July 30, 2010

Concerning Those Who Manufacture and Eat Shit

We're talking about Paul Krugman, so we're also talking about those who seek to coerce lots of other people to eat shit, too.

There's far too much shit in this column to unpack all of it (ew), so let me mention just three points. First:
And Mr. Obama has delivered in important ways. Above all, he managed (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi) to enact a health reform that, imperfect as it is, will greatly improve Americans’ lives — unless a Republican Congress manages to sabotage its implementation.
This is a partisan hack with lots of practice. Notice how he preemptively establishes a foolproof excuse (in his view) for the day when this bill that "will greatly improve Americans' lives" turns to, well, shit. Any and all failures will be the fault of "a Republican Congress" that "manages to sabotage its implementation."

Under the Krugman Plan for Democratic Immunity, no fault whatsoever will accrue to the Democrats for a deeply loathsome piece of legislation. Sure, Krugman says the bill is "imperfect," but that's only to establish that he's fair-minded, therefore serious. By careful design, it's exceedingly and undeservedly mild. There's another major error in Krugman's characterization of the health "reform" bill that I may discuss in more detail in the future. (It's a very common error.) I'll mention it here comparatively briefly. I would not argue and, in fact, I haven't argued that this bill won't help anyone. I've seen lots of analyses that force me to conclude that the bill will help far less people than its supporters claim, but time will tell as they say. I think it's going to be very ugly, and I also think partisans like Krugman will never acknowledge just how ugly it is.

But the fact that this bill will help some people is a ridiculous, completely asinine standard. It is utterly illegitimate as a matter of analysis, as well as being vile in moral terms, to use the fact that it will help some people as justification for its passage. Think about it for a moment. Any bill in any political system will help some people. This is true even in a dictatorship, and even under totalitarian rule. As I feel compelled to remind people when they appeal to the "sanctity" of "the law" (which I noted only yesterday I myself shit on insofar as what most people mean by such vacuous blather is concerned), even dictatorships have laws. Hey, I'll make it easy for you to ignore this argument by violating a singularly idiotic prohibition. They had laws in Nazi Germany. And guess what? All of those laws helped some people. In some instances, perhaps it was only sadists who enjoyed torturing and murdering other human beings -- but some of Germany's laws certainly helped them do that.

Or to pick a less confrontational example: many laws in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia indisputably helped those who were members of the ruling clique or well-connected to same accumulate wealth and/or power, or benefited them in any number of other ways. So the laws helped some people. Take a more obvious aspect of the same issue: in any corporatist system (such as ours), legislators receive all sorts of payoffs for enacting legislation that benefits certain interested parties. When the legislation is passed, it's passed because it helps those interested parties. That's true of any major piece of legislation you care to name (and almost all minor ones as well). You need only trace back the effects of the legislation far enough, and you'll find an interested party that sought to have it passed. And the payoffs help the legislators themselves. So some people are always helped.

That cannot ever be the standard for judgment. The standard must focus on the primary or major effect of the legislation: on what lies at the heart of the bill. What lies at the heart of the health "reform" bill is a massive transfer of wealth from "ordinary" Americans to an already hugely wealthy and powerful insurance industry via the mandate system, which is made still worse by being a subsidized mandate system (which means that taxpayers are robbed at gunpoint twice). As a result, the legislation in its totality is, right, a piece of shit.

Point two from Krugman's column:
But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year.
The well-practiced partisan hack continues his shitty work. Krugman criticizes Obama! Some of the shit is actually Obama's own fault! Again, this means Krugman is being fair and serious. We should therefore take his advice seriously.

Note what Krugman doesn't mention. He doesn't discuss any of the issues analyzed here in the required detail (hey, how about that worldwide assassination-by-presidential-decree program, Paul? cool, huh?) -- and most critically, he doesn't draw the necessary conclusion, in fact, the only conclusion impelled by the evidence: that Obama is a war criminal. Well, Krugman has lots of company on that one. Almost no one will acknowledge that Obama is a war criminal. Certainly, almost no Democrat (or liberal or progressive) will acknowledge it. War criminals are Republicans, doncha know. It's, like, a tautology.

But now that Krugman's established what a serious fellow he is (he criticized Obama!), he can move on to the most important item. He places that at the end of his column (all those years of practice in the partisan shit fields pay off!):
Just to be clear, progressives would be foolish to sit out this election: Mr. Obama may not be the politician of their dreams, but his enemies are definitely the stuff of their nightmares. But Mr. Obama has a responsibility, too. He can’t expect strong support from people his administration keeps ignoring and insulting.
Clever Paul. You don't actually have to offer "strong support" for Obama, and you can even criticize lots of his actions and policies. But you still have to vote for the Democrats! Not because the Democrats are all that good, and maybe not because they're good at all -- but because those people are even worse.

All of which demonstrates what has been entirely obvious for a long while now. There is absolutely nothing the Democrats could do which would cause dedicated partisan hacks like Krugman, or the major liberal and progressive voices in the media and on blogs, to abandon them. The Democrats could launch a nuclear attack and invasion of Iran, establish detention camps in the United States and start populating them with allegedly "dangerous" U.S. citizens, restrict internet access to "approved" sites, proudly announce a system of rewards for friends and family members who denounce "dissidents" with possible ties to terrorism, and pursue a host of other despicable and vile policies, and Krugman, et al. would still say you have to vote for Democrats.

Because the Republicans are still more evil -- and they're crazy!

Face it: some people just love the taste of shit. It's their favorite food.

This topic reminds me of a post I wrote in February 2008. Its title: "Most of You Will Eat Shit Until the Day You Die." One excerpt:
You can call it Republican shit. You can call it Democratic shit. You can call it progressive shit. It's still shit. It's still murder, and torture, and criminal war, and a growing surveillance state. If you vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate for president -- and if you vote for almost any of the candidates for national office -- you're voting for murder. You're voting for torture. You're voting for criminal war. You're voting for the growing surveillance state.

Is that what you choose to do? Is that what you choose to support? Is it?


[M]ost Americans are perfectly willing to be fooled (hell, they're enthusiastic about it) until the Empire begins to crumble around them -- that is, in ways that directly affect them in their lives. That day may be coming, perhaps sooner than we might prefer to think.

Some of them won't be fooled at that point. But then it will be too late. A lot of you will eat shit until the day you die.
A few days after that was published, I wrote a followup: "And They Want You to Eat It, Too." That entry discussed an especially wretched post from Atrios concerning surveillance and FISA. I wrote:
As I discussed yesterday, I'm not aware that any progressive has suggested that the FISA regime should be eliminated completely. Now the reasons are clearer. As Atrios's approving post setting forth Reyes' letter makes obvious: It is absolutely fine with the Democrats and with the progressive online community that the government has these fully comprehensive -- indeed, omnipotent -- spying powers.

It's fine with them. Ponder the fact. Ponder my argument that both parties have long desired and worked toward the complete, unchallengeable establishment of an authoritarian-corporatist state. If we have both a Democratic president and Congress next year, you will never hear another word about this subject -- except possibly for calls to expand the government's powers still more. I can't imagine exactly how they could be further expanded, but I'm certain the Democrats will find a way -- just as the Republicans do at every opportunity.
On that last point, see this story from just the other day.

I think I may change my name on this here blog. From now on, perhaps I'll sign my posts: Nostradamus Silber.

But you can call me Nosty.