Note: I had most of this post done and was conducting my usual futile pre-posting search for typos when Congress announced that they’d finally struck a deal on the payroll tax holiday extension. Which, of course, required that I rewrite some of the post. I’m pretty sure they did it on purpose. Because they are dicks.
Remember the Cold War?
Sure you do.
You know, the Cold War, the fifty year long battle over ideology that damned near ended the world?
Basically the Cold War was a big pissing contest between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The best summation of which was probably the so-called Space Race. For thirty years the US and the Soviets tried to one up each other. Both spent vast, staggeringly unbelievably vast, fortunes in blood and treasure to be first in space. First satellite. First dog in space. First monkey in Space. First man in space. First woman in space. First into space twice. First old guy. First left handed guy. First to eat in space. First to piss in space. First to sleep in space. First to die. First to orbit. First to make a hundred obits. First to make a hundred and one. First rendezvous. First docking. First around the moon. First unmanned lunar landing. First manned landing. First probe to Mars, Venus, Jupiter. First space station. First this and first that. First!
Oh, yes, we – both the Russians and the Americans – cheered every first, no matter how small, by our own respective teams and booed the other side and called them cheaters.
The Russian beat us to orbit. They were first with their Sputnik and then first with their cosmonauts.
We caught up. Then we blew up and they took the lead.
Then they burned up on reentry and we took the lead back.
In the end we beat them to the moon and so we won. Yah! Yes, that’s right, America won. Ha! In your face, Soviet Bastards! In your face!
Except, well, what did it get us? What did we win? Really?
What was the prize? Bragging rights?
Four decades later and who cares? I mean who really cares who was first? Russians were first to orbit. Boo! Americans were first to the moon. Whoopie! And then what? How many of the current generation do you see wandering around with an “Apollo XI, We’re Number One!” sweatshirt on? By 1972 and Apollo XVII we’d already lost interest. To the current generation, the whole Space Race is little more than a not very interesting historical footnote and some ancient primitive hardware gathering dust in a museum somewhere. See, the thing is, neither country got a sustainable space program out of all those trillions of dollars and rubles, out of all those lives, out of all those firsts. Sure, both societies benefitted from the technology and the science, and we still do, every day, but after all of that, after all of those lives and all of that expense and all of that effort and all of the tears and all of the cheering, after all of the chest beating and flag waving and dick waggling and bragging rights, well, after all of that, twelve men walked on the moon forty years ago and we couldn’t go back now even if we actually wanted to. We never made it to Mars, or the moons of Jupiter, and the dreams of living among the stars that I grew up with are mostly dead in this the newest generation. We went, we came back. Whoop Tee Doo, put that in the history books next to Kitty Hawk – if they still teach Kitty Hawk in history class anymore. I haven’t checked lately, more than likely the Texas Board of Creationism has substituted angels and Ezekiel's Wheel for Orville and Wilbur by now.
And yet, if you step outside right now and look up at the night sky in just the right place and at just the right time, you’ll see a space station. The International Space Station. The largest, most complex, most technologically advanced, and most successful sustained long duration mission ever lofted by the hand of man. Americans didn’t do that. The Russians didn’t do that. The Europeans didn’t do that. We did it. We did it, Americans, Russians, Canadians, Europeans, Japanese, Israelis, Indians, all of us working together.
We don’t cheer now when Americans go into orbit. But neither do we cheer when the Russians fail or have a setback. And the same is true with them. We’re in this together. Americans ride Russian rockets into orbit, Russians live in Japanese built modules lifted into space in the bellies of American built Shuttles and assembled with a robot arm made in Canada. American ground control oversees the mission in conjunction with their counterparts in Kazakhstan. Russians and Americans take turns commanding the station. The first billionaire tourists have bought their way aboard that station in a Russian capitalist venture, and within a year a civilian rocket lofted by an American company will dock with the station. And you know what? That’s a good thing. A damned good thing. Because it demonstrates very, very clearly that we, all of us, can work together if we want to. And the more we work together, the more we understand each other, the more we speak each other’s language.
When I was growing up, during the Cold War, the Russians were the enemy. There was a time when our differences almost ended the world for all time. Now? Now they are the people we build space stations with.
Sure, we’ve got our differences.
Sure trust is sometimes hard to come by. Sure there are fights and bickering and bad days and sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to pay for things. Again, so? So what? This generation? The one growing up right now? They have a pretty good chance of not dying in nuclear fire. Tell me that’s not a good thing. Tell me that’s not what matters. The more we work together, the more we realize the things we have in common, the more we accomplish. You have only to step outside on a clear night and look up to see it. And no sane person, Russian or American, wants it to go back to the way it was.
One day, if we keep on like this, we will go back to the moon and to Mars and maybe even further, and we’ll do it together.
It’s ironic, then, don’t you think?
Ironic that we Americans can work with our former mortal enemies easier than with other Americans?
Funny how we can compromise when it comes to building a trillion dollar space station with people we once called “the Evil Empire.” Funny how we can work to build a future for our kids with people we spent the better put of a century locked into a mutual murder/suicide pact with, isn’t it?
Funny how we, Americans, can’t seem to find that same spirit of compromise and teamwork when it comes to working with Americans.
Funny sad, funny stupid, not funny ha ha.
Sad and stupid that we can’t seem to work together when it comes to something simple, something we all agree needs to be done, something that we all want.
I am, of course, talking about the mess in Congress.
You know it’s not about the tax breaks.
It’s not about class warfare. It’s not about the rich and not about the poor and most certainly not about the middle class.
It’s not about the economy, or jobs, or the national debt.
It’s not about the upcoming presidential election, well not totally anyway.
It’s not even about ideology.
It’s about face.
It’s about hubris.
It’s about bluster, and chest beating, and who can piss furthest into the wind. It’s about pride.
This latest congressional deadlock over extending the payroll tax holiday was about one thing and one thing only. It was about dicks – and like most matters of this nature, this entire adolescent pissing contest is nothing but locker-room theater by a bunch of spoiled selfish arrogant immature pricks who are worried that somebody, somewhere, somehow, might think that they have a wee little one.
Here’s the bald simple truth of the matter: This congressional Cold War? It’s all a farce.
There was never any doubt that Congress would pass the payroll tax holiday extension, or that the president would sign it
Anything else would have been political suicide.
The Speaker of the House knows this, you bet he does.
John Boehner painted himself into a corner. As a result, he had to bend over and take it right up the poop chute. He knew it. And he’s got nobody to blame but his own lousy leadership. Boehner has spent the last year showing us what he is, this last week he was just haggling over the price.
The House deserves no credit for reaching a deal. None. It’s not an accomplishment to dodge a rubber bullet you fired at your own self.
Here’s the thing, the economy is in the toilet. It may not be circling the drain anymore, it may have crawled out of the dirty water and may be inching its way up the filthy stained porcelain, but the economy is still in the crapper. You know it, I know it, and every single voter in America knows it. So do the politicians. Americans are pissed off. They’re tired of this bullshit, most of them anyway. They want this endless bickering to stop. They want congress to stop acting like children and start doing the job they get paid handsomely for. Americans, most of them, have had just about enough of this nonsense. They’re out in the street. They’re out of work. They’re out of money. Half of them are out of their damned minds. They’re a year out from a major election. And they’re out of patience.
As a result, it’s a damned dangerous time to be a politician.
Luckily, for these preening jackasses, the worst thing that is likely to happen is that they’ll get voted out of power – instead of being dragged from their ivory towers and stood against a wall. On a side note, a number of these congressmen, including the most intransigent of the current bunch of strident obstructionists, would do well to remember that they are the primary reason so many very angry Americans are heavily armed and equipped for violent revolution. But as usual, I ironically digress.
If congress allowed taxes to go up on the poor and middle class, especially going into an election year, they’d be cutting their own throats.
And they know it.
Boehner and his Tea Party masters have been trying to sell this as a war of ideology, the political Cold War version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nobody wants taxes to go up, they claim. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t let it happen if they could somehow be sure that the blame would fall squarely and unambiguously on the President and the other guys. But they can’t guarantee that. Voters are fickle. They may be unhappy with Obama, but you raise their taxes by $150 per month and let unemployment benefits expire in this economy and see what happens. Instead of the Cuban Missile Crisis, House conservatives would have been looking right down the barrel at the political equivalent of the Bay of Pigs.
And they know it.
And so, after much bluster and chest beating and dick waggling, they signed the Senate version of the tax holiday extension plan.
And there was never any doubt that they would.
Because, see, this really isn’t about ideology, or doing the right thing, and it sure as pluperfect hell isn’t about us, you and me, the insignificant middle class getting dirty-dicked by these arrogant pricks. Because if it really was about ideology, if it was about principle, if they really thought that they were right – then they would have let taxes go up and damn the consequences.
But it isn’t about that.
It’s about face.
Everybody has already agreed to the basics. The tax holiday must be extended. Ditto entitlements (long term unemployment benefits included). The only argument is how to pay for that. Tax the rich? Or cut something else out of the budget. Or a little of both? The senate hammered out a deal with broad bipartisan support – over ninety percent of the forum approved the bill.
A two month extension gives both the House and the Senate time to work out a permanent long-term deal.
John Boehner himself initially agreed to this deal.
Yet, House conservatives balked - and Boehner folded like a cheap suit when his Tea Party masters yanked sharply on his choker chain.
House Conservatives suddenly swore that they couldn’t agree to a two month extension, they wanted a longer deal. Really? Then why in the hell didn’t they complete a bill and forward it to the Senate a month ago? It’s not like expiration of the payroll tax holiday was a surprise. It’s not like we didn’t know that long term unemployment benefits were due to expire on December 31st. If this was really about a long term deal, then they should have done their goddamned jobs two months ago. Instead, they deliberately let it come down to the wire, and they did that specifically because they thought they could use this issue to make Obama look bad and for no other reason. They weren’t expecting conservatives in the Senate to show common sense and put the needs of the country over politics.
They gambled, and they lost. That’s what happens when you bluff, sometimes you get called.
But instead of manning up and taking their lumps, they’d acted like petulant children and tried to hold onto the pot.
Ever try to reason with a mad child?
Unfortunately, we can’t send these brats to their room for a timeout.
This morning, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), insisted that the differences between competing House and Senate 12-month plans could be resolved “within an hour.” Really? Then why the fuck wasn’t that done two weeks ago? I’ll tell you why, because Cantor and his pals are a bunch of spoiled privileged childish dicks. That’s why. He’s exactly the kind of guy who would play poker in a game where the stakes are the lives of one hundred and eighty million Americans. And he’d do it solely in order to advance his own political agenda and for no other reason.
Think about this for a minute. For whatever reason, these sons of bitches waited until the last minute. Now we’re talking about taxes and budgets and entitlements (and an oil pipeline for fuck’s sake, which is included in this mess for some stupid assed reason that makes no sense whatsoever). There’s about five working days left to go. What kind of bill do you think you’re going to get? Seriously? Two days before the holiday break? A week and half before the deadline? A bunch of political hacks all pissed off and panicked and worried about if people will think they have a little dick?
Honestly, do you really want to live with whatever they managed to throw together at the last damned minute?
Here’s a thought, wouldn’t it make more sense to sign a quick two month extension, make sure Americans have some breathing space (You know, the people you’re supposed to be looking out for) and then take that time to sit down and deliberately hammer out something we can all live with? I mean, wouldn’t that make sense considering that they screwed around playing politics instead of doing the job and now it’s a thing?
Well, yes, of course that would make more sense. And yes, sure, we could do that. Sure. But …
We could do that but the payroll accounting software most companies use isn’t designed for two month increments.
No, seriously, that was the argument. Payroll accounting software is designed for quarterly adjustments to taxes and withholdings and etcetera and so on. So? Think about that for a minute. Why bring this up at all? No, really, why bring that up at all? Unless somebody is actually thinking about raising our taxes. Funny thing, nobody has mentioned that, and what passes for journalism in this country hasn’t bothered to actually ask. So, what’s the deal? This is only an issue if House Republicans are thinking that they might be raising your taxes in two months (or lowering them, I suppose, if you’re a millionaire).
Next, of course, was the standard GOP canard, i.e. a two month extension raises uncertainty for businesses and thus they won’t create jobs and invest in America and the sky, you know, it will fall. Oh noes, not uncertainty! Let’s just say that’s true, and not the same old tired Chicken Little bullshit excuse that has allowed these same businesses to go on for ten years now without creating any jobs despite tax breaks and huge piles of bailout money. There’s an easy fix. It’s called leadership. Sign the two month extension, then House, Senate, and Executive all stand together on neutral ground and sign a fucking pledge to the American people guaranteeing that they will hammer out a deal by February that doesn’t change the tax and entitlement rates that exist right now. Period.
House Republicans should have no problem with this idea, since according to their leader, Eric Cantor, it’ll only take an hour or so to work out the differences between existing plans.
That should give business the assurance they need to invest in the future and create all those jobs they keep promising us in exchange for our tax money. Tell you what, while they’re at it, how about Congress pledge to raise taxes on Corporations who don’t start hiring Americans – and by Americans, I mean people in this country. And if they don’t, then they can not only start paying taxes, they can pay back all those tax breaks and bailout dollars they’ve taken from us – that ought to pay for extending the payroll tax holiday. Conservatives love pledges, this should be a natural for them – though, of course, making a pledge to the American people instead of a rich lobbyist would be something new. Hell, they can even sign it in Grover Norquist’s blood if it will make them happy.
Well, sure, we could do that, but …
If there’s one maggot in the GOP apple that I detest over all others, it would have to be that pale flaccid worm, Karl Rove. Yet, I was forced to agree with him when even he said House conservatives needed to sign the extension. And of course, wherever the slimy trail left by Rove goes, the rest of the conservatives follow. Most of them anyway. Hell, even the king of obstructionist partisan politics, Mitch McConnell could see which way the wind was blowing by squinting through his Coke bottle glasses.
So, what was the hold up?
Cantor and the rest of these self-centered children didn’t want to agree because they were afraid that it would be a “win” for Obama.
Of all the childish, stupid, moronic nonsense.
They don’t give a damn if one hundred and eighty million of their fellow Americans lose, so long as Obama doesn’t “win.” This should be no surprise to anybody, this is the same math plugged into the same equation that these Creationist peckerwoods use for everything of importance. These are the same selfish bastards who would let forty million women and children go without health insurance or medical care so that one poor woman doesn’t get an abortion on the government dime. These are the same sons of bitches who would let a hundred million people die of AIDS in order to prevent one woman from using a condom. These are the same ignorant fuckers who would cut funding for millions of textbooks and school lunches and science program, so that they can continue to fund high school football in Texas and failed abstinence-only faith-based bullshit.
This is about dicks and nothing more.
Frankly, if it was up to me, I’d line them all up and have them drop trousers. Then we can get out a ruler and … smack them right in their useless shriveled nuts.
Oh, you thought I was going to say measure up and settle the issue once and for all? Wrong. I don’t care who has the bigger dick. This isn’t about congressional dick. This is about doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing. It’s about not reliving the stupid Cold War in our own back yard. If these people really cared about the economy and business and the people who elected them, then they’d start working together.
Forty years from now, nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to give a damn one way or the other. Like the Cold War and the Space Race and the first guy to use a urine bag in orbit, nobody will give a damn which one of these people had a bigger dick.
The only thing they’ll remember is that these people were dicks.
If we can work with our erstwhile enemies, we ought to be able to work with our own goddamned countrymen.