Shutdown, Debt Ceiling, and Hostage Taking

So here we are over a week into the Government Shutdown. From where I sit, it sure looks like the Republicans are being more like RepubliCANTs, completely unwilling to negotiate in a world where negotiation doesn’t mean “give us everything we want.” Not that the DemocRATS are angels here, please understand. Right now nobody likes Congress very much. Individual states like Nevada are chewing their collective fingernails (and probably, secretly, making contingency plans).

It’s gotten to the point where the markets are accounting for the fact that next week, the Government may well stop paying interest on the National Debt. That’s what the debt ceiling means in real life. If our nation stops paying the bills, it’s reasonable for holders of our debt to decide it’s not worth as much, and might even be worthless. Everybody always thought “oh that would never happen, it would be too catastrophic!” Now our [Republican] elected officials are falling over themselves to say it wouldn’t be that bad. “Oh jinkies, it might be a good thing!” Oh yeah? Tell that to China. Turns out they are our biggest foreign creditor.

Looking for a silver lining? At least big corporate mergers that enrich hedge fund managers and executives at the expense of employees and consumers may have to slow down a tweak.

Let’s hope enough moderate Republicans decide they don’t want to preside over our nation going into default.

In Closing: Securing the internet from the NSA; Student loans a drag on housing; Lief Erickson; USMC reading list; Jimmy Carter on the Middle Class; keeping a schedule on a crappy job; if part time employment spiked prior to Obamacare, how did Obamacare cause it?; pay no attention to the next trade pact that’s not going to be good for American workers.


Today is all Syria and nothing but Syria.

Obama managed to surprise his own advisors on Syria. What’s the rush? Why did John Kerry have to stick his neck out and fluff up the “evidence” with decade old pictures? The phone is ringing, Secretary. It’s Colin Powell asking if you’ve lost your mind.

And Ok. So we have “evidence” — if it can be trusted — saying that chemical weapons were used, and saying where they were used. Nobody has offered anybody to the actual attack or orders to make the actual attack. The “proof” boils down to “The body was found in a locked room that the defendant had a key to open.” Unless there’s a whole lot more “classified” info, it’s barely enough to get a search warrant on a crime drama. Do you think that the Bad Guys in that part of the world are above framing another party with circumstantial evidence?

Here’s a little history lesson for you on the War on Terror and Syria in particular. In case you’re having a hard time keeping track of the players, here’s a chart of who stands where. The Guardian is willing to go so far as to say “it’s about the oil, stupid.”

In an environment where we are arguing about the upcoming debt ceiling problem and some Republicans are threatening to let the nation default on it’s bonds unless Social Security is gutted, it’s worth noting that the Pentagon can’t afford to go to war in Syria and will need a supplemental spending bill to make it happen. But Republicans never met a war they didn’t like (unless a Democrat thinks it’s a good idea); so much for “this nation must learn to live within it’s means.

There’s also a lot of people who point out that we cannot be the Policeman for the World.

The media is on board — a nice war makes it obvious what to cover. For a change, support and opposition is not following party lines in Congress. It’s a good thing they aren’t back until the 9th. It will take that long to force encourage enough Congressmen and Senators to support the new war. Getting the military to support “becoming Al Qaeda’s air force” is another battle altogether.

The Pope is calling for peace in Syria. As the first Pope I’ve respected during my lifetime, I think he’s on to something there.

And you know who else thinks going to war in Syria is a bad idea? Sarah Palin, whose Facebook page says “So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?” When Sarah Palin is the voice of reason, you’ve got a big problem.

I thought this was called “Extortion”

Extortion (also called shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offense of unlawfully obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion…. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense…. Neither extortion nor blackmail require a threat of a criminal act, such as violence, merely a threat used to elicit actions, money, or property from the object of the extortion.

So here we are, getting ready to argue about the debt ceiling again. And Speaker Boehner is telling us there’s no deal without gutting Social Security. He’s willing to tank the nation’s credit to get his way.

What, Grandma doesn’t need to eat, does she?

How dare he. And if the President thinks for one minute about appeasing him, how dare he.

Remember that Social Security doesn’t add one penny to the national debt — in fact, the Feds borrow money from Social Security so they can pay the bills!. Further, the anticipated problems with future cash flow can easily be fixed by raising the maximum amount taxed for Social Security. Without Social Security, count on a lot more poverty.

Now, it’s all well and good to say that individuals must be responsible for [read, pay for] their own retirement, it’s just callous to say that in an environment where minimum wage is less than it was in 1963 when adjusted for inflation and many Baby Boomers experience long term unemployment. How the heck are people supposed to “be responsible” for retirement in that environment?

Be sure to contact your Congressperson and Senators to let them know how you feel about this. Remind them that you — and your parents — vote.

In Closing: you know these days it’s hard to end a post without giving you some choice tidbits about the NSA and/or Snowden; when the heck are schools going to learn that their authority ends when students are dismissed and off school property?; blurred lines; they needed a study to show that laptops in class are a distraction even for the kids without them?; a couple comics ladies might appreciate; pragmatism (or, you can’t ship your busted toilet to India); and TR.

News from the Future!!

Just in case you had any doubt that a) the debt “crisis” is phony as can be and that b) a deal would be reached at the last minute, Reuters is already reporting on tomorrow’s events! Here’s a quote, emphasis mine:

President Barack Obama announced on Monday that Democrats and Republicans leaders have reached an agreement to reduce the U.S. deficit and avoid default.

For the Calendar-challenged, it’s still Sunday. As in Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Monster Trucks, Trucks, Trucks!

The one thing I can tell you about this deal that apparently will have been announced on Monday in some version of our current timeline is that it will screw normal everyday people. It’s almost not worth “voting the bums out” because there will just be a new, less experienced group of bums.

Edit: Yes, I am aware that it was an error by Reuters, corrected within an hour of my post. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t amusing, or change the fact that the debt deal will still be something less than sunshine and roses for most people.

In Closing: long term unemployment; maybe Apple can buy some bonds?; more plots for CSI if they would stop with the serial killer shark tank extravaganzas; taxes; Pell Grants; it’s the economy, stupid; and glow-in-the-dark dogs.

Be Afraid of Everything

Ok, seriously. Our obsession with terrorism has veered off into paranoia.

Two unidentified “U.S. security officials” says we need to be afraid of terrorists with implanted explosives, and the TSA director agrees that this is a possible concern — adding that there’s not a damn thing even the nudie scanners and patdowns that violate some states’ sexual assault laws can do about it.

Never mind the fact that such a bomb is much more likely to shower bystanders with gore than actually kill them. Don’t let reality stand in the way of losing some more civil liberties; after all it’s for our safety!


In Closing: more than you really wanted to know about the fake budget crisis, the economy, Republicans, and how politicians plan to screw you out of Social Security; Heinlein; stupid products for children; and camels at the oasis.

A Plea for Civility

Can we please all stop with the name-calling?

Seriously, I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we need to stop hurling around insulting names. It doesn’t do a bit of good, certainly doesn’t persuade anyone to your way of thinking, and it makes everyone who agrees with you look like an asshole.

I’m tired of hearing about Mooselini, the Chimpinator, McLame, Speaker Boner, Rummy, General Betray-us, Tweetie, Slick Willy, George Snuffleupagus, the O-Bomber, Wiener’s wiener, Rahmstein, Bachman-Poptart-Underdrive, Al Frankenstein, the Koch-heads, Dumb-o-craps, Repuglicants, MoDoDo, GingGrinch, and any other creative insults you can think of. Can’t we refer to people with their names and/or titles like civilized adults? “The President,” or “Senator So-and-so”, or “Mr. Clark”?

Now, I will concede a handful of exceptions. The Governator earned his nickname fair and square. So did “Heckuva Job” Brownie — the President himself gave him that nickname. To refer to Pat “Go F*** Yourself” Leahy is a compliment to his restraint. The Cyborg Dick Cheney, well, he is a cyborg.

The rest of it? Knock it off, already! It’s a distraction from real issues, like our eroding Constitutional rights, the developing American oligarchy, the endangered social safety net, the disappearing middle class, our crumbling infrastructure, the failed War on Drugs; our anemic economy, and the elimination of women‘s rights.

In Closing: Dam, dam, dam; Hollywood‘s out of ideas; the most sensible thing I’ve read about the Wal-Mart ruling; it’s a good start; and exercises at work.