Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Reading

They Got What They Wanted — Kevin Drum on the GOP memory lapse.

Of course Republicans are going to call a Democratic president a failure. What else would they do?

But then, for about the thousandth time, my mind wanders over the past ten years. Republicans got the tax cuts they wanted. They got the financial deregulation they wanted. They got the wars they wanted. They got the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And worse: ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they’ve rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us.

But despite the fact that this is all recent history, it’s treated like some kind of dreamscape. No one talks about it. Republicans pretend it never happened. Fox News insists that what we need is an even bigger dose of the medicine we got in the aughts, and this is, inexplicably, treated seriously by the rest of the press corps instead of being laughed at. As a result, guys like Marco Rubio have a free hand to insist that Obama — Obama! The guy who rescued the banking system, bailed out GM, and whose worst crime against the rich is a desire to increase their income tax rate 4.6 percentage points! — is a “left-wing strong man” engaged in brutal class warfare against the wealthy. And Rubio does it without blinking. Hell, he probably even believes it.

We are well and truly down the rabbit hole. The party of class warfare for the past 30 years is fighting a war against an empty field and the result has been a rout. I wonder what would happen if the rest of us ever actually started fighting back?

Commenting on Mr. Drum’s piece, Steve Benen adds,

By early 2009, those who were either directly responsible for a world-changing fiasco or who cheered the failure on as it happened, were still treated as if they had something worthwhile to contribute, not only to the discourse, but also to the policymaking process. Bush administration officials became pundits, whining about the speed with which Democrats were cleaning up their mess. Republicans who voted for the discredited conservative agenda pretended like they deserved to be taken seriously, and the establishment simply went along. Indeed, GOP lawmakers decided they wouldn’t work in good faith, wouldn’t cooperate with Democrats, and wouldn’t even allow votes on key measures in the midst of ongoing crises, and this was somehow seen as routine.

Now they’ve even prepared to crash the economy, on purpose, because they’re pretending to be concerned about a debt they created, and can’t bring themselves to address through one of their other policy failures.

Those whose policies had failed felt comfortable barking orders, and instead of pointing and laughing at their chutzpah, America gave them talk shows, Senate seats, newspaper columns, and governors’ offices.

Indeed, these same folks are beginning to tell the electorate, “Vote for us and we’ll roll back the clock, bring back the policies that failed so spectacularly, and be even more right-wing.”

And they stand a reasonably good chance of winning.

More below the fold.

Mayor Carlos — Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald on how Carlos Gimenez became Miami-Dade County’s new mayor.

The story of how Gimenez, a bureaucrat clumsy in the art of politicking, became the county’s newest mayor Tuesday is about a divided and disenchanted electorate narrowly choosing him over rival Julio Robaina.

Behind the scenes, Gimenez’s rise to the second-most powerful elected office in the state, after the governor, was an effort by a small group of confidants operating on a shoestring budget to piece together a coalition of support broad enough to win.

This account on how they accomplished that is based on interviews held since Election Day with a handful of staffers and advisers — some who were part of the campaign early on, and some who joined later — who recounted how the race played out from beginning to end.

The campaign realized quickly that the mayoral contest would likely not be decided over policy.

In the first-round field of 11 candidates, the top contenders — Robaina, Gimenez and former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente — agreed on the key issues: lowering the property-tax rate, pushing for sweeping charter reforms and shrinking the size of county government. The race would come down to experience and character.

Family Feud — The sad tale of Oscar-winning actress Celeste Holm and her children over their inheritance.

If you could script your life, how would it play out? Make movies, win an Academy Award, own an enormous apartment on Central Park West and then, in your declining years, marry someone half your age?

On a recent afternoon, Celeste Holm, 94, sat in her vast living room overlooking Sheep Meadow, holding hands with her husband, Frank Basile, 48, assessing how things had worked out for her.

“I don’t like it at all,” she said.

The stately apartment, where Ms. Holm has lived since 1953, reflects a full and fruitful life: mementos from her films “All About Eve” and “Gentleman’s Agreement”; sheet music on the grand piano for songs she and her husband still sing together. But it is now at the center of a bitter family battle that has poisoned her relationships with her two sons and exhausted all her other assets, including the trust fund that was supposed to pay her living expenses.

The couple have had to borrow money to stay in the apartment. They no longer have a housekeeper or a home health aide. Even now, Mr. Basile said, there is a very real chance that they could lose their home, or that Ms. Holm’s sons could force them to sell it.

“There is?” Ms. Holm said, staring at him.

To its various players, this story is about a young husband coveting his elderly wife’s fortune, or jealous sons guarding their inheritance or an independent-minded woman trying to maintain control of her finances even as her faculties decline. It is a cautionary tale for families trying to manage one of our age’s emblematic conflicts, between elderly parents who want to live autonomously and adult children who want to protect them, made more vivid by the presence of the Broadway and screen actress at its center. From all sides, it is a story of loss.

Doonesbury — Army Strong?