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August 01, 2011 10:40 AM The ceiling and the damage done

By Steve Benen

The last paragraph in Paul Krugman’s column this morning is easily the most chilling: “What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.”

There is a sense of relief in some circles that a deal was reached to avoid default. The exhale may be premature — it’s still unclear if the agreement can pass the House — but some seem to be relieved that tomorrow’s catastrophe probably won’t happen. “Whew,” the sentiment goes, “looks like we dodged a bullet on this one.”

And while I’m not unsympathetic to this — I don’t like the deal, but default is clearly worse — it’s a mistake to think the system steered clear of creating a real problem. By even coming this close, the system has already created a problem.

Even before negotiations went down to the wire on Sunday night, the bitterness, division and dysfunction that resounded around the world in recent weeks as the United States veered toward default did more than just fuel a perception that Washington is approaching Japan-like levels of political gridlock. Among foreign leaders and in global markets, the political histrionics have eroded America’s already diminishing aura as the world’s economic haven and the sole country with the power to lead the rest of the world out of financial crisis and recession. […]

It has left America’s creditors and allies alike wondering what had changed in American politics that a significant part of the country’s political elite was suddenly willing to risk the nation’s reputation as the safest place for the rest of the world to invest.

It raised questions about whether the United States now faces brinkmanship over a variety of issues between an emboldened conservative movement and a president whose authority is under challenge. And for all the talk on the right about “American exceptionalism,” especially among members of the Tea Party, it put doubts in the minds of many about whether America’s military and economic dominance is something the country is still willing to pay for — and will always survive.

Republicans were warned, clearly and repeatedly, that even going down this road would put America in danger. Even if they hit the brakes before going over the cliff, starting this fiasco in the first place would very likely weaken the nation at a critical time.

Republicans didn’t care. Even if the debt deal is signed before the deadline, we will pay a price for their monumental stupidity.

The United States, thanks entirely to the right’s breathtaking stunt, is now seen as a less-safe bet and a less-attractive place for investment. The nation is now seen as more dysfunctional and less responsible. We’ve been made to look like fools on the global stage, and China has sought to exploit the Republican crisis, to the GOP’s indifference.

I’m reminded of something Felix Salmon wrote a few weeks ago: “The base-case scenario is, still, that the debt ceiling will be raised, somehow. But already an enormous amount of damage has been done: the US Congress has demonstrated clearly that it can’t be trusted to govern the country in a responsible manner. And the tail-risk implications for markets are huge.”

I don’t know if Republican lawmakers are aware of any of this. Worse, I also don’t know if they care. But American leadership on the global stage rests on certain pillars that took generations to build and strengthen — credibility, reliability, stability, the integrity of our institutions, sound judgment. The Republican Party severely undermined these pillars in the Bush era, most notably in areas of foreign policy and the use of military force. The Republican Party is now severely undermining them again.

The world has been watching and thanks to GOP madness, the sanity of the world’s greatest superpower is very much in doubt.

When this matter is resolved — if it’s resolved — congressional Republicans will probably just move on to creating another crisis. They almost certainly won’t appreciate the damage they’ve already done.

In politics, disputes come and go. Some missteps, however, are difficult to forgive.

Postscript: Yes, I used this same headline a couple of weeks ago. What can I tell you; I like Neil Young.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 10:41 AM:

    And Here is some more proof that Obama's triangulation strategy is not working. The independent voters are fleeing Obama.

    "Oddly, many voters prefer the policies of Democrats to the policies of Republicans. They just dont trust the Democrats to carry out those promises. "


    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/opinion/sunday/tuning-out-the-democrats.html

  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 10:45 AM:

    GOP: Here take this shit sandwich
    Obama: Can we at least negotiate so that I can take the dry stool?
    GOP: No take the wet stool and also you have to take the urineade too.
    Obama: Ok. I have to be the adult in the room.

  • samsa on August 01, 2011 10:46 AM:

    Sometimes the loser in a fight brings the defeat by his own actions. Obama brought all this all upon himself, just all by himself, by signalling early on that he is willing to cave in. Why blame the Republicans for achieving their well and loudly stated ends, to wit, to make sure that Obama is a one term President?

  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 10:47 AM:

    Grover Norquist loves this deal. Enough said.

  • neil b on August 01, 2011 10:49 AM:

    Just another reminder, and I will keep doing it whether you like it or not: much of the reason Obama and remaining Dems had such a hard time, is that many of *you* stayed home in 2010 (or played into right-wing hands with bitter rhetoric - the same points could have been made in less divisive and tea-glee promoting ways.) So you let "them" take over more of the government, then you complain here more and more about how horrible Obama is (not that he's a terrific choice, but who the hell is that would get elected?) My essential impulse is to say, fuck you. Try to get something done, if you don't you know you tried, and then do what you need to stop a crash. If that turning over on the side of the road, that may be the best we can have in a nation populated by such crass citizens and politicians. Tell me, if you're so wise and on top of things, then what the hell else *can we actually do*?

  • Steve M. on August 01, 2011 10:50 AM:

    Funny, I don't find the last paragraph of Krugman's column chilling. On the contrary, I think it's a relief, after a couple of decades of one-party rule, and after two Democratic presidents have been prevented by brute force from governing as Democrats, that someone is describing the political landscape accurately.

  • c u n d gulag on August 01, 2011 10:53 AM:

    Give us a few years, a Repbulican President and Congress, and we'll be 'The Dominionist Christian Corporate States of America.'

    The most 'exceptional' and best armed Banana Republic in the world!

    All thanks to Banana's Republicans.

    The Republicans are like the spouse who claims to love the family so much, that he/she is willing to kill them all to prove that love.

  • Anonymous on August 01, 2011 10:54 AM:

    neil b:

    WTF you talking about? I doubt anyone on this forum stayed home. Most people dont follow politics like we do and do not understand the stakes involved. Off year elections are usually not the best for Dems, because older people vote in greater proportions. But how many people will be manning the phone banks and walking door to door for Obama? Or giving money to him. I am not. Let him go to Wall Street for help. I will vote for him. I have no choice.

  • Styve on August 01, 2011 10:54 AM:

    A proper tribute to Neil Young would require the title of the song be posted as, "The Ceiling and the Damage Done." Maybe you could adapt the lyrics?! Speaking of which, ever see Jimmy Fallon do Neil Young? Priceless!!

  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 10:56 AM:

    "Southern Man" would be a better song for this situation

  • Mimikatz on August 01, 2011 10:59 AM:

    There are only two things that matter to legislators: declining campaign contributions and especially losing elections. It would be nice if business would rethink their support of Tea Partiers, but I'm not confident of that. Instead, we have to demonstrate that hard right isn't the path to electoral success. The Dems have to win the Wisconsin recall and repeal the Ohio anti-labor measure. The Dems have to win whatever special elections come up between now and November 2012. And a sufficient number of those Banana Republicans have to lose in November, enough so we retake the House. It isn't a time for tantrums ad whining, but for fighting back.

    That, and making the case fir positive government. Much of this can be undone if we do that.

  • Ron Byers on August 01, 2011 10:59 AM:

    neil b in 2010 the Democratic party signaled that it didn't give a rip. It started when Obama decided to let the banksters walk without anybody going to prison. It started when he decided by-gones were by-gones and let the entire criminal enterprise walk. It started when he appointed Eric Holder and Tim Geithner. It started when Harry Reid couldn't figure out how to beat the filibuster. It started when the President and the Democratic party stood down in 2010 saying they knew they were going to take their lumps. Don't tell me this is our fault. This is the fault of the feckless Democrats starting but not ending with the President.

  • Hugh Loebner on August 01, 2011 11:01 AM:

    It's not the end of the world. The 14th Amendment hasn't been repealed; it just wasn't used by BHO. It's still there for another Hillary Clinton when she becomes POTUS.

  • Mr. Serf Man on August 01, 2011 11:03 AM:

    Live Free or Die Beat me to it .
    If Grover Norquist and his Norquislings think anything is a good idea , it is bad for the country.
    That my friends is a scientific corollary,
    and you can take it to your local government bailed out mega bank.

  • Sage on August 01, 2011 11:08 AM:

    Fair-minded critical seems inbounds in the circumstances but the president was forced into a negotiation with a reckless group who were never in good faith, who've willing to say or do anything to get their way regardless of the consequences to anyone. And the risk -Armageddon - was unimaginable. Imagine your family being kidnapped. Would anyone blame you for negotiating with the extortionists and paying any price in the hope of getting them back. The republicans are the ones who deserve our disgust for putting playing their deadly games with all of our lives and well- being. No one sitting on the sidelines has established they could have done any better than Obama in these impossible circumstances negotiating with a group of powerful public "servants" who have proven they do not and never will have the public's interests at heart.

  • toowearyforoutrage on August 01, 2011 11:09 AM:

    By dodged a bullet, I suppose they mean, we caught it in the shoulder instead of the chest?

    We're not dead, but if we dodge many more bullets like this, bleeding out is a possibility.

    FWIW, if America decides a Republican president can fix everything, the Republican Congress will then pass tax increases with just enough Republican support so Democrats can take the blame. They'll call the revenue boosts by some other name cleared by Grover Norquist.

  • Alli on August 01, 2011 11:10 AM:

    Republicans don't know it, and Republicans don't care because at the end of the day most everyone will blame Obama include the dipshits on the left. Don't freaking wonder why Republicans do what they do when they never feel the heat.

  • neil b on August 01, 2011 11:10 AM:

    Anonymous (uh, which one are you? - can't you folks pick some handle?), it's not just about Obama, either. Some people implied here, and other places more, they wouldn't even vote for many Dems in 2010 for their not being good enough, or wouldn't help them out. That leads to defeat, and will again for Obama and other Democrats. Again, get off your asses to do what it takes to minimize Republican wins. That is your absolute priority and duty over all else.

    Also, as a commenter around here very aptly noted, all the talking down of Democrats makes them look bad, pushes waverers over to Republicans, gives fodder for critics, etc.

  • Stetson Kennedy on August 01, 2011 11:11 AM:

    While I agree with Mr. Krugman, we get the government we vote for. If voters continually elect nutjob Republicans, who are we to stop them?ressead zone

  • Daniel on August 01, 2011 11:15 AM:

    Right on cue, the president's apologetics team (Benen, Chait, no doubt Lawrence O'Donnell tonight, etc.) has lept in to the fray to tell us it's all the fault of those mean, unreasonable Tea Party Republicans. Look, Obama has demonstrated time and again he has no apetite for confrontation, choosing to remain above it all, even to the extent that he continues to blame "Washington" rather than Republicans for this state of affairs. It's all about what's good for Obama's re-election campaign, and people like Benen are useful tools in that effort. Thank god Lyndon Johnson was in office at the time of the civil rights struggle rather than the souless, craven, wimp we're stuck with now.

  • jpeckjr on August 01, 2011 11:17 AM:

    At this point, I am no longer convinced that default would have been worse then this deal.

    I believe this deal condemns the United States to a slow decline in every area, a decline which, I believe, began during the GWBush years. But Mr. Obama campaigned on reigniting hope and hope takes a major smackdown in this deal. It is bad, bad, bad for the country.

  • neil b' on August 01, 2011 11:18 AM:

    Ron Byers, much of what you say about the mistakes of the Democrats is true, but then it still got even worse after 2010, and many liberals helped it get there. That is reality, you likely claim to be a member of the RBC, own up to reality then. Until the public (and think, what kind of debased public we are now working with) forces giant changes in election funding, in the filibuster, in districting, etc., we have to chose saner-corporate centrists over deranged suicide bombers.

  • Anonymous on August 01, 2011 11:18 AM:

    It has left America's creditors and allies alike wondering what had changed in American politics that a significant part of the country's political elite was suddenly willing to risk the nation's reputation as the safest place for the rest of the world to invest.

    I'm asking the same question myself - what motivates, and what is the end-game of the Tea Party faction? What I wish someone would ask them is this: what, if you can enact every policy you wish, would you like America to look like in 20 years? What is your vision for the future of this country?

    Since we're quoting singer / songwriters, I'll quote Dylan: "You gotta serve somebody" - just who, exactly, are these Republicans serving, because it sure aint the general population of the nation they claim to represent - they sure as hell aren't trying to promote the general welfare of anyone except those they truly serve. And who exactly is that?

  • bleh on August 01, 2011 11:19 AM:

    California has had this problem for a long time -- an extremist Republican minority with just enough supermajority provisions to be able to cause trouble -- and they're in terrible shape in many ways, but they've finally just about licked it, mostly due to changing demographics. Cranky old white people are dying off, and stupid racist white people are increasingly outnumbered.

    "As California goes, so goes the nation."

  • MCD on August 01, 2011 11:19 AM:

    It's a real shame we don't have a parliamentary system. Now would be an ideal time for elections for a Prime Minister to call for elections, and let the Republicans understand the consequences of their actions.

    Sadly, by next fall, this will be ancient history.

  • Zorro on August 01, 2011 11:21 AM:

    Shorter lesson learned by the rest of the world from this manufactured crisis: America is far too stupid to be trusted w/their money. And they're right.

    -Z

  • neil b'' on August 01, 2011 11:24 AM:

    Daniel, I could be wrong but I'm rather sure I remember Obama talking here and there about Republican fault and intransigence, and Pelosi dure did etc. At certain times, he is expected to be "Presidential" and will pay a price, idiotic as it may seem to those who know better, for not talking in that "conciliatory way." Remember again, "hostage negotiation."

  • Ron Byers on August 01, 2011 11:27 AM:

    neil b

    What is the RBC?

  • Anonymous on August 01, 2011 11:28 AM:

    neilb:

    I will lift a finger to help Obama. I will not send a penny. You do what you want to; don't try to get me to work for someone who is feeding me a shit sandwich. If the left is disengaged and he loses, that is his fault. Why does he always publicly kick around his base, and then expect it to be enthusiastic about getting him reelected? Whenever anyone in the GOP says anything remotely sane, then they are immediately forced to backtrack by their base and are primaries. But liberals are expect to get kicked in the teeth repeatedly and be expected to contribute money and time?

  • Brenna on August 01, 2011 11:30 AM:

    "When this matter is resolved � if it�s resolved � congressional Republicans will probably just move on to creating another crisis. They almost certainly won�t appreciate the damage they�ve already done."

    Agree totally with the above statement. Hopefully the country will be ready to throw these American jihadists out on their ass by 2012. They are NO patriots. They are bought and sold by the likes of the Koch bros., Norquist, and other right wing organizations. Nothing authentic about them.

    Obama is starting to look a lot like Carter and being compared to him, with good reason. I really think he has a lot of pride. He knows he got rolled. Before the 2012 elections, he has to win back his base in a big way. I don't know what he'll do, maybe just showing some spine would help, but if not, the election could be a Bush v. Gore nail biter.

  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 11:33 AM:

    Neilb:

    Are you part of the Obama WH? You sure sound like it. Are you really David Plouffe? I have not talked to anybody who thought this was great or even acceptable. President Obama, NO MONEY FOR YOU!! You have my vote, that is it. What am I supposed to tell a person to try to convince someone on the fence? Obama is not a bad as Romney?

    Romney just spoke out. He does not support the deal, blames it on a lack of leadership from Obama.

  • Taobhan on August 01, 2011 11:36 AM:

    Given the choice between feckless Democrats and insane Republicans, I don't know which to blame for the mess we're in now. It doesn't matter because the results are the same: we're being governed by Republican values. The Republicans are winning and the nation is worse off for it. The Democrats can't or won't figure out a counter strategy. Until that happens, the current dynamics will remain in place and we can look forward to more of the same.

  • LL on August 01, 2011 11:36 AM:

    Increasingly I'm coming to the conclusion that the professional Right in this country wants to turn the United States into the equivalent of a Developing Country. Such countries are much easier to exploit, politically and economically, than Developed Nations. We are, in essence, being turned into the antebellum South. Where we are all indentured serfs, and the wealthy--with their political enablers--will run everything. Where we have no protection whatever from basic existential threats of illness, or aging, or financial predation or job-loss.

    Globalization is part of this, but not all of it. The professional Right in this country is almost entirely wealthy itself. They work for even wealthier people. This entire trainwreck is, it seems to me, an ongoing, slow-motion coup, for the purpose of turning the US into an explicit Oligarchy. Some would argue it has always been that, and I have a hard time arguing against that. Although, we have had ways to fight back against the power of malicious wealth. Those ways are fading fast.

    Obama has betrayed everything. He was supposed to protect us from this cruel madness, and instead, he has handed us over to it.

  • Sapient on August 01, 2011 11:36 AM:

    People who aren't blaming the t-party idiots, and instead are blaming the people who did their best in this horrible set of circumstances (brought on us by the moronic 2010 voting public) are very misguided. I am nauseated by the inability of the left to coalesce against the obvious enemy: the Republicans. That is why we lose. It's the only reason we lose. Because the left doesn't get it.

    It's been asked over and over, but what would (will, perhaps, if he absolutely must) happen when Obama takes authority under a questionable legal theory? Answer: it will be dire. Way more than it is now. Not only will the economy blow up, but so will the civil peace.

    I totally support Obama. I can totally see why he is trying to avoid this road.

  • SteveT on August 01, 2011 11:39 AM:

    neil b said:
    . . . all the talking down of Democrats makes them look bad, pushes waverers over to Republicans, gives fodder for critics, etc

    The only thing that pushes waverers away faster is denying their reality -- like the way Obama keeps telling everyone that the economy is getting better. For the 14 million Americans who are unemployed, not to mention the millions more who are underemployed, things are getting steadily worse as they exhaust their savings and their options.

    Obama needs to start speaking in phrases that can fit on bumper stickers:

    9.2 percent unemployment is unacceptable and I won't stand for it.

    Republicans ran in 2010 asking "Where are the jobs?" Well, Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs bills?

    I've tried to be bipartisan, but you can't negotiate with crazy people.

    If Americans like the economy today, then they should re-elect Republicans who want to lay more people off. If they don't, then vote for the Democrats who want to create new jobs.

    * * * *
    For Obama, if offer a quote from Mickey in Rocky, "YOU'RE LOSING!"

  • danny shenanigan on August 01, 2011 11:41 AM:

    Most of my political reading time is spent reading the Political Animal and a few other blogs so I'm not exactly well versed in foreign politics. That said, and from what I understand, some of our closest allies in Europe have already succumbed to massive austerity measures that are failing miserably. Why is everyone so sure that our status as an investment safe haven is in so much jeopardy? Yes, stimulus spending has stopped, but we aren't exactly going down the austerity road in the same manner that much of Europe has. We aren't about to default. Wall Street knows that we're still the best investment option and that hasn't changed. Realistically, where else is money going to go?

    As Steve has said many times, the interest rates on our debt is still historically low. Until that changes and there's a better option, I don't think that the US will be in trouble. If anything, getting through the recovery from not only the great recession, but the massive backlash from the extreme right will be a sign of it's greatness. We just need to keep working on it. Btw-Since when does anyone with a progressive mindset really care what Grover thinks anyway? I'm not too big on only using someone who I otherwise give little regard to as a barometer of this or any other policy's worth.

  • PTate in MN on August 01, 2011 11:41 AM:

    jpeckjr: "I believe this deal condemns the United States to a slow decline in every area, a decline which, I believe, began during the GWBush years."

    I am more hopeful than you. I think the deal is a terrible one and the precedent worse, but the US is still a rich and powerful nation, and we can fix what ails us if we can get 55% of voters in every district in America to vote for the not-Republican candidates. Get the Republicans out of office, get better Democratic candidates at all levels, get a better POTUS, get a liberal SCOTUS, silence the conservative movement propaganda machines. We can regain our future.

    The problems we are facing right now are the direct and predictable consequence of 30 years of Republican policies. We need to discredit those policies forever. I know we have had little success with that so far, but with the current Republicans so obviously dangerous, maybe less informed Americans, the slow learners, will finally "get" it. 55%, that's all we need, in every district in the USA.

  • TravisInTexas on August 01, 2011 11:43 AM:

    The Republicans have always been better at messaging than the Democrats. That hasn't changed. It took a Republican to analyze the situation in ways everyone can understand:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/01/frum.debt.republicans/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

  • Gandalf on August 01, 2011 11:43 AM:

    So all you pisswhiners just got your asses saved and your gonna cry because you didn't get to kick dirt in the other teams face. It's no wonder the country 's all fucked. You disgusting weenies are the same crew who voted for Nader abd gave us Bush. Waaaaah I want a pony and some cookies. You don't even know when you've won.

  • Anonymous on August 01, 2011 11:45 AM:


    winston Churchill's final statement on the Munich Agreement (and what happened this weekend is Obama's Munich):

    And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

  • samsa on August 01, 2011 11:48 AM:

    Gandalf, is that you Axelrod?


  • Sapient on August 01, 2011 11:50 AM:

    LL, I agree with everything you said except for your last sentence. Obama has indeed protected us from the right to the extent that he has been able to do so. The right has passed no meaningful legislation during his term in office, although they have compromised some of the progressive legislation that has succeeded (but that's to be expected considering that they were, until 2010, an obstructive force in Congress, and after 2010, a prevailing force). This "deal," if it is passed, is their first legislative triumph, and it's really a mixed bag - it could be ineffective, depending on how it's handled. Not only that, if the voters were sane people, they would immediately realize that the best strategy now is to join forces with anyone to the left of the Republicans in Congress and get them out! Out of the House, out of the Senate, keep them out of the White House, and get them out of the state governments. It's time to unite with people who care about the country. Picking fights with people who you suspect aren't perfectly aligned with your particular strategic vision - that's a recipe for more and more failure.

  • SteveT on August 01, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Sapient said:
    People who aren't blaming the t-party idiots, and instead are blaming the people who did their best in this horrible set of circumstances (brought on us by the moronic 2010 voting public) are very misguided. I am nauseated by the inability of the left to coalesce against the obvious enemy: the Republicans. That is why we lose. It's the only reason we lose. Because the left doesn't get it.

    Bullsh!t.

    We are stuck in a 1950s horror movie cliche -- a monster from outer space has gone on a killing rampage, but the egghead scientist steps in front of the good guys with guns saying, "Wait! Don't shoot. We have to try to understaaaand him!"

    We know who the enemy is. Obama needs to pick up a (metaphorical) gun or get the f*ck out of the way so someone else can deal with them.

  • xpara on August 01, 2011 11:53 AM:

    Obama did not get rolled or conned. He is a right-of-center Republican in psedo donkey costume--a good bit to the right of Nixon, in fact--and he got what he wanted after a grand Kabuki to amuse and/or scare the rubes and titillate the dysfunctional press. Why any sane politician would want to get, in the question. I don't thin he is as smart as he thinks he is, and might well get beaten by some pathetic GOP bozo or boza because of it. It would serve him right. But would not serve us well. The people who got conned were the people like me who wholeheartedly supported the slug in 2008. We're now getting rolled for our misplaced faith. I've been around the block a few too many times and covered politics for years. I am appalled and ashamed at my naivete.

  • JM917 on August 01, 2011 11:56 AM:

    I hate this deal too--and I'm damn mad at Obama for having tried too long to be Mr. Reasonable-Nice-Guy who would "change the tone of Washington" and negotiate in good faith with the Republicans (whether TP or "regulars" of the McConnell/Boehner/McCain stripe).

    That being said, there is NO EXCUSE for us, the liberal rank-and-file out in the sticks, to self-righteously sit on our butts in the next election, saying we "won't lift a finger" to help Obama and the Dems.

    We have to swallow our disgust and channel our fury at the Republican enemy (yes, that's the word) and make sure that they go down to crushing defeats not only in the presidential campaign (whether they put up Romney or Perry or Bachmann or the ghost of Ronald Reagan) but also in as many House and Senate contests as possible--and in every available gubernatorial and state-legislature contest too. (Because we can see very well what kind of havoc Republican governors and state legislators can wreak--and what is the potential for Republican state legislatures ramming through "Balanced Budget Amendments.")

    I worked my tail off for Obama in 2008 and for our local congressional Dem in 2010. (Unfortunately he lost, thanks largely to listless turnout by students, liberals, and minorities.) And I'll do it again in 2012.

    We have one overriding aim: Crush the GOP in 2012. All our grousing is subordinate to that. If we win--if we take back the House, keep the Senate, and save Obama's compromising ass--we can start recouping progressive gains in 2013, block the addition of more right-wing ideologues to the SCOTUS, and finally get some decent stimulus pumped into the economy.

    It's up to us. Stop the goddamned grousing and do what needs to be done!

    Captcha: sisifi 339. Yeah, that's us.

  • POed Lib on August 01, 2011 12:04 PM:

    Does anyone reading this think that, next time, Obama will do anything differently? That is, what's his take-home message? I see no evidence that he is learning SHIT from these turds, and that, after getting hit upside the head over and over and over, he is still sticking out his hand like a MORON, and bleating "Bipartisanshit will save us!!!"

    He's the slowest learner I have ever seen. Actually, that's not right - he's simply incapable of learning and changing this idiotic non-successful strategy of "give the Repukes what they want before they ask".

  • Memekiller on August 01, 2011 12:05 PM:

    The entire system - from Democrats to centrists to establishment media to the GOP - currently rewards Republican extremism. So which part of this self-enforcing, circle-jerk can we change? And how?

    That, for me, is why the threat of "Republcians are worse" makes me feel like my vote is more co-dependent than affecting change. It's the only real power I have, and is taken for granted. If Dems are the only "reachable" ones capable of refusing to play this game any more, what's it going to take? Me sitting home? Voting third party? Challenging Obama in the primary?

    As the Democratic base, I'm always the one who gets the shaft, which is how DC defines "centrism." And as what passes for extreme left these days, I know my natural inclinations toward moderation and empiricism only forces the triangulators into Tea Party land and fantasy. So, do I become the extremist, loony conspiracy theorist, since no one else seems willing to feed that void, to give Friedman room to move closer to reality? Or should the Democratic Party as a whole become just as extremist, and cede the middle ground to the media, so they aren't forced rightward to triangulate our reasonableness? Or do we instead bank on the media recognizing false equivelance is its own form of ideaology, and just as blind?

    I don't see the Village getting wiser any time soon. And we can't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. That's the very definition of insanity, and those reasonable, centrist, compromising tendencies are part of the system.

  • JM917 on August 01, 2011 12:10 PM:

    PS to mine at 11:56 A.M.:

    I personally learned by lesson back in 1968, when I was so appalled by the crushing of the Democratic insurgency in the Battle of Chicago that I sat out the election, throwing away my vote on Dick Gregory rather that swallowing hard and working for Humphrey. And so we got Nixon.) Not that what I did made much difference one way or another--I was a mere grad student voting in rock-ribbed Republican Indiana--but I was symptomatic of too many of us, then and now, who were too hung up on principles and personal feelings.

    Get the spleen out of our guts--it's OK to vent now--but in the end we have to crush the Teapublicans.

  • Stringband on August 01, 2011 12:11 PM:

    Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Clinton and Congress go into default for a couple of weeks before they made a deal?

  • apm on August 01, 2011 12:21 PM:

    If the left is disengaged and he loses, that is his fault.

    This is such passive aggressive bullshit. I'm supposed to let my kids inherit a wasteland because some president makes me feel sad sometimes? Was the 2010 goal supposed to be to get Obama to miss us so much that he gets all liberal? Will it be worth it to have a Bachmann administration as long as Barack is sitting on his porch feeling bad that he was mean to us?

  • Kathryn on August 01, 2011 12:33 PM:

    Put all your energy into the Wisconsin recall, give money, make calls. If Walker were recalled in January 2012, how would the beltway narrative change? The Wisconsin unions have lost to Walker, he's full steam ahead trying to not only screw them but to make sure he can suppress the vote in 2012, they're fighting back for all they're worth. That's going to be my focus for now.

    I will say all of you Obama haters could learn something from the despicable GOP, those creeps stick together no matter what and it serves them well. They're wrong, evil, immoral dicks but they stick together. I hate the debt deal too but believe default would have been worse.

  • Sapient on August 01, 2011 12:35 PM:

    Stringband, let me correct you. There has never been a default in the history of the United States.

  • neil b on August 01, 2011 12:48 PM:

    To one of the anonymous (I may have to repeat some things to "you" since I don't know if it's the same one):
    "If the left is disengaged and he loses, that is his fault." - No, everyone is responsible for whatever they do. And whoever's fault it is most, we all have to live with the results.
    "Whenever anyone in the GOP says anything remotely sane, then they are immediately forced to backtrack by their base and are primaries." - yeah, you have a point ... but then again, you forgot to add: but their people go ahead and vote for *them*, and save their discretion for primaries in case your forgot that stuff.

    BTW, LFoD, I am not Plouffe altho who can tell? Have worked for both OFA and DFA, sure would like latter to have bigger say. SteveT: Obama does say similar here and there, I question if the liberal critics look hard enough. His rightist critics sure do, and bitch about it accordingly.

    PS: All these "anonymous" reminds me, can the hacker community get out there and attack this stuff we're complaining about? We need a Kochileaks, you know?

  • neil b' on August 01, 2011 12:50 PM:

    Ron, RBC is the "reality-based community." Sorry I assumed you knew an uncommon acro, and btw I mostly like most of your comments FWIW (you know that ...)

  • SteveT on August 01, 2011 1:14 PM:

    PS: All these "anonymous" reminds me, can the hacker community get out there and attack this stuff we're complaining about?

    No, it's just the new blog programming. It doesn't let people post comments if they can't translate the Captcha phrase, but it allows people to post as "anonymous" if they forget to type in their ID. It's happened to me.

    SteveT: Obama does say similar here and there, I question if the liberal critics look hard enough.

    That's precisely my point. Obama's talking points, assuming the White House actually has them, get lost in his five minute answers. If I, who stays reasonably informed, don't remember Obama pushing back against the Republicans then how can anyone expect the low-information voter to remember?

    Obama needs to remember the basics of speech-giving that I learned back in middle school:
    Be good.
    Be brief.
    Be seated.

    And to cut through the conservative-filter of the corporate-controlled media, sometimes the Democrats have to be a little provocative -- and not be embarrassed and apologetic about it later. Normally that's the vice-president's job. But if Biden is needed as a negotiator because the Republicans seethe with hatred whenever Obama's in the same room, then the White House needs to find someone else.

    And when the Republicans or the media accuse that person of being "partisan" and "uncivil", every single Democrat needs to reply, "The Republicans set the standard for what is acceptable when they compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler and the media let them. So as long as we don't compare the Republicans to an evil criminal who murdered millions of people, then we're playing within the rules that they established."

    I still wonder whether professional politicians can be this incompetent, or if the Democrats simply being the Chicago Black Sox.

  • bigtuna on August 01, 2011 1:58 PM:

    I am so discouraged. I will stop reading for awhile. SB - you do a great job informing people, and I really appreciate the facts you provide. I am just so depressed about the depths of the body politic.

    Johnny Canuck - I am in field that I can get a work permit in Canada pretty easily --- I need to learn the words to O Canada ....

  • Taobhan on August 01, 2011 2:04 PM:

    @POed Lib: "Does anyone reading this think that, next time, Obama will do anything differently?"

    I don't. The Republicans have won and they know they can roll Obama anytime they want on any issue. I feared this would be the outcome when Obama let the Republicans grab the agenda. So now, instead of having a national debate about jobs, our most pressing problem, he let them focus the debate on the deficit ... and they beat him. And the Republicans are going to successfully stick him with blame for the consequences of deficit reduction AND for not doing enough on job creation. The Democrats have the White House and the Senate but it feels like the Republicans are running the government.

  • neil b on August 01, 2011 2:17 PM:

    SteveT, exparra, with foolish fantasies: "but the egghead scientist steps in front of the good guys with guns saying, "Wait! Don't shoot. We have to try to understaaaand him!" Oh, really, we could just have shot them, huh? Just like the most insane teahadists would do, literally ... That drawn out mockery of "understand" sounds like Mike Savage, is that a coincidence?

    And Obama, "got what he wanted after a grand Kabuki to amuse and/or scare the rubes and titillate the dysfunctional press. Why any sane politician would want to get, in the question." Here's another question - why would any sane observer, think that is what he wanted?

    Here's some rather bourgeise flab on why it isn't so bad, but true enough to say it wasn't a disaster given some other action on jobs as Steve noted:

    http://swampland.time.com/2011/08/01/five-things-for-liberals-to-like-in-the-debt-ceiling-deal/

  • golack on August 01, 2011 2:27 PM:

    What we need to do is vote every POG out of office.

    Obama's election was a watershed moment in US history. But it sent about 30% of the electorate off the deep end. He represents the future, and the future truly scares them. Combine that with the fear mongers and opportunists--wealthy paranoid crackpots too--and you have the mess we're in. Alas we can't send Al Franken to each and everyone's home.

    Some of the hysteria has died down, though MSM is still pushing it. They still won't call out the people who lie, so we need to hold them accountable too. As George Will liked to say, "you can have your own beliefs, but not your own facts." (quoting Moynihan?)...then he creates his own facts to support his belief system....

    The hardest thing will be to stop them from scapegoating Dems for the problems they created. Unfortunately, people want scapegoats when they are not doing well. And certainly don't want to hear that they have to be remotely responsible--what, actually try to pay for the wars--that's no fun.

    Eventually the POG will have to break up. The "Southern Strategy" created a mess, and once business people see that lording over a plantation economy will hurt them--then they'll have to break away and form a sane party. Car makers agreeing to higher mileage standards is truly a win-win-win situation--and no tantrum throwing. This latest episode with the debt ceiling shows that the "far right" are more interested in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs than sharing in prosperity.

  • Archon on August 01, 2011 3:28 PM:

    Republicans decided to play the "madman" card and got 100 billion a year in cuts. To me, playing a card as radical as threatening to default for 100 billion a year and promises of a "commission" on further spending cuts seems to me a little bit like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. They exposed themselves as radicals unwilling to compromise, they have turned a lot of moderate Democrats open to compromise (like me) into hard-liners and all they got were a few sunk battleships.

    Now it hurts to lose those battleships but strategically did the Republicans win with their tactics in the long run? I guess we shall see. I doubt it though

  • LeBrain on August 01, 2011 4:36 PM:

    ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE!

  • Burkey on August 01, 2011 7:13 PM:

    @neil b, on the problem with people not voting:

    Neil! The voting machines don't even work. Those electronic voting machines, touch-screen, high-tech...hackable in under a minute!!
    All over the country! Billions spent on them, literally.

    Check out the Ohio court case King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell:
    http://freepress.org/departments/display/19/2011/4239

    Documents and expert testimony (finally) showing that it's an extremely good likelihood that Bush wasn't elected in 2004.
    Because, in addition to all the chicanery at Ohio polling places, the Ohio vote was probably hacked. Yeah, the computer sent the votes from Ohio to ...Tennessee!!! To a GOP-owned server....which miraculously...nevermind.


    It's a shame it takes this much time for this stuff to come out, and many people I've mentioned this story to are like, "Oh well, it was 2004. Long time ago..."

    Not if you lost someone in Bush's wars, you know? The apathy is amazing. Oh well..move on already!

    All the informing, organizing, petition-signing, representative-calling, truth-telling we do can do no good unless the right to vote and have that vote counted is upheld. This is a major crisis --and has been since the Supreme Court gave the Presidency to Bush in 2000--and until it's dealt with, all the rest can't be.

    But as long as everyone keeps saying "move on" ---and as long as we don't take the immediate lessons of the past ten years' history and apply them---we're all screwed. And we have to start with the vote.

    Those who cast the votes decide nothing,
    those who count the votes decide everything--
    J. Stalin

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