Saturday, August 6, 2011

And So It Goes

Let’s review.

The President said we risked a national credit downgrade and default if we didn’t quit fucking around with partisan politics and reach an actual solution to the debt problem (Ok, he didn’t actually say “fucking around,” but you know he was thinking it.  The VP, on the other hand, likely did use those exact words)

The head of the Federal Reserve said we risked a national credit downgrade and default if Congress didn’t quit arguing and reach a real solution.

The head of the International Monetary Fund said the United States risked a credit downgrade and default if Congress kept acting like spoiled children.

The head of every bank in the world agreed and urged Congress to quit arguing and sit down like adults and work out a solution.

Every economist worth his slide rule concurred and repeatedly warned of the danger.

The head of each of the three major credit rating agencies cautioned the US and made threatening noises.

In other words, the folks who actually know something about this topic or are advised by people who are actually the world’s top experts on this subject, all said the same thing – compromise, fix the problem.


A significant fraction of House and Senate conservatives, including John Boehner initially, were willing to compromise on the issue and bow to actual reality.

Polls indicated that nearly seventy percent of Americans, on both sides of the political spectrum, agreed that a real solution to the debt crisis required both spending cuts and tax reforms.


Congresswomen Michelle Bachman, Tea Party Wicked Stepmother and Wannabe President said, “They’re wrong! We will not compromise!”

Sarah Palin, Princess of the Tea Party and Wannabe President said, “They’re so wrong! We must not compromise!”

Ron Paul, wizened Tea Party Grand Vizer and Wannabe President said, “They’re wrong! I can balance the budget in my first year in office.” (He didn’t bother to show how he would actually do this. It’s Magic! But I digress).

The TEA Party toads croaked in hypnotized unison from their lily pads, “They’re wrong! They’re wrong! They’re Wrong!  How dare Obama scare old people like that! If any of our delegates compromise on this issue, they’ll meet a primary challenge! No compromise! No compromise! Ribit! Ribbit!”

Mitch McConnell, Evil Counselor, said, “Consequences smonsequences! As long as we’re rich!”



Somebody remind me, how’d that work out again?

As I said in The Inexorable White Whale, sometimes you can see disaster coming and there’s just nothing you can do about it.

All you can do is pick up the pieces afterward and consider the lessons learned.

And what have we learned from this?

So far, not a goddamned thing.

This morning the usual cast of characters, Bachman chief among them, scramble to shift the blame and dodge responsibility and ramp up the partisan fighting.  This is not surprising, considering their past performance.  Remember Palin’s rhetoric in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting? Same old, same old.  They’ll change history, and edit the Wikipedia to claim they were all for compromise. And they don’t regard the downgrading of the United States’ credit rating as anything more than a way to get what they want. These traitorous partisan bastards have the luxury of inflexible selfishness and self-indulgence. The President does not.


More later, after things settle down a bit. In the meantime, consider this an open thread for discussion of the subject at hand.


  1. Truth is, no surprises... No suprise that there WERE repercussions, no surprises that the blame shifting has begun... However all the pundits that hound President Obama for capitulating and getting a deal across have yet to comment on his statements since the deal was struck...

    Maybe it's overly simplistic of me but it seems to me that President Obama has been presidential in compromising to keep the government "functioning" but that he follows up to get things done right... hopefully he'll get this turned around!

  2. Politicians should be required to have a masters degree in economics and law. Any other professional job requires a degree, why not politicians?

  3. @ Inez most politicans already do and where has that gotten us? I am of the school that education is not always a good thing...

  4. Had the President NOT compromised, those same hypnotized tea party toads (oh, how I love this visual, thank you very much, Jim!) would be croaking about how he has become a dictator who should be impeached. You just can't win with racist sore losers. I'm so impressed by the POTUS! The mere fact that he is able to keep his composure and not fly off the handle at some of the idiotic shit that he faces on a daily basis. I can guarantee that if it were me dealing with those douches, it would have already resulted in fisticuffs. Some people are just begging to be punched in the throat.

  5. Here's an idea, write to your various congress critters and demand that reasonable people - and by reasonable people I mean actual non-extremists - from both parties be assigned to the Super Committee.

    My letters went out already this morning.

  6. The stimulus was way too small. The Bush tax cuts should have been waxed in January 2009 when it was clear the economy was in the toilet. Given the crappy piece of work Bush left behind as he exited the White House, Obama should have seized the day.

    That said: The tax cuts for the rich are about to expire. Let them. EVERYBODY should endure a small raise in federal taxes, at least until the debt is decreased to a manageable amount. Admit the costs of the wars and pay for them! (The US did this during Vietnam with a war tax) Curious how the loss of the draft and no war taxes create such a disengaged citizenry.

  7. I agree with Inez. The woman who cuts my hair has to have a license. I wonder how many of the Tea Party representatives could even pass the tests that we require of aspiring citizens.

  8. I wonder how many of the Tea Party representatives could even pass the tests that we require of aspiring citizens.

    Probably none, and yet, I've seen columnists (mostly uber-conservatives for a local business paper), argue that we need to go back to the day when politicians were gentlemen farmers and businessmen who served their brief time running the country and then returned to their farms and/or businesses.

    We don't live in 18th-century agrarian America anymore (BTW, Jim, I took this from you); we need professionals who can run a government.

    It makes me sad that we're on our way to becoming a Third World country and there seems to be no way of stopping our decline.

    More than ever I'm convinced George Orwell was a prophet. Yes, "1984" was a thinly veiled criticism of the Soviet Union, but really, it's applicable today, except that the "Party" is the corporate oligarchy with its boot on the face of the average American, and that's the way it's going to be from now on.

  9. Just to be clear,lets get something straight about S&P, that being that they were rating all those crappy mortgages that those "to big to fail"banks were cranking out AAA. They knew what dog crap the "repackaged loans" were also. I wouldn't let S&P,Moody's or anyone else rate a slap fight at a church festival.Their objectivity was sold out long ago.Read Griftopia by Matt Tabbi.
    It absolutely nails what has gone on to the letter and predicts what has happened and what is going to happen.

  10. Blacksmith,

    Yes. And that particular observation has been widely promulgated in the news and across the net.

    And it's certainly true.

    However, the S&P is still the top bond rating index in the world (rightly or wrongly), and their rating has a direct and immediate impact on financial markets. Wall Street spent all last week in panic mode at the mere thought of a downgrade, I strongly suspect Monday will be the apocalypse.

  11. It seems obvious that until the teabaggers are removed from their commanding position in the House, the country will be almost ungovernable. Unfortunately, what I'm seeing on a lot of the hard left is outrage against Obama for not -- well, it's not quite clear what they think he should have done, maybe imposed a better outcome by sheer force of will and never mind the power of the House majority. They're threatening to stay home next year and turn 2012 into another 2010, which of course is how we got into this mess in the first place.

    They have their role to play, of course -- Obama can show he was willing to make concessions despite the extremists in his base, while the Republicans weren't. And hopefully in the next year these people will come round. But it's frustrating that some on our own side are so busy attacking the Democrats in government for falling short that they ignore the risk of further empowering the teabaggers.

  12. If Monday is the apocalypse then Tuesday will be the birth of 535 new insider multi-millionaires!

  13. Infidel, it amazes me how left wing pundits, such as Bill Maher can continue to fault Predient Obama for not standing up to the teabaggers when their views are just as extreme to the left or as convoluted as Bill Maher's...

  14. My Senators are reasonable, one even voted No and for the right reason. I'm pissed at the other for voting yes, even though I'll grant you it had to pass.

    The Congresscritta (feminine ending) is one of the daft.

  15. As much as this is incredibly frustrating (especially China's reaction, but they really are ranting for a domestic audience in an effort to deflect their own, severe, problems) but this is evidence of getting the government we deserve.

    Trust me, I live in AZ, and I certainly didn't vote for (in no particular order)
    - Russel Pierce (state senator)
    - Joe Arpaio (sheriff of largest county)
    - Jeff Flake (hardnosed congressman)
    - John Kyl (senator)
    - John McCain (maverick turned spineless politician and senator)

  16. Jim, thanks for another great post and especially for sharing that video; it sums it all up great.

    The problem for President Obama is that it's hard to build a narrative based on tragedies narrowly averted, especially when there's a strong know-nothing counter-narrative that the tragedy would not have happened.

    Thus his bank bailout failed (even though it was Bush's, and it's ended up making money), the stimulus failed (even though most economists I've read believe it prevented a far worse depression), etc.

    I keep coming back to the difference in messaging on the left and right. President Obama's speech back a couple weeks ago was filled with big words and complex ideas. Congressman Boehner's response, on the other hand, consisted of small words, frequently repeated expressing simple ideas. Stupidification, if you will.

  17. Perhaps the teabaggers should adopt Condi as one of their own, so she can proclaim, "nobody could have predicted..." again.

    This being my first comment here, I'll point out that I'm in much the same state, so to speak, as Sean, except for the Representative I did vote for, and cast her first vote in over half a year to help pass the compromise - you know who I mean - and Sheriff Joe doesn't affect us so much down here.

  18. I think you even could have added:

    And we have all seen it before - just months ago the tricornered hats shouted "Shut her down, shut her down" during the budget debates.

  19. Kamikazi -- Dubya only has a Bachelor's in History from Yale and he wasn't exactly at the top of his class. Contrast his (lack of) perfomance with Clinton, who had a Bachelor's in Foreign Service, he studied Philosophie and Economics at Oxford (did not actually get a degree from Oxford because he left early to go to Yale) and a Law degree from Yale.

    When Bush took office,the budget had a surplus. if Bush had continued on as Clinton had done, the U.S. debt would have been paid off last year. :-( Now, we're in a mess we may never get out of.

  20. One somewhat heartening development, is that the mainstream media may be waking up. Yahoo actually had a well written article about S&P's decision to downgrade that laid the blame right on GOP's lap, where it belongs. From the article

    "Recent events have sapped the agency's confidence that the government can and will do what is necessary to align revenues with spending commitments. And it's difficult to escape the conclusion that America's credit rating was intentionally sabotaged by Congressional Republicans."

    Mainstream media, despite all the hype about it being "liberal" doesn't usually take sides and certainly not against Republicans. Granted, Yahoo is not real mainstream media, but it's something that non-political people tend to read. It's not like like Huffington Post, MSNBC, DailyKos, etc. So, I think, hope, this is a good sign.

  21. The idea that the leaders of either party would select reasonable people from their own party to negotiate a deal is obviously delusional.
    I do, however, have a suggestion that might work:
    Instead of each leader picking 3 members if his party, he gets to pick 1 member of his party and 2 members from the other party. In this way, you're more likely to get more centrist members.
    Remember, all we need is for 1 person to do the right (or left?) thing.

  22. I have seen the recommendation that Nick K. Aghazarian makes before and that sounds like it will either REALLY work or REALLY won't. I'd like to see it tried at least.

  23. Where is LBJ, twisting arms and intimidating legislators, when we need him?

    Can't think of anything else to add because it is just so predictable, and depressing.

  24. Jim, I write to our legislators too, but do you really think they give two hoots what we tell them? I haven't seen any sign of it.

  25. Earning a four year degree never deserves the word "only" in front of it since 75% of our population has no higher education degree of any kind (that was the stat about ten years ago), it is hard work to earn a four-year-degree, and it is expensive to pay for one. I will make an exception to that opinion for little Bush (I don't believe he did his own work anyway), and those Liberty College grads like the kids given positions that put them in place to run too much in Iraq. Not all colleges are true institutions of higher learning.

    Alexander Hamilton was educated, but what was considered an education back then was less than what is required now. Still, he was brilliant and responsible for creating our federal economic system. I know people with no degrees who are far more knowledgeable and well read than most of the people I know who do have college degrees; granted not many, but such people do exist. My point is, what degrees one holds isn't what makes the difference.

    There are too many lawyers in DC as it is, and too many ex-prosecutors in state legislatures. We need more scientists, artists/writers, economists, social scientists, and so on. As it is, the diversity of our population is not represented in the legislatures.

  26. So, today McConnell and Boehner named to the Supercommittee six Repubs who have all signed the ATR pledge. The Supercommittee negotiations are hamstrung before they have even begun. I have phoned and written to McConnell, Boehner, Portman plus Sen. Sherrod Brown and the White House demanding that before they are allowed to serve all 12 members be required to publicly rescind and renounce all pledges other than their Oath of Office. If unwilling they should be replaced with those who will.

  27. As usual, Bachman comes to the rescue of the terminally moronic people of the world and PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is even dumber than they are!!! ;)


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