The Watering Hole, Monday, November 2, 2015: Reflections On The Alternate Universe Of David Brooks

David Brooks has been e-mailing his columns in the New York Times from an alternate universe, based on his recent profession of his love for Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) and his wonkiness.

Ryan is the new House speaker and right now Rubio is the most likely presidential nominee. The shape of the presidential campaign is coming into focus. It’s still wise to expect (pray) that the celebrity candidates will fade as the shopping phase ends and the buying phase begins.

[Ed Note: As of this writing, according to RealClearPolitics, Rubio is third with 9.6%, and the election is still one year away. That’s for those who think nothing will change between now and the day we actually cast our votes for whomever we choose.] With more than a dozen candidates still vying for the nomination, I’m not sure how he could see anything on which to focus in this race. We are still in the “shopping phase,” and there is an awful lot we don’t know about the candidates themselves including, in some cases, what their actual policies will be. The candidates like Trump, Carson, and Fiorina from his universe stand some chance of winning the nomination (“It’s still wise to expect” is hedging your bets, Dave. And saying it’s wise to “pray” is just plain giving up. Which are you doing?) Their counterpart candidates in this universe stand no chance at all of actually winning the nomination of the Republican Party. None whatsoever. I wouldn’t lose a nanosecond’s sleep over ever having to hear the word “President” (with or without the word “Vice” in front of it) followed by any of the names Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina. Nor Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, or John Ellis Bush, for that matter. Not in this universe. But back to David’s.

Voters don’t have to know the details of their nominee’s agenda, but they have to know that the candidate is capable of having an agenda. Donald Trump and Ben Carson go invisible when the subject of actual governance comes up.

They’re not the only ones, but back to that first point you made. The one about voters not having to know the details of their nominee’s agenda. Really, Dave? A blissfully ignorant and uninformed electorate is considered normal in your universe? It is the goal of the Republican Party in this universe, that’s true, but our universe also has people capable of critical thinking, and we like to know exactly what the people we put in power have in mind, just in case they want to bring about the Biblical End of the World so Jesus Christ will come back and spit on all us Liberals who followed his teachings better than you guys ever did, even if we didn’t believe in him. We’re funny that way. After focusing on one of Rubio’s policy papers, David again brings up caution about what the candidates actually propose.

At this stage it’s probably not sensible to get too worked up about the details of any candidate’s plans. They are all wildly unaffordable.

They are only “wildly unaffordable” if you never consider the simple idea of raising taxes back to the rates they were before President Reagan, on the ill-conceived and childish advice of people like Grover Norquist, who at the ripe old age of twelve came up with his idea for a pledge to voters from candidates that they’ll never raise taxes, and who admit to a starve-the-beast strategy that would inevitably cripple, if not destroy, the framework of our society. The demented theory that supply-side economics would raise revenue to the government was ludicrous. Supply-side economics believes that supply drives demand (Say), not the other way around, that demand drives supply (Keynes). In Reality (i.e., this universe), it is consumer demand that drives an economy. The theory was that giving tax cuts to businesses (and people) would enable them to make more goods for people to buy. It was apparently assumed that everyone would buy whatever was being offered, and THIS would create the jobs. You can make all the widgets you want, but if nobody wants to buy them, you have no reason to have so many employees, and jobs are lost. If demand were high, you would need more and more people to keep up with the timely shipment of customer orders. It is consumer demand that drives the economy. And not the consumer demand of the rich, but of the middle class, along with what the people with even less disposable income can contribute. But they have to have the money to spend in the first place. The rich and super-rich already have enough money to live on day-to-day, so cutting their taxes is nothing but a free gift to them. They don’t struggle to find food to eat, clothes to wear, or shelter from the elements every day. They aren’t going to take their tax cuts and go buy that Gulfstream V they’ve had their eye on. They already had enough money to do that before the tax cuts, and they didn’t do it. And for the ones whose brains weren’t corroded by Ayn Randian self interests and aversion to paying taxes, it had nothing to do with the taxes they’d have to pay because they could easily afford those, too. So it was nothing but a gift, pure and simple. And they didn’t spend it. And it didn’t “trickle down” to the rest of us (though that wasn’t technically part of the theory) as was promised. And the rich just started getting much, much richer (meaning they were accumulating more and more of the limited money supply) and the rest of us were getting less than before. So we weren’t spending as much as before, and the rich weren’t spending what we would have spent if we had it (because we needed to, not because it would be nice to have another jet plane), so local governments weren’t collecting sales taxes to cover their expenses. So instead of residents getting their garbage picked up twice a week, it’s cut back to once a week. And instead of recyclables getting picked up once a week, it’s reduced to twice a month. And instead of their local police force patrolling 24 hours a day, they would take midnight to six AM off. And with the rich and the large corporations getting their taxes cut, there’s less money to the federal government for things like road and bridge repair, or education scholarships, or scientific exploration, or programs that assist local governments by giving them extra money to hire more police officers. But you’re not one who believes in government as being The People, and that what The People want is to provide a safety net for those down on their luck, to provide mom and dad with a retirement check so they can live in dignity, to provide healthcare to our seniors so they don’t die of the first thing they catch. But if there’s no money coming into the government, and if nobody wants to borrow it, those things can’t be done. Lastly,

Rubio would reform the earned-income tax credit and extend it to cover childless workers. He would also convert most federal welfare spending into a “flex fund” that would go straight to the states. Rules for these programs would no longer be written in Washington. The state agencies that implement welfare policies would have more freedom to design them. He’d maintain overall welfare spending, adjusting it for inflation and poverty levels, but he’d allow more room for experimentation.

This makes the totally unwarranted assumption that states now receiving that money want to spend it on those programs, but the ones controlled by Republicans do not, and they have made that abundantly clear. So if you do away with the federal mandate that the states spend this money on the programs, and in the amounts, for which they were intended, does anyone really believe they’ll all spend that money more efficiently and help even more people than they do now? In what universe are you living? Wait, don’t tell me. I bet David Brooks is standing right next to you. Tell him I said, “Keep dreaming, Pal.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to make fun of David Brooks or Marco Rubio or me, Brian Williams, if you like.

84 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, November 2, 2015: Reflections On The Alternate Universe Of David Brooks

    • Best way to wind up a Fundy: “So, how’s this Tribulation going for you there at your house?”

    • Taking the very selfish view of a parent with two kids in school:
      Let ’em homeschool them with Rapture Ready curriculum.
      That’ll eliminate a sizeable chunk of the candidates for college that my kids will have to compete with.
      On the compassionate side, can the Texan kids elect to opt out of inept parenting and put themselves up for adoption on a strictly out-of-state basis?

    • Surely Mr. Dawkins can’t believe that the Benny the Carson has any actual intellect?
      It’s just as much of a fact as the Earth goes around the Sun. You can’t not believe it unless you’re ignorant.”
      Mr. Benny the Carson believes the Earth revolves around Gawd.
      And, yes, he’s ignorant.

  1. Dr. B.S. Carson’s Tweet About Noah’s Ark Makes My Head Hurt

    It’s really pointless to try to understand the “logic” of someone like Carson. This is a man who seems to lack almost any semblance of common sense or a grasp on reality. After all, this is someone who’s said the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing to happen to this country since slavery, essentially blamed the Jewish people for the rise of Hitler and compared pregnant women to slave owners.

    But it is a testament to how absurd the Republican party has become that someone who’s clearly unfit and unqualified to become president has managed to become one of their two frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination.

    That last paragraph pretty much says it all, afaic.

  2. Gordon Klingenschmitt Has A ‘Scientific Method’ That Proves The Existence Of God

    . . . Now this is a scientific method. I’m giving you step A: you repent; step B: you believe; step C: you invite Jesus Christ to come into your heart as Lord and Savior. Follow that scientific method and I guarantee you will see Jesus Christ.”

    OK, so now we know one thing for sure: Gordon Klingenschmitt never took a science class. We might also venture a wild-assed guess that he really isn’t all that bright to begin with.

  3. ‘Brilliant’ surgeon Dr B.S. Carson says Creationism helped him understand the human body

    At one point, he griped that “progressives” are too critical of his Biblical views as they relate to medicine.

    “They say, ‘Carson, ya know, how can you be a surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and believe that God created the Earth, and not believe in evolution, which is the basis of all knowledge and all science?,’” the candidate said during his second speech.

    “Well, you know, it’s kind of funny. But I do believe God created us, and I did just fine. So I don’t know where they get that stuff from, ya know? It’s not true. And in fact, the more you know about God, and the deeper your relationship with God, I think the more intricate becomes your knowledge of the way things work, including the human body,” he continued.

    Yes, of course. Why didn’t I think of that.

    • I saw the ‘e’ word in there …. get Chauncey Carson on the Tweeter and ask him which room in the Ark this creature occupied?

  4. I’m pretty sure that this is a first. Today, Nov 2nd, I went out to fly my model airplane in shorts and was taking off and landing on nice, green, grass. The forecast is for at least two more days of near 70 degree temps.

    • Here at 6000 ft., foot of the Rockies Front Range it hit 75 today. Also, it is yet to freeze at this elevation. The 13000 ft peaks that are about 10 miles to the west got their first snow ten days ago, about a month later than “normal.” Wish Inhofe and his fellow R-Nitwits would quit spouting so much hot air.

      • We haven’t had so much as a trace of frost either. My old hunting buddies are all upset that there will still be green leaves in the way and they will have to get any deer they shoot on ice or they will rot. Not, of course, that the right-leaning ones will admit that anything is screwy with the weather.

    • Pat and all those like him form the quintessential reason/explanation for at least one thing: no god with a hair on his butt would EVER “rapture” up that bunch of clowns under any circumstances. Why screw up heaven, after all?

  5. I did not copy the link (so no paste) but evidently TransCanada has now requested that the State Dept. put TC’s proposed license to build a pipeline — yes, we’re talking about KXL here — to put this request on hold. TC has come to realize that the only possible movement at this point will be an outright rejection.

    This, it seems to me, is the genius of how Obama has governed: were he to reject KXL outright, it would have become a campaign issue for the conservatives. As it is, he left the issue on the table until the table rotted out from underneath it. The same effect — no KXL — but that has been achieved with the additional gain of no substantive leverage for the Reichwhiners.

    I dare say there are decisions he has made that I’d like to have seen made differently. But given the political realities that Obama has faced, there are very few such decisions that I know for a fact that I could have made *better.*

    • The problem with President Obama’s MO is that the rightwhiners will just claim he killed the project and use it as a campaign issue anyway. If we could only find that elusive “librul media”…

    • I think you’ve nailed it. Perhaps explains why Republicans have become the “Piss and Moan” cult that does nothing but piss and moan. Obama, meanwhile, has learned to basically ignore them even as he moves logical actions forward. For the most part, of course. And in so doing, he makes Republicans look as ridiculous as they genuinely are — to folks who are not Republicans, who are not dead from the neck up, who understand concepts that reach beyond hate, beyond fear, beyond just plain stupid (see: Keystone XL).

      • There was this brilliant Key and Peele skit (which, sadly, never made it to YouTube) where the guy who does the Obama imitation is there pretending to have called a meeting with the Republican leadership. During the meeting, he starts giving them everything they want. But because HE is giving it to them, they HAVE to reject it. As it goes on, they become progressively unhinged, because they can’t accept what they most want, as they must reject everything from Obama. (One fellow goes so far as to cut his own tongue out with a pair of scissors, because the contradictions are too intense.)

        At the end, the guy playing Obama calmly looks over at the camera and says, “Ain’t I a stinker?”

  6. Dr. B.S. Carson: Birthright Citizenship Was ‘Not Intended’ For ‘Anchor’ Children

    KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA — Pausing between hundreds of book signings at a mall just a few miles from Disney World, neurosurgeon and new GOP frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson told ThinkProgress that he doesn’t believe the birthright citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ever “intended” for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

    “They should not be citizens. I don’t think so,” he said.

    . . .

    “The interpretation [of the 14th Amendement] is left up to the Congress,” he said. “They don’t have to amend it. They just have to reinterpret it.”

    Right. It’s Congress’ Constitutional duty to interpret the Constitution. God said.

    • Technically, I don’t think he’s incorrect. Clause 5 of Amendment 14 says, “5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

      • “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

        What that says to me is that Congress has the authority to enforce birthright citizenship, not deny it. The fourteenth is very clear, leaves zero room for doubt, that each and every person born in the US is a US citizen. Period.

        Carson, meanwhile, seems to want Congress to have the power and authority to INTERPRET the Constitution, to, in effect, read between the lines and rule in favor of a given prejudice. If that be deemed true, Republicans/teabaggers would undoubtedly be pleased at the prospect. The rest of us would be doomed, however, as “our” Constitution would be, line by line, declared “unconstitutional.”

    • I really, really, hate to say this but I’m willing to give The Cruzer a pass on this one. Here’s my reasoning.

      All functional guns should always be treated as loaded and should never be, to pare it down, pointed in an unsafe direction. However. A break-open shotgun is not functional when the action is broken open. At that moment it is not, technically, a gun because it can not function in that condition.

      I am a hunter and gun owner and I’m fanatical about safety. I have refused to hunt or shoot with numerous people who I think have violated the basic precepts of gun safety. And? I have often carried my, much-beloved, 1955 Beretta Silver Snipe over my shoulder in exactly the same manner.

    • I, on the other hand, am not a gun owner nor an expert, but I agree with Pete’s reasoning. When the gun is broken open like that, it cannot fire, so it cannot be a danger to anyone as a gun. It could, however, still be used to bludgeon people, so it’s still dangerous to anyone within rich of Cruz.

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