Monday, November 12, 2012

Bread, Circuses, and Common Sense

"Bread and Circuses" from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative."

Some 1900 years ago the Roman poet Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (Juvenal) wrote:

Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses

Populism, or populist democracy has been around for a long time, it comes when you vote for politicians who promise you things you know you can't have.

"Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them a general favor; long a habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.  But the tulmult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."  ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense.

Common Sense... a quality we seem to have lost when evaluating political pitches.  We lack common sense when we believe someone who tells us we're going to cover millions of people with medical insurance on the same number of doctors and facilities, and it is going to save us money.

We lack common sense when we believe someone who tells us we are going to raise enough revenue to cover the deficit by lowering taxes. Common sense dictates you pay off debt either by spending less, or earning more.

Next time some politician tells you something that doesn't pass the common sense test.... boo them offstage. We have to stop rooting for the home team like its a sporting event and start holding our 'players' accountable for their actions. 

And... if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Face it, both the Republican Party and Democratic Party are seriously screwed up, in some ways the same, in others different.  But as long as we keep filling the stands and cheering nothing will change.

I don't want to hear what is wrong with the other party.  I'd like to offer you the opportunity to tell us what you think is wrong with your party. Let's stop talking about 'them' and start talking about we.




61 comments:

Thersites said...

Part-ies suck. Whole-ies RULE!

Thersites said...

His Whole-iness, the President, says that he heard a Man-Date, "Tax the rich," in the election. A part-y man hears what he wants to hear.

conservativesonfire said...

"Let's stop talking about 'them' and start talking about we."

Well, my friend, that really is the issue, isn't it. The issue that needs to be addressed is "We", the American electorate. "We" have propably never been very responsible in our actions at the ballot box. But, the last fifty years "We" have gotten worse amd our worsening has accelerated in the last ten years or so. Unfortunately, because of the pending debt crisis, I don't think "We" have time to fix urselves even if there were the will to do it.

FreeThinke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silverfiddle said...

"I don't deal well with Comment Moderation or imposed word limits."

Then why are you here using out comment forum as a billboard?

Ema Nymton said...

.

The Democratic Party is not socially progressive/liberal enough. The people of USA deserve a better return on their investment by cutting back on the corporate welfare spending on the military/industrial complex.

USA should expand its spending on the social welfare and medical/health benefits for the people. The Democratic Party needs to lead the way.

Ema Nymton
~@:o?
.

Finntann said...

To answer my own question, I'll come right out and say that social policy is what cost the Republican party the election. A 20 point spread betwen men and women are indicative of a seriously underlying foundational propblem.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/158588/gender-gap-2012-vote-largest-gallup-history.aspx

If we are going to continue to allow opposition to a forty year old court decicision to be one of the cornerstones of our platform, we have, quite frankly, become irrelevant.

Cheers!

LSP said...

Good to see a bit of Juvenal, Silverfiddle. As for bread & circs -- well, seems we just can't get enough. Curious, too, that we've divided up on color lines, "I'm for the Reds!" or "Blues!" Now where have we heard that before...

Z said...

I don't consider us 'we' until the left stops dragging us into socialism. I don't have the opinion which believes that we should be forced to help those who won't help themselves or support illegals. I'm all over those who CAN't help themselves but,honestly, I can't afford to help those who won't..and I resent being forced to. I also regret that we now live in a country whose children are not taught to THINK, and not taught to know success is a good thing.

Also, we're not 'we' until we have an honest media which considers us all 'we'...because nothing we do is presented correctly, if presented at ALL.
Who in America even heard about the F&F hearings ? Who in America heard about Peter King's excellent attempts at bringing Muslim terrorist problem to the fore (with moderate muslims) and discussing what can be done? No one. Or, only conservatives.

I understand your hope here and I applaud it..we should be 'we'...but this isn't the America of Dems and Reps who both loved and respected this country and PUT IT FIRST anymore...this is an America whose populace voted for someone who hasn't shown many of us that HE considers us 'WE'..

We MUST stop talking about 'them', I understand that, but the 'we' scares the hell out of me because it's always the leftist we which wins.

Finntann said...

Z, the we I refer to is the 'we' in your party, not the 'we' in America, which is an entirely different topic ;) worthy of a post all it's own.

~Finntann~

Darth Bacon said...

We are Republicans and therefor we are."racists". What a jerk you are!

Thersites said...

We ALL need to shut up and lead our Dear Leaders put their financial debt noose around our necks and shove us out the window like good little sheep.

Ducky's here said...

The faults of Democrats are much the same as the faults of Republicans, the swim in a cesspool of corruption, influence peddling and ignorance.
I vote Democrat because they haven't reached the full batshit crazy level of the "DO IT FOR BREITBART" crowd.

But they are very prone to the corruption inherent in the system (I'm curious if Elizabeth Warren is going to go "blue dog" at the first opportunity as I suspect.

Picking the good and the bad in this environment is largely a game of idiot's delight.

I just want some truth as some guy said. An honest conversation. There are people here who are sincere and also want to deal in good faith (not you Steve, you ass) but it's a tough slog.

Frankly, the conversation is often more fruitful with in the left. This week's The Nation does a pretty good job ripping Bill Clinton and the whole NGO scam in Haiti, taking a look at the Berlin Wall, but it has one terrific article.

Our predicament on the left

I think Fred Halliday is a fine example of what many on the left have do confront. We understand the failures and we understand our world view, warts and all. So we try to adjust.
I don't see that effort on the right, partially because there are so many religious fundamentalists whose dogma does not permit intellectual growth and partly because of the brainwashing that believes if we just go back to the 18th century it will all be fine.

No it won't.

And now I've petty much lot hope of any mutual understanding. Just make a separate peace and try to relax and ease the tension.

Think I'll just listen to some African guitar highlife and find that bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout in the back of the fridge.
But that's a temporary solution

Shaw Kenawe said...

Z: "...this is an America whose populace voted for someone who hasn't shown many of us that HE considers us 'WE'.."


You apparently were not paying attention or, worse, willfully will not hear, when President Obama repeated again and again that there are no "red states" or "blue states" but only the UNITED States of America.

Isn't that clear enough for you to understand that he does not seek division, that he believes in "WE"?

What do you suppose the president meant when he said that?

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"I don't want to hear what is wrong with the other party. I'd like to offer you the opportunity to tell us what you think is wrong with your party."

SF, you knew that was a lost cause from the beginning didn't you?

Finntann said...

@there are no "red states" or "blue states" but only the UNITED States of America.

I would prefer he refer to us as "these United States of America".

I for one am opposed on principle on the nationalization of everything. What works in NYC doesn't necessarily work in Poughkeepsie or Plattsburg. For the party of 'Diversity', when it comes to policy implementation Democrats are pretty damn monolithic.

I honestly beginning to believe the divide between us is not right/left, conservative/progressive, it is urban and the rest of us.

Cheers!

skudrunner said...

I do not consider myself a republican or a democrat but do consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. There is no party for believers like me. I vote republican not from choice but from lack of.

The republicans have this need to govern morality instead of governing a country.
Abortion is the law and if you don't want to have one, don't.
Who gave us the right to judge gays and their rights. If you don't want to marry someone of the same sex, don't.
Put a plan together for citizenship that makes sense not just oppose what the democrats do.
Push for meaningful tax reform so everyone pays their "fair" including the middle class and the rich.
Nominate Tom Selleck for president in 2016 and be done with it.

Finntann said...

Welcome to the club Sku

Ducky's here said...

skud, you sound like a progressive.

Once you get over the belief that R's are fiscally sound you're there.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"Nominate Tom Selleck for president in 2016 and be done with it."

Aside from agreeing with all of the other points...it's been too long since we've had a good mustache in the White House.

Bunkerville said...

The "We" didn't come out to vote. Millions less than McCain received when we had a dinosaur running.

skudrunner said...

Duck, I have never felt either party is fiscally sound but that the "progressives" give far more to those who don't need it than the r's. IMHO

Our esteem elected officials, or the best crooks money can buy, have no concept of fiscally sound and it is not in their best interest to spend all they can and try to get more, buys votes.

Just depends on your degree of crook as to who you support.

Finntann said...

Ducky, what makes you think we believe R's are fiscally sound, and better yet, what makes you think progressives are?

You seem to get it with "The faults of Democrats are much the same as the faults of Republicans", although I would have to disagree with you on your assessment that there are larger numbers of 'batshit crazy' on the right then on the left.

I could even compromise and support a simple progressive tax scheme (which we don't have) which I won't label fair, but will label responsible. I'll say this though, the bottom of the scale cannot be 0%, for without a vested interest in the costs of government the electorate will vote for bread and circuses... it is only human nature. Agreed, the tax system is broken, although I see it broken at both ends, whereas most progressives see it only broken at one.

Halliday is astute and for the most part honest, but he does suffer from that same delusion you accuse the right of, you can't go back to Marx and Engels either.

Cheers!

Always On Watch said...

We're saddled with politicians who prefer to exert power, yap incessantly, and feather their own nests and the nests of special interests groups.

Maybe it's always been that way.

Anyway, I'm neither a Democrat or a Republican, but I guess that I lean Republican. So, I'll critique the GOP.

The GOP needs to quit spouting things such as "Repeal Roe v. Wade!" and return to the principles of federalism, in which states determine a lot of matter that the federal government now wants involvement with. The problem is that the principles of federalism don't seem to resonate with a lot of voters because voters are so afraid that some service or other will be taken away from them.

In addition, the GOP has this notion that PACs are the be all and end all. Why are we entrusting so much to these so-called experts?

Always On Watch said...

I'd vote for Magnum PI. **wink**

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
The faults of Democrats are much the same as the faults of Republicans, the swim in a cesspool of corruption, influence peddling and ignorance.

[...]

Picking the good and the bad in this environment is largely a game of idiot's delight.


I have to agree with you. Don't faint!

Always On Watch said...

What does paying their fair share mean?

I'm serious when I ask this question.

Who determines the meaning of fair?

As for abortions, the moral issue of abortion aside, I don't think that it's FAIR that I should be paying for someone else's screwing party.

Think about it. Why should I pay for my neighbor's annual birthday bash? It's not my party, after all.

Okay, I'm being simplistic.

But the issue of who pays for what is a valid one, IMO. If I have to pay for somebody's else's stuff, I won't have enough left to pay for my own stuff.

Again, I'm being simplistic.

But the fact remains that the greater good many not be an individual's good. And coercion into paying for the greater good results in endless paying -- with the oligarchs still sitting at the top and partying the night away.

Finntann said...

Sku... both parties are progressive, only each in slightly different ways.

Despite Ducky's belief that there is no intellectual dissection and self-examination ion conservatism, there really are some good minds out there making similar points on the right.

One, and I can't for the life of me find my way back to the article makes the point that we on the right, we conservatives have allowed ourselves to be defined more by our opposition than our ideals (and we are as guilty of defining ourselves that way as the opposition is).

Wouldn't a campaign that never, ever mentioned the other party or candidate be refreshing?

Cheers!

Always On Watch said...

Finntann,
we on the right, we conservatives have allowed ourselves to be defined more by our opposition than our ideals (and we are as guilty of defining ourselves that way as the opposition is)

True.

But our society is caught up on that same kind of trend in so many other matters as well. In fact, that trend seems to be what passes for thinking now.

It's the crisis management mode, which is always a mistake (in my experience) and leads to a bankruptcy of ideas as too much time and effort are spent on self-defense. A position of weakness!

Finntann said...

@"The GOP needs to quit spouting things such as "Repeal Roe v. Wade!" and return to the principles of federalism, in which states determine a lot of matter that the federal government now wants involvement with".

Amen AOW!

I think quite a large number of progressives view matters as if they were simply right or wrong, and can't see some elements of progressive legislation as either unnecessary or not applicable to the entire nation at times.

I whole-heartedly agree, the Republican party needs to get back first to federalism (in the modern sense) and liberalism (in the classical sense).

Cheers!

Finntann said...

@ "But our society is caught up on that same kind of trend in so many other matters as well. In fact, that trend seems to be what passes for thinking now."

True... buck the trend!

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"e on the right, we conservatives have allowed ourselves to be defined more by our opposition than our ideals..."

If I may, not being a member of the GOP.....Conservative writ large need to caution against being defined by bombastic opposition to the opposition.

It's hard to know what effect it had on his electoral outcome, but Allen West stating-as-fact that upwards of 80 members of the Democrat Party are "members of the Communist Party"...isn't helping Conservatism gain any new ground.

skudrunner said...

Biggest problem is Negative ads work. Every election the same desires come out, I will run a positive. That lasts until the other side throws a stink bomb and the trash begins. I wouldn't know if staying positive would work because I haven't seen it.

Ema,

Although I agree that the people of USA deserve a better return on their investment, the remainder of you post is totally illogical. We have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrial worls and we are losing jobs partially because of it. Reforming the tax code will go a long way toward solving that problem.

Social welfare has created more poverty in this country than any other reason. Give people no reason to work and they won't. I won't just blame the democrats because neither party will take a firm stand. Help someone to get on their feet than expect them to stay there. Make food stamp regulations based on the WIC program where you have to use them to purchase nutritional foods not just potato chips and steak.
As far as spending on the military is concerned, that helps me sleep at night.

Finntann said...

@Biggest problem is Negative ads work

Has anyone run a strictly message ad program that either did or did not work?

It's a serious question. Do we know that positive, on-message campaigning doesn't work?

Ducky's here said...

@Finntann --- Ducky, what makes you think we believe R's are fiscally sound, and better yet, what makes you think progressives are?

----
As currently practiced we probably agree they are both disgraceful.

However, liberal folks do not believe you can simply throw out fiscal policy. We don't get the base salivating with "a balanced budget amendment" (okay, Dems have other devices, agreed). We haven't completely tossed out Keynes.

As for what divides us, I think a very, very critical point is subtle. The left believes there are problems which can only be solved by mass collective action. That idea scares the crap out of the right although Libertarianism is completely ineffective.

You are going to throw in the issue of authoritarianism and I am going to agree that is a serious issue. Maybe unsolvable with the money boys controlling the media and keeping us at each others throats.

Ducky's here said...

Pretty good thread today, Silverfiddle.

Silverfiddle said...

"Pretty good thread today, Silverfiddle."

Compliments to Finntann. It was his show.

Z said...

Shaw? Simple. I don't believe a word he says. Not one word.
But, you keep on...congratulations on your win. God help the children of the future. This cannot be the great country I grew up in anymore, that's for sure. ANd millions feel exactly like I do.


Ducky, the Breitbart crowd is what? As compared to Chris Matthews or any of leftwing nuts you admire? :-)

Finn...sorry...there was enough in your piece to throw me off but I did wonder if that was what you meant. Sorry for the POST I wrote in rseponse!
Boehner needs to go; I'll say that in support of your criticism of Republicans and Democrats.

Finntann said...

@ We don't get the base salivating with "a balanced budget amendment".

Is there something inherently wrong with a balanced budget amendment?

Now, I am not so naive to believe that there shouldn't be exceptions to that policy, they should be just that 'exceptions', not the rule. I would also say those exceptions should have to be proved by an overwhelming majority such as 2/3rds in order to take effect.

Our current fiscal policy is unsustainable, and taxing the rich won't solve it. Progressives love to use WWII as an example of massive debt followed by high taxes to pay it off as an example, but I need to point out that WWII like all wars was of finite duration, the war on poverty is going to be forever.

So we are left at the point where we need to decide what a government of limited (and they are limited) resources should be doing. I think we can all agree we don't want people starving or dying of curable diseases. So, where do we go from there?



Finntann said...

No problem Z, you make some very good points that I am sure many of us can relate to. I am curious as to what people on both the left, right, and middle are dissatisfied with in regards to their own political affiliation.

We also need fundamental change, and we need to start selling our own ideas instead of opposing other peoples.

Cheers!

Liberalmann said...

skudrunner said..."Duck, I have never felt either party is fiscally sound but that the "progressives" give far more to those who don't need it than the r's. IMHO'"

..

And there it is in a nutshell. The old 'I got mine and worked soooo hard for it, now screw those who need help.'

Ducky's here said...

Ducky, the Breitbart crowd is what?

-----
Easily manipulated.

What was he most famous for? The A.C.O.R.N. sting? A totally dishonest effort to deny poor people a voice at the polls. Nothing that you should be proud of.

It was a good indicator of how quickly the Dems will cave however.

But what happened? it backfired. The Dem ground game absolutely smashed Romney's. Crippled him.

All that Karl Rove money and nothing to show for it. Admit it, wouldn't you get a chuckle waching Karl being called into a meeting with Sheldon Adelson and seeing plastic on the floor?

Finntann said...

I fail to understand how you can apply the description "absolutely smashed" to this election.

Obama's performance at the polls was the 12th worst in the last 47 elections going back to 1824.

Honestly, Harding smashed Cox, Roosevelt smashed Landon, Nixon Smashed McGovern, and Reagan smashed Mondale.

2.7% doesn't constitute absolutely smashed, it constitutes barely squeeked by.

In terms of the electoral college, it's middle of the road 37th out of 57. Hardly a mandate, and hardly a stunning performance. I hate to say it (well really I don't) but aside from Bush, it's the worst performance for an incumbent since Woodrow Wilson.

Cheers!

Ducky's here said...

It was either candidates to win, Finntann. This election was a question of turnout and Obama's ground game was decisive.

One swing state. One (1).
That was an ass kicking.

Finntann said...

No matter how you spin it, 62-58 is not an ass kicking.

Both parties underperformed in comparison to 2008, which is a statement in itself.

Take a look at the House map:

http://www.politico.com/2012-election/map/#/House/2012/

There's a story there.

Liberalmann said...

Considering the voter ID laws (and Obama lost every state with new laws), the attempts a voter suppression in Florida with reduced early voting hours and 5 hour lines, the billions in super PAC money, the lies upon lies perpetuated by Fox/Rush......I'd call I an ass kicking.

Finntann said...

You can call you what you want Liberalmann, but please don't bore me with regurgitated talking points.

Not to mention it is hardly billions. According to the New York Times Obama spent 852.9 Million, Romney 752.3 Million and those figures include the top PACs.

http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance

I could be snarky and say that Obama's figures don't include all the proverbial free liquor and smokes that are entitlement programs, after all a 32% increase and 1 Trillion dollars has to buy some votes, doesn't it?

And for god's sake... do you just make this stuff up? Of the 11 states with Photo ID requirements Obama won four of them (NH, FL, MI, HI), and of the 19 states with non-photo ID requirements Obama won seven (CT, RI, DE, VA, OH, CO, & WA). No surprises there.

http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx

But Hey! How 'bout them Steelers?

Z said...

thanks, Finntann...

It's my opinion that the leftwingers at our conservative blogs make it impossible for Conservatives to have a discussion of what we're dissatisfied with our own party about. I've hesitated to do that at my blog; when I have, it's brought on an onslaught of such ridiculous comments from the left, I realized that it's not possible.

I do know that the left votes 'en masse' and there's no dissent within the party. Republicans have varying viewpoints, lots of soul searching and run the gamut. Basically, I suppose one could say that's why we lose elections, particularly when there are some feeling so disenfranchised they decide to stay home and insure disaster!

Right Wing Theocrat said...

It's not the party, they are but reflections of the people's will.

Some of them just want bread and circuses and don't care who pays for it.

Some of them are tired of making and giving and want to take a bit back now.

The reasoning is irrelevant now, more want to take than make and they'll only look for those who'll give it to them.

jez said...

"Both parties underperformed in comparison to 2008, which is a statement in itself."

It's not, it's regression to the mean. Estimated turnout is a little under 60%, which is higher than in 2004, which was itself a rather high-turnout. 2008 had a record turnout, there's no reason to expect it to be beaten or equalled this time round.

You'll never really understand why the Left sometimes win elections while you refuse to recognise non-selfish reasons for voting that way.

Always On Watch said...

I concur with Z:

I do know that the left votes 'en masse' and there's no dissent within the party. Republicans have varying viewpoints, lots of soul searching and run the gamut.

I'm not sure that it's even possible to change those ways.

What's interesting to me is that Left promotes marching to the beat of one's own drum, but at the ballot box, it is the conservatives who march to different drummers.

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
You said:

As for what divides us, I think a very, very critical point is subtle. The left believes there are problems which can only be solved by mass collective action.

Damn. We agree again!

But the history of collective action isn't very good, now, is it?

Always On Watch said...

Negative ads work because our electorate has been conditioned to love negativity.

Just look at the television shows of the past two decades (at least). Put downs are the name of the game! There is very little positive. The contrast with old television shows is astounding -- a fact that hit me the other day when I was watching one of the Western channels. I may be wrong, but I think that negativity took off as a national trend when Laugh In appeared on the broadcast waves.

Also, look at the literature read in the school systems. Happy endings and definitive resolutions of plot are no longer viewed as worth the read.

Liberalmann said...

Always On Watch said..."Negative ads work because our electorate has been conditioned to love negativity."

...

And lies work for the same reason. That's why people buy the National Inquirer and watch Fox News.

Silverfiddle said...

And it's also why people think Rachel Madcow, channeling Walter Krankheit with her black hornrimmed glasses is journalism, and why they tune into beet-red fathead ranter Ed Schultz.

Liberalmann said...

Show me where they have lied.

Silverfiddle said...

You're the one who mentioned lies, Junior.

Got facts?

skudrunner said...

Liberalmann,
"And there it is in a nutshell. The old 'I got mine and worked soooo hard for it, now screw those who need help.'"

You seem to have delusion thinking. If you were in the position to pay 35% in taxes I will have to assume you would be overjoyed. Paying taxes is part of life but it would be nice to see the federalists spend it on wisely. Both sides waste our money and want more so it is not just the democrats who but votes with our money.

As to you statement "Considering the voter ID laws (and Obama lost every state with new laws)"

Maybe that should tells you something.

beamish said...

Actually, Obama won New Hampshire, which has a new voter ID law.

Piling on to this Romneybot sore loser meme, Romney won South Carolina despite its voter ID law been tied up in courts right now. There was no voter ID requirements in South Carolina. Why didn't Obama win?

Stogie said...

We lack common sense when we believe someone who tells us we are going to raise enough revenue to cover the deficit by lowering taxes. Common sense dictates you pay off debt either by spending less, or earning more.

Ever hear of the Laffer Curve? There is an optimal point at which tax rates cannot rise without actually lowering tax revenues. When taxes are too high the tax base shrinks, and at some critical point, revenues decline. JFK proved that in 1962. He lowered the rates and tax revenues increased.

If you increase tax rates by 100%, you do not double your tax revenues, because the base shrinks: people stop producing at the previous level or take their business somewhere else where the tax rates are more reasonable.

Finntann said...

Yes Stogie, I've heard of the Laffer curve, point is... we have a spending problem not a taxing problem.

Would you tell someone who earned 80,000 a year with 80,000 in credit card debt to go out and get a better paying job?