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"It’s even worse than I thought."
February 16, 2013 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence? (NYT)
How to Save the Republican Party (Commentary Magazine)
posted by lalex (201 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those Senate boundaries are still gerrymandered, right?
posted by jaduncan at 7:44 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


> Upon graduating from college, she became the lead singer of the Frustrations, a rock-ska group that folded, as only a D.C.-based band could, when one member decided to attend law school and another needed more time to study for the bar exam.

*shudder*
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Related
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2013


The Democrats won an election. That doesn't mean the reactionary nutjobs are defeated forever, people.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:55 AM on February 16, 2013 [76 favorites]


They're bound to run out of rich, white, male landowners eventually, right?
posted by tommasz at 8:02 AM on February 16, 2013


It's clear to everyone, including the Republicans, that they can no longer win a national election in which everyone gets a vote. Which is why they've made the rational decision to double down on the strategy of making sure that never happens.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:06 AM on February 16, 2013 [42 favorites]


It was never cool to be a young republican though - Alex P Ketin was a joke in the '80s. That doesn't mean people don't vote for republicans sometimes.
posted by mdn at 8:06 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keaton.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:07 AM on February 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


i've figured it out - the republicans must be zombies

you guys keep burying them and they keep rising up
posted by pyramid termite at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2013


A joke? I was just a kid, but I remember him as the most popular character on the show.
posted by absalom at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's the conservatism, stupid.

Republicans need to put down the Ayn Rand and get out of their basements.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


God. 10 pages in the NYT Mag dancing around the real issue: it's Republicanism, not the "Republican brand" or their ineffectiveness at whatever the social media tool du jour is, that turns off voters.
posted by downing street memo at 8:10 AM on February 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


How to save the Republican party:

1) Win governorships and state legislatures in 2010.
2) Gerrymander district boundaries to guarantee a House majority.
3) Maintain an alternative multimedia whose parts all reinforce the desired message of the day and keep the true believers happy.
4) Yank the Overton Window so far to the right that what passes for 'liberal' in national politics is center-right by outsiders' standards.

Wait... they already did those things? Ah. Carry on.
posted by delfin at 8:11 AM on February 16, 2013 [64 favorites]


Kristen Soltis Anderson, a 28-year-old G.O.P. pollster [...] Anderson, for her part, is now a pollster and vice president of the Winston Group.

Christ, DC is the worst.
posted by downing street memo at 8:12 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?
posted by mazola at 8:13 AM on February 16, 2013 [41 favorites]


On the defeated Virginia plan to count rural votes for more than urban.
posted by frimble at 8:13 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


In answer to jaduncan's question. No, senate boundaries are not gerrymandered. (Although house districts are.)
posted by found missing at 8:17 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


@jaduncan: Senate boundaries in Congress are states.
posted by koavf at 8:20 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first piece is far more perceptive than the second.

Problem 1: The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters.

Problem 2: No one can be elected as an R without catering to the abhorrent views of R primary voters -- not just during the primary, but any time an official wants to be re-elected.

Problem 3: As the second article clearly demonstrates, the R's are out of ideas. And anyone trying to move the party toward modern solutions to social injustice, racism, lack of economic or educational opportunity, and environmental destruction is doomed to be drummed out as one of those pariahs, a liberal or moderate. See Problem 2.

I don't see anyone solving these problems for them. Certainly not Thirsty Mario.
posted by bearwife at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


> He and Jacobson are alumni of the University of Oregon, where they both worked on the Commentator, a conservative alternative paper whose slogan was, “Free Minds, Free Markets, Free Booze.”

The young, "cool" Republicans think the party is too old and hidebound but their role models are P.J. O'Rourke and Bluto from Animal House.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 AM on February 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I can think of one very, very easy way the Republicans could at least get my vote... They need to lose the God baggage, simple as that.

Drop the war against fun, the war against women, the war against homosexuality, the war against earning a fair wage (which while arguably fiscal, I consider the reasons behind it mere puritanical "work ethic" BS), the war against everything "Youth Culture" embodies... And drop the Wars, period, let's stay out of other people's sandboxes for a few years, in particular let's stay the hell out of anywhere someone else calls a "holy" land.

Yes, balance the budget. Yes, try to do so without raising taxes (though yield a little if it will make-or-break an otherwise great deal). Yes, continue to defend the set of our constitutional rights the Left hates (and maybe start respecting the ones they don't hate, for a change). But any time one of them appeals to, or in any way invokes the phrase "the base" as a thinly veiled substitution for "fundamentalist christians", I just want to smack them on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.

Instead of completing giving in on immigration reform, rolling over on increasing taxes (the only likely outcome of the most recent "cliff"), and wasting months holding up presidential appointments of reasonably qualified people - They could get back so many potential supporters who just don't give the least damn about what one, or two, or more people of any random set of genders do while relaxing on their back deck to unwind after work.
posted by pla at 8:35 AM on February 16, 2013 [38 favorites]


The Democrats won an election. That doesn't mean the reactionary nutjobs are defeated forever, people.

They won an election where the terrible, out-of-touch Republican candidate, who ran a terrible, out-of-touch campaign, could have won by flipping just three percent of the electorate, no less. That is not a knockout blow.

Also, isn't there already an open triumphalism thread?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yes, continue to defend the set of our constitutional rights the Left hates (and maybe start respecting the ones they don't hate, for a change).

Aside from the right to firearms, which constitutional rights do you imagine the Left hates, exactly?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


pla, that pretty much sounds like the 2012 Democratic platform.
posted by saturday_morning at 8:39 AM on February 16, 2013 [48 favorites]


I don't think a party that controls the House, is determined and has the power to obstruct any business in the Senate, owns the Supreme Court, the majority of governorships and state legislatures, and oh by the way a 24 hour TV propaganda network is as obsolete as reported. I wish.

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the right is interesting. Yeah, you gotta run good campaigns and use the Twitters, but people ultimately are voting for the party they want to lead, not the one with the most ingenious use of social media. Positions on issues are important, and more often than not Republicans are on the wrong side of the issues.

There's barely any talk of moderating their message. People aren't voting for you guys because they don't want to live in a country where old white guys from Mississippi drop bombs on Iran, gut their kids' education, and charge women who've had abortions with murder.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Spencer, who is 29, possesses the insectlike eyes of a committed programmer.
He possesses the what, now? The guy's a young Republican; don't be blaming his bug-eyes on being a programmer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2013 [44 favorites]


Of course they are out of ideas. They are conservatives. They want to set ideation in one place so that none more may grow.
posted by basicchannel at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


we are the things that were that shall be again...
posted by ennui.bz at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The republicans could easily pick up a ton of votes here in the Bay Area if they would skip the gay and immigrant bashing, and take it easy on the bible thumping. Those are so powerfully stigmatizing that they're missing out on a fertile crowd of young mostly-men who all think they pay too much taxes, that they earn 5x the median wage because they work harder, and that regulations just coddle stagnant industries and corrupt officials who must be disrupted by business. For all of the Social Crowd-Funded Community Whatsits, the tech industry is not one in which most people seem to believe in government as a way for people to act as a group. Just a local condition?
posted by intendedeffect at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also:
...did not think to ask his subordinates why, for example, they were operating on the assumption that fewer black voters would turn out for Obama than in 2008.
I have a pretty good idea why they thought that. Why the author thinks Romney didn't ask the question is a mystery, though.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


From Gerson's article:
Consider the performance of Mitt Romney, who carried the white vote by 20 points. If the country’s demographic composition were still the same last year as it was in 2000, he would now be president. If it were still the same as it was in 1992, he would have won in a rout. If he had merely secured 42 percent of the Hispanic vote—rather than his pathetic 27 percent—Romney would have won the popular vote and carried Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico. Republicans, in short, have a winning message for an electorate that no longer exists.
This situation isn't going to get better for the Republicans. The country's demographics are only going to move farther away from the white, non-hispanic, gay hating christians that they republicans appeal to. And the 60% of 18 to 29 year olds who voted for Obama are going to be 22 - 33 in four years, do you think that they'll suddenly vote Republican? And the four more year's worth of young folks behind them, will they vote for a party who's social ideas are stuck in the fifties?
posted by octothorpe at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think a party that controls the House, is determined and has the power to obstruct any business in the Senate, owns the Supreme Court, the majority of governorships and state legislatures, and oh by the way a 24 hour TV propaganda network is as obsolete as reported. I wish.

I'm not a death-of-the-Republicans type by any means. I think that once the economy gets better we'll see more people wanting to vote to protect and expand their privilege and as such they'll get a little comeback.

But to be fair, the only reason it has the votes it has in the House, Senate, and in governor's mansions is the peculiarities of American governance, where vast tracts of land with few people are accorded equal status with more populous states, and a decades-long project to redraw congressional borders to create strong Republican districts. If we had a parliamentary system they'd be in the permanent minority.
posted by downing street memo at 8:50 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Probably just need a sip of water.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:53 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Republicans have proved that they don't have to win to control policy. They just throw tantrums until the Democrats appease them.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:53 AM on February 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I hope the Republican Party can become relevant again. I say this as a bona-fide godless Socialist. I want there to be genuine debate in this country. I want us to constantly have to think about our positions and honestly present and defend them. With the GOP so far off the rails into loony land, we end up with them screeching about a far-left Socialist candidate who loves war, Wall Street, and the wealthy exactly as much as they do but only has to present himself as capable of putting on his own shoes in the morning to look serious and thoughtful. We already have a de facto one-party system; I don't want it to become an actual one, because I'm not crazy about the one party we're getting as a result.
posted by Legomancer at 8:53 AM on February 16, 2013 [33 favorites]


...it's Republicanism, not the "Republican brand" or their ineffectiveness at whatever the social media tool du jour is, that turns off voters.

This.

“They were playing chess while we were playing checkers,”

The thing is, they realize this, but they don't realize their branded response would be to accuse people who are playing chess of being intellectuals who are out of touch with the day to day lives of real Americans. You can't do that for long and expect to get a lot of chess players on your side.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


No, senate boundaries are not gerrymandered

Sure they are, just look at them. Tell me how Maryland makes any sense.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:55 AM on February 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


Interestingly, I just came here from an article on The War Nerd, which for all his faults had this passage:

He really does talk like a marketing consultant: “Our previous experience proved that applying Shariah this way, without taking the environment into consideration, will lead to people rejecting the religion…” Here again, of course, he’s right in practical terms but the hotheads are right in Jihadi terms. If you really believe in the one holy Book, you’re not supposed to take “the environment” into consideration. That’s the whole fuckin’ idea, as Joe Pesci might say: one right way, and screw the local variations. God is supposed to be on your side, damn it, and if that’s true, if you really believe it, why should you care about “the environment”?

And it's the same damn thing. When you believe God is on your side according to The Book, then why should you care about "the environment?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:00 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, senate boundaries are not gerrymandered. (Although house districts are.)

Senate boundaries in Congress are states.


Gerrymandered in the sense of same population but unbalanced partisan divide? No. But remember that the voting power in the Senate of a Wyoming resident is 66 times that of a California resident.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:01 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Republicans just came close to becoming the party that actually listened to what was important to young people today -- and they quickly changed their mind
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:04 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's just a flesh wound
posted by spicynuts at 9:05 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cupp finds herself in the unenviable position of maintaining that Americans largely side with her party’s worldview, even if their votes suggest otherwise. “Public polling still puts the country center-right on a host of issues,” she told me.

Luckily, the Democratic party is center-right.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gerson-God what an out of touch hack. His Washington Post editorial about the SOTU says "The main problem with Obama’s State of the Union was not zealotry or overreach; it was a pervasive lack of substance and seriousness."
posted by newdaddy at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If we had a parliamentary system they'd be in the permanent minority.

...um, here in Canada, the Conservatives have a majority government with less than 40% of the popular vote (meaning they have enough seats to unilaterally push any legislation into law).

The Republicans went into the election with a wooden candidate who wasn't far enough to the right for social conservatives, the wrong frickin' religion for the religious base and called half the country shiftless moochers, yet it all nearly turned around with his first debate performance.

I think the people behind the Republican party machinery were happy to sit this term out and just make use of various super PACs to launder their wealth.


Whenever the conservatives really want back in power, all they need to do is grease the usual chutes that make sure the progressives get lots of goofy photo coverage or "embarrassing scream" videos. The weakest, weirdest people will be called upon to represent liberal viewpoints.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:11 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


"...lack of substance and seriousness"! How does he keep coming up with gems like that?
posted by newdaddy at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2013


Better question: why bother?
posted by kmay at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2013


Yes, continue to defend the set of our constitutional rights the Left hates

The Constitution is a document that changes and grows as our beliefs and understandings about the relationship between the citizenry and its government matures. But the right to own boom-sticks is the least important thing in there. Become obsessed with arguably the least important Amendment in the Bill of Rights, from a structural perspective, and people will walk away from you. Slice that however you want, it's still olive loaf.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:20 AM on February 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?
Boy, I hope not.
posted by Flunkie at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I can think of one very, very easy way the Republicans could at least get my vote... They need to lose the God baggage, simple as that."

"I hope the Republican Party can become relevant again."


I also think of myself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal and I think the US needs an effective two-party system. I want balance and different ideas and strategies for dealing with fiscal issues and social problems. Now, the Republican party just offers crazy along with a platform of intolerance, a lack of compassion and favoritism towards toward the wealthy (corporations and individuals).

How do we get people off welfare, out of the projects, create jobs, improve standards of living, provide affordable higher education, healthcare for all, be more competitive, encourage entrepreneurship, etc., etc? With the Democrats, I can feel like I can have a sensible conversation. With the Republicans, the common ground is about as big as a postage stamp.
posted by shoesietart at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


1. Does anyone know how long I'm going to have to hear this abominable use of the term "brand" and "branding" used in discussions of people and ideas? For f*cks' sake, the ideas that drive our democracy are not products to be marketed to consumers. Jesus.

2. Well, I'd like us to have two reasonable parties... But, since that's not likely to happen, I'm happy to see that GOP keep telling itself that it's just a "messaging" problem. The longer they do that, the more likely they lose.

3. I wonder: did we win because we just happened to have the better salesmen and techies? Or is there something about conservatism that resists innovation at the level of means as well as that of ends?

4. The GOP doesn't have to win...the leftish folks can lose. Clinton was an Obama-esque liberal centrist. The PC movement arose on college campuses about that time, and alienated a whole generation of college students, and energized the right, while weakening the Dems. Lulled into forgetfulness, folks lefter than me started saying that Clinton was just too awful/conservative to support...helping to put the 2000 election into stealing distance. (And one hears that about Obama and the Dems again now). Add in an effective/destructive campaign of House GOP obstructionism on the economy...perhaps a bit of overreach on firearms... Plus a public that only dimly understands the issues...

Oh yeah. I ain't celebrating that 2016 victory just yet...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:31 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the GOP does have the wrong end of the stick on a couple of issues, and that is hurting them, but I think it's too soon to declare victory. How much of the recent victory was the Democratic party and how much was Obama's organization? How much of it was due to a GOP candidate that no one was really all that enthusiastic about? How much of it was due to the fact that the Democrats did a better job of getting out the vote than the Republicans?

Finally, how sure are you that all that won't reverse itself in the next election?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was never cool to be a young republican though - Alex P Ketin was a joke in the '80s.

That's not how I remember it. In fact, I called my older brother Alex Keaton in the late 80s because he was like a real-life version. Many of my friends in high school (of those inclined to be at all politically engaged) in the late 80s idolized Reagan and wanted to be Young Republicans and thought conservatism was really cool. Some of them are still today frozen in that state, and can't see how the Republican party has changed. Yes, I'm actually serious: in our youthful political activism in the late 1980s it was actually cool to be a Republican.

Limbaugh's show went national in '88 and was the super-hip-must-listen-to political show for a while, those damn "I'm a Ditto Head" bumper stickers were everywhere. I think it was Gingrich and that abhorrent House he ran in the mid-90s that tipped the party over to just naked hate and demagoguery, and that's where it started really going off the rails for them.

Now? The brand is toxic. These days, my young, conservative (usually male) college students who back in the day would have been enthusiastic Young Republicans are quick to say "now, I'm not a Republican at all" just before they detail their Libertarian/mostly Republican ethos. Because calling oneself a Republican is actually offensive to many of their peers ('what, you hate gay people?' or 'oh, you think women shouldn't have control over their bodies?' etc.), they don't consider themselves as agreeing with the major political party they actually mostly agree with because the Republican stance on social issues is so very offensive to most young people.

NOTHING the Republican party can do will change their electoral fortunes (unless the really shady/illegal gerrymandering stuff progresses unchecked) until they change their stance on the most basic social issues of our day.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:39 AM on February 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I can think of one very, very easy way the Republicans could at least get my vote... They need to lose the God baggage, simple as that.

I could swear that every graph I've seen of federal government debt and deficit shows that the fiscally conservative party is Democrat, for at least the past forty years.

Am I wrong?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on February 16, 2013 [41 favorites]


“I hate all regulations, every single one of them” — including, he cheerfully admitted, minimum-wage and child-labor laws.

Extreme ideological positions like this are why the Pubs are doomed. In our complex society of 300+ million people SOMETHING has to run the machine. That would be "big government" not a bunch of self interested billionaires. Republicans, ceding their elected office and civic responsibilities that come with it, solely for the benefit of their wealthiest donors have exposed themselves as lapdogs for the very select few.

Social issues are also destroying them, you can't wail for "small government" while crafting laws that invade a citizens private lives. In very intimate ways.

They may currently be losing the technological battle, but they lost the ideological battle decades ago. We are in the state we're in now because of the failed policies they still cherish because they are bribed to. To think that they only need to catch up in outreach is ludicrous when they are supporting the agenda they currently are and demonizing any who disagree, even those in their own party.
posted by Max Power at 9:44 AM on February 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Seems that voters do like to switch change, from time to time, believing somehow, that by installing a different party in power things might improve. Sort of like believing that divorce might bring you a better mate next time around.

Now if you look back at history, going back to The Great Depression, you will note that the mantra from conservatives then is the same one that they use now:
govt too big
taxes too high
trickle down
too many regulations
cut programs designed to help out those in need

What is different now that will change 6 years from now the GOP?
1.go easy on immigration reform: the gop needs more votes
2. stay with "ideals" and the public will come around
...and yes, they will continue to control the House because of gerrymandering and yes they will try to make it hard for minorities to vote and yes they might begin to use more technology to get out their troops and yes corporations and NRA et al will continue to support them with huge funds for campaigns.
posted by Postroad at 9:45 AM on February 16, 2013


The PC movement arose on college campuses about that time, and alienated a whole generation of college students, and energized the right, while weakening the Dems.

This is also a really important element, though it was already in place by the time Clinton took the national stage: Limbaugh et al rose to popularity primarily by ranting and railing against political correctness run amok, which was at its height in the mid- and late 80s. Which is of course how Liberalism shot itself in the foot and corrupted its own successes--political liberals in the 1980s were committing many of the same kind of sin that drives me crazy when Republicans do it now: telling me what values I should have and how I ought to behave and then making that behavior a must. So there really was an obnoxious level of thought-policing that pissed a lot of people off, legitimately. Bill Clinton was remarkable in part because he won despite the American electorate's views on liberalism not because he was riding the wave.

In fact, I think Obama is only just now reinventing political liberalism/progressiveness by reframing some basic concepts and not saying, in essence, 'we should all be accepting of one another' or in any way telling people what to think or value, but rather by appealing to the common good and people's sense of community, by pointing out that a rising tide lifts all boats, poor and rich, that it's OK to care about each other and we all do better when we do. This may allow Democrats to actually win some elections on their own merits rather than continuing to be the Party That Isn't That Terrible Republican Party.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:51 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


And yet, we still have an economic debate where everyone thinks the deficit is the source of our problems, the fed is being politically hounded, the powerless Bush era Democrats are somehow blamed for the housing/financial crisis, states are cutting education to the bone, etc.

The Republicans are winning on the front of shaping political context, twitter or not.

The Obama policy operation is not going to get any traction with their campaign contacts if it appears that they can't win on any of that stuff. They need to stomp on faces, er... set the political context straight, through those channels.
posted by zangpo at 9:52 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


the set of our constitutional rights the Left hates

I, too, am curious about the constitutional rights (plural, really?) the Left is supposed to "hate," as opposed to "wish were better regulated."

I can't think of a single one.
posted by caryatid at 10:09 AM on February 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


five fresh fish : I could swear that every graph I've seen of federal government debt and deficit shows that the fiscally conservative party is Democrat, for at least the past forty years. Am I wrong?

Yes and no. In the sense that the Republicans seem all too willing to turn a blind eye to spending for their own special interests (and very expensive special interests at that - Like real war), no, I wouldn't call you wrong. They fail at following their own platform.

But in the abstract, yes. We have one side that won't even admit we have a spending problem, insisting that we can spend our way out of anything. For a first-world nation, we pay a lot in taxes for what we get from it. Yes, (some) Europeans pay more. And they get a hell of a lot more for it. Whatever our respective stances on how we "should" spend our money, I suspect we can agree that the US does it very, very poorly. We spend literally trillions per year, roughly 2/3rds of the federal budget, on various social services, and still have people living under bridges and dying for want to simple medical treatments.

I don't oppose everyone having a basic safety net - That IS fiscally responsible. I oppose paying for a safety net and getting a tar pit instead.
posted by pla at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why Republicans Can No Longer Be Trusted on National Security: Because their leaders have become shallow, ignorant, and totally unserious on the issue that matters most.
posted by homunculus at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Republicans have a two-pronged problem: on social issues where what is "right" is primarily an issue of cultural consensus, they are increasingly in the minority, with no realistic hope of a massive return to racist, homophobic and sexist sentiment. On economic and scientific issues, where research determines what is likely to be right, they keep holding stubbornly on to wrong positions. Lower taxes didn't lead to more revenue. The earth really is warming, and humans are the cause. Evolution really happened. Iraq didn't sponsor 9/11. Birth control doesn't lead to tiny dead fetuses littering women's wombs. Women can get pregnant from rape.

So it really doesn't matter whether you are flowing with the national consensus on social issues or thinking critical through the facts and analysis. In either case, you are more likely to vote Democrat. The biggest chunk of the Republican base are people who are indoctrinated into regressive social positions or completely unable or willing to think about critical issues. That sounds harsh, but it's absolutely the truth. Your average Fox viewer is more likely to be wrong on objective reality than someone who watches no news at all.

So the GOP either has to change its positions, which it seems unwilling to do, or double down on propaganda, obstructionism, gerrymandering and vote suppression. That seems to be the tact it is taking. Thankfully, it's not really working, although it did let them keep the House.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:16 AM on February 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Whatever our respective stances on how we "should" spend our money, I suspect we can agree that the US does it very, very poorly.

By spending far, far too much of it on defense, mostly.
posted by caryatid at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


Aside from the right to firearms, which constitutional rights do you imagine the Left hates, exactly?

I'm a leftist to be sure but I'll admit that we're not always great on the tenth.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Limbaugh et al rose to popularity primarily by ranting and railing against political correctness run amok, which was at its height in the mid- and late 80s. Which is of course how Liberalism shot itself in the foot and corrupted its own successes--

This is true (the whole statement). This is why I never considered myself on the Left for the first half of my life. I knew little about politics but was turned off by the posturing. And why I now have no patience for "I’m more X than you" contests that sometimes go on. People that do that are toxic to the cause, they destroy movements and move on, often to the other side.

Younger people may not remember that there was a time when many mouthpieces on the Left looked to many people like that nutjobs on the Right do now, always trying to one up each other and gain ideologue points. That’s why you have these characterizations of Democratic leaders by the Right that seem out of left (hah!) field; many of the older voters remember it that way even though it doesn’t apply anymore.
posted by bongo_x at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


That second article boils down to a call for Republicans to move far left from where they are today. There's still a few conservative tent poles in there but a lot more of it was moderate or even a bit left of center.

One thing that was particularly surprising (and probably the final nail in discrediting the authors):

But equality of opportunity is not a natural state; it is a social achievement, for which government shares some responsibility.

Suggesting that capitalism needs government intervention to provide fair results is not going to sit well with a lot of people.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a leftist to be sure but I'll admit that we're not always great on the tenth.

The Tenth Amendment doesn't enshrine or protect any specific rights. It reserves rights not already delegated or prohibited to the people and/or the states.

What I want to know is what specific Constitutionally-protected rights the Left is supposed to hate.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:49 AM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought it was a good article, until I got to this part: "This is not just bad news for the Republican Party; it is bad news for the country. As much as at any time in recent history, America needs a strong, vibrant party on the right to speak for the civilizing ideal of limited government. Barack Obama has put in place an agenda of unreconstructed progressivism that is at war, not only with Reaganism, but also with Clintonism."
I couldn't read any more after that.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


A sure sign you are old is when you can remember the exact same tooth-gnashing from the current victors and gloating of the current losers from the previous swing of the pendulum.

Op ed writers are pretty much post-dated macros running every 4 or 8 years
posted by srboisvert at 10:51 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I’m going to say I told you so, but I’ve been predicting this meltdown for the last 10 years. The Republican party is a coalition of groups that not only have little in common, they should be on opposite sides.

I think the Republicans can and will come back if they ditch the God, Family Values, Morals Police angle and they concentrate on the "I pay too much taxes and deserve everything I’ve got based on my merits" ego driven Libertarian part of the party. There are way too many of those people, and they would vote Republican if it weren’t so distasteful and crazy.
posted by bongo_x at 10:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


If anything, the Republicans are probably in the process of realizing that it doesn't really matter if you ever win the White House, so long as you have a winning strategy for holding on to state legislatures and governorships. They can block outright, or whittle-away at whatever national laws they don't like from the state level. See: State laws restricting abortion.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


pla: "Yes, balance the budget. Yes, try to do so without raising taxes."

What is your alternative? Please show your work. Until then, we can only assume you are innumerate.
posted by JackFlash at 10:57 AM on February 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Just cut funding to NPR ... a couple hundred thousand times.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:01 AM on February 16, 2013


Jeffrey Toobin | The New Yorker: The Disappearing Republicans
The Republican nominees in five of the past six Presidential elections have disappeared from the face of the earth. Not literally, of course; Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and George H. W. Bush are all still alive. But all of them are gone from the political scene, absent at conventions, even the most recent inauguration. This is not a coincidence or a generational quirk. Rather, it reflects a fundamental problem with the contemporary Republican Party.
posted by ericb at 11:02 AM on February 16, 2013


I'm a leftist and I just despise the third amendment. I demand that Obama start quartering troops in all the Republicans' homes. The cognitive dissonance between "support our troops" and constitutional literalism would be priceless.
hamburger
posted by agentofselection at 11:05 AM on February 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


This is true (the whole statement). This is why I never considered myself on the Left for the first half of my life. I knew little about politics but was turned off by the posturing. And why I now have no patience for "I’m more X than you" contests that sometimes go on. People that do that are toxic to the cause, they destroy movements and move on, often to the other side.

This is just the left's version of the usual religious right's holier-than-thou game. There's a question over in ask that perfectly illustrates this mentality.
posted by rr at 11:18 AM on February 16, 2013


Karl Rove, Conservatives And The Battle For The GOP’s Soul.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on February 16, 2013


Limbaugh et al rose to popularity primarily by ranting and railing against political correctness run amok, which was at its height in the mid- and late 80s.

This and responses to it are really tweaking my "winners write the history" sense. I was in high school and college then, and what I remember is a few loud voices on the "PC" side, immediately turned into a huge straw man by Limbaugh et al. "PC run amok" existed in a very few places, but immediately became a rallying cry for the right out of all proportion to its actual influence.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:20 AM on February 16, 2013 [36 favorites]


The Republican gap on the digital front was obvious from the start. In early 2012 after it was clear that Romney would be the nominee, if you went to Romney's and Obama's respective Facebook pages, jotted down the count of People who Like this, and came back an hour or a day later, Obama's Likes growth was far outpacing Romney's. And he had already been president 3.5 years so you would think he might have maxed out. Not so. I checked this simple metric every few weeks and Obama's Likes growth was always greater than Obama's, even during the week of the Republican convention.
posted by beagle at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


On NPR today: College Republicans Offer GOP Advice For Winning Over Their Generation [audio and transcript].
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on February 16, 2013


I attended Canada's PC-est university in the mid-'90s (i.e. The PC Era), and watching Rush Limbaugh's show (which we did a few times, with drinks taken every time the camera cut to a minority in the audience, which was often) was like a window into an alternate universe.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2013


"PC run amok" existed in a very few places, but immediately became a rallying cry for the right out of all proportion to its actual influence.

I was in high school and college then, too, and remember it differently. Perhaps regional culture influenced this heavily, i.e. how different was one's local culture from the cultural model being advanced by social liberals; the greater the difference the more strident such P.C. advocacy seemed.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:33 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a first-world nation, we pay a lot in taxes for what we get from it. Yes, (some) Europeans pay more. And they get a hell of a lot more for it
Actually, US tax rates are very low for a 1st world nation.

In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP. In the OECD, only Chile and Mexico taxed less as a share of GDP.

Payroll taxes are imposed by the federal and all state governments. These include Social Security and Medicare taxes imposed on both employers and employees, at a combined rate of 15.3% (13.3% for 2011 and 2012).

US income tax rates have also been consistently falling for decades; the expiry of the Bush tax cuts I think is the first increase on income taxes in a very long time.

US state sales taxes are also low; 20% VAT is the rough average across the EU, and lets not even start on fuel taxes. Local property taxes are not high by 1st world nations either.

Nor is it that the US is uniquely more productive; the french are more productive per hour worked, for example.

One big difference, is healthcare, of course - universal coverage is generally paid for out of taxes in most places, while it's a personal/pay package expense in the US. That said, the US spends about as much on health care per capita as european countries, for fairly mediocre outcomes overall, as well as millions left without care at all - the difference is that a small number of people get very good care in very nice facilities, and a lot of healthcare companies make a lot of profit.

The US is a low tax country that spends an awful lot of it on the defence and justice industries, while education, health care, transportation and various other government services are bluntly, pretty poorly funded. Now, what you want to do about that is another question altogether, but it's simply not the case that americans are taxed heavily to provide cadillac services to the poor, at least in comparison to basically the entire rest of the 1st world.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:37 AM on February 16, 2013 [35 favorites]


Ugh, these schadenfreude dancing-on-the -Republican-graves threads. Please spend time anywhere in the country outside of the 10-mile perimeter around major metro areas, and then get back to me.

Anecdotally I can say that I recently moved 20 miles north from the inner-ring suburb I'd been in many years, and sometimes it's like I instead time-traveled 60 years backward. I also spend time in a more urban but heavily Muslim place that has its own flavor of conservativism.

So I encounter everyone from Tea Partiers who've publicly to my face referred to Obama as a chimp and have bumper stickers that read "My Other Auto is a Glock" to men who don't let their daughters go to school un-burquaed or alone. (Free tip to Rs: If you could ramp down your Muslim hysteria your other messages might actually appeal to some of the latter group.)

I do have great hopes that an increasingly diverse population and access to the Net even in every little town will expose more people to the fact that different ain't bad. But I still think the Rs have a large, willing and willfully ignorant audience, and that history shows us how frightfully quickly people will take one step forward, 20 steps backward.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Democrats have a built-in structural advantage in the Electoral College now while Republicans have a structural advantage in the House. The Republican Party is hardly dying.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:43 AM on February 16, 2013


Fiscal conservatism and social liberalism don't fit together...doing right by people is expensive. And should be done. Maybe if we didn't socialize loss in business and privatize profit, that would be a start?
posted by maxwelton at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"PC run amok" existed in a very few places, but immediately became a rallying cry for the right out of all proportion to its actual influence.

Which of course doesn't rule it out as being effective. It was just a type of "othering", and in my experience setting up a boogie man for people to rally against 1) is almost always effective, and 2) needs only the smallest connection to reality.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:50 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This and responses to it are really tweaking my "winners write the history" sense. I was in high school and college then, and what I remember is a few loud voices on the "PC" side, immediately turned into a huge straw man by Limbaugh et al.

I don't think it was turned into that huge of a straw man. The "PC" philosophy is still alive and well, and in profoundly deep denial of certain very basic social facts.

As a historical for-example, consider people with a disability.

The word "imbecile" was a very unambiguous and neutral descriptor of a mental issue wherein their cognitive abilities are developmentally behind those of most of the population. Those limitations are seen, for very real and practical reasons, as undesirable. Immature and childish people began using it as a pejorative. That word was not originally intended to be pejorative, just descriptive.

The same with "mentally retarded." Unfortunately, that continues to describe a state that for very real and practical reasons, is undesirable versus the alternative. It became a pejorative. New terms were invented.

Lather, rinse, repeat with "slow," "special," "differently abled," etc. So long as the underlying description is not a desirable outcome, immature and childish people will use it as a pejorative. We cannot call people with cognitive disabilities "retarded' anymore, no more than we can call them "imbeciles."

Before long, we will not be able to use the term "cognitive disability" any longer. Even then, "disability" is already darn near a third rail.

This is political correctness run amok. When describing a real problem that is an undesirable outcome, in a few years it will become a common pejorative, and the self-appointed defenders of the unfortunate people with those disabilities will come tell you you can't use those words anymore. Simply not being up on the latest in the discourse moves a person from correctness to whatever-ist because the consensus has swayed that now you are a bad person for using the term.

This is what the left was doing in the 70s and 80s, and why I still reflexively recoil and rebel against anything (left OR right) that has a whiff of Thought Police about it.
posted by chimaera at 11:52 AM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is political correctness run amok. When describing a real problem that is an undesirable outcome, in a few years it will become a common pejorative, and the self-appointed defenders of the unfortunate people with those disabilities will come tell you you can't use those words anymore.

The euphemism treadmill!
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have one side that won't even admit we have a spending problem, insisting that we can spend our way out of anything.

What side is that? It's not the administration of Barack Obama, because that's not what I hear him saying. It's only what I hear Fox News accusing him of.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:55 AM on February 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


The "PC" philosophy is still alive and well, and in profoundly deep denial of certain very basic social facts ...

The interesting thing is that the first article shows how a very similar process to the one you've described has happened with the term "Republican". Purportedly signifying small government and individual freedom, people look at their day-to-day experience and can't help but associate it with" “Corporate greed.” ... “Rich.” ... “Hypocritical.” ... “Narrow-minded.” ... “Polarizing.”
posted by benito.strauss at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2013


Before long, we will not be able to use the term "cognitive disability" any longer. Even then, "disability" is already darn near a third rail.

This is political correctness run amok.


No, it's kind of the way language works and has always worked and doesn't have much to do with political anything. I mean, did you ever think about the fact that we call people "senior citizens" because we don't like to say "old?' Can you imagine how much we would laugh at that phrase if it were invented today?
posted by escabeche at 12:10 PM on February 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I work with seniors at the library, but the (by no means universally) preferred nomenclature these days is "older adults," although a lot of people fiercely resist any attempt to categorize anyone over 40 by age. I would expect that as more and more BZoomers become...less young...the accepted term will become "Awesome Adults."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:22 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The absolute dead giveaway to me concerning the Republican "brand" these days is this: many, many, many of my Republican friends, when asked about their political affiliation today, are much more inclined to self-identify as "independents" rather than Republicans.

Does this change their voting behavior? Maybe, but probably not. But when you've begun to mentally run away from the actual term "Republican"...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


We don't have a spending problem. We have an unemployment problem. We have a global warming problem. We have an infrastructure decay problem. We have a natural resources depletion problem. We have an inequality problem. We have a corruption problem. We do not have a spending problem.
posted by eagles12 at 12:26 PM on February 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


If anything, the Republicans are probably in the process of realizing that it doesn't really matter if you ever win the White House, so long as you have a winning strategy for holding on to state legislatures and governorships.

Holding state governments is the booby prize. The real money and the real power is in the federal government, which has gotten its way via financial bullying for time immemorial. And in the federal government, the executive has been expanding its own power willy-nilly no matter what ideology is in office.

The Republican's need the presidency, not only for bragging rights and the reasons above, but also due to their predilection for starting wars. Technically North Dakota can invade Canada, but it wouldn't get much help from Washington.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2013


Tell Me No Lies, it's your third metafilter birthday! Not relevant to the thead, but I just noticed.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:34 PM on February 16, 2013


The billions we spend on "defense" seems like a problem to me.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


They won an election where the terrible, out-of-touch Republican candidate, who ran a terrible, out-of-touch campaign, could have won by flipping just three percent of the electorate, no less. That is not a knockout blow.

The problem is there is currently no Republican candidate who could make it through the nomination process who could win. Huntsman? Might have rolled over the Dems. The GOP has spent the last three decades building up a huge margin amongst people born before 1960. To say that's a time-limited strategy is axiomatic.

Second, the Dems are, frankly, presenting what the country needs right now. A tax policy that looks like the 1950's, not Ancien Regime France. Pulling out of the stupidest war ever and putting an end date on a necessary war that cannot last forever. Not cutting essential services that prop up aggregate demand which needs a boost. Actually going after the terrorists the GOP pretended to base their foreign policy on and refusing to boost up the old Arab regimes that generated the problem in the first place. Ending our dependence on foreign oil and moving the economy towards alternative sources of energy that are not based on petroleum. Ending tax breaks for oil producers. Rewriting the financial services law to reign in the excesses that created an -8.9% drop in GDP in a single quarter. Stopping bigotry in the Armed Forces so all may serve. Supporting gay marriage. Moving towards an immigration policy that acknowledges reality.

The GOP cannot even approach a responsible position that even approaches where 70% of the country is on these issues, including a majority of its own voters, because it has increasingly relied on a narrow demographic with a lot of energy but fewer and fewer votes.

Personally, I think they are done for. There will still be two parties. One will be center-left by the standards of 2000 and the other one will be left.

In other words, a paradigm shift.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, it was a close election, and thanks to our nutso electoral system Romney could've won if a quarter of the margin votes had gone his way (barely 1% of the counted votes, or 0.6% of eligible votes, based on my math). But you also have to factor in the return on investment. The Democrats got a lot more electoral bang for their buck, and part of the reason is that they spent just enough on Obama to ensure an electoral victory (leaving money available for other races). From that perspective, the narrow margin was a feature, not a bug.

What a lot of the young Republican "pollsters" in this article seem to be missing is that it's not an accident that the party is alienating people. The Democratic edge among minorities is because the Republicans (as a bloc) don't like policies would help minorities, and in many cases it's because they don't like people of color. Changing or downplaying that fact will reduce support among the far-right wing. Principles like "you can't win by subtraction" don't apply when you're not winning now, and you can't do anything differently without subtracting people.

And for all the hemming and hawing about these folks being socially tolerant but fiscally conservative, I'll say this: Romney would certainly have signed any oppressive puritanical garbage congress sent his way, but that was not his primary campaign focus. Until the "47%" debacle, he was overwhelmingly presenting himself as Fiscal Guy, and even afterwards he couldn't switch to social issues too hard because of his history of (politically convenient) pro-choice posturing. The social conservatives didn't lose this battle for him.

Romney lost because he was a bad candidate. The popular vote was close because the Republicans make up in engagement what they lack in popular support, and that makes a huge impact when voter turnout is less than 60%.

The Republicans' public image is (deservedly) in the toilet, and earning it back will be slow going. However, the zealots have proven themselves more than eager to play the "RINO" card and jump ship to more extreme candidates within two years of a black president being inaugurated. That means that becoming more moderate is a losing move for the GOP in the short term.

The zealots are getting older and less healthy, though, and the country isn't getting any whiter, and conservative fiscal policies aren't making the average person any richer. If they don't take that short-term hit, they'd better hope they can suppress enough votes to win with 75% of the country against them.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would expect that as more and more BZoomers become...less young...the accepted term will become "Awesome Adults."

Is that a new term, BZoomers? I like it. I am a boomer of not-yet-60. I call myself an old lady. I am being ironic, but it would not distress me greatly if others called me an old lady too.
posted by caryatid at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Defense spending is a differen't kind of problem than what people usually refer to when they talk about a "spending problem". The federal government is not analogous to a pocketbook or corporate balance sheet: no matter how matter how much people might wish that were true.
posted by eagles12 at 12:50 PM on February 16, 2013


A joke? I was just a kid, but I remember him as the most popular character on the show.

Right - and it was a sitcom. He was the best joke, the most ridiculous character. He was like the Jack Donaghy character on 30 Rock - lovable, but preposterous.

Yes, I'm actually serious: in our youthful political activism in the late 1980s it was actually cool to be a Republican.

ha. Well, I guess it's partly semantic (what "cool" means) and partly just where we each were. The late 80s to me politically were all about pink triangles, red ribbons, NOW ('84 was the first female VP candidate, '92 was the first multi-female senate), and Jesse Jackson running for president. College campuses were full of anti-war protests in the early 90s...

I'm sure I lived in a liberal bubble, but I guess that's all I'm thinking - no one's experience is objective, and to say it was cool to be a republican in the 80s just sounds bizarre to me, though that could just be because to me by definition "cool" meant in opposition to the establishment (at least, if the establishment was stodgy old white guys - not sure how that works when you actually have cool leaders...) . But that's the point: I'm sure there are people who think it's cool to be republican or libertarian now. It just depends where you are and who you're spending time with.
posted by mdn at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


maxwelton : Fiscal conservatism and social liberalism don't fit together...doing right by people is expensive.

Don't conflate "liberal" with "progressive". Not caring what you do so long as it doesn't affect me does not include enforcing, at the point of government guns, that everyone in our society falls within a narrow range of quality-of-life issues.

Giving people a basic quality of life costs money, but we can (and IMO should) fund that; it only starts to get expensive when we try to pretend we can lift the majority up into the lifestyle of the upper middle class.


caryatid : I, too, am curious about the constitutional rights (plural, really?) the Left is supposed to "hate," as opposed to "wish were better regulated."

Hate speech still counts as speech, guns is guns, and the commerce clause doesn't count as a crowbar against the tenth amendment. Ironically, the 13th amendment also bans the liberally-popular forced "volunteerism" now required by many high schools as a condition of graduation. And hell, we've seen a complaint in this very thread against the 17th amendment (2 senators per state). And before some smartasses point it out, yes, I would take a restored 5th amendment over dying on the volunteerism hill; but you asked.

You can't regulate express prohibitions against regulation into behaving the way you want them to.


eagles12 : The federal government is not analogous to a pocketbook or corporate balance sheet: no matter how matter how much people might wish that were true.

The federal government has the luxury of stealing money from the future, effectively creating money out of thin air. That power doesn't come for free, however, and we need to use it only in real emergencies (and pay the future back ASAP when the crisis passes).
posted by pla at 1:03 PM on February 16, 2013


Actually, US tax rates are very low for a 1st world nation.

For my wife and I the difference between the USA and the UK nets out to be pretty close to zero once you make sure you are comparing apples to apples (ie including health care costs). The advantage is that many of the components that comprise the rest of the cost of living are far cheaper.

The biggest difference is that in America you have to spend a lot of your own free time sorting shit out like doing your taxes and managing your health care and pension and being careful about 'bad neighbourhoods'.
posted by srboisvert at 1:04 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> We don't have a spending problem. We have an unemployment problem. We have a global warming problem. We have an
> infrastructure decay problem. We have a natural resources depletion problem. We have an inequality problem. We have a
> corruption problem. We do not have a spending problem.

How much have we spent on those first five problems? I remember a big bank rescue. Anything else? Mr. Krugman seems to think there hasn't been. Does that count as a spending problem?

It's a quite strange feeling, to be one of the most conservative regulars here and to find Mr. Obama entirely right wing enough to suit me, so much so that I have voted comfortably for him twice now. If anything, I am actually a bit over to the left of him on certain issues like government surveillance and data mining, and unrestricted drone warfare (not to mention the Forever War against Al Qaida and friends.) Weird.
posted by jfuller at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hate speech still counts as speech, guns is guns, and the commerce clause doesn't count as a crowbar against the tenth amendment. Ironically, the 13th amendment also bans the liberally-popular forced "volunteerism" now required by many high schools as a condition of graduation. And hell, we've seen a complaint in this very thread against the 17th amendment (2 senators per state). And before some smartasses point it out, yes, I would take a restored 5th amendment over dying on the volunteerism hill; but you asked.

In English, please? Are you saying "the Left" hates the 1st, the 2nd, the 5th, the 13th, and the 17th? It is not at all clear.
posted by caryatid at 1:09 PM on February 16, 2013


caryatid :In English, please? Are you saying "the Left" hates the 1st, the 2nd, the 5th, the 13th, and the 17th? It is not at all clear.

I didn't choose to say that because reality has more nuance than "the Left hates the 1st, the 2nd, the 5th, the 13th, and the 17th" - Though as regards the fifth, you took that entirely backward (the Right has done far more against it than the Left, IMO).

I didn't come into this discussion to pick a fight over which side hates which constitutional rights, thus the brevity of my response. Suffice it to say, both sides have "rights" they'd prefer none of us exercise.
posted by pla at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2013


Hasn't been what? Finish your sentence so I know what I am replying to. Right now we have a lot of unemployed people and unutilized productive capacity. That is reflected in low inflation and very low borrowing costs for the federal government. Attempts to balance the budget righ now would merely further depress economic activity, risk plunging the country back into a recession, and possibly cause the budget deficit to widen further due to decreased tax revenues. Meanwhile, we have the problems I mentioned above: the solutions to which would immensely improve all our lives and as a side effect grow the economy thereby making the debt we do have easier to pay off.

If we can't recognize this who cares what the Republicans do?
posted by eagles12 at 1:24 PM on February 16, 2013


Fiscal conservatism and social liberalism don't fit together...doing right by people is expensive.

It's very easy to make them fit together. Government regulates and limits capitalism in the same way that culture regulates and limits individual choice.

Personally, I think they are done for. There will still be two parties. One will be center-left by the standards of 2000 and the other one will be left.

I think the paradigm shift will go the other way. Social issues will no longer be a political issue, so many fiscal conservatives who vote democrat over social issues will start voting for the new libertarian GOP, forcing the democrats to the right on economic policy. Libertarianism will be the new center.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:28 PM on February 16, 2013


Libertarianism will be the new center.

I think we're pretty much there already.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:31 PM on February 16, 2013


I hope that happens if only for the entertainment value when everything people thought was serious and smart causes their whole world to come crashing down around them. I've always wanted to know what it was like to live through a global disaster like WW1 or WW2.
posted by eagles12 at 1:34 PM on February 16, 2013


Tell Me No Lies: Suggesting that capitalism needs government intervention to provide fair results is not going to sit well with a lot of people.

This is unfortunately true. Also, all of those people are fools.
posted by localroger at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Right - and it was a sitcom. He was the best joke, the most ridiculous character. He was like the Jack Donaghy character on 30 Rock - lovable, but preposterous.

Nope. Not even close. Jack Donaghy is the antagonist/villain in a pointed satire, so of course he's ridiculous. Everything about the show and his role in it colours his character's wealth, power and self-confidence ironically.

Alex P. Keaton was the protagonist in a warm family sitcom. He was a mild parody of the Reagan conservative in his appearance and cultural trappings, but he was in essence the hero of the show - a show that asked viewers, every episode, to relate to and empathize with and cheer for him and his family. That Alex adored Reagan and apologized for Nixon defanged their real malice and made them lovable quirks. And that Alex was played by Michael J. Fox - one of the most beloved actors of his time and the very hip star of a major film franchise - added further shades of cool to the dorkier aspects of Alex's character.

What's more, the fools in the Family Ties story arc were almost always the parents - the aging-hippie, mushy-liberal, public-TV-toiling icons of a previous generation of cool. Old hippie liberalism was ridiculous; reactionary conservatism was thus portrayed as a natural and youthful response to it. Connect the dots between Alex P. Keaton and Gordon Gekko and "Hip to Be Square" and PJ O'Rourke's Republican Party Reptile, and I think you could make a pretty strong case that the mid to late 80s was the apex point for conservative cool in the whole postwar era.
posted by gompa at 2:10 PM on February 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Jack Donaghy is the antagonist/villain

Does Canada get a different 30 Rock than the US?
posted by dersins at 2:14 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does Canada get a different 30 Rock than the US?

Well, it's satire, so the archetypal roles are a bit mixed up on 30 Rock. But insofar as you can say the series has a story arc, that arc is Liz Lemon the neurotic liberal TV producer tries to find status and happiness at NBC. Her best-laid plans are consistently thwarted by a wide range of characters, but her ultimate nemesis - who increasingly becomes either her partner-in-crime or her mentor or her corruptor, depending how you want to see it - is Jack Donaghy. He's everything she claims to loathe about TV and the corporate world and America generally, but ultimately she's seduced by his power and charm.

If that's not an antagonist's role, what is? Who is? All of Liz's other tormenters are complete fools. Again, it's a freewheeling satire and so the structure shifts around episode to episode and season to season, but who else but Jack Donaghy could be considered the antagonist? I suppose you could say NBC itself, but Jack's the physical embodiment of the network.
posted by gompa at 2:23 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Money is a human invention. It's all created. "Capital" is probably a better term for what you are trying to describe, but even then you would be completely wrong. Investments in infastructurea, science, and education now would increase capital thereby making future people wealthier. That is actually a side issue if want to look purely at economic performance, debts , and deficits, however.
posted by eagles12 at 2:24 PM on February 16, 2013


Drop the war against fun, the war against women, the war against homosexuality, the war against earning a fair wage (which while arguably fiscal, I consider the reasons behind it mere puritanical "work ethic" BS), the war against everything "Youth Culture" embodies... And drop the Wars, period, let's stay out of other people's sandboxes for a few years, in particular let's stay the hell out of anywhere someone else calls a "holy" land.

Yes, balance the budget. Yes, try to do so without raising taxes (though yield a little if it will make-or-break an otherwise great deal).


See, the reason why they have that war against fun is because to explain how to balance the budget without huge tax hikes on the rich and middle class along with massive cuts to services we all support like Medicare and Social Security is impossible. They determined it's better to focus on religion than to cater to an insane politically infeasible budget fantasy, and that makes more sense than what you want them to do. There's a reason Paul Ryan had to STFU about his budget as soon as it was paid lip service to by adding him to the Romney ticket.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:24 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


pla: "Giving people a basic quality of life costs money, but we can (and IMO should) fund that; it only starts to get expensive when we try to pretend we can lift the majority up into the lifestyle of the upper middle class."

What ever are you babbling about? The average Social Security check is $1200 a month. The average food stamp benefit is $130 a month. The average unemployment check is $1200 a month. You have a very strange concept of "upper middle class."
posted by JackFlash at 2:25 PM on February 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


What ever are you babbling about?

ObamaPhones, probably.
posted by goethean at 2:33 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Limbaugh et al rose to popularity primarily by ranting and railing against political correctness run amok, which was at its height in the mid- and late 80s.

Sure, back in the day asking people not to be racist and sexist had some backlash. A hatemonger on the radio got popular. It also helped turn the Democrats into the party ready to elect Barack Obama. I'm not his biggest fan, but the political dividends from being that party are going to pay off for a century among those ashamed of our racist, sexist, homophobic past.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The moral of all these stories is that the Republican Party can't keep up to the times and technology and pace of information, refuses to engage with internal voices of reason and the young who frequent their spectrum wavelength, and jettison policy baggage that was out of touch thirty years ago. Their solutions are laughable, ie, throw money at it and hope it goes away, courtesy of 'rebranding' and massaging the medium and not the message. George W's legacy is one that grows more fetid and rotten as the years pass, and under Rove/Cheney's stewardship, laid the proper seeds of Republicans versus The Tubes, a war whose "Mission Accomplished" is about as ephemeral as their imminent resurgence.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 2:44 PM on February 16, 2013


JackFlash : What ever are you babbling about? The average Social Security check is $1200 a month. The average food stamp benefit is $130 a month. The average unemployment check is $1200 a month. You have a very strange concept of "upper middle class."

What do I mean? I don't eat out a lot. I drive modest cars (the only area in which I "splurge" on them, I pay a bit more than I could otherwise to get better gas mileage and do my part for the environment). Most of my recreation, I get more-or-less for free (I hike, primarily, which both costs little and benefits my health). In another decade, I will have my mortgage paid off. At that point, my partner and I could easily maintain our current standard of living on $2400/month.

Now... If I currently couldn't afford to put $2k/month toward a mortgage*, if I currently couldn't pay bills and end up a bit more in the hole every week, if I currently couldn't maintain my health and run up a "deficit" medical condition, yeah, my retirement would suck. Living in a trailer eating cat-food. On the same amount.

THAT describes what I babble about, what "fiscally conservative" means to me. You consider $1200 a month a pittance. I consider it more than enough.


goethean : ObamaPhones, probably.

You can listen to someone more on your side than against, or you can mock me. Your choice, but I promise you that I learn from our conversations. Maybe not what you want me to, but I do take something useful away from all this.


* Note that if I couldn't afford $2k/month, I would live elsewhere and own a smaller home. For comparison, an $80k double-wide at 3% for 30 years comes out to a mere $337 per month.
posted by pla at 2:56 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ironically, the 13th amendment also bans the liberally-popular forced "volunteerism" now required by many high schools as a condition of graduation.

no, it doesn't, any more than having to do homework or show up for class does

it's not involuntary as you can choose to not earn a diploma, as many people do - you can get a G E D, you can be homeschooled, you can go to a private school, or you can just be an uneducated bum and drop out

it's not involuntary at all
posted by pyramid termite at 3:06 PM on February 16, 2013


THAT describes what I babble about, what "fiscally conservative" means to me. You consider $1200 a month a pittance. I consider it more than enough.

"You can live modestly on twice that, so you should get less even though you paid into it!"
posted by Drinky Die at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


People who think "Political correctness" is somehow oppressive and limiting strike me as the type of people who complain about how it's unfair that white people aren't "allowed" to say "nigger".
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:09 PM on February 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


I mean, am I really a crazy liberal if I think we can give Grandma a big enough check to fly off to see the kids at the Holidays instead of just absolute bare bones survival? Especially since we made her move that far away because the rent in the neighborhood she lived in her whole life was too high and pla didn't want to pay for that?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:15 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pla, the problem is that your views don't appear to be connected to anything resembling a coherant or factually accurate description of reality that applies to the topics being discussed. You described a fiscally conservative personal philosophy. That is fine and admirable. Everyone should live that way. It's meaningless when you try to apply it to discussions concerning the budget or the macro economy.
posted by eagles12 at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, how come the Republicans could gerrymander the districts to always win? Also why they have more governorships? Explain like I am five. The Dems need to work to change this - maybe it is not representative and they could sell it on those grounds?
posted by marienbad at 3:28 PM on February 16, 2013


I would argue that Jack Donoaghy has never been the show's antagonist. The real theme of the show is the difference between Liz Lemon's self-perception and who she actually is -- man vs. himself, if you will, so she functions as both the show's protagonist and antagonist. Jack is there as a reflection of Liz, not to get in her way. Consistently, while Liz claims to be a liberal, when given a chance, she behaves with the mindless self-interest she ascribes to conservatives. Put in charge of firing people, she fires them for selfish reasons, and then just for contradicting her -- she instantly becomes a fascist. Given a chance to make money, she will instantly seize it, and then mock her underlings. She is repeatedly shown as being a bully, and she constantly undermines the success of people she thinks don't deserve it, even when they are her friends.

Yet Jack, for all his conservative rhetoric, consistently acts compassionately, aids people because they need it, and rejects his own interests in favor of what is better for the group. He is often in behavior far more liberal than Liz, and just as Liz is presented as actually writing a pretty crappy show, despite her sense of herself as being a skilled comic writer, Jack is consistently presented as being a pretty crappy businessman, despite the fact that he carries himself like he's great at what he does. All he does well is play power games, and even those often backfire. Eventually (SPOILER) he is forced to admit he doesn't really know how to run a television network and turn it over to the only character who genuinely cares about television, who is, unsurprisingly at this point, not Liz.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:29 PM on February 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


pyramid termite : it's not involuntary as you can choose to not earn a diploma

Entirely fair point. But don't complain when I don't want to support your generation of dropouts. Not every "option" really counts as "optional", you know.


Drinky Die : "You can live modestly on twice that, so you should get less even though you paid into it!"

Hey, put me as the first one in line to opt-out of SSI. Until then, yes, you can live modestly on twice that (or three, or four times that - You don't need to live alone, you know, nor do you need to live in a traditional one-man-one-woman household). $1200/month for doing nothing but staying alive (on top of medicare and whatever housing and food assistance you may qualify for) doesn't let you live like a king? Cry me a goddamned river, dude!


eagles12 : Pla, the problem is that your views don't appear to be connected to anything resembling a coherant or factually accurate description of reality that applies to the topics being discussed.

Er, re-read that. One of us describes a better reality. One of us calls it not good enough. Which of us would you say has a less coherent "or factually accurate description of reality that applies to the topics being discussed"?


You described a fiscally conservative personal philosophy. That is fine and admirable. Everyone should live that way. It's meaningless when you try to apply it to discussions concerning the budget or the macro economy.

No. It becomes meaningless when we mock people donating money we, out of charity, choose as a society to give to people so they can have a basic life of dignity. As I said to goethean, "you can listen to someone more on your side than against, or you can mock me". A whole lot of conservatives, fiscal or otherwise, would grudge you even that much. Choose your "friends" carefully.


SSI never started as a way to let people retire to a life of luxury. It lets people retire without worrying about starving to death. If you've set yourself up so you can live on that, you can live in reasonable, modest comfort on that. If you haven't - It'll keep you alive.
posted by pla at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2013


If that's not an antagonist's role, what is? Who is?

Why does 30 Rock require some kind of chief antagonist? Why can't it be a balanced ensemble sitcom where the characters are a mix of good and evil? That always seemed like one of its strengths - contra, say, Seinfeld, where the characters are likeable to each other but generally shallow jerks.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well ... pla's proposed "fiscally conservative" economy, as described, would logically have to include things like universal medical care (people can't live on $1200 a month if they have crippling medical debt, as pla points out), heavily subsidized housing for those in need ($1200 a month drops precipitously if a third of it or more is sucked into rent), etc.

If pla is genuinely talking about a system with a real social safety net where people are not allowed to fall through the cracks as a result of disability, mental or physical illness, lack of opportunity to save money, lack of opportunity to purchase property, unpredictable catastrophe, or what have you, then adding a modest amount on top of that for additional basic necessities doesn't sound insane.

However, it is also so far from what is usually described as "fiscally conservative" in the U.S. that I'm not at all sure that's what pla means. It's certainly very far from the practically "sink or swim" system that exists now, and the things it would require are things most U.S. "fiscal conservatives" don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Universal medical care is a must, and it is difficult to see how such a system would work for everyone, or even the vast majority, without such elements as subsidized housing, likely also subsidized food, reasonable public transportation (not everyone is able to drive, or can afford a car), solid disaster relief programs, etc., etc. Now, some of that would actually save money in the long run, and some of it would cost money, but all of it requires *spending* taxpayer money one way or another, which is not normally the U.S. fiscal conservative position.

So as far as I can tell, pla either has (1) a reasonable position that is probably unrecognizable as what most of the U.S. calls fiscal conservatism, or is (2) attempting to argue that, somehow, the modest amount that is reasonable for pla should also be considered reasonable for those who are or have become ill, homeless, disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged.

I don't know which it is.
posted by kyrademon at 3:45 PM on February 16, 2013


Pla, better or worse doesn't even enter into it. You can think programs like social security or Medicare should be expanded on moral grounds, or you can think they should be abolished based on different moral grounds. The economic relationships I've described restrict your actions in either case. You might as well try and dispute gravity.
posted by eagles12 at 3:45 PM on February 16, 2013


Limbaugh et al rose to popularity primarily by ranting and railing against political correctness run amok, which was at its height in the mid- and late 80s.


For all the shit that supposedly "anti-PC" people throw at euphemisms, "political correctness" is the world's biggest weasel word. It is vacuous. It is devoid of meaning. It is a rhetorical tool to dismiss a raft of arguments questioning 1950s-style (or 1950s-regurgitated 1980s) social order. Most arguments employing "anti-PC" logic are based on tropes that everyone just knows are correct.
posted by blueberry sushi at 3:50 PM on February 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


My apologies. I accept your rebukes at attempting anything even remotely resembling a moderate stance. Clearly, no middle ground exists, and I look forward to the unavoidable revolution. Good times, good times!
posted by pla at 4:27 PM on February 16, 2013


[Do not bring fights from other threads in here; you know where the MeTa is. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:31 PM on February 16, 2013


$1200/month for doing nothing but staying alive (on top of medicare and whatever housing and food assistance you may qualify for) doesn't let you live like a king? Cry me a goddamned river, dude!

Maybe you could point me to the suggestions that everybody should live like royalty that anybody is making or if not stop strawmanning.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:45 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, this is the essence of the Republican fallacy. It's Welfare Queens all over again. It's a powerful moral argument about something that doesn't really exist.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 PM on February 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why aren't the government's success promoted through advertising? Or are they?

It seems to me that Americans are, on the whole, very poorly informed about ... well, most everything, but in this case, about the reality of the things Ironmouth mentions. Shouldn't the government be playing a role in educating citizens?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


pla: " In another decade, I will have my mortgage paid off. At that point, my partner and I could easily maintain our current standard of living on $2400/month."

This is hilarious. You are spending 200% of the average social security check plus another $2000 a month on your housing for a total of 367%. Yet you think the social security person is in the upper middle class. That puts you in the stratosphere.

For comparison, an $80k double-wide at 3% for 30 years comes out to a mere $337 per month.

And where are you going to park your double-wide -- in the Walmart parking lot? In most places land is as expensive as houses. And good luck qualifying on a 3% mortgage on a mobile home with $1200 of social security. Have you even priced a loan on a mobile or manufactured home? It is more like 7% or 8% than 3%. Get a clue.

This kind of fantastical innumeracy is typical of fiscal conservatives who would have trouble balancing a checkbook, much less the federal budget, and is why you hear so much nonsense on the subject.
posted by JackFlash at 4:52 PM on February 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


I mean, this is the essence of the Republican fallacy. It's Welfare Queens all over again. It's a powerful moral argument about something that doesn't really exist.

At least when we're talking about social security fatcats we don't have the racism dogwhistle to deal with.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:53 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not sure what you are talking about. I think we are actually having different discussions.
posted by eagles12 at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2013


> "My apologies. I accept your rebukes at attempting anything even remotely resembling a moderate stance. Clearly, no middle ground exists, and I look forward to the unavoidable revolution. Good times, good times!"

So ... Should I just give up on your actually explaining your position, then?

Because I was genuinely curious.
posted by kyrademon at 5:03 PM on February 16, 2013


So, how come the Republicans could gerrymander the districts to always win? Also why they have more governorships? Explain like I am five. The Dems need to work to change this - maybe it is not representative and they could sell it on those grounds?

The progressive wave that elected Obama in 2008 was keenly focused on the presidency and to a lesser extent the Senate; the House just came along for the ride.

Things were different by 2010:

- The bubbling optimism of the Obama coalition collided with the cold reality of continuing economic hardship and an intransigent GOP minority that obstructed a lot of important progress. The compromises Obama had to make disappointed many.
- At the same time, corporate astroturfing whipped up the nascent Tea Party into a frothing rage over healthcare reform, the stimulus package, and various nutbar conspiracy theories (see also: Beck, Glenn) and gave them the funding and organizational and media support to become a national force
- Howard Dean was out as DNC chair at this point, and with him went his vaunted 50-state strategy that made sweeping victories like 2008 possible. Also, OFA (Obama For America/Organizing For America), Obama's campaign structure, was neglected shortsightedly after his victory.

So basically, the Democratic base was demoralized and depressed, the Republicans were furious and itching for vengeance, and the broad-based networks that powered Democratic gains at the state and local level had been left by the wayside. And really, midterm elections without the White House at stake always see lower turnout, and low turnout benefits small but energized minorities like the Tea Party.

As a result, uberconservatives swept into power, not just in the House and (to a limited extent) the Senate, but overwhelmingly in state legislatures and governorships. And perfectly timed, as the state governments are the ones that draw district boundaries after each decade's census. The GOP majorities proceeded to draw the lines largely to their benefit, as well as plot other nasty schemes like voter suppression and gerrymandering the Electoral College.

So, even if Democrats manage to somehow retake the levers of power in the states, Republicans now have a structural advantage in House elections that will last until at least 2020, when the next census is scheduled.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:04 PM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


This kind of fantastical innumeracy is typical of fiscal conservatives who would have trouble balancing a checkbook, much less the federal budget, and is why you hear so much nonsense on the subject.

It's the same doublethink that leads to $40-50K being an absurdly luxuriant salary when we're talking about teachers, but when we're not then the middle class is people earning $200-250K or $300-600K depending on the Republican.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:06 PM on February 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


The GOP just needs to find ways to market themselves differently to different people. To the young and the wealthy they can be the libertarian party. To the elderly they can still be seen as protectors SSI and medicare from lazy or immigrant freeloaders. To the working class they can be job creators and protectors from outsourcing and immigration. To fundamentalist Christians they can be the God party. To the military, they are not commie Democrats. They already are the gun party, and that means a lot in the US. I would have thought regressing back to the days of closeted racism like, "I know you're thinking what I'm thinking but we can't say it because it wouldn't be 'politically correct,'" would be an appalling mistake considering the demographic changes and the slow recession of racist attitudes in the US, but apparently there may still be a significant audience for that sort of thing. It would seem difficult to mold together so many contradictions into one political party, but politics always makes strange bedfellows, and with the right leadership figure and a well tailored sales pitch the hearts of America can be captured, as WSB illustrates so well in 'The Coming of the Purple Better One.'
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:07 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


To all the people saying that the Republicans are still dominant because they've pulled the nation to the right (to the point where Obama is a center-right president, historically speaking) or because they still control the House and a majority of governorships: it's not that you're wrong, it's just that we need to locate this moment properly in political history.

I personally think we're at 1968, except with the sides flipped. Progressives often comment that Nixon was a liberal by today's standards, but that's because he was at the very beginning of a conservative wave, as Obama is now at the beginning of a Democratic wave. Nixon became President after over 30 years of liberal supremacy, and was a fairly effective president (until being impeached, of course) by operating within the contemporary political mainstream while working with his aides to build the structures of what would eventually become the new Republican majority.

It actually took over a decade to really solidify that Republican majority on all levels - when a party has been in power for so long, it takes a while for people to retire (incumbency is probably more powerful than party), for values to change, etc.

Democrats are absolutely ascendant right now, and I think the New York Times article did a really excellent job of showing how difficult it's going to be for the Republicans to stop that. Partly it's just their turn, partly it's that, as is often the case, those in power would prefer to hang onto the power they have, even if it's dwindling, than risk losing it by changing things or ceding power to young upstarts.

That's not to say progressives shouldn't keep telling Obama to move to the left. Absolutely we should, because that's part of what will build this change. But don't get too discouraged if it takes a few years for the elected officials to start to catch up to the electorate.
posted by lunasol at 5:15 PM on February 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, I thought this was a pretty good example of how things are spiralling for the Republicans now:

Young Republicans now lament that no one from their side has stepped up to organize a conservative version of RootsCamp. Michael Turk, a 42-year-old Republican digital guru, suggested that the failure of G.O.P. technologists to do this springs from a uniquely Republican trait. “They all wanted to make money,” he said. “And so as a result, Katie Harbath, who was one of my deputies at the R.N.C., is now at Facebook, and Mindy Finn” — a longtime G.O.P. digital operative — “is at Twitter, and Patrick and I each started our own companies. We all found ways to parlay that into a living for our families, as opposed to just doing it for the cause.”

It's not necessarily that Republicans want to make money more than Democrats do (thought that may be part of it), but also that it's just a lot less appealing to work for anything that's on the downswing. The top Obama people have a million opportunities, but a lot of them are going to stay in politics because it's compelling and feels worthwhile to be building something like this.

I remember in the late 90s and early 00s, as a young person first coming into progressive politics, it really felt like the conservatives had the smartest people, the most innovative techniques and the best operations. I knew a lot of progressive college students and recent grads, but no one wanted to work on campaigns because it seemed lame. But now I see so many progressive kids coming out of college who want to work on campaigns because interesting, exciting things are happening.

It's not a huge deal, because politics will always attract smart, ambitious people, but I think it's just another subtle thing that will continue to send the GOP on its downward spiral.
posted by lunasol at 5:24 PM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


JackFlash : This is hilarious. You are spending 200% of the average social security check plus another $2000 a month on your housing for a total of 367%. Yet you think the social security person is in the upper middle class. That puts you in the stratosphere.

"Retirement" happens after the prime of your life. You've spent 30-40 years paying your dues, you've bought your house, and just need to worry about the upkeep at that point. If you have failed to do so by that point - You have failed, period.


And where are you going to park your double-wide -- in the Walmart parking lot? In most places land is as expensive as houses.

Sorry to spoil your snark, but that included the land. You want MLS links? I can get you a hundred in my area for $80-90k, and with a decent amount of land at that. And if you don't mind old farm houses, I can halve that. Literally. You want a 2BR stick-built house on over an acre for $40k? Become my neighbor. Put up or shut up.


kyrademon : So ... Should I just give up on your actually explaining your position, then? Because I was genuinely curious.

Scroll back up and read. What do you want an explanation of? I expect the mods will start to get annoyed at me for dominating this conversation, but I'll gladly respond by MeMail.
posted by pla at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe : It's the same doublethink that leads to $40-50K being an absurdly luxuriant salary when we're talking about teachers, but when we're not then the middle class is people earning $200-250K or $300-600K depending on the Republican.

Salary, and cost of living, varies by area. In NYC or SF or DC, $200k doesn't make you all that well off. In Jacksonville, IL or Houlton, ME or Huntsville, AK, it makes you pretty damned rich. YMMV, no doublethink or mathematical retardation required.

Insult me if it makes you feel better, but at the end of the month, my "innumerate" budget balances, whether you mock me or take my advice..
posted by pla at 6:28 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with pla, teachers in New York should be making $200,000+ a year.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:21 PM on February 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, on that we should slash taxes on people living in the cities and raise them on people making $40,000 in rural areas since they are very wealthy.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, come on. Pointing out that cost of living is radically different in different types areas is not some kind of wild-eyed radical assertion.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:28 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The radical assertion is that everybody has to move out of the cities so they can afford to live when they get older, as if the mass exodus would do anything but raise the prices he is pointing to.

It is linked with the radical notion that we can never ever raise taxes because cost of living is higher somewhere. Cost of living is used as a smokescreen, it's of vital importance to make a point, but you will not hear Republicans demanding teachers or bus drivers actually get that salary or think it's a problem they make less than half of it.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:33 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just surprised the Paul Ryan hasn't proposed balancing the budget by moving poor people into all of those $337 a month houses. Who knew?
posted by JackFlash at 7:57 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If human beings were all autonomous units without families, friends, or cultural ties, then yes, simply moving to somewhere the cost of living is cheap after retirement would be a logical thing to do. But the thing about being old is, if you are alone, if you are far from a community, if your friends and families are hours away, your mortality risks go up. Because the thing about being old is, you're old. You have medical problems and an aging, less-able body. Driving long distances at night on country roads to get to church or the store...it's a problem. Dealing with steps after a hip injury...it's a problem. A problem that ends with a 911 call when your kids finally send the sherriff out to find your body in the living room of your cheap, practical doublewide in the middle of nowhere.

I think it's cruel, is what I'm saying. You work your whole life, you have a circle of friends and family and places you love to go and people you know, but suddenly you can't afford them anymore. Why is that ok? I don't think it is. I think it's heartless and stingy of us to do to people who have given and given their whole lives, who deserve a comforting and familiar place to live out their lives.
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 PM on February 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


How can the GOP save itself from obsolescence? Convince as many people as possible that they are comparatively rich (and will benefit from tax cuts/ suffer from taxes) and simultaneously part of the dominant (white suburban) culture.

That or just rig the system while no one is paying attention. I mean, its not as if they all the time in the world to claw back. Once Texas goes blue, its Game Over, man!
posted by Slackermagee at 8:53 PM on February 16, 2013


"Retirement" happens after the prime of your life. You've spent 30-40 years paying your dues, you've bought your house, and just need to worry about the upkeep at that point. If you have failed to do so by that point - You have failed, period.

We have too many people in minimum wage, poverty level jobs and not enough 'paying your dues' jobs. Far too many people simply cannot establish that baseline, escape-form-serfdom status.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:56 PM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Drinky Die,

It's funny to see this opposition to 'cheap' housing and lower cost of living in non-urban areas. The really funny (uh-oh, not ha-ha) part is where I live in an area that has a large population (>18%) below the poverty level, with large developments of rental properties that milk those in the lowest income brackets of their money for substandard housing for the benefit of (northern and midwestern) urban companies. The largest development, of really ugly block flats of course, comes to us from a Chicago LLC. The second largest, currently in planning, will be owned by a company registered in Newark.

So even if the poor were to emigrate to the least-expensive areas, and mine is pretty cheap, they are still likely to pay into the coffers of the urban corporations. The urban landowners are already raising the price of living in my (several states removed) area. There is no need to speculate on the rise (for me) - but it isn't happening because of urban emigrants.

Counter to that, I see in the Lowcountry, specifically Hilton Head Island, well-off northern emigrants buying property and raising the values such that holdings owned or used by an ethnic minority (the Gullah) are being bought out and 're-purposed' into 'parks' (that have no access or are prohibited), see especially the Gullah Flea Market (elsewhere the Packet makes it out to be a win for all parties, but that's BS - it's a closed-off grass field now).

For my part, I'd love to see the urbanites stay urban forever, but I suspect that's not what you're going for what with the contempt for lower earners.
posted by timfinnie at 8:58 PM on February 16, 2013


It's sarcasm based on the assertion that those people are "damned rich", not contempt.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:09 PM on February 16, 2013


pla: " "Retirement" happens after the prime of your life. You've spent 30-40 years paying your dues, you've bought your house, and just need to worry about the upkeep at that point. If you have failed to do so by that point - You have failed, period."

And therefore you're worthless as a human being and deserve to suffer through your elderly years in anxiety and poverty before you die?

Yeah, no thanks. I'll continue to sign on with the people working towards/vote for the party that advocates for "ideally nobody deserves to die hungry and alone, and we think it's worth working towards that even though we realize we won't always be successful."
posted by Lexica at 10:18 PM on February 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


My niece is on SSDI. She has a job, but it only gives her four hours a week right now (halved from last year) at a very small business, although she has gotten increasingly responsibilities. That one four-hour-a-week job, however, seems to confuse the solons in Washington, or at least their computers, two months out of every three and she has her benefit check flying up and down the scale by hundreds of dollars. Then the change in SSDI flows into the state computers that calculate her food stamps and THAT benefit fluctuates just as unpredictably. It's unbelievable how they expect anyone to plan their expenses with this sort of fluctuation, and it's a freaking headache again and again just to keep up with the paperwork. It would actually be easier if she didn't work.

But yeah, pla, go on with your smug fantasies about the good life of those on benefits. Up close, it isn't nearly as enviable as you seem to imagine.

And I can't believe we're discussing the dialectics of 30 Rock and Family Ties, but if you ask me (and as a comp. lit. major I'll weigh in: yes, Jack is the antagonist, in structural terms), both shows are portrayals of conservatives as imagined by Hollywood liberals. And that said, Keaton's Reagan-era conservatism would get him primaried by the Tea Party.
posted by dhartung at 10:31 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


You want a 2BR stick-built house on over an acre for $40k?

It sounds better than a house of straw, but I think I'd still be worried about the Big Bad Wolf if I had to live there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:49 AM on February 17, 2013


emjaybee : yes, simply moving to somewhere the cost of living is cheap after retirement would be a logical thing to do.

Nope. Moving there in your prime counts as the logical thing to do.


Drinky Die : The radical assertion is that everybody has to move out of the cities so they can afford to live when they get older

I didn't say that. I said places exist, and not just as a rarity, where yes, you can own your own home by retirement age, for under $300 a month. You chose to read a variety of absurd implications into that without any help from me.


PeterMcDermott : It sounds better than a house of straw, but I think I'd still be worried about the Big Bad Wolf if I had to live there.

"Stick built" doesn't mean some sort of minimalist log-cabin, it just means they actually built the thing on-site (as opposed to modular construction shipped in and "parked" on a pad).


dhartung : But yeah, pla, go on with your smug fantasies about the good life of those on benefits.

I already stated that my monthly household expenses, ex mortgage, come out well under what two cohabitating retirees would make. You don't have to believe that if you don't want to, but it doesn't change the fact.


Lexica : And therefore you're worthless as a human being and deserve to suffer through your elderly years in anxiety and poverty before you die?

You all really need to stop reading your own classist baggage into what I write. To repeat myself, "SSI never started as a way to let people retire to a life of luxury. It lets people retire without worrying about starving to death." Nothing more. Yes, those who plan for the future will (in general) have a nicer future than those who do not. Not a statement of morality.
posted by pla at 5:52 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't say that. I said places exist, and not just as a rarity, where yes, you can own your own home by retirement age, for under $300 a month. You chose to read a variety of absurd implications into that without any help from me.

Sure, and there are places in India where you can live for way way less. It's a completely meaningless point though in terms of national policy because we can't move everyone to India. That the people will have to move is a natural implication of your argument. What reading baggage into an argument looks like is repeatedly asserting that there is somebody here arguing that social security should give people luxurious, upper middle class, royal lifestyles. Living in a small apartment in an urban environment is not the same as being the Queen. Having some funds available for a reasonable amount of entertainment is not upper middle class. Being able to afford to send your grandchildren a birthday present is not luxury. These are basic things a country as rich as ours can easily afford.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:33 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nope. Not even close. Jack Donaghy is the antagonist/villain... Alex P. Keaton was the protagonist in a warm family sitcom. ...And that Alex was played by Michael J. Fox - one of the most beloved actors of his time ...

I loved Michael J Fox back then too, but I think Alec Baldwin is also beloved, and I think one of the reasons that both of them have fans is because they're great comedians - they can play ridiculous characters like these in an affable and still very funny way.

...Connect the dots between Alex P. Keaton and Gordon Gekko and "Hip to Be Square" and PJ O'Rourke's Republican Party Reptile, and I think you could make a pretty strong case that the mid to late 80s was the apex point for conservative cool in the whole postwar era.

If you think Wall Street and American Psycho made conservatives look cool, then I think it's inevitable that in another twenty years or so there will be people arguing about how Jack Donaghy and Stephen Colbert are proof of how cool it was to be a republican in the 2010's. Which perhaps is fair enough, since you need the original for the parody to exist - so while it is obvious to me at least that all of these are essentially the backlash of the anti-conservative culture making fun of Reagan youth, wall streeters, yuppies, enron conservatives and fox news, the original culture had to be powerful enough to deserve a taking down.

I said places exist, and not just as a rarity, where yes, you can own your own home by retirement age, for under $300 a month.

I recently moved to an area with a depressed housing economy and we thought we could just buy a cheap house based on how little it would cost per month. Turns out getting a mortgage is way more complicated than that and it really doesn't matter what you can pay in rent. It matters how much money the bank is willing to lend you.
posted by mdn at 7:40 AM on February 17, 2013


pla is right that there are rural areas where you can buy houses cheaply, but there are a lot of asterisks to consider. It's much more than a matter of taking out a $40K mortgage and packing the U-Haul. I looked very closely at making such a move to rural Mississippi after Katrina, and didn't mainly because I came to my senses before all the other Katrina refugees stopped sucking up all the available property and driving the prices up.

1. For $40K you can get a house but it will be older and need work. A more modern house not needing much work will be more like $80K. For about the same price you can also get a very handsome historic house in a dying small town like Indianola.

2. You will need seriously reliable transportation and you will need to plan on spending at least $100 a month on gas, because there will be NOTHING nearby -- not groceries, not work, not a hardware store. If there is a restaurant or convenience store less than 5 miles away it will probably be limited and overpriced.

3. You will probably be at least 20 miles from the nearest town, by which I mean a hamlet of 5,000 to 10,000 people such as McComb, Hazlehurst, or Indianola, MS. You will probably be at least 50 miles from the nearest real city such as Jackson, Memphis, or New Orleans. This is also the closest you will likely be able to find a job if you need an income.

4. WIth a few odd exceptions, the nearest quality hospital will be in the nearest real city. This is an issue if you are aging.

5. When you buy your house you may be required to update the septic system. There is no zoning in Mississippi but the power utilities will not hook you up if you don't meet their standards. You will need a well, and your water will go out if the electricity does.

6. You may not be able to get cable TV or DSL internet. In a lot of places you won't get much in the way of broadcast TV. Cell service, especially 3G data, is very iffy and highly dependent on which carrier you are with and whether you are on a hill.

7. There is no zoning. Even if you scope out your neighbors carefully there's nothing to stop the farmer across the highway from building a row of chicken growing houses or planting a field that needs regular aerial crop dusting.

8. When there is a natural disaster you will be last on the list to have the road cleared and power restored.

9. It's possible the road to your house will be private, built by the farmer who subdivided his property instead of the county or state. If so there is no guarantee that it will be maintained to a standard navigable by passenger cars.

On the plus side, though, you will have enough land to put in a real garden and keep some chickens if that's your thing. That's on a minus side though if you're neighbor is keeping chickens and their rooster wakes you up every morning. Did I mention there's no zoning?

* And to add to what mdn said, if you're looking for a mortgage on a fixer-upper, the bank will probably require that the mortgage include money in escrow for the work to bring the house up to modern code.
posted by localroger at 7:48 AM on February 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


The responses to pla have, on the whole, consisted of of mud-flinging, misdirection, hyperbole, and a lot of putting words in his mouth.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nope. Moving there in your prime counts as the logical thing to do.

And as people move, the land becomes pricier and pricier as it gets built up, and then we're back to square one.

The responses to pla have, on the whole, consisted of of mud-flinging, misdirection, hyperbole, and a lot of putting words in his mouth.

It would help if he made arguments in context or with caveats instead of generalizing situations.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:00 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kudos to localroger. That was a respose worth writing.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 AM on February 17, 2013


Thanks for contributing so much to the thread by being the arbiter of whose responses were worth writing, fff!
posted by dersins at 8:42 AM on February 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


You have failed, period.

it's great to have a society where people can divided into winners and failures, isn't it? - and let's be very clear about one thing - although individuals may make choices that cause them to win or fail, it's the culture as a whole that dictates there be states of "win" and "fail" to begin with

perhaps you don't have a problem with that, but many of us do
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 AM on February 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


Needs more Whig.
posted by clavdivs at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I can't believe we're discussing the dialectics of 30 Rock and Family Ties

or "going the way of the whigs".


going the way, no party today, going the way of the whig.
posted by clavdivs at 12:02 PM on February 17, 2013


thus the brevity of my response

It wasn't the brevity I was complaining about. It was the utter lack of coherence.
posted by caryatid at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2013


caryatid : It wasn't the brevity I was complaining about. It was the utter lack of coherence.

Well then, damned fine job, figuring out the gist of what I meant enough to paraphrase it back to me (despite getting the 5th amendment part backward). :)
posted by pla at 2:31 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well then, damned fine job, figuring out the gist of what I meant enough to paraphrase it back to me

Thank you for finally confirming it. I don't know why you couldn't have done so earlier. All it would have taken was, "Yes, that's right, except for the 5th."
posted by caryatid at 11:24 PM on February 17, 2013


I found the exchange quite enlightening. Ever since Reagan it has been clear that there is a racist element of conservatism that bitterly resents giving even one nickel to a non-white person. But it is surprising that there are also conservatives who believe that the U.S. social welfare system, the most miserly in the developed world, is an extravagant, unaffordable hand out to the upper middle class. It seems to be a position that springs from an unfamiliarity with real economic data and lack of facility with numbers.
posted by JackFlash at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2013


How Liberals Became 'Real Americans'.
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Recent History Is Still History
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2013


it's the culture as a whole that dictates there be states of "win" and "fail" to begin with

I want to favorite this eleventy-billion times.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:14 PM on February 18, 2013


Rand Paul Calls for New Populist Libertarianism
Republicans will need to embrace anti-Wall Street populism, champion immigration and promote lighter sentences for drug crimes, according to Senator Rand Paul, a leading Tea Party figure who is likely to run for US president in 2016.
[...]
Paul’s formula is a clear shift to “a less aggressive foreign policy, a little more toleration of individual characteristics, toleration of immigration and a less draconian approach to non-violent crime like drug usage”.
[...]
In the interview Paul railed against Obama “acting like a king” in ordering drone strikes and vowed to “stop the president from this arrogance that he’s going to act like executioner-in-chief and him and a bunch of his buddies with flash cards are going to determine who they’re going to kill, even on American soil”.
[...]
Republicans need to be able to “express that a bunch of rich bankers on Wall Street should not be getting bonuses on the backs of the middle class”.
[..]
Republicans had to persuade voters that “smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation” balance budgets and that school choice benefits the poor and minorities.
[...]
“We need to let every Latino in America know that if you have come to this country and you are someone who wants to work and you’re not interested in being on public assistance and you want to be a hard worker . . . we’ll find a place for you.”
Maybe Rand is the GOP's best bet. He could go all out to embrace Evangelical Christianity. Team up with Franklin Graham and regularly attend all of the prayer meetings or whatever. Take an anti-abortion position but convince the Evangelicals that the government should generally stay out of each others business when it comes to marriage and drugs and what not. Find a way to avoid talking about his less popular positions on SSI, medicare, and his fringe economic ideas.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:29 PM on February 18, 2013


Maybe Rand is the GOP's best bet. He could go all out to embrace Evangelical Christianity. Team up with Franklin Graham and regularly attend all of the prayer meetings or whatever. Take an anti-abortion position...

Or get them back to their roots.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:34 PM on February 18, 2013


emjaybee : yes, simply moving to somewhere the cost of living is cheap after retirement would be a logical thing to do.

Nope. Moving there in your prime counts as the logical thing to do.


Work? I don't follow the logic how people can be expected to leave jobs they need to be working in their prime. (Not to mention schools, family, friends, etc.)
posted by zoinks at 10:40 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's the culture as a whole that dictates there be states of "win" and "fail" to begin with

I want to favorite this eleventy-billion times.


To endorse a book that I didn't actually finish: Born Losers by Scott Sandage, covers how the concept of "failure" evolved in America from the 19th to 20th century (with some bleed over). The main thing I remember from it is that a "failure" used to be something you created: "He made a failure in business". You didn't say "he was a failure" - that was a 19th century creation and a sign of social change.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:01 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sidestepping the ongoing argument that is totally going to change people's minds and convince them to cross the aisle, I want to comment on an offhand remark in TFA.

"They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time."

Whoa, fuck you very much unnamed Republican strategist! You sound surprised that, after setting up a culture that bullies people in the opposite party, the bullying didn't disintegrate the moment the other party came in to power.
posted by Monochrome at 2:21 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scientology for Rednecks: What the GOP Has Become

Lofgren previously.
posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


'Friends of Hamas': My role in the birth of a rumor. A Daily News reporter explains how he inadvertently created the myth that Chuck Hagel spoke to a non-existent group.

Stupid The Afflicted, Afflict The Stupid
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on February 20, 2013


Hendrik Hertzberg | The New Yorker: State Of The (G.O.P.) Union
posted by ericb at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2013


What's It Like to Wake Up From a Tea Party Binge? Just Ask Florida! Kids locked up in nursing homes. Leaky sewers. Mosquitoes unleashed. The Sunshine State has buyer's remorse.
posted by homunculus at 4:06 PM on February 20, 2013


Florida Reverses, Taking Health Law's Medicaid Expansion
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:55 PM on February 20, 2013


Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government

I can't get enough of this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:28 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now just 22% of Americans, nearly a record low, consider themselves Republicans.
posted by octothorpe at 5:37 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Karl Rove vs. The world?
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2013


Elizabeth Drew weights in at the NYRB: Are The Republicans Beyond Saving?
posted by Going To Maine at 6:17 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Ryan Lizza profiles Eric Cantor: House Of Pain
posted by Going To Maine at 6:55 AM on March 1, 2013


From "Eric Cantor: House Of Pain": “Eric keeps the trains running on time very efficiently.”

No sense of irony? Lack of historical knowledge? I can't explain it.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:25 PM on March 1, 2013


Could be a joke?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:10 PM on March 1, 2013


From Paul Ryan? Comparing Cantor to Mussolini? You'd need a sense of humor drier than the Atacama desert.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:25 PM on March 1, 2013


Why Progressives Need A Strong GOP.
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on March 10, 2013


'Opposing Black Guy in the White House' Is 'Good Politics' for This South Carolina Medicaid Flip-Flopper
posted by zombieflanders at 2:57 PM on March 13, 2013


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