Thursday, March 26

Late to the party.


Andrew Sullivan says it more eloquently and concisely than I'm probably about to, but I'm gonna say it anyway 'cause I'm an asshole.

To all the folks now threatening to "Go John Galt," to all the folks attending the anti-Obama "tea parties" that are supposedly sweeping the nation, to the gloomy conservatives claiming to have been driven to clinical depression by the prospect of this country's supposed impending socialist tilt, to Glenn Beck and all the other folks brought to histrionic tears by how much they fear for their country, I got a question:

Where the hell you guys been the last eight years?

You're that upset about how much money the government is spending, huh? Well, we've spent nearly a trillion dollars on a dishonestly justified, indifferently planned war in Iraq, seems like that might've been something you could've spoken up about. We went from a surplus under Clinton to a 14-figure national debt, and that was even before Obama took office; you had eight whole years to get riled up about that. Creeping totalitarianism, you say? Yeah, we had the government sending folks off to Gitmo without even charging them with anything, we had the NSA rifling through our cell-phone records, but somehow that wasn't enough to gin up your righteous anger. We had a president who fooled around and played guitar at John McCain's birthday party while a city of half a million people got drowned by a hurricane, and instead of wondering why that president had put a career horse-show manager in charge of the relief efforts, you blamed the people of that city for not having gotten out fast enough.

So now we've got someone in office who's trying to steer those two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a conclusion and fix the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression without nationalizing banks or major industries, and now you're outraged? Now you decide you're upset enough to take to the streets? Now you're worried about the loss of your rights and civil liberties and all that other stuff? Bush spent like a drunken sailor during what was supposedly a boom economy -- something even an idiot like me knows you're not supposed to do -- and now that somebody's spending in a shitty economy, trying to prop things back up again, now you're mad about how much money the government is burning through?

(And don't even get me started on how Republicans have all of a sudden determined it's OK to start criticizing sitting presidents again. So, Glenn Beck, I should "Believe in something, even if it's wrong," huh? Well, back in 2003 I believed that the Iraq war was unnecessary and would turn out to be a stain on our national conscience we'd need decades to live down -- and you called folks like me "liberal hippie communists" and "terrorist sympathizers." But I'm glad to know "believing in something" is cool with you now. I'll be sure to keep that in mind.)

Things have been going to hell for a while now -- the seeds of the crisis we're in now have been planted and cultivated over a period of years -- and you've only just now figured that out? Now that someone's actually sticking his neck out and trying to fix it? It's like you're parents who have come home from vacation to find that your children had a series of wild parties while you were gone, and instead of punishing your kids for having trashed the place, you're bitching at the cleaning crew.

Look, if you can find me a link or a letter to the editor or a blog post or a even a blog comment where you expressed outrage or concern over all this stuff while it was building under Bush, then I'll accept that you've got your head mounted squarely on your shoulders and I'll leave you alone. Otherwise, I'm calling this for what it is: You only decided to unleash your mad-as-hell inner Howard Beale once a Democrat got elected. Convenient, that.

Not that I'm telling you what to do, of course. You want to go on being outraged, crapping your pants with fear of creeping socialism, weeping about how much you love your country and how worried you are for its future, it's a free country. I'm just saying, maybe if you'd discovered your outrage button a few years ago, we could've started fixing this stuff sooner. Maybe we could work on our timing a little bit over the next decade or two? Think about it and get back to me.


Ben Rockwell said...

Well said. I wish I could add more, but it just seems superfluous after that. The question, though, is whether they will listen. I, too, find that I am yelling at the television/radio/interwebs any time I see one of the folks from the right talking about how much the gov't is spending

ctrosecrans said...

my favorite part is the same people who blame clinton for 9/11 (you know, a singular event planned by a single group) because it was early in bush's regime are now blaming a complex run-away boulder of an economy on the guy who has been in office for two months

M and M said...


History will judge us all but it's sad so many go through their lives with no perspective, no understanding of the big picture.

And I love the defense they use: "Oh, I thought you wanted to move forward! Why you gotta bring up old shit?!"

In the immortal words of Mr. Jon Stewart: It's not a fucking game.

Josh M. said...

So you didn't see Bush's approval ratings the last years of his presidency? Or if you did, you think all of those negative marks came from Democrats?

Conservatives were furious with Bush in the waning years, and I count myself among them. And nobody except the most partisan idiot is blaming Obama for the economic crisis. Reasoned people, however, can plainly see he is taking a sinking ship and attempting to fix it by punching more holes in the hull.

And I have yet to see a reasoned defense of Obama's administration so far. "But Bush was worse!" seems to be the best anybody can do.

Reed said...

Josh, your perspective is a welcome one, and certainly the tail end of Bush's presidency was a different story. But Doug is attacking this on two other fronts. 1) The fact that Obama's plans to fix things are being criticized with rationale that was completely absent during the proposition of Bush's plans. 2) There are some major hypocrites getting a lot of attention right now (most notably Mr. Beck).

Perhaps the different standard in criticism is due in large part to the fact that Bush wasn't criticized enough. Maybe scrutiny is "back" and Obama just happens to be sitting in the big chair. I don't think anyone can really complain about that (as long as the scrutiny is not dishonest). It's what we should have been doing all along. But Glen Beck and his ilk have lost all credibility.

Reed said...

Doug, I also wanted to say that I think that everyone still spends too much time in their echo chambers. Your blog is at least one place where you get real people from the other side of the fence to enter into the discussion. I suppose we can thank college football for that. If these types of topics were handled on the Daily Kos or The National Review, it would be all cheerleaders and trolls. There would be no opportunity for anything worthwhile to come from the conversation. Yes, I realize I generally agree with you political matters, but I think you have a unique forum here, and a chance for people to be persuaded in either direction. There aren't many places where that can happen these days. So I guess I'm saying, keep it up!

Universal Remonster said...


The outrage is not that right-wingers did or did not approve of Bush while he was in office, but more so that after eight years of pacificity they've chosen NOW to come up in arms about it, and actually threaten to fight for their "rights."

Well... that's incredibly interesting, but methinks there might be some other motive there.

So you want a defense of Barack Obama's presidency? Well, you're probably going to have to wait a couple of years so see what works and what doesn't (and believe me, some elements of our stimulus will stick, and some won't.) I know that two months into Bush's presidency I wasn't frothing at the mouth attempting to discredit and label him though. It took the war in Iraq before I actually started getting a bit more vocal.

Good work as always Doug.

Universal Remonster said...

And I'll echo Reed.

College Football unites society again!

Bobby said...

Doug, on the 'OK to criticize the President' part. When the other party takes control back in some future election, that will flip again. That's just politics. Defend yours, attack theirs, even if it means lying or being dishonest. I find myself firmly in the middle, so it's easy for me not to take everything any of them say too seriously.

I disagree with some of your reasoning on most of the things people 'hate Bush' for. That goes back into the 'attack theirs' thing as far as I'm concerned. It's all about PR and angle.

The biggest thing I have a problem with right now is how anyone can think it's ok to give billions to a company with a failing business plan without changing the business plan??? If they can't keep themselves afloat, they should fail. If I go out and spend more than I'm taking in running up credit card debt, the government isn't going to bail me out. And this has been done by both administrations.

And yes, the teabag thing was freakin stupid.

Thanks for the read.

Anonymous said...

What I've argued (admittedly from a rightward tilt) here and elsewhere over the last 6 or so years is that there never seems to be any balance or introspection in the arguments from either side. It's continuous my side is right and your side is a pack of idiots. I don't recall over this period you ever giving Bush credit for anything positive or bash the left for anything other than not hating Bush as much as you do. I'm sure you can dig something up that contradicts that, but on the whole, you've are and continue to be a knee-jerk partisan.

For example, have you once on these pages done anything to examine the Democrat's role in our current economic situation? Held Barnie Frank and the Democrats up to any level of scrutiny over the mortgage mess? Said anything critical of either the mayor of New Orleans or the Gov of LA for their roles in the Katrina debacle?

You can, and have, argued that the war in Iraq was wrong and a waste of money. Good for you. But Bush never tried to sell the wars as an economic boost. Obama is trying to sell universal healthcare and environmental stuff as an economic stimulus. That's bullshit and everyone knows it, but it advances a political agenda you favor, so it gets a pass.

You're no less guilty than the idiots you're ranting about.

Anonymous said...

And the tea party protesters are idiots, but Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink never get a rise out of you.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

In fact, Josh, nearly all of those low approval ratings did come from Democrats, as Republicans -- the CONSERVATIVE kind! the REAL Republicans! -- were still giving Bush 70-percent thumbs-up all the way to the bitter end of his presidency.

MykieSee said...


Anonymous said...

and it appears you're a coward when it comes to debate. You quibble with Josh over numbers showing what many of us have been saying, but don't address the substance of opposing arguments. That's fine. It's your blog.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Well hell's bells, Steve, Josh made a statement that wasn't backed up by the facts, so I corrected him. Am I not allowed to do that?

And if the best "substance" you've got is to imply some kind of equivalency between George W. Bush and Cindy Sheehan, then thanks but no thanks.

DAve said...

In fact, Josh, nearly all of those low approval ratings did come from Democrats, as Republicans -- the (NEO)CONSERVATIVE kind! the (PSEUDO-)Republicans! -- were still giving Bush 70-percent thumbs-up all the way to the bitter end of his presidency.


I can say for certain that Josh is referring to traditional conservatism/conservatives.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

So if the people who identified themselves as liberals aren't conservatives, and the people who identified themselves as conservatives aren't conservatives, then . . . who are the "traditional conservatives"? It doesn't seem like there could be very many of them.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you read what I wrote I didn't in anyway try to make a connection between GWB and Cindy Sheehan. I made a connection between right wing loons, i.e. the tea party protesters, and left wing loons. Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink. How you interpreted that somehow involving Bush, kinda reinforces my point.

DAve said...

My guess would be the "traditional conservatives" would be the people who, according to the Gallup data, aligned themselves as moderates or independents, since the expanse of neo-conservatism has made "conservative" practically a four-letter word.

I'm conservative on some things and liberal (not neo-liberal) on others, so I wouldn't align myself with either label; I guess if I had to label myself it would be "Lower-case-l libertarian Austro-economic Constitutionalist with no use for Ayn Rand". But you'll never see something like that on a Gallup poll - probably because of typeface size or something. It would be hard to squeeze all that in there thatswhatshesaid.

That 72% approval rate among those who think they're conservatives is sickening, but not any more than the dunderheads who helped raise Congress's approval rating to its highest point in four years. Unless there's a 2nd Congress out there somewhere I don't know about.

ChicagoDawg said...

As Steve said, it is your blog and you can say whatever you wish and create whatever parallel universe you may. However, I find it ironic that you are lecturing others on objectivity and lack of self-critique. Perhaps I have overlooked it, but I do not recall in your blogs over the last few years where you have made any attempts at introspection -- from an ideological sense. To read your postings and conclude that you have been a bastion of measured objectivity and self reflection would require one to also assume that there has been nothing to criticize on the Left. We must conclude that Pelosi, Reed, Frank, et al have completely hit the mark on all accounts -- got it!! The scales have fallen from my eyes.
Come on, give me a break. I enjoy the differing views I read here, but lets at least attempt to be intellectually honest. The reactions expressed here have been Pavlovian in their predictability. If you wish to engage in ideological masturbation that is perfectly fine -- no judgment. However, at least have the decency to spare us the indignation about a lack self-criticism from the Right as such an effort only serves to demean you and the reader.
Lest I be misunderstood, I have watched all of about 10 minutes of Glen Beck and as best I could tell he is moronic. Also, the Republican stewardship of the budget, both in Congress and in the White House was abysmal. Consequently, their current time in the penalty box is well earned. I can only hope they use the time to reclaim their core fiscal beliefs. Lastly, the Tea Party stuff is childish at best, but as was mentioned previously, so was/is the behavior of: far-Left Anarchist (ex Seattle WTO '99), Code Pink (ex smashing recruiting office windows in Berkely), Keith Olbermann on any given night, etc.,. Trying to discredit dissenting opinion, by seizing upon the acts/words of lowest common denominator of the opposing side is easy and not all that compelling or interesting. Such an approach can be taken, and often is, by both Liberals and Conservatives as each camp has their respective jack-asses.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Sorry, Steve, I interpreted your comparison as "You're mad about conservatives not having spoken out against Bush, but you didn't speak out against Cindy Sheehan," which is why I thought you were trying to equate Sheehan and Dubya.

But even if you're trying to equate Sheehan and the current crop of conservative protestors, that comparison still doesn't quite wash, because Sheehan was just one person, a person whom even liberals regard as an embarrassment, I might add. The Tea Party folks constitute a much larger group, and even if the Tea Partiers themselves are still on the fringe in the grand scheme of things, their Obama-is-a-socialist-and-he's-sending-us-to-hell-in-a-handbasket views are becoming more and more mainstream on the right, if what I've read from folks like you and Josh and many others are any indication. It's not just the folks yelling through megaphones at Tea Parties, it's elected Republicans in Congress and conservative spokespeople like Rush Limbaugh, who openly admitted he'd been "carrying water" for Bush and the Republicans during Bush's presidency but is now comparing Obama to Robert Mugabe after barely two months in office.

Anonymous said...

My issue with what Obama is doing right now has nothing do whether or not universal healthcare and changes to the nation's environmental approach should be made, but the manner in which he is trying to get it done. I'd like to see and hear a lively debate on how we can achieve some of these admirable goals. I'd go as far as saying I'd be ok with raising taxes on the evil 5% to accomplish them if I got an opportunity to understand the plan. He got elected by the majority of voters in this country with those initiatives as part of his platform. We should expect that he will press for them. What Obama is doing right now is using an economic crisis to cram though an agenda with little to no debate. He's trying to sell that as an economy booster and using linguistic BS to sell it. He's proposing wealth redistribution that is populist but meaningless. Taking money from one group of citizens and handing it to another group in the name of "fairness".

I'm a global warming skeptic (surprise, surprise), but I think some form of universal healthcare is an investment in the USA in the long run. We should be looking long and hard at how to achieve an affordable solution. I don't think most of the evil 5% would mind paying more taxes if we didn't continually 1) demonize them, 2) clearly explain why it is of benefit to them, beyond feeling better because it's fair. 3) keep letting people at the lower end of the rolls totally out of their obligation to support our society and 3) sending $400 checks to people like you who don't appear to need the cash.

I do think the Republicans mis-managed spending and the budget and they're paying the price. Your points in the original post on Gitmo, the war and NSA don't piss me off because I don't agree your characterization.

I've made the Mugabe comparison myself on these pages and defended Mugabe's theoretical motivations as superior to Obama's. Mugabe is taking property from people who don't have a rightful claim to it and is handing it to the masses. I don't agree with that in either theory or practice, but Obama is proposing taking honestly earned property from one group and handing it to another with no strings attached and no other justification than it's the fair thing to do. Sounds like socialism to me.

I do think Obama is a socialist and he is sending us to hell in a handbasket and I don't need Rush to tell me that and I hope it does become more mainstream on the right and the middle. Remember welfare reform. Even Bill Clinton had to jump on that bandwagon. The American people don't like freeloaders, but if Obama has his way, so few people will be paying any taxes that they might change their minds. That is what I worry about.