NYT headline: "Bachmann Says Migraines Won’t Be a Problem if She’s Elected President"
How does one know when the Murdochs are lying? When the prince launches into a risible defense of the risible "standards that our company aspires to," and the Great Khan thunders a torrent of shame about having "broken our trust with our readers."
Then again, he didn't say "viewers," did he.
Let's review. Here's where they stand, those straight-talkin', straight-shootin' congressional Republicans.
Having created a massive national debt by springing for domestic goodies and foreign carnage on what was to become Tim Geithner's credit card, they now feign a chronic case of victimitis and have politically disinherited themselves from any fiscal responsibility, as well as having fiscally disinherited themselves from any political responsibility. It's a twofer. And a beautiful day in their neighborhood.
Mitch McConnell's suggestion: In order to happily lift a debt ceiling that his party has angrily insisted should not be lifted, they will of course vote against any such lifting -- on three separate occasions -- which will of course guarantee the lifts; all of which means they will angrily denounce the lifted ceilings which they happily voted against, which is to say, for.
Nonetheless these men and women of the modern Republican Party are fiercely proud and ruthlessly honest; they will brook no effete game-playing and suffer no disingenuous horsefeathers of the usual Washington sort; they spawn, as acknowledged, from the straight-shootin' John Wayne breed; their women have biscuits ready before the sergeant-at-arms cock crows and the men are real men and their sheep are nervous.
In what some of the quiveringly unplucky will characteristically see as manly overreach, some Republicans are also demanding -- yes, demanding -- that, brace yourself, a congressional commission be formed, which at some vague point would peep some vague advice about unquestionably needed spending cuts. And if some Senate Republicans still object that all this ruggedness is not rugged enough, well, the latest parliamentary advance in straightforward legerdemain says they could attach the whole deceitful ball of goo to a congressional resolution that uncompromisingly frowns on deficit spending, the likes of which they just approved; that is, disapproved, in their procedural approval.
Meanwhile, House Republicans, starring in this year's second release of 'True Grist,' have decided to out-demagogue themselves by championing a transcendentally awesome cut, cap and balance bill, which, it scarcely need mentioning, will cut nothing, cap nothing, and balance nothing. Or, think Val Kilmer in 'Tombstone,' flipping with dazzle that little tin cup in place of a real pistol.
So there you have it: Where they stand, those straight-talkin', straight-shootin' congressional Republicans -- hurling themselves into the Shakespearean black depths of pseudoconservatives' undiscovered country, from which no traveller returns.
Gov. Rick Perry tells the Des Moines Register: "I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do."
Yet in the quadrennial aftermath of God's apparent inability to spare Mike Huckabee from his post-Iowa doom, one would think the appeal of divine grandiosity would have finally played itself out among the GOP's social conservatives. In the modern era they Truly Believed that Barry Goldwater would stage a miraculous upset against Lyndon Johnson, since, with God providing his inspiration, Barry had identified and exposed much if not all of America's moral corruption. Later, God blessed the equally improbable Pat Robertson, yet the latter went down with the same decisive thud as Huckabee. Presently we have Michele Bachmann claiming God's Personal support, which, if He really is whispering same to Rick Perry, makes the Supreme Being something of a mischievous double-crosser.
Myself, if an S.B. there be, I doubt that He loses any celestial sleep over Iowa caucuses or a New Hampshire primary or party registration numbers in Pennsylvania. Such are merely the obscure bipedal activities taking place on a speck of dust on the outer edge of a remote galaxy in which God seems to have grown rather disinterested. He once parted our seas and inflicted plagues and practiced all manner of wrathful correction to human backsliding, but no more. From Him, now, it's nothing but Mum's the Word. My guess is that we have simply gone to the Devil.
Last week the wretched jackass Eric Cantor said of his party's preposterous Balanced Budget Amendment: "We want to be able to go home to the people who elected us and show them that we are not going to allow this kind of spending to continue."
Were I a House Democrat I would go to the floor and agree to vote for Cantor's amendment, but only if he first agreed to vote for my recently proposed Anti-Dumbfuck Demagogue Amendment. This serious legislation and evidently necessary Constitutional add-on would not criminalize demagoguery -- for that would exterminate politics -- yet it would ban its extreme practice by conspicuously wretched jackasses.
There was a time when the American electorate and even the United States Congress were perspicacious enough to recognize, condemn and effectively catapault the most wretched of political jackasses from the public arena; one thinks, most prominently, of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, left to finish off his censured butt with a final, liver-blowing jug of hooch -- just about the only friend he had left. Today? The American electorate indeed recognizes these jackasses, but only episodically, such as in 2008, and woefully temporarily, in view of 2010.
I realize that such an amendment -- i.e., the A.D.D. amendment -- would essentially obliterate our two-party system of governance: absent the Constitutional right to practice political jackassery in its most perniciously ruinous incarnations, whole platoons of congressional Republicanism would surrender and retire overnight, literally speechless. I also realize that once we arrive at the execrable point of having to outlaw the most egregious stupidity of political jackassery merely because we ourselves aren't smart enough to vote against it, then all is lost. In fact, my argument is but a benign counterpart to Hermann Goering's, who, shortly before his last pill, much like Joe's last bottle, rather logically argued against unfettered democratic rule, if such rule meant national suicide. There remains however some legitimate gist of my reductio ad absurdum, notwithstanding Herr Hermann.
So how about it? you jackasses. Are you willing to risk your reactionary wretchedness against even more reactionary outrage? You may not be willing, but you're sure forcing the issue.
It is instructive that as Politico implicitly blasts the GOP for pausing during these desperate debt-crisis hours merely to grovel to its Hay Market rioting crowd ...
[A]t this late hour, the House [balanced-budget] bill represents a major political escalation ... [a]nd going into 2012, congressional Republicans seem focused on driving their conservative base ...
... E.J. Dionne pauses to incite President Obama to fight, fight, fight for a public works program and multistate bailout to rescue at-risk "teachers, police, firefighters, librarians and other public servants" ...
Excuse me, Mr. President, but if you believe in this policy, why not propose it and fight for it?
Although he rejects it, Dionne courteously provides Obama's answer, from a July 11 press conference: "I’m operating within some political constraints here, because whatever I do has to go through the House of Representatives."
Though only a guess, mine is that if Obama weren't otherwise occupied with delivering the nation from the acute idiocy of nihilistic congressional Republicans, he might indeed make some noise -- however useless -- about saving librarians. But, being the executive fussbudget that he is, Obama first wants to pull us from the abysmal precipice.
My apologies upfront: this brings to mind a historical analogy.
During the late 1930s, as Franklin Roosevelt witnessed the escalating and obviously inescapable and quite possibly existential threat of global fascism, his mind turned to military assistance abroad and a buildup at home. How to accomplish it was the question. Eleanor argued privately to her husband that the vast numbers of small American manufacturers who had suffered for a decade were the first, natural enlistments in such a war-materiel program. They could retool and flourish from defense contracts; this would enact a kind of democratization of government attention and a reflowering of small industry. The president, though, was brutally fixated on the urgent objective of survival; just get the buildup done, which could be done more efficiently through major industry, not only because of its preexisting scope and scale, but because of the internal politics of least resistance.
Presidents are forever pulled by exalted forces agitating on behalf of longer-term actions of supreme righteousness, just as the immediate crisis -- and there always is one -- demands shorter-term actions of supreme pragmatism. On occasion this means nothing short of national survival; this in turn complicates considerably the debate over righteousness vs. pragmatism.
Perhaps I've stacked the deck a bit, but I'll leave it to you to determine which, in reality, is superior.
On CNN's "State of the Union," OMB director Jack Lew said there is no Plan B -- that, ahem, reason shall prevail. Sen. Lindsey Graham wanted a creative solution to the debt crisis, such as a "win-win." Professional campaigner Rudy Giuliani saw "no harm" in same-sex marriage, though he remains against it.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," OMB director Jack Lew said there is no Plan B -- that, ahem, reason shall prevail. Sen. Jim DeMint said Republicans "are certainly willing to compromise" and he "hope[s] the president won't take us through" a default. "Business-friendly" Gov. John Kasich still doesn't understand that business needs customers; Honeywell Corp.'s chairman reluctantly conceded that consumer demand has a little something to do with the well-being of business.
On ABC's "This Week," OMB director Jack Lew said there is no Plan B -- that, ahem, reason shall prevail. Sen. Jon Kyl reminded us of the president's "absolute obsession with raising taxes"; he cited a Rasmussen invention in support of his anti-tax opinion, but said he hadn't heard of any actual polling on the subject. He brought a chart.
Last spring, before Democrat Kathy Hochul won NY's traditionally red, 26th congressional district, the virtuous folks at Tea Party Express emailed diatribe after tirade after screed about their suspicion that the Democratic Party had planted a fake Tea Partying candidate in the race, to subtract from the Republican candidate's votes.
These weeping Tea Partiers were Expressly livid. They were spitting killer-rabbit pellets. They were fuming, incensed, outraged and utterly beside themselves that even godless Democrats could stoop so dishonorably low as to contaminate the electorate's clear choices.
This weekend the chaste TPE has treated my inbox with this update, regarding the Wisconsin recall campaigns (capitalization original, though inexplicable):
Republicans ... put six "fake" Democrats on the ballot to force these RECALL primaries. The results were fantastic - some of these fake Democrats actually came within single digits of the Democrat candidates running to unseat the Republicans.
Integrity, always integrity.
"[I]f Washington operates as usual and can’t get anything done," said, yesterday, an exasperated President Obama, "let’s at least avert Armageddon." His eschatological reference was to Mitch McConnell's most recent tweaking of Republicans' End Times of malgovernance, in which we'd postpone, but not cancel, our fiery fiscal whirlpool of doom and damnation.
So much for Washington operating "as usual."
"As usual" used to mean filibusters of perfectly sensible and inevitable legislation; it used to mean cowering in ignorant isolationism as megalomaniacal fascism gobbled up Europe and Southeast Asia; it used to mean protective tariffs for obscene plutocrats tied to incensed denunciations of state interference in "free-contract" labor for 10-year-olds.
"As usual" used to mean the natural growing pains of a vibrant, maturing nation; now it means the artificial backwardness of squalid demagogues and adolescent imbeciles.
In its rough but current manifestation, Sen. McConnell's Armageddon-avoidance will but delay the secular Rapture -- that most enchanting day when whole and united armies of American voters finally comprehend that the AntiChrist of reigning depravity is threesomely designated not by "666," but "G.O.P." There shall be no Final Battle to be televised, but we will stumble along in the "usual" Washington politics of Republicans blaming Democrats for Republican debt.
I have suggested before the unwelcome analogy of the inexorably explosive sectional crisis of the 1850s, and I see no good reason to downgrade it. McConnell's desperate stab in the bleakness will only defer a mighty collision between two irreconcilable worldviews: one malignant, one benign -- yet the deadly malignancy of the contemporary GOP's cannot be fully appreciated by the electorate until it is fully exposed.
Recently, in the Washington Post, economist Mark Zandi -- hardly a socialist radical of Keynesian overkill -- modestly surveyed what ideological Republicans will have wrought in their preferred, apocalyptic scheme of "fiscal discipline":
Government employees could be furloughed, unemployed workers might not receive full benefits, and even Social Security recipients and veterans could come up short ... Turmoil in the financial markets, along with draconian cuts in government spending, would sink the fragile economic recovery overnight ... [T]ax revenue would suffer and demands on government support programs would increase, worsening the nation’s fiscal situation.
A dreadful, nearly unimaginable vision. And an unendurable reality. Within 48 hours, fierce swarms of the furloughed, of the unemployed, of the blown-away safety-net victims would be ravaging the district and Washington offices of the foul and filthy Cantors and Gohmerts and Bachmanns. At the end of those 48 hours would come an unembellished debt-ceiling vote. And in roughly 15 months would come a House-cleaning and Senate-scrub that would forever realign national politics.
No more Washington "as usual."
I certainly understand why President Obama would opt to avert a crisis, however inevitable. Presidents don't ordinarily choose unprecedented chaos, however temporary. And in 2012 he'll win politically, however circumscribed. But the pressing crisis, the underlying chaos and the destined civil war shall remain, untamed, in the wings.
Remember when Reagan was in office and we all missed Nixon? Remember when George W. was in office and we all missed Reagan?
Well, I already miss Cenk Uygur.
For reasons unfathomable to all but MSNBC's sadistic executives (and, I imagine, Cenk Uygur), we now have Rev. Al screeching at us, which follows, by an hour, an hour of Dylan Ratigan hurling monotonal soliloquies at his guests, who sit comically puzzled and astoundingly patient in search of a question. These human broadcasting insults now represent two blissful reading hours in which I rarely even toy with the thought of what once was not unreasonably called "watching the news and public affairs."
I just gave Rev. Al another chance, a brief but predictable one. His guest was some U.S. House, Tea Partying-caucus clown by the name of Michael Burgess, from north Texas, who soon discovered that if he merely bellowed in response to Al's bellowing, he'd easily survive the "interview." This he did with remarkably helpful assistance from the reverend, who insisted on countering Burgess' crapola by bellowing polling statistics that had nothing to do with Burgess' crap. Perhaps you suffered through it, too, and know what I'm saying.
At least Rev. Al's enhanced interrogation techniques betrayed Dick Cheney's verbal assurances of effectiveness. In the hands of a skilled interviewer, the aformentioned clown would have choked on his own inconsistencies; Al, though, was serving up his own, so they balanced out. I sat there, for 13 tormented minutes, I believe it was, wondering how anyone could fail to win a debate with a Tea Partier. At the end of the segment, I was an educated man.
Who, or what, is next for the Uygur/Al time slot? Gilbert Gottfried? Is this hour just cursed, or what?
Anyway, it was pleasant to write a thought about something other than debt ceilings.
This morning President Obama pleaded with the GOP to forego party, ideological rigidity, political-point scoring and posturing. So naturally Republican House leaders have raced to the microphones to express disingenuous faith in upcoming legislation related to what Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett has variously called (here and here and here ) "idiotic," "dimwitted," "insane," "stupid," "shameful," "dopey," "dumb," "absurd," "irresponsible," "contemptible," "silly," "juvenile," "ignorant" and "immature."
We are going to bring a bill forward next week otherwise known as the 'Cut, Cap and Balance' bill to provide a balanced approach so we can demonstrate that we are getting things under control, that the people who put us here can gain some confidence that we are going to begin to live like they do around their kitchen tables and their businesses.
Thus slitheringly spoke the satanic Eric Cantor.
Observes The Hill:
The plan would authorize a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling after Congress passes a balanced-budget amendment.
Which is a political impossibility.
So, added Rep. Jo Bonner:
We’re once again trying to provide the leadership that the American people sent us here to provide.
It seems Rome can be unbuilt in a day ... or so.
The NY Times' Timothy Egan draws a discreet but ethically indistinguishable line between the GOP's 'Anarchists' and 'Tasseled Loafers,' essentially portraying the party as one of a) passionate bombthrowers and b) cold-blooded weapons suppliers.
[T]he nihilistic spirit of those [1999 W.T.O.-assaulting Seattle anarchists], whose goal was to bring chaos to a city of passive refinements, seems to have found a home: in the Republican Party.
Conversely -- or correspondingly:
The loafers may want to retreat to their wine cellars until this thing blows over.... After Aug. 2, the default deadline, the smell will go bad, quickly.
The stench of miasmic rot will drift before then, of course. But only one other thing seems certain, notwithstanding the debt crisis' denouement: The GOP brand is shattering to ruins.
By Election Day, 2012, it'll be nothing but rubble, which the Loafers can thereafter merely bounce a bit. The party's inexorable starting point, though? A jettisoning of the Tea Party element -- that which is bringing the GOP to its disgraceful and final ruin.
Which gives cause to wonder: Why not simply eject the Anarchists now? I realize there's nothing "simple" about it, but a party defrocking ceremony is coming, one way or another, one day or another, and for once the Loafers might wish to get ahead of events.
The highest-ranking GOP leadership, in both the House and Senate, smell and rightly envision nothing but DOOM with Tea Partiers at the helm, and heaving them overboard would cost not one iota of their mutual love, since there isn't any. Hence the leadership could, from here on out, declare Eric Cantor, Rand Paul & Co. political persona non grata, mobilize its moderates (they're there; quivering, yes, but there, praying for a lifeline), and cut a deficit deal with the White House and congressional Democrats.
The leadership has exhausted its options. Sure, it can postpone the timing of the party's formalized fracture until post-apocalyptic-election, when the task of brand-rebuilding will have been rendered exponentially more arduous. Or it can do so now; it can proclaim no truck with Tea Party extremists, anarchists and nihilists, and thereby re-identify with the vast majority of Americans who self-identify as moderate-to-conservative -- and not as bombthrowers.
Yet such a dramatic maneuver would demand brains and guts. So I guess we, along with the GOP leadership, will just wait for the rubble.
Now this, from Dana Milbank, is puzzling:
[T]he truth is, if [Michele Bachmann] succeeds in blocking a debt-limit increase, the resulting economic collapse will improve her 2012 prospects — just as she hoped.
In a momentary lapse I assumed Milbank only meant, in that bookend conclusion, that her nomination prospects would improve. As the GOP crazies up more and more by the minute, such a conclusion could be reasonably argued. Yet, although my reading comprehension may deplorably flag from time to time, I soon recalled that Milbank's opening line suggested an altogether larger conclusion:
When Michele Bachmann was asked during a television interview last week whether she thought higher unemployment would increase her chances of winning the presidency, she gave an unexpectedly candid reply: "I hope so" [my emphasis].
So yes, Milbank did intend to opine that yet another and even more spectacular financial apocalypse would benefit Bachmann -- all the way. And that mystifies. Not even Mitch McConnell believes that a materialized debt crisis would produce for his party any political effect but an extraordinarily devastating one.
And therein lies the lone and extraordinarily magnificent promise of a realized crisis.
Some readers, I suspect, believe that my musings on this site are appallingly political by virtue of an excessively pragmatic singularity; that is, that certain desired outcomes expressed here -- such as a ravaging, horrifying, waste-laying debt crisis, which nonetheless would come with the practical upside of more politically sophisticated gains -- coldly neglect in the process the very real harm done to very real human lives. Yet in that cold, political pragmatism so commonly disparaged by idealistic progressives there inheres the highest of principle: Vacant a sudden and overwhelming annihilation of contemporary pseudoconservatism, its seething abominations will lay permanent waste to traditional American life and values.
In short, the inhuman malignancy of pseudoconservatism, a la Bachmann & Friends, will continue metasticizing until it is powerfully excised. Ignited by the evidently necessary pain of a materialized default crisis, such an excision we can perform about now, or we can decline this serendipitous gift and once again wait to remedially counterstrike. When it may be too late.
While some see only profane political pragmatism in this articulated position -- that is, an almost unthinkably huge cost for mere political benefit -- it is, in reality, an "eat our peas" pursuit of the highest political ideals.
After pondering Republicans' heap of political, economic and historical contradictions, Nicholas Kristof concludes by observing:
A final puzzle concerns not just the Republican Party but us as a nation. For all their flaws, Congressional Republicans have been stunningly successful in framing the national debate. Instead of discussing a jobs program to deal with the worst downturn in 70 years, we’re debating spending cuts — and most voters say in polls that they’re against raising the debt ceiling.
Observationally true, excepting the first three words: the only puzzle is that Kristof finds this puzzling.
Exasperating? You bet. Infuriating? Absolutely. Despairing? No doubt. But deciphering Republicans' "stunningly successful" framing is hardly an intellectual feat of the Unified Theory variety.
When one leads little children, it's easy to mislead. One could tell them the sky was always hideously periwinkle when Democrats held the House, and they'd believe it. One could tell them that a demigod by the name of Ronald Reagan co-reigns in a place called heaven, and they'd believe it. One could tell them that there once was a big bad leader called Roosevelt, who single-handedly prolonged a bigger and badder nightmare on their street called the Great Depression, and they'd believe it.
Similarly, one can easily tell America's adult children that spending not more but far less will somehow magically create jobs, and that lifting the debt ceiling means greater spending in the future -- and they'll believe it.
It's the Republican House that has acted as the principal misleader throughout this journey to Armageddon, which would come as no surprise to the Founders. The 'People's House,' they understood, would largely function as both the fetid embodiment of popular ignorance and as an opportunistic driver of passionate prejudices. A rather easy call for Madison, Hamilton et al, since directly elected congressmen would not only be closest to, but actually standing in, the democratic sewer. But that was OK, since on the other hand the removed and remotely installed senate and president would oversee the children's childlike reps. All would balance out.
So, touches of demagoguery, doses of imbecility, and perhaps on occasion whole servings of demotic madness were what the Founders feared and anticipated, when it came to the House. But, because they themselves dwelled in a thoughtful and rather aristocratic and what's come to be known as a "deferential" world of politics, they scarcely anticipated the likes of an Eric Cantor, a Michele Bachmann, a Steve King, a Louie Gohmert, and so on. Rarely did it occur to them that we could someday become so pathologically mad.
Yet we must remember that the Founders thought, wrote, philosophized and created in the Age of Reason and Enlightenment. We nearly had it all -- the ineradicable scourge of slavery, to be sure, yet also some of the globe's best minds, an evolutionary political system, abundant natural resources, isolated national security, the whole exceptionalism thing -- "But in the end," to quote Joe Pesci, "we fucked it all up."
I doubt forever, but we're sure working at it.
I'm baffled. Perhaps it's a step, a tiny step, but it's only a step:
Commenting separately on McConnell’s plan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid described it as a step in the right direction.
Once again the GOP would win the politics of a self-created crisis while a Democratic president and congressional Democrats are left with the burden of unwelcome policy.
"I bet there won’t be a single Republican vote to raise the debt ceiling at the end of the day," [McConnell] told conservative commentator Laura Ingraham in a radio interview Wednesday morning.
Well, that's their choice. But it's a choice that requires playing out -- an indisputable, uncontestable, on-the-record confirmation of the GOP's wholesale indifference to the American and global economies.
Which leaves the above, generally favorable Democratic assessment as ... baffling.
The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson:
Republicans, to be sure, have long waged a war on government, but only now has it become an apocalyptic and total war. At its root, I suspect, is the fear and loathing that rank-and-file right-wingers feel toward what their government, and their nation, is inexorably becoming: multiracial, multicultural, cosmopolitan and now headed by a president who personifies those qualities.... [F]or the right, the anxiety our economy understandably evokes is augmented by the politics of racial resentment and the fury that the country is no longer only theirs. That’s not a country whose government they want to pay for — and if the apocalypse befalls us, they seem to have concluded, so much the better.
Meyerson penned that analysis in answer to his own challenge that "we have to seek explanations for their radicalism that go beyond those of economic philosophy." And as tough, I imagine, that Meyerson believed he was being, he fell far short of some uglier truths.
Today's far right on Capitol Hill are but crypto-skinheads in Brooks Brothers suits. They are the authoritarian personalities of Adorno's darkest dreams and bleakest research. They are -- and this is not meant as hyperbolic or sensationalistic -- soft fascists of violent, Old South sentimentalities who detest even the notion of any American community but their own. Just as their antebellum species was, they are profoundly ignorant, intentionally isolated, recklessly bombastic and creepily unAmerican. At worst, their concept of freedom is their absolute freedom, and your enslavement; at best, it's whatever you suffer with a properly stiff upper lip, and their utter indifference to it.
I should say their racism is a conspicuous given, although doubtless they would have chivalrously attempted the total destruction of a President Hillary Clinton as well. It's no demographic accident that the GOP's hardest hardcore base is white, male, aging, and prodigiously stupid. These are the irremedial crackers who giddily unfurl Rebel flags on their junkheaps and happily subsidize the grotesquely lucrative NRA and believe the U.S. Postal Service is V.I. Lenin's most diabolic revenge -- a revenge that inexpensively sends the Social Security checks every month to their fat greedy fingers and updates them on the latest that Medicare paid on their grease-induced bypass surgery.
They are aggressively patriotic, but, as Adorno uncovered, theirs is an eccentric brand of patriotism, in that it's steeped in the anarchic. They relish chaos, insomuch as chaos tends to a manly survival of the fittest, guns blazing and all that. They are crude cartoons of their parodied selves.
Yes, Mr. Meyerson, they are indeed experiencing a "fury that the country is no longer only theirs." But it's a fury that requires a more vigorous evaluation than the Washington Post will ever permit you.
You know that any House bill whose "chief sponsor" is Iowa's screwy Steve King and whose co-sponsors are Texas' even loopier Louie Gohmert and Minnesota's magnificently megalomaniacal Michele Bachmann is a must read for maintaining one's nosediving confidence in American democracy, but this one, HR 2496, rests in a vapidly demagogic foxhole all its own. From The Hill:
[It] seeks to ensure that the federal government prioritizes payments to members of the Armed Forces in the event the U.S. reaches the debt limit.
You know ... that debt limit that is no problem; just a silly Obamian demand for more socialist spending. However, Michele & Friends do wish to carve out for pre-protection their own preferred socialism.
One would think that even Tea Partiers would now finally "get" how boundlessly nimrodded their congressional pols are, but in that event one's thinking would only be clouded by Reason. There is no limit to their lunacy.
Rather than grasping for a dry, debt-ceiling increase or some fussy federal budget, how about a "sense of Congress" resolution that declares its signers as prototypical banana republicans; acknowledges they have swiftly degenerated into Buster Keaton chaos, with more zany hijinks to come; and merely authorizes the Treasury secretary to awake El Presidente each morning to inform him how much national lunch money he has for the day.
Welcome to your grandfather's grandson's Republican Party, a bifurcated collection of poltroonish managers and squalid misfits, whose upper-chamber minority leader suggests parliamentary magic tricks as a substitute for competent governance, and whose lower-chamber majority leader summarizes his party's anarchic nihilism by conceding, "Nothing can get through the House right now. Nothing."
One House member from Colorado declares that even $2.1 trillion in cuts "won’t do it for a lot of people," while another, "a veteran Florida Republican, said he couldn’t go home with $2.1 trillion in cuts." Yet another, from Texas, wouldn't you know it, courageously "implored his leadership to leave agricultural subsidies alone and cut food stamps," while the ineffably clueless Virginia Foxx, from the planet Cretin, "simply said the debt limit is Obama’s problem."
All of which leaves even Mitch McConnell's Nervous-Breakdown Compromise a trifle more than dubious, even as an eleventh-hour backstop. As the NY Times' bluntly assessed it:
McConnell’s plan would shift both substantive and political responsibility onto Mr. Obama, forcing him to take almost sole ownership of a debt-limit increase and any consequences from not doing more to address the budget deficit.
Meanwhile, Eric Cantor has let his truest, gangsterish colors fly by resorting to an infinitely seedy strain of blackmail: "We [the House and White House] both agree on entitlements. And in fact, we would both agree on what the president’s prescription for entitlement reform is, and we know what that is. So why don’t we do that?" (Hence the singular peril of an insincere negotiating position: the opposition will later swear you really meant it.)
Nevertheless the odds of a debt crisis appear substantially diminished. If nothing else, all this GOP panic reveals a modest recognition of a dire reality and who would be blamed for it. On the other hand, the odds of a dismantled GOP -- one in which a more moderate remnant survives, while a formal Tea Party is born -- appear greatly enlarged.
It pains to relate that Mitch McConnell's condition has advanced from the ethically corrupt to the psychiatrically suspect. One can on occasion cut deals with political degenerates, a Washington community which Mitch, to be sure, didn't found, but has toasted and hosted for years. Now? It seems the poor man is just bonkers.
Should the debt-limit absurdity "escalate into a full-blown crisis," the NY Times' Matt Bai chooses Obama as the political winner. I couldn't agree more:
Presidents always seem bigger and more commanding than members of Congress. Even a beaten-down president tends to be more compelling than some guy who needs to wear a lapel pin just to make sure he can ride the right elevator.... Working in Mr. Obama’s favor, too, is that he seems now to understand this power dynamic and how to use it.
Bai enumerates several reasons for Obama's political advantage -- all convincing -- but it's this last that convinced me, displayed again just yesterday, more than any others.
At his press conference, Obama presented a greater self-assurance than I had witnessed before. It helps of course that in this fight he is swinging from the superior negotiating position -- the deficit hysterics among the routinely hysterical GOP dropped clean cold with the vapors when Obama out-hystericized them with a $4 trillion figure, impossible to achieve without revenue increases -- but on Monday he radiated a confidence in himself that only grows with the job. He owned that briefing room.
Also helpful is that Obama is nudging back into campaign mode; he's a natural politician who does his best work, in terms of public relations, when he possesses pragmatic reason to appear more political -- i.e., less compromising. The activist left agitated throughout President Obama's first two years for such "perpetual campaign" behavior, even though an emphasis on intransigence would have forever stalled the actual progress achieved, which, given Obama's essentially conservative Congress, was monumental.
Additionally, and unlike the lapel-pin boys, in the debt-ceiling affair President Obama can order up a pulpit, with national coverage, from which he can preach and bellow to millions. Or, if you prefer the pugalisitc metaphor, he's got the second-rate has-beens on the ropes and he's pummeling them at will ... and their blood is a beautiful sight.