Saturday, October 5, 2013


"L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs"
    - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Commonly translated as: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions


The President cannot give in.

He. Can. Not.

And you don’t want him to.

No really, you do not want him to.

There can be no compromise on the government shutdown.

No matter what happens, the House must not win this fight.

Notice that I didn’t say the House cannot win, I said the House must not win.

Any you don’t want them to.

You, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, whether you are for or against the Affordable Healthcare Act, whether or not you hate Barack Obama’s stinking guts with every fiber of your being, if you believe in the America of your forefathers you do not want the House to win.

Because if they win, if this precedent is allowed to stand, then America as you know it, as you have known it, is over.


Yes. I know.


I’m the last guy who should be doing the “We’re doomed! Doomed!” routine.

I’ve certainly mocked others enough for claiming the same.

This time it’s different.

We not talking about the Mayan Apocalypse or the Rapture or the re-election of Ted Nugent’s worst nightmare. This is something entirely different.

Bear with me.

There is a common response among conservative apologists when discussing the current impasse that has deadlocked our government. It goes something along the lines of: “Well, see, I don’t agree with the shutdown, but our government is based on checks and balances and this is exactly how it’s supposed to work.”

As I was writing this, a commenter calling himself “Venture” left the following on the previous post, Don’t Cry For Me, John Boehner:

This country isn't a democracy. It's a democratic republic. Majority rule, by design, is necessary but not sufficient for government. The Constitution by design has many places where the minority can assert itself. The Senate can stop the House, the House can stop the Senate, the President can stop them both, unless they gang up in which case they can stop him and the Supreme Court can stop everyone. Effective leadership means taking the minority position into account. Obama didn't do that with the ACA; he used some dodgy procedural tricks to get it passed over Republican objections. As a hacker I commend him and his allies for their ingenuity but as it turns out leading a country can't be done by hacking the rules. It requires actual leadership. You have to win the argument, not just the vote. The result is our current situation. The system is working exactly as it's supposed to.

First, I appreciate the hell out of Venture’s well written comment, and I mean that sincerely. I appreciate that he (I assume Venture is a male for the sake of simplicity) was polite, didn’t engage in the usual personal attacks and swiftboating, and was able to express his opinion succinctly without being an ass.  It’s a refreshing change from the usual counterpoints I get here and I sincerely appreciate it. If more folks were like this, I could safely turn off comment moderation.

That said, he’s wrong.

I appreciate Venture summing up his position so well. Venture’s comment is a good example of what I was talking about.

Let’s go through it line by line.

This country isn't a democracy. It's a democratic republic…


This is correct. The United States is a representative democracy, i.e. a republic. 

“Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch,” that statement or one of its many variations is commonly misattributed to Benjamin Franklin. There’s no evidence that Franklin ever said it, but it’s likely he would have agreed with the sentiment. A pure democracy is emphatically not liberty for all. Democracy is almost always without fail a tyranny of the majority and tends to devolve into a free-for-all grab for public opinion in fairly short order. The Founders had no desire to swap one tyranny for another, so as the model for the United States they split the difference and chose a republic administrated by democratically elected representatives.

Good so far, right? 

The problem with pointing this out in the manner that Venture did is that this fact is typically only acknowledged when one is in the minority opinion. 

As long as the polls show that your side is in the majority, we live in a democracy.

But if the polls show that your side is in the minority, well, whoa, slow down there, Buddy, we live in a republic and don’t you forget it. 

Again, both sides of the political divide in this country engage in this form of rationalization to support their various entrenched positions, it’s human nature.

While the Founders clearly had no desire to create a tyranny of the majority, they also clearly and repeatedly declared that the government of the United States exists only with the consent of a majority of the governed – later summarized by Abraham Lincoln as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” 

But no matter the size of your majority, you simply can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will always, always, be dissenting voices. 

And while the will of the majority must be acknowledged, the rights of the various minority opinions must be protected. Venture agrees: Majority rule, by design, is necessary but not sufficient for government. The Constitution by design has many places where the minority can assert itself. The Senate can stop the House, the House can stop the Senate, the President can stop them both, unless they gang up in which case they can stop him and the Supreme Court can stop everyone.

Venture is stating the very essence of our system of constitutional checks and balances, and is again correct.

Effective leadership means taking the minority position into account.

As somebody who has spent a significant fraction of my life in military leadership positions, often under difficult and fractious circumstances, I agree. 

However, good leadership also means not being held hostage to a minority opinion. 

While the counsel of the minority should be taken into account and used to temper the overall decision and to perhaps influence the final outcome, there is always one guy who just has to play Devil’s Advocate. There’s always that one guy who disagrees just to disagree, or is unreasonable for the sake of unreason, or who for some reason is pathologically unable to compromise because that’s just how he’s built. 

In the end a decision must be made and often the majority position carries the day.

True democracy is tyranny of the majority, but tyranny of the minority is equally destructive to liberty.

There’s no point in saying we live in a democratic republic unless you’re going to acknowledge both the “republic” and the “democratic” parts of your statement.

Obama didn't do that with the ACA; he used some dodgy procedural tricks to get it passed over Republican objections.

And this is where Venture goes off the rails.

Obama used a “trick” to pass the ACA into law. This is a common meme among those opposed to the Affordable Care Act and/or President Obama. It’s less noxious than declaring the law invalid because Obama is a Muslim socialist from Kenya, but nevertheless it is simply not true.

During the debate over the ACA, the constitutional process in both the House and the Senate specifically acknowledged the concerns of the conservative minority.  There are more than one hundred and ninety-two republican amendments to the Affordable Care Act specifically addressing the minority’s concerns.  The president himself, over the strenuous objection of his own supporters and a significant fraction of the voting public, compromised with the minority by dropping his election year promise of a public single-payer option.

Again, the objections of the minority were acknowledged and did, very much, temper the outcome.

Exactly as the Founders intended.

And while there was public discussion among certain Democrats regarding the possible use of obscure procedural tactics during the Reconciliation process between House and Senate versions of the bill, in the end Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was able to pull together a majority consensus by, in part, getting President Obama to reaffirm The Hyde Act via Executive Order in direct acknowledgement of minority concerns, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by normal House vote 219 to 212 on March 23, 2010.

This, in point of fact, is how our government is supposed to work.

You have to win the argument, not just the vote.

I understand what Venture is saying, and I even maybe agree in principle, but again, incorrect.

This is not how a republic works.

And I’d point out that Venture leads by saying that we live in a republic and therefore sometimes the majority opinion isn’t a valid way of ensuring liberty, and then works around to saying well, you have to win the argument and thus majority opinion because (implied) this is a democracy.

It should be patently obvious in this post-911 Truther and Birtherism era, that in some cases it is impossible to “win” the argument.

You cannot reason with people who are incapable of reason, whose fanatical positions are based on irrational discredited beliefs such as “death panels.”  It is not possible to reach a rational compromise with these people because they are not rational people.  And in the end, it is perfectly within the legal framework of the Constitution to ignore their minority insanity and move on.

The result is our current situation. The system is working exactly as it's supposed to.

No, in fact it’s not.

Again, a representative democracy is designed to prevent tyranny of the majority, but that doesn’t mean we have to live under the tyranny of minority fanaticism either.

There is an enormous difference between being the loyal opposition and attempting a coup.

House Republicans have shut down the government and are threatening to keep the government shuttered not in order to delay further discussion on a pending bill, but rather in an attempt to rewrite the history of the legislature, to override a Constitutional law that has already been decided and judged constitutional before the Supreme Court.

For better or worse, the ACA is now part of the fabric of our nation and so intertwined within our laws that repealing it without suitable replacement would cause vastly more harm than good.  The majority has spoken, the minority was acknowledged, the end result is precisely how our government is supposed to work.

While the House of Representatives is responsible for “the power of the purse,” that doesn’t mean that they are entitled to the tyranny of minority rule.

The power of the purse is the House’s responsibility, not license to hold the majority hostage.

What House Tea Party Republicans are demanding with this shutdown is nothing less than a line-item veto over the established laws of our nation.

If this tactic is allowed to stand, if it succeeds, if Present Obama capitulates to a small minority of extremists, then we will have given both this legislature and all future ones, the absolute power of tyranny via deadlock.

If allowed to become precedent, our government will permanently cease to function in any effective manner, perhaps not immediately, but eventually and if history is any guide it’ll be sooner rather than later.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And you don’t have to look any further than Congress to see the truth of that platitude.

If we allow this tactic to become precedent, it will be abused. It is inevitable.

Just as changing the Senate rules to allow for secret holds instead of public filibuster is daily abused by a fanatical and cowardly minority on both sides of the aisle.

If we allow extremists to hold us hostage, they will continue to hold us hostage and we open the door to any extremist who disagrees with the majority.

If they are successful, then the very next use of this tactic will be its use to defund any portion of our civilization that the outvoted minority vehemently disagrees with, from abortion to immigration to energy to climate change to gay rights to evolution right on across the political spectrum to oil drilling and nuclear power to gun control to the military to law enforcement.

This doesn’t end.

And that too is human nature.

Once it starts, it'll be used by both sides, both conservatives and liberals will use government shutdown to demand defunding of their pet bugaboos.

And at that point the government of the United States will no longer bear any resemblance to republican democracy and will cease to function in any useful fashion. We will have become hostage to any fanatical minority that comes along.

Yes, I know that some of you hate Barack Obama so much that you’re willing to risk it, but you must look beyond the current crisis. Look to our own history. Look to human nature. When congress handed George W. Bush the power of warrantless wire taps and waterboarding and the ability to terminate Americans overseas via remotely controlled targeted killing, to their horror they only too late realized that they had given that same power to Barack Obama.

Just so, if you give the current legislature the power of deadlock, you’ve automatically given it to all future ones as well, conservative or liberal.

Think about that. Think about what that implies for the future. Think about it with a different arrangement of power. Think about it hard.

Government shutdown and deadlock will become the norm and our government will cease to function in any useful fashion.

Should that happen, the nation will either collapse and dissolve into smaller more homogeneous, more easily managed entities the way the Soviet Union did, or we will suffer revolution into a more efficient form of government – likely some form of autocracy emerging out of emergency powers. That's what happened to the Roman Republic and the Weimar Republic when they became constantly deadlocked by endless infighting. The Romans became an Empire. The Weimar Republic became Nazi Germany. There’s plenty of room along the line between those two points but few include liberty.  The United States of American is simply too big and too complex to allow deadlock to become the norm, something will give, and likely it won’t be pleasant.

The house may have the power of the purse. But the president holds the power of the Executive.

If you give the legislature both the power of the purse and the power of the Executive, then you’ve ipso facto destroyed the very checks and balances that keep our government from tyranny.

No matter that you be liberal or conservative, that you be a Democrat or a Republican, you do not want what follows if the President allows deadlock to become a precedent.

The President cannot give in.

And if you are truly an American, you don’t want him to.




A note about commenting
:  This post is getting much wider than normal play.  As usual when such things happen, Stonekettle Station begins attracting a certain frothy spittle-flecked yellow-eyed element.  

As such, commenting on this post is in full moderation and will remain so.

I will reiterate for the slow people: read the commenting rules before attempting to post. Read them. 

Some additional guidelines: 

- This site is not Yahoo! This site is not The Blaze. This site is not YouTube. Don’t act like it is.  If you can’t help but behave like a nasty fifteen year old with a behavioral disorder, then bugger off back to 4-Chan and stop wasting my time. 

- If you attempt to engage in any form of delusional booger-eating ala Birtherism, 911-Trutherism, Oh No Socialism with or without included Nazis,  if you mention The New World Order, or something you heard from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Alex Jones, or any TV Preacher, your comment will not post.  Period.  This is non-negotiable. Likewise if you use the term “Chicago style gangsterism” or any similar show of asshatery.  You’re welcome to believe whatever goofy nonsense you like, but I don’t have to give you a platform for it. Shove off.

- I’m not handing out free mental healthcare here, it’s not my job to fix either your insanity or your stupidity. That’s your problem, I won’t allow you to make it mine.

- Yes, yes, you got me. I’m a terrible, terrible person, what with my penchant for murdering babies,  my horde of tofu eating sycophants, and my callous disregard of your brilliant conversational gambits. Boo hoo.  Your fury warms my flinty black heart.  Write you congressman or take it up with Jesus, but you’re not going to post here.

Hope that clears things up. Regards // Jim

Update 2:

Comments on this post are over 200 and counting. When this happens, the Blogger platform doesn’t show all the comments. if you’re not seeing a particular comment, or If you want to see all the comments, including all of the embedded responses, you have to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “load more…”  I have no control over this, that’s just how Blogger works.


  1. This, a thousand times this.

    As Sinclair put it so eloquently, "Fascism will come to America wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible". That describes the teahadists to a T.

    You only have to look at the history of the Senate to see this phenomenon in action. Until recently, the Senate could go about it's business on a majority vote 90% of the time. But then the power of 'cloture' was discovered. Now virtually everything requires a two/thirds majority of votes, which are commonly withheld , even when the final vote is enormously lopsided, 98-2. This is most acutely visible in the GOP's adamant refusal to allow Obama's judicial appointments their votes. Judgeships will be held up for years before coming to a final confirmation vote that turns out unanimous.

    "Advise and consent" has become "Obstruct and sabotage", and no sane look at the statistics will show that this is anything but primarily a GOP tactic.

    The shenanigans in the House over the budget and debt limit votes are simply the House GOP learning from the Senate GOP.

  2. Another spot on post, thank you! I've been quietly telling myself that the saner conservatives among us will come to their senses and toss these nutjobs out on their collective ear. Sadly, I am beginning to think that will never happen. TV and radio has replaced their own common sense and unless and until those entities disappear, we're stuck with them.

    1. Unfortunately right wing media, Ruppert Murdoch in particular, have dragged news media so far down and to the right that reasonable conservatism looks like progressive light. Many conservatives have found themselves in the company of idiots and media whores and are wondering where to go.

    2. I'm not convinced that you'll see this, but I'll trust that you'll admit it when you do. You've done exactly the same thing you're warning others against. I'll construct the opposing argument using the same logic as you - but in fewer words.

      The House must not give in, and you don't want them to. The President has usurped the legislative process and the powers of congress. The executive has legislated by declaring Congress to be in session when it is not. The executive has legislated by modifying laws and granting provisions outside the law and in direct conflict with the law in order to favor donors and organizations that support the positions of the executive.

      In order to prevent the current tyranny and to put the cult of personality in check, the House must stand its ground. If they fail to do so, all is lost and we are doomed. For every error in this logic you can cite (and I don't claim they don't exist), I can find three in yours.

      That said, I appreciate your opinion and recognize that you hold it strongly. You've done a fine job constructing a position and I hope that you don't lose hope. It is nice to see someone who can state their opinion clearly and do so without sinking to name-calling and invective.

    3. Calling down the one politically-bent branch of the media, without likewise calling down the others with which you may agree, isn't helpful.

      Murdoch may be one of the more obvious offenders, but he's hardly the only one.

    4. And, to that point, as long as media is in the hands of people who are only in it for the profits, then Americans will continue to be sadly misinformed about what is actually happening in our "democracy". It's sad when the only informed and well-presented takes on what is actually occurring in Washington is coming to me via the BBC and Al Jazeera!

    5. Viddy Poster - I sure don't see or understand your point. Republicans obstructed the President's judicial appointments and heads of agencies time and time again for no apparent reason. When these people were voted on they were approved unanimously or almost unanimously. The talking point about the President declaring Congress open happened when Congress WAS not in session. The Republicans had USED a member to stay in the Chamber just so they could say Congress was open. Republicans are playing games at the expense of Americans.

      The President didn't CHANGE any law. Letting businesses with more than 50 employees (a percentage that is almost totally irrelevant) have a little more time to set up their process does NOTHING to change the law. Delaying the individual mandate would prevent the law from working.

      I've been in politics for about 40 years, and I can tell you NO CONGRESS has ever held the country or the President hostage over a LAW. ACA is NOT a bill. It is a LAW. And as George Clooney recently wrote, if you don't like a law WIN elections and repeal the law. That's how our system works.

      It amazes me that the Tea/GOP is ready to impeach President Obama over God knows what, but didn't say a word about GW Bush when the evidence was presented that he LIED us into a war. It seems Republican Presidents can do NO wrong. Reagan and Iran Contra is just fine - no problem. But because President Obama gave a reprieve to a few businesses, suddenly that invalidates an entire law and he has usurped the powers of the Executive Branch -give me a break.

      Republicans will NEVER win another national election as long as they keep putting self interest ahead of the American People. They need to stop with game playing. One of your own admits that this shutdown is not even about the ACA any more (I don't think it ever was).

      Suppose it were an Republican President and Democrats said we will shut the government down if we don't get a 40% tax increase on corporations; we don't get cap and trade; or single payer health care. These are not even laws. The Republicans would never stand for it. Yet the Democrats and thinking Americans are suppose to sit still for Republicans putting a gun to our heads and saying, 'take back the opportunity that 30 million Americans will have to BUY health insurance or we will shutdown the government and crash the economy by not raising the debt ceiling.

    6. "Calling down the one politically-bent branch of the media, without likewise calling down the others with which you may agree, isn't helpful.

      Murdoch may be one of the more obvious offenders, but he's hardly the only one."

      He may be among other offenders, but I do think it's clear that he is far and away the most odious as well. MSNBC is, by all accounts, a poorly-regarded, barely-watched, and thinly-veiled attempt at a "Liberal Fox News", presenting opinions with which 99% of its viewers (all 99 of them) agree.

      However, the rest of the news organizations, while they may have (or have had) an unintended bias, have never been about presenting a pre-processed slant on the news. They are filled with journalists who are trying like hell to find and report *the real news* as fairly and objectively as possible. And, in fact, have gone to great lengths to appear as rightward as possible to avoid the (inevitable) accusations of liberal bias. As a result, you get "the right says Obama has not stopped beating his wife, and the right says that he has. Now for sports..."

      So to say "both sides do it", which MaskedMan just did, is really irresponsible. In absolute terms, they may, but it's a willful ignorance of context and scale to declare the media's biases "balanced."

  3. I agree. If the President will not stand up to these selfish, self-satisfied, men, then the Republic cannot stand.

    If they get their way now, next will be the repeal of the 15th amendment. And after that the 14th.

    Let's hope he has the backbone and the balls and the presence of mind and the sense of history and the stamina to resist giving in. Let's hope we have the backbone and the balls and the presence of mind and the sense of history and the stamina to support him.

    They say they have to get 'something' from this. What they need to 'get' is a large dose of humility. They don't get to wreck my country because they don't like what my country has grown to become.


    1. But on the other hand, if the President wins in a winner take all situation, what can be expected next?? It seems a wreck is in the making either way; solutions should be sought quickly.

    2. The Senate version of the continuing resolution is already a compromise between Republicans and Democrats, and got 100 votes -- all the votes of both Democrats *and* Republicans -- in the Senate. It would pass overwhelmingly with all but about 40 votes if presented to the floor of the House by Boehner. He's refusing to do so because those 40 people and the Koch Brothers threaten to primary him if he brings it to the floor. But if we let 40 people in one house of Congress veto any bill they don't like, the federal government is basically over. Somalia with nukes. Makes a guy feel ready to glow in the dark, eh?

    3. To anonymous at 6:31. If the President convinces the House to act responsibly, and govern, as it was elected to do, that's not a 'victory' for the President, that is a victory for all of us.

      You (and the Teaheads) are the one who characterize the situation as 'winner take all'. If a criminal kidnaps my children and it ends with the kidnappers releasing my children without a ransom being paid, all that happens is we return to the status quo, which is civil life and civil government. All we get is everyone back inside the pale of civilized life, all we get is the law.

      Without the law, without civilized government, we get anarchy and eventually tyranny.

      So you have to quit seeing this as a legitimate negotiation. It isn't. It's playing with fire, and the little boys who started the dangerous game have no conception of the forces they are toying with. If they don't quit they are going to get burned badly. And all of us are going to get hurt. But they are so busy pretending it's a 'winner take all' game, that they can't see how irresponsibly and immaturely and unpatriotically they are behaving.


    4. The House *has* met the letter of its duty - It *has* sent spending bills that would fund the Government to the Senate. Where they have been killed.

      The problem here is that House, Senate, and President have each staked an inflexible position, and like Dr. Seuss' Zax, none will budge for the others.
      Budging is necessary. So long as the President remains intransigent, so long as the Senate remains intransigent, so long as the House remains intransigent, we get to dance this dance.

      Remember the players. All of them. Punish them at the ballot box.

    5. I think the next elections are going to be very interesting..

    6. In what way is this a "winner take all" situation? If the GOP backs down, they look a bit foolish to people other than their hard-core supporters (a net change in opinion/support of approximately zero), and they may (probably temporarily) lose face with those same supporters. What does the President get except the continuation of funding, and a reputation for having slightly more backbone than he did previously? How is that such a terrible situation?

    7. MaskedMan - Too much CNN = False equivalency, which is toxic. There are instances when everyone may be at fault. This is NOT one of those instances. President Obama and the Democrats have let the Sequester # of about $970 billion stand. Those cuts have been brutal for many children and adults. I believe President Obama's original budget was around $1.2 Trillion. Therefore the Democrats have ALREADY compromised. Now the Republicans want more. Defund and/or repeal the ACA (Obamacare). They must be crazy and so most anyone who thinks that way.

    8. Again, MaskedMan, The Senate version of the continuing resolution is already a compromise between Republicans and Democrats, and got 100 votes -- all the votes of both Democrats *and* Republicans -- in the Senate. It would pass overwhelmingly with all but about 40 votes if presented to the floor of the House by Boehner. He's refusing to do so. And furthermore, the Senate did pass the House budget after amending it, and sent the amended bill to conference -- and Boehner once again refused to appoint House members to the conference committee to arrive at a final compromise bill. Your talking points are lies, in other words, and you need to find better news sources because whoever told you that bullshit is lying to you.

    9. " But on the other hand, if the President wins in a winner take all situation, what can be expected next?? "

      The winner in this fight will be either ALEC/Kochs/GOP or EVERYONE ELSE. I don't know about you, but I'd rather ALL OF US win.

    10. The ACA should be put on the ballet and let the people decide. I am one of those who is 1oo% against Obamacare. There are part of it that would be good for the people, like pre existing . But don't force this down my thoat when I don't want it.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Okay, Jim, I have to ask: How did you become such a superb reasoner and writer? Seriously. You are FAR better at both than most pundits spewing crap over op-ed pages and on TV talk shows. It's such a relief to come here and read cogent, clear-headed, informed explanations. Oh, and I also love the ShopKat pictures and the ranting and raving when that comes along.

    1. Spread the word, more people need to hear Jim's well reasoned & thoughtful exposés. I'm sharing them with the republicans in my family, & I think they're starting to see the proverbial forest in spite of the trees

    2. Excellent! Well said and right to the issue. Whether you agree with the ACA or not, you must support the point of law and the function of our government. We have (specil interest groups) been watering down and corrupting the constitution for far too long and we are reaping the sickness of those poor decisions. It is time to stand against extremism.

    3. Rebecca,
      I'd venture to say that the reason Jim (and others like him) don't get media attention is that this (brilliant) writeup took too long to present, and lacks SHOUTING AND YOU'RE A COMMUNIST. As others have pointed out, the viewers are interested in conflict rather than reason. (See also Jersey Shore.) Complex, thoughtful reason is the turf of NPR and BBC (which happen to be dominated by liberals who agree with him, and are mocked as "mushy" by conservatives who like brief arguments with very clear conclusions.)

  6. Standing over the dead body, "If we cannot have the the government, then no one can have the government."

  7. This may well be the most important thing you have written. (ok, perhaps it is merely the most important thing I have read having come somewhat late to the game) I pride myself on my ability to explain in writing my positions on a number of things but this is art. I have been unable to get past the acrimony and have given up on a number of discussions as having no possible positive end. I am not necessarily wrong. However, I will link to this post frequently and hopefully you will not end up with too many extra morons. I weary of the battle.

    Thank you for THIS service Bro (because, I know how you like being called that).

  8. "What House Tea Party Republicans are demanding with this shutdown is nothing less than a line-item veto over the established laws of our nation. "

    I've been trying to figure out how to shout this from the rooftops lately. Thanks for writing it, now I'll just point everyone here.

  9. The tea party WANTS government shut down. They haven't been coy about it. On the contrary, this has been their battle cry for years now. If they can't just shut it down, the next best thing is to prevent it from functioning. The best way to do that is to cut the purse strings. Mission accomplished.

    Now that the tea party has what it wants, they have no incentive to backpedal on it. In fact, their next move will be to demand more: eliminate Social Security and Medicare, for starters. Once they have achieved a state where corporations and churches can do what they damn well please, and the rest of us can't do anything about it, they will have achieved their goal.

    When all schools are run by corporations, for the express purpose of training future wage slaves to be resigned to their low status for life; when all prisons are corporations, whose profits depend on a full complement of prisoners; when people are so downtrodden and hopeless that they will willingly and gladly volunteer to be bomb fodder in the next corporate-driven war effort; when all the drinking water is owned by corporations, and rationed for the purpose of controlling the stinking masses; well, then, THEN they will be in hog heaven.

    A previous poster quoted "Fascism will come to America wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible". The sentiment is incomplete. It should read, "Fascism will come to America wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible, with a corporate logo on its back."

    1. Wrapped in a flag, carrying a Bible - Sarah Palin put out a photo of herself exactly like that! The sweet, little teabagger!

    2. When all schools are run by corporations, for the express purpose of training future wage slaves to be resigned to their low status for life[.]

      I have some bad news for you. The school system we have now was built with that express purpose in mind. Starting in 1919.

    3. I think a great many people have no concept of what fascism is when they claim the Tea Party is fascist in nature. At a minimum I would suggest carefully reading the Wiki page on fascism. I continually see the ill informed link fascism, a system characterized by a totalitarian state that is anti-individualist, is populist and anticapitalist in tendency along with expansive government control of national industrial capacity and national economy to the Tea Party that is primarily focused on reducing the level of government power in the USA to a lesser level than it is now. The Tea Party generally seems to be anti-federal power and individualist in nature with an aversion to government control of much of anything, so regardless of what you personally think about the Tea Party, their "ideal" government model is farther from being fascist in nature than the government we live under now, of course the merits of their ideal are highly debatable, but characterizing it as fascist is not, because it is easily to demonstrate that it isn't.

    4. Anonymous, I would suggest that your Wiki page on fascism has been creatively edited. In both Fascist Germany and Fascist Italy the core value was corporate control of the government. Labor unions were outlawed in both nations, and all socialists and Communists were purged from the government. Corporations -- especially defense corporations -- ran major segments of the government as profit centers. No industries were nationalized until rather late in WW2 (Germany did not nationalize the defense industry until 1943, over a year after the U.S. had nationalized its defense industry!). The only populism they engaged in was in stirring up patriotic hatred of minorities, communism, and other nations.

      Any definition of fascism that ignores fascism *as actually implemented* is as goofy as definitions of Communism that ignores Communism *as actually implemented* -- i.e., it's intellectual masturbation with no connection to the real world as actually exists.

  10. Thank you for this! Seriously, thank you. Not that I have a hope in hell of getting any of the Teabillies in my social circle to read it, at least I can try to show them something that completely sums up my feelings on this nightmare.

  11. Thank you so very much. This post is so very needed right now. Merely thanking you is not enough.

  12. Analogy: Can I burn your house down? No. Can I burn just the second floor? How about the garage? No. When can we negotiate on this? You won't negotiate? You sure are out of control, aren't you.

    1. It's more like: I'm going to burn your house down if you don't let me make a meth lab in your basement....

  13. "If this tactic is allowed to stand, if it succeeds, if Present Obama capitulates to a small minority of extremists, then we will have given both this legislature and all future ones, the absolute power of tyranny via deadlock.

    "If allowed to become precedent, our government will permanently cease to function in any effective manner, perhaps not immediately, but eventually and if history is any guide it’ll be sooner rather than later. "

    This, sadly, is exactly what they think they want.


  14. Jim, you are so right. This is not "how the government is supposed to work". That Constitution thingy has procedures delineated for how things are supposed to work, and we have seen how it works, what, 42 times now? This is nothing more than a hissy fit, like a child who is told he has to share his birthday cake with the other kids at the party.

    In fact, I think "Hissy Fit" might have been an appropriate title for this essay, except it doesn't really carry that end-of-the-Republic gravitas that your conclusion calls for.

    I posted the following link on one of your FB comments earlier, and I want to post it here, too. Just because I love the scenario she conjures up (Yes, pun intended. Learn to deal.)


  15. Jim, if by chance you and I ever meet, it would be my honor to buy you a beer.

    Thank you for what you do.

    1. And it would be my honor to let you buy me a beer. And some pizza. And one of those fudgy caramel brownies.

  16. You've hit the nail on the head as to why the President cannot afford to yield on this for the sake of the country, Jim, but you've missed the other side of the problem:

    The GOP can not afford to back down on this either. They put all their political capital on the line to 'win' this and 'make Obama fail'. They've pretty much burned their reputation, public confidence in the GOP is close to an all time low and they're painfully aware that the next general elections will likely be disastrous for them... unless they win.

    In terms of poker, they overcommitted on a bad starting hand, hoping to intimidate the other player into folding, and when that didn't work and the extra cards they got were no help at all, and now they're all in against what looks like at least a flush with a measly pair of twos in their hand.

    If they lose, they're broke -- and they had to ante up their car and house as well just to stay in the game -- but if they fold, they lose anyway and as long as they manage to stay in the game there's still the possibility of a miracle happening.... Somehow.

    So they keep pushing the ante and praying for a miracle -- or if nothing else, the other player might get tired and decide to fold just to be done with the game so he can go home.

    1. Actually it doesn't matter whether the GOP wins or loses here. The path they have chosen for themselves is disastrous for them. Regardless of gerrymandering and fear mongering, whites -especially older white males- will continue to become less and less of the population. There is no long game for the GOP. Dying off before they lose power and position completely is the best they can hope for. I of course, generously wish them "Gawdspeed".

    2. It really seems as if the GOP is hoping for the rapture before 2021. The strategies they use only make sense in an atmosphere of anonymous conventioneers tearing up a hotel they intend to leave soon.

    3. The GOP's tactics only make sense, if you imagine the world is ending soon and white Republican men over 50 all get a free pass into the clubhouse. Why worry about destroying the US government, if the world is ending soon? Why worry about people who don't have passes into the clubhouse - can't do anything about that. Why worry about the fate of your children - it is painful, but there is nothing that can be done. Why worry about global warming or any of another hundred problems that could probably be solved if they wanted to help solve them? In a way they are treating the earth the way a person treats a car they are trading in at the end of the month. No regular maintenance needs to be done.

  17. I cannot imagine any professor of constitutional law in any law school giving a better explanation of the U.S. system of government. Not even the one who taught me U.S. constitutional law.

  18. This may well be obvious, but here goes. The only reason a shutdown is possible is the vast amount of wealth in this country. I do not think any other civilized country in the world has government shutdowns - they cost too much economically and erode the legitimacy of government. As an example, even Syria's government is still operating. While we will probably weather this shutdown, how many of these can we endure before the cost of these boondoggles cripples the US economically?

  19. Wonderful post. But I have a question: If a law/mandate/regulation is not enforced, or the resources don't exist to enforce it, does it have any affect? If your goal was to re-establish the supremacy of state's rights, wouldn't creating a condition of perpetual deadlock in the Federal government be EXACTLY what you would want? As far as I can tell, the only place the Civil War ended was on the battle field. I think we're looking at the latest battle in that war right here, right now.

    1. I suppose someone could could to that conclusion if one had no idea why the civil war was fought. Just to educate you, it was fought over SLAVERY, state's rights were simply used as justification. Your side lost, as they'll lose this fight, no matter how many voters they try to disenfranchise.

    2. The cause of the Civil War was not as simple as SLAVERY. Several northern states were slave states. Where I was taught American History (Florida Panhandle) it was stressed that it was states rights that was the underlying cause. The teacher I best remember would literally froth at the mouth when discussing this. (RIP Mr. Lovelace.) Further reading and research of the writings of the time bear this out. There were several close calls to a civil war 30 years before the one that was fought. The Wikipedia link on Andrew Jackson gives a good place to start. Also, the link on secession. It is fascinating reading, much much more riveting than 'reality TV'.

      I leave with a quote (lifted from Wikipedia) and then allow the forum to get back to its regularly scheduled tempest (in a teapot).

      'On May 1, 1833, Jackson wrote, "the tariff was only the pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."[47]'


    3. "it was stressed that it was states rights that was the underlying cause"


      "We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection."—Confederate States of America - Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

      See, the only right the southern states could not achieve through legislation was the right to own slaves, and to have all states honor slaveholder property rights in their slaves.

      Now—this is an important point—the national legislature and customs of the antebellum USA were shaped by the accommodations made for the slave states. And those same accommodations are the same ones which Republicans are now using to create the current deadlock.

    4. Yes, but the 'Nullification Crisis' of 1828 - 1833 referred to the 'Tariff of Abominations' and the right of any state to 'nullify' any Federal law that it did not like. The Jackson quote I referenced was made in 1833. When you follow the money, states rights and the ability to cancel any tax/law that you do not like in a small geographical/political area is very attractive. (Gulf Oil Spill, Federal Lands in the Western States, etc.) But, it is hard to get people worked up over it. A cry to PROTECT OUR SACRED WAY OF LIFE, gets the great unwashed actively involved.

      A similar tactic was used in Russia before and during WWII. At the beginning of the war, people were exhorted to fight for socialism, and other high sounding ideas. As the Germans were rolling them up, the posters and rhetoric changed to 'Mother Russia' with markedly better results. It is very interesting to see the changes in the posters and other materials in the Russian museums.

      The same is done here on a daily basis by all sides of almost any political question.


    5. The Civil War was indeed fought over states rights. Anyone living in the South will tell you as much. And likely they'll call it the "War of Northern Aggression" for good measure.

      What they're much less likely to openly admit is that the main right they were arguing over was the right to own slaves. Other reasons were also involved, but slavery (or the right of states to decide whether or not they'd allow slavery for themselves) was the one first and foremost in everyone's minds.

      -Paul from Tampa

    6. I was taught my revisionist history in the South of the 80's in Fla. and Ga. too. You've got it exactly right Paul. Yeah, "State's Rights" - the right to hold people as slaves - because without those slaves, there was no economic prosperity for the white land owners. Kind of reminds me of what is happening here too with the GOP trying to stop ACA, which is just trying to protect those who profit off human misery and suffering.

    7. Wow, I see that Southern schools are still teaching revisionist history about the Civil War. "States rights". SNORT! My 4th grade teacher in Louisiana, a fine doyenne of the Daughters of the Confederacy, was less politically correct. She stated that the war was about the tyrant Abraham Lincoln wanting to steal the property (slaves) of fine Southern gentlemen at gunpoint, and their patriotic fight against such tyranny. As for the whole issue of black people and slavery, well, black people were inferior to white people, lacking both the morals and mental ability to survive in the modern world without fine white people like herself to guide them, and they were better off under slavery.

      Seems like history taught in Southern schools has become a bit more politically correct, but no less dishonest.... they can't make those arguments about blacks being inferior and better off under slavery anymore (not politically correct, even though they still believe it -- for real!), so they drape everything under the cloak of "State's Rights" to hide the fact that it was all about the right to own human beings as property. Whereas back when I was a child, they at least were honest enough to admit that it was all about property rights -- the right to own human beings as property, that is.

  20. If you can ever catch space-a to Westover ANG in MA, there is steak and beer on the menu at my house. The base sucks, the housing isn't great, but my husband grills a mean steak and I want to shake your hand. You articulate the things I think but can't get past my anger and sarcasm to speak.

  21. Hi Jim...always appreciate your take on things.

    It seems to me that as the Tea Party's shutdown fails to bring the expected Democratic appeasement, some House Republicans are sounding increasingly like the femme fatale Alex Forrest in the 1987 film "Fatal Attraction:" www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM64Y8ndyG4

    How long will it be before Martin Stutzman's "We are not going to be disrespected." becomes Michelle Bachmann's "We are not going to be ignored, Dems." and America's bunny gets boiled?

    It is time for the pragmatists in the party to stage an intervention before we all end up locked in a bathroom with the crazy lady and her very big knife.

  22. I have been saying this from the beginning--if the Senate and the President give in, there is absolutely NO chance that this will not become the SOP of the House. When my son was little and pitched a fit in the grocery store because I wouldn't buy him a candy bar, I didn't give in and get just to shut him up, I stuck to my guns, because I was not going to teach him to use a tantrum to get his way. We cannot teach the House to use a tantrum to get their way.

  23. I posted on Facebook about the precedent that this shutdown sets and got nowhere with a particularly archconservative relative of mine. It is another example of "it is ok if you are a Republican."

    If this were happening in any other country in the world these actions of one portion of this Congress would be considered anarchy or sedition.

    The saddest part of all this is the divide between the side is widening and deepening. There are media outlets referring to this as a liberal shutdown, against all the facts in the matter, and those who watch or read those outlets are nodding in agreement.

    I am beginning to be very fearful.

    1. Actually, this has happened before in another country - In Australia in 1975. They handled it,,,, differently. The Queen (actually, the representative of the Queen) first fired the Prime Minister, then fired the entire parliament - both houses. National elections were held a month later and Australia has NEVER had a problem like this again. While that can't happen in the US, it does make a strong case for firing everyone involved (by voting them out of office) and choosing better people.

  24. Thank you, sir. Reposted for truth.

  25. First off, I'm very weakly in favor of the ACA. Even if I were opposed, it wouldn't be the hill I'd want to die on. Neither is the government shutdown something I care deeply about, one way or another, outside of whether I can get into the local park or whether my friend working in DC will still get paid. Small scale stuff, relatively speaking.

    Still, I like to see an honest debate, and the overwhelming attempts of ACA supporters have been to frame their opponents as "crazy-stupid-need to be ignored no idea what their objection is... etc" As you do. And that frustrates me a bit. I would like to see people, regardless of the issue, become at least capable of accurately phrasing the objections of their (more intelligent) opponents in a way that their opponents could agree with. That's a good rule for any conflict. Cherry picking the dumbest supporters and the worst arguments and portraying them as mainstream doesn't cut it.

    "If they are successful, then the very next use of this tactic will be its use to defund any portion of our civilization that the outvoted minority vehemently disagrees with, from abortion to immigration to energy to climate change to gay rights to evolution right on across the political spectrum to oil drilling and nuclear power to gun control to the military to law enforcement. "

    How do you defund gay rights? They could defund subsidies for oil drilling, but to the extent that oil drilling is a private venture, that can't really be defunded. We currently have a government that's allowed to say that if you grow corn in your back yard and eat it, that such an action can be regulated as a form of interstate commerce. A government that is crippled under both Democratic and Republican rule in terms of spending on the national level looks like a move in the right direction. Nothing would prevent the states from taking their own action. You even went so far as to Godwin your own blog post on this point. But picking up on that, the problem with the Reichstag Fire Decree and subsequent enabling act wasn't that it crippled the government, but just the opposite. People wanted so badly to have a powerful central government that the Germans, who hadn't tasted Democracy for a full generation, were willing to accept tremendous power in one individual in order to cut through the disagreemetns. It was the need for the government to work efficiently, regardless of the costs, which led to the Reichstag Fire Decree.

    Obama used a “trick” to pass the ACA into law. This is a common meme among those opposed to the Affordable Care Act and/or President Obama. It’s less noxious than declaring the law invalid because Obama is a Muslim socialist from Kenya, but nevertheless it is simply not true.

    It absolutely is true. The ACA isn't allowed to raise the deficit. Obama claimed the ACA is deficit neutral. The CBO basically said; this act isn't going to be budget neutral, but we have to score it based on how the law is written. How the law is written, it's budget neutral. So it passes.

    This is not a uniquely Democratic tactic. Both parties manipulate the CBO in this fashion.

    If you want to say the ACA should be repealed once it violates the law as regards raising the deficit, go ahead. But at that point I'm sure everyone would argue (as you do here) that it would do too much damage to repeal something as massive as this, something that needs to be in place, just because of some procedural glitch in its passage. The ACA passes the letter of the law, but grossly violates the spirit of it. Is that really so far from being a trick?

    1. I think what you're missing here is that ACA isn't the point. No law, passed by parliamentary tricks or not, is an appropriate cause to hold the country hostage. There are plenty of us who wish ACA had gone further, but politics is, as they say, the art of compromise. Except for the wing-nuts in the House.

    2. @Ryan W - Which bit of "192 Republican Amendments to the Affordable Healthcare Act" did you miss?

      192 Republican amendments, and still not one one of those bloody geniuses with the elephant pins in their lapels managed to figure out that it was an illegal law that couod only be passed by "a trick"? Until, of course, now?

      Bull. Shit.

      (Dude/Bro: I've been paying my own way under COBRA for the past year+, and it's higher than the rent on my house, While I admit I've been ponying up for medical, dental and optical, I will be paying about 50% less for the first two come 1 January. Tell me how I'm getting screwed - and do remember that I pay the same fucking taxes you do.)

    3. I hope Jim responds to you, but in the mean time, I will.

      First, were you paying any attention when the ACA was being negotiated? The debate went on for over a year. So to stand up today and say that we should now negotiate is either disingenuous or because you were not paying attention.

      Second, I think there are a lot of people, including President Obama who are willing to negotiate any aspect of the ACA, that Republicans want to improve. Stating that you want it completely repealed, and voting over 40 times to have it repealed is not negotiating. It is wasting everyone's time and money.

      If the Republicans came in with any element of ACA that they wanted to improve, I am sure there would be a lot of people willing to work with them.

      Third, if the Republicans want to negotiate, they have to start with what is true. (this would not be a bad thing for you to do either - for example your discussion of the net cost to the US for the ACA, it is projected to save the country money. Just because you don't like it, or don't believe it, does not make it untrue).

      Finally, it is really difficult to take anything you say seriously when you start your comment with:

      "Neither is the government shutdown something I care deeply about, one way or another, outside of whether I can get into the local park or whether my friend working in DC will still get paid. Small scale stuff"

      This reeks of 'I got mine, to hell with the rest of the country'. The reason we have so many problems, and we have such incompetent people wrecking the economy and country, is because too many people are only worried about themselves, and they allow politicians to take the country in a direction that only benefits themselves (or their cronies).

      I sincerely hope that you are never in a position that you need help and support from others. Because if you hang around with like minded people, you are going to be in very sad shape.

      I hope you stick around, or come back to visit, you could learn a lot here, and benefit as a person, if you take the time to listen and understand.


    4. Ryan, your very first paragraph reeks of selfishness and short sightedness and therefore the rest of what you have to say looses any validity it may have had.

      You ARE being affected by the shut down, whether you "feel" it or not. Lets try on a few things for size and see how it fits... How about satellite maintenance for weather and internet communications? No? Don't fly out in the bush much? World of Warcraft coming through o.k.? How about the CDC - drug/disease research? Oh, perhaps you don't believe in flue vaccines or your Mom doesn't need that new diabetes drug, or those dying kids don't get that last chance cancer drug trial - no skin off your back right? O.K., Let's try the FDA - go to the grocery store and eat food? Like a nice batch of e. coli with your hamburger? Or maybe you or someone in your family is a small business owner who just might be seeing a loss in revenue because all those terrible federal workers aren't getting paid and therefore aren't spending money at the store. Oh, well, Christmas is still 3 months away. How about that bridge inspector, you know you drove over that bridge just fine 1000 times, it can hold up a few more months right? Ooops, that oil company just spilled something toxic into your front lawn, wonder who's going to help you there? (See Arkansas and Colorado right now oil and gas spills/leaks and attempted cleanups (not) going on right now!)

      But, that's o.k., because if it doesn't come up and slap you right upside your closed mind, it doesn't exist does it?

    5. I could go over this with a more fine toothed comb if it's still an issue but I'll be here all day if the scope of this response is expanded too much.


      1. There doesn't seem like anything inherently immoral in trying to negotiate a bill, seeing that the outcome will be deeply problematic regardless, and then opposing the bill. As far as I'm concerned, that's legit behavior. I don't expect government to be productive. I do expect them to be representative. The ACA has been unpopular throughout its various incarnations, and opposed by more voters than favored it. Under those conditions, fighting the ACA seems, at least, understandable. ACA supporters don't even seem to acknowledge that they're in the minority.

      Anon: "(this would not be a bad thing for you to do either - for example your discussion of the net cost to the US for the ACA, it is projected to save the country money. Just because you don't like it, or don't believe it, does not make it untrue).""

      I've dropped in on the ACA debate at various times. I couldn't give anything close to a chronology or a play by play of the politics, but I've invested a fair bit of time reading about the outcome, digging through some analyses, etc. I'm very far from being an expert. But then, the people voting on the thing don't seem to have even read it in most cases and many of the technical provisions had to be dropped since they couldn't be completed in the given timeframe. So I don't feel too bad.

      But even the people making the economic "projections" that you refer to (the CBO, for instance) acknowledge that those projections are very unlikely to hold up. I don't see how you can just stick your fingers in your ears and ignore that. The lackluster success of Romneycare (far less reduction in emergency room expenses than expected, for instance) are another case in point. Except for reducing drug costs (and maybe the innovation which would go with that) the ACA seems very unlikely to 'bend the cost curve' and reduce what Americans spend on medical care.

      I could give other examples. For example; claims that government run plans have less overhead don't account for cost shifting in government. With healthcare providers, collecting payment is part of expenses. With government, the cost of collecting taxes is not included as an expense of healthcare. And it should be, to compare apples to apples. But nobody gives a darn if their figures are accurate so long as the graph supports the position that they want it to support.

      My point there, which holds even after your reply, is that the ACA has been put forward as saving money that similar plans and closer analysis strongly suggest it simply will not save. It's not that ACA supporters have considered these points and refuted them. About 95% of supporters I've talked to don't even acknowledge these counter-arguments, much less address them. Such proof by faith rather than reason is not impressive.

    6. @Don Hilliard - Which bit of "192 Republican Amendments to the Affordable Healthcare Act" did you miss?

      I'm told "The republicans didn't want to negotiate" and "The republicans did negotiate, but then they didn't."

      At some point, it seems legit for a person to say 'no' if they disagree with an outcome of negotiations. Whether or not I agree with that 'no,' I recognize people's right to say it.

      DH: "192 Republican amendments, and still not one one of those bloody geniuses with the elephant pins in their lapels managed to figure out that it was an illegal law that couod only be passed by "a trick"?"

      I assume some people were hoping for a favorable Supreme Court decision. I'm not sure what you're arguing here. ACA opponents should have opposed the ACA earlier? Later? They were right to try and negotiate before opposing it? They were wrong to oppose a bill after trying to negotiate and feeling that negotiations had failed? If anyone opposes the ACA for any reason this is proof that their soul is dust, their motives are sinister and we should shun them?

      Heck, there were probably a few Republicans in the crowd who had used the same CBO accounting hacks to get their own legislation passed.

      "I will be paying about 50% less for the first two come 1 January. Tell me how I'm getting screwed"

      1. I said I was weakly in favor of the ACA
      2. Everything I've read, and I tend to parse things more finely than most, suggests that the ACA will increase what people spend on healthcare per capita. That doesn't mean it will increase what you pay, personally. But it will mean that some people will pay more and get less. That's part of how this thing is set up. It's why they need the 'young invincibles' to enroll (to be coerced to enroll, effectively), or it won't work. (I'm on the fence as to how the ACA will impact innovation, which is part of the 'rising cost of healthcare' that so many ambiguously refer to. You can get old medicine for pretty cheap, if you're willing to limit yourself to the drugs of 15 years ago. When people buy a BMW instead of a Geo Metro, their 'cost of car' rises.)

    7. Just curious, Ryan, why you keep referring to the ACA as a "bill." It is not a bill, it is LAW, as of three years ago, and was upheld by the Supreme Court.


  26. Why is everyone assuming the whiners in the house will get away with this? The Senate has not caved, not for the last 42 times, and not this time. It has not made it to the president, but he has stated that he will not cave. His past record gives no reason to believe that he will. If Boehner were to allow a vote in the House, that did not 'defund' the ACA, it would pass. He knows it, the House knows it, the Senate knows it, and the President knows it. He is only trying to hold onto his 'job' as speaker. I seriously doubt he will keep it, no matter what he does at this point. When he finally realizes it, he will allow the vote, and do his best to torpedo the intransigent nay-sayers who cost him his position. What the tea party needs to be concerned with is not whether they will 'win', but what Boehner will do to their agenda, once he realizes he has nothing to lose.
    To use a previously used analogy, when the children act up in the store, you do not give in. If they persist, you apply negative feedback. It will be interesting to see what form the negative feedback takes. I do not think the tea party will like it.

  27. Please tell me you have sent this to the White House. Or that you have followers there. Or that you know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody else there that is reading your posts.
    There has simply got to be a large enough amount of reasonable, sane people in this land that think this way. Right?
    In the meantime, I'll keep on keepin' on annoying every ultra-right wing Conservative out here that I know. The ones that think this is a good thing and are giddy with glee at what is transpiring.
    My husband said last night he thinks this could end up very badly for the United States of America. He went so far as to mention a civil war and/or revolution. I didn't comment and would like to think that this is such an impossibility that it's like good old Henny Penny and her talk of the big blue crashing down.
    May the Universe help us all.

    1. I suspect that the folks at the White House are far too busy right now to be reading my blog.

  28. The GOP tactics are based on the psychology of those In the conservative base who admire the appearance of strength. Paraphrasing Bill Clinton:, "Better to be wrong and strong than appear at all weak.

  29. Jim, in the unlikely event I ever get up to Alaska and in the equally unlikely event I discover where you live, expect me to drop by with a bottle of a fine single malt (or the tipple of your choice). Bravo, sir, bravo.

    1. (I should add: for you. Not in the expectation you will share it with me.)

  30. If something isn't done about how gerrymandering has gotten out of control, we may have prolonged problems of this sort.
    M from MD

    1. Amen, brother.

      Our legislative system has been hacked. We need a security & stability upgrade, stat.

      Some flavor of Instant Runoff Voting would be my favorite solution, but anything that empowers the sane middle, rather than the wingnut fringes, is critical to the survival of the republic.

  31. Jim,
    Thank you. I sleep a little better at night knowing you are around to do the things and think the thoughts you do.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  32. Great post. Thank you.


  33. Jim I really appreciate your writing and explanation on this Constitutional matter. I do not fear the President backing down, he is after a Constitutional Lawyer and knows it front & back. And your argument is exactly what he has been saying before & since the GOP shutdown. He has a spine of steel never doubt that.

  34. I'm getting in the habit of writing this, but thank you, Jim, again.

    I have been posting about this a lot on Facebook recently, albeit less eloquently than you.

    This is not about the ACA. This is about upholding our democracy. And I agree, the President cannot, MUST not cave on this.

    What worries me most is the upcoming crisis on the debt ceiling. We have been through a shut-down before, and it sucks but we get through but a default is another story. I think the Tea Partiers are just crazy enough to let the nation default, and this will be disastrous. My only hope is that the uber-rich who own Congress will get pissed off enough about risking their wealth if the economy crashes that they will not allow for a default.

    The other question regarding the debt ceiling is about the constitutional crisis that would result. The 14th Amendment does not allow us to default.

    Thank you again for putting my thoughts and concerns into a well thought out essay. I will share the link everywhere I can.

    1. Not only the 14th amendment, the Treasury Department is part of the executive branch. The president can issue a executive order saying what bills get paid to the secretary of the treasury. No if or buts. I'm sure the interest on bonds will be paid, borrow more , err that's tricky.

      Congress is not the only branch of government constitutional swore to not allow the United States to default on debts, so is the excursive branch, the President.

      For a group of people that are in congress that claim to be the ultimate keepers of the constitution to go against it is simply insane If the United States defaults, every member of congress that voted for a default is violating the constitution .

  35. Jim,

    Perhaps I'm not the only reader who does not comment sometimes because I have no insight to contribute and have run out of ways to express my awe and gratitude for your wisdom and dedication.

    Even if I disagreed with every opinion you voice, I'd still have tremendous if perhaps begrudging respect.

    Unfortunately, my respect for you is becoming polluted by envy.

    You state above: "As I was writing this, a commenter calling himself “Venture” left the following on the previous post, Don’t Cry For Me, John Boehner: "

    I checked and Venture's comment was posted October 5, 2013 at 8:19 AM.

    This schlolarly, even-handed, erudite rebuttal ?

    It was posted October 5, 2013 at 12:33 PM.

    And so, in 4 hours and 14 minutes, you wrote, edited, proofed and posted a line-by-line analysis and rebuttal which should be mandatory reading for every single voter in America.

    Did I say "envy" ?

    Jim, that's not an enviable feat. That's skeeery !

    Thanks for all you do.

  36. A teensy typo nitpick:

    The United States of America_n_ is simply too big and too complex to allow deadlock to become the norm, something will give, and likely it won’t be pleasant.

    Caught it in the midst of some VERY good arguments in favor of proceeding on path, but I have to agree with GEH: This is the sum total of what the Tea Party wanted when they set out to take over the House in 2010. That we could not dislodge them in 2012 means we're stuck with them at least another year, if the country lasts that long.

    I believe no matter what the Democrats offer (and they shouldn't offer a damn thing at this point) Boehner is going to take us right over the cliff on October 17th, because that's what Ohio's 8th District elected him to do, and President Obama will be forced to let him do it because that's the only way to show where this enormous game of chicken leads.

    The GOP electorate has no clue what they've done to our country. Actions speak louder than words. At this point, there are no other options but to toss the country right over the Debt Ceiling cliff.

    Many, many of my friends are government employees or contractors. I live in Maryland just outside of DC. I can say with certainty that this region is hurting, thanks to Tea Party shenanigans. And all I can think of is all those folks in the New Confederacy who think this is just dandy because they don't NEED the government for anything.

    There's only one way to teach them the truth. And boy, is it going to hurt. But it's still better than becoming the Neo-Nazi States of 'Merikah, Godwin's law notwithstanding.

  37. Jim... you are partially correct, and partially forgetting your history.

    We've done this dance 17 times in the past. In virtually every case:
    - both sides gave up something
    - both sides were willing to negotiate
    - the matter was resolved quickly

    In short, there was _compromise_.

    In this case, the key problem is that both sides are unwilling to compromise. That, in and of itself, is a significant problem.

    Let's be clear: Neither side can be allowed to "win" this.

    1. @Anonymous (no other identifier): No. Pack in the stupid "equivalence" crap.

      Politics is defined as "the art of compromise" - but at some point, there is no compromise possible. And Jim just pretty well articulated that, and he's right.

      "Compromise" is what got us the ACA, flawed as it is, in the first place. "Compromise" is not what Boehner and Co. want. The term is "capitulation."

    2. Anonymous, I believe the difference here is that those previous games of chicken,
      A) Did not shut down the government (well, all but a couple of the most recent, anyway), and
      B) were not hung up by one side trying to make an end run around a properly passed law, setting a precedent of extortion to make governmental changes outside of the standard process.

    3. There is already a compromise. It's called the Senate version of the continuing resolution, which got 100 votes -- the votes of every single Republican *AND* Democrat in the Senate. It's the House which is refusing to go along with the compromise arrived at by the Senate, not the other way around.

    4. The Tea Partiers are demanding (or were demanding, because they don't seem to know WHAT they want now) that the ACA be gutted in return for not doing damage to the nation. Compromise took place in 2010, when the ACA was passed. The Democrats wanted a single payer system, and instead settled on a system based on a model that was initially designed by Republicans, that still allows for insurance companies to make money denying people's claims, just to a lesser extent. I agree with Don, that it is not compromise, it is capitulation that they want now.

      The media, in it's attempt to always "show both sides" to any issue, is making a false equivalency when they say that neither side is willing to negotiate. Would they say that neither side is willing to negotiate if a terrorist organization took hostages? Because that is what the GOP, or more specifically, the Tea Party caucus, is doing with our economy. It is an attempt at extortion, plain and simple.

      The Tea Party is trying to make an end-run around the Constitution, and they are doing so by threatening grievous harm to the economy of the nation they swore to serve. I doubt the Founding Fathers ever would have anticipated such behavior when they wrote the Constitution, and indeed it took over 200 years before anyone considered using this kind of a tactic.

      I'm with Jim on this one. Whatever your political beliefs, if you are, indeed, truly patriotic, you cannot side with the Tea Party. If the Tea Party wins here, democracy is lost. This is no exaggeration.

      But I think that is exactly what the Tea Party is shooting for.

  38. Well written, cogent, and dead on the mark...I wish more about the Williamsburg Accord was included...the witches' coven of the Cantor "Jedi Council" and the harlots of the Koch think tanks who met and planned, in January 2013, each and every aspect of what we have seen unfold in this farcical shutdown... I sincerely think that if more people knew this was scripted, and not "reality TV", their reaction to the scenario might be very different...Venture included...

  39. I'm really concerned about what happens when the debt ceiling isn't raised. Obama will have no choice but to break laws, and will only be able to choose which laws he breaks. If he decides to ignore Congress and borrow money to keep the world economy from crashing, he will have unwillingly become something of a de facto dictator. Won't that be a hoot.

  40. One thing I believe you have not mentioned is that the House of Representatives is responsible for passing a budget. An *ACTUAL* Budget, not Continuing Resolution after Continuing Resolution...

    and the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives have refused to do anything on anything budgetary. They have voted to repeal "Obamacare" (and did they use "Obamacare" or the "Affordable Care Act"?) 45 times, named a few post offices, and then refused to do anything other than pass very short term "Continuing Resolutions" and allow for Sequestration.

    This is not a budget. Therefore the majority in the House is not doing what we initially hired them to do by voting them in.

    1. Wrong the senate gives the budget to the house then they negotiate it .Only problem the senate hasn"t sent them a budget in years why we are up 17 trillion in debt.

    2. The Senate passed a budget in March of this year. The House has so far refused to set up a conference committee to work through differences.

      Your argument is pretty silly when you ignore something anyone can get from typing 'senate budget 2013' in a search field on the Internet.

  41. Perhaps it is time to let America just be what it is going to be. No empire lasts forever, which is what I believe and what I ingested from your post. It might be time, this may be the time, we might be living in the time where America becomes a second world power.

    1. the mighty hath fallen and I am alive to witness the event.

  42. Jim, I, also, am a veteran [US Army, 1963-66], and I was only in our battalion S-2 [Intelligence] for a few weeks - - just long enough to realize most of those folks were as crazy as something out of 'Alice's various adventures'. (Yes, I could give all sorts of examples, but they're off the topic.)

    What is going on is that -some- of the über-stinking-rich (both 'natural persons' and 'corporate persons') in this country think it would be over-the-moon =great= to have, essentially, anarchy in this country. This way they can become the petty kings and princes they think they want to be. It will =literally= be "The Kings word is LAW!" Meaning, of course, -they- can do =any=thing- they want. They will make more money than they'll know what to do with .. ignoring the fact they -already- have more than they know what to do with. Why else would they have set up and bank-rolled -and- -brainwashed- groups like the Tea Hadists? Some of them, like the infamous Koch brothers, don't even bother denying it!

    There are, naturally, many problems with anarchy [>or "absolutist" monarchy, come to that<] as a way of life, but let's only take two, for the moment. (To go into most of the problems would take more time and space than my fingers could endure.) First, obviously, is that it just plain doesn't work, period, full-stop. For =ANY=one= caught up in it. If you haven't already thought of it, take a look at Somalia. Even the so-called 'war-lords' don't have a fun time of it, and they're at the supposed top of the pile. War-lords in an anarchy and 'absolutist' monarchs (to put in western European historical terms) don't last long and tend to come to 'very bad' ends, to be polite about it. At the very, very least, one finds oneself in a position where one =literally= can not trust anyone .. even one's spouse. The "pay-off" just isn't worth the "cost", short term, long term, any term.

    Secondly, and this is -soooo- obvious I'm embarrassed to point it out, to have an economy, of =any= sort, you =must= have circulation of 'money' (in whatever 'form'). 'Money' is just like blood in the body. =EVERY= part of the body -must- have blood, or it decays, rots, and kills the rest of the body. You can not say this part gets more because it is more "important" and this part doesn't deserve any because you don't 'like' it. Try that and the body quickly sickens and dies. The -only- things that benefit from a sickening and dead body .. are maggots.

    So, the Republicans, the Tea Party, the über-stinking-rich =think= they want anarchy, or to be able to dictate what -they- want and to hell with anyone else's wants/opinions. They -think- they "deserve" to 'get something out of this' .. or else! Sorry, folks, but you -deliberately- brought this upon all of us -without- -thinking- -it- =all= -the- -way- -through-, so the only thing you "deserve" is the First Sergeant's boot up your ass! (Don't know the equivalent image for the Navy-types .. sorry, Jim.)

    So, like I started this with -- politics this, politics that, and politics the other damn thing. Get rid of the 'smoke and mirrors' and look behind the curtain, people. If you =will= -not- recognize and admit what you're seeing, you can't 'do' anything about it. Do you -want- the great experiment that is America to break up into petty fiefdoms? Yes? Then do/say nothing. No? Then stay the course and give the Republicans, the Tea Hadists, etc, =nothing= for their misguided foolishness. They did this deliberately and don't "deserve" anything (except the First Sergeant's boot). It's just that simple.

    1. Cognitive dissonance is running rampant through the likes of the TEAPLE & their sugar daddies. Until they are willing to be truly honest with themselves about their asshattery, nothing will change :(

  43. Interesting read, although factually inaccurate in many ways. Here's another one to read- it's shorter, too. Your piece talks about how things have happened, exactly as they are set up to work. Thing is- what is going on right now is also exactly how it's supposed to work. The House of Representatives have passed bills that pay for every other government program, etc. The only thing they aren't approving is funding for Obamacare. That is their right in their position as the funding arm of the government. You can pass a bill but, that doesn't make it into law until the money has been approved for it and that isn't happening at this point. All part of the way the founding fathers set the process up.

    The money has been approved by the House of Representatives to pay for everything else so, the only reason the shutdown continues is that the Senate and the POTUS- the other 2 pieces of the balance, refuse to accept the money to run the government and choose instead to keep it closed down. That's their choice and also their right to do so as far as the powers and responsibility go but it's also their decision- the money has been approved.


    1. Uhm, no. The House passed funding for Obamacare already. It's integral to the bill and was necessary to make Obamacare budget-neutral. What the 20% minority in the House that includes Speaker Boehner is doing is blocking presentation of the Senate version of the continuing resolution because it doesn't repeal that funding that was already approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, and they've shut down the entire federal government to do so -- something unprecedented in the history of this country. *NEVER* has 20% of the House ever been able to shut down the entire country before. Never. Ever. And if that precedent is allowed to stand, that a 20% fringe can veto any bill *retroactively*, then what's next? Medicare? Social Security? Air traffic controllers? National parks?

      Note that the Senate version of the continuing resolution is already a compromise between Republicans and Democrats, and received 100 votes in the Senate -- the vote of every single Republican and every single Democrat. If it was allowed to be presented to the floor in the House, it would get roughly 300 votes -- well over the 50% needed to pass. But 40 people are preventing it from being presented to the House for a vote. Forty. 40. This has never happened before in the history of our country, that 40 people hold the budget hostage to get one bill repealed. I live in California and we couldn't function when 33% of people could hold our budget hostage, we finally had to repeal that requirement because it made the state ungovernable. When 40 people in the House -- less than 10% of the House -- can hold the budget hostage... no. You cannot govern a nation that way. It's not viable. That way leads to Somalia with nukes.

    2. ROFL! As usual, Anonymous Coward's argument is "You're wrong because wingnuts for a propaganda publication say you're wrong!" rather than presenting a single coherent argument or pointing out a single factual error. If you have nothing to add but a link to a fringe site run by radical anarchists, you're wasting Jim's time, and ours.

    3. Don't bother, Tux. When you get to Anonymous' statement You can pass a bill but, that doesn't make it into law until the money has been approved for it you might as well just stop reading. You're attempting to reason with somebody who doesn't even have a Sesame Street level understanding of how bills become laws.

    4. Please find in the constitution where it says that a bill does not become a law until it has been funded. The specific section of the document. When you find it, please come back here and post it, so that the rest of us can be educated.

      Next, when you find the section about budgets, please also notice that it requires the congress and the senate to negotiate and agree.

      To claim that congress passed a bill, and now it is the senates fault that the government shut down is stretching your credibility.

      What if a Democratic Congress passed a budget that funded all of the government, but defunded the military. Then a Republican Senate passed a budget with all element of the government funded. Then the Democrats in congress would not bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote, and the government shut down.

      Would it now be the Republican Senators' fault that the government shut down?

      If your answer is No, then your argument holds no water. Because this is exactly what John Boehner is doing today.

    5. Anonymous - - Civics Lesson Dep't: The legs of the Constitutional stool (no pun intended) are the Legislative (Congress - - House & Senate), Executive (POTUS and the Judicial ( Supreme Court). If you are going to argue politics, at least get the facts out in front of your opinions.

  44. I still think the late (bless her) Molly Ivins said it best: "I think government is a tool, like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build with or you can use a hammer to destroy with. Whether government is good or bad depends on what you use it for and how well you use it. On the whole, it's a poor idea to put people in charge of government don't believe in using it."
    Then, of course, Will Rogers said it pretty well also:"This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer."
    Unfortunately,they aren't building anything.

  45. Well said Jim. My only comment on your previous essay was in response to Venture's comment. That comment was narrowly focused on where Venture left the rails. It was much less artfully said and certainly lacked the in depth analysis you've provided here. I could not agree more with what you have said.

    I failed to acknowledge was Venture's excellent description of the general working structure of the American system of constitutional government. It was far superior to anything I could have written in such a short space. He does deserve credit right up to the premise of gimmickry based on faulty knowledge of arcane workings of reconciliation and the history of its use. I was wrong not to do acknowledge the the quality of the beginning of his post.

  46. Well said. Like a knife cuts to the bone, you've gotten to the core of the issues at hand. I'm not confident about the GOP's ability to fend off the crazies in their midst any longer, but I have some hope that the other side will hold fast as long as they don't lose sight of the goal and give in to fear. The goal, of course, is to salvage our existing system and keep it going, bandaids as all, until we can get in some permanent fixes to Federal campaign finance law and local re-districting remedies to eliminate rampant Gerrymandering.

  47. Thank you Anonymous for leaving Sowell's link...Unfortunately, it will most likely be lost on the author and the majority of the the people commenting. They seem to pick and choose what goes along with their agenda.

    The intent of the Founding Fathers was to give the people, through their House of Representatives, the power collectively to say no to any proposed federal tax, which she is decidedly doing.

    Chief Justice Roberts actually ruled the mandate, relative to the commerce clause, was unconstitutional. That is how the Democrats got Obama-care going in the first place. This is critical. His ruling means Congress can’t compel American citizens to purchase anything, ever. The notion is now officially and forever, unconstitutional. As it should be.
    Next, he stated that, because Congress doesn’t have the ability to mandate, it must, to fund Obama-care, rely on its power to tax. Therefore, the mechanism that funds Obama-care is a tax. He struck down as unconstitutional, the Obama-care idea that the federal government can bully states into complying by yanking their existing medicaid funding. Liberals, through Obama-care, basically said to the states — “comply with Obama-care or we will stop existing funding". THIS is extortion! The president and Reid are the hostage takers and the media is complicit.

    1. So let me get this straight. A link to a blog entry posted to a radical fringe anarchist site is "proof" of something besides the fact that you can post links to a radical fringe anarchist site? If you have actual factual arguments to make about what Jim posted, do so. Otherwise you're just bullshitting us and frankly, wasting everybody's time.

    2. "The intent of the Founding Fathers was to give the people, through their House of Representatives, the power collectively to say no to any proposed federal tax, which she is decidedly doing. "

      Except, it is clearly not the will of the people to do away with the ACA, as they elected Obama again, over Romney who campaigned on repealing it.

      ~10% of the House does not have the right to basically nullify the last presidential election.

    3. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredOctober 6, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      I think we may want to re-examine what the Supreme Court did. They held that the mandate penalties that were characterized as "fees" were actually a tax, but did NOT strike ACA down on that count and ruled it Constitutional under Congress's authority to levy taxes. They did reject the "Commerce Clause" argument with the effect that the Medicaid expansion to the states could not be mandated (by the threat of withholding further funding) and that's allowed many of the GOP controlled states to "opt out" - effectively denying coverage to millions of their own residents.



  48. Excellent long term analysis and explanation. No really people nothing less than the american way of life and government is at stake here and it was put there by the Tea Party Caucus who are 11% of the House of Representatives.

    One disagreement. The Supreme Court does not rule or win them all. The Congress does. Congress, with the help of the States, passes Constitutional amendments and thus can override even the Supreme Court.

  49. This shutdown is unprecedented in U.S. history. All prior shutdowns have been when a President vetoed the budget passed by Congress. All of them. In this case, the President hasn't even been given a budget by Congress. Instead, representatives of less than 20% of the public are holding the budget hostage by threatening Speaker Boehner with being primaried if he moves the Senate bill to the House floor. Because the Senate continuing resolution -- a compromise between the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate I might add, which was voted for BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN THE SENATE -- would win the majority of votes in the House. If Boehner allowed it to be voted on.

    Instead, 20% are holding the entire nation hostage unless they get their way. 20%.

    Here in California, we had a system where 33% of the representatives could hold our budget hostage. And it caused havoc. It rendered the state almost ungovernable. 20%... no. You can't run a government if 20% can veto any bill they don't like. You just can't. Because any fringe 20%, the only bills they will like are fringe bills that the majority simply can't support. You basically end the Federal government if you allow 20% to veto any bill just by threatening to shut down the government until they get their way.

    And that way, my friend, leads to Somalia with nukes. If you want to live in Somalia, may I suggest you simply move there, instead of trying to turn my homeland into Somalia? Because frankly, I *like* indoor plumbing, and water coming out of my tap that I can drink, and garbage pickup at least once a week, and all the other things that come with having functioning government. Somalia with nukes... the very thought makes me shudder. Can you imagine what would have happened if the warlords who tore Somalia apart after their government collapsed had come across nukes? Can you? Really?

    In other words, no, Jim, you are not being hyperbolic. If we let that small minority in the House veto any bill they don't like, we basically end the Federal government. Somalia with nukes. Makes one literally glow in the dark, methinks...

  50. I was with you until the end:

    "Government shutdown and deadlock will become the norm and our government will cease to function in any useful fashion."

    By any objective standard we're already there.

    Otherwise hear hear! Dead on as usual.

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. Thanks for the kind words. For the record, I am male. I'm also a Republican...and an atheist with shoulder-length hair, and pro-abortion, and many other qualities that make me not fit into any convenient categories. I do have a blog but it's not on Blogger (dennisaurus.com, shameless plug), but I will keep the discussion here.

    I will try to be brief.

    The "dodgy procedural tricks" I referred to meant the fact that the bill was started in the Senate when it was supposed to start in the House (because it appropriates funds). This was accomplished by taking an appropriations bill the House had passed and amending it to replace all the existing language with the ACA. I'm sure this has been done before but that doesn't make it right; it's clearly violating the spirit of the law.

    No one is giving a party that can control one house of Congress the ability to lock up the country: depending on the circumstances *they already have it*. What the House Republicans are doing, however ill-considered it may be, is entirely legal. What might have gone a long way from preventing this kind of thing from happening would be if the country was actually being run on a budget instead of these periodic "continuing resolutions". It is my understanding that Obama hasn't sent a budget to Congress since 2009, that he prefers not to be bound by one. Obama has said that we can't keep running the country by going from one manufactured crisis to another, but he's helping manufacture them. There would be fewer opportunities for this kind of brinksmanship if we had a proper budget.

    I agree that you can't always *please* the minority; obviously, if you could, there wouldn't be one because everyone would agree. You do, however, have to avoid pissing them off, and this is what has not been done. Division of this nature is a product of only one thing: a failure in leadership. As a great man once said, "the buck stops here". Now, *both* sides are going to have to come back to the table and reach some kind of agreement that at least lets both save face. That is the only way this can end. *Neither* side can simply capitulate; everything you say about negative consequences for Obama should he give in is just as true going the other way. I don't see any constitutional way for Obama to end it without negotiating and if he does something stupid like declaring a state of emergency and tries to override the legislature the Tea Party may just come out shooting. No, I don't think that would be a good thing and I don't think we're in a good place. I think we're up a nasty-smelling creek without a paddle.

    I'm just saying the Tea Party didn't get us here on their own. Obamacare is too controversial. There's no clear popular support for it, though the opposition is split between those who think it goes too far and those who think it doesn't go far enough. Another great man once said "just because you can do a thing doesn't mean that you should". Obama isn't a good enough leader to understand that. He just wants to be the president who passed health care reform, to have succeeded where Bill and Hillary failed. In a way it's just like the second Gulf War, which was largely about George W. wanting to do what his father didn't, removing Saddam Hussein, and damn the consequences. Small men trying to do a job too big for them. Sadly, the fundamental contradiction of democracy is that no one who asks for power can possibly be worthy of receiving it, yet they are the only ones we can give it to. Nowadays, I fear that anyone who actually has the knowledge, leadership and wisdom to get us out of the mess made by every administration since Clinton (inclusive) is far too intelligent to want the job.

    I guess that wasn't very brief.

    1. Uhm, they already reached a compromise agreement. It's called the Senate version of the continuing resolution, which 100% of the Republicans and 100% of the Democrats in the Senate voted for after much discussion and compromise. If presented to the House floor by Speaker Boehner, it would receive approximately 380 votes. The Constitution says that the House can create its own rules, and the House rules currently say that Speaker Boehner doesn't have to present that bill for a vote by the entire House, but clearly this is violating at least the spirit of the Constitution which doesn't have anything in it that allows one man to basically shut down the entire country because he won't put a compromise bill onto the floor to be voted upon.

    2. The Senate passed a budget six months ago. The Democrats asked to negotiate a final budget with the Republicans 18 times over the last six months; Republicans blocked the creation of a conference committee to negotiate a final deal every time. The continuing resolution passed by the Senate funds the government at levels FAR below those sought by the Democrats, and almost identical to those proposed by the Republicans.

      The 2014 Senate budget's discretionary funding is $1,058 billion. The House's budget was $967 billion. The continuing resolution on an annual basis funds the government at a level of $986 billion.

      The debt limit and funding of the government are not negotiating points - and in the past every party has accepted this, either initially or eventually. The correct path here, the only path that leads to a long-term solution, is to fund the government, cleanly lift the debt ceiling, and then actually go to committee to settle the long-term situation without wrecking the economy along the way.

    3. Venture,
      You say," It is my understanding that Obama hasn't sent a budget to Congress since 2009, that he prefers not to be bound by one"
      Three words typed into Google can clear that up for you. I have heard this "Obama hasn't submitted a budget" crap before, and yet if you go to the White House website, there they all are!
      The House Of Representatives is constitutionally charged with introducing legislation for funding, and they historically take the President's proposed budgets as a starting point. But since 2009, the House has failed to pass spending bills that cover a fiscal year. While they may not be violating the Constitution, they are certainly violating my trust (and yours, I hope).

      If you would like to peruse the White House budget for 2014, here is the link:
      (Note the link to "Past Budgets" on the left-hand side)


    4. Venture: you obviously are an intelligent, literate person. On what frigging planet does it make any sense to ask Obama to willingly cripple/gut his signature accomplishment as POTUS?

      Answer: it doesn't. It's ludicrous and anyone with a healthy grip on reality knows it.

      A well-written appeal to false balance is no better than a poorly written one; it just sounds nicer.

      Without fail, conservatives and 'independents' fail back on this spineless "they're all just as bad!" defense, when pressed with the question of "Do you agree with the GOP threatening to destroy the US's financial health because they lost on fair-and-square on the ACA?"

      Hate Obamacare/ACA all you want. Rail at the sky that it will suck the blood of babies dry in their cribs, and cause the Constitution to burst into flames. The fact is Republicans lost twice on the ACA (2012 election and Supreme Court this year), and they're punishing the rest of the country for it.

      Side note: it's actually kind of impressive that you're a pro-choice, long-haired atheist Republican. Given the party you're aligned with, it just means sooner or later your ass is going to get purged by the Tea Baggers. You just don't seem to realize it yet.

    5. The President, constitutionally, is NOT required to submit a budget to congress.Former presidents have submit a budget as a suggestion, that's all it is.

      Congress s job is to present and pass a budget, if the President doesn't like it he can veto it. The President does not created the budget, the President merely suggests one.

  53. "If you give the legislature both the power of the purse and the power of the Executive, then you’ve ipso facto destroyed the very checks and balances that keep our government from tyranny."

    I'd argue this.

    Probably in the most absolute sense, because of the way the US constitution is written, it may be true. In practice, Westminster style parliaments are exactly this - the executive is drawn from the majority party(s) of the House that has responsibility for fiscal control. I'm sure it would be possible to look into examples of how tyranny arose from a Westminster style system, but the governments of the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, Eire and to some extent places like modern Germany seem to work well and give stable government.

    Other than that - another great and post Jim

  54. A revolution is coming. These are the reasons why. Spot on Chief!

    1. I certainly hope a revolution is *not* coming, other than the one we have every four years when we (potentially) elect a new President. Because in my study of historical revolutions, invariably they turn out to be disasters. Whether we're talking about the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the German Revolution (the one that overthrew Kaiser Wilhelm at the end of WW1 and installed the Weimar Republic, which in turn elected Hitler), the Cambodian Revolution (Pol Pot. Enough said), the Cuban revolution, etc... every single revolution that I've studied has resulted in a bloodbath and the resulting government ended up being a dictatorship.

      Now I hear you say "but... but... the American Revolution!", but that was not a revolution, that was a war of secession by the lawful governments of one section of a country against the federal government. I.e., it was exactly like the American Civil War, except the Americans were the Confederates, wanting to break away from the mother country. (And the American Civil War was not a civil war either -- it was a war of secession too, we have this bad habit of misleadingly misnaming our wars here in the USA). A war of secession is not a revolution. Wars of secession can have good outcomes or bad outcomes, but they rarely become the bloodbaths that revolutions invariably are.

  55. Just a few comments. I'm not entirely convinced that you're correct, but I'm acknowledging that may just be because I don't want you to be correct.

    Effective leadership means taking the minority position into account.

    As somebody who has spent a significant fraction of my life in military leadership positions, often under difficult and fractious circumstances, I agree.

    While I am certain that has served you in good stead (Navy Junior here, myself), there are some pretty significant differences between being in a leadership position in the military, and being in a leadership position in politics. For one, the clear chain of command. In the political world, a military style chain of command is effectively pure dictatorship.

    However, good leadership also means not being held hostage to a minority opinion.

    While the counsel of the minority should be taken into account and used to temper the overall decision and to perhaps influence the final outcome, there is always one guy who just has to play Devil’s Advocate. There’s always that one guy who disagrees just to disagree, or is unreasonable for the sake of unreason, or who for some reason is pathologically unable to compromise because that’s just how he’s built.

    But in the situation under discussion, we're not exactly talking about "one guy" here. Something like 45% of the country doesn't want this, at a minimum. This isn't exactly Ron Paul holding up the entire country all by himself, here. ;)


    I can't select a quote to demonstrate my next point, because the discussion is pretty spread out. But I think that both you and Venture are arguing the wrong points when it comes to the republican nature of our government (little r, guys) and the Constitution. It's not You have to win the argument, not just the vote or And in the end, it is perfectly within the legal framework of the Constitution to ignore their minority insanity and move on. It's a question of whether what is being voted on is acceptable behaviour for the government to engage in, under the rules defined 232 years ago to limit it. And this is the main part where I think you're probably right, even though I don't want you to be. The Constitution defines a procedure for determining that, and we made use of it remarkably swiftly in this case, and the Supreme Court (who, while it is very nice when Congress remembers to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority, is really the main branch of government charged with that task) determined that the part of the PPACA that was challenged in court was, in fact, Constitutional. And that's really the refutation of the "minority vs: the majority" argument that carries the most weight, I think.

    Personally, I think the Republicans are being foolish. If they really think the ACA is so destined for failure, they should be not only funding it, but hammering the president and the Democrats every time they attempt to delay any part of it. Because the swifter it's implemented, the sooner everyone will see how terrible it really is. Of course, that would require them having any strength in their convictions, which is pretty exceptionally rare in any politician these days.

    Personally, I think the ACA is going to be a horrible catastrophe, and that's as someone who thinks the way we do healthcare in this country is an utter mess. But, ugh, as much as I think that, I also think that you must be correct about this being "yet another power you don't want in the hands of your enemies" (which, as a libertarian [yeah, yeah, I know, boo hiss ;) ] is pretty much "everyone currently in power") which means that it's a tactic that can't be allowed to succeed.

    1. No. We are talking about one guy -- Speaker Boehner -- who is refusing to allow the House to vote on the COMPROMISE bill. The compromise continuing resolution bill that got 100% of the votes of the Republicans in the Senate, and 100% of the votes of the Democrats in the Senate, and which funds government at less than what Democrats wanted and more than what Republicans wanted.

      When one extremist can hold the whole country hostage by shutting down the country until he gets his way, that's not democracy. Just sayin'.

      As for the ACA, this isn't about the ACA. This is about funding the government for the next few months while a final budget is worked out. One man is holding that up. One man.
      And right now over 80% of Americans say that this one man is *wrong* to do that.

  56. This is only the warm-up. The main event will be default.
    Many people are relying on the Big Boys of the Finance world to give orders to their minions to stop being so insane.

    Three problems with that -

    First, the Big Boys aren't the brightest of sparks - see the recent global financial crisis. Their judgment is questionable. They may not realise that the equivalent of Global Thermonuclear War is not winnable, that 120 megadeaths is not "acceptable losses" to stretch the analogy.

    Second, while they may have funded the fanatics who took over what was a grassroots movement to curb the worst excesses of governmental waste, they don't control them. A bit like the CIA funding OBL's mob against the Russkis. They're now out of control, and they're the ones that dictate results of primaries since everyone else is apathetic or asleep. They're not listening.

    Third - have a look at what's happening on the gold and silver markets, and other indicators. Many of the Big Boys stand to make a fortune so huge it's unimaginable when (not if) the US defaults. I've grabbed a tiny atom of that myself. In absolute terms, my net worth will crash, but in relative terms, it will explode. The Big Boys are split, some hoping that things will continue as usual, others ready to gain an edge on their competition by manufacturing a REAL crisis/opportunity.

    I hope I'm wrong. But that's one woman's view from Australia. No matter which way things go, we've taken steps to make sure our kids will come out of this in good shape financially. Relatively, if not absolutely.

    That's the short term. In the long term, this perfectly legal tactic has to be not just defeated, but crushed, or it will be used again and again and again no matter who is in power. The bitterness already generated means that neither side will take prisoners, nor be reasonable, next time.

  57. When I saw the following, I went out and verified it existed on several historical sites about Lincoln to confirm it wasn't made up - it's pretty darn perfect:

    "What is our present condition? We have just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we are told in advance, the government shall be broken up, unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before we take the offices. In this they are either attempting to play upon us, or they are in dead earnest. Either way, if we surrender, it is the end of us, and of the government. They will repeat the experiment upon us ad libitum."

  58. Unfortunately the GOP, and more specifically the new radical right agenda being pushed though by a handful of billionaire ideologues who want to rebuild the Republic to their liking, is founded on misinformation, lies, and actual polices that are unpopular with the American people as a whole. Basically the strategy has been to get a foot in the door advance the agenda though subterfuge, then maintain those advances though voter purges. I say unfortunately because this used to be a party of ideas... they may not have been ideas I always agreed with, but as a whole, the party used to believe in changing minds, not rigging he system to win at all costs. The irony in this is that the best chance to save the Republic may come from the same big money interests that we used to consider "the enemy" ... those that stand to lose money. At the end of the day the real deciding factor there may be the international banking community and the corporations who clearly view the radical right as bad for business ... hopefully they will also remind the American people, that they are bad for us as well.

  59. This is truth on wheels! As an old person who has spent a lifetime studying politics and has seen a lot in our political arena, is not a 'liberal' or a 'conservative', is not a member of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party (but has never missed voting ever since I was given the vote at age 19), and is an American, I really appreciate what you have to say here -- I have been so freaked out that the president will cave in -- again. He absolutely must not. Every time I hear a member of the lunatic fringe, or one of those who represent them, and the disingenuous claptrap that comes out of his or her mouth, I want to put my fist through a wall!

    I may have to read more of your stuff...

  60. I agree with this post. If the President gives in to the Republicans' demands and changes an iota of the ACA to please them, he'll be giving into economic terrorism. The ACA was passed by Congress three years ago, upheld by the Supreme Court and voted on by the American people last November.

    I'm not sure what the Republicans hope to accomplish by continuing to shut down the government. This whole thing has become bizarre since several Republicans have now admitted that they cannot do anything to change/defund the ACA at this point.

  61. I hate to offer this quibble, but in the interest of helping Jim work toward perfection:

    "the nation will either collapse and dissolve into smaller more homogenous, more easily managed entities ... "

    The eleventh word should be 'homogeneous,' withe the extra 'e.' With the pronunciation emphasis on the preceding 'e.'

    Or maybe he knows that and it's just a typo. ; )

  62. "The problem with pointing this out in the manner that Venture did is that this fact is typically only acknowledged when one is in the minority opinion.

    As long as the polls show that your side is in the majority, we live in a democracy."

    Point this out, in the manner that you did, borders on an ad hominem. "Citing the essential nature of this government is a tactic used by losers," you appear to be saying.

    Is this the message you intended?

    1. Whatever Mr Wright's intentions were here, his remarks do not constitute an ad hominem, nor nearly border on doing so as per the assumptions contained in "Citing the essential nature of this government".
      The argument here turns on what could be said to be the essential nature of this government, which I would submit is exactly what Mr Wright says it is- " The United States is a representative democracy, i.e. a republic. " The inherent tension between the Fed, the states, and citizens in this form is familiar to us all and it is often all too easy , if one is in the majority, to cloak oneself in the that's-democracy-folks routine and pshaw! minority concerns.
      However, the current tactic by the current Right to skip on by the representative democracy nature of our republic is just that- a tactic. Not a statement of the essence of this government. A tactic seemingly designed to make an argument that the discrete pieces , the states, of the federation are the top dog in the whole equation.
      That is where I take issue with Mr Wright's
      "As long as the polls show that your side is in the majority, we live in a democracy" remark.
      As someone in multiple permanent minorities of the far left libertarian socialist type I NEVER elect to run up the we-are-a-republic (only) flag. There isn't the proverbial snowball-in-hells-chance that much of anything I think we really should be doing will come to pass at the federal level and even less at the state level in most cases.

      That being said, thank you Mr Wright for this essay.
      I am sick to pieces of the whole tear it down to build it up crap .
      I wrote the Pres the first day of the stoopid shutdown commending him for his stance and exhorting him to hang tough.
      Whether anyone will read it in all the furloughing and like is a whole different issue.

      Alaska Pi

    2. is this the message you intend?

      No. I'm a better, and far more direct, writer than that. If I meant to say that Venture was a loser, I'd have said, "Venture, you stinkin loser" instead of beating around the bush.

      There's nothing ad hominem about my statement. It wasn't directed at any single person. It was a general statement of human nature common to all sides of the political debate.

      Note that I also didn't say either "winning" or "losing," I said "majority" and "minority" and in the context of this essay it should be patently obvious that I'm not automatically equating winning and losing to "majority" and "minority."

      What I meant was that when you're talking politics in a democracy, if you're in the majority you tend to point to public opinion as validation of your position, when you're in the minority you tend to find a reason to disregard public opinion. I do it myself. We all do. This is provable and repeatable. And it was in direct counterpoint to something Venture said, not used as a form of personal attack intended to discredit Venture himself - which is what an ad hominem fallacy is, attacking the person instead of the argument. In point of fact, it wasn't technically an actual argument, it was more a statement of the human condition.

      And from Venture's response, he took it exactly the way it was intended, which goes toward my original observation that Venture is a reasonable and intelligent commenter who just happens to have a different opinion from my own.

      Hope that clears things up.

  63. Nick formerly from the O.C.October 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    In related news, this Sunday morning (10/06) CNN is quoting Ted (Rafael) Cruz as saying that the Democratic Party's position is "untenable" and "we can win this fight." I can't figure out if he means it, or if he's just whistling in the dark. CNN also quotes him as saying "The only way to win this fight is the way we won every other fight throughout the history of the republic, which is solutions don’t come from Washington, D.C., they come from the people.”

    I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and interpret that statement as being other than a call for insurrection against the government.


  64. Discovered your blog through TOD where Chips is the BT. Have since been reading your entries (including all CAT entries!) and have been thoroughly entertained (cat) and have mulled over your many thought provoking entries.

    This is another one. Will tweet that folks need to read this. Thanks again.


  65. This is allegedly over a health care program that is attempting to give some tiny semblance of medical treatment to over 40 MILLION people who were without health insurance in the USA. How banal and stupid can these people be?

    We know of course that it is not just about affordable health care, but rather about "Tea Party" hacks who are poor losers, they give the original Tea Party a bad name.

    I am a US citizen who now lives outside the country. I refuse to go back because stupid became the norm after 9/11. Europeans have some of the highest living standards in the world and all of them have affordable or no cost health care. They pay for them through something called taxes. I have free health care because I am married to a foreign citizen. They just automagically included me. And, guess what, the quality of it is better than most of what I experienced in the States. My wife has the mobile phone number of her doctor!!

    So instead of allowing numb-nut members of Congress to take junkets, instead of spending more than the next 17 countries on a bloated military and a war on Islam, how about just admitting that socialism for the poor is a good idea. Americans already have socialism for the rich through bail-outs and tax subsidies and unequal access to lawmakers. The country has so-called "Christians" who run and hide or turn the other way when they see a poor or homeless person, and, want to refuse them decent health care. How banal and stupid can these people be?

    I am ashamed of having to attempt to explain the goofiness of US politics to Europeans. They just cannot understand why the US is so good at shooting itself in the foot. They ask me, "how banal and stupid can these people be?"

    1. To clarify one of HobbitTr's points:
      The US spends more on our military than the next 17 countries COMBINED. Most of those countries are our allies. We could fund universal healthcare out of DoD and DHS's pocket change and not put a dent in our military/security readiness. We could fully pay for all of our social programs including universal healthcare with a tiny tiny dent. We've been taught to be afraid of "them", both outside and inside our country,

  66. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  67. Jim, Thank you. Just, thank you.

  68. One of the litmus tests of traditional conservatism used to be, "If you wish to expand government power in a particular way, would you want your political opponents to have this authority should they come into power. If the answer is 'no' then the expansion is a always going to be a bad idea. Thomas Paine was absolutely correct when he said, "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." That is what the faux-conservatives that now dominate the Republican leadership and their rank-and-file have forgotten, particularly since the Autumn of 2001, largely because they've never actually been traditional conservatives. They have acted like they would never be out of power ever again. Ever. And they forgot this basic principle of conservatism and expanded the power, authority and expense of the state in manners that had never been done before.

    And now they're choking on it. The country is the hands of someone that both the religious and ideological foundations of modern conservatism (the Southern Baptist-dominated former Wallace Democrats) sees as sub-human: a mixed-race Yankee. That is why the Republicans are so eager to shut down the country used the ACA as an excuse, even though it was originally written by that bastion of neo-conservatism, the Heritage Foundation. "If *he* supports it, we *must* oppose it, even if it was our idea in the first place."

    When your faith and your politics tell you that your opponent isn't even human, compromise is impossible. Barry Goldwater knew that when he said in 1994, "Frankly, these people [religious 'conservatives'] frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." And that's why Goldwater was effectively thrown out of the Party after the ascent of Reagan. If you openly oppose the theocrats, you're done as a Republican national political figure. Done. Forever. Paul Craig Roberts was. Amo Houghton was. Kenny Guinn was. Nancy Kesslebaum was. Linda Lingle was. And even Goldwater himself was.

    The healthiest thing the Republican Party can do for themselves is to simply throw out the religious extremists. Remove them from the Party entirely and become a party again. Let them form their own party and have the identical demographics as Wallace's AIP. Yes, they will suffer in the short-term, but in the long-term removing the cancer will save the patient so that they will have a chance of being healthy again. Letting the cancer that the religious extremists represent to the Republican Party spread and consume the body will only kill it.

  69. Thanks Jim, as usual, a well thought out and reasoned post. I think the crux of the issue is the line item veto power, which the minority of the House majority, is trying to forge into House procedure. Apparently "they" have conceded the presidency for the future, otherwise why would they attempt to gain "new" powers, which could ultimately be used against them, I missed the class explaining the virtues of " minority rule". If things were reversed, the screams from those responsible for the current mess would be deafening.

  70. The powers that drive the right really don't care, as long as they can profit from it. They don't care that they are robbing Americans of their quality of life. They will continue to drain us until they can find a better victim. Thanks for your excellent commentary, and leadership.

  71. Thank you. Elegantly argued and well written.

  72. Nice post. Regardless of rather the Obama plan is the best, it is a start! It needs monitoring, scheduled reassessments, and refined. Rarely is something good and perfect the first time around. The congress should be arguing for timelines to reassess and refine this plan at specific times, not trying to shut it down!

    As a health care professional, health care in this country is a crisis. I have had insurance for most of my adult life. As 1 of 6 children raised by my mother (my father died). We had no health insurance ever, my mother worked and was buying her home-there was no help for families like ours.

    At 18 I became employed and had health insurance for the next 35 years. After I had a family of four, we had good insurance for about $350.00, it gradually increased to over $600, than $900. five years ago I lost my job and looked at going on Cobra-remember no job- no money! Cobra insurance for my family of 4 was over $1700 a month. Yea right, I can afford that??

    I for one, welcome the health plan, at least it is a start. For once our government is trying to invest in the care of their own people! There are people in this country that have good jobs or small businesses who have nice houses, nice boats, big trucks, lots of toys and they refuse to buy health insurance.... What happens when they show up in the ER from an accident or illness- they devastate themselves and can't pay those who have taken care of them. This has been one of the driving forces that drives insurance up. Of course it will take time to balance the scales. But I welcome healthcare, hopefully it is going to be run fairly without kick backs from the insurance industry to screw the common folks. I don't mind paying my fair share, just make sure it is a reasonable affordable cost.

  73. Thank you for this well written and brilliant post!

  74. Thank you. That's also not to mention the suppression of the free press. We also need to fight that. Regardless of whether or not we like or dislike what's being said, to moderate anyone is to moderate all. It ALWAYS works both ways.

  75. Good Conversation, I can't cover the all of it ,But am scared people always think the economy should grow, they are satisfied with mediocrity,and have taught their children the same.So I leave you with a thought smaller ,simpler, less. and read poetry like this;

    “Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
    vacation with pay. Want more
    of everything ready-made. Be afraid
    to know your neighbors and to die.

    And you will have a window in your head.
    Not even your future will be a mystery
    any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
    and shut away in a little drawer.

    When they want you to buy something
    they will call you. When they want you
    to die for profit they will let you know.
    So, friends, every day do something
    that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
    Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.

    Denounce the government and embrace
    the flag. Hope to live in that free
    republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot
    understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.

    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.

    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.

    Listen to carrion — put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.

    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
    a woman satisfied to bear a child?
    Will this disturb the sleep
    of a woman near to giving birth?

    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
    in her lap. Swear allegiance
    to what is nighest your thoughts.

    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go.

    Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.”
    ― Wendell Berry

  76. I keep remembering how the South lost the Civil War yet the Southern white supremacists remained powerful.

    I've a few more thoughts on the how of this over on my own blog. But the question remains, where's the end game here? How do we get out of this mess?

  77. Excellent post. I love that you acknowledge Venture's civility and both the truth as well as the fallacious thinking in his post. Beyond that you have done an absolutely splendid job of explaining why it would be the death of our democracy as we know it if President Obama allowed the House of Representatives to use their power of the purse to veto whatever legislation they don't like.

  78. An AMAZING post...

    I have many friends who look at the current and are confused, laying blame squarely on both sides or even applauding The House for "doing what we sent them there to do" while the site the latest tailor-made poll around "majority opinion" on ACA. I'm sure paying taxes doesn't poll well either but paying them are (arguably less so) law and something that we must do.

    My wife is currently studying at U.Chicago Law and constantly tells me how the Federalists and progressive clubs often work together for spirited but reality based, educated debate. When I went to high school, civics was very under-stressed - when I pursued my political science degree, the department was small and meagerly funded. I think a lot of our problems stem today from a government system that assumes a rational populace that is invested and most all informed (not to be read as current on a given issue) with regard the basic purpose and operation of government.

    I don't see us rounding this corner anytime soon as anti-government sentiment increases and there is seemingly a celebration around uninformed ignorance (see Texas).

  79. Once again, Jim, clear and direct to the heart of the matter. I'd love to know what the intent of this well-planned attack on the ACA is and I'd really like to understand how so many intelligent people buy into the rhetoric.

    Thanks for your great post.

  80. Right on the money, as usual. I am a furloughed federal employee, and am on verge of having to start using my savings to pay my day-to-day bills. (And I recognize that I am luckier than many of my colleagues, who may not even have such savings.) Despite the fact that this affects me very personally, I am hoping beyond hope that the President remains strong in his resolve to not negotiate with those who are holding our country hostage - for all of the reasons you so eloquently lay out in this post.

  81. I fully support your efforts at factual statements. The use of the correct term, Affordable Health Care, instead of Obamacare, would be a great place for all of the politicians to begin healing this rift. I applaud your use of the correct term, as it validates your efforts to remain focused on the issues at hand. Thank you for your thoughtful and well written essay. I hope it goes around the world and back and lands on fertile ground!

  82. Yup, effectively the House GOP is staging a coup.

  83. Thank you, Mr. Wright. You speak as the realist, the strategist at the end of the day.... so much like my family members in the military whom I so respect.

    Conservatism is all about conserving what works in our political system -- not hijacking and destroying that system. There are other names for that, and we shall not lessen your point by getting into THOSE names.

    Many will hate what you have written. I pray many more will see the cold reality of truth and pay heed.

    1. Many will hate what you have written

      You don't know the half of it. You should see my hate mail.

    2. I believe it! Carry on.

    3. Just curious about your neighbors, Jim. Are they aware that you're a flame-throwin' liberal? Do they still talk to you even with that? I know that back home in Louisiana, if you don't toe the party line you're basically drummed out of the community... I'd think Alaska would be a bit more individualistic than that ("eh, he's crazy, but so what"), but ...

    4. I only appear to be a flame-throwing liberal because the republican party has gone over the edge of the world. At the moment there's the party of bat-shit insanity ... and everybody else. I'm in the everybody else category.

      But to answer your question, when I go out I wear a fake Duck Dynasty beard and an NRA ball cap and practice my Michele Bachmann crazy eyes.

  84. I aaustralian and so your legal system confuses me a bit. So i also want to know how you get out of it? The thing with religious fanatics is they don't tend to back down. Obama CAN'T for the reasons you outlined, nor should he. But what next? Is there no emergency law that can be invoked to stop a minority holding the country hostage.

  85. I know for myself I have stopped referring to those in congress as democrats and republicans, and have come to find myself just calling them politicians. Every one of them are sooo very worried about angering/alienating the special interests that financed their latest election runs, that they have all forgotten who actually elected them and who they are supposed to be representing, i.e. the public.
    It is very refreshing to see exemplary analytical and logical thought being shared, rather than the typical blame game partisanship that has permeated so much of society. The partisanship has reached a point where people need to not necessarily look at what party the candidates are affiliated with, but rather whether or not the candidate is going to work for the interests of their constituency, or for the interests of who has or will give the most money to their party.
    I could rant forever on the current state of our political climate, but that is not the reason for this comment. Just giving you a big thank you for your clarity in thinking and for looking at the situation in it's entirety while calling those out who are not.

  86. I applaud you for trying to maintain a reasonable tone and an interest somewhat removed from the fray. I mostly agree with your points but you are absolutely incorrect on one of them to wit:

    "Just as changing the Senate rules to allow for secret holds instead of public filibuster is daily abused by a fanatical and cowardly minority on both sides of the aisle."

    There is absolutely no factual basis for you to portray the use of the hold in the US Senate as being used by both sides or that there are "fanatical and cowardly" factions on both sides of the aisle because there are not. The fact is that the abuse of the "hold" privilege is entirely the province of extremist right wing Republican Senators who have used that tool as well as all others at their disposal to conduct a campaign of obstructionism against the Obama administration unlike any other in our history in scope or frequency. There is no "fanatical and cowardly" faction among the elected Democrats in Congress in either house. I would challenge you to identify even one elected Democratic member of the House or Senate who is "fanatical" at all. And no, being a liberal is not being a fanatic. The most liberal or left wing member of Congress from the Democratic Party doesn't compare in any way at all to the literally loony tea party members of the House and Senate who make wildly false claims daily misleading their followers and the public about all kinds of things ranging from the new healthcare reform law to climate change, to enforcing environmental and health regulations or even the funding of public education. There just isn't even a remotely reasonable comparison to what the extremists of the Republican Party do with the hold to anything any Democrat has ever done in the Senate in the past 10 years. You should rewrite that because it just is not true and there's absolutely no evidence to support the statement.

    1. That's because there's no need for senate democrats to use the secret hold right now, they're mostly united and in the majority. Let their fortunes change and see how long they abstain.

  87. I am teaching a high school debate class this year, and you can imagine the arguing that this recent drama in Congress has caused in the class. I am instructing all my students to read this article before the next class, as you have so clearly cut to the chase of the entire issue. Maybe we can now get back to ripping apart each speech's fallacies!

    1. This is usually where I start getting hatemail that includes a liberal sprinkling of the word "indoctrination."

  88. Thank you. Well thought out and well written.


  89. This is my take. This is a big law. It is a big change. It is a fundamental switch on how America does business. The democratics pushed it through with then had a slim majority... without one vote representing the minority. This is not how business should be done and has not been how business is done in America. The Democrats begin this shutdown when they passed the ACA without working harder to make it a bi-partisan effort.. and should not be surprised at the Republicans representing their districts- in the effort to do all they can to disempower this law. ... and defunding is an age old tradition on how to make flaccid laws that have been passed that are out of favor... because it is simply easier not to fund something than to do the work to repeal it. It has happened time and time again in our history (probably could say every budget cycle)... there are many many things that are allowed by law and simply are not funded, diminished in their funding etc by Congress each year. No surprises. This shutdown is a decision to go to the mattresses by the President ... in an ALL OR NOTHING effort to avoid having to work to make something that should have been bi-partisan in nature to go into effect. It is a bad law, the economics of it have not been properly worked out and I hope that the Republicans continue to take their stand. They are willing to fund everything else... so it really is the Democratic decision to keep this crazy going...

    1. Yes, they should work to defund it if they can. But one (1) man, John Boehner, is responsible for the shutdown because he refuses to read the Senate version of the continuing resolution out onto the House floor (where it would pass). The continuing resolution is *already* a compromise between Democrats and Republicans and in fact gives Republicans almost everything they want. So who's refusing to compromise, again?

  90. Jim,

    I only came across your blog today. Obviously I can't claim to have a good understanding of your perspective from such a short view. And I've only read about half of the comments here. None the less, I feel compelled to comment.

    1. I completely agree with everything you said.

    2. *All* of us need to think about what we have done to cause this situation. Why all of us? Because we, together, are the people who elected the people who are doing this. (And if we continue to elect the same people--which seems likely as every poll I've seen indicates a majority of people like what *their* representatives are doing--then we are going to get the same result. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.")

    3. I suggest we each take responsibility when we disagree with someone else. Our first reaction should be to understand the other person's perspective well enough to explain it to that person and have him (or her) say "yes, you have understood me completely and correctly." And once each of us can do this we should demand this of our representatives, too.

  91. I believe you are using the term Democratic Republic, where you should be using Constitutional Republic

  92. The Golden Freedom, which the magnates defended with every bit of chicanery and power they commanded, was the freedom of the few to oppress the many... ~ James A. Michener's, Poland
    In the novel Poland, Michener describes how the "incredible liberum veto, by which one man in a Seym (parliament) of hundreds could negate and prorogue the entire work of the Seym by merely crying 'I oppose!' was a major cause of Poland's disappearance from the map of Europe".

    This is the preciese tactic adopted by the 300 Republicans. They seek nothing less than a transformation of the Democratic Republic into an Oligarchy. We already have a Government which caters to much to the whims and whimpers of the Ultra Rich.

    Such a base power grab by the Republicans will result in the Michele Bachmann's of the US being able to cry I Oppose and shutting down the Congress.

  93. I do not know if links are permitted in the comment section but I found this commentary by Fareed Zakaria (CNN) to powerfully explain why this situation is intolerable and can not be allowed to stand. It really sums up what people living in a democracy should expect from their leaders.


  94. In case anyone doesn't know what Jim is talking about when he mentions the Hyde amendment and its history: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/03/hyde-amendment-abortion-gop-women?CMP=ema explains it very well.

    Yes, it's The Guardian. It's a shame we have to get our news from The Guardian, BBC, and Al Jazeera, but that's where we are. Again, Jim, many thanks.

  95. I guess you could describe me as a liberal, if you felt the need to put me in SOME kind of box. That being said; I would like to stand you to a drink, sir. The ability to comment on political matters in a well reasoned manner, as you have done here, seems to have become extremely rare and I am very glad when I see it peek out of the shadows now and again.

  96. Thank you, Jim! Excellent lesson in Constitutional Law.

    If you ever make your way down (over?) here to Pittsburgh, PA, there's a pub called the Sharp Edge. It features good food & beer. 50 imported drafts, particularly Belgian ales. It would be an honor and a privilege to treat you to the best the Edge has to offer!

  97. Jim, I wanted to point you to this excellent analysis of why the Tea Partiers do what they do. It occurs to me, belatedly, that I should read the preceding umpty-ump posts to make sure I'm not the fifth person to do so, but hey--my apologies if this is redundant.

    This piece posits that Tea Party organizers (not the rank and file) are not crazy, irrational, out of touch, stupid, or anything else; instead, they know exactly what they want and are working toward their goals with clear-eyed, single-minded determination. They descend, philosophically, from the plantation owners of the Old South, and that world--the world of privilege for the white, wealthy few, and disenfranchisement for everyone else--is the world they are trying to achieve and maintain.

    Here's the link:


    Thanks for your blog--I enjoy it!

    Leslie Lacy

  98. The larger issue here is that this whole thing is about conflict between the House Of Representatives and The Office Of The President Of The United States.
    This fight must not be allowed to alter the constitutional intent of the founders.

    The Republicans are not skilled at projecting unintended consequences. If they succeed in blockading the Office Of The President, this will come back to bite some Republican POTUS in the ass somewhere down the line.

    THAT is why Jim is correct, this must NOT be allowed to happen. It is tampering with the Constitution.

  99. Who exactly decides what will be closed and who will be furloughed in a situation like this? I see way too many on the "right" blaming President Obama for the closures. Isn't it an individual agency decision?


    1. Each agency decides, but ultimately, all the agency heads report to the President.

      But why are they complaining? This is what they want.

    2. The law (the 1870 Anti-Deficiency Act) is pretty clear about what will be closed and who will be furloughed. If people die if it's closed, it doesn't close. If people die (or federal property gets destroyed) if an employee is furloughed, the employee isn't furloughed, he just has to work unpaid until budgetary authorization is gained. Everything else *must* be closed. Everyone else *must* be furloughed. That's the law. There are some margins where there's room for interpretation, but by and large the law says *everything* must be closed, except for a few necessary things, and lays out fines and even *jail* for any supervisor who breaks the law.

  100. Excellent post.

    The icing?
    "Write you congressman or take it up with Jesus"


  101. Prepare for a lot more comments. I am seeing this reposted all over the place. You have articulated what a lot of very frustrated and frightened people are feeling.


  102. I've been thinking about this for a while: this is how republics die. The representative or conciliar institutions become corrupted and then the executive steps as a strong man.

  103. Exactly. Spot on. Everything you said is the Truth.
    And anyone who doesn't agree with every succinctly chosen word in this post should NOT be allowed to comment! Well Done!
    Because really, is there even the remote chance that anyone else would have a valid point of differing opinion? (I'm kidding, of course I know there isn't!)

  104. Oh my god thank you for saying this truth - fabulous

  105. Jim,

    First I am not impressed that you are a retired NAVY CWO. Thank you for your service. I am a retired Master Chief (28 yrs.19677-1995). What does that have to do with the price of race in China. Those two titles we both have does NOT make us any smarter than the IHOP waitress or a Walmart gretter.

    Second go back and read the Federalist papers. We are not a democratic republic/representative republic ie a 'republic". We are a "representative democracy". We are NOT a republic NOW, but we were one when the Constitution was written. BUT, at the time it was written, states decided who could vote and ONLY white males with property could vote. Over two hundred years the 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments added to the Constitution changed us from a republic to a 'representative democracy" If you can't get that right how can I take anything else you say serious. Can you tell me what at least (4) of those amendments are without looking them up. Probably can't.

    Thirdly, here is "actually" how Obamacare was passed. "The Senate began work on its own proposals while the House was still working on the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Instead, the Senate took up H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax breaks for service members.[88] As the United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House,[89] the Senate took up this bill since it was first passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill was then used as the Senate's vehicle for their healthcare reform proposal, completely revising the content of the bill.[90] The bill as amended would ultimately incorporate elements of proposals that were reported favorably by the Senate Health and Finance committees" The whole story is in an unbiased Wikipedia reference. Quite legal but highly unethical. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obamacare.

    Fourthly, does it bother you at all that Congress passes laws and ONLY congress can change that law unless changed by the Supreme Court. Obama does not have the authority to suspend the the business mandate under Obamacare OR grant waivers to unions, companies, Obama donor owned companies. If a republican President did that you'd be one of the first to scream for impeachment. He broke the law !!!!

    Fifthly NOT one Republican Rep/Senator voted for Obamacare marking the FIRST time a MAJOR piece of social legislature(Medicare-Medicaid-SNAP-SSA-SSI-SSDI, etc) did not garner at least 10-30 Republican votes. In every PEW poll, 50-60% of Americans oppose Obamacare. PEW is considered the premier NON election polling company. Any poll that has a newspaper and/or TV network paying for it is useless as the questions are written to derive a wanted outcome and the sample is too small.

    Sixthly, we had had sixteen gov't shutdowns between 1995-2006 and (5) during Jimmy Carters and we survived.

    Seventhly, I can see from your posters that none have any grasp of what the fight is over. Let me educate them as a holder of a B.S. in Economics. The FEDS take in 200 BILLION in revenue monthly whether the gov't shuts down or not. That money pays EVERY entitlement program required by statutory law with 20 BILLION left over. NO ONE will miss a paycheck if the government stays shut. The deficit actually DECREASES every day we stay shut. I guarantee you 95% of your posters can not explain the difference between the national debt and the deficit. The fight is over discretionary income. Learn it, live it.

    Lastly, you sir DON"T have the BALLS to print this. It shows to your sycophant followers that you the Emperor have no clothes and is not very were versed in the US History or US Goverment.

    1. you sir DON"T have the BALLS to print this.

      What's next? You gonna double dog dare me? Looks like you're wrong. But that does seem to be your thing, doesn't it?

  106. Great analysis. And I agree in principle that the Pres CANNOT give in. I also wonder if you can comment on the tactics being employed to make the shutdown more visable, like evicting the long term residents of Lake Mead, and shutting down the Cliff House Restaurant in SF? These locations as with many many others are pretty self maintained, and don't require intervention to operate. You would think that other less visible but more hands on locations would be closed first, but they weren't. It's like there was a list of sites to close based on media attention and impact. Which side benefits from those stories? For me, it makes me think that a smaller form government might well be the answer since the big boys can't seem to play nice.

  107. "If allowed to become precedent, our government will permanently cease to function in any effective manner" - really? The government ceased to function a very long time ago.
    You are correct though, the R is clearly in the wrong in this situation. They need to lick their wounds and move on. Although I may happen to agree with them, this is NOT the correct way to go about changing things.

  108. Simply put, and well put. Thank you.

  109. Excellent. Thank you.

  110. Thanks for helping me to understand the concept of a democratic republic. It's a bit hairy, isn't it? Beyond that, I agree with pretty much all that you said.


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