Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just Like Hitler

DougJ: Reichstag oil spill

The very serious Thomas Sowell:

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

But don’t forget, someone compared Bush to Hitler in the comments of Daily Kos diary in 2005.

  • Matthew Yglesias adds:

    In addition, I note that yesterday noted fascism scholar and moron Jonah Goldberg observed that there’s a slippery slope from infrastructure projects to Auschwitz:

    Jay — Just because you brought up the term. A lot of people don’t know this, but it’s hardly like the Nazis invented the term. It dates back to the 19th century, but was popularized in Germany by the Weimar Republic, which took to inscribing the phrase on many large public-works projects, not just at Auschwitz — which of course was built by the Nazis, who continued the practice. The Orwellian undertones to the phrase are real, and the associations with the Holocaust are horrific, but Arbeit Macht Frei was a popular “progressive” slogan on the road to serfdom.

    Note that absent the final sentence this might merely be an asinine offhand observation, but the invocation of the road to serfdom makes it both offensive and absurd.

    As an aside, while the Moscow-directed Communist Party of Germany played a role in facilitating Hitler’s rise to power via relentless attacks on the Social Democrats, the main “progressive” German party, then and now, was the Social Democrats who tirelessly and effectively opposed Hitler. Eventually the non-Nazi center-right parties decided that they preferred Hitler to the SPD and turned the reigns over to him once he achieved a large minority of the vote.

mistermix: The Issue is Closed

Joe Barton keeps his job as Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. John Boehner:

Following a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers, the top-ranking House Republican told reporters that “Mr. Barton apologized to the members for his poor choice of words, he retracted his statement last week and apologized and the issue is closed.”

I don’t know if this is as stupid as it seems, but it sure seems mighty dumb. I guess Boehner figured that canning Barton wouldn’t have stopped the inevitable ads anyway.

Rep. Joe Barton (R) has done a fair amount of apologizing lately. It started with a public apology to BP, which was soon followed by an apology for the apology. The right-wing Texan privately began apologizing to Gulf Coast Republicans, and apologized to his caucus this morning for all the trouble he caused.

And with that last apology, the House Republican leadership decided to let Barton off the hook, treating the whole fiasco as oil under the bridge.

But some of us cynical types can't help but wonder if maybe Barton isn't quite sincere about his regrets. Dave Weigel noted this morning that Barton has apparently reversed course on his half-hearted repentance.

Hours after getting a respite from House Republicans, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) has cheekily responded to criticism over his "apology to BP" by tweeting a link to an American Spectator article titled, "Joe Barton was right."

The article by Peter Hannaford is a robust defense of what Barton said, knocking the Obama administration for "Alinsky" tactics and hatred of business.

Let me try to put this in a way Barton will understand. When a lawmaker is sincerely sorry about an ostensible mistake, and believes he was wrong, he doesn't turn around hours later to boast publicly that he was right. It's the kind of move that suggests his apology was made for the sake of political expedience.

Interestingly, Barton's office scrambled to remove the tweet -- it has, of course, been captured with screen-grabs -- and the right-wing American Spectator piece is either currently unavailable or has also been removed. It reinforces the notion that Barton probably realizes he's screwed up -- again.

And in the larger context, by one measure, it appears Joe Barton has now unapologized for apologizing for his apology.

Remember, this guy is the leading House Republican on matters related to energy and climate policy. Seriously.

Update: Greg Sargent put it this way: "It's a head-spinner: Barton apologizes to BP. Then he apologizes for his apology. Then he unapologizes and says he was right all along. And now he's trying to expunge any sign that he unapologized. Maybe Barton should just stop talking. Plug his damn hole already."

Yglesias: Lessons from the Decline of Cap and Trade

Mark Kleiman observes that once upon a time market-simulating pollution-control regulations like emissions fees or cap and trade were the official policy doctrine of the conservative movement, put forward as superior to centralized regulation. He says “was sympathetic to that critique, and frustrated about the environmental movement’s unwillingness to see reason.” But of course now that environmentalists want such pollution controls, conservatives hate them. He draws an inference that I think is correct:

Remember this the next time a conservative explains how we ought to voucherize public education. The minute that happens, the conservatives will come back and decide that we need to means-test the vouchers. That done, they’ll attack the remaining program as “welfare.”

That’s exactly right if you ask me. Another major example I can think of is the Earned Income Tax Credit, once touted as the conservative alternative to welfare and/or restoring the real value of the minimum wage, but now supported almost exclusively by liberals while conservatives castigate the poor for not paying taxes. Section 8 housing vouchers, put forward as an alternative to public housing and then repeatedly cut by GOP congresses is another one. Of course this kind of consideration doesn’t invalidate any given idea—I think auctioned, tradable emissions permits actually are the best way to regulate most sources of pollution and that housing vouchers are superior to old-school public housing. But this kind of continual pulling away of the football by the conservative movement makes it quite difficult for us to reach stable consensus around decent policies.

Think Progress: OK GOP Gov. Candidate: BP’s Spill Proves Government Should ‘Never Be Involved In The Private Sector’
Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward for the government’s efforts to ensure compensation for Gulf coast residents last week highlighted two competing visions of government. The first is the progressive vision, that says government should aggressively champion the public interest, holding massive corporations accountable. The second, Barton’s, is the reflexive conservative embrace of big corporations.

GOP state senator Randy Brogdon (OK), who is the “tea party favorite” in his race for the Republican nomination for governor in his state, indicated that he fully and absolutely endorses the second vision. Instead of placing blame on BP for the massive environmental and economic disaster that it has caused in the Gulf of Mexico, Brogdon claimed that government is “the problem” and that the spill is a “perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector”:

In Oklahoma, where oil and natural gas drive the state’s economy, tea party favorite Randy Brogdon, a Republican candidate for governor, said federal involvement in the BP disaster is only making the situation worse.

“This is a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” said Brogdon, a state senator campaigning on limited federal government. “Government is not the solution. It’s the problem. The more government tries to get in and regulate the free market, the worse things become.”

Of course, BP’s oil disaster may have resulted from too little — not too much — government involvement. Although the exact cause of the disaster is still unknown, there is a growing mountain of evidence that suggests BP’s own corporate negligence, combined with Bush-era regulators turning a blind eye to safety violations, are what created the environment that led to the oil spill.

It would be interesting to know exactly what Brogdon means by saying the oil disaster proves that the government should “never” be involved in the private sector. Does Brodgon believe, for example, that BP’s malfeasance should end government regulation of child labor, the minimum wage, food and drug safety, and airline travel?

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