Education, Politico Style

Whenever I find myself in a good mood, and yet with a blog to write, I’m forced to go over to Politico to find something that will annoy me enough to drive me to drink, which usually leads to writing.  In a sense, I kind of owe them.  The worst, of course, are the little duets from Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, which bear the catchy/familiar ring of an Andrew Lloyd Weber score, and are designed to do the same thing, get a stupid song stuck in the unwilling minds of as many in the audience as possible.  They invariably begin each piece with one of two ready-made premises, but sometimes they like to put them together, too, for variety and perhaps effect.  Premise #1, Republicans Rock, is undoubtedly the easiest, since their “sources” already called them and told them what to type.  Premise #2, Democrats Suck* (*often pronounced “in disarray”), requires the extra effort of picking up phones and dialing, say, Joe Lieberman for balance, but those ferocious attack dogs at the WaPoo evidently create enough competitive pressure that they must occasionally sacrifice a little cocktail time with John Boehner, on the phone.

The good part, though, is that as usual, Jim and Mike always accidentally include real information in their zeal to get every word right, and better yet, have to resort to such weak evidence to back up the inanities they’re propounding, that they do achieve a sort of low comedy.  In a breaking news article entitled, “The GOP’s Winning Streak,” we learn from Karl Rove himself, among many others, that the only thing standing in the way of his Permanent Republican Majority is a need for a little “education” targeted at unbelievers.  Remember when Condi Rice wanted to “educate” people about weapons of mass destruction?  Of course you did, because you aren’t Jim and Mike.

A few juicy tidbits:

—Deficits are all the rage on Capitol Hill, and will be until Congress wends its way through the debt limit fight and the next budget. The word “deficit” appeared in 470 documents in the Congressional Record between the beginning of January and the end of March, more than in any session’s opening since 1995, according to a review by POLITICO. And Americans listened: Asked by Gallup to identify the most important problem facing the nation, 13 percent said “federal debt” in March of this year, up from 8 percent a year ago.

Is it me, or is it pretty pathetic to claim that a rise from single to low double digits in the face of a 24/7 media barrage is something to crow about?  Thirteen percent?  Twice that many people, at least, think the moon landing was a fake.  Hint to Jim and Mike….  Don’t confuse us with the facts, as they tend to make the story fall apart.

—The broader budget debate is now fought on the tea party’s terms: It’s not whether to reduce government, it’s by how much. This helps explain why serious centrist commentators and even some liberals PRAISED a $6 trillion budget cut plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Remember how a similar plan was received two years ago?

Yippee!  People have gotten stupider, which must mean more of them are reading Politico.

—Thanks to a pickup of 675 legislative seats in 2010 – many because of these budget principles — the most sweeping work is getting done in states. Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are now working, real-time labs for discovering how much the party can cut government – without cutting off the support of independents. A GOP senator told us the party studies what happens in these state showdowns to test the limits of what will work here. One early finding: Many think Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) went too far, too fast by gutting union power without first educating the public.

Ya think?  How did these guys get jobs?

“The country knows it’s in serious trouble,” Gingrich said. “You see this with Scott Walker, you see it with John Kasich [in Ohio], you see it with Rick Scott [in Florida], you see it with Chris Christie [in New Jersey], you see it with Mitch Daniels [in Indiana].”

Ah, the most hated politicians in America look popular to Newt Gingrich, and the Bambi-like reporter goes ahead and types.  Better yet, he doesn’t get the unintentional hilarity of this morsel from John Thune, and thus makes his irredeemably boring and hackish little puff piece funny (emphasis mine):

“If you overreach too far, you can get a backlash,” Thune cautioned. “We have to sound reasonable. But the reason the president moved so far is that he has recognized that the government has gotten much, much larger, and that most independents in the country are very uncomfortable with that.”

No follow-up question, natch.  After hearing from Karl Rove about how we can cut “trillions” later, easy, we get more choice blather from Newt Gingrich, and then another word about how people just need the be “educated,” from, improbably, Tim Pawlenty, to wrap the whole thing up with a bow:

Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor and 2012 presidential candidate, said by phone from San Jose, Calif., that fiscal arguments have given the party a broader appeal as more people “became aware and educated that it’s not just a matter of political rhetoric – it’s a matter of sixth-grade math.”

No, in sixth grade they explain some of the crucial differences between a Family Budget and the Federal Budget, which is one reason Republicans are so hot on home schooling.  Later, you learn that everything Republicans say is the opposite of the truth.  But not at Politico, despite all evidence.

“We are in for a sustained period of structural reform,” Pawlenty said. “The country is prepared for the change. The public deserves the truth. They can handle the truth. … Given how deep the hole is, I’m not worried about overreach. I think we should try to be as bold and courageous as the American people will tolerate, and we need to lead them there.”

That sounds like rhetoric to me, and of a kind of scary sort…  Reminds me of this:


  1. dirigo says:

    From where I’m sitting, in left field behind the thick post, the question is: are the Republicans boldly, and deliberately, trying to create conditions to put the country into default?

    They say they’re trying to help …

    • cocktailhag says:

      I believe it’s utterly cynical; they’ve figured out the Democrats are pushovers and Obama, moreso.

    • The Heel says:

      America’s military might will keep the currency artificially high for a long time, but there is a point of no return. I am not an economic expert, so don’t know if we have reached it, yet.
      I think conservatives are just catering to those who “support” them on a personal level and collective level. They certainly mean well, right? the only other conclusion is that they truly hate America….

      • dirigo says:

        Just read a N.Y. Post op-ed take down of the late Sidney Lumet. The writer tut tuts Lumet’s alleged lily-livered, even unpatriotic influence on film-making in the ’70s especially – with his grievous, liberal “internal contradictions” splashed all over the silver screen as he lauded bad guys in many films and pilloried corrupt cops and pols. The writer seems to suggest Lumet’s films were to blame for so many fat cats leaving unlivable, ungovernable – and unprofitable – Gotham after John Lindsay stepped down as mayor of New York in 1973.

        “ATTICA! ATTICA!” – was one memorable line from the Lumet collection, suggesting during the immediate post-Vietnam era the presence of a singular “winter of … discontent” in the country – while implying strongly that our emperor and various seconds had no clothes. As I recall, there were quite a few dog day afternoons then; the “inmates” were not pleased.

        Was that sentiment made up? Or was it just an irritating pimple on the body politic at the time, something a dab of free market Clearasil would take care of eventually?

        Anyway, time passes. Becks come and go (several more splendid little wars too), and “internal contradictions” cut both ways in the ideology game. So is there an internal contradiction in the claim today that meat-axing the national budget without raising the debt ceiling – “starving the beast” – will magically lead to prosperity? More than a few sober, notably non-American commentators (analysts without “skin in the game”) suggest nothing of the sort will happen; that in fact, with such a budget deal the tepid recovery now underway will fizzle and actually push us closer to the default red line.

        A quick trivia question: who was John Maynard Keynes; what did know and when did he know it?

        Up next: implementation of the findings of the Cat Food Commission? The Donald as Ross Perot in ’12? I read the news today – oh boy!

        Who’s kidding who?

        Oh, what did I hear in recent days about raising taxes? Where’d that come from?

        • cocktailhag says:

          You didn’t hear it in Politico, needless to say. I think the whole country went to pot when they Made “The Love Bug.” Lumet had nothing to do with it.

        • michlib says:

          I proudly count myself in the neo-Keynsian economics wing. The republicans ( Ryan in particular ) are members of the neo- Dickensian economics faction, favoring the economic climate and policies of 1860′s England.

          • cocktailhag says:

            “Have they no work houses?” resonated in Dickens’ day, but sadly, that seems a little anachronistically bleeding-heart when you have elected Republicans, today, proposing that “illegal” Mexicans be shot from the air like feral hogs.
            I’d say we’re closer to “A Modest Proposal” at this point.

          • dirigo says:

            Re: Paul Ryan …

            “Some people likened him to a direction-post, which is always telling the way to a place, and never goes there.”

            – Dickens’ description of Seth Pecksniff, the sanctimonious architect “who has never designed or built anything” … from Martin Chuzzlewit

      • cocktailhag says:

        They love America, as it was in 1880 or so.

  2. avelna says:

    There are some out there that are doing the math:
    I especially like this:
    Folks arguing that Ryan’s plan represents brutal, right-wing extremism, with needless cruelty and twisted values, can easily back up their concerns. Folks arguing that Ryan’s plan is arithmetically-challenged, with numbers that don’t add up, to be taken seriously only by those lacking access to calculators, are also entirely correct.

    The good news is, we don’t really have to pick one or the other. Ryan’s plan is composed of bad ideas and ideas that don’t add up.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    Tea Partiers, fellow travelers, & bandwagon-jumpers : ” Budget! Budget! Deficit! Deficit! More War! Budget! Budget! More war! Deficit! More War ! Budget! Budget! Abortion! More War!Deficit! Deficit! No Gays!No Mexicans!Budget! Budget! Build The Wall! “

    They’ll cut anything, except the M.I.C. & the P.I.C. , i.e., what might actually accomplish something .

    Pawlenty yipping about ” Freedom” ? LO-f’n-l! Isn’t that the guy that was just overseeing the new STASI , only 3 years ago? Hauling people off for thought crimes, & (mostly) potential thought crimes, & charging them with a non-existent offense? What a colossal ass!

    The universe ( & Pandora) is a jokester. :) As I was coming here, & reading, it played Symphony of Destruction, Die, Die, My Darling , & (skipped over) one by Disturbed . :) )))

    Dirigo, glad I don’t bother with that rag ( aka Peter King’s Podium ), though it is a font of unintentional comedy . The ol’ big,bad, NY song-and-dance. Even at it’s worst, the crime rate was lower than every major city in Texas. ( & a lot of other places )

    Re the GOP budget prescription, now that deficits matter ( the way they didn’t used to ) history doesn’t. History can’t happen here . We’re so extra-special, & the GOP wants it not to, so that’s it – it doesn’t matter.

    ps Haven’t been in Attica, but just passing by, is enough to put one in a suicidal mood.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’m so glad somebody finally commented on that video…. Thanks, Mike. I consider it on par with, say, “24″ for fascist imagery, but closer to “Airplane” in the watching. I’m rooting for Pawlenty just for the videos.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    ps Speaking of doing some math , here’s some :

    About what I’ve guessed , from various #s I’ve seen the last few years, of the component parts.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Me, too. I like to think of such spending as two categories: Fighting Wars, and Causing Them. The two are usually roughly in balance, but the second one is, for obvious reasons, soft pedaled.
      It’s our only competitive industry these days, and I use the term “competitive” loosely.
      Killin’ Habibs for Jesus… (and the oil companies, natch)
      It’s what makes America “exceptional.”

  5. nancy says:

    That video is appalling.

    And I’m glad y’all read Politico so I don’t have to. P.M. Carpenter had this to say. You two should meet.