Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tarpeian Rock

After all the shouting and tumult died; after all the whipping and hectoring and Bushie rhetoric and McCain posturing and Obama opining and Palin fucking cluelessness and idiotic Republican "revolts" and Democratic quivering and bloviating from the usual talking heads; after all the "compromising" and deal-making and softening of punitive measures against the poor CEOs that orchestrated this mess......the "bailout" bill died in the House this afternoon.

Ezra Klein sums it up here. But the bottom line, for me, anyway, is that this is a defining moment in American history. The problem is clear, the solutions available. All that was needed was fourhundredsomething individuals to figure out a way to stop vying for petty advantage - to put their nation's fortunes first, and their own political fortunes second - and they could not do it. Our Chief Executive is plainly a gormless idiot. And now our Congress is exposed as a cabal of puling fools and cretinous timeservers, more worried about their acess to the malefactors of great wealth and their filthy lucre and the tools of power than their nation's well being. As Paul Krungman says:
"I don’t think the Dem leadership was in a position to craft a bill that would have achieved overwhelming Democratic support, so make or break was whether enough GOPers would sign on. They didn’t....So what we now have is non-functional government in the face of a major crisis, because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch. As a friend said last night, we’ve become a banana republic with nukes."

Even though my damn representative voted against the thing, make no mistake. Sixty percent of the Democrats gritted their teeth and voted for this ugly baby. Sixty-seven percent of the GOP whined and held their breath and drummed their heels and voted no. They chose their policies over expedience, the best over the good. The damned meeching traitors should all be hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.

So everything from here on is just the long imperial sunset. Our economy is showing signs of breaking. Now our political system has shown it is broken.

But imperial evenings can be long and luxurious, and I plan to stretch mine and my chidren's as far as I can. I hope you are well placed for yours. Because, like Ezra, I can think of nothing as appropriate as this:

Update I, 9/30: Many, many observations and amendations in the comments section. What appears to becoming clear to me is that:
1. The primary reason for the failure of politics here was an attempt by the House Republicans to ratfuck the House Dems in an election year.
2. The House Dem leadership, with which I typically hold little brief, appears to have, for once, outtricked the Republicans and let them sink a bill that they otherwise MIGHT have wanted with their stupid politican tricks.
3. There does seem to be some legitimate groundswell of hatred for this bill. The problem I see with it is:
..a. The opposition from the left seems to be based on fairly hardheaded suspicions of the Wall Street shenangans that got us into this mess, but
..b. The opposition from the right seems to me, frankly, delusional. You people are worried NOW about "government interference in private business" when it was your messed-up deregulation and inattention that CAUSED the mess? You want to abolish the capital gains tax? Why? You want to "solve" this using private commerce?

WTF?

Frankly, my personal opinion is "fiat justicia, ruat caelum"; let the damn larcenous banks and hedge funds and investment houses fail. Let the theiving, greedy petty men and women who helped engineer this disaster go broke, and then the adults will move in and sweep up the pieces.

But. But.

We saw this before - the Nineteenth Century was filled with these "boom and bust" cycles. And I suspect that this time, as before, the malefactors of great wealth and their wealthy enablers in business and politics will get away just fine. It will be the farmer who needs a loan, the small grocer looking for a mortgage, the individuals who need jobs but will lose them when these businesses fold, that will be hurt. The oligarchs will just sell off a yacht or three.

I wish I thought that the righteous anger of the American people would cleanse these moneychangers out of the temple. I don't. I think that the NEXT "bailout" (thought they'll get wise and call it something different) will be WORSE than this one. That's what happens when you're the mark and the people who are supposed to be your "leaders" are in on the con.

Update II, 9/30: I have to agree with Krugman here:
"But putting myself in Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi’s shoes, I’d look at it this way: the Democrats could start over, with a bailout plan that is, say, centered on purchases of preferred stock and takeovers of failing firms — basically, a plan clearly focused on recapitalizing the financial sector, with nationalization where necessary. Maybe such a plan would have passed Congress; and maybe, just maybe Bush would have signed on; Paulson is certainly desperate for a deal.
But such a plan would have had next to no Republican votes — and the Republicans would have demagogued against it full tilt. And the Democratic leadership cannot, cannot, be seen to have sole ownership of this stuff. So that, I think, is why it had to be done this way. I don’t like it, and I don’t like the plan, but I see the constraints under which Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, and Reid were operating."

But what does it say about our "democracy" that the adults in the game have to play by these idiotic rules?

29 comments:

pluto said...

I'm going to run the considerable risk of facing your wrath, oh mightily sarcastic one (and I say that with the GREATEST respect), and say that I cannot agree with you.

I agree with most things you say, that Congress has calcified to the point of near uselessness, that the Chief Executive is a perhaps the least effective "Decider" in human history, and that our political system is broken and only a blind man or an idiot would want to be elected for any office higher than dogcatcher.

But the proposal before Congress was fatally flawed and would have done more harm than good. The big issue, as Fabius has pointed out is what price the Feds would have paid for the toxic debts. If they paid likely market value (somewhere between 50-65 percent) they'd have killed the banks they are trying to save. If they'd paid what the banks need to survive (clearly the most important issue from Paulson's point of view) they'd have paid 93-97 percent and we, the taxpayer, would have been out the difference. Furthermore, if the government bought that debt at too high a price (which seems quite likely) they'd have only temporarily stopped the economic slide for a little while and then they'd be back asking for even more money when the slide started again.

Then there are all of the NASTY scams that we (a couple of smart, honest guys with a few spare moments) could think of to legally steal money from the government. If we could think of them, I'm sure CEO's, who spend all of their time thinking about such matters, could think of them too.

Finally, even after all of the modifications, the bill still concentrated too much power into a few hands.

For perhaps the last time, Congress' inaction did us a favor and saved us from ourselves as the founding fathers intended.

Make no mistake, a bailout of some sort WILL pass in the next few days. We can only pray that the next bill will be better.

P.S. - Have you looked at the foreign financial news? European banks are suddenly dropping like flies. There's a good chance that we won't be able to borrow the money we need to finance whatever plan Congress eventually chooses to pass.

FDChief said...

Pluto: My point was not that this was a good bill. OR that it was a BAD bill. But the breaking point had nothing to, in so far as I can tell, with the inherent goodness or badness of the bill.

Nope. The House Rethugs got up to some sort of idiotic political shenangans; they were mad at Pelosi or they wanted some sort of moronic capital gains tax break or the moon was in the Seventh House or some such crap. The Irish Rovers used to sing a song about why you didn't see any unicorns around today. It was because Noah had built the ark and the rain was starting to fall and he hollared "Stand on your rucksacks!!!" and the unicorns were "playing silly games". And so they all fucking drowned.

From where I sit the failure of this bill had everything to do with dysfunctional politics and very little to do with principalled objection to the details.

If I thought that Pelosi & Co. would now turn to the Republican morons who sat round jamming their thumb up their own asses wishing for some sort of magical free-market pony to heal the sick investment banks and announce that the NEXT bill would include mortgage relief for all homeowners AND the bastinado for all financial officers associated with these loans I'd be cheering. But they won't, and you know they won't and I do, too.

Nope. The games over and the team owners - the rentier class, the insiders, the military-industrial-congressional-financial complex - has won.

Now all we can do is decide whether we become isurrectionists or well-kept serfs. Or drown.

Publius said...

Actually, Chief, if you look at it closely, a lot of Democrats voted against this bill. This was a bipartisan rejection, meaning that a ton of the "peoples' house" critters had some serious heartburn about it. We should note that those Repubs and Dems voted against their party leadership in this case, and I think that's the most important thing.

I'm with Pluto here. It was a shitty bill and it should have been rejected. What these bozos should have done is direct the bailout $$ directly to banks, through the FDIC system, and thereby maybe cover some of us, rather than the masters of the universe.

Fuck Wall Street. It's only been in the past 20 years that we average folk have discovered them. And then we became a nation of middle class people checking the Dow out every day. The vast majority of Americans lived without Wall Street for most of our nation's history, and the last I looked we did fairly well. We don't need 'em. They need us. They are parasites and we are the host.

The only reason Wall Street became so important in our lives is that we let them. And our government, always biased towards the rich investor class, provided invaluable assistance to these people whose only job really was picking our pockets. What we have to do is refocus our government on who and what's important. And if it takes some hard-core, recalcitrant people from both parties to help do it, I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.

Charles Gittings said...

Ya well, I jave to disagree too.

I don't care if it was a good bill or a bad bill, what I know is that there isn't any reason to do anything in haste, especially with the lamest lame duck in US history in the White House, and every prospect of increasing the Democratic majority in Congress.

Interesting fact: I've lived in three different congressional districts over the last seven years. My reps:

Mike Thompson (D-CA-1), a moderate.

Doc Hastings (R-WA-4), a reptilian right winger.

Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF after 911.

All three of them voted against the bailout.

The other thing is: this ain't over, this is politics, nothing is more political than economics, and the real problem here is that the American Public are pretty idiots and hypocrites unless they are racists, fascists, or religious wingnuts. We keep hearing that Congress is even less popular than Bush is... like 30% v. 15%... Ever think about that that 15% difference reflects?

Charles Gittings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gittings said...

Boy do I type lousy when I'm tired.

Worse even. :O

sheerahkahn said...

Oh geez,
not to pile on, Chief, but I was dead set against this bill, and for principled reasons.
The bill reeked of patronism, and uselessness. But what got my gourd were the elements of the bill that would give the big wigs at the ceo companies their sweet heart bonus packages...the caveat in the bill was that no ceo post-passage-of-the-bill would recieve said compensation...which given the circumstances was an empty gesture.
Also, the fact that the US government is "Creating" money, which they don't have squat for credit from the world bank and thus relying on "hey, we're the government, print more money!", and we're throwing in cash in the hundreds of billions to float a failing system.
Can you say Depression/Recession/Inflation?
You do know that the US government has nearly thrown in a trillion dollars into the system already...yeah, and things are still going to pot...this...700 billion dollars is a deal breaker...country breaker in my opinion, and the horror of it all is the shameless greed that is being allowed to flourish.

Also, I'm of the mind that these lending organizations got greedy, and they're trying to avoid the crop harvest that they worked so dilegently to sow.
To me, I have no problem saying, "Eat it and swallow it whole, assholes!"

I do agree that Congress is a primordial soup of unrealized potential, but given the choice between the dynastic clusterfuck in the Whitehouse wanting to accelerate the break-up of the nation into separate countrys, or having a congress that leaps around howling like a pack of rabid monkeys throwing poo at each other...well...at least congress is acting like we should still be a United States...despite the poo-tossing fest they seem to enjoy, currently.

FDChief said...

I see I should be more discriminate in my ire. As I said, I hold no brief with this bill. It was an ugly bastard and there was a lot to dislike about it. My representitive, Blumenauer, voted against it as did most of the Oregon delegation for all the reasons you mentioned. Many of the Democratic defections were based on some modicum of principalled objection to things like the CEO sweeteners Publius mentions and Pluto's FDIC-breaking "reverse auction" provisions.

But.

The Republican defections were primarily the same group of idiots that proposed the junior-high-school-economics-project plan last week that everone from Milton Friedman to his dog laughed out of the building. THEIR plan includes even MORE of the appalling "let the market work", antiregulatory crap that got us here. Call it principle if you will, but it's the principle of an idiot who refuses to jump out of the highway because he's afriad people will think he's not as tough as a semitrailer.

Add to that the political reality that thie thing was supposed to have been a brokered deal: the Dems were going to give on all the loathesome crap you all point out in return for Republican concessions on the original Imperial Economy Paulson bailout plan. The GOoPers reneged, and as a result a lot of Blue Dogs bailed, too, rather than get this abortion hung around their necks.

AND the reality is that this is probably the BEST deal we're gonna get. Does anyone here think that Pelosi and Reid are going to craft a BETTER bill? One that includes all the intelligent things that have been suggested, like renegotiating mortgages to protect the holders, complete excision of all bonusing and exorbitant "salary" compensation for the officers of these larcenous institutions, full equity for government purchases, or even the common sense approach that worked for the RTC, that is, waiting for the troubled firms to declare Chapter 11, restructuring the more solvent ones, siezing the moribund ones and then selling their assets for as much of a profit as we can get? Does anyone here think that we will see more and better regulation of the financial markets under the Democratic "leadership" of this Congress?

My point is, and still is, that this isn't about this bill as written. It is about the utter failure of our political system under the weight of the selfcentered idiocy of a small group of mostly conservative Republicans unwilling to abandon the lassiez faire principles of deregulation and greed that got us here. That and the fact that the Bushies have so debased the coin of Presidential influence that Dubya is worse than a nothing - he's an active irritant whose advocacy of this bill acted like bug repellant and helped motivate both Dems and Repubs to flee it.

So I'd say that many Dems deserve nothing more than a mild scourging for being disobedient party members. But the rock and the toss is still on order for the Repubs, whose ideological blinders make them incapable of participating in the political process in any meaningful (i.e. bugshit nuts talking-to-the-parking-meter-crazy-lady) way

FDChief said...

Here's Dan Gross over at Slate:

http://www.slate.com/id/2201175/

He's got the same basic take I have on this: the Dems were ready to take a fairly bad deal in return for a Republican fig-leaf of support so neither side could get political advantage. The GOP said yes, then bailed, pulling some Blue Dogs, liberals and minority Dems (who hated this anyway and might never have voted for it).

I don't see this as a stand on principle. Rather, that the posionous extremism of the GOP, 2008, has put these people outside the rational universe.

When you can't compromise and you can't negotiate the only option left is war. This says, to me, that we are at war with the lunatic right-wing (meaning 70% of the party) of the GOP.

Ael said...

Actually, I think we are seeing the impact of the internet on democracy.

When the printing press first came out, it enabled the creation of our modern representational democracies. It being no accident that the first democracy to emerge(i.e. the USA) was also the first country with a literacy rate over 50%.

However, printing presses cost money and so voices were limited to those who could afford them. As radio and TV emerged, the government made the spectrum that they depended on, licensed monopolies.

This concentrated voices even more.
Power brokers sprung up to control the voices. Fox News is *not* an accident.

Then the internet came along and blew all that up. The old monopolies are breaking down.

And with that breakdown, we are witnessing the destruction of the old "toe the line, or else" enforcement mechanisms.

Charles Gittings said...

"When you can't compromise and you can't negotiate the only option left is war. This says, to me, that we are at war with the lunatic right-wing (meaning 70% of the party) of the GOP."

Yup -- and that's been my understanding since 2001. The way I put it then was...

"Whoever and wherever we are, we're all in the Resistance now."

And now we need to be ready to take the offensive, god willing.

FDChief said...

ael: good point - all the reporting I'm reading today has the "no" voters talking about the avalanche of e-mails they got against this bill.

MY question now is: where to?

I have no faith that the House Dems can craft a more progressive bill, or that they will be able to ram it down the throats of the Rebublicans. And the GOP? Christ, the news items talked about how they were worried about how this represented such a massive government intrusion into "private business", as if all those Medicare Plan B checks and DoD checks to McDonnel Douglas and Rayethon represented the Magical Pony Invisible Hand of Adam Fucking Smith. The Club for Fucking Growth? Those bastard are flat-out delusional.

WASF.

FDChief said...

"And now we need to be ready to take the offensive, god willing."

I love you, Charles. You Da Man.

What I don't love are our own Field Marshal Nancy Haig and Marechal Harry Foch. Methinks we're gonna have a hard time getting past our own wire.

FDChief said...

Here's an intresting snipbit from Slate, again, on the structural reasons why this deal fell apart:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/bigsort/default.aspx

What I find especially telling is his Reason #2, and the implications it has for the future. While I have terrific respect for the noble Roman over at Fabius Maximus, I think he's waaaaayyy too optimistic about the ability of the inherent strengths of the American public to overcome this yawning leadership abyss. The "big sort" points out that in a LOT of ways there is much less of an "American public" and a lot more of two or more American publics that, frankly, don't agree on a hell of a lot. We're looking a lot more like the 1840s and 1850s than the 1940s. I'm not sure where that leaves us, but I suspect that it's somewhere less than good...

FDChief said...

Here's Fabius (https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=31246093&postID=3367202441771202066&page=1) on how we can prevent the financial sector, an by implication, the entire economy, from cratering.

First, he shares my opinion of our "leadership": "Of course we will not take such actions in a timely fashion. Our leaders’ happy talk was intended to maintain spending and investment during a brief slowdown. The unintended consequence is that the American people are psychologically unprepared for this crisis.

Worse, our Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action loop is broken. Despite years of warnings (see this list) we have not seen the danger ahead. Now that it is upon us, our fixed optimism prevents us from orienting ourselves to changed conditions. I doubt that our leaders can either formulate adequate plans or execute them."


But here's where we diverge. He believes in something called "the American people" when I suspect that there's no such animal: "As so often in American history, we must fall back on the resourcefulness of the American people. Our ability to act together, to force our leaders onto the right path, to have the resilience to weather difficult times."

Stirring words. But looking at the outcomes of Monday's vote?

Not so stirring as they might be...

FDChief said...

Well, fuck.

When David Brooks agrees with you, you know you're wrong:

"And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion shift against them.

House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it."

sheerahkahn said...

Interesting bedfellow you have their Chief...and David Brooks of all people...oh my.

I think a recession would be good for us...think about it...a recession forces those who have champagne tastes and Lucky beer budgets to live within their means, not their credit card limits, or their over-developed sense of self-entitlement, and wishful desires.

Does this mean we don't need to overhaul our financial system?
Oh my, no, but it does highlight beyond a shadow of a doubt that regulations once eschewed by the high and mighty are evidently much needed to keep the greedy, and the want-to-be-greedy from preying on those people wanting to live far above their means.

Publius said...

David Brooks + FDChief?

Does not compute.

Charles Gittings said...

Ya, well Lincoln had a tough time getting beyond McClellan, and ANVIL wasn't exactly OVERLORD, but you have to play the cards you're dealt and do the best you can. All I'm saying is that we have to be clear on the goals and stomp the living crap out of these people when the time comes.

And seriously: Pelosi and Reid are good people. Who do you think would be better?

There are several Senators I'd be happy to see as majority leader, but none who I'd think was better for the job than Reid. If I was to bet on the next Democrat to be Speaker, my money's on Rahm Emanuel.

I've been reading ANGLER the last few days, and it's been confirming a lot of what I've been seeing by inference all along... Cheney and Addington are deranged neo-fascists, but they're also first-rate operators and absolutely relentless -- that's what makes them so dangerous. The thing to understand is that goals matter more than excuses and recriminations do.

FDChief said...

"Cheney and Addington are deranged neo-fascists, but they're also first-rate operators and absolutely relentless"

Charles brings up an interesting question about all this.

Remember that it was Darth Cheney who said that "after Reagan deficits don't matter".

Where the hell are he and his little stooge Addington in all of this? What's their angle? I'm with you on this much, Charles: these guys are like the maguffin in a Hitchcock film - wherever you find them, you know something nasty is going on. I find it curious and fascinating that they appear to have submerged without so much as a bubble. WTF is going on?

pluto said...

Time to weigh in with my 2 cents again. I was among the opposition to the bill from the beginning so perhaps I can offer some insight into what happened.

1. The bill was ugly when it was rolled out. It was 2-1/2 pages of proposed legislation dripping with contempt for Congress, the body that would have to pass it. Imagine being a Congressman and reading a bill that basically says "You're a bunch of bozos, give me what I want and shut up."

2. America is a center-right nation and the outright nationalization of the financial sector has already caused considerable alarm.

The perception that we'd be putting all of our chips on one roll of the Paulson-Bernanke dice caused even more concern, partly because a large percentage of the population views them as tools of various political factions. To continue the metaphor, not only are we betting the house but the dice are suspect.

3. Everywhere I went in the last week I heard a massive rebellion and backlash against the Federal government and "them." All Congresspeople started receiving massive numbers of emails, letters, and calls. Many reports suggested the public was running 90 or more to 1 against this bill before the President spoke to the nation.

4. For once the President spoke somewhat persuasively, offering the hope that the taxpayer might come out ahead for a chance. This combined with the weekend negotiations strong-armed many legislators into glumly supporting the bill and it looked like it had a chance for passage.

5. A series of economic reports and economist editorials came out suggesting that the bill wouldn't address the root problem of too much debt in ALL levels of American society.

6. The Republicans and Democrats both showed the resolve of a wet, battered, and semi-conscious noodle. NPR reported that both parties urged their members to "vote their conscience," which, with mail coming into their offices running 200 to 1 against, doomed the bill.

It wasn't a small bunch of dissatisfied back-bench bombers who killed this bill, it was the overwhelming loathing by the American people, who, for many reasons (good and bad) showed considerable determination, unity, and perseverance in defeating this bill.

I've got a lot more to say but I'll save it for the next post.

pluto said...

Now on the subject of national unity or lack thereof...

The nation is NOT particularly divided. The Slate article touched on the true area of division and then shied away from it again.

The truth is that the country is functioning fairly well our leadership is fragmented to the point of uselessness and both political parties, particularly the Democrats, are in danger of complete collapse.

Both political parties are held hostage by their far-out elements, particularly the Republicans, and are so out of touch with the average voter that they no longer bother to run anything but attack ads in the hope that they can alienate more voters from the opposition than they will lose themselves.

My congressional district is up for grabs as the incumbent has had enough of politics. Both parties nominated young, thoughtful, persuasive, talented candidates. And then they started throwing the mud nonstop with an absolutely appalling lack of regard for the difference truth or fiction. Both candidates are kept out of sight except at carefully choreographed functions where the attendees are screened more heavily than you'd find in an airport full of terrorists.

It really doesn't matter who is going to win in November because the huge problems of lack of political unity and the stranglehold economics is going to place on the Federal budget is going to keep the next President from fulfilling any of their promises.

Now, on to other matters...

pluto said...

Charles,
You're a great guy and I'm coming to better understand the wisdom of your words all the time. You have been right in most things that you and I have disagreed on but there is one topic where I cannot understand your thinking.

Why do you say that Reid and Pelosi are effective?

The Republicans seem to get everything they want the Democrats don't seem to get anything. How does this show effective leadership?

I can agree with you if your sole means of measuring their performance is that they are getting things done on a day-to-day basis. Nothing would get done without their willingness to compromise. But I don't think that the Democrats are looking really ragged these days and I don't think they can afford to compromise any further.

pluto said...

The scary thing is that I have a LOT more to say, particularly on the rebellion that broke out over the bailout bill but I've run out of time. Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far ;-)

Charles Gittings said...

Oh, I imagine they are mostly preparing for the transition, but it's absolutely not their style to work something like this out in the open in any case, and it's further complicated by the fact that McCain and Cheney are not exactly pals.

Did you hear about C.R.E.W. v. OVP?

That's a jolly little civil action that was filed earlier this month in the DDC seeking to preserve any and all records of OVP over the last eight years, and the judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the feds to do just exactly that pending resolution of the case.

FDChief said...

Pluto: Your last post confused me a bit. You start by saying that in your estimation the nation is not especially divided, but you then seque into the dysfunction of politics and the gun-to-the-head status of the national parties.

I have to agree with you about the GOP. I know a smattering of fairly center-right type people who are horrified by the antics of the bombthrowing antiabortion and neocon (i.e. nutjob) wing of their party. But the reality is that the thing we used to call a "Rockefeller Republican" is as dead as...well, Rockefeller.

I'm not sure who's holding the D's hostage? Netroots? MoveOn? I don't get the sense that the DFH's are holding the party's feet to the fire. Far from it - I see the Dems acting not like a genuine opposition party but like a wannabe player, trying to toady to the same moneyed interests that own the upper echelon of the Repubs.

But the bottom line is that, as you point out, the political "leadership" in DC no longer resembles the nation they purport to lead.

When that happened in Rome, the ultimate solution was the Man on Horseback. I wonder what we will come up with..?

And re: your comments on the post above - I'm starting to agree with you that there WAS an element of popular furor involved. My concern is undiminished, however: I get no sense that the popular will has coalesced around a sensible alternative, nor that the progressive side of the aisle has a plan to try and convice the public to listen to them. Not when you have Rush fulminating about that damned Big Gummint and how they're Trying To Take Over Your 401K!!!

I'm still dreading the next week. I think the Congress is going to go from this bad to a Worse To Be Named Later.

Charles Gittings said...

Pluto,

The basic problem is the system, not the people per se. Again: who do you suppose would do better?

You need 60 votes in the Senate to get a vote on a bill. You need two-thirds of both houses to override a veto.

Who among us is unfamiliar with the electoral history of the last 30 years?

Have you ever noticed how the Bush administration always has some crisis brewing every two years just before the national elections?

What exactly are Reid and Pelosi supposed to do that they haven't done?

Impeach is easy to say, but that option never had a chance to work, and it never had enough public support to justify doing it anyway. Not ever, and you can't tell me I'm not clear on the fact that these people are CRIMINALS.

But gee whiz, I've literally been able to PROVE they are criminals since mid-2002, they've literally admitted the crimes on the record, and yet enough people either think that their torture-isn't-torture BS is credible, or that torturing people is just a smart thing to do, that even now most people don't get that they are in fact murderous criminals who torture people.

I know what the cure for that is, and it isn't a pointless impeachment, it's a good old fashioned grand jury indictment -- but for THAT we need a federal prosecutor who isn't a part of the criminal conspiracy.

* The first and only order of business is to elect Obama and beat the Republicans in Congress just as big as we can.

* The only measure of whether or not Pelosi and Reid are effective leaders are the VOTES of their colleagues. I'll support them until they are replaced; and if they are replaced, I'll support their successors just as I would have supported Hillary Clinton if she'd won the nomination.

* I'm an anti-fascist. This just could not be any less complicated. The Republican Party is a criminal organization: we have no other problems.

Lisa said...

Great discussion.

Pluto is right when he says,

"It really doesn't matter who is going to win in November because the huge problems of lack of political unity and the stranglehold economics is going to place on the Federal budget is going to keep the next President from fulfilling any of their promises."

Publius, when he says we have invested Wall St. with this
god-like power.

The bill was no good, and deserved to founder. Of course, there's a lot that's no good right now, from the President and his illegals wars on down. But greed (all the way 'round) and exploitation doesn't deserve to be fostered, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

FDChief, what I think is that yes, this bill failed because of some nasty politics. However, it was close enough to fail, despite the intersts of the financial elites of the country, because it was so bad. Basically, the Bushies got too greedy and arrogant, without the political heft to back it.

If Paulson had kept Congressional leaders informed, and a consensus draft bill updated (use a small Treasury/Fed/Senate/House working group), then he could probably have had a nice bill submitted and passed next week, with the odd $50 billion rip-off in it.

Instead, he tried to go Bush/Cheney, drive his semi into Congress and order them to fill 'er up with hundreds.

It didn't work.

That's not all bad.

-Barry