Hitting the roof

Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, even the Republicans, Boehner himself, have acknowledged the catastrophic nature of our nation’s defaulting on its obligations. Yet, lawmakers are trying to leverage our need to raise the debt ceiling to exact political points.

Yes, lawmakers think they can play brinksmanship with our future.  The mere fact that our politicians would keep the world — and us — in suspense until August will erode our creditworthiness abroad and the global confidence in our economy.  We think of us as a society where our word is our bond.  Well, look in the mirror.  It isn’t pretty.

Imagine how you would view a country so divided in their “parliament” that one side is willing to risk ruin to have its way — slash and burn tactics.  So, just because we are the United States of America, you think we can mess with this stuff, without ramifications?  If you do, you are arrogant AND crazy.

Am I good with so much debt? No way.  I pay my credit cards on time.  I can afford my mortgage and could pay it off tomorrow. I believe that a person, a family, a country must live within its means.  If we need to spend more, then someone needs a second (part-time) job.  We didn’t do that and fought two wars and gave tax cuts to people like me who never asked for one, didn’t need one and didn’t want one.  So, now we have to live with the consequences. And I am willing to pay more in taxes to clean up George Bush’s and Trent Lott’s and Bill Frist’s nightmare.

It is important to note that the GOP — under whose governance drove us into this debt hole — is the party that is playing it to the bone.  Not because they are arrogant; but because they are hypocrites.   And the hypocrisy is so galling that it makes me want to go to the Congress and shout: “WORRY ABOUT US AND NOT YOUR POLL NUMBERS, YOUR JOBS AND YOUR POWER!!!!!!! FIX IT NOW.” If there is a report of a middle-aged lunatic screaming in the House of Representatives, you’ll know that I may be off-line for a while, in federal custody.

I think we have to raise the debt ceiling, not only because the credit of our great nation is at stake, but because it makes sense.  And, although I am an unabashed and unapologetic liberal, I am conservative in my investments and my rationale for raising the debt ceiling is, to my mind, steeped in the rudiments of getting out of debt and on a sustainable course.

It is, perhaps, counter-intuitive that a shirt-maker in bankruptcy should be allowed to borrow MORE in order to pay workers to stitch together the pieces of cloth so that they become shirts.  Scraps of cloth are worthless; however, a completed shirt sells for something.  That differential is presumably more than the amount borrowed.  The net effect is that there is a meaningful exit from bankruptcy where the assets of the company are maximized to pay off debts and re-emerge on sounder footing.

We have many fights ahead about just how we re-emerge from this mess a stronger nation, indivisible, with liberty, FAIRNESS and justice for all.  Let’s give ourselves some breathing room, for our sakes and the future of our country.

You may disagree with me on principle (IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) and JR (old friend from Camp Wingate/Camp Kirkland): go at me) but you can’t disagree with the necessity and exigencies of the circumstances — with a no-win choice, you must choose to raise the roof.



This is now our national discourse?  WTF?  How about if you don’t like what you hear, instead of tearing it down, Build It, Tough CHick.

Ugh, I have stooped to her level.  Soon I’ll be sending my son to appear on Dancing With Famous People’s Children who should be home taking care of their love children.

But the person who out-Sarahs Sarah is Michele Bachmann.  Our founding fathers fought to end slavery?  Ever hear of the 3/5th Compromise in the Constitution that effectively legitimized slavery and kicked the issue down the road for a century?

Everyone has a right to an opinion.  And I have a right to determine that someone’s opinion is stupid, ill-informed and baseless.  And I have the right to believe that a scholar’s view has more weight than someone’s who has not studied the topic and relies on talking heads (on any network) for opinions.

WTF, indeed.  As in:  “Sarah Palin??? WTF is that Grizzly Mama saying?”

Sometimes it is fun to stoop to “their” level

Ok, since I hate most all of which Senator McConnell stands for, I can’t help but revel in a little meanspiritedness.

In the photo, he is addressing reporters about holding up all legislation unless the Bush tax cuts are extended (and thus impliedly shutting down the government and allowing unemployment benefits to expire).

But what he is really saying, as he points to his colleague Senator John Cornyn, is, “listen to me, but look at John Cornyn’s strong chin while I squawk like a chicken.”

Yes, it is mean.  But the rabid GOPers do it all the time, with impunity.

Ok, I feel really bad.  He cannot control how he looks.  But I probably wouldn’t notice that he looks like Thanksgiving dinner if he weren’t soooo venal.

I really feel bad.  I am tormented.  I’ll take it down tomorrow.  Maybe.  It doesn’t feel so good after all, this meanspiritedness.  Mitch, you can keep the gutter politics.  I am only sitting in the muck with you this one time.

Square Peg; Oval Office

I listened to President’s Obama’s speech.  I did not listen to the pundits.  But let me make some educated guesses:

If you are a GOP candidate or in the GOP leadership, you thought (i) he was short on specifics for economic recovery, (ii) he should have come out in favor of tax cuts, and (iii) he failed to vindicate the success of the surge in Iraq for enabling him to fulfill a campaign promise of ending the combat mission in 18 months.

If you are Keith Olbermann (and sometimes Frank Rich), you wonder why he didn’t renounce war all together, and how he could possibly mention George W. Bush and patriotism in the same sentence.

If you are Maureen Dowd, you wonder what happened to his passion and why, even though we elected Mr. Spock, he didn’t somehow morph into Dr. Spock.

If you are Chris Matthews, you are joking about how his eyes fluttered from time to time because you really can’t cope with your rock star hero’s having to represent the establishment he ran against.

I will go out on a limb here and have an opinion:  I liked his speech.  I thought he spoke movingly of the sacrifices of our troops.  He heard our fears about our economy and tried to be reassuring — as reassuring as one can be in the twenty minutes of prime time allotted.  He danced around the backlash against Muslims and building of mosques and community centers.  That was disappointing, but “politic”.

So, if you are the opposition, you hated it.  If you are among the democrats who wanted public health care and war crimes tribunals for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld (I don’t disagree) you are frustrated to the point of distraction.  If you just want the President to do his job and you appreciate even a little what an impossible job it is, you thought he did fine and just want him to keep trying.

So, how did I do?  If I hit 75% accuracy, I will have saved two hours of my life by not watching talking heads or reading pout-y Op-Eds.  How liberating.

When Jon Stewart gives up and just rants

Jon Stewart is my voice.  He says what is on my mind.

But more than that.  He is my litmus test for whether I am over-reacting.  If he slams a news story in a light-hearted and are-they-“f”ing-kidding-me way, then I think I am over-reacting; it is stupid but it will pass.  But recently, Jon Stewart has given up on satire and has gotten visceral and angry.  Especially with the mosque in lower Manhattan.  That scares me because I had hoped that I was over-reacting in my belief that this country is going down a bad road with the opposition to this mosque.  I am scared of mobs incited by power-seeking ideologues who will throw away the principles that make this nation great.

A measure of a nation and a people is whether they hold fast to their ideals in the face of those who would destroy them.  Hey, Sarah, Newt and Harry Reid, how do you think we are measuring up?

And, so, Jon Stewart speaks for me when his humor oozes hopelessness from the political stagnation and petty internecine warfare.

President Obama cannot solve all of our problems.  And he is an egotistical, self-satisfied politician.  But he is more thoughtful and careful than George Bush and his cronies.  He is not always be right, but he is trying.  And I don’t agree with President Obama on many things, but I can still support him as the President of the United States.  If anyone says he or she agrees or disagrees with the President 100% of the time, then there is more to it that a president or his policies. It is about something else.  President Obama is more polarizing than any other President.  Why?  Because he is an African-American.  It is both liberating and threatening to Americans.  Let’s talk about it.

The GOP can rally the base with veiled racist fears.

Yes, I am feeling hopelessness and despair and so, it seems, is the most trusted name in news.

(I remember Stephen Colbert from his days at Dartmouth and I cannot, will not, listen to him.  I remember too much of when he wasn’t a fake neo-con.)

The Audacity of Stupidity and the Audacity of Hypocrisy


I am constantly amazed that politicians will say anything to anyone without regard to facts and the interests of our country.  


Here is one audaciously stupid thing:

Jon Stewart’s satire is spot-on about the anti-Islam fervor in this country spewed by those — like the Governor of Tennessee — who have the nerve to say in the same paragraph that freedom of religion is a cornerstone of our nation’s laws.  According to the Governor, unencumbered as he is by facts or knowledge, Islam is a culture.  [Note to self:  wonder about the education systems in our country.]

Stop. Think. Vomit.

Now let’s move on to the audaciously hypocritical.  I have TWO things that rile me.


Jon Stewart is also spot-on about the outrageous things politicians will say just to sully an opponent’s record.  For example, Jon Stewart highlighted Newt Gringrich’s decrying Obama-Reid-Pelosi socialism in the same sentence that he touts zero capital gains tax in Communist China.  

Remember, Newt Gingrich famously shut down the ENTIRE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT because — his own words — he didn’t like that he was put in the back of Air Force One when a delegation of US leaders went to the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin.

Remember, too, that Newt Gingrich famously carried on an affair with a staffer while pushing the impeachment of then-President Clinton over lying about extra-marital sex.

Stop. Think. Worry that people will believe him.

Bush Tax Cuts: 

I think any responsible economist (and even those in the Bush Administration) would agree that tax cuts “don’t pay for themselves” and that tax cuts should only be effectuated in connection with reduced federal spending.  The Bush tax cuts were in fact followed by outrageous over-spending.  This is something that should have shocked the fiscal conservatives such as Sens. McCain, McConnell and DeMint, and Reps. Boehner and others, but apparently, not so much.  They voted on those spending bills.  Now we are supposed to trust them that they should be in charge?

Letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans lapse could reduce the deficit by $300 billion.  Do the wealthiest Americans really need help in this economic climate?  As one of least wealthy of the wealthiest Americans, going back to the Clinton Era tax structure will not make a material difference in my family’s life.  I imagine that those wealthier than I are not counting on the tax cut either to make ends meet or go on vacation or send their kids to school or whatever.

But, listen to the GOP leaders — they want to keep those cuts.  They are trying to fashion it as a tax “increase” for political gain.  Another step toward socialism, they suggest.


Stop.  Think.  Worry even more that people will believe these clowns.

Are you wondering where the audacity of stupidity and the audacity of hypocrisy meet, join forces and become a near-nuclear threat?  Drum roll . . .

Sarah Palin

Reagan insider says GOP destroyed the US Economy

This is so scary that I can’t even comment.  A must read.

Ok, I need to comment:  putting the GOP in charge again is like giving the lunatics the keys to the asylum.


Reagan Insider: ‘GOP Destroyed U.S. Economy’

by Paul B. Farrell Market Watch
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commentary: How: Gold. Tax cuts. Debts. Wars. Fat Cats. Class gap. No fiscal discipline

“How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy.” Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “Four Deformations of the Apocalypse.”

Get it? Not “destroying.” The GOP has already “destroyed” the U.S. economy, setting up an “American Apocalypse.”

Yes, Stockman is equally damning of the Democrats’ Keynesian policies. But what this indictment by a party insider — someone so close to the development of the Reaganomics ideology — says about America, helps all of us better understand how America’s toxic partisan-politics “holy war” is destroying not just the economy and capitalism, but the America dream. And unless this war stops soon, both parties will succeed in their collective death wish.

But why focus on Stockman’s message? It’s already lost in the 24/7 news cycle. Why? We need some introspection. Ask yourself: How did the great nation of America lose its moral compass and drift so far off course, to where our very survival is threatened?

We’ve arrived at a historic turning point as a nation that no longer needs outside enemies to destroy us, we are committing suicide. Democracy. Capitalism. The American dream. All dying. Why? Because of the economic decisions of the GOP the past 40 years, says this leading Reagan Republican.

Please listen with an open mind, no matter your party affiliation: This makes for a powerful history lesson, because it exposes how both parties are responsible for destroying the U.S. economy. Listen closely:

Reagan Republican: the GOP should file for bankruptcy

Stockman rushes into the ring swinging like a boxer: “If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt … will soon reach $18 trillion.” It screams “out for austerity and sacrifice.” But instead, the GOP insists “that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.”

In the past 40 years Republican ideology has gone from solid principles to hype and slogans. Stockman says: “Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses too.”

No more. Today there’s a “new catechism” that’s “little more than money printing and deficit finance, vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes” making a mockery of GOP ideals. Worse, it has resulted in “serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy.” Yes, GOP ideals backfired, crippling our economy.

Stockman’s indictment warns that the Republican party’s “new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one:”

Stage 1. Nixon irresponsible, dumps gold, U.S starts spending binge

Richard Nixon’s gold policies get Stockman’s first assault, for defaulting “on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world.” So for the past 40 years, America’s been living “beyond our means as a nation” on “borrowed prosperity on an epic scale … an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves.”

Remember Friedman: “Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct.” Friedman was wrong by trillions. And unfortunately “once relieved of the discipline of defending a fixed value for their currencies, politicians the world over were free to cheapen their money and disregard their neighbors.”

And without discipline America was also encouraging “global monetary chaos as foreign central banks run their own printing presses at ever faster speeds to sop up the tidal wave of dollars coming from the Federal Reserve.” Yes, the road to the coming apocalypse began with a Republican president listening to a misguided Nobel economist’s advice.

Stage 2. Crushing debts from domestic excesses, war mongering

Stockman says “the second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40% of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970.” Who’s to blame? Not big-spending Dems, says Stockman, but “from the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.”

Back “in 1981, traditional Republicans supported tax cuts,” but Stockman makes clear, they had to be “matched by spending cuts, to offset the way inflation was pushing many taxpayers into higher brackets and to spur investment. The Reagan administration’s hastily prepared fiscal blueprint, however, was no match for the primordial forces — the welfare state and the warfare state — that drive the federal spending machine.”

OK, stop a minute. As you absorb Stockman’s indictment of how his Republican party has “destroyed the U.S. economy,” you’re probably asking yourself why anyone should believe a traitor to the Reagan legacy. I believe party affiliation is irrelevant here. This is a crucial subject that must be explored because it further exposes a dangerous historical trend where politics is so partisan it’s having huge negative consequences.

Yes, the GOP does have a welfare-warfare state: Stockman says “the neocons were pushing the military budget skyward. And the Republicans on Capitol Hill who were supposed to cut spending, exempted from the knife most of the domestic budget — entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects. But in the end it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans’ fiscal religion.”

When Fed chief Paul Volcker “crushed inflation” in the ’80s we got a “solid economic rebound.” But then “the new tax-cutters not only claimed victory for their supply-side strategy but hooked Republicans for good on the delusion that the economy will outgrow the deficit if plied with enough tax cuts.” By 2009, they “reduced federal revenues to 15% of gross domestic product,” lowest since the 1940s. Still today they’re irrationally demanding an extension of those “unaffordable Bush tax cuts [that] would amount to a bankruptcy filing.”

Recently Bush made matters far worse by “rarely vetoing a budget bill and engaging in two unfinanced foreign military adventures.” Bush also gave in “on domestic spending cuts, signing into law $420 billion in nondefense appropriations, a 65% percent gain from the $260 billion he had inherited eight years earlier. Republicans thus joined the Democrats in a shameless embrace of a free-lunch fiscal policy.” Takes two to tango.

Stage 3. Wall Street’s deadly ‘vast, unproductive expansion’

Stockman continues pounding away: “The third ominous change in the American economy has been the vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector.” He warns that “Republicans have been oblivious to the grave danger of flooding financial markets with freely printed money and, at the same time, removing traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation.” Wrong, not oblivious. Self-interested Republican loyalists like Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner knew exactly what they were doing.

They wanted the economy, markets and the government to be under the absolute control of Wall Street’s too-greedy-to-fail banks. They conned Congress and the Fed into bailing out an estimated $23.7 trillion debt. Worse, they have since destroyed meaningful financial reforms. So Wall Street is now back to business as usual blowing another bigger bubble/bust cycle that will culminate in the coming “American Apocalypse.”

Stockman refers to Wall Street’s surviving banks as “wards of the state.” Wrong, the opposite is true. Wall Street now controls Washington, and its “unproductive” trading is “extracting billions from the economy with a lot of pointless speculation in stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives.” Wall Street banks like Goldman were virtually bankrupt, would have never survived without government-guaranteed deposits and “virtually free money from the Fed’s discount window to cover their bad bets.”

Stage 4. New American Revolution class warfare coming soon

Finally, thanks to Republican policies that let us “live beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore,” while at home “high-value jobs in goods production … trade, transportation, information technology and the professions shrunk by 12% to 68 million from 77 million.”

As the apocalypse draws near, Stockman sees a class-rebellion, a new revolution, a war against greed and the wealthy. Soon. The trigger will be the growing gap between economic classes: No wonder “that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1% of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90% — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12%. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy.”

Get it? The decaying fruit of the GOP’s bad economic policies is destroying our economy.

Warning: This black swan won’t be pretty, will shock, soon

His bottom line: “The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing … it’s a pity that the modern Republican party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.”

Wrong: There are far bigger things to “pity.”

First, that most Americans, 300 million, are helpless, will do nothing, sit in the bleachers passively watching this deadly partisan game like it’s just another TV reality show.

Second, that, unfortunately, politicians are so deep-in-the-pockets of the Wall Street conspiracy that controls Washington they are helpless and blind.

And third, there’s a depressing sense that Stockman will be dismissed as a traitor, his message lost in the 24/7 news cycle … until the final apocalyptic event, an unpredictable black swan triggers another, bigger global meltdown, followed by a long Great Depression II and a historic class war.

So be prepared, it will hit soon, when you least expect.


McCain thinks time is running out to send troops to Afghanistan?  Is this the same man who thought we could “muddle through” in Afghanistan and the real fight was Iraq?

Our last president sent hundreds of thousands of troops into a quagmire with an ever-changing rationale and an aimless strategy.

There is talk about how well the “surge” worked in Iraq.  Psssssst, Iraq is not Afghanistan.  Afghanistan has humbled would-be conquerors throughout history, the most recent being Russia. The terrain is rugged, the tribal alliances are unsure, the drug trade is king and the government is corrupt.

Before more troops go in, we need to have a defined, winning strategy (and then an exit strategy) against two different groups, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.  They ARE different groups, but right now are joined in common purpose, to drive out the NATO forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ironically, one country can help us with a winning strategy in Afghanistan.  And that country is the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Iran helped Bush’s military team early in the war until relations chilled again.  Then Ahmadinejad came to power.

Iran shares NATO’s desire to subdue the Taliban.  The Taliban is Iran’s enemy.  The Taliban ideology and jihadist purpose threaten to undermine the Islamic Republic, and Iran does not want to share a long border with a Taliban-controlled nation again.

So, we need Iran for success in Afghanistan and Iran needs us to be successful in Afghanistan.  Iran is also close to having military nuclear capabilities and the US backs sanctions.  President Obama needs to walk the thinnest of tightropes.

I know Jon Stewart pokes fun at the diplomatic tiptoe-ing around Iran, but whatever choices President Obama makes with Iran or Afghanistan will have consequences far beyond any sound bite or comedy skit.

Obama’s Speech to Schoolchildren

I watched the speech.  No exhortations toward anarchy, communism or socialism.  Just a common sense message about taking responsibility for one’s education.  And it rang true coming from someone who started from humble means, without a father and achieved the heights of the American dream.  I  don’t think any of President Obama’s right wing radical detractors could match the authenticity of the message or the messenger.

Sen. Paul Stanley, R-Tennessee, Mr. Family Values

Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok.  Lemme get this straight.

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana, Sen. John Ensign, Nevada, Gov. Mark Sanford, S. Carolina — what do these gentlemen and Sen. Stanley have in common?  They are sanctimonious, self-satisfied “family-values” politicians who were hoisted on their own petards. 

Worse, Sen. Stanley, who took lewd pictures of his 22-year old intern during the time of their affair, blames her.  He is 47 and she is 22.  He has a family and presumably of suitable age, discretion and intelligence to represent the State of Tennessee. 

He isn’t hiding behind a 22 year-old, is he?  Nah.  Can’t be.  Only someone gutless and unprincipled would do that.   So, it can’t be.  WAIT.  I think Pauly IS a gutless, unprincipled loser.  And he is angry that he has to resign.  As if he did nothing to bring about this morality play. 

I get it: she let herself into his apartment.  She put the camera in his hand.  She put his . . . .  Wow, now I get it.  It is a lily-livered lefty lemming conspiracy (thank you, Lou Dobbs for that phrase) to expose GOP hypocrisy.

Where is the outrage?  Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?  Bueller?