power.
posted by Malor at 10:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and: when we see all the moaning and crying about health care costs, and college costs, and cable costs..... that's inflation. It's just not measured correctly by the standard bullshit numbers the government puts out.

We're dying from health care costs, not becuase of rapacious insurance companies, but because of inflation. There are too many dollars chasing too few medical services, and prices are skyrocketing. People will pay almost any price to stay alive, especially when it's someone else's money, so all that liquidity sloshing around is driving prices to the moon.

That's why healthcare is eating us. 20% inefficiencies are simply not important, when costs are going up by 8 and 10 percent a year. Even if you completely redo the entire healthcare system and remove all the waste, and 20% improvements is what I've seen bruited about, that gets eaten in just three years. Before you were even finished overhauling the system, inflation would have eaten all your progress.

It's the rate of increase in healthcare that matters, not the absolute cost figures. That's what's killing us, and I believe a major driver in that inflation is our monetary policy and dangerously low interest rates. Same with college tuitions.
posted by Malor at 10:29 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Malor, which of these countries are the ones with the runaway inflation?
posted by Hubajube at 10:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


"We would be seeing wicked inflation already"

Yawn.
posted by bardic at 10:41 PM on December 25, 2012


"their inflation rates are very high and going higher"

Nope.
posted by bardic at 10:44 PM on December 25, 2012


If you liked Joe Hagan's piece, you'll love Johann Hari's,
Oh, that Hari?
posted by Bwithh at 10:53 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"when we see all the moaning and crying about health care costs, and college costs, and cable costs..... that's inflation"

That is literally not inflation. A problem, certainly, but you don't get to redefine economic terms just because you want to take us back to the gold standard.

"We're dying from health care costs, not becuase of rapacious insurance companies, but because of inflation."

Even when Obamacare goes live, the US will still be the only developed country in the world that doesn't provide some sort of universal health-care to every citizen. And yet, the US has the highest cost per-person for health care in the world. These other countries in Europe and Asia have magically managed to not have out-of-control health-care spending while providing services to everyone.

Discuss.
posted by bardic at 10:53 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


The specific complaints may be a little different, but overall, I'm most reminded of 2005. I guess there's some difference between Polish real estate and Canadian citizenship.
posted by nathan v at 10:55 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


India and China are the two I was thinking of most strongly. India's at 9.5%, and I had China's inflation tagged in my head as being much higher. Their bubble could be starting to pop now, too -- they could go through a really wicked deflation cycle, because they're tied at the hip to our destructive monetary policies.

Look at China over time; they're all over the freaking map, from 9% in 08 to -2% in 09 to +6% in 2010, to a reported 2%ish now. That's unusual behavior for an economy the size of China's.

Basically, the world is pinned between competing forces -- the deflationary force of the staggering amount of unpayable debt that has been issued, and the inflationary value of the money supply underneath -- which must all be paid back, and, when printed, adds another form of deflationary undertow, along with the initial inflationary impulse.

Things are not stable, and not healthy, and all you have to do is look at the world to see countries imploding in every direction. Europe's in deep shit. Italy, Spain, France, and especially Greece are all in very serious fiscal trouble. The US is printing money at insane levels (the Fed has never, to my knowledge, embarked on anything even vaguely like what's it's doing in 2013). The resource-rich countries, especially petroleum states, are suddenly rolling in profit. The world is unstable, and all this intervention is making it more and more unstable, not less.

High inflation to negative inflation to high inflation to low inflation in four years in China.... that should be scaring you. That is not a small economy, and that kind of... vibration, I guess, is not healthy.

It's not healthy for us, either. A good chunk of the economy nearly collapsed just four years ago. You don't get into that kind of trouble quickly, especially with an economy the size of ours. If you get to the point that the whole system is poised on the brink of failure, then you've been doing shit wrong for decades. It's not just a speed bump. This shit matters, and deploying trillions of dollars explicitly to keep things from changing is about as counterproductive as decisions get.

The thought of the entire global economy just spontaneously collapsing, twenty years ago, would have been laughable. It is not laughable today.
posted by Malor at 11:03 PM on December 25, 2012


"That's unusual behavior for an economy the size of China's."

Because the Chinese government is a model of transparency, and the swings in numbers could never be attributed to government corruption and/or trying to make their economy look stronger than it actually is.

Look, the world economy ain't doing so hot right now. We can agree on that much. But we know for a fact that European austerity doesn't just not work, it actually makes things worse. And by extension, a larger stimulus would have helped the US economy speed its recovery.

Inflation is not a problem for the world right now. A lack in demand because people don't have money on hand is.

So give them more money. Print out reams of the stuff.

But since this will never happen, meh.
posted by bardic at 11:32 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Really interesting article. I wonder how the GOP can survive if so many of its supporters are completely unwilling to take any constructive criticism even from within the conservative movement. Upthread it was mentioned that these are conservatives from the Reagan era who are so hard-headed, but it seems to me that the children of these folks often think the same way, which means it will take a while for change to occur. (I see this both personally with people I know and nationally with people like Rand Paul and the Romney sons.) Perhaps by the time sanity regains a foothold in the Republican Party the rest of the country will be so alienated that the Republicans will be a fringe element in our society.

Someone else up thread mentioned The Nation sponsoring a cruise on the same boat. According to the cruise line the ship holds roughly 3 times as many passengers as were on The National Review's cruise, so they could have been at the same time. Now that would have made for an interesting write-up! I wonder what all the other passengers thought of this group of grumpy Republicans and Tea Partiers. (As an aside, I have thought of going on The Nation' cruises before, especially back when Molly Ivins was one of the speakers. I guarantee they would have been more fun to hang out with than this bunch.)
posted by TedW at 3:09 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs a hug and a cruise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:01 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me that for these Republicans, there was... no exit. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
posted by Yowser at 5:25 AM on December 26, 2012


Yes, yes. Hard-line repub cognoscenti are living in a delusional bubble.

Where's the breaking story that shows this isn't a fact? I mean, from a real news source. Like the Daily Mail or something.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:49 AM on December 26, 2012


Where's the breaking story that shows this isn't a fact?

That shows what isn't a fact? There are dozens of things labeled as not facts in this thread. Which one are you referring to?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:06 AM on December 26, 2012


This site says 47.29% and 50.98%. A difference of 4.7+ million votes.

And that looks even bigger when you go deeper. New York dropped from 7.6 million to 6.7 million. 0.9 million votes down in a state that broke 2:1 for Obama. Something to do with Hurricane Sandy, methinks (which means it was NYC where the turnout was depressed - and that breaks very very democratic).
posted by Francis at 7:23 AM on December 26, 2012


Republican cognoscenti on cruise: Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!
posted by Splunge at 7:43 AM on December 26, 2012


Bwithh: "Oh, that Hari?"

Didn't know he had such a... problematic career. Oh well, still an interesting read. And Hagan's piece certainly seems to confirm Hari's.

Francis: "New York dropped from 7.6 million to 6.7 million. 0.9 million votes down in a state that broke 2:1 for Obama. Something to do with Hurricane Sandy, methinks (which means it was NYC where the turnout was depressed - and that breaks very very democratic)."

Believe it or not, New York hasn't finished counting/certifying yet. (I've been following this one closely, and Wasserman, the guy behind the spreadsheet, concurs.) I don't think the final dropoff will be as big.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:12 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why can't Lileks just stick to writing about bad interior design and unfashionable cookbooks? That stuff is hilarious. Sigh.

I used to find a lot of good info in his site and Bleatings, also -- but then he became... unhinged by 9/11.

That's Metafilter's own Lileks, fwiw.

Not really, certainly not anymore -- that user's posted nothing here since November 2001.
posted by Rash at 9:43 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read Lileks daily for over 10 years until about 3 weeks ago. He opened up comments on the Bleat a while back, and while the content remained the same, the regular commenters managed to change the environment into more of a National Review cruise than a place where we could all chuckle about old ads, crazy design and pop culture.

After a commenter tried to convince me (who was told by both a parent and a teacher in 1978 that I couldn't be an astronaut because I was a girl!) that most women in the 1950s had the same educational and career opportunities as men did, I walked away from the site. I didn't feel welcome anymore.
posted by kimberussell at 9:55 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking of interior disarray, apparently Dick Armey tried to stage an actual armed coup of FreedomWorks and was rebuffed (actually, paid off).

That is some crazy shit.
posted by emjaybee at 9:57 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rash: "Why can't Lileks just stick to writing about bad interior design and unfashionable cookbooks? That stuff is hilarious. Sigh.

I used to find a lot of good info in his site and Bleatings, also -- but then he became... unhinged by 9/11.

That's Metafilter's own Lileks, fwiw.

Not really, certainly not anymore -- that user's posted nothing here since November 2001.
"

Yeah, unhinged is exactly the right word. I enjoyed his writing and we even corresponded a bit back in the day, but he was one (and probably the most vocal) of a handful of people I knew online back then who morphed into unrecognizable-to-me versions of themselves post-September 11th. I was pretty shocked by the frothiness.

I'm not surprised he faded away from Metafilter shortly thereafter.
posted by Superplin at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Speaking of which, from Lileks' Bleat today:

I stayed away from Twitter most of the Christmas time, because - well, it’s a long story, but something I said in one situation a month or so was printed in a magazine with the context divorced, and duly retweeted by a local “media critic,” and I got lots of You Suck tweets and emails and “man, whatever happened to him?” comments,

So there you go. I still read him because he doesn't touch on politics all the time and when he does I just skip him, the same way I don't discuss politics with certain relatives but will listen to them describe their last vacation. He wouldn't be the only writer I like with problematic views. I was as shocked as anyone by his 9/11 meltdown, but he manages not to let it overrun his ability to say intelligent and funny things about old TV shows.

Going back to his role in the cruise, he seems to be occupying some pretty lonely space in terms of trying to help conservatives not seem utterly out of touch. Not a job I'd want, nor one I understand wanting to pursue.
posted by emjaybee at 10:13 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


After reading the whole article, I feel a profound sadness. At the end of the day, you want your conservative uncle to have some leverage. You want the holiday-arguments to have meaning. But now, there is nothing. They've lost, and they keep loosing. The only way they have impact now is by gerrymandering, and that must be embarrassing, even to them.
As I read it, the author felt the same sadness. We all love our crazy uncle.

That said, there are obviously miles to go. These people need to feel the reality of their position. Even as we love them.
posted by mumimor at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


he was one (and probably the most vocal) of a handful of people I knew online back then who morphed into unrecognizable-to-me versions of themselves post-September 11th.

Are you referring to Miller-Lileks Syndrome?
posted by Aquaman at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


markkraft: "Well, Romney won 47.8% of the popular vote against Obama's 50.6%."

Actually, it was Obama 51.0%, Romney 47.3%... Obama actually got about 2% more of the national vote than Clinton did in his second term.

In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by about 500,000. In comparison, Obama won by about 5 million.

So... he overstated Romney's tally by 1.057%, and understated Obama's lead by over 0.78%?

My god, some people are just spin-Spin-SPIN with their political facts!

I mean, it's not like nearly half the votes were cast for Romney or something.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:51 PM on December 26, 2012


Actually, it was Obama 51.0%, Romney 47.3%..

Ah, 47%!

Karma sure is a bitch, ain't it?
posted by ericb at 5:56 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's not like nearly half the votes were cast for Romney or something.

That's not as meaningful as it seems. The campaigns were not targeting the popular vote, they were targeting electoral college votes. One campaign won by a landslide. If the campaigns had ignored the EC and targeted the popular vote, then the landslide would have appeared through the popular vote instead of through the EC vote.

By various mechanisms, targeting victory in the EC vote actually pushes the popular vote closer.
posted by anonymisc at 10:06 PM on December 26, 2012


That is some crazy shit.

Damn. Thanks for pointing that one out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:47 PM on December 26, 2012


you want your conservative uncle to have some leverage ... The only way they have impact now is by gerrymandering, and that must be embarrassing, even to them.

You sound like a very kind person who hasn't noticed how nasty some right-wingers can get and not feel the least bit embarrassed.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:16 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You sound like a very kind person who hasn't noticed how nasty some right-wingers can get and not feel the least bit embarrassed.


You might want to pay more attention to the people around you. Anyone sufficiently invested in his politics to make it a central part of his identity, has a tendency to be nasty. And shameless.
posted by ocschwar at 6:20 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neither side is pure, and I know there are lots of Republicans who are honorable people. But coming off the Scott Brown / Elizabeth Warren contest, where Brown (the Republican) was repeatedly deceptive and just a jerk, it's hard not to see an asymmetry. I liked some of the moves Brown made while he was in office, but his campaign was an excellent example of shamelessness.

(If you don't know how that election went, here's a good summary of Brown's moves up to September. It's from Reason magazine, who aren't likely to agree with Warren's positions.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2012


If the campaigns had ignored the EC and targeted the popular vote, then the landslide would have appeared through the popular vote instead of through the EC vote.

Exactly. I saw an analysis of turnout this year. The gap in turnout between the battleground states and the non battle-ground states was the largest ever at something like seven and a half percent. So the nature of the campaign and electoral system meant the candidates pushed up turnout in states which were relatively close while depressing (or at least not boosting) turnout in states where one candidate had a large advantage.

Were the electoral system different perhaps Obama pushes up turnout in California and New York and Illinois and so on and wins the popular vote by 7% or 8% instead of just under 4%, but "loses" Virginia and Colorado and New Hampshire. Except there is no such thing as "losing a state" under this scenario, so gaining a few million votes in two big states is much better than losing a few hundred thousand votes in a couple smaller states even if it means you get fewer votes than your opponent in those smaller states.
posted by Justinian at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rash: "I used to find a lot of good info in his site and Bleatings, also -- but then he became... unhinged by 9/11."

Yeah, I had even bought a few of his books. I respect Bunny Ultramod's position, but I found that his post-9/11 political opinions just made him a very unpleasant figure to me.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:45 PM on January 4, 2013


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