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Changing of the whip hand - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Nov. 7th, 2008

12:27 pm - Changing of the whip hand

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Paul Krugman writes:

Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.

What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.

And in our national discourse, we pretended that these monsters were reasonable, respectable people. To point out that the monsters were, in fact, monsters, was “shrill.”

You’d think, having endured 14 years under the rule of monsters, that the Democrats would be seeking to reduce the power such monsters can wield. After all, what’s to prevent voters from electing such monsters again?

But does anyone think that Democrats will seek to do anything but the expand the reach and power of the government lash?

We’ve not banished the monsters to the wilderness. We’ve merely changed which hand holds the whip.

Original: craschworks - comments

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From:tacit
Date:November 7th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
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But does anyone think that Democrats will seek to do anything but the expand the reach and power of the government lash?

Yes, actually.

The last Democratic Administration, that of Bill Clinton, was the only Administration in the second half of the 20th century that reduced the size of the Federal government (both in per-capita and in gross overall size terms), balanced the Federal budget, and began to pay down the national debt.

Is it possible that another Democratic Administration can do the same? Yes, it is. I think that reason demands that we see what will actually happen before rolling out the proclamations of doom and gloom.
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From:the23
Date:November 7th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
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i'm not sure i see nancy pelosi playing the newt gingrich role effectively so you'll have to hope for a big backlash in two years time!
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From:bigleeh
Date:November 7th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
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I seem to recall that the whole "reduced the size of the Federal government" thing was a bit sketchy. People were taken off the payroll but not off the budget. Spending (both in inflation-adjusted, real terms, and as a percentage of GDP) continued to rise like clockwork during his whole administration. To his credit he did make some progress against the debt but he was helped by a good economy and relative peace during his administration and by a bit of tough love from the Republicans who controlled congress for most of his tenure.
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From:crasch
Date:November 7th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
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was the only Administration in the second half of the 20th century that reduced the size of the Federal government

But that was not what the Clintons sought to do. Remember when they tried to completely nationalize the healthcare system? Or the Clipper chip, their attempt to force a backdoor in all communication devices?

Or how about the stuff that passed? Such as the DMCA? The Assault Weapons Ban? Or the third largest tax increase since 1940?

The notion that Clinton balanced the budget, or began paying down the national debt is a myth.

True, Clinton did cut the size of the Federal workforce. As this Brookings paper states,

"...the true size of the federal workforce fell almost 1.5 million between 1990 and 1999. However, as tables 3 and 4 show, the decline was driven almost entirely by a reduction of nearly 2 million jobs from Defense, Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the three federal agencies most directly affected by the sharp decline in defense spending and bomb making at the end of the Cold War. Employment in non-defense agencies actually increased by more than 300,000 jobs during the 1990-1999 period as the Clinton Administration “spent” part of the peace dividend on domestic priorities..."


Unlike Clinton, however, Democrats in the first Obama congress enjoy near super-majorities in the House and Senate. Obama doesn't have to deal with a Republican controlled Congress elected specifically on a platform of reducing government spending.

So while I'm somewhat hopeful that Obama will cut military spending, I'm pessimistic that he will reduce government spending and control overall.

Edited at 2008-11-08 03:42 am (UTC)
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From:the23
Date:November 7th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
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what will krugman do without his material?
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From:the23
Date:November 7th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
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one up on what he has been polishing for the last few years.
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From:pasquin
Date:November 8th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
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To whip a different buttock.
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From:twaj
Date:November 8th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
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Br'er Obama's rhetoric is, ahem, vanilla enough, but when pressed, the guy sounds like Allende - an unrepentant redistributionist. Your monsters fell into two demonstrably different categories: religious gimps (think Palin's dinosaur church; Leader: Prayyyse Jaysus!! Congregation: Hells yes!!) and opportunists (if you think $400bn isn't enough for the US military, you've got to look at the non-reoccuring items in the budget). Cheney didn't want to torture Iraqis. Cheney wanted Halliburton's stock to go up before he could sell it and trade his dollars for Euros (he did this several years ago). When you call people monsters, people jump to equating them to the hero-sadists of the third reich, wheras they should just see them as archetypical authoritarians - something the rest of the western hemisphere has long since gotten used to. The true nature of the beast is that in bi-partisan democracy, Mr. 50th percentile gets to crown the new king. Whether 'spreading the wealth' or believing that Jesus is your 'favorite philosopher' is neither here nor there.
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