Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why I Love Rachel Maddow

I'm no groupie. I'm not a gay activist. I hate television and I hate myself when I sit in front of it, mindlessly flipping around.

But I love Rachel Maddow and an hour with her makes me feel pretty damned good about our chances.

Rachel, if you have somehow missed her, is the snarky host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. She's got a radio show on Air America. She's the smart ass kid you wanted on your softball team, and she's all grown up and poking holes in political stupidity - no matter what side of the aisle it's on.

Ignore what MSNBC's done to make her acceptable to mainstream America - turned a shortstop into a glamor girl with flappy eyelashes. Listen to her.

She's intelligent, she backs up her opinions with fact, and she cares. When she's outraged, she doesn't mince any words. But she never descends into shrill rants. Take a note, Fox News. Aw, let's be even handed here - Keith Olbermann might want to borrow a page from his protege as well.

Last night, Rachel discussed the stimulus.

She devoted her show to debunking what she called "bull pucky" arguments against the stimulus plan, and arguing against the compromises that were made to get it past the GOP objections.

She gave facts and figures showing that tax cuts don't stimulate the economy nearly as well as infrastructure spending and funding food stamps. And she was clearly outraged that common sense gets shouted down by partisan fighting. She cited studies I've heard before but she gave them a national voice, and she said what I've been thinking myself. If Congress can't shut up, grow up and get to work bailing out this boat, it's time to toss them overboard.

And I'm predicting when this time passes, when history looks back, Rachel Maddow, along with Jon Stewart, are going to prove to be two of the most important voices for this era.


Jennifer said...

Here, here!

Nocomme1 said...

While I didn't see Maddow's exposition I am aware of what Robert Morgenthau, Jr., FDR's Treasury Secretary said about the effectiveness of the New Deal (the model for Obama's current "stimulus"), in 1939, ten years after the depression began:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong…somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot!”

Maddow has her charts. Morgenthau had his experience. Maybe I'm crazy but Morgenthau strikes me as being a tad more credible than Maddow.

(Also, for more on the folly of the New Deal, check out Amity Shlae's highly regarded book, The Forgotten Man.)

Susan said...

I would never argue without checking my facts, so I checked. You've got an absolute point, which even the experts on FDR would concede. The New Deal didn't end the Depression - a war did. But if you look at the statistics, there's definite improvement, though certainly not the joyful recovery one might hope for. But three, or even one percent of the population is a lot of people who were able to go back to work.
FDR's conviction was that you can't sit back and watch people drown. You try something. You try anything. And some of it works. If it doesn't, you try something else.
If we do nothing, the top 1% that holds more wealth than the entire bottom 90% will be okay. But many, many of the rest of us will not.
I'd rather thrown out some lifejackets now and work on paying for them then just yell, "Swim!"

Nocomme1 said...

"FDR's conviction was that you can't sit back and watch people drown. You try something."

I'm not arguing that you don't try "something". I think what conservatives are suggesting is that you try things with a greater track record of success than the dismal "success" of the New Deal. I'm thinking of things like targetted tax cuts (even a short-term suspension of the capital gains tax), dispensing with sclerotic, pointless, inefficient regulations, trying personal and business incentives of various sorts.

I work for the government. It is inefficient as hell. To imagine that Barney Frank and the group of bloated gas-bags in Washington are better able to figure out how to run businesses than people whose livelihoods are dependent on getting it right just doesn't make any sense to me.

Obama believes that the government is the answer. I think history proves exactly the opposite.

FDR prolonged a bad recession and turned it into a GREAT Depression. Obama shouldn't be allowed to repeat the mistake.

People's lives and futures are on the line. It is no time to ignore the lessons of the past, but to learn from them.

Susan said...

This is the part that heartens me. Despite the fact that it seems like we're on opposites sides of the ideological fence, we agree on some points.
Barney Frank and his ilk? Bah. I agree completely.
But what bothers me is the "tax cut" argument when there is consensus among economists that a tax cut is the least effective means of stimulating the economy.
Food stamps, amazingly, offer the best bang for the buck. Infrastructure spending returns far more. I hate taxes like poison, but a tax cut apparently doesn't do the job.
Can business do this better than government? Theoretically, yes.
But I'm afraid big business, corporate America has proven it's as rotten as government.
I do have faith in people, especially small business owners.
I have little in government and none in corporate America as a general rule.
So if I'm offered the Democratic choice of an infusion of money into projects that will generate jobs or the Republican choice of handouts to large corporations which are proving themselves to be completely tone deaf, I'll go for the projects.
At least with government, you can vote them out. We have no say in who runs corporate America.