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Friday, July 29, 2011

Days away from doom

Let me confess that this is one of the occasions when I find it hard to write about the issue that everyone wants to discuss. The debt ceiling debacle is the most depressing subject imaginable. Nevertheless, the whole horrifying episode (not to mention the whole horrifying Murdoch media empire) may be justified by this NY Post headline: "Raging Boehner".

Apparently, one of the huge sticking points is aid to the Pell Grant program, a $17 billion item. That's not a lot of money compared to the $16 trillion dollars loaned to various banks (at home and abroad) in 2008. For many students, these grants are the difference between getting a degree and the wonderful world of would-you-like-fries-with-that. Even previous Republican administrations used to trumpet the value of college grants; when confronting workers displaced by outsourcing, Dubya preferred to talk about re-education instead of job creation.

But the teabaggers are hard fucking core. They think Pell Grants are welfare, not an investment in the future -- and never mind the queasy fact that our competitors, who excel at making higher education available to those who seek it, are producing science whizzes the way we used to. The libertarians want to keep college a club for the wealthy. And they want to keep decent working class jobs where they belong -- in India and China. Everything has its place, right?

I like what Digby has to say about the baggers:
They are simpletons, drunk with power, who in their zeal to serve their masters have decided to burn all the crops in order to save on watering costs.
The end of "Raging" Boehner's plan means that Harry Reid has a chance to get his own proposal passed. There's a lot to dislike about Reid's concept; the plan goes for deep cuts and includes no new tax revenues. (We'd have no problem if we would simply return to the more progressive tax structure we had under Clinton -- or better still, Reagan).

But the Reid plan has one thing in its favor:
The package will also reportedly include roughly $1 trillion in savings that will come from the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Let me flip on all the lights so you can see what is really going on here.

Obama favored a very different approach: He (unlike Reid) was willing to cut into Social Security and Medicare. Get it? Get it? Barack Obama -- the guy who got the nomination because he gave a tepidly anti-war speech before a fervently anti-war crowd back in 2002, thereby allowing himself to claim the peacenik position -- was and is willing to cut Social Security in order to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let that sink in.

And while you ponder that ugly tableau, consider this: Since Reid's plan raises no taxes, the tea partiers should be able to reconcile themselves to it. But they can't. They want to eviscerate Social Security. They would rather have grandma sleep on the street than bug out of Iraq and Afghanistan. They'd rather see an end to the Union than countenance Social Security and Medicare.

John W. Smart's solution to this mess has a certain elegant appeal. Obama should...
Invoke the 14th amendment. Deem the debate ceiling raised. Dress down the “childish” Congress, grab the mantle of the leader who saved the nation from “default”.

Go on vacation.
Hell, stay on vacation. Increasingly, I favor the "minty" approach. Stamp out a few trillion-dollar platinum coins, flip 'em at the Fed with that cool-ass George Raft spin, and then pop on over to Sichuan Pavilion for some marinated duck.

I wonder what would happen?
This is really treason we are talking about, and ALL of the members of the Tea Party faction of the GOP need to be forcibly removed from office, arrested, and jailed. Ditto for fellow travelers and financiers the Koch brothers and others who have encouraged the destruction of the United States. ALL of their assets need to be seized and liquidated.

Obama must be forced to step down from the presidency, as he has been willing to compromise with the enemy since he is really one of them himself.

It's that dire.
Come on, O has been wanting to cut SS, Medicare, and Medicaid at least since the primaries. And Reid's bill includes the Super Congress to accomplish it.

Please keep the facts straight. The bank bailout was enacted by a "Democratic" Party controlled Congress and signed into law by the Big Government fan George Bush.

Big Government is a very poor manager. The free market works better and creates more wealth for everyone. Only when government intrudes into people's lives, does the enslaved market fail.

The economic failure is a result of Mr Obama's drive to "spread the wealth around" which only broke everything.

Susan is right about one thing: Obama is a thief and should be in prison.
Bob, you are one sick mofo. You are so wedded to libertarian propaganda -- most of which I rejected before you were born (I am presuming that you are young) -- that you will always blind yourself to the facts.

"The bank bailout was enacted by a "Democratic" Party controlled Congress and signed into law by the Big Government fan George Bush."

Why put "Democratic" in quotes? Are you implying that nobody voted for them?

Nobody wanted TARP except Wall Street. The only reason the thing was approved was because Wall Streeters -- whom libertarian nutjobs like you consider the gods of earth -- told the politicians that the economy would collapse otherwise (and that they funding spigot would be turned off -- and don't pretend that only one party gets the funding.)

So the Democrats and Republicans who voted for the bailouts are considered "socialists" because they jumped when Goldman Sachs told them to jump. Unreal!

"Big Government is a very poor manager. The free market works better and creates more wealth for everyone."

Then why is Germany (a mixed economy where unions help run businesses and where EVERYTHING is regulated, to a point that even I would consider annoying) the one country that everyone else in Europe wants to borrow FROM? Why did Weimar Germany (run according to strict free market principles) fail so spectacularly? Why was America so much more prosperous in the era of bipartisan Keynesian consensus (1940-1976)? Why did the economic collapse occur only after libertarians forced the end of any sensible regulation, such as Glass-Stegall? Why were things so much better when the SEC actually prosecuted Wall Street wrongdoers (which they hardly ever do any more)?

And why don't you and every other libertarian motherfucker robotically mouthing your Ayn Randian clichse just move to the libertarian paradise of Somalia where you belong?

The fact is, UNREGULATED capitalism does not work. Never has worked. It has been a total disaster every time it was tried, or every time regulations were lessened.

Capitalism is like the highway. Given regulation, the system works. But without cops and traffic lights, the roads would turn into places where only maniacs would dare to venture.

All of that libertarian garbage filling your head was put there by Wall Street funded propagandists. You know why those guys want no laws to restrict their behavior? For the same reason Jack the Ripper might have disliked laws against homicide.

It's no accident that your goddess Ayn fell in love with a serial killer.

"The economic failure is a result of Mr Obama's drive to "spread the wealth around" which only broke everything."

I've been seeing this myth everywhere. WHAT drive to "spread the wealth around"? The baggers and libertarians keep saying this, as though repetition provided proof. But they never humor us with examples.

Government employment has SHRUNK dramatically. That's a fact, jack. Look it up.

And that stimulus bill? It was no such thing. There was no real job creation funded by that bill. Some money went to the states to keep teachers employed. Some money went to unemployment benefits. The biggest items was tax cuts. (Which followed hard upon Dubya's tax cut of 2008, which everyone forgets about.) The continuing economic turmoil proves that TAX CUTS DO NOT WORK.

Yes, there has been income redistribution. The money went from the working poor to the Goldman Saxers, who funded Obama in the first place. You baggers keep screaming that he has robbed the rich, when in fact he would not even allow the Bush tax cuts on the rich to expire. If we had the same progressive tax structure that we had under Reagan (plus an end to the wars), there would be NO debt ceiling crisis.

You libertarians are sick.
Once again, if there is nobody to push back against the Libertarian canards about government regulation the Bob Qats of this world will increase in number.

This is where the print and broadcast media has failed us once again. Weather it be cowardice or malicious intent on the part of their corporate masters, the result is the same, a sadly misinformed public going to the polls on election day.

If anybody should be hauled up on treason charges, it's the talking cable news heads and the op-ed staffs at the two major papers.
Bravo, Mr. Cannon!

Between the neoliberals and the libertarians, we're headed towards a new era of feudalism, where the MOTU can rape the world's resources and wealth, while the rest of us hope some crumbs fall off the table. Presumably, that's what 'liberty' is all about in this warped world view. Anything beyond that mindset is labeled socialism or Marxism or whatever namecalling these cretins can come up with to hide the petty fact that they're simply selfish SOBs who care only about themselves and their own creature comforts. Most of the people chanting this garbage don't realize they'll be left behind, ground up in the gears along with everyone else.

The Koch brothers must be laughing their asses off. A bunch of morons cheerleading a philosophy that will lead to their own demise. Asinine!

As for the debt ceiling? If Obama had balls he'd invoke the 14th Amendment and let the chips fall where they may. But that would need POTUS caring about something beyond his own reelection. Yup. Don't hold your breath.

So, instead we get to witness a pissing contest between the GOP and their TP maniacs and the lame Democrats, who are willing to give away the family dog. They'll even throw in the cat.


Peggy Sue
the guy who got the nomination because he gave a tepidly anti-war speech before a fervently anti-war crowd back in 2002,

More accurately: he's the guy who claimed to have given a tepidly anti-war speech in 2002. There are no recordings of what he actually said, nor was there any news coverage of his remarks. The film of the speech used by his campaign was a re-enactment. God only knows what he really said in 2002, much less how he said it. A nit, I know, but this crew has such a habit of rewriting history that I think it's important to be wary of any claims they make.

I don't think it's necessary to invoke the 14th. The appropriations bill was passed after the last increase in the debt ceiling, and it clearly authorizes spending in excess of that limit. It seems to me that the clear will of Congress was to override the earlier limit and spend the appropriated funds. The only reasonable assumption is that the later act of the Congress (the FY2011 appropriation) supersedes the earlier (the debt ceiling) when they are in conflict. If Congress didn't intend for the money to be spent, they wouldn't have appropriated it.

I'm very leery of possible interpretations of the 14th Amendment language - after all, it says that the debt "shall not be questioned". Does that in fact obligate the President to pay bondholders even if it requires shutting down all the other functions of government to do so? I think that's certainly a possible interpretation and I really don't want to find out what a great legal mind like Clarence Thomas would make of that sentence.
Well, Joe, but if the tea partiers want to sacrifice SS and Medicare to save the wars but at the same time enact policies which would destroy the Union, wouldn't the wars be cut short by the necessity of bringing the troops home to try to save it and/or by your logic the wars be ultimately non-wageable due to the collapse of the Union?

Millions of Arabs and Moslems would be understandably thrilled, Israel not so much.
Ken, maybe that's why Israel has been making pals with China, the new Big Kid on the block. Which country do you think supplied all of those cheap paintings that young sayanim...oops: I meant to say STUDENTS were hawking in department stores across the nation?
Joe, I've never heard of students or whatever hawking anything inside a department store. Could you please explain?

I don't think those things deserve to be called 'paintings'. We need another name for them.
Do you think the tea party type's would go for those coins if they put RonaldReagan face on those coins?
Jotman, good question.

Actually, the department store-ish Israelis were operating kiosks in malls, selling remote controlled helicopters, iirc.

The 'student artists' (from art institutes that didn't exist) were selling their 'paintings' (which were cheap prints, prolly from China as Joe suggests), not in department stores or malls, but in restricted federal buildings, including some unlisted AS federal buildings.

Anon and Jotman: I ran into some of these Israelis selling the toy helicopters and the Chinese paintings in the Northridge mall, circa 2003. The guys had that thuggish, suspicious "fuck you" aura that is so characteristic of young male Israelis, and so unlike American Jews of a similar age. The frizzy-haired girl I tried to chat up was sloe-eyed and dreamy. Frankly, she seemed stoned. Yet she was also quite guarded, and wouldn't tell me much about why a bunch of Israelis were selling this crap in this mall.

My ladyfriend worked at a nearby store, so I saw them often. I never saw them actually make a sale. They didn't seem interested in actually pushing their wares.

I'm pretty convinced that the paintings were the same ones being peddled to the DEA and other federal enforcement agencies. They were not prints; this was actual house-paint-on-canvas stuff. They had that look of assembly-line art. A lot of the paintings were knock-offs of Thomas Kincaide (and thus competed with the real Kincaides being sold elsewhere in the mall). Some were bad Van Gogh copies and some were based off of the figures on the Sistine Chapel.
Joe and Anonymous,

It's troubling to think that any government agency would buy Chinese factory paintings instead of purchasing work by artists, preferably living ones! Other countries implement systems to ensure that the walls of government buildings support culture. Why can't the US?

Apparently, most of the factory paintings come from one town in China where workers specialize in copying stuff.

I was told the Israelis sell junk to support their travels. They often go abroad right after doing military service. Perhaps that explains the attitude?
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