Doesn’t like much like a “deal” to me…

Normally, I never see the Sunday morning political talk shows. I have other activities I deem more important at that time of the week: sleeping, making coffee, eating breakfast, and getting ready to go to Mass.

But I got up a little early this morning, and had a few minutes, and was burning with curiosity about this “deal” that was supposedly nearing on the debt insanity in Washington.

First thing I saw was Mitch McConnell. I heard him say some standard partisan “Thank God for us Republicans” rhetoric about how far we’d come since April, when the White House simply wanted the debt ceiling raised with no spending cuts.

So he patted himself on the back for that for a moment — apparently in a bid to pull the Tea crazies along, tell them that even if they don’t get the moon the way they want, they’ve gotten a lot, etc.

Then he briefly described the direction in which negotiators were working. The only part that jumped out at me was, “no job-killing tax increases.”

A moment for translation. We of the UnParty just go ahead and say “tax cuts” or “tax increases,” because they hold no deep-seated emotional baggage for us. They are just options, tools, things you might do or not do. To Democrats and Republicans, these things have profound religious significance, and they have ritual words they have to say along with them. For instance, to Democrats there are no such things as mere “tax cuts;” there are only “tax cuts for the rich,” or, if they are inclined to used what they consider to be curse words, “Bush tax cuts.” For Republicans, there are no secular, matter-of-fact references to be made to the expedient of raising taxes. They must say something like “job-killing tax increases.” You must forgive them. They have to do the verbal equivalent of making a face and spitting on the ground on such occasions. They would explode if they didn’t get it out.

Anyway, modifiers aside, I was just hoping he was lying, or misunderstood. Because if that is really what is being discussed, it’s rather disgusting from an UnParty perspective.

Here’s the thing, folks: No sensible person wants to do either — cut spending drastically, or raise taxes — at a moment when the economy seems to be sliding backwards. But we do need to tame the deficit at some point, and there is a gun at our heads to make us do something about it now: Raising the debt ceiling won’t be enough to preserve the nation’s (and South Carolina’s) credit rating. The ratings agencies have to see progress on the deficit. So we need a nice, neutral, everybody-gives-something deal to do that.

But it’s not much of a deal if the Republicans — who hold the House, and therefore bear some responsibility toward the nation rather than the Tea Party — aren’t bringing anything to the table.

I saw a silly movie the other night, “Couples Retreat.” There’s a seen in it in which a guy drops his trousers. Vince Vaughn, not looking, says something like, “Is his junk out?” When the people around him confirm the fact, he adds, “NOW it’s a party!”

I’ve been trying not to watch this stuff myself, in spite of the morbid fascination. But when somebody tells me that both spending cuts and tax increases are hanging out there, I’m going to say, “NOW it’s a deal!”

66 thoughts on “Doesn’t like much like a “deal” to me…

  1. tired old man

    As I just reminded my wife, who is very irritated at this contrived crisis and its looming financial impact, this is being deliberately cultivated as next year’s politically defining issue.

    Pace yourself, I told her. It’s not a 40 yard dash. This is a marathon.

    Coincidentally, there is no small degree of silence from the state Republican Party over the obvious desertion of its five US reps and two US senators to the Tea Party. Quite the antithesis to the B section headline in The State, “Is GOP set to go rogue?”

    That story about next year’s presidential primary contained an unsettling observation about moderate and independent voters from Warren Tompkins that “the middle is not nearly as big as it used to be.”

    Well, the middle has my vote. The middle is where you govern, where you grow, where you attain the stability of consensus. The extremes currently are where you campaign from 365/24/7 to the targeted detriment of all who do not share your toxic ideology.

    Last thought. Remember Mark Sanford is ideologically pure in terms of his voting/political record. Some tea party people may well regard his Appalachia moment as paid in full. After all, one of their national leaders is a dead-beat dad who not only refused to pay child support but also insisted on public policies that undermined Medicaid, which assuredly was providing health care benefits for his deserted offspring.

    We are enterin a world where ideology trumps morality and common sense. As the cheerleader would crow, “You betcha!”

  2. Doug Ross

    Here’s the true story from Moody’s on the debt ceiling.

    The key points:

    1) August 2nd isn’t really the deadline because they expect the government can move money around for several days to keep debt payments going

    2) Neither plan from Democrats or Republicans will prevent the downgrade because neither plan addresses the longterm financial standing of the government

    This is where the whole idea of “compromise” is stupid. Picking one of two bad options isn’t compromise. Same thing happened with Obamacare. Instead of doing the right thing, we ended up with a laundry list of items to satisfy both sides.

    The correct option that will instill confidence in Moody’s is cut, cap, and balance. Cut deep, cap spending for the future, and implement a balanced budget amendment. That’s the way you prove you are serious about being fiscally sound. Deficit spending doesn’t inspire confidence.

  3. Doug Ross

    @Tired old man

    Isn’t the government we have today that of one created by consensus and compromise? Is that what we want more of? It’s like the argument against term limits – “I hate what the government does but I don’t want to change any of the players who are responsible for creating the mess”.

    The Tea Party reflects a growing segment of the population that feels government has gone too far in its breadth and depth. Every single aspect of life is now is taxed, regulated, and monitored – and usually by multiple levels of government.

    Government is too complex, too inefficient, too corrupt, and full of self-serving, morally bankrupt characters (like Reid and Boehner).

    Enough is enough. Let the default happen and pay for the sins of the past few decades.

  4. bud

    Brad, you’re way behind on this. Tax cuts are off the table completely. The Dems have caved totally on that. And still, still the Republicans won’t sign on to a deal. At this point the best option for the Dems and the nation is to simply say no in no uncertain terms and issue that 2 trillion dollar platinum coin. Everyone would squawk but it’s far better to do that than be held hostage any longer by a complete bunch of lunatics.

  5. bud

    As for Moody’s, who gave them the power to hold the nation’s economy hostage? They can issue whatever credit rating they see fit but frankly it will become a moot point to millions of unemployed if they don’t have a job. Let’s get real here. What the country needs is jobs. Let’s build some roads and bridges to nowhere. Pay people to dig ditches and pay other people to fill in the ditches. Whatever it takes lets do and end this economic calamity. Then we can worry about the debt.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    CNN had the former editor of the Financial Times on, and she said that the MSM is afraid to be seen as liberal [gasp], so they bend over backwards too far to the right, and have not called this as it is–pretty much caused and perpetuated by the Republicans. The real story is the jobless and sputtering recovery, but that doesn’t have the deadline thrill this story has.

    Krugman, who I know Brad distrusts, but who was proven more accurate than any other pundit in a peer-reviewed study from Mark’s alma mater, continues to be unhappy with Obama, because Obama opens the negotiations by meeting the GOP halfway, which just serves to move the ball to the 25 yard line for the GOP! Zeno had nothing on the rabid ultra-right wingers who’d rather prove a point than save our economy!

  7. Doug Ross

    And let’s not forget that Obama created the Bowles-Simpson commission to come up with a bipartisan plan which was delivered MONTHS AGO yet was D.O.A. because Obama didn’t accept it.

    That plan was tough on everybody but achieved the objective. Obama failed to lead from the front on it and that’s why we’re where we are today. He has yet to demonstrate true leadership on any issue — he’s more of a cheerleader/hector on the sidelines trying to avoid doing anything that would involve making a clear, principled, specific decision. He was given a mandate in 2008 to deliver on “Change We Can Believe In” — he has failed. The odds of him being a one term President getter better every day.

  8. Michael Rodgers

    1) The TEA Party has made clear that no amount of spending cuts, no matter how large, would ever be enough to get them to accept any amount of tax increases, no matter how small.

    2) The House Republicans, led by Speaker Boehner, despite controlling only the House and neither the Senate nor the Presidency, tried on Friday to solve this crisis with a partisan plan.

    3) The Senate has begun actual bipartisan negotiations on the debt limit crisis, finally, here in the weekend before the crisis actually occurs. Look for Sen. DeMint to filibuster, destroying all chances for resolution.

    4) The “Grand Bargain” negotiations were always doomed because President Obama demanded tax increases to go along with spending cuts. Here’s how that played: to independents, President Obama was being very reasonable and forthright; to Democrats, he was doing well but giving away too much; to Republicans, he was affecting reasonability while purposefully failing to hear them repeatedly say, “no tax increases.”

    4) This economic crisis is also a constitutional crisis. The TEA Party wants President Obama to prioritize spending and spend only on the items they feel are the most important. Basically, they want him to invent a line item veto power out of thin air and give them control of the pen.

  9. Brad

    BUD: I’m not behind the times. As of Friday, NOTHING was on the table. We had the House and the Senate each running off engaging in self-abuse, so to speak, passing legislation that could never become law, so we started the weekend with zero, zip, nada. And yet we had to have SOME kind of a deal, which means that something that was not on the table — probably lots of things that were not on the table — would have to jump onto the table right quick. This is one of those situations in which “conventional wisdom” doesn’t mean much, because what is likely to happen changes rapidly. When everything is off the table, and you have to reach agreement anyway, everything is on the table.

    KATHRYN: I don’t “distrust” Krugman. I dislike reading anything he writes, because he is obnoxious, and does everything he can to add to the mutually hateful rhetoric of partisan politics today. And he was not shown by that study to be more “accurate,” it was shown that he was among the group of people whose statements about the future more likely bore resemblance to what happened. Which still seems like one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard of measuring, since that’s not what journalism (including opinion journalism) is about. News is about what HAS happened. Opinion is about what SHOULD happen. Only indiscreet sports writers try to predict what WILL happen. And you know what? If Krugman called the Dow closing numbers 24 hours in advance without fail for the rest of his life, I still wouldn’t read him. Because the problem is his attitude toward people with whom he disagrees. He is SO obnoxiously partisan, he so despises anyone who disagrees with him, that he writes like one of those hyped-up 20-somethings who work at party HQ, cranking out stuff to make the faithful angry so that they’ll give more money.

    His cameo in “Get Him to the Greek,” however, was mildly amusing.

    DOUG: That’s crazy talk. You and I and everyone on this blog and our families and the entire world (aside from maybe some hunter-gatherers here and there who are not yet plugged into the world economy) are supposed to suffer through a crash because of some “sins” perceived by you, and committed by other people? Really?

    Oh, and I didn’t notice anybody embracing Bowles-Simpson. It caught hell from left and right. Although maybe I missed it when Boehner, or perhaps those solons of the “SC5,” said during the last few weeks, “Why don’t we try the Bowles-Simpson approach?” Why do you single out Obama?

  10. bud

    We need more people like Krugman who understand how our economy works and what we need to do to make it better. He’s not an obnoxious partisan at all. He’s a pragmatist who understands that the Democratic party has caved in too often to a bunch of foolish, misguided idiots who know absolutely nothing. He’s one of the few pundits who actually comes across as a calm, reasonable force in American politics. Sorry Brad, I just don’t see it. You even compared him to Ann Coulter a while back. Now that just assinine.

    And besides even if he was partisan (something I don’t find to be the worst sin in the world. In fact the President should be a bit more partisan) if he’s right on an issue and demonstrates what we need to do shouldn’t we heed his advice?

  11. Doug T

    Sunday morning is my favorite time to watch TV. The political talk shows, CBS’s Sunday Morning, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, WIS’s Newswatch,CNN’s Reliable Sources.

    My clicker gets a work out.

    I would attempt to comment on the deficit thing, but I’m burned out on it. Just watching McCain and Durbin talk past each other this morning was the last straw.

  12. Steven Davis

    “Why do you single out Obama?”

    Isn’t he supposed to be playing the leader in all this? He’s walking around right now willing to agree with anything. The man couldn’t lead a one man meeting.

  13. Doug Ross


    Because it was Obama who set up the commission. Why did he waste everybody’s time if he wasn’t going to accept the results of all that research and discussion? It was HIS commission.

    As for the crash, I’ll believe it when I see it. And the crash is going to come no matter what they do as long as we believe the government spending more money than it takes in combined with growing the government more and more (don’t pretend it hasn’t)… it’s a recipe for disaster that has been cooking for decades.

    You can pay now or you can pay more later. I vote for taking the hit now especially if it results in all the career politicians responsible for creating the environment being booted out of office in disgrace.

  14. Doug Ross

    And I thought TARP was the solution to all the problems? The economy is not much better now — in fact the government revised DOWNWARD the previously claimed growth from last quarter. Funny how they never revise it upward… give the phony good news first, hope things get better, and then quietly announce that things were actually worse. Any publicly traded company that pulled those tricks would be finding their stock dropping through the floor. That’s what’s happening to the U.S. government. You can only cook the books so long.

  15. Nick Nielsen

    @Doug: Cut, cap, and balance? Absolute stupidity, and gross hypocrisy on the part of the Republicans who controlled Congress for the first six years of the century. Where was their outrage about the debt and deficit spending then?

    Yes, we need to cut, but if we aren’t going to raise taxes, we need to cut everything. Start by eliminating the following cabinet-level departments:
    Homeland Security. Move the functions of Homeland Security back under Treasury, Transportation and Commerce, and Defense, where they belong. Kill the TSA; it’s nothing but security theater anyway.
    Education. The only education function that belongs at the federal level is the only one not currently being performed: the setting and enforcement of national education standards.
    Veterans Affairs. VA does not, and never did, need cabinet status. It only needed to get funded appropriately. Cabinet status hasn’t helped.

    Next, an across-the-board cut of equal percentage (I keep hearing 40%) to all departments and agencies. This includes Defense, Justice, State, FAA, NASA, the FDA, EPA, FCC, everybody. To paraphrase Nikki, everybody needs to feel the pain.

    Shazam! The budget is balanced. Now, all we have to do is eliminate the debt…

  16. bud

    Any publicly traded company that pulled those tricks would be finding their stock dropping through the floor.

    Big companies pull those tricks all the time. Just take a look at how ENRON operated for years before it all caught up with them. Doug you just need to get over this fascination with free market capitalism. It’s just not the savior you make it out to be. It has it’s place. But so does government. Either can be too big and too greedy. They’re both run by failable human beings. Greed and luck play a large roll in interactions in the market. The best and fairest outcomes don’t always come to fruition. There are just too many spillovers like pollution that just aren’t take into account. And the invisible hand just can’t control it all.

  17. Steven Davis

    @Nick – Add Foreign Aid to your list. Why are we spending billions overseas to 3rd world countries when parts of our country are starting to look like 3rd world countries?

    We can’t afford to build schools in this country, but we sure can in Iraq and Afghanistan… among other places.

  18. Steven Davis

    One more place we can cut spending, not only is Biden getting protection, he’s profiting from it:

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service is charged with protecting Joe Biden and his family, but the agency is also charged $2,200 a month to rent a cottage next to the vice president’s Delaware home.

    Records show Biden has collected more than $13,000 since April on the cottage in Greenville, a wealthy Wilmington suburb, and is eligible for up to $66,000 before the contract expires in 2013.

    Asked if the Secret Service typically pays rent to those it protects, agency spokesman Edwin Donovan told The Washington Times, “It’s a rental property so we pay rent there.”

    Citizens Against Government Waste’s Leslie Paige says the agency should do all it can to protect Biden, but one would think the vice president who shepherded the deficit committee would think twice before charging the agency.

  19. bud

    “The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.”

    As I said, it’s not complicated. Yet many people in the news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.
    -Paul Krugman

    It’s hard to find an analysis of a situation in the pundocracy that is correct. But this is 100% spot on. The media has been a total failure in this whole mess. The Democrats have been spineless. But the real villians are those on the radical, extremist right. Paul Krugman is my hero.

  20. Doug Ross

    It’s funny how Brad blames Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford for poor leadership in South Carolina when the governor’s position has no power yet absolves Obama from blame in an actual situation where the most powerful leader in the world stands around as the “Life Coach in Chief”

  21. Doug Ross


    I would take your plan in a heartbeat. It won’t happen though. Even a 4% cut would be considered Armageddon to those people who think the government needs to be a part of every fiber of our existence.

  22. Brad

    Doug, please stop twisting what I say. I did a quick lookup of an overview of Simpson-Bowles to confirm my memory, and the only reference I found there to Obama’s reaction was him defending it from criticism on all sides, asking people to please give it a chance.

    I didn’t go into that because I considered my source — Wikipedia — to be an inadequate basis for any substantial commentary (and no, I was not going to spend two or three hours of my very busy weekend just so I could answer your comment in essay form). But it tentatively confirmed my memory that the thing was DOA because NOBODY would go for it. But rather than asserting that, I simply asked why you put the blame on Obama, when it was rejected by all of the same people who are the problem in the present situation, and then some.

    I did not “absolve” him of blame; I merely asked why you didn’t want to blame anyone else.

    And I’m not even going to try to explain to you why it’s important who the governor is in SC, because I don’t think you’re wired to understand me. It’s not that you’re not smart enough; you just have a different kind of smarts. You have absorbed part the lesson that I have hammered into all readers for 20 years — that the governor in SC lacks normal gubernatorial power. But you misunderstand how politics works. You don’t seem to see the value in the fact that everything the governor does or says has the potential to be front-page, lede-story news, and what kind of power to bind and loose that leads to. The governor doesn’t have the power to make things happen with a wave of the hand, but CAN determine to a great extent what will be discussed, what will be on the front burner of our state. You fail to see the value in that.

    Back to Obama — if he were the way the people who hate him portray him, he could just force his commission’s plans upon the world, were he so inclined. You know, because they think he’s Hitler or something. But he doesn’t. And the fact that he is NOT so forceful or Machiavellian or whatever really makes the left (see Bud) mad at him, because he’s not partisan enough, doesn’t play hardball enough. And apparently, it bothers you, too.

  23. Doug Ross


    You do realize what happened to Enron and everyone involved when their unethical behavior was exposed? The stock was hammered, people went to jail (or died while waiting to go to trial).

    The free market works… government doesn’t.

  24. Brad

    What nonsense. What is that, the mantra of some religion? “The free market works… government doesn’t.” Neither statement is universally true. Nor is the opposite of either statement universally true.

    What on Earth could “the free market works” mean? Works to do what? The free market is not a tool. It’s not an implement to be wielded in trying to accomplish a task. It is what it is, and does what it does, and is no man’s servant.

    Government, by contrast, is a set of arrangements for accomplishing something or a set of somethings. And sometimes it works and other times does not.

    I get tired of people who disparage religion in general as a root of evil. But I sympathize with them a bit when I see quasi-religious, over-simplistic statements such as “The free market works… government doesn’t.”

  25. Brad

    Speaking of which, it’s interesting to me that, when they were steeling themselves for an extraordinary display of South Carolina-style obstinance, the SC5 paused for a prayer.

    They must have been praying to some God I do not know, because the one I know wouldn’t have participated in their actions. But in any case, it underlined the status of this ideology of theirs as a sort of religion…

  26. bud

    Seriously Doug you can do better than simply saying the people of Enron went to jail. Thousands of people were caused enormous harm by the greed of the Enron executives. People lost their life savings. The energy users of California were robbed by these scoundrels. The damage done by Enron is a necessary and sufficient condition to say that the market DOES NOT work. Any other reading of the Enron debacle is nonsense.

  27. Doug Ross


    Are you paid what you are worth or what your employer thinks you will accept based on your production? Is your house worth what you think it is or what someone will pay for it? Has the newspaper industry declined because of market forces or just plain old bad luck?

    Let me revise my statement: “Absent government intervention, the free market works.”

    The free market is like gravity. It is the collective force of trillions of transactions made by millions of consumers. Government is the ballast that holds the free market down because it attempts to coerce the free market to meet the objectives of a very small number of people with self-serving agendas.

  28. Lynn T

    @ brad
    “They must have been praying to some God I do not know, because the one I know wouldn’t have participated in their actions…”

    It was probably the C Street god. Tom Hanks should make a movie about casting out that particular evil demon and its supporting legions.

  29. Doug Ross


    In the case of Enron, people lost their life savings for a variety of reasons: greed (thinking that they could make millions on a company that didn’t actually produce anything), stupidity (not doing any due diligence on the financials), laziness (not paying attention).

    The free market worked and the fact that Enron collapsed is because the free market always works in the long run. Enron was a house of cards held together by greed and deception. It’s a lot like Social Security which will have its day of reckoning in our lifetimes.

  30. Mark Stewart

    It seems clear, to me anyway, that the highwater mark for the Tea Party has already passed.

    This may not be fully revealed for some time; but certainly we wil not be discussing “cut, cap and balance” at this time next year. “Hoist with one’s own petard” comes to mind. That’s a nicer way of summing up the current colloquialisms that may be more readily understood by the confederacy of dunces who now believe they are leading – beacause the rest of us have abdicated our responsibilities to be active participants in the political theater.

  31. Tim

    It could be construed that the Free Market worked and created government, couldn’t it? After all, we started with no government, and it evolved naturally out of that pre-government state, subject to the immutable, unchanging free market force.

  32. Steven Davis

    “Back to Obama — if he were the way the people who hate him portray him, he could just force his commission’s plans upon the world, were he so inclined. You know, because they think he’s Hitler or something.”

    Not true, because at least one here says G.W. Bush is Hitler.

  33. bud

    You missed one. Ken Lay lied his ass off to investors. And he had phony books to back up his lies.

    Here’s a better example. Remember the exploding Pintos. I owned one and fortunately I’m one of the survivors. Ford did cost/benefit analsys and concluded it was cheaper to pay off claims for the families of the incinerated than to build a safer car. Capitalism at it’s finest.

  34. tired old man

    Re Brad and Lynn re SC 5 prayer

    I am not sure what religion the SC 5 subscribe to, but I do know that the Dow Jones tithed to it last week!

    Pay back will be hell Joe Wilson, pay back will be hell.

  35. Doug Ross


    The government cannot be part of the free market because participation is not optional and failure to contribute into the coffers can result in punishment which includes incarceration.

    No part of the government is free.

  36. Doug Ross

    Here’s an excerpt from a Salon.Com columnist who describes himself as a progressive that captures my opinion of Obama and why I think he’s a one-termer:

    “To put it bluntly: every time Obama opens his mouth, what comes out is a bloodless, abstract drone. The central failure of his presidency has been one of rhetoric. In the interest of appearing reasonable, he comes across as feckless and pliant, a weak man who can’t (or won’t) speak in the urgent moral terms his historical moment demands.”

  37. Brad

    It’s kind of funny you should say that. I was just saying to my wife before dinner tonight how more impressed I am with Obama every day. Whether it’s something deadly important, such as getting Osama bin Laden, or something insanely petty, such as dealing with this madness on the Hill over the debt ceiling, he has a bearing and a calm intelligence, an unflappable leadership ability, that I find remarkable (which is why I remarked on it). Where did it come from? The man had no executive experience before being elected. He had only been a U.S. senator for about the time I’ve been at ADCO, before running. Where did this come from? He acts as though he were born to it.

    Of course, this conversation was right after I was reading the New Yorker piece about the Abbottabad raid

  38. Doug Ross

    Where has he demonstrated leadership? He offered no vision, no plan, no principles. He stood on the sidelines.

    He’s a shell of the guy who won on election night in 2008. He has no single guiding principle. He doesn’t inspire and he doesn’t perspire.

    America needs a leader in the White House. Obama isn’t. He’s Jimmy Carter.

  39. Bart

    Saul Alinsky would be proud today – of both sides of the aisle. One thing he emphasized was “compromise” in order to make strides or gains in whatever it is you want to accomplish. If you ask for 100% and have to settle for 30%, you win. You gained 30% and 30% is better than 0%. The next time, you ask for 100% again, settle for another 30%. In time, you will achieve your goal.

    Dems and Repubs gained something. Who will end up with the most gains? Admit it or not, since Obama has been in office, he has won more than he has lost. Sometimes compromise looks like a loss when it is not. With every small victory, Obama is moving this country a little further left.

    In many ways, Obama won this round. He got what he wanted most and that was to silence the debt ceiling debate until after 2012. He got a commitment for cuts in the military budget which he wanted all along. The Bush tax cuts will expire under this agreement, unless I misread the article. In truth, this is a tax increase without the necessity of actually passing one. The debt ceiling increase is immediate, cuts will take place over 10 years, giving each side time to debate and consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how much the budget cuts will actually be. The anger produced on both sides is so viral, it has created a blind spot, blocking out the reality of the situation. Obama is more than willing to suffer the slings and arrows of discontent from his side of the aisle. He expects nothing else from the other side.

    Neither side had any actual details worked out on this deal. They didn’t have time. Just like the healthcare bill, as Pelosi commented, paraphrased – “we need to pass it then find out what is in it”. Idiotic statements like hers and others by Republicans have created the lowest ratings for congress in our history. This entire charade has been nothing more than political theatre and we, the public, paid admission to watch it. If it were to be panned by critics the same way productions are on Broadway, the damn show would shut down immediately because ticket sales would be zero.

    There is no actual desire for fiscal and financial responsibility demonstrated on either side. Krugman is another so-called economic expert who spouts his opinion for his followers. Either side can produce dozens of “experts” to argue for their side with facts, figures, and other forms of fiction.

    The beast that has been created over many decades is out of control and devouring the country while we sit around, making our little commentaries on blogs like this one (no offense Brad – yours is one of the better ones), and nothing actually changes.

  40. bud

    I hate to say it but Doug’s right. Obama is just not cutting the mustard with the economic mess we’re in. I really like this guy and am willing to support him (for now) but seriously I wish he would have at least threatened to use the 14th ammendment.

  41. Doug Ross

    And if Obama is leading, who would you say is following? Do you think House or Senate Democrats would say (in private) that they were inspired by Obama’s leadership over the past couple weeks? I doubt it.

    The American public certainly hasn’t perceived him as a leader in the debt ceiling debate. Polls show Obama at the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

  42. tim

    By all accounts, Lincoln had an annoying voice, and was not considered a great orator. Most of the public couldn’t stand him for much of his presidency, and half the country revolted over his ascendancy. He was considered a one-termer, and had an election challenge by one of his own generals. He also had no executive experience. Listened to all sides before deciding. I guess he was feckless and pliant.

  43. Steven Davis

    So is Tim suggesting that Obama is the next coming of Lincoln? I doubt we’ll see an Obama Memorial in Washington anytime in the future… or not until after the Carter Memorial is completed.

  44. bud

    Tim, good points regarding Lincoln. Time will certainly tell whether Obama is a good president or not. I just get so frustrated with his inclination to always go 90% toward the GOP’s side of every issue. Maybe he has to but I don’t see the same toughness that Lincoln or FDR exhibited. Maybe he understands that the Bush tax cuts are due to expire in about 17 months and then he’ll have far more leverage. And for now he is just trying to get through this issue without economic collapse. I’m skeptical but remain a fan of Mr. Obama. I guess given his predessor, 2012 challengers, or 2008 opponent he comes across looking very good indeed.

  45. Brad

    Folks, please go read the piece about the bin Laden raid in The New Yorker. At every stage of the story — and every other version I’ve read and heard about it over the last few months — Obama behaved with a cool steadiness that is just plain weird in a guy who not only never served in the military or had anything to do with warfare, but who had no kind of executive experience. I’m talking about from the moment he took office, through the plan and critical decisions of this particular operation, through the moment he dispassionately said “We got him,” through telling us about it, and beyond. Just right, at every step.

    I don’t know where it comes from. It’s like he came springing forth from nowhere, full-formed. Very strange.

    Bud mentions “90 percent.” Well, to me about 90 percent of being president is being commander in chief, and representing the nation in dealing with other nations in other contexts as well.

    That’s one of many ways in which Bud and I look at things differently.

    Of course, I’m not entirely happy with him as CinC. I don’t like the little game he plays with withdrawal deadlines for Afghanistan. Giving the enemy (which is what you do when you tell the world) ANY sort of indication that you intend to begin withdrawing at any particular time is a mistake of strategic proportion. It’s like playing chess and telling your opponent, “Five moves from now I’m going to sacrifice my queen, so plan accordingly.” Only worse. Any time you commit forces and put lives on the line, the enemy should believe you are there until they are vanquished, even if it takes a century.

    Yes, I know he does it because he has to pull his base along with him, not to mention the fact that there’s all that “let’s get out” noise on the right now. But it’s still wrong — when he does it, when Bush did it, any time.

    And that’s a huge thing. But I know the president, whoever he is at a given moment, leads within a political framework, and has to take that context into account in his actions and statements. I’m not sure it’s possible at this point in our history to do it any other way.

    And I certainly can’t fault the way he’s taken the battle to the enemy in his hiding holes in Pakistan.

  46. Steven Davis

    Since he’s such a wonderful military strategist, is it too late for him to enlist?

    It’s not difficult to make decisions when you have the best of the best military minds laying out a plan and asking if you agree.

    One on one, I doubt Obama could fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

  47. bud

    Any time you commit forces and put lives on the line, the enemy should believe you are there until they are vanquished, even if it takes a century.

    Even if that means bankrupting the nation. Even if that means the slaughter of 10,000 more American soldiers. Even if that means the disruption of the next 5 generations of people we’re trying to save. What Brad is engaging in is something he’s often deplored in other areas. He doesn’t consider consequences at all but rather sticks to an ideological talking point NO MATTER WHAT. Just check out Brad’s talking points about the Tea Party or certain liberal groups.

    Of course in this case it’s especially outrageous since it’s such complete and utter nonsense. There’s no particular reason not to announce to the world we’re withdrawing our troops on a date certain. If that results in the enemy delaying any action for a while great. In the end the we may save some lives.

  48. tim

    I get your point, if you plan to stay there forever. That is the neocon perspective. The neocon’s want permanent airbases in Afghanistan, and probably Iraq. We have more or less permanent presence in Saudi from Gulf 1. We won’t talk about Viet Nam, but we are still in South Korea. We still have bases in Japan, Germany, and Italy. We are only beginning to divest ourselves of the holdings from the Spanish American War. Philippines, not Gitmo,

    However, if you plan to leave, you have to have a deadline. Otherwise, how exactly do you get out? Sneak a couple hundred thousand folks out behind the bushes?

  49. Doug Ross

    Mission creep can also be the result of poor intelligence, poor planning, poor execution, or having a Defense Department with a different hidden objective than the one stated when the decision to go in was made.

  50. tim

    Since you bring up Bin Laden, he specifically targeted America in 9/11 for our permanent presence in Saudi after Gulf 1. As stated, you are presenting the neo-conservative world view of the American Empire. It’s what Cheney and Wolfowitz hoped for in Iraq.

  51. bud

    If we had finished the job there, we wouldn’t be dealing with piracy off the coast there now, which thrives in a chaotic situation. And 9/11 might not have happened, since bin Laden in part was acting on the impression he had gained that day in Somalia — inflict a few casualties, and America will back down.

    Now you’re just speculating. It’s a billion times more likely that we wouldn’t have had 9-11 if we hadn’t been so deeply involved in the middle east to begin with. As for the pirates. Seriously they shouldn’t be such a threat. With a trillion dollar/year military it’s almost laughable to be stuck with such a problem.

  52. Brad

    In the post-1945 world, we need more forward bases, not fewer. And we need them in the right places, rather than Germany and Japan. We’ve kept those for 65 years; they’ve served their purpose. Our focus, and our defense needs, have changed.

    You want an “exit strategy” for a limited, tactical operation. For instance, you don’t fly 120 miles into Pakistan to get bin Laden without not only a way out, but a rehearsed way out, with redundant components (such as the four Chinooks, two near the scene and two hanging back at the border if needed).

    But if you’re making a strategic move such as going into Iraq or Afghanistan, if you want an “exit strategy” before you go in, don’t go in. There is no way you can predict all the variables and envision exactly what your exit will be like, or when it should occur. I was quite clear about that back at the time when we went into Iraq; I never pretended the situation was otherwise. As I wrote then, Bush was crossing the Rubicon, and taking us with him.

    I’d say the same about Somalia back in 1993. There was a lot of Powellian talk about exit strategies then, and “mission creep.” To me, “mission creep” is an epithet that criticizes what is actually a virtue in a military force — reacting in real time to what you find on the ground. We went in to feed people. We found that warlords and their militias were preventing the food from getting to people. So the mission became to eliminate the warlords as an obstacle, so that we could accomplish the original mission. We were doing that — the operation on Oct. 3, 1993 in Mogadishu was actually SUCCESSFUL — when we precipitously pulled out after we lost those 18 men.

    Lesson: Don’t send a military force in to feed people unless you’re willing to use that force against those using famine as a weapon.

    If we had finished the job there, we wouldn’t be dealing with piracy off the coast there now, which thrives in a chaotic situation. And 9/11 might not have happened, since bin Laden in part was acting on the impression he had gained that day in Somalia — inflict a few casualties, and America will back down.

  53. tim

    Not sure many American ships are being threatened, after Obama okayed the kill shot to the 2 pirates a while back.

  54. bud

    Brad, I understand that you don’t like to deal in facts, especially when evaluating foreign policy. It’s very difficult to prove a particular action had a positive affect so it’s probably just easier to speculate, throw out what is considered “common sense” or “consensus” or to use some other justification to continue to argue that foreign policy intervention, especially by the military, is a good thing. We all have our “gut” instincts. We all occassionally go down the path of pondering the what ifs and could haves in life. But what continues to puzzle me about the war supporters is how they can so completely ignore hard facts. It’s an unbelievable spectacle to point out the costs of war and then to simply have all that ignored. How can that be? I guess it’s just easier to just pretend the facts favor a pre-conceived policy position. It’s human nature to retreat to the comfortable ground of hard core belief. Heck why should we ever include facts in any kind of analysis. It’s just so much easier to just believe. Maybe I’ll start my Santa list tonight. If I believe really hard enough maybe it will come to pass.

  55. Brad

    Well, Tim, that was helpful. By the way, did you know the guys who carried out that mission were also on the one to get bin Laden? At least one was at Mogadishu in 1993, and received the Silver Star for that action. It’s like we’ve gone from the million-man Army of WWII to the point where a handful of supersoldiers handle all of the big jobs. Not entirely true, but it seems that way…

    Oh, and I don’t know what the neocons think. I’m not sure what neocons are, beyond the original definition that they were liberals who felt deserted by the Democrats in the 70s, or something like that. In the past decade, they have been strongly identified with strategic thinking that is close to my own (I’m certainly not attuned to the post-Vietnam left, or to the isolationist elements of the right).

    I just know what I think.

  56. Brad

    And Bud, I don’t know what hard facts you think I’m ignoring. But you certainly ignore a great deal of what I say.

    For instance, you speak of “retreating to the comfortable ground of hard core belief.” First, there is nothing comfortable about the positions I take. Second, my views have evolved over the course of decades of observation. What I observe is constantly modifying my views, but not in ways that are likely to please you. And of course, as time goes by, the changes in my views are less likely to be noticeable to most observers. That’s because the main body of my views is based on so much input over the years that it’s difficult for this new fact or that new fact to alter the core noticeably; the changes are more likely to come in the form of refinements on the main structure.

    As for the “costs of war,” if you refer to the human cost, I suspect I may be as conscious as you. You can’t understand how a person could be mindful of such things and still conclude that military action is warranted under certain circumstances. Just as I can’t understand how otherwise moral, empathetic people can sanction, even advocate for, abortion on demand. These are barriers to communication, both arising from our respective conclusions that there are other considerations that can override the natural human revulsion to such actions.

    And if you refer to monetary cost, well, we have another barrier. The conduct of relations with other nations — a broad spectrum that includes military action — is to me the overriding, most critical purpose of a national government. So naturally, I’m going to view it, as a spending priority, somewhat differently from the way you do.

  57. tim

    I didn’t claim you were a neocon, just that you were echoing their positions re: American Empire. Not exactly sure what I was helpful about (I guess for bringing up the kill shot?), but always glad to be of service.

  58. Steven Davis

    I hear it’s Bush’s fault. What’s his fault, I don’t know… but I know he’s to blame.

  59. Brad

    I was just saying that decisive action in that case might, as you say, have a chilling effect on piracy in the area. Or at least on their killing Americans out of hand.

    They still seem to be pretty active, though. They took a UAE oil tanker a couple of weeks ago, and South Africa went on high piracy alert six days ago…

    As for “American Empire” — such words do not accurately reflect either my views nor, as I understand them, those of the neocons. Not by a long shot. They may have been accurate in describing Teddy Roosevelt’s views, though. But that was awhile back.

    Even nations with a history of empire and aggressive current ambitions for greater global influence — China comes to mind — can’t accurately be described as pursuing anything that the word “empire” would fit. To my knowledge, anyway.

  60. bud

    Just as I can’t understand how otherwise moral, empathetic people can sanction, even advocate for, abortion on demand. These are barriers to communication,…

    If you think for one second that I’ve ever advocated for abortion you’re sadly mistaken. Most pro-choice people simply advocate for the right for the woman to make that heart-wrenching decision and not the government. I’m sure I speak for the vast majority of pro-choice folks who wish the whole issue would just go away. Sadly many of the pro-life people are fighting the provision in the healthcare bill that requires insurance companies to pay 100% for birth control. The conservative position on birth control and abortion will lead to more abortions than would the liberal position. And that’s why I’m a liberal.

  61. Brad

    I just don’t understand how anyone could be a “liberal,” or a “conservative,” as those terms are defined today. Not to the point of being able to say, “I’m a…” this or that. If you THINK about issues, that’s impossible. And Bud, I’m sure you disagree with some things that are liberal doctrine today.

    As for advocating for abortion on demand, well of course you do. Abortion on demand is, unfortunately, legal. You want it to remain so. You advocate for it to remain so. You did it just a day or two ago in your “manifesto.” You used the euphemisms of the pro-choice position, but that’s what you said: “And the rights of ones body should be absolute neither restricting end of life, health and pregancy decisions by government. Those decisions should be left entirely to individuals.”

    Trying to deny, to me or to yourself, that that is what you’re advocating is rationalization and/or sophistry.

  62. bud

    This is why this issue is such a hopeless thing to discuss. The pro-life people just don’t get it. Words like “advocating” and “rationalizaion” are just not valid in this debate. It frames the whole issue in a completely incorrect fashion. That’s why more than anything I just want the whole issue to just go away. The law of the land is what it is and we all just need to move on.

  63. Phillip

    Brad, you were wondering where Obama gets this sense of cool, in terms of having not had military or even executive-per-se experience. There’s a recent biography of his mother out now, which I have not read but have read some articles about, and I’d guess that he owes the lion’s share of those qualities to her, and the upbringing she gave him.

  64. Doug Ross

    Jon Stewart eviscerated Obama on last nights Daily Show. He showed many clips of Obama saying over the past two weeks that tax increases would have to be part of any deal. Obama folded on that one. Then he showed a press conference from December where Obama was asked why he hadn’t used raising the debt ceiling as a concession from the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts. Obama said then that he didn’t expect Republicans to use that as a bargaining chip in the budgest reduction talks later on. Oooops…

    Obama talks a good game but he is an awful leader with no strongly held principles. No guts, no glory.

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