U.S. tarnished

Dateline: Thu 28 Jul 2011

'Our aura is diminished' said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, speaking of the reputation of the U.S. as we rushed to reach a deal in Congress to prevent debt default and possibly trigger a world-wide economic shakeup.

This from the New York Times Sunday July 24, 2011.

Every day the situation worsens.

The Tea Party Republicans continue to hold a hard line; where were they when George Bush was president, and never met a debit he didn't like? No matter. They're in town now, and, if nothing else, their intransience is forcing head-in-the-sand Americans to pay attention.

Obviously,this crisis is long-standing; it will not be resolved easily or quickly.

The 1980s and 1990s saw heady spending by Americans. Home equity lines of credit, credit cards piled high, instant gratification, keeping up with everyone -- we did it all. Bigger houses, bigger price tages, bigger mortgages, a new car every few years, ditto appliances. If it was old, we threw it out; the mantra was new, shiny, better.

There is always a time to pay the piper.

My concern is that we not pass this christless mess onto the grandchildren, that Congress and the President deal with the issue head-on and quit playing political games with the next election (and generations to come).

Meanwhile, markets are down three days in a row. For a birthday present this week, I presented a gloom-and-doom friend with a flag of China.

"Hey, yeah!" he said. "They're our landlords, after all."

Faith, hope and trust in the American dream is a powerful drug. I'm optimistic we will pull out of the hole. But still, as the doom-and-gloom friend noted, we're not the same people of the Depression era. We're spoiled, narcissistic, and we all want our piece of the pie.  Perhaps more frightening than the financial crisis is the attitude of Americans, especially some of us Boomers. We've enjoyed the good life; now, we are faced with cutting back, and to deny ourselves -- and to deny entitlement programs, especially to the poor -- is painful.  Nobody wants to raise taxes. How do we pay back what we owe?

The next election should be very interesting. Third party, anyone?





ComputerWheels [Member] said:

IMHO, repealing the Bush tax cuts would go a long way toward reducing both the deficit and the need to raise the debt ceiling. Welfare to the rich, who appear to be mainly Republicans, just isn't feasible any more. I don't want our grandkids struggling, either.

And has been pointed out before, removing the limit on how much income can be taxed for Social Security would pretty much resolve the SS crisis. For 2011, that limit is $106,800, so those who make a lot more escape the tax on income above that amount.

The Tea Party is an abomination and deserves to fail. It's motto appears to be, "I got mine, the heck with you." IMHO, Obama has done what needed to be done in these rough times and deserves to be re-elected. Michelle Bachmann is downright dangerous and unrealistic.

2011-07-28 11:23:45

Old Grouch [unverified] said:

"where were they when George Bush was president"

Ummm... d'ya remember <a href="http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/?s=Porkbusters">Porkbusters?</a>

2011-07-28 11:57:47

hendy [Member] said:

No more inmates running the asylum. This is what happens when lobbyists and campaign contributions run amuck. I can't add anything really useful except: sell tomorrow, because the market is likely to crater on Monday. We get caught holding the bag in either event.

2011-07-28 17:26:21

Roberta X [unverified] said:

So far, I haven't seen any plan from anyone in D.C. that makes more than the tiniest of inroads on the the deficit -- the car has already gone over the cliff and we've got two sides fighting over applying the emergency brake or shifting into reverse: too little, too late.

As for us not being the folks who weathered the Depression, remember <i>they</i> were the people who had partied their way through the Roaring Twenties on bathtub gin and stock-market speculation. I don't think they were ready for October 1929, either.

2011-07-28 21:52:58

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

All of us-- well, most of us-- are stuck in the tarpit and we all bear some responsibility for getting there.

Voters take the blame for not demanding more from the wankers we send to Washington, sent there because they have obscene amounts of money to spend on campaign advertising, which puts them in thrall of the lobbyists and corporations that gave the money.

There may truly be a time of torches and pitchforks coming. Or at least revulsion and rebellion against the self serving swine that have the gall to say they are "public servants." The electeds cease being concerned about the public weal the night election returns are announced.

The tea partiers are nothing but adolescent ideologues, demanding the ball be thrown to them the first time they come on the field, and if not, they won't huddle. This lot has become so repellent you have to wonder if they aren't sleeper agents of the anarchy movement.

2011-07-29 08:33:32

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It's an impossible standoff:

Tea Partiers can rightfully claim their 2010 election was a message, and they're trying to live up to that mandate. Although "mandate' may be a strong word. Try "strong message."

And the President won in 2008 promising--form every podium in America--to roll back (rightfully) the Bush tax cuts.

Rock, meet hard place.

I have under-estimated, even cursed this President several times in the last couple of years. Somehow, I think he knows exactly what he's doing. The polls are solidly in his camp on the tax cuts.

Regardless what happens, Boner is a loser. What a miserable excuse for a leader. Ditto Reid. Ugh. I've no use for Chinless McConnell, so maybe we all dip into the second-tier of Congressional leaders: I am no huge fan of Eric Cantor, but he is bright. I get the sense that when he and Boner are in the same room, there's a stern inferiority complex amok. That second-tier also includes Stenny Hoyer, Dick Durbin, Sens. Hatch and Hutchison. Folks who know how to get deals done.

This ends in a few days. If the Republicans are stupid enough to insist that we revisit the issue in a few months, it won't be to their advantage.

Much obliged for the email reply Ruthie. I was worried about ya. Was about to put your face on a milk carton.
Well, maybe ice cream carton.

2011-07-29 15:42:40

John Howard [unverified] said:

It always amazes me that suspected democrats can't spell the names of republicans. And then they call republicans 'stupid.'

2011-07-29 21:04:58

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Uh, John, lighten up--get some decaf. Boner is a play on words.

Evidently lost on you. Don't you know, uh---what it is?

2011-07-30 05:54:32

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

If active duty military doesn't get paid because of this intransigent nonsense, national security is put at risk. Over politics!

Active duty enlisted can't pay their bills as it is. Much of my son's time as a Marine company commander was spent trying to make ends meet for 20-something Marines with two kids. Often they are receiving public assistance. It craps on the idea of "service" for the Beltway wankers to fail to send pay checks to the military. And dare I guess that the Congress and staff will be paid?

2011-07-30 10:20:54

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"We're spoiled, narcissistic, and we all want our piece of the pie."

Nothing against your friend, Ruth, but I think he needs to speak for himself.

I'm a college-educated Baby Boomer who has never had more than a very tiny slice of "the pie" - due to inherited chronic health problems for 30 years and my wife's health problems.

I grew up in a lower-middle class family where sometimes all we'd have to eat in a week was a few pounds of hamburger and a couple of jugs of milk.

But even my tiny slice of "the pie" is more than the millions of minorities who live in the inner city areas have historically gotten. Many of them feel fortunate if they have smelled even a whiff of "the pie" from time to time.

Not to mention Americans who are mentally handicapped, mentally ill, those with severe learning disabilities, the physically handicapped, etc. etc.

I find that those who talk the most about the "American Dream" are white, upper-middle class, generally healthy people who seldom stray into the places where the poor do without while the rich - sometimes living only blocks away - live in conspicuously consumptive affluence and attend Tea Party gatherings on weekends.

For many of us, the American Dream has been the American Illusion. Starting with the slave of George Washington, who had to have all of his teeth pulled out to make dentures for his iconic "master." You won't find a picture of the racist George on a wall in my house.

The American Formula hasn't worked for many of us. You know, the old Cat Stevens lyric; "Work hard boy, and you'll find, some day you'll have a job like mine."

And then so many of our wars. Us versus them. We are better. They aren't like us so they are defective. Let's fight 'em.

I know what I am writing here is extremely unpopular. But I believe it to be true from what I have objectively experienced, seen, and heard in my many decades of living.

I don't consider myself to be cynical. I just try to live in the world of reality. Back in the '60s and early '70 when I said or wrote this kind of stuff, people told me to "love it or leave it." Over 50,000 mostly teenage boys were coming home from Vietnam in body bags and photographs of Vietnamese children set on fire by U.S. napalm bombings of villages appeared on front covers of magazines. So, what am I supposed to love about THAT?

Anyhow, I'm not leaving in 2011, so the Tea Party crowd is going to have to put up with me for awhile longer.

2011-07-30 12:31:19

Tell The Truth [Member] said:


This blog is just priceless.

2011-07-30 14:22:19

VladtheImpaler [unverified] said:

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Uh, John, lighten up--get some decaf. Boner is a play on words.

Evidently lost on you. Don't you know, uh---what it is?

TTT -- how many times have your mother and I warned you about your smart mouth? Three swats on your butt and go to your room.

2011-07-30 15:45:46

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Thanks for your kind comment about my post, TTT. Bless your heart.

2011-07-30 18:33:04

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Oooh, "suspected Democrats." Just like them socialists and reds and unions.

2011-07-30 20:54:17

Roberta X [unverified] said:

Tell The Truth: FWIW, I stopped making wordplays on the names of pols some while back: see, it doesn't add to the discussion; worse yet, it makes it very difficult to distinguish between the person and their politics. Often, one is despicable and the other isn't; there are very few flat-out villans, no shortage fools or nice guys with crazy ideas (and vice-versa) and as nearly as I can tell, no simon-pure heroes at all.

Whitebread: dude, veggies. You know dandelion greens are free, right? And you do understand that The American Dream offers only the freedom to try; there's no promise you'll make it. I can't claim to be as bad off as you (are we playing the dozens?) but I moved out at 18 with nothing and only 30 years later, I was in serious debt on a house. Not havin' a Lord or Master, yet with a rainproof roof and nearly enough to eat is a huge improvement on what most of humanity has had for most of history.

2011-07-31 17:57:06

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Roberta and Vlad: It's a comical word-play. You folks need to get on decaf.

Yeah, Vlad, I know full-well what it is.

And if John Boehner's caucus's Tea Partiers aren't flat-out villains, then we need to redefine the word. He runs that show. His game, his toys, his rules.

Political pendulums tend to swing far and, lately, more quickly. This, too shall pas.

2011-08-01 06:34:45

hendy [Member] said:

The party, what little of it there was, is over and there's something like a deal. The upside is: my mother's stock portfolio, upon which she will depend, is safe.

The downside is lookin' the fool. The much bribed (lobbyists, campaign donations from outside of their districts, post-representational employment offers) congress has mollified the noisy orthodoxy of the Republican Party for a while.

They say that democracy is like sausage, that you don't really want to know what goes into it. Horseshit. I really do want to know what goes into it. We all watched the mess, and we need to watch it still more closely. But it's just revolting. We have the tenets of what drove the KKK in the 1930s, ranging from misogyny, xenophobia, and down right hatred driving politics. Again.

The poor are stepped on, unable to rise out of a malaise that's been fermenting for ages. We have a permanent underclass, and an enormous gap between the haves, the struggling, and those needing assistance. Up for review constantly are any group or individuals asking for assistance. They are battered, summoned before unsmiling judges employed as petty bureaucrats, and judged for their worthiness to receive basics, like a roof over their heads, and a meal.

Perhaps they're castigated for accidently being of the same sex and wanting to provide for their partners. Maybe they have desire not carry an unwanted pregnancy or just obtain birth control pieces. They are devils.

They smoked that joint, and now they do life in a Texas prison at $54K a year. But they have little medical care; they're subject to gang violence because prisons aren't managed, and there is no rehabilitation. It's a motel with bars and no pool, and they people next door want you for sex.

Let's not let this get in the way for our quest for the ultimate McMansion, your new SUV, and the roads you'll travel to your resort destination. The goal is the overclass for far too many. Become a ruler. Bribe your politician to get your work done. Buy that vote. Become part of the class where lawyers become your pawns and shields against rules you don't want to follow. Then moralize the rest of the world with your goodness. Bah.

2011-08-01 09:38:56

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Hendy and Whitebeard:

You tell it like it is.

2011-08-01 12:03:56

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I swear to God if we don't get campaign finance reform pretty soon, they're all gonna be bought and bossed.

Citizens United indeed. Clarence Freaking Thomas thinks it's OK.

Scares the holy shit outta me. Hendy's right. I need to become a hunter/gatherer on a larger scale, and bribe my ass off getting Congresscritters to agree with my WorldView.

It works for Ginny Thomas. She cashes some fat lobbying-style paychecks, for writing some pretty brief and unimaginative white Papers (ironic, huh?) on such hubris as the Second Amendment and corporte greed bring good, from politicos whose companies have cases before SCOTUS. Yet SCOTUS doesn't have to live by the same ethics code as the entire federal court system.

It's all flush with dirty cash. Every damned corner.

They're all a little strange except for me and thee, McGee, and I'm a little concerned about thee.

Walt Kelly was right.

2011-08-01 19:59:59

Roberta X [unverified] said:

No, TTT, it's reducing the debate to a playground level with echo-chamber humor, which is why I gave it up. YMMV.

As for campaign finance "reform," all that does is muzzle interested parties. I'd rather have them out in the open than bribing all sides under the table.

Anent pendulums, ours has gone left-right-left for way too long. Time for a new direction; one jackboot is just a mirror of the other.

2011-08-01 20:44:18

hendy [Member] said:

@RobertaX, but they do bribe under the table. What do you think all of those wonderful NGOs and NFPs are for? Education? Y'all was born in the woods? C'mon.

You have to stanch the bribes, as in for real. Pay the critters there a LOT OF MONEY. Then put them in the gas chamber if they take a dime from the outside. Stanch the bribes, I mean campaign contributions from outside of their voting district (like Pakistan-- are you listening Burton?). Follow the money, and you'll find your interests distracted.

I wish I could say that the jackboots were on both sides; they're just selected members of both sides, albeit a big selection. There are a handful of thoughtful people bereft of the stain of bribery, but they are few. You see, it doesn't matter how much money you make and leave for the next generation of your children. It's their character that matters.

2011-08-02 06:23:11

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

You are right about the Ginny Thomas thing. Like the world needs another white paper on some obscure thing. The thing that bothers me is the group in DC, operating on thin personal character but huge public connections, come to think of the largesse as their due.

That said, though I came to really like Danny Burton personally, I was bothered by how much campaign cash he commanded from outside his district. Many years ago I tried to point that out in stories about his connections to Sikhs and the Florida Cuban community. I just didn't think it was right for that kind of money from California and Florida influencing a Hoosier congressional election.

It's a hard concept to get across. I don't think most people know enough about the process, however troubled they are about the results. In Congress, process is really the only game in town.

Yet, process is the area most ignored.

It would be like rooting for the Colts and only caring about the win/loss while watching the game and not knowing a single thing about the rules.

Crummy metaphor, I realize.

That's what bugs me most about the tea party. Most of them care passionately about the final score, but have no clue about the rules of legislative process by which the game is played.

Campaign reform is a legitimate approach to making a more perfect democracy, but in my opinion the only real answer is a more sophisticated and knowledgeable electorate and I am not sure how that is achieved, despite our myriad number of ways available to us to communicate and educate.

2011-08-02 08:55:09

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

George: the right=wing's inconsistency amazes me. You're right--they think of these think-tank paychecks as their entitlements.

And they HATE others' "entitlements."

And you're right about campaign reform, too. Regardless what Roberta says. Having them "out in the open" hasn't helped much, when Citizens United allows non-specific names like "Citizens for Corporte Responsibility." If I knew that ad was paid for by the Kochs, I'd know its ideological bent.

Only in America can a corporationk be defined as a person, by a Court, some of whose members' spouses have directly benefitted from loose interpretation fo formerly-existing laws.

2011-08-02 09:52:50

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Very true, TTT.

Also very true, George:

"the only real answer is a more sophisticated and knowledgeable electorate and I am not sure how that is achieved, despite our myriad number of ways available to us to communicate and educate."

Bill Maher says the country is headed down the tubes for certain due to rapid stupidization of the masses - and, that future leaders will either delay the inevitable or accelerate the inevitable.

Robin said it best; "we're doomed, Batman!"

2011-08-02 14:04:43

hendy [Member] said:

I'll run counter and say:I have hope. There are glimmers of it here and there. There were times in history when you couldn't look towards Washington for answers; Washington was offline. Today, we're too intrinsically intertwined with what happens there, and we have immediacy of communications, some truthful, some partisan but served that way, some partisan and lying about it.

I have so many problems with Dan Burton that I can't tell where to start; the Clinton impeachment, his racist "neighborhood schools" rubric, his acceptance of foreign contributions, his classically inane belief that youthful injections caused autism, and is ability to pander to fear. He embodies the hateful redneck. The Christian Sarkind Clinic at Riley that he helped form is heaven-sent, but Burton wasn't.

And for the longest time, I wondered about Andre Carson, because his mother took positions that I found to be really self-serving, rather than representative of her constituency, which at the time, included me. Now that I've watched him over several terms, I find that he has great humility and his constituents on his mind in an egalitarian way. I like him better than Andy Jacobs. Andy was a good guy, but he could waffle and get strange. Andre isn't so much predictable as you can depend on an actual moral compass. That's different.

But the money is piled so deep in DC that it vastly overshadows the electorate. Time to do something about that. Campaign reform needs constitutional backing to make it stick and get past the SCOTUS, who favor the bribery it endows.

2011-08-02 15:02:38

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

I'm sure you meant to say, Carson's "grandmother," hendy. And I have to disagree. She voted very much in the interests of her constituents, and his recent vote against the very unbalanced debt-limit bill was exactly what she would have done.

2011-08-03 14:36:26

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Sharp is right. Please, Hendy, for my edifcation, if not others, what specific Julia votes were counter to her constituency?

She was the poor man's/woman's representative. She never forgot that, because she was poor half her life. Dirt poor.

2011-08-04 06:01:13

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