Moe is on the (supposedly) WiFi-enabled bus from Virginia, taking in the greatness of America (or at least that section between D.C. and New York City) while I'm stuck in upstate New York, so it's another episode of reverse-polarity Crappy Hour! We talk oil, what the GOP is doing wrong, what is wrong about what the GOP thinks it is doing wrong, what is a capital-punishment worthy offense (hint: advertising WiFi on your bus and not providing it) and kissing Bill Clinton's ass. It's all after the jump!
MOE: Okay, first of all, re the companies chosen for those coveted Iraq oil contracts of course they did, some people are complete idiots, Paul Krugman thinks Obama needs to be more like Reagan than Clinton…so what's Obama doing here??
MEGAN: On the first story, gotta love this quote:
The advisers - who, along with the diplomatic official, spoke on condition of anonymity - say that their involvement was only to help an understaffed Iraqi ministry with technical and legal details of the contracts and that they in no way helped choose which companies got the deals.
I mean, does anyone actually believe that?
MOE: Also I don't know if you've been reading about this book but it's been eliciting some really surprising rarely-articulated viewpoints from pundits such as:
The people who fund and run the GOP are simply too committed to the idea of cutting taxes for affluent people and reducing government spending… In fact, even saying the GOP estabilshment is "committed" to these things understates the grip of economic libertarianism over the party. It suggests a worldview that's the product of some reflection, when in fact the economic libertarianism of big GOP donors is mostly an expression of their self-interest
And in case you didn't catch what he was trying to say there:
-i.e., they want to keep their own taxes low.
MEGAN: As for McCain's record, not to bash on John Aravosis whose work I normally like, but Jeffrey Klein did that story way better, like two weeks ago without going into the gutter at all.
Well, the problem with Noam Scheiber's analysis in that review is that he repeats the claptrap that the GOP is ostensibly committed to reducing government spending, which is utter bullshit.
Let's bust that myth people. They are committed to saying they want to reduce government spending, and committed to spending more of it in ways that appeal to them ideologically (i.e., defense, abstinence education, marriage-promotion) or appeal to their constituents (i.e., earmarks)
MOE: Okay here's the thing:
The authors say they blew their chances to capitalize on their opening to these voters "by confusing being pro-market with being pro-business, by failing to distinguish between spending that fosters dependency and spending that fosters independence and upward mobility, and by shrinking from the admittedly difficult task of reforming the welfare state so that it serves the interests of the working class rather than the affluent."
To "distinguish between spending that fosters dependency and spending that fosters independence and upward mobility" is, as near as I can figure, the opposite of "pro-market."
MEGAN: Yes, I would agree with that completely. Of course, apparently, "spending that fosters independence and upward mobility is - surprise! - serendipitously spending on things like marriage promotion and putting more black people in jail and abstinence education!
Douthat and Salam say to the contrary that the social issues are a major part of working-class insecurity. "Safe streets, successful marriages, cultural solidarity and vibrant religious and civic institutions make working-class Americans more likely to be wealthy, healthy and upwardly mobile. Public disorder, family disintegration, cultural fragmentation and civic and religious disaffection, on the other hand, breed downward mobility and financial strain - which in turn breeds further social dislocation, in a vicious cycle that threatens to transform a working class into an underclass."
Great, so, the government is now going to be able to solve the problems of family disintegration by.... making divorce harder? Making marriage necessary for all pregnant women? They're going to solve religious disaffection by... making religion mandatory? And, God knows the Democrats love them some public disorder. Yum, goes perfectly in my coffee.
MOE: The thing that is so dreamy about talking about this stuff as a failure to distinguish between the different kinds of "spending" is that it really cuts to the heart of the issue that, as some guy points out on today's WSJ edit page OF ALL PLACES…numbers lie!
MEGAN: Whoa, seriously, someone spiked the coffee with LSD at the WSJ this weekend:
there is no such thing as "the economy."
MOE: The first Harper's reading last month said this a lot better, but I'm not sure where it is online. Maybe I'll just screengrab it here.
Dammit, it doesn't want to let me, oh well.
MEGAN: Although, back to the intersection of economics and politics, I spent hours yesterday obsessed with the implications of this chart. Which goes with this article but the article's less interesting and not just because I like pretty pictures.
MOE: Oh here it is. Anyway we forgot to discuss < a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aftgJ3S0euEQ&refer=home">Steven Hatfill, whose name is not Mohammed and therefore actually got some money out of his whole post-9/11 harassment, or we never did, because that happened on Friday and I was too tired out from Dimitri the Lover to do a proper news roundup, but hahaha he did well for himself. And Mallaby who I generally love has something on oil and speculation and whatnot.
And now I have to try to get on the internet bus
BRB as they say.
MOE: And I'm back! On the bus. But I'm still using the free Dupont wifi signal so I'm not sure if that's sustainable.
MEGAN: I think it kicks in on the bus pretty soon, but we can totally hurry up.
Anyway, what's fascinating about the chart I sent is about the redistribution of wealth in this country, from the Midwest to the Coasts (by and large) and the weirdness that Alaska and Hawai'i were two of the richest 12 states in 1976.
And about how the richest states - and by and large, the richest people - are increasingly turning to the Democratic party. Fucking elitists.
Do you read me?
MOE: The wifi server is allegedly just getting reactivated
So I'm on bberry.
Anna is going to kill me but. If this works it isn't a bad thing. Free wifi in DuPont is good!
MEGAN: No problem! I got grabbed coffee and a yogurt and plugged my computer back in as I was previously sitting on the front porch watching my neighbor playing with his baby and the cats of the 'hood stare at me
Anyway, the wifi bus worked fine for me the one round trip I took it. I, um, spent most of the time IM'ing with people.
MOE: So Cass Sunstein co authors an oped in the Wash Post... Cass sunstein is the Obama policy adviser yes? It doesn't mention that. But anyway it is about the death penalty. I wanted to bring up Juan Williams admirably
MEGAN: Juan Williams?
Also, Cass Sunstein, I'm not sure if he's an adviser but he's definitely a fan
MOE: Frustrated performance on fox news Sunday re the supreme courts striking down the gun ban
MEGAN: Sadly, I have no cable but I will find a clip.
I mean, my parents have no cable because my mother doesn't believe in it.
MOE: Maybe I can find a clip. What he lacked in eloquence he made up for in abject what the fuckitide
My dad and I talked about whether murder is the worst crime. He believes in the death penalty for people who cut off peoples legs and gouge their eyes out and such.
MEGAN: On the other hand, I think blind people and amputees would probably disagree, right?
MOE: If I can't get wifi on this bus I'm going to make them drop me off on the side of the 295
MEGAN: As though there's wifi along 295?
MOE: Well if you had your arms and legs cut off and your eyes gouged out by some crazy child rapist you might feel like giving that guy the lethal injection, I dunno,
MEGAN: But is it worse than murder? Would I rather be dead than mutilated? I guess I already made the decision a long time ago that I'd rather be a living sexual assault victim than a dead one. So I guess that makes murder worse.
It's kind of a subjective question
MOE: Yeah anyway sunstein mostly discusses the evidence or lack thereof for and against the concept that the death penalty is a deterrent which is sort of the same question...
MEGAN: For the death penalty to be a deterrent, people would have to believe sincerely that the likelihood is that they will get caught.
MEGAN: Most people aren't weighing the consequences of their actions or thinking that far ahead, frankly.
MOE: I wonder what the penalty for advertising internet access on your bus service and failing to deliver is...
MEGAN: Ok, that's totally a capital offense.
MOE: Lol I just passed the capitol.