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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Jeez, it’s only your pensions. Give a banker a break

Reversing the kettling procedure in Madrid, Sept. 25, 2012

Yesterday, Madrid had massive protests over austerity measures.  Today, it’s Greece.  Will Ireland follow suit or are they just into suffering?

Time will tell but it looks like people will need to get a lot more insistent before the bankers and governmental officials get the point.  Austerity and scarcity are artificially constructed situations.  What governments haven’t had the guts to do is tell their banker gamblers to take a haircut.

And then there’s all those 401Ks that need to be appeased.  We brought that on ourselves when we listened to the gamblers and decided to join them at the global casino instead of saving most of our retirement money in nice, boring pensions.  You know, the nice boring pensions that our parents retired on and live a nice, comfy lifestyle with a paid for house and a yearly cruise to the Panama Canal?  Is that so awful??  No, it is not.  But it is certainly not what you’re going to get if the stock market takes another steep, steady dive and fails to recover before you’re old enough to retire.

Anyway, the peasants are revolting.  Go peasants!

Bank Wankers bear down on Ireland

A half dozen years ago, Ireland was the Celtic Tiger.  Remember the infamous Irish Sandwich? Corporations loved to do business in Ireland because the country had a ridiculously low corporate tax rate.  You know, that thing the “jahb creators” are always screaming about?  If we only let them pay next to nothing in taxes there would be jobs for everyone and we would all be rich beyond our wildest dreams, more prosperous than our father’s father’s father and able to support ourselves fully without any assistance from the government.

Compared to America, with its harsh and punitive corporate tax rate {{rolling eyes}}, Ireland must be heaven.  The rivers flow with milk and Jamisons, the economy flowers and ripens with boundless enthusiasm for the free market and children are all above average and women are handsome and it is bliss and, uh, what?

The International Monetary Fund has ordered the Irish government to slash dole payments, cut child benefit, and take the automatic right to a medical card away from old age pensioners.

The IMF also wants the government to introduce a hard hitting property tax as it seeks a return on its investment in Ireland.

The proposals have come from the IMF in a hard hitting directive ahead of the government’s December budget.

The IMF is currently bank rolling Ireland’s economic bail-out along with the European Union and their latest orders have been met with harsh criticism from opposition groups and trade unions.

IMF bosses, in Dublin for their regular review of the Irish economy, ordered the Government to cut high social welfare benefits to encourage people back to work.

They warned: “Dole payments are high by international standards and responsible for low exit rates from the Live Register.

“With the Irish economy to grow by just 0.5pc this year, certain welfare payments should be means-tested to avoid long-term unemployment.”

If you have any doubts about where the money men are headed here in America, look no further than the IMF asking old aged pensioners in Ireland to give up their Medicare.  It’s the IMF’s modern update of A Modest Proposal where if the old are going to die anyway, it would be decent of them to do it quickly.

I love the IMF.  It’s so full of optimism.  Like, an unemployed person in Ireland is just collecting money because the government is generous and if only the government would turn off the spigot, people would go back to work. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work when there aren’t any jobs.  I suppose they will just have to figure something out or starve.

Oh, wait, they did that back in the 1840’s.  And how did that turn out?

You know, given Ireland’s history of mistreatment from the ruling class and its negligence of the people’s incalculable suffering, you’ve got to wonder why it is that the Irish don’t grow a spine and tell the IMF to take a hike.  Depressing Ireland’s economy is likely to make the situation worse. It’s not doing the country any favors.

So, to recap: banks make a lot of stupid bets, corporations get everything they wanted, ordinary people were encouraged to invest everything they had in a party they were assured would never end and a bunch wankers in London fixed interest rates that affected loans, pensions, municipalities and mortgages all around the world.  THEN when the bankers blew it all up, they got to the front of the line to get a gigantic handout from the rest of us.  This gift was bigger than the world had ever seen.  It pretty much wiped us all out.

Now, those same idiots would like for all of us who have lost our jobs, houses, pensions and everything else to stop whining, go get some non-existent job or starve (it doesn’t really matter which as long as we keep the noise down).  In the meantime, they will sit on the gigantic wads of cash we gave them and complain that the corporate interest rates are too high and too many people want them to get off some of that mountain of cash for the pensions they were promised.

Ireland is not Greece.  Greece acted like a spoiled heiress with all of the money it borrowed.  It spent lavishly and didn’t collect taxes.  Sure, it’s not fair to take it out on average Greeks, who now are facing a collapsing public and medical infrastructure, but you can kind of see why they’re in the mess they’re in.  But Ireland has been operating by the west’s free market playbook.  It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.  The idea of bailing out out the banks and letting everyone else go under is the social welfare for the criminals who caused the problem in the first place. What Ireland needs is an infusion of good Viking women from Iceland to tell the wankers to go take a hike.

Why the ^*(% are we putting up with this s^(% from the assholes who blew up the world??  Why do we willingly starve ourselves so that the wealthy and well connected   experience no deprivation?  Why are we supposed to settle for vastly reduced wages and benefits while the people who stole our money are just sitting on it? Why is it more important to impost a rigid morality on the working person while allowing a more fungible morality for the rich? Answer me that Mr. Brooks.  We’re talking about Ireland here, a Catholic nation that doesn’t allow abortion and frowns on the types of behavior that you find irresponsible. What did the Irish do to deserve this? They let business have everything it ever wanted and this is how they are treated.  The airwaves are full of a constant stream of harsh, mean-spirited, punitive, selfish and religious propaganda that has turned us all into nations full of whip kissers.

Any politician who continues to shelter these immoral, dangerous, out of control bankers deserves to lose and that goes for the donkey party he rode in to town on as well.

I keep thinking that I can’t be surprised anymore by the way these people operate and yet, they confound me.  What will it take for us to pull the plug on the whole damn scheme?  What we need now is a hard reset.  Wipe it out.  Wipe it all out and start from scratch. We all start on a level playing field and the bankers get sent to the Cayman Islands where they can spend the rest of their lives worshipping their worthless money.

********************

If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, check out Jon Stewart’s run down of the LIBOR scandal from The Daily Show last night.  There’s no way to make this look good.

Ong namo guru dev namo (repeat)

Shame! Shame! Shame!

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi goes on trial in the court of public opinion today for allowing campus police to pepper spray at will.  To be fair, she’s not the only authority that has acquiesced to an overwhelming and disproportionate display of police force against peaceful protestors.  It’s just that in this case, helicopter parents are involved.  When it happened to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland, and Occupy Seattle it was just a bunch of dirty f%&*ing hippies.  And 84 year old women.  And Iraq War vets.  And pregnant women.  And people who were protesting while black.  And, you know, liberals.  Nobody important.

In this video, Katehi does the walk of shame between phalanxes of seated protestors.  In absolute silence.

If that doesn’t humble you, nothing will.

**************************

Spain has a change election and throws out the socialists in favor of conservatives in the hope that there will be some relief.  This is the equivalent of jumping into the fire from the frying pan.  Maybe they have a contingent of older seniors who still remember the good old days under Franco.  i don’t know.  But if I were the Democrats, I’d be worried.  Because they really screwed up after 2008 and I smell another change election coming.  So far, we’ve seen Spain and Ireland go for the more conservative option.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are both Catholic countries and feel like they deserve it.

******************************

Speaking of Catholics, it looks like the Democrats are getting worried about their base.  Obama appears to be ready to create a broad exception for religious institutions to the requirement that insurance companies provide contraception for their employees. Once again, Catholic bishops and fundamentalist groups have been pressuring him to do it.  But let’s face it, Obama went out of his way to court these people in the 2008 election.  He needed them to win.  He can’t piss them off, can he?  All they want is to deny women the right to their own consciences.  Is that *so* much to ask?  Democrats went along with it in the last election cycle when they scrubbed reproductive rights issues from their campaign web pages?  Why not do it again?  Oh, that’s right.  Women make up 51% of the population.  It looks like Democrats have finally learned to count.

And the right’s new talking point “religious liberty”, gets rolled out:

The issue resonates at the local level, as Catholic priests around the country have urged parishioners to tell federal officials why they object to the new mandate.

In a letter to the administration, the bishops’ conference said the requirement for coverage of contraceptives and sterilization was “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.”

Yes, men are entitled to religious liberty.  But not women.  I’m not sure how anyone’s religious liberty is damaged by a healthcare requirement.  People are not required to take contraception.  Or Cialis.

Democrats need us next year and can’t afford to piss us off.  I can almost hear their panic and disbelief.  “What is he doing?!  I can’t win my election if he’s going to piss off more women.  Who talked us into supporting this bozo in the first place?  Jeez, why didn’t we stick with Hillary?  At least she wasn’t afraid of neanderthal pro-lifers.”

See??  THAT’S the way you do it.  That wasn’t so hard, was it?  You explain to your voters what you value and that you will forcefully defend those values and you give them a choice.  They can vote for you or the other guy.  You do not expect your base to give up what they value in order to attract the more conservative voters from the other party.  Next year  is an economy election.  If your positions on the economy are good, your voters will have to take the whole package.

Well, I’m holding on to my vote until I see results.  BIG results.  Yes, I want them to kiss up to me.  They’d better make it good.  And forget about me ever voting for Barry.  He’s not a very good president and I’m not over the primary of 2008 where the DNC dehumanized the Clintonistas in order to dismiss our votes.  If women were smart, they’d vow to never vote for him and then stick to that vow.  I might vote for a Democrat for Congress.  But Obama?  After we’ve gotten proof of his capabilities (or lack thereof) and his absolutely disgraceful tolerance of shitty treatment of women in the White House?  Never.

Never, ever, ever.

Shadows of the Past, Reflections of the future

In his speech of 57 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower made the following prediction:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

And voile, what do we get from Rick Perry, politician from oil rich Texas?

Dwight was wrong about the negligible part (I’ll get to that in a second) but he sure nailed the stupid down to the last Texas drawl.  I have no doubt that there are millions of Glenn Beck fans who are ready to sell all they’ve got to buy their share of some underground survival shelter who feel that they will not be needing their Social Security because once the dust settles after 2012, they’ll be busily creating an earthly paradise free from us worldly suckers.  (No, I’m not talking *down* to the delusional malignant Christians who in spite of biblical admonitions are practicing numerology of an ancient Mayan, and therefore, pagan, culture.  I’m completely dismissing them as people with whom I wish to have a conversation about religion because it is pointless trying to get through to them until January 2013.)

Anyway, Perry is not only stupid, he’s wrong about Social Security.  While it’s true that you’ll never get rich on Social Security, it has worked extraordinarily well during the nearly 80 years it has been in existence.  The Ponzi scheme is the 401K system that requires workers who participate in it to tie up their money and pay steep penalties to remove it when they might spend it better on paying off their mortgages, and then sit back and watch as the biggest demographic in American history, who were promised all the gold they could eat by their investment fund managers, retires on all that trapped money.  It’s almost like when Enron was going down and all the big wigs were cashing in and the rank and file little workers were locked out of their accounts until the stock had been plundered and toppled from a nosebleed high to the dirt beneath their feet?  ( And if you really want to know how a Ponzi Scheme works, check out Josh and Chuck’s podcast How Ponzi Schemes Work at How Stuff Works.)  That’s not what we have in Social Security.  We paid into the system for decades, some lucky workers in the tail end of the baby boom paying extra, so that we would be able to recover our deferred wages when we were ready to retire.  Those funds were invested in US Treasury bonds, not some Bernie Madoff character’s initial investors, and, *we*, are creditors to the US, not the other way around.  Our Social Security trust fund does not add any debt to the deficit.  In fact, it was running a substantial surplus, which we lend to the government, presumably so we can fund states like Alabama and Montana.  So, pay up Perry.

I guess you could make Americans less dependent on Social Security so that someday, down the road, middle class people could check off a box on their income tax statement that says something like “Your pension and other retirement investments put your family at 200% over the average income for a 67 year old.  Would you like to contribute a portion of your social security benefits to another needy senior?”, and if I had the extra money, I might just do that.  But for that to happen, you’re going to have to get the tail end baby boomers back to work, contributing their revenue to the bottom line and re-establishing realistic pensions for their years of hard work.  But that’s not the Republican way, is it, Mr. Perry?

To see what the Republican party really has in store for us, read Goodbye to All That, Reflections of an Operative who left the Cult by former Republican congressional staffer, Mike Lofgren.  This post has been circulating the blogosphere for the past couple of days and if you haven’t read it yet, please do so now.  This piece might be seen as a one off curiosity, ripe for Republican scorn, if it weren’t followed by similar missives to James Fallows from other staffers that reinforce Lofgren’s confession. As we have long suspected here on The Confluence, the Republicans’ overriding goal is to undermine government and cause people to lose faith in it.  The public will be forced to turn to private institutions to take over the functions of government and then those same private companies will have us by the short hairs.  This is what anti-tax fanatic Grover Norquist refers to Starving the Beast and making government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub.  Oh, you newcomers have never heard those terms before?  They’re not new but you can look them up if you don’t believe me.  Nevermind that it doesn’t work to create jobs or reduce taxes or, even more naively, stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit (check out the 2nd hour of Virtually Speaking from last Tuesday where Jay has a conversation with a Republican)?  Have any of the chipper fiscal conservatives ever tried a one man drug discovery operation in their office park headquarters?  80% of those ventures fail according to the American Chemical Society meeting at Rutgers University in May 2011.  Starting a new company on your severance checks and borrowed money from your less than flush family members and then gambling it all on a venture that has an 80% failure rate is something people are forced into.  It’s not something they do by choice.  And when they fail, they’re going to need Social Security.

But nevermind all that.  Republicans are just spouting that entrepreneur stuff because they have to put a good spin on their policies, which until we have more data, appear to be grounded in pure, unadulterated greed and selfishness.  I’m going to give them the benefit of a doubt and assume they have a beneficent goal in mind because we can’t rule it out.  But let’s just say this theory is like evolution.  The preponderance of evidence points unambiguously to natural selection but there’s always the teensy, tiny, soupçon of a chance that it was all zapped into being in 6000 years ago by a patriarchal, capricious, vengeful and jealous God just like the Old Testament says.  Since we do not know the first cause of the creation of the universe we can ignore all that facty wacty stuff.

As I have intimated before, the Republicans are in their endgame now.  Between now and next November, they’ve got nothing to lose if they put the pedal to the metal and bully the Democrats into getting everything they ever wanted in their adolescent wet dreams.  If they succeed, they will be richly rewarded by their wealthy benefactors whether they are re-elected or not.  If they fail, well, it’s only one more 2 year election cycle where the can gum up the works.  The public will not be any wiser because if it was, it would vote the Republicans back into oblivion like they did in 1964.  It turns out it was the only way to get Medicare past these obstructionist confederates who are still saving their Dixie Cups (A couple of people just laughed and instantly aged themselves).  All that’s standing in their way is Brave Brave Brave Barack Obama.  He was not at all afraid to veto bills in nasty ways.

Oh, wait. Scratch that.

So, there’s nothing that stands between the Republican juggernaut and their goal.

Which leads me to this article in Harvard Business Review (HT Susie Madrak) about how Karl Marx might have been right afterall.  Let’s not confuse communism as being the right prescription but Marx certainly identified the illness.  Read the whole thing to understand that what Karl Marx witnessed was not unique in human history.  But here’s the thing that makes it so damn maddening for us.  As Americans, we should have been smart enough to avoid all of this misery.  Unfortunately, we are trapped in consensus reality as Marx might have described it, here are two particular features of the American landscape that trouble me greatly [comments in brackets are mine]:

Alienation. As workers were divorced from the output of their labor, Marx claimed, their sense of self-determination dwindled, alienating them from a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. How’s Marx doing on this score? I’d say quite well: even the most self-proclaimed humane modern workplaces, for all their creature comforts, are bastions of bone-crushing tedium and soul-sucking mediocrity, filled with dreary meetings, dismal tasks, and pointless objectives that are well, just a little bit alienating. If sweating over the font in a PowerPoint deck for the mega-leveraged buyout of a line of designer diapers is the portrait of modern “work,” then call me — and I’d bet most of you — alienated: disengaged, demoralized, unmotivated, uninspired, and about as fulfilled as a stoic Zen Master forced to watch an endless loop of Cowboys and Aliens.

False consciousness. According to Marx, one of the most pernicious aspects of industrial age capitalism was that the proles wouldn’t even know they were being exploited — and might even celebrate the very factors behind their exploitation, [you mean like trying not to piss off the omnipotent 'job creators'?] in a kind of ideological Stockholm Syndrome that concealed and misrepresented the relations of power between classes. How’s Marx doing on this score? You tell me. I’ll merely point out: America’s largest private employer is Walmart. America’s second largest employer is McDonald’s.

One of the things I remember studying about the American Revolution was not that we were so adamantly opposed to paying a tax on stamps and tea but *why* we were so opposed to it.  If I recall correctly from one of those giant non-fiction tomes we all passed around during Christmas break several years ago, American political thinkers were particularly alarmed by the prospect of becoming just another Ireland to the British.  Just one big Plantation where the fruits of our labor would be siphoned off to some other place and we would be forced to pay a hefty price to get them back.  It would be a place where we wouldn’t really own anything of our own and be in subjection to the British and their militias forever.  Always poor, always dependent.  Always on the brink of starvation.

Could it happen here?  Sure it could.  There is nothing special about human beings who refuse to look at the misery of the past and do not guard themselves against it in the future.  In the 1840’s, many of our ancestors fled Ireland in coffin ships, away from a devastating famine.  The famine was entirely preventable except that Irish farmers were already desperately poor and dependent primarily on one crop for sustenance as well as the British government.  But it wasn’t the blight that killed the Irish.  It was the reaction to it from the governments, the landlords and the haughty, better off public.  From The History Place, we get these shadows of the past that look uncomfortably familiar in the present:

Ireland was not the only country with serious money problems. In the fall of 1847, Great Britain experienced a crash due to bad investments by English speculators and the resulting impact on London’s banks. Wheat and corn prices had skyrocketed in 1846 throughout Europe only to tumble by the middle of 1847 when supply far exceeded demand. British investors that speculated took huge losses.

At the same time, investors speculating in the topsy-turvy British railway industry were ruined as railway shares collapsed. Money became very tight as British banks refused further credit. Eleven banks failed outright. Over a hundred established business firms went bankrupt. Stock prices and commodities tumbled.

The British financial crisis meant there would be no money available to help Ireland during its greatest time of need. British officials, greatly preoccupied with their own domestic troubles, would now pay little attention to Ireland. However, there was one exception. Charles Trevelyan remained deeply interested in relief operations in Ireland and quite determined to enforce the Poor Law Extension Act.

The British wanted to make the idea of getting a free handout as unattractive as possible to able-bodied Irishmen, fearing they would overwhelm the inadequate relief system, especially in the hard-pressed areas of southwest Ireland. The new Poor Law thus designated workhouses as the only places where able-bodied men could obtain relief, but only after surrendering all other means of support.

Anyone holding over a quarter-acre of land was required to forfeit their land before seeking relief. As a result, countless farm families with small holdings were forced into a life-and-death decision over whether to stay on their land and possibly starve or to give up their farm, surrender their dignity, and head for the workhouse as destitute paupers.  

Workhouses were sparse in remote areas of Ireland and those that existed there were already occupied by widows, children, and the elderly. Trevelyan’s idea was for these people to be ejected from the workhouses to make way for the men. But many local officials in Ireland were unwilling to do this.

To organize relief in Ireland, the British had divided the country into 130 separate areas (unions) with several parishes combined together to form a union. Each union was run by a Board of Guardians consisting of Irishmen responsible for setting local tax rates and collecting the revenue needed to provide aid to the people living within the union. But the plan encountered problems from the start due to the sheer size of most of the unions (100,000 or more acres) combined with the ever-increasing shortage of property owners financially able to pay taxes, especially in the hardest hit rural districts.

Wherever they were most needed, workhouses quickly slid into debt, ran short of supplies and turned people away in droves. Families in desolate areas resorted to living in small hovels cut out of the bog or dirt holes dug along the hillside. In Donegal Union, ten thousand persons were found living “in a state of degradation and filth which it is difficult to believe the most barbarous nations ever exceeded,” according to the Quaker, William Forster. His organization, the Society of Friends, had refused to work in cooperation with the new Poor Law.

Would the government let the landlords turn us out?  Are you kidding me?

Here’s the ting, no one loves you better than you love yourself.  Don’t expect the Republicans to grow a heart in the next 13 months.  Don’t expect the Democrats to grow a spine either.  We as a country have already been through one Great Depression and paid dearly in order to put the country back on its feet.  Now we have Rick Perry, a Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and the craven media and the well connected and clueless pundits who are ready any second now to turn us all into the peapicker’s wife and her children.  Would they care if you die because you have no health insurance, food, a roof over your head or money to live on when you’re old?  Heck, they don’t know you personally.  If you’re not making a couple million at bonus time, you’re just a parasite to them.  Better to die and decrease the surplus population.  Or go fricasee a tot.  Get with the program.  This is the Republican’s vision of the future covered in a sickly sweet oleaginous whipped cream over American apple pie and motherhood.

Onwards to the future.

Speaking of the future, the Freedom Tower is rising over the remains of the World Trade Center.  Can I just say that I really despise the name “Freedom Tower”?  Everytime I hear it, I think of George Bush, My Pet Goat in hand and “deer in the headlights” look on his face, swaggering onto The Pile a few days later acting like he’s a hero and throwing that precious word around carelessly as his VP sections off oil fields on a map of Iraq in the Situation Room.

Can we call it Memorial Tower?  Or Remembrance Tower?  Or Port Authority Tower?  Something like that?  Why do we have to continue to engage in hucksterism and propaganda?  What freedom did we get from 9/11?  The freedom to take off our shoes and have our modest adolescent children scanned naked in an airport?  The freedom to have our phones tapped indiscriminantly?  The freedom to live in a police state with our children shut up behind locked security doors at school and video monitors tracing our every move?  The freedom to be held as an enemy combatant indefinitely and without habeas corpus merely on the word of some unknown accuser?  We reacted with anaphylaxis to a horrific event.  We adapted poorly.  It’s just a building and I’m glad it’s going up to fill the gaping hole in the sky.  But let’s not forget what it really stands for.  It was a very bad day that lead to a very bad decade.  How about Havewelearnedanything Tower?

Here’s a time lapse of the new tower, whatever it’s name is:

Thursday: Stating the Obvious

I was flipping through channels last night, trying very carefully to avoid broadcast news, when my low battery powered remote got stuck on PBS during the NewsHour.  There was Judy Woodruff interviewing Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin about their (yet another) budget deficit reduction plan.  This one is just another version of “stick it to the middle class” that has become the popular fad in Washington these days.  In this one, we get a sales tax!  Ooo, it’s like opening a new present every morning.

But what was funny about this interview was not their earnest but misguided assertion that if we, the naively childish middle class voters of America, would just understand what the problem is, we would thank them for bringing it to our attention before things got really bad.  It wasn’t the magical rearranging of the debt burden saddling us while the rich get away with murder with (yet another) income tax cut.  It’s not that these bipartisan groups to which no one WE know were invited to participate in keep coming up with new ways to screw us.  No, it was Domenici forgetting where he was.  Literally:

ALICE RIVLIN: We got a surplus. We both worked on that.

And we got the budget from a considerable deficit into surplus. And the way it was done was some tax increase and holding down spending. The caps on spending are the same idea that we had back in the ’90s. And it worked. It worked. Yes, it worked.

PETE DOMENICI: I want to say this one thing about this. And, as far as I’m concerned — tell me what I’m talking about, because I have forgotten.

JUDY WOODRUFF: About whether you believe that this will actually be solved, that the members of Congress will vote…

PETE DOMENICI: Oh. Yes. We were able to — we were able — we were able to do bipartisan work and get some big problems solved. [RD hides head in hands from embarrassment] This problem is many, many more times difficult for America. We’re going to be ruined as a nation and become a second-rate country if this debt is allowed to continue like it is.

So, we have a bigger, a more just reason to convince people. We convinced them then to work together. We ought to be able to now. It won’t be easy, but I believe leadership, including leadership from the president, is going to make this a war, a war on this debt. And, if we do that, we might win.

Well, I’m confident now.

(Ok, maybe I was too hasty.  Pete Domenici apparently suffers from a brain disorder that leads to Republicanism dementia.  My remarks might be misconstrued as a bit insensitive.  However, with that in mind, Domenici probably was not the best person to work on this committee or present it on TV.  It tends to make me not take this bipartisan task force very seriously)

By the way, Washington, the next time you want to set up (yet another) bipartisan group thingy to examine the deficit, I suggest you go through the formal route and have Congress do it so the people’s representatives, some of whom may be liberal Democrats (we’re not positive but some claim to lean that way) have some semblence of having the teeniest, tiniest input.  Otherwise, it doesn’t look legitimate to us and we will probably not “understand” and will be harder to “convince”.  JMHO

Paul Krugman weighs in on a national sales tax with some graphs to back it up but I’m with Atrios on this one.  (come to think of it, I’m in agreement with a lot of what Atrios wants like better urban planning and mass transit. If Obama hadn’t destroyed the left blogosphere, we might even be allies.  Go figure.)  The deficit hawks aren’t giving us any choices to reduce the deficit except on the backs of the middle class and I’m agin it until they do.

Accountability before Austerity

But I could think of at least one way to boost the nation’s economy in a big way that got taken down by Ben Nelson of Nebraska yesterday…

Join me below the fold…

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