The Aftermess

Some not-terribly well-organized thoughts on the Shutdown and its immediate aftermath, in no particular order:

1. If there was one quote that for me crystallized the whole idiocy of the shutdown debacle, the sheer inchoate, juvenile foot-stompery of it, it was this one, from Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman:

“We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Stutzman later tried to qualify his all too-honest statement, for which he was deservingly pilloried, but the original works well enough. Once it became clear that the ACA wasn’t going to go away, the House GOP was looking for something, anything, that they thought Obama might agree to so they could declare victory to the people who would be willing to see something, anything that they got from Obama as a win. What it was didn’t matter, as long as they got something.

And, I don’t know. Maybe that was the plan all along — say they were aiming for Obamacare, which they knew they weren’t going to get, and actually settle for a whole raft of other legislative goodies they wanted but couldn’t get any other way, like pipelines and drilling and killing net neutrality. Basically, whatever they could get away with. I don’t think it was this because I don’t credit the legislators who pulled this stunt with a surfeit of genuine political savvy, and in any event rank and file schmoes like Stutzman certainly weren’t clued into any deeper political machinations. But maybe it was. Maybe.

Obama gave them jack. They got nothing, or something as close to nothing (income verification for ACA recipients, which Rachel Maddow noted was a thing already in the law) as to make no difference. And all it cost was an estimated $24 billion divot out of the economy, the shutdown of the government and hundreds of thousands out of work, a whole bunch of points in every poll taken during the shutdown, and one of the great legislative faceplants in modern political history.

A relevant question for Stutzman and every other House GOP legislator who thought shutting down the government and taking the country to the brink of default to try to blackmail the president and Senate into giving them things they couldn’t otherwise get was a useful idea: Dude, what makes you think you deserve respect in the first place? Grinding the government to a halt as a form of legislative extortion is, in the most polite word I can think of which applies here, shameful. To do it with no clear idea of the purpose of your actions makes you a tool. Stutzman, et al got what they deserved out of the shutdown: Nothing, including respect. 

Mind you, Stutzman is back in his district saying he doesn’t regret the shutdown. I wouldn’t expect him or any other of the folks who precipitated the shutdown to say anything but that , for one of two reasons. The first is that it hurts when your ass is handed to you and so you try to scrape up some pride. The second is that some people are simply too deluded to never not declare victory. I don’t know which Stutzman is; I will charitably ascribe him to the first.

2. I noted a week ago that there were three options as to why John Bohener was allowing the rabble-rousing wing of his party as much latitude as he did, the second (and most likely in my opinion) option of which was that they would turn on him if he didn’t give them enough rope to hang themselves with, after which he could pass a sane bill raising the debt limit and getting the government back to work. And in fact that’s pretty much what happened.

With hindsight being 20/20, Boehner seems to be getting some credit for managing an unmanageable group of members as best as was possible under the circumstances. I think that’s true, although I think it should be noted that when your best includes a government shutdown, that’s a pretty large asterisk. Politico, which labels him a “winner” of the shutdown because his stature has increased with the hard right in the House, wonders if he’ll be able to capitalize on this new stature to get those folks to pass reasonably sane legislation.

I’m gonna go ahead and answer that one now: Not a chance, in part because many of the folks who precipitated this late crisis think the problem was they they didn’t go far enough. The Dunning-Kruger caucus of the House GOP is still open for business, and they’ll still be causing Boehner headaches, and he’ll still have to deal with them like he’s dealing with angry children made of boom. He must really love being Speaker, is all I can say about that.

3. On a related note, apparently Mitch McConnell is assuring various and sundry that Obamacare won’t be the cause of another government shutdown. That’s nice, but McConnell is in the Senate, not the House, and as noted above, there’s at least a few folks in the House who seem to think the problem with their strategy this time wasn’t that it was foolish and stupid, but that they didn’t execute on it perfectly, and practice makes perfect. So call me unconvinced the lesson has been entirely learned. Hell, McConnell can’t even get the “no more shutdown” memo to Ted Cruz.

4. About Ted Cruz: Look, the dude’s an asshole, and it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that an asshole who declared at Harvard Law that he wouldn’t have anyone who attended a “minor Ivy” in his study group is the same asshole who accuses his fellow Republican senators of “carpetbombing” the House GOP. It’s also fairly obvious that Cruz sees his senatorial tenure as an inconvenient but necessary way station on the road to the White House, so it should additionally be not terribly surprising that he’s not interested in playing nice with the other senators, including the ones in his own party, or cares what damage his actions do to them. He doesn’t plan to be there that long.

(Dear GOP: please have Ted Cruz as your 2016 presidential candidate. Oh, please. Oh, please.)

5. Obama: Dude looks tired these days, and that pretty much sums it up.

I have a friend who maintains that the whole plan for the shutdown and debt limit debacle was to drive the country to default so that Obama would be obliged to try to raise the debt limit via executive authority, or authorize a trillion-dollar coin, at which point the House would vote to impeach him. I think this is basically an entertaining paranoid fantasy, and even if it weren’t it would be a debacle for the GOP, first because the Senate is held by the Democrats and second because Obama would be impeached for acting to protect the full faith and credit of the US because the House refused to do so because they wanted to impeach Obama for something. Again, I don’t credit the GOP for much in the strategy department these days, but I suspect even they can see how that would work out for them. So, yeah: Don’t think so.

On the other hand, the GOP are still who they are, and that’s not going to change until January  2015 at least. I expect to see Obama looking even more tired by then.

223 thoughts on “The Aftermess

  1. The Republicans knew early on (in the first 5 or so days of the shutdown) that they had lost on the “defund Obamacare” demand. From then on it was all about saving face.
    As someone with a dog in this fight (federal civilian employee) that really pisses me off.

  2. income verification for ACA recipients

    Not even quite that; the bill passed requires the Secretary of the Interior (?) to report twice a that yes, there is actually income verification in the ACA.

    see pp. 23-24.

  3. The Republicans did get pretty much the budget they want passed, though, and now the sequestration budget is the new baseline (from which further cuts will undoubtably be proposed). They lost on Obamacare, but they’ve done a lot to lock in the brutally low expenditures that they’ve been rooting for through Obama’s terms.

  4. I know the article says that Boehner was strengthened by the shutdown, but I really have trouble seeing how. He supported a policy he personally disagreed with and stood up to Obama and the Democrats? OK, but to what ends? I don’t want the Dems to gloat (because people gloat often get their comeuppance eventually), but honestly the Republicans not only didn’t get anything out of the shutdown, they hurt their popularity in the polls.

    I realize Boehner was in an almost impossible position on this one. His choices were to bring the Senate bill to the floor and lose the Speakership or to refuse and watch his party plummet in the polls (ok, maybe he really thought that Obama and the Dems would cave again, but it seemed pretty obvious after 2-3 days that it wasn’t gonna happen). I think it says something about our politicians that–if the article is correct–they now respect him for hurting his party (not to mention the nation) just so he could keep his job. Personal power is more important than the party or the nation???

  5. I’ve seen it reported that Michelle Bachman has started a bill to impeach Obama. It doesn’t say on what grounds (I don’t think “Being found Black while in charge of a White House” counts, but I’m not an expert on US Constitutional law).

    A number of commentators are suggesting that the Republicans might split, with the Teabagger tendency peeling off from the rest of the party.

    Anything that splits the right-wingnut vote sounds good to me. :)

  6. ZMiles:

    “The Republicans did get pretty much the budget they want passed, though, and now the sequestration budget is the new baseline (from which further cuts will undoubtably be proposed).”

    I expect it would have been that without a shutdown, however. I don’t know how much credit the GOP should get for moving forward on a budget that essentially looks like the sort of budget they would have been inclined to pass anyway, and that no one would have fought them very hard over, especially if it were (as this one is) running through January 15th.

    Also, if I recall correctly, the law that passed requires a conference between the Senate and the House on the budget, which is something the GOP avoided doing quite a few times leading up to the shutdown. So, yeah. Not sure this is a plus they got from the shutdown.

    Znepj:

    I wouldn’t put much credence to that report.

    Also, general note: Let’s go with “Tea partiers” rather than “Tea baggers,” for the same reason I prefer “Republican” to “Rethuglican,” i.e., cheap shots with the name-calling incrementally lower the standard of discourse. Thanks.

  7. Dave, if he’d stayed he could have run for mayor here in Toronto. Our current mayor would fit right in with the Teabaggers.

  8. Ted Cruz was born in Calgary. CAN he run for president?

    I would love to see Cruz “birthers,” though as a white guy, he’s probably immune.

  9. *I* think we should just go ahead and change the party’s name to The Dunning-Kruger Party. It’s not like they’ll know what it means…

  10. I remember my mother commenting on how tired Jimmy Carter looked at the end of his presidency. I think it’s an occupational hazard. For presidents who pay attention to what’s going on, anyway.

  11. Sorry, you said not to go down this conversational path, but [attempt to go down a conversational path I said not to go down deleted -- JS]

  12. @E: Yes. His parents were American citizens, and so is he. (John McCain was born in Panama. Same deal.)

    John: I think that Stutzman was just operating under the sunk costs fallacy. “Look, we did this horrible thing that’s hurt a lot of people. That has to have been for *something*, right? We can’t have just done it for nothing!”

  13. I will never understand why anyone wants to be President of the USA. Every single guy, except for maybe Clinton, looked like crap after 5 or 6 years — unless, of course, they looked weathered and beaten by life prior to ascending to the Presidency, ala Reagan.

    But to willingly want to deal with what has been known to be a house of idiots — see Mark Twain — is beyond me. I would think most sane individuals would try to stay away from idiots, but to intentionally take a job where you have to deal with them on a near daily basis, it’s unbelievable. And you don’t even get paid all that well. It’s like being stuck in perpetual high school with the meatheads constantly calling you names when they’re not busy punching each other, primarily in the head so as to look “too smart”.

  14. I’m wondering how Boehner looks to his constituents now. After the past two weeks, it seems pretty clear that he cannot, when push comes to shove, control the more radical of his party members, and that he can’t stop his party from doing things that hurts them more than they hurt their oponents. It will be interesting to see how his next election goes. The Democrats would be stupid not to run someone against him.

  15. The comparisons of the Republican leadership with the incompetent generalship of the First World War are not entirely inapt. It takes far more courage to end a battle you shouldn’t have started than it does to keep attacking pointlessly.

  16. Both sides play these games. See ‘to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills.’ which was said by Senator Obama in 2006. Pelosi and others spoke out against raising the debt limit when it was politically convenient to them. They both want to get something out of it every time, and they’re not always sure what that is. (just surprising to see someone admit it)

  17. Analogy for the current US Congress: Someone is caught out in a rapid river, yelling for help. There are people on shore who have a rope, they decide to vote if they should use the rope to rescue the drowning person in the river. The majority vote to use the rope to play tug of war instead.

    We all know who the majority are in the US Congress.

  18. The law does require them to go to conference over a more permanent (than three months) budget. Now they get to do so with a Democratic party who’ve seen the benefits of staying unified and on message. They also have to convince people they’re not just going to try and force another default if they don’t get their way, as that impression is exactly the takeaway they left everyone with. I’m having a hard time seeing how that lets them take a strong position on cutting spending and resisting revenue increases.

  19. Louie Gohmert told Fox News that the shutdown’s purpose was to run out the clock on other issues, like immigration reform. Maybe a post hoc excuse, but plausible nonetheless

    Oh, brother. Immigration reform was never going to pass the House anyway, so what’s he running the clock on, exactly?

    The comparisons of the Republican leadership with the incompetent generalship of the First World War

    The generals of the First World War weren’t, despite popular legend, particularly inept. They were fighting a war at a particularly awkward time for the offense.

  20. Considering the number of times when Boehner and Obama have supposedly agreed on something, only to have it get scuttled when Boehner talks with his caucus, there’s a cynical (and possibly paranoid) voice in the back of my mind that keeps whispering “What kind of dirt has the Tea Party dug up on Boehner that they can keep him toeing their line so consistently?”

    Of course in reality, there’s probably no such thing, and he’s just trying to adhere to the Hastert Rule. But the cynical old coot deep within me still wonders.

  21. I agree that shutting the government over obamacare was a publicity stunt to get attention. There was no way that Obama would negotiate on that. This was stupid and had NO chance of succeeding. Many conservatives agree with that. It was completely pointless.

    That being said, you can’t expect conservatives who think the President is dead wrong about the amount of spending he engages in should just go along with whatever budget plan he wants. Conservatives in general think that huge deficits will eventually cause the US to crumble under their weight (see Greece). We are over Our debt to GDP ratio is not over 100%. That is very dangerous. Yeah I know people can go ‘yeah but bush and his wars’. However, that money is gone and there are other things that are leading to the deficit to continue to go up. That is not a reason for people who think that this will adversely affect the country long term should just agree to spend whatever Obama wants.

    When Bush was in office, the democrats absolutely did not go along with everything Bush wanted. Why should they? They have a different view.

    The only time Obama has been willing to negotiate about spending reductions is with a government shutdown or the threat of a government shutdown. The republicans should have pushed for additional across the board spending reductions instead of the show pony. They should have done something reasonable that they could have had movement on. That would have accomplished something.

    Clinton worked with Republicans to cut spending. Obama doesn’t want to cut much of anything. I believe we spend about $500 billion/year just on the interest on the national debt and the debt keeps going up. Its compounding. Obama took us from 60% debt to GDP to 100% debt to GDP. Blame bush all you want, but we are 5 years into his administration and the deficits continue to grow.

    At $500 billion/year in interest this means we basically need a $500 billion surplus on everything else to be able to pay down the debt. I recommend people get some economics books of your choice (I mean real academic ones, there are plenty written by liberals) and look at the consequences and risks of Debt above $1 trillion.

    Most people don’t realize the kind of power this gives the Chinese and more importantly the Russians over us. Hank Paulson Autobiograhy (there is an intro by Barney Frank who endorses the book so its bipartisan) he writes that during the 2008 collapse the Chinese told him that the Russians approached them about flooding the market with American debt. The Chinese said no and told him about it. Let me explain what could happen. Alot of our debt is funded with short term notes. These need to be ‘rolled over’ so people keep collecting interest since we don’t really have the money to pay them since we run a deficit. Most of them are. If the Russians flood the market with our bonds and stop rolling over debt, we would have serious trouble raising the money to pay them. This would cause a debt crisis similiar to what happened to Mexico in the 1990s (its on wikipedia). Completely and legally caused by the Russians. This could cause a depression. I highly recommend Hank Paulsons book even if you hate Bush. It gives disturbing incite into the 2008 financial crisis.

  22. As a FurloughedFed™, I have lots of hard feelings, because none of this would have been necessary if Obama hadn’t proved himself an incompetent negotiator practically from the beginning of his first term. The Republicans got the message that he could be rolled, so it took a major spine implant to convince them otherwise.

    That said, although everybody’s a loser here, Obama lost the least and so looks like a winner (as was the USSR in 1945), and the Republicans lost the most (unless you count those who lost their jobs, welfare checks, vaccinations and food stamps). Any rational person understands that, but either pride or folly requires them to take a victory lap.

  23. @ DAVID: because Louie “Gomher Pyle” Gomhert is a gibbering wackaloon and a creationist racist sexist homophobic Dominionist asshat and dipshit. He isn’t worth the oxygen of talking about him.

    @ Dave Doyle: Damn you and all you Canadians! WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE KEPT THE BASTARD UP THERE????? Apologies are all well and good, but this fucker (senator Cruz) needs to go, fast.

    Maybe we can send him to Mexico or Iran? Make him ambassador to North Korea and hope that he pisses off the Supreme Whackadoodle (in which case we’ll just hand him over for execution to avoid the disaster of having to wipe out the North Korean military and fix that gigantic humanitarian disaster that would suddenly become our problem if we were to curb-stomp North Korea).

    Finally, I am sick and tired of this horse shit. It’s time for a 10,000,000 Liberal March on Washington, where we overrun DC with pitchforks and torches and ride Senator Dipshit out on a rail and dump him into the Potomac.

  24. Scalzi, I think you are talking about the wrong ‘constituents’ in answering bonelady’s question… I have little doubt that Boehner will be reelected to his House seat, but I think he cares more about his position as Speaker… I thinkk that the last 3/4s of the shutdown make a lot more sense viewed through the lens of “How will this impact Boehner’s position as Speaker?” than they do as “What can the GOP get from this?”

  25. @Guess:

    President Obama has _reduced_ the deficit every year since he came into office.*

    (asterisk is because 2010-2011, the deficit essentially held stable)

    Deficits:
    2009 (the last Bush budget): $1.4 trillion
    2010 (first Obama budget): $1.294 trillion
    2011: $1.3 trillion
    2012: $1.087 trillion
    2013: $973 billion
    2014 (est): $744 billion
    2015 (est): 577 billion

    Last year’s spending on interest was $220 billion. Not small change but less than half of your assertion.

    You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

    http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/federal_debt

  26. I wouldn’t be too happy about Cruz being the nominee.

    For one thing, if he becomes the nominee the party will vote for him, period, even the moderate Republicans who can’t normally stand him, who get that he’s a douchebag who hurt the entire nation to try to undo a law that has survived every challenge thrown at it. They’ll vote for him solely because of that R after his name to keep Hillary or whoever else gets the nod from getting the WH.

    The undecideds or nonpartisan voters (like me) who won’t vote for him were never going to in the first place; he’s a douche.

    At most, if he was the nominee, he might lose some of the more moderate, conservative nonpartisans, who might hold their nose and vote for someone else out of spite, but do I see any Republican voters not voting for him? No, and Republican voters are a lot better at getting to the polls (especially the Tea Party) than Democratic ones.

    I will say this, I’m kind of proud of the Dems in this regard that they basically made the GOP look like a bunch of assholes, which wasn’t hard since they were pretty much ducking into the punches, and for not backing down.

  27. I love ‘Dunning-Kruger caucus’ as a name for the Suicide Caucus!

    Ted Cruz…well, it seems that Texas thinks that what Caligula did wrong was that a whole horse in the Senate is too much government.

    The shutdown caused PERMANENT damage in some areas. Anyone who dies of e-coli in the next month or two may have been killed by the shutdown, and the research in Antarctica was cancelled for the year, losing all that data forever. I heard we missed some important stuff at NASA, too, but I don’t know what.

    This is exactly what the Anti-Science Party wanted. They hate science because no one who understands it could possibly support their policies.

    Beej:

    I think it says something about our politicians that–if the article is correct–they now respect him for hurting his party (not to mention the nation) just so he could keep his job. Personal power is more important than the party or the nation???

    The right-libertarian wing of the Republicans value selfishness as a virtue. They’re like Ferengi.

    John:

    Also, general note: Let’s go with “Tea partiers” rather than “Tea baggers,” for the same reason I prefer “Republican” to “Rethuglican,” i.e., cheap shots with the name-calling incrementally lower the standard of discourse.

    So I expect calling them Al Taeda would be right out?

    David:

    It takes far more courage to end a battle you shouldn’t have started than it does to keep attacking pointlessly.

    With other people’s bodies. Yes, not an inept comparison at all.

    DAVID: Thank you for that, but I doubt Guess will pay any attention.

  28. For the people behind the insanity (as opposed to those revelling in the middle of it) the govt. shutdown *was* the point. Look out for upcoming commentary about how “well we shut them down for two weeks and look how little harm it did – now think of how great it would be to shut it down permanently!”
    And the teahadhists will nod in what they fantasise is a sage manner and ignore the deaths and pain and suffering and chaos, and will wail and chant and scream that all they want is to cut waste.

  29. No, and Republican voters are a lot better at getting to the polls (especially the Tea Party) than Democratic ones.

    Actually, that hasn’t been true for the last two elections. Democratic turnout was higher in both (unsurprisingly in 2008, perhaps, but still true in 2012).

  30. @guess:
    Couple things, first, you want to be careful not to conflate debt and deficit. The Deficit has fallen faster in the past couple of years than it has in recent history (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44172), and is projected to continue to shrink into 2015. Several economists have noted we’re in the ballpark regarding deficits we would have been if we enacted Simpson Bowles.

    The Republicans keep insisting on debating the image they’ve constructed of Obama, rather than actually engaging him. They look like fools after this debacle, not just because they tried to defund standing law by torching the world economy, but because Paul Ryan et al tried to pivot to entitlements after Ted Cruz made it abundantly clear the issue was Obamacare. By holding firm, the Democrats let Republicans play out every stereotype people have about the new Republican party (they tried tying birth control to funding the government, used soldiers as props for photo ops, and denied math and economics to downplay the damage of defaulting). The Republicans aren’t going to convince a majority of Americans the Democrats are lying and dealing in bad faith just by telling us, they need to bring them to conference and make them back out of a deal.

    What’s the rule in writing? Show, don’t tell.

  31. Scalzi – sorry to disagree w/you on this, but the Republican Tea party are ALL Traitors, once they stood aside and let their rabid attack dogs call us on the Left “Traitors” during the War Criminal Bush Regime. Insults are ALL they Deserve – also being arrested for Sedition, along with their Corporate Masters the KochBrothers, the Krocs, “Papa” John Schnatter, and Rupert Murdoch (well, in Murdoch’s case it’s more “enemy combatant” since he’s NOT an American!).

    No more Republican Tea Party (and yes you MUST draw an Equals Sign between the two after this!) – Ever Again.

  32. 1) Boehner may have made the best of a bad situtation, but it’s a situtation he helped create by appeasing the Tea Party Causus in the first place because he didn’t believe he could rally the GOP’s old guard against the far right newbie reps and senators. I appreciate that he’s one of the more responsible Republicans in national politics today, but acting the grown up is useless if you give in to childish tantrums. He enabled politicians pandering to the belief that hobbling Obama was the highest good in Washington to tear his own party apart. My sympathy for him is very limited.

    2) You’re making the mistake that just because some in the GOP can’t think through the ramifications of their actions, that none can. If you can think of it, they or their well-paid analysts probably have. They’re also sanguine about the likelihood of each outcome, which is why politicians in real life rarely play chess when they know checkers is a more predictable game. Career politicians are in it to keep and advance their jobs, not be studied by policy wonks fifty years from now. The term Machiavellian is routinely abused to describe byzantine strategy, but Niccolò Machiavelli was a practical and ruthless man.

    @Guess

    I agree that shutting the government over obamacare was a publicity stunt to get attention. There was no way that Obama would negotiate on that. This was stupid and had NO chance of succeeding.

    Not quite. The people who engineered that ploy expected it to play better than it has with their base. Now that their base is realizing that Obamacare isn’t the harbinger of the apocalypse on a ladder to socialized medicine, just a gift to the insurance companies that collaterally might make it easier to get insured, they’re rudderlessly looking for their next hobby horse.

  33. I think the key takeaway from all this is not how much the Tea Party reps hate Obama – that’s a given, and always was. Right now the TP’ers despise the other Republicans.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/sanity-caucus-vs-kamikaze-caucus-a-cheat-sheet-for-the-gop-civil-war/280681/

    It’s instructive to compare the Democrats and Republicans in how they handled a change in the political landscape.In the 80′s when the Reagan juggernaut rolled through the country, the Democrats regrouped, became somewhat more centrist (to some very loud howls from the left), and came back in the 90′s. Clinton’s era wasn’t entirely secure, but the 90′s were prosperous and relatively peaceful The Democrats today still maintain a more centrist outlook.

    The right has gotten divided into two camps, and it’s losing cohesiveness.

    Primarily, the Democrats stayed united, and the GOP is being divided. As long as that’s the case, they won’t take the presidency or, IMO, the Senate. Because of the way state legislatures have gamed the districts, the Republican’s could very well maintain their majority in the House.

    Frankly, I don’t see any Tea Party types with sufficient charisma to be president. Cruz thinks the US is like Texas. It really isn’t. He’ll find that out one day.

  34. Guess:

    As others have pointed out, the debt is not the same as the deficit.

    Also, growth in the federal budget has been the LOWEST since Eisenhower (and if your growth in the budget is lower than the growth in population, which it is, then you SHOULDN’T be criticized for runaway growth).

    And the largest holders of US debt is the American people. China isn’t even the top holder of foreign debt.

    Also, please note that almost all economists (well, at least any with a good track record) have been saying we would have been MUCH better offer (at least 4-10% highter GDP and unemployment below 6%) if efforts at “austerity” were NOT implemented.

  35. A politician’s job is to get re-elected (or elected to your next office). Viewed that way:
    *House members that caused the shutdown get to tell their constituents that they did what they said they would — WIN
    *House moderate Republicans get to tell their constituents that they acted in a sane and prudent fashion and are deserving of their office — PROBABLE WIN (they will, however, be subject to primary challenges and woe betide them if their districts are swinging conservative)
    *House Dems “held the line” and saved the country from evil, yadda, yadda — WIN
    *Senate members saved the country, etc. — WIN
    *Reid & McConnell — we’re heroes! — WIN
    *Cruz — springboard for Presidential run — WIN
    *Obama — does not have to run for anything, just has to deal with these idiots, gets to age ten years for every year in office and misses out on seeing his children grow up — LOSS

  36. Regarding Boehner’s future, I heard several times this week that he is look to retire after 2014, which indicates he does not intend to run again. Of course, that was also interspersed with discussion about how he wants to leave a legacy as Speaker, like the “Grand Bargain”. What I don’t see, is how he expects to get a “Grand Bargain” if he refuses to bring bills to the floor that Democrats will vote for. Without that it isn’t a bargain. It’s just another failure in the Senate.

  37. “The generals of the First World War weren’t, despite popular legend, particularly inept. They were fighting a war at a particularly awkward time for the offense.”

    This is true, but I think the analogy works in a different way. Those generals grew up learning to fight on mounted cavalry, with bayonets and swords, and were trying to fight a war where the enemy had invented tanks, machine guns, and poison gas. The times had changed.

    Bohener grew up in a congress where “Politics is the art of compromise” was the rule of the day, and is now trying to manage a group of people that view any compromise as tantamount to treason.

    The times have changed, and despite the considerable experience of both the WWI generals, and the Speaker of the House, they were both relative neophytes in their new contexts.

  38. Actually, the thing that struck me the most over the last several weeks was the increasingly vitriolic and just ODD rhetoric coming from the right wing of the Republican base, often cropping up in comparisons of Obamacare to slavery. From George Will to Ben Carson, we kept hearing how Obamacare was the worst thing since slavery, or a law just as bad as the Fugitive Slave Act, or just as worthy of repeal as the latter.

    I mean, I understand how much some people think it’s a bad law. I do. I don’t agree, but that’s all right, we don’t have to agree. But the Carson quote in particular just about made the head of my spouse (an African-American professor of history) explode. “Oh right,” said she, “the worst thing? Tell it to Emmett Till.”

    It reminds me of the type of BS rhetoric the left wing used to throw around with great abandon in the 1960s. Remember Abbie Hoffman saying that the only dope you should shoot “is Richard Nixon”? I recognize that this country has always been a source of overheated political speech, but this last month was truly remarkable, and makes me wonder exactly what those folks think is going to happen now.

    This focus on the apocalyptic has seemed to me to only intensify over the last couple of years and one wonders the extent to which it reflects the underlying concern of white folks that a) a black guy is president, and b) there are more and more people of color voting. Sarah Hoyt’s recent ‘I am Spartacus’ screed, (and the comments following same) is just another example of what I’m talking about.

    However, having herein ranted myself, I hope that a level-headed member of the more conservative members of this commentariat can demonstrate that this is in fact a continuing fact of American political life, and that I shouldn’t get as worried as I am.

  39. Part of me wants to see the GOP split like the Whigs. Part of me is scared that it won’t split down the demographic and political lines most advantageous for me and mine. It might be nice to have a third party for a while–TV networks can label them D, R and T–but there’s no guarantee that an independent Tea Party-like beast won’t go full populist-fascist.

  40. @pixlaw:

    The thing about optics based political tactics is they work great until they hit up against reality. Painting the Affordable Care Act as the worst thing since slavery is good for getting opposition butts in seats, but when over 50,000 Kentucky residents have signed up for KYNect in the first two weeks of their exchange being open, which I believe accounts for over 30% of their uninsured population, calling for the repeal of Obamacare there is going to become bad politics fast.

  41. To amplify my earlier comment about who the TP folks are really mad at:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/did-the-gop-establishment-just-curb-stomp-liberty/280680/

    Excerpt:

    The fundraising email that landed in my inbox under the subject line “A Parliament of Whores and Traitors” is too lengthy to run in full, but here are some excerpts for those who judge the strength of a man’s principles by his vehemence:

    “Mitch McConnell received his $3 billion of silver to betray the base and the grassroots, via an amendment authored by Lamar Alexander. They’re such sluts for a good porking …”
    “It takes $2.9 billion to put Mitch McConnell on his knees before President Obama, whoring himself out and betraying his Kentucky constituents.”

    “This is war. We’re not going to stand by as the whores in Washington betray us and their constituents to send money to their crony sugar daddies, including the pharmaceutical companies who stand to make an estimated $35 billion in profits from Obamacare …. We’re going to burn Mitch McConnell and his parliament of whores at the stake in 2014 and 2016.”

    “These 81 whores curb-stomped liberty and defecated on the Constitution yet again tonight.”

    “They will remember this day and rue it, and we will pour forth the fires of your wrath upon their heads. We’re not running away, and we are not beaten.”

    “Every dollar you contribute to us is a bullet aimed at the heart of the status quo in Washington, a bullet aimed at the parliament of whores and traitors who sold you out tonight.”

    “You aren’t funding a political campaign. You’re funding a revolution. Your donations are history-making ammunition to execute those who spat in your faces tonight with their vote. It’s time to take these whores and traitors out.”

    “Donate today, and know that your dollars will rain down like mortars on those who betrayed us tonight in 2014. A season of vengeance is upon us, and it is time for the establishment to reap what it has sown.”

  42. Those generals grew up learning to fight on mounted cavalry, with bayonets and swords, and were trying to fight a war where the enemy had invented tanks, machine guns, and poison gas

    Well, kind of. Everyone had invented tanks, machine guns, and poison gas and they were all trying to figure out how they could be used. The two most critical weapons of WWI were machine guns and artillery and the officers in all of the countries were very familiar with their use, especially in the empire (“We have the Maxim Gun, and they have not” was a common refrain). What they had to figure out was how to fight a mass industrial war, where the everyone’s resources were pretty much limitless, and where it was very difficult to win anything that looked like a decisive battle.

  43. Eric Duprey : “See ‘to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills.’ which was said by Senator Obama in 2006. Pelosi and others spoke out against raising the debt limit when it was politically convenient to them. ”

    The difference is that there was never any chance of the debt limit not being raised. Pelosi didn’t hold the country for ransom, demanding an end to the Iraq war in exchange for raising the debt limit. Given that a debt limit increase was never really in any doubt, what they were saying was little more than grandstanding. If the Senate’s going to pass a debt limit increase by a large margin, there’s no danger in a Senator making a statement and voting no.

    That’s a significant difference from that and what the Republican Congress keeps doing.

  44. I wonder if the Tea Party candidates (assuming the TP splits from the GOP) would win the general election in the districts that are now “safe” Republican districts? At first glance, they would, but…there are people who vote Republican because their family always has, and if the Tea Party actually split, they might lose some of those people. Also people who are party loyalists for other reasons, and/or think the split was a bad idea.

    A credible third party in the US would be nice, but I for one was hoping it would be on the left…since the left is really wholly unrepresented in US politics these days (well, aside from Bernie Sanders, may he live a thousand years). Right now we have two parties, Center-Right and Far-Right. Adding Crazy-Right to the mix doesn’t really sound like an improvement.

    Imagining a world where John McCain is a moderate brings a nasty metallic taste to the back of my mouth.

  45. @ Xopher:

    Imagining a world where John McCain is a moderate brings a nasty metallic taste to the back of my mouth.

    Oh, Cthulhu, please no! Ted Cruz in Congress is bad enough. Please, don’t make me think that thought EVER again!

  46. 1. When the Republicans were talking about how payment prioritization meant hitting the debt limit was no big deal, some appeared to be trying to set up an argument for impeachment. Basically, if prioritization would solve everything, then if it failed and we went into default, that must be the result of Obama’s incompetence or intentional sabotage. Thus, another goofy rationale for impeachment added to the pile.

    2. I think Boehner’s love affair with the non-rule Hastert Rule has done him in. By so often demanding the support of a majority of the majority to bring a bill up for a vote, he gives the lunatic fringe too much power, and they have grown drunk on it. Instead of being simply an excuse for Boehner to obstruct the Democrats, it is also a tool for the radical GOP fringe to obstruct Boehner.

  47. @DAVID: I trust you’re aware there was an election between 2008 and 2012? That’s where the right wing loyalists really shine. Democrats are notorious for not showing up to midterm elections.

    Unfortunately, there are a group of HARD right wing representatives (sometimes known as the “suicide caucus”) who’s districts are so thoroughly gerrymandered as to be almost entirely white, Christian and Republican. There’s almost no chance these people will lose their seats, despite being almost entirely responsible for the shutdown. Here’s an interesting article about it.

    http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2013/10/04/gerrymander-steve-almond

  48. I am just glad that we have a 90 day cooling off period before we watch it all happen again. Senator McConnell says in effect no way will we hold the government being funded or the government defaulting on debt as hostages in 90 days. Good to hear that, but who really believes McConnell has sufficient power to back up the assertion? What will be very interesting to learn in the meantime is the outcome of the November election. The whole House and one third of the senate ARE up for election in less than a month. Yes, yes I know, incumbents usually win. But, the players could be different enough come January and February to affect the scenario next time around. Voters can be unpredictable, and after this mess being so recent and close to the election, I for one, am praying that the voters surprise us, in a good way. Send more moderates who have some common sense and belive that government can and should work good for the people governed. Everyone saw the recent poll data that 23% are Republican and 28% are Democrats, meaning that almost half of all Americans are in the MIDDLE of the political spectrum in their views. Vote middle people, vote!

    Been out of the loop this summer Sir John. Good to be back to reading your blog every day.

  49. “In the meantime is the outcome of the November election. The whole House and one third of the senate ARE up for election in less than a month”

    That’s next year.

  50. Xopher @2:07 I suspect that in the event of a TP/GOP split, there would cease to be a “safe” Republican districts. Those “safe” districts are safe because there is a majority Republican presence (or a majority non-Democrat presence, if you count right-leaning independent voters). With a TP/GOP split, that majority non-Democrat vote is also split between the TP candidate and the GOP candidate. Instead of a 60-40 Republican victory, you might now have a 40-40-20 split, with it being a tossup between the Democratic candidate and the GOP (or TP, depending on district) candidate.

    The Republican strategy in the 2010 redistricting seems to have been to create safe Democratic districts, rather than safe Republican ones. Hypothetical example: If a 3-district region has 2.1M people, 800K of whom are Republican-leaning and 1,3M of whom are Democrat-leaning, they would aim to redistrict it into three regions, one of which contains 700K Democrats and the other two having 300K Democrats and 400K Republicans each. They will win 2/3 of the districts, despite having only 1/3 of the overall votes. A TP/GOP split puts these gerrymandered districts decidedly in the “D” column.

  51. Republicans, while losing this PR battle, are certainly winning the war through their obstructionism. They are demonstrating to their white male base that they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to save America from itself (or rather to save “real” America from the Homosexual Muslim Mexican Barbarian Horde and the Viche Liberals that appease them). The reason they can do this, is because on the State level they’ve been able to slowly and deliberately rig the election game while distracting national Democrats with non-issues that slowly push the Overton Window in their favor.

    It’s convenient for Republicans to have a consistent narrative, because their narrative never changes irrespective of facts or events that may contradict it. Of course, that makes governing a country of 300 Million people each with a slightly different opinion about what are top priorities are and how we might address them kind of impossible. In a post-post-modern society consensus is an outmoded concept. With the diversity of opinion out there it’s just too difficult to maintain a giant political party with any great success. That’s why we’ve seen the rise of the vague notion over the specific policy proscription when it comes to campaigning.

    The Republicans homogeneity in this regard is a distinct advantage over Democrats. Old white guys still make up a sizable portion of the country, and the Republicans have the plurality of that demographic sewn up. It’s not a large enough voting bloc to run a country any more, but it is significant enough to throw a monkey wrench into any notion of progress one might have. Nihilistic is certainly a good descriptor. To these people, the loss of the white male hegemony may as well be the apocalypse. They’re collecting canned food and ammunition, they’re not thinking about solving the great crises presented to us by globalization. As the country steams on without them, they’re going to become increasingly hostile, and immune to reason.

    I think it’s folly to rejoice in the supposed takeover of the Republican party by the Tea Party faction, and their subsequent irrelevance to the electorate. The nihilistic, christian doomsaying, racist, homophobic, element of the Republican party has been extant for a long time, and were seen by the Republican leadership (comprised of Country Club plutocrats) as useful idiots. Now they’re going to push the plutocrats out of the party, and the business interests will have to find another party to serve them. Since we have only two parties that means we’ll no longer have an openly pro-corporate party (Republicans) and an a quasi-corporate party (Democrats) with a strong contingent of left-leaning reformers, but a Looney-Tunes-Forcecasting-The-Endtimes-Racewar-Jamboree Party (ostensibly still called Republicans), and a dominant pro-corporate party (ostensibly still called Democrats) that will utilize social issues to distract from an economic agenda that supports the priorities of the insanely wealthy over every other person on the planet.

  52. I suspect the reason for all the slavery lingo is that it’s a vaguely race-themed topic and they have a hard time thinking of other topics when talking about Obama.

    As to Cruz’s chances in elections: I have seen a fair number of people state that they are die-hard Republican voters, but that they will never vote for Ted Cruz in particular for anything, ever, no matter what. I suspect that he would lose to pretty much anyone just by virtue of being that guy who held us all hostage that one time.

  53. I was speculating to my wife the other night that all these gerrymandered Republican districts are what’s really driving the primary challenges from the right. Since the districts are never going to elect a Democrat, the challengers can up the rightward ante because there is no need to moderate towards the center.

  54. Floored, in 1984 I worked hard to prevent Ronald Reagan from being re-elected. Wore buttons, argued with everyone, called voters as part of a phone bank. When he won, I was crushed. He was the crazy right of his time.

    His policies were actually slightly to the left of Obama’s.

    And I remember people in 1979 saying they sure hoped the Republicans would nominate Reagan, because boy howdy he was WAY too crazy to be elected. And I remember people in 1999 saying they sure hoped the Republicans would nominate George W. Bush, because he was WAY too stupid and right-wing to be elected.

    So I can’t join John in hoping the GOP nominates Ted Cruz. Just can’t.

  55. I trust you’re aware there was an election between 2008 and 2012? That’s where the right wing loyalists really shine. Democrats are notorious for not showing up to midterm elections.

    The comment I was responding to was reacting to the idea of Ted Cruz running for President. I trust you’re aware that Ted Cruz can’t run for President in a midterm election?

    Unfortunately, there are a group of HARD right wing representatives (sometimes known as the “suicide caucus”) who’s districts are so thoroughly gerrymandered as to be almost entirely white, Christian and Republican

    I know gerrymandering is the villain of the hour, but that’s not what gerrymanderers do. They pack opposing voters into the minimum number of districts they can, and spread their own voters as widely as possible. The result is a few opposition districts that are safe and a lot of districts that are advantageous for the gerrymandering party but not overwhelmingly so. North Carolina’s gerrymander, which turned the NC delegation from about a half/half D/R split to a 8 to 3 Republican advantage created three safe Democratic districts (70% plus D) and 8 reasonably advantageous R districts (55% R). The really safe Republicans are coming from places where gerrymandering is irrelevant. John Boehner, for example.

  56. Hendry
    Oh my. Next year you say? I was so hoping it was this year, but this is 2013 an odd numbered year. Wishful thinking on my part. But hey, we have a whole year to motivte all those Middle voters to vote and maybe something good could come of that.

  57. Xopher@1:11 – On the science losses (and taxpayers’ money squandered), you can add in pulling half a dozen of NOAA’s oceanographic research vessels off their science missions and returning them to their homeports with transit times of up to 5 days.

    The ships cost upwards of $50,000 a day to operate – so even if they can now redeploy and finish the work, that’s a good $2,000,000 blown on this little temper tantrum. (Not to mention the mariners laid off – some of whom will not be paid for the furlough time.)

  58. What I find scary is that the craziness of what occurred might occur again.

    It is terrifying to see people play with economic Armageddon as a method to get what they want. Imagine the damage worldwide that will occur if the American economy tanks. The great recession just might be viewed with nostalgia as a better time.

  59. @Brian DeLue:
    There was also an election between 2004 and 2008 where Democrats retook the house and Senate, and an election between 1996 and 2000 where The Senate stayed pat and Democrats picked up seats in the House. Gerrymandering makes things hard, but not impossible, and I’d argue they have a better chance of holding seats if they don’t primary incumbents.
    Midterms normally benefit incumbents, but big political stories can move the needle towards an opposition party. Impeaching Clinton in ’97 brought out Democrats against the GOP in ’98, 9/11 led to Republicans controlling both houses after ’02, Iraq war dissatisfaction brought out Democrats in ’06, and Obamacare brought out the Tea Party in ’10. If the GOP doesn’t get past their image of ideologues willing to burn the country down they’ll give Democrats a much bigger opening in ’14.

  60. Someone on the Diane Rehm show said yesterday that Ted Cruz’s whole grandstanding and hold up of the government was simply to raise money for his presidential bid. I don’t 100% believe that it was that pointed of an effort, but the conservative PACs that back him have increased their coffers, so I don’t totally disbelieve it either.

    And, oh, there’s this straight from a Republican’s mouth:

    “Asked who won in these two weeks, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said ‘the people that managed to raise a lot of money off this.’”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/house-gop-extracts-no-concessions-government-shutdown-debt-ceiling-deal-98443_Page2.html

  61. I understand that outright personal greed played a role in flirting with default. I heard (but now can’t find any reference to it, so take with a grain of salt) that some House Republicans sold Treasury bills short (meaning they make money if their value tanks).

    Members of Congress, of course, are exempt from insider trading laws.

  62. I think the one thing that the Repub leadership won was more “proof” that government is bad.

    When one is elected to government on the premise that “government is not the solution, it’s the problem”, then there is no incentive to try to solve actual problems and a great deal of incentive to try to sabotage potential solutions.

  63. I may be cynical, but I think Ted Cruz isn’t actually interested in the Presidency, he’s found a much shinier bauble to entertain himself.

    I think he wants to be the male Sarah Palin. He wants to lead a devoted crush of acolytes who’ll praise his every stupid proclamation and dry his tears when his next Noble Cause goes down in flames. He wants to earn millions slapping his name on ghostwritten books and giving meandering speeches that get covered even when they don’t actually accomplish anything. He wants people to flock to his defense every time someone calls him a moron or wacko.

    I think Ted Cruz and his ilk have turned the GOP into a reality show, with a lack of concern for the real world consequences of starring in Real World DC.

  64. @Xopher “Members of Congress, of course, are exempt from insider trading laws.”.

    This statement is not true any more. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 and the recently gutted version both prohibit insider trading by members of Congress and the Executive Branch.

  65. @Xopher

    How about in 2004, with everything that was starting to come out about Iraq and Halliburton and what not.

    “God, how could they re-elect him?”

    I was working for the elections department in one of the counties in California back in 2004. While there were zero expressions of politics allowed in the office, when midnight rolled around the atmosphere in the office was a thick mix of disbelief and “Well, we’re all fucked now.”

  66. Historically, the Dems have got the deficit under control, then the Republicans get elected and enact huge tax giveaways which explode the debt. This time around, due to Bush’s recession, when we should have been spending to stimulate the economy, the Republicans blocked any spending.

    The deficit/debt is a big deal, but deficits should increase in a recession, and be eliminated in an upswing. What’s happened is that the tax cuts prevent the deficit being eliminated.

    The Republicans are still pushing for tax cuts and austerity, despite the clear evidence from the UK that this leads to a double (almost triple) dip recession.

    The take-away is that deficits that help the poor are a bad thing, but those that help the mega-rich are a good thing, in Republican land.

    As for the GOP, the quicker they slide into the dustbin of history, the better. Not sure if the Tealiban will split, but it will just accelerate the decline, if they do. The best thing that happened to the Dems last time was the Tea Party, if electible candidates had been put up in some senate seats (like Harry Rieds, and the “I am not a witch” one) they would have lost the Senate, as well as the House.

  67. Steve C @ 2:03 — ye cats. It’s like Rorschach’s journal without all the nuance and sympathy. More proof, as if we needed any more at this late date, that these people are yet fighting to protect their Precious Bodily Fluids from the International Communist Conspiracy.

  68. @Xopher

    “Imagining a world where John McCain is a moderate brings a nasty metallic taste to the back of my mouth.”

    Too late, it’s already here. Fucking Saxby Chambliss sounded like a comparative grownup the other day.

  69. @Rob Wynne, Thanks! Those pictures tell a story, a brutal reality of what those men went through.

    I guess I was wrong about Clinton. Reagan still looked about the same, like an old saddle bag left out in the sun too long.

    But, man, the age those guys show after being in office. It just ain’t worth it.

    What I (and many others) don’t get is why the US doesn’t simply tax the populace more reasonably, you know, maybe return tax rates to Reagan era levels — or is he just too liberal for the current Republicans? Of course, at the moment, the right seems hellbent on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results which Einstein flatly pointed out nearly a century ago is the surest sign of insanity.

  70. For the Tea Party contingent in Congress, this debacle has been like an episode of Seinfeld: no hugging, no learning.

    Cruz as Republican presidential nominee? Yes, he’d probably get his ass handed to him. But we’re talking about a position that includes overseeing a nuclear arsenal, and for that reason I have to hope that the Republicans come up with a sane (albeit odious) candidate like Romney. At the moment, though, I have no idea who the hell that would be.

    And yes, I go a little nuts whenever I hear some Republicans referred to as moderates. John McCain may be center-of-the-road, but only if we’re talking about a one-way street.

  71. (Dear GOP: please have Ted Cruz as your 2016 presidential candidate. Oh, please. Oh, please.

    AAAAAAAH! NO!

    First, as a general thing I’d rather see sane candidates get nominated.

    Yeah, I know. I live in la-la land.

    Second, he might win. Obama won (both the Presidency and the original nomination in 2008) in part because he runs an extremely tight campaign and is extraordinarily good at getting the vote out. I don’t believe that Clinton (or Warren. Take your pick) is necessarily going to be as good and it won’t take much for the GOP to win. What if Cruz turns out to be awesome on the campaign trail? Now what? The idea that Cruz is too cray cray for the rank and file GOP to vote for, which I think is what you were implying, is not something I’d like to put to the test.

  72. @Gene

    The Presidents do bounce back. 1992 was the first Presidential Election I could vote in, and by that time Bush was looking real bad — huge bags under his eyes, smiles that went no where, and an overall unrelenting tiredness and oldness. When I saw him on PBS a couple of years later, he looked 10 years younger. He was energetic, quick-witted, his expressions genuine and in good humor.

    I saw the same with Bill Clinton. The Bill Clinton of 2008 looked younger and better than the Bill Clinton of 2000.

    BTW, some of those pictures that tell a story “cheat”. The George Washington before/after pictures are dated 1776 and 1797, or 21 years apart. He was 44 and 65, respectively. The FDR after picture was shot literally the day before he died of long illness.

  73. I suppose that I’m an outlier here, but I’m fed up with both Democrats and Republicans. Both are like maniacs with someone else’s credit card, digging us deeper into debt buying expensive toys and gifts for their friends, looking only at the how shiny these toys are without considering the damage they’re doing to those who will have to pay for the whim of the moment (our generation and our children and our children’s children). When any kind of sanity threatens, someone insists that we have to keep borrowing and spending because only by passing pieces of paper back and forth will we have a good economy and jobs, totally forgetting that it is useful productivity that matters, not jobs.

  74. John, I think your classic schadenfreude pie would pair *beautifully* with this great big cup of steaming Tea! ;)

    Dessert, anyone?

  75. Dear GOP: please have Ted Cruz as your 2016 presidential candidate. Oh, please. Oh, please.

    Besides seconding that, it would be about par for the course. After all, if there was one criticism of Romney that Republicans took to heart it was that he wasn’t particularly charming in his personal (but not one-on-one) appearances. Cruz will solve that problem.

    Not by being more charming in groups, but by being totally obnoxious one-on-one as well.

  76. @ Eric Duprey:

    The Republican leadership thanks you for falling for the lazy a-pox-on-both-their-houses “wisdom”. It makes it ever so much easier for them to keep moving the Overton Window farther and farther right.

    You’re not an outlier at all, unfortunately.

  77. Obama took us from 60% debt to GDP to 100% debt to GDP. Blame bush all you want, but we are 5 years into his administration and the deficits continue to grow.

    Hard to take the rest of your comment seriously when you don’t even know that the deficit has dropped every year that Obama has been in office — and dropped at the highest rate since the end of WWII.

    All this during a depression.

  78. @Jerome O’Neill: Yeah, I know. That was my point. Put them back up where they belong. Stop trying to tax cut your way to prosperity. It doesn’t work. It’s the same ass backwards logic that believes you can conserve your way to prosperity. This is particularly evident with electrical generation where fools abound explaining how “conserving” can solve all our problems, even when the math clearly shows it not to be the case.

    @Blaise Pascal: True re: when the pictures were taken. Stress kills and I’m sure they can use presidential pictures to prove a point. Once out of office they all tend to look much better.

    Overall, no matter where you tend to be in the world, I’ve always wondered why politicians don’t try to focus on what’s truly best as opposed to what’s ideologically convenient. I’ve watched politics here in Canada where politicians just toe the party line, regardless of their personal feelings in the matter. Were I a politician I’d do what was right each time. Of course, in today’s climate, I’d be ostracized by my own party. But so what. Better to be on the side of right and decency than the side of idiots and ideologues. I figure a lot of these politicians are hugely deluded or delusional to believe they’re doing anything remotely in the best interest of the common man (or woman).

  79. Eric Duprey

    I rarely quote Henry Ford as an economic guru but I think he was spot on when he noted that paying his workers was essential if he wanted them to buy the cars they produced.

    ‘Useful productivity’ is useless unless there are people with the money to buy the products, and it is difficult to see where the money will come from if there are no jobs.

    We have seen what happens when people lose sight of that fact; unfortunately the debacle John has delineated has pushed the world another step closer to the total collapse of confidence in the US government’s ability to govern itself, much less lead the world.

    I suspect that Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented refusal of a seat on the UN Security Council is simply the first example of that collapse of confidence; when it reaches the point where the absolute monarch of one of the richest countries in the world has decided that the US cannot be trusted then the rest of the world is unlikely to take a more optimistic view.

    After all, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence in the collection of very rich people who have substantially financed the Tea Party and got the US into this mess in the first place…

  80. Maggie @2:56pm: I think you are right. Much of this was a planned drama for the purspose of gaining both Money and Political Power. As noted, money is pouring into conservative 501(c)(4) organizations like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, etc. Ted Cruz has gotten big boosts in contributions and increased influence with hard-line conservatives. Adding thousands (millions?) of names to your address book is a very valuable tool for a national politician. Becoming a national spokesman for said group even more so. Not bad for a freshman Senator with no bills under his belt yet.

    “Follow the money” was good advice during Watergate and is good advice now. If you follow the money on the shutdown it leads mostly to one 31 year old lobbyist: Michael A. Needham. He and his cohorts with Heritage Action worked for months to stir up support for a budget confrontation. He lays it all out here.

    The article was published several days before the whole thing resolved. But if you read his goals and contingencies in that WSJ article, Mr. Needham got just what he wanted: a change of topic from Obama’s and the Demcrats agenda items (immigration reform, etc). Shutting down the EPA and other “non-essential” agencies for a few weeks was just icing on that ideological cake and “regrettable but necessary collateral damage”. That it cost American citizens tens of billions in direct costs and decreased economic growth mattered not one bit to him or his allies.

    I’m sure that the influx of new supporters and donations and visibility just makes it that much more appealing to Mr. Needham and other power players like him. If I were Needham, I’d declare victory and start planning my next high-profile political crisis. Thanks to the Senate deal, that means January/February. Plenty of time to take those new supporter lists and donation and rally the troops. After all, Needham and his cohort are creating their own non-party power base: “We felt that to market our policy ideas successfully in 21st-century Washington, D.C., required going above the heads of members of Congress directly to their constituents who shared our conservative values.”

    Others are on-board, such as Eric Erickson of RED STATE: “Never before have the people been less dependent on a party apparatus to play in primaries. Conservatives now have groups like Heritage Action, Senate Conservatives Fund, Madison Project, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, For America, and others to fund and rely on.”

    David Brin calls this the 3rd phase of the American Civil War. Sadly, he is probably right.

  81. @ Bonelady – I’m wondering how Boehner looks to his constituents now.

    Speaking as one of his constituents, he looks about the same to me as before this ridiculous debacle. Mean & ineffective. I will once again not vote for him, even if he runs unopposed again.

  82. I suppose that I’m an outlier here, but I’m fed up with both Democrats and Republicans. Both are like maniacs with someone else’s credit card,

    Given that the federal budget growth is about 1.1% for the last six years, I think someone is lying to you.

    I don’t think you can be a maniac at 1.1% growth (particularly since population growth alone is .7 to 1.0%).

  83. As usual, Mr. Scalzi is spot on. I’m already saving $$$ for when the next government shutdown rolls around in February 2014. I have NO doubt that the Tea Party is gunning for another round of anti-Obamacare histrionics. Perhaps the fever will break if they lose their House majority next November. One can only dream.

  84. I know I’m going to regret getting into a political discussion here, but . . .

    I’d like to think that Boehner might be trying to keep his job not so much for the power, or the paycheck, but to prevent someone worse from coming in if he’s deposed.

    But I could be wrong.

  85. And I got a chuckle out of “Obama: Dude looks tired these days” (and as a huge Obama supporter) but am I the only one who flashed to “I could bring down your government with just six words: Don’t you think she looks tired?”

  86. Tnmorgan

    We appear to be following the money in two different directions; we both agree that there have been lots of very rich people funding the Tea Party, but I have gone one step further in looking at what even richer people think of those doing the funding.

    Saudi Arabia had campaigned hard for an elected seat on the UN Security Council, and won it. And then the Tea Partiers took the US to the brink of default, and the King of Saudi Arabia decided that was the last straw and refused the seat.

    Of course, if you are an absolute monarch, the seventh most powerful person in the world, sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, you really don’t have to make nice about people you think are fools.

    So he wasn’t, hence the Royal veto…

  87. Guess: “The only time Obama has been willing to negotiate about spending reductions is with a government shutdown or the threat of a government shutdown.

    Or, you know, earlier this year where Obama and the Senate Democrats agreed to the Republican budget number of $986 billion, even though they thought such cuts were much too severe. But don’t let things like facts get in the way of your rant.

  88. Presidents always look like hell after they leave office.

    I’m a Federal employee and I’m assuming there will be another, longer shutdown in January. Those who expect the worst get only pleasant surprises. My particular agency was not affected by this shutdown because we operate off what is called a “revolving fund”–we charge other agencies to do things for them and operate off the fees we collect. If the other agencies aren’t able to pay us, after a month or so we run out of money and we shut down too.

    Why, yes, the revolving-fund idea, where one government agency charges another, IS about as stupid as your wife charging you for the meals she cooks you or you charging her for mowing the lawn.

  89. @gwangung

    “Given that the federal budget growth is about 1.1% for the last six years, I think someone is lying to you.
    I don’t think you can be a maniac at 1.1% growth (particularly since population growth alone is .7 to 1.0%).”

    Federal spending is approximately 160 times what is was in 1912. (just before the introduction of the Federal Income Tax). Even Obama criticized GW Bush’s government for profligate spending, then went onto spend even more. The national debt keeps rising with no signs of ever being paid down. We’re spending irresponsibly and seem to have no problem with saddling future generations with greater and greater debt. So what lies do you think I believe?

  90. “Federal spending is approximately 160 times what is was in 1912. (just before the introduction of the Federal Income Tax).”

    Aaaand per capita GDP is over %440 of what it was in the same time frame.

    What, exactly, is your point with this particular non sequitur.

  91. (From the OP-) “”It’s also fairly obvious that Cruz sees his senatorial tenure as an inconvenient but necessary way station on the road to the White House””

    Doesn’t that sums up our current President too? Obama was -not- ready for prime time in 2008, neither was Palin, neither is Cruz. Remember the good old days, when you actually -climbed- the ladder, one rung at a time?

    Unfortunately, Cruz, like Palin, is the darling of the dumb hick wing of the GOP now.

  92. “Aaaand per capita GDP is over %440 of what it was in the same time frame.”

    Adjusted for inflation it appears that we have 17 times the GDP of 1912 but 160 times the federal spending. This doesn’t seem at all proportional.

  93. Population, dudes. 5 times the population needs 25 times the government, as a general rule.

  94. In the spirit of fact-checking, I don’t think Canada-born Ted Cruz’s dad became a US citizen until 2005, long after Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada. He gets Canadian citizenship by having been born in Canada*, US via his mother and as I read relevant rules for Cuba, the possibility of Cuban citizenship if he wants it; it does not seem to be automatic for someone in his position. Not sure if that is a record for a Presidential wanna-be or not.

    I can’t be bothered to look as the US constitution but the citizen requirements are positive, not negative, right? Must be a US citizen, not cannot also be a citizen of another nation, right. So even he secretly has become a Cuban citizen, which nobody is saying he did, and even if he is still Canadian the fact he is American is enough to let him run for POTUS.

    * He can drop this provided he goes through the right formalities.

  95. “Population, dudes. 5 times the population needs 25 times the government, as a general rule.”

    Except that we have ~3.28 times the population and 160 times the spending.. I still think something is badly out of balance that’s not necessarily explainable by population.

  96. Eric Duprey at 7:04 p.m.:

    Leaving aside the question of inflation, in 1912 the United States didn’t have, just to choose a few examples: an Air Force, a space program, a national highway infrastructure, or even fifty states to govern (and that’s cutting it close; Arizona and New Mexico weren’t granted statehood *until* 1912, and Alaska and Hawai’i were far in the future).

    Which of these things would you suggest we stop spending money on? Or should we not have bothered with any of them in the first place, in the name of fiscal austerity?

  97. Reagan’s war expansion. Dude, it was MASSIVE. And nobody would dare defund it because no one wants to be labeled a liberal pacifist pussy or something like that.

  98. @dana1119: “Remember the good old days, when you actually -climbed- the ladder, one rung at a time?”

    No, and neither do you in most cases unless you’re well over 40:

    Franklin Roosevelt: Local politician < Governor of New York < President
    Harry Truman: Local pol < Senator < VP < President (by succession)
    Dwight Eisenhower: Army general < President
    John F Kennedy: Representative < Senator < President
    Lyndon Johnson: Local pol < Representative < Senator < VP < President
    Richard Nixon: Representative < Senator < VP (in previous administration) < President
    Gerald Ford: Representative < VP (by appointment) < President (by succession)
    Jimmy Carter: Governor of Georgia < President
    Ronald Reagan: Governor of California < President
    GHW Bush: Representative < VP < President
    Bill Clinton: Governor of Arkansas < President
    GW Bush: Governor of Texas < President
    Barack Obama: Local pol < Senator < President

    Basically Johnson and Nixon out of the last 13. Kennedy and Truman close behind.

  99. gene @ October 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Of course, at the moment, the right seems hellbent on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results which Einstein flatly pointed out nearly a century ago is the surest sign of insanity.

    Wikiquote says he didn’t.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    Variously misattributed to figures also including Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The earliest known occurrence, and probable origin, is from a 1981 text from Narcotics Anonymous.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#Misattributed

  100. @Data1119: Remember the good old days, when you actually -climbed- the ladder, one rung at a time?

    Sure, I remember those days. But the problem with climbing the ladder is that you accumulate a record. And if it’s a record with meaningful accomplishments, it’ll also include some mistakes that are doozies. Which the cable channels will hammer you on 24/7.

    It’s much better to be a tabula rasa these days, at least as regards how it plays in the media. Remember, even Palin had some credibility at the outset, until Katie Couric asked her a few questions that anyone of average intelligence could answer. And that she couldn’t.

  101. I was pleasantly surprised that this time the Dems basically did give nothing new. The fact that this strategy worked for them now bodes well for Jan/Feb. I don’t think Republicans really want to be kicked by that donkey again. At least, not so soon.

    It does allow for space for the Democrats to work to get what they want instead of having to defend the sequestration status quo. Sometimes not losing anything else does look an awful lot like winning.

    I am interested to see how much of the Hastert Rule remains at this point. The Republican crazies are still there, but I’m not so sure that the Republicans who voted for ending the shutdown and raising the debt limit really want that again. For instance, my Representative is Mike Coffman Republican, Colorado. He jumped ship early. Of course, the latest round of redistricting actually made his seat one of the few truly competitive ones (now Dem +1 percent)

  102. “I don’t belong to an organized political party: I’m a Democrat.” Will Rogers

    It seems like this quote is beginning to apply more to the Republicans. The GOP is much less disciplined about staying on a consistent message than they were before Obama, that was very evident during the recent unpleasantness.

  103. Apparently US inflation since 1912 is factor 23(isn), so govt. spending has effectively gone up by 160/23 = ~x7.
    US GDP in 1912 is shown as $5201, in 2008 as 31,178 (shown as 1990 $ ?) and then 2008 gap/p is shown as 43600 in 2k$ with latest as 43060. So rescaling the older data to 2k$ let’s say 1912=> 7200 & 2012 => 43600. That’s x6 – which implies that gdp/p has actually dropped in real terms by quite a lot.
    In 1912 the US was a barely industrialised nation with negligible military, operating as a loose association of rural satrapies, with no … well, anything. Now it spends more on military than the rest of the world together and seems dedicated to making sure it’s hyper-rich get to *actually* be the person(s) that have everything. I’m not sure that will turn out well for more than a few hundred people, and then not for very long.

  104. SP Kelly: I did not know that! Thank you. Well, that’s progress, anyway.

    mattmarovich: Yeah, that too. That was grim. I remember the “I’m sorry, world” campaign that followed that.

    Gene:

    Reagan still looked about the same, like an old saddle bag left out in the sun too long.

    That’s because he actually died in 1978. The “President Reagan” you saw all those years was an animatronic duplicate made by Disney.

    What I (and many others) don’t get is why the US doesn’t simply tax the populace more reasonably, you know, maybe return tax rates to Reagan era levels — or is he just too liberal for the current Republicans?

    He’s too liberal for the current Democrats.

    Eric: What Bearpaw and gwangung said. Also, you may be sick of both, but it’s folly to claim there’s no difference. Every single SCOTUS Justice who voted to gut the Voting Rights Act was appointed by a Republican, and every single one who voted to keep it intact was appointed by a Democrat. That alone would keep me voting for Democrats, even if I didn’t think even the “sane” wing of the GOP was selfish, cruel, and evil.

  105. Xopher, re Reagan – I’m a Libertarian, but back in 1984 I thought it was important enough to stop Reagan that I was going to have to vote Democrat, even though the Democratic Party couldn’t come up with a better candidate than Walter Mondale, who was pretty much the epitome of all the things I didn’t like about liberal Democrats (as opposed to conservative Democrats like LBJ, who I disliked for other reasons.) Reagan would just get us into more wars, more debt, more police, and a win for Reagan would probably lead to VP Bush getting elected as President the next term.

    And sure enough, my vote for Walter Mondale got lost in a landslide, even in New Jersey, and all it accomplished was encouraging the Democrats to run an equally stunning candidate next time (Dukakis, really?) who IMHO threw the election. At least Bill Clinton beat Bush the next time, though Ross Perot had a lot to do with that.

    I’m afraid you might be right that if Cruz is the Republican nominee next time that there’s a chance he could win, which would be terrible. But maybe we can get him to split the party and run as a conservative Teddy Roosevelt, turning the Tea Party into an Anti-Bull-Moose Party.

  106. Why, yes, the revolving-fund idea, where one government agency charges another, IS about as stupid as your wife charging you for the meals she cooks you or you charging her for mowing the lawn.

    *sputter*

  107. Food for thought: I read somewhere on Facebook that this shutdown was planned months in advance by the Democrats as a way to get the edge on the Republicans. If you noticed, the signs etc. used to announce the closings and what not at the federal parks popped up really quick. Being a guv’ment worker on the state level, I can tell you that nothing gets created that fast. It usually takes quite a few months to have signage like that properly ordered and created.

  108. “Food for thought: I read somewhere on Facebook that this shutdown was planned months in advance by the Democrats as a way to get the edge on the Republicans.”

    Rubbish. The blame rests purely on the Republicans.

  109. Eric Duprey

    One of the reasons the US has a large national debt is that its’ banking sector has spent the last 30 years lurching from one crisis to the next, interspersed with periods of rapturous delight at how much money it was making, which turned out to be completely delusional.

    It is still paying off the bill for the Savings and Loans collapse in the 1980′s, and yet even with that experience it did the same thing all over again in the first decade of this century.

    And then there was the Sovereign debt fiasco, also in the Eighties, in which American bankers toured the world touting their latest credo ‘countries can’t go bust’, presumably because none of them had ever devoted a nanosecond to reading history books. And when countries entirely predictably went bust the US ended up bailing out their bankers, as well as the countries, because they couldn’t do one without the other.

    That too has been repeated this century; it really isn’t surprising that the US owes a lot of money. Unfortunately it seems incapable of grasping the fact that it is rapidly convincing the people who have hitherto been happy to hold large amounts of American currency as interest free loans, like the Saudis, China, Russia et al, that the time has come to find a more rational home for their money.

    I appreciate that you are more interested in the introduction of Federal Income tax over a century ago, but in the real world of today no-one with economic power cares about that.

    They do care when a group of people who are supposed to be custodians of other people’s money behave like particularly petulant toddlers. And when investment fund managers urge the petulant toddlers on then prudent people find other people to manage their money while they’ve still got some money left.

    I suggest that you try reading the financial media instead of the politics columns; you might then have some inkling of what the policies you approve of would actually do in the real world.

    Sure, the US would take the world down with it if it defaults, which is not fun for the rest of the world, but the US would be down with no hope of recovery in the foreseeable future. No-one is going to extend a helping hand to the country which deliberately precipitated financial Armageddon.

    Of course you can then repeal Federal income tax to your heart’s content; it won’t matter since there won’t be any money to tax, but you will have rather more pressing problems to deal with. The people whose money bought the Tea Partiers will be too busy emigrating to spare time for thinking up ways of dealing with catastrophe…

  110. GBMiller

    I hate to break the news to you but ‘I read somewhere on Facebook’ isn’t the sort of citation which leads people to think you may have a point. If you wanted credibility you should have left it out and stuck with your claim to be a State employee. Admittedly it would still be nonsense but it would be slightly more plausible nonsense…

  111. Can’t we find some smart, charismatic guy in Boehner’s district to run against him? Someone who can both write and speak, and has had executive office experience dealing with trolls?

    If only …

  112. If you noticed, the signs etc. used to announce the closings and what not at the federal parks popped up really quick.

    Unless one realizes that the park service puts up new signs all the time, often on short notice.

  113. Honestly, I think you give Boehner too much credit in this analysis. It reached the point where, if he couldn’t move his caucus or force a vote on the floor, resignation of his speakership was the only half-decent option.

  114. @ Theophylat, John Metzler: Maybe Mrs. Scalzi should run. She’s intelligent, photogenic, and married to a successful author who can leverage his popularity to get his fanboys to vote for her.

    Of course, Beanie-boy is an incumbent, but against Mrs. Scalzi, he has no chance.

  115. I take the activities of the past few weeks very seriously and I think we’re going to have to face the reality that there are seriously deranged people among our elected representatives. We gave the world a bad jolt this week that will not quickly be forgotten. I am very glad – in fact, deeply grateful – that Obama did not negotiate with the lunatics in the House and give them even a slight jot of credibility. If these people are not contained, we are in for a scary decade.

  116. Ted Cruz could be considered to be a naturalized US citizen because his mother was born in the US (his father was born in Cuba) but, the constitution’s requirement of naturalization (as born in the US) is not clear. McCain was born on a military base which is considered US soil, but it’s ironic that the same ‘birthers’ who deny being born in Hawaii does not make Obama a US citizen, are now bending rules to make Cruz eligible.

  117. mythago:

    @G.B. Miller, I believe you have confused “food for thought” with “here’s a whopper”.

    Dammit, you did it AGAIN. I grope and grope for just the right words to express something, and you come up with a better, shorter, pithier phrasing, apparently without effort.

    I was going to say something like “Food for thought in the same sense that DDT is food for the body,” but yours is so much better.

  118. Kaystiel: Ted Cruz is not a *naturalized* citizen. It’s clear that if he were, he would not be eligible for US President. The presidential eligibility requirement is that he be a “natural born” citizen, which is different. Naturalization is the process of transforming from an alien to a citizen.

    Both Ted Cruz and Barack Obama were born of a mother who was a US Citizen and a father who was not. That alone is sufficient to make them both “natural born”, as both were entitled to US citizenship at birth based on their mother’s citizenship. (Yes, Obama was also born in Hawaii, which is also sufficient for “natural born citizen”, but unimportant for comparing with Ted Cruz).

  119. I read somewhere on Facebook that this shutdown was planned months in advance by the Democrats as a way to get the edge on the Republicans

    Yeah! Like, you know, I read on Facebook that there’s this woman who’s fifty and she totally has the face of a 30 year old, and did you know you can lose all your belly fat if you stop eating bananas?

    Only, see, that stuff comes from paid advertising. As does, I suspect, your post. If this is was the only kind of astroturfing the Koch Brothers paid for, then it would be annoying but ineffective.

    Sadly, it’s not. The really horrible thing is the shutdown *was* planned months in advance – by the Kochs and their minions. See this actual link with verifiable information. Which I did not read somewhere on Facebook, as a matter of fact.

  120. Remember what I said about the topic of Ted Cruz being a US Citizen, please. It really is just noise. I’ve been letting it slide a bit because I’ve been busy but will start deleting comments on the topic from here forward.

  121. timeliebe -” and Rupert Murdoch (well, in Murdoch’s case it’s more “enemy combatant” since he’s NOT an American!).”

    While I sympathise with your post, Murdoch certainly is a US citizen. (And as an Australian, I’m happy he’s no longer one of us. But am utterly furious at his blatant interference with our politics!)

  122. I don’t think Ted Cruz views the Senate as a way station on his way to the White House. I think he sees it as a way station to a very profitable career as a fox new pundit or lobbyist. He may be a deluded asshole, but he isn’t blind. Greedy, rude, immoral, but not blind.

  123. Xopher said, “And I remember people in 1979 saying they sure hoped the Republicans would nominate Reagan, because boy howdy he was WAY too crazy to be elected.”

    It started before that. Reagan ran for Governor of California in 1966 as a political neophyte right-wing alternative to a then much better-known and more experienced moderate Republican. The Democrats actually helped goose Reagan to a primary win because they thought he’d be easier to beat in November. Unfortunately it turned out to be a Republican year, and the Democratic incumbent had worn out his welcome. And so Reagan’s rise began.

  124. @ Xopher: What I hate about Ted Cruz is that he’s a mind-blowingly arrogant, supercilious asshole. Hell, when Colbert tried to parody the dude’s arrogance, the real Cruz was still more ridiculous.

  125. Magda, the politicians and political parties we are seeing now are addicted to personal power and money, and a view of reality that makes the event horizon of a black hole look sane. They are dug in like ticks and are doing everything they can to ensure their continuity, and to hell with the rest of the country and world. In this iteration of insanity, it’s the Tea Party, aided and abetted by the rest of the Republicans. What can we do, either learning from past debacles or developing new strategies, to boot out the wingnuts and restore reasonable debate and compromise, and a Congress that listens to its constituency? Democrats might be disappointed in Obama, but if my dad, a hardcore Republican, held his nose and voted for Obama this last go because the Republican candidate was too irrational for him, what does that say about how far out of touch Republicans are with their electorate?

  126. I’m not talking about the politicians. I’m talking about the non-elected mass that supported Cruz et al and who talk in increasingly apocalyptic terms about the ACA, Obama and any other thing they happen not to like. The ones who approach political life like Axl Rose does a motel mini-bar. Our fellow voters. Who are *bleeping* nuts.

  127. Edit: okay, I did refer above to elected reps. Apologies. But I don’t believe most of them are in it for the money. They’re verging on derangement and if all they wanted was money, they’d still have on foot on this planet. If they’re really serious, then we are in trouble.

  128. This article by the Guardian’s Gary Younge on what is driving the Republican ‘craziness’ is pertinent, if depressing:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/20/race-central-fear-angst-us-right?CMP=twt_gu

    In 2012, 92% of the Republican vote came from white people who, within 30 years, will no longer be in the majority. “They are acutely racially conscious,” says Greenberg. “They are very aware that they are ‘white’ in a country that is becoming increasingly ‘minority’.” Growing increasingly dependent on an ever-shrinking base, they see their electoral fortunes waning but are resistant to adapting their message to broaden their appeal beyond their narrow racial confines. Race is less the explicit target of their anxiety (issues such as affirmative action and civil rights no longer dominate) than the primary (if not exclusive) prism through which their political consciousness is being filtered. “Race,” writes Greenberg, “is central to their worldview.”

  129. Magda

    I’m sorry, but looking at it from outside the US it does seem that you really are in trouble. We have the whole of the people whose job it is to try and maintain world financial stability lined up saying that the tactics urged by the Tea Partiers are catastrophic.

    People like the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and the President of the World Bank, are innately cautious and conservative people who lead innately cautious and conservative organisations and yet those organisations are united in derision for the ludicrous pretence that sequestering would be anything other than disastrous.

    It isn’t the way that grown ups manage their financial affairs; sooner or later the US governmental system is either going to have to grow up or go down in ruins. It owes China and Japan around $2.5 trillion in US Treasury Bonds, not to mention the vast stocks of straightforward dollars, and the two largest creditors, together with the smaller ones, want to see a reasoned plan I.e a budget setting out how they are going to be paid.

    Without it then the US is going to discover that it’s just another country which failed to meet the reasonable expectations of its creditors, and those creditors will start selling to cut their losses and then it’s just another run on a bank, albeit a very large bank, as creditors scramble for what they can get before the whole thing crashes and burns.

    Definitely apocalyptic, but there’s no Rapture available to those who created it, though I suspect that the Tea Partiers will be rapidly commissioning Revelations to convince themselves otherwise…

  130. In reply to Ann at 7:06, I’d also point to Michael Tomasky’s not particularly positive review, in the New York Review of Books (9/26/13, but no link is available due to paywall), of Mark Leibovich’s Our Town.

    In there, Tomasky cites A. Abramovitz, a political scientist from Emory, who performed a “multivariate analysis of the factors that are likely” to make someone a Tea Party member.

    To quote Tomasky: “Conservative ideology matters most, but next – ahead of demographic factors like age, gender and income, ahead of church attendance, and even party identification – are ‘racial resentment and dislike of Obama’.” Tea Party members were likely to be Republicans who were “white, conservative, and very upset about the presence of a black man in the White House – a black man whose supporters looked very different from themselves.”

    Take it with as small or large a grain of salt as you wish, but it certainly seems to reinforce Greenberg’s view.

    Sorry to be increasing the depressing-ness.

  131. The aftermess: because Obama couldn’t go to the conferences, with the babies wailing, China and Russia got to start dividing up the world and establishing what the new world currency is going to be.

    These people made a ton of money during the shutdown — Cruz raked in the fundraising — and they’ll make a lot more if they can collapse the U.S. economy. They can make profitable deals with global corporations and foreign powers, deliver cheap labor and make sure troublesome voter groups are too busy trying to survive to muster any leverage. Why not do it? The Koch brothers stand to make 2 trillion off the Keystone pipeline, and that’s just one of their pies. Break the economy and the government, and Obama or whoever is in charge at the time will throw up the hands and say go ahead, send the oil to China, environment be damned.

    Economic crises mean major opportunities to do what they want. They need those crises. We went to the Iraq War because we were still reeling from the tech bubble crash, plus the shock of 9/11 so they could do what they wanted. Millions in cash simply disappeared. Contractors cleaned up with ten years of pickings.

    Far right voices are more likely to win elections at many levels if there is an economic crisis. Wall Street has been deliberately and recklessly crashing the U.S. economy at the end/beginning area of each decade since the 1970′s, and Wall Street is richer than it has ever been. It’s way past capitalism and into profiteering and scavenging. We’re actually about to make J.P. Morgan pay up for its crimes — with our taxpayer money that we gave them.

    They didn’t lose because they don’t care about Congress. Congress is a tool to these folks. That’s why they came in and voted drunk. They don’t care about the deficit. They don’t care about health insurance. The shutdown was to please the rabid base and to let Cantor position future budget negotiations to get cuts in SS and Medicare, which is already being discussed. So they basically got exactly what they wanted. Sequestration cuts are still in place and are the baseline now, just as they wanted. SS and Medicare are on the chopping block. The ACA rollout is about as blocked as they can manage. They get to take the government hostage again, and now everyone sees it as normal that the Republicans do this. They brought the U.S. within striking distance of a recession and more actions later can take it over the edge. And they made millions in fundraising. So we didn’t win; we just survived.

    It’s not just the U.S. Greece is flirting with Nazism and effectively stalling any recovery. Australia got taken over by a bunch of corporate mining interests who are using refugees as their toys for gutting their economy. Russia is essentially the U.S.S.R. made smaller and is balanced on a fragile oligarchy platform. China has completely destroyed their environment, has milked the slave labor all they can and now is facing massive unemployment. Canada’s Conservatives have been selling off the national resources to corporations and the oil industry while gutting regulations, science research and public workers. Great Britain of course is in the Thatcher soup again. Ireland back to a diaspora. Venezuela, Brazil, Africa, the Middle East, etc. everybody is strip-mining their countries for corporations, impoverishing most of their population, ignoring the dying oceans and taking their cut for the chaos. It’s not new, but it’s saddening.

  132. @Kat Goodwin

    We’re actually about to make J.P. Morgan pay up for its crimes — with our taxpayer money that we gave them.

    Which is more than a little ironic considering it was said company’s founder and namesake who got the Street behind formation of the Federal Reserve and single-highhandedly strong-armed the rest of the banks and high financiers into privately funding what was essentially the first major bailout in US history. Not that he did any of it out of the goodness of his heart, but it just goes to show how upended the world is when turn-of-the-century robber barons were more responsible corporate citizens than most of today’s moneybags.

    It’s not just the U.S. Greece is flirting with Nazism and effectively stalling any recovery.

    At the risk of nitpicking, technically fascism which, while similar in many ways, is nonetheless slightly different from Germany’s late unlamented national socialism.

  133. At the risk of nitpicking, technically fascism which, while similar in many ways, is nonetheless slightly different from Germany’s late unlamented national socialism.

    How?

    Golden Dawn, according to Wikipedia, has been described as both Nazi and fascist, and embraces Nazi ideology and symbolism. Nazism is, again according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism) a form of fascism, and that is how I’ve always understood it.

    Please don’t tell me you believe the wingnut lie that Nazi Germany was a form of socialism. Hitler was virurently against communism and was certainly no socialist. Nazism is a rightwing form of government, as is fascism in all its forms.

  134. Il Duce was the editor of an Italian socialist newspaper before he split from the other Italian socialists over the issue of WWI, which he opposed entering. Mussolini remained, however, an advocate for Italian unity as a path to return to the glory of Rome. When the war went badly, he pounced.

    Hitler was basically Mussolini’s fanboy, but he was operating in a somewhat different political climate than his idol had a decade and a half before. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (AKA the Nazis) were reacting against both Marxism (which they saw a having as part of its agenda diluting the German race) and capitalism, which they saw as war profiteering responsible for both the first World War and the parceling up of what was left of Germany’s economy after it’s defeat, as well as playing on antisemitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschild’s being responsible for everything from the War of 1812 (really the first world war) to Germany’s stagflation via the Great Depression (which Americans frequently forget was global in scope).

    Both the Fascists and the Nazis had to wrest total control of their respective nation’s economies from privately held interests. The Fascists largely did this by consolidating everything under tight authoritarian control without democratic process. The Nazis mainly used trumped up charges to throw uncooperative industrialists and financiers in prison and confiscate their assets which were given to industrialists and financiers that agreed to join the Nazi Party and toe the party line.

    Golden Dawn’s internal situation is something of a hybrid of the climates preceding the two original ideologies generically identified as the original fascism. However, the EU and the modern global economy are quite different from 1914 Europe, so the dynamics of ultranationaist doctrine and power struggles will necessarily go somewhat differently. None of which is to say that where it goes will be any better. All ultranationaist roads lead to hell.

    Communism is only one form of socialism, and Marxism is only one form of communism. The fact that the Fascists and Nazis both employed elements of socialist government is not a value judgement on socialism, any more than unchecked mob rule is a value judgement on democracy, or crony corporatocracy is a value judgement on capitalism, or so on and so forth…

    The Right/Left divide is a sometimes useful but farcically simplistic model of actual political matrices. The Nolan chart is barely any better. As ultraconservative military SF author Tom Kratman quipped, the Nolan chart is something libertarians came up with to convince everyone they should be libertarians. The real world is a vastly more complicated network of ideological positions. Political rhetoric, however, is usually reduced to one-dimensionality because it makes for more effective Team Politics rabble rousing, which is how political interest groups manipulate mass society, by convincing the people that no matter how much they may disagree, they share a common foe.

  135. Gulliver – an important point is simply who voted for Hitler – the votes for socialist and communist party’s stood firm and increased slightly, but he stole votes from various right wing and ring centrist party’s, as if a newspaper stole readers from the Daily Mail. Besides, as you probably know, socialist stuff shades into Imperialist stuff, such as the well known Communist, Bismarck introducing the earliest welfare state, to try and stifle socialism; or the British establishment’s interest in feeding the poor once they realised you needed well fed people to fight in your Imperial army.
    So I suppose the point is, beware of the way the same remedy can be proposed by two different sides, and check the underlying motivations. One of which in Hitler’s case was racist; how racist is the Golden Dawn?

    (Also, Hitler was funded at the start by old school industrialists who saw him as a useful tool)

  136. Perhaps we could wander back to money now; the Koch brothers may make $100 billion from the Keystone pipeline but $2 trillion is ludicrous, unless, of course, the US dollar depreciates so far that you need a wheelbarrow to carry the money to buy your lunch. This is not impossible but even the Koch brothers might notice that things appeared not to be going according to plan.

    There is one possibility that the President has in reserve which has been discussed in the financial media; the US constitution. The 14th Amendment allows the Treasury a remarkable degree of freedom in defending the honour of ‘the validity of the public debt of the United States’; if it has to be defended against a petulant minority in Congress then the Treasury has the power to do so.

    No doubt there would be vast amounts of litigation but that’s what the Supreme Court is there for; in the meantime the US would continue to service its’ debt, and Congress would be able to explain to the Supreme Court why it believes that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to Congress…

  137. I’m ashamed to say Stutzman is the Congressman for my district. Voted against him but here in northeast Indiana it was like a voice crying out in the wilderness. Totally agree about Cruz, I just hope the Dems don’t nominate Hilary Clinton and make a race out of what would otherwise be a romp by whoever was the Democratic nominee.

  138. @ Tim: Oh, you poor, poor guy–that nitwit is your representative? Oh, man, does that suck.

    What’s wrong with Hilary Clinton?

  139. Let me answer for Tim, I know many Republicans who are deeply ashamed of where the crazies have taken their “party of fiscal responsibility”. However, all of them hate Hilary Clinton with a deep abiding hatred that knows no bounds. Why? I have no idea. Also, she is covered in her husband’s scandals. Now, how about Elizabeth Warren? Every word out of her mouth just makes me want to vote for her as president.

  140. Warren doesn’t have the country-wide fanbase, although she could definitely make one. Hilary could do it pretty easily, as long as her phony of a husband stays the hell away from her campaign. Biden would be Ok-ish, as long as the opposition came off as stiff. He’s sort of the Democrat’s version of Bush, only without the massive abuses of power.

    Rush Holt would be the best. He’s a real, genuine rocket scientist and a certified genius, as well as a massive geek. Exactly the guy we need in charge.

    I’m still pulling for Mrs. Scalzi. She’s better-looking than all the opposition. Probably smarter, too–definitely, if the only opposition is Ted Cruz.

    Given that the republican field is shaping up to be Chris Christie (who is cursed by the specter of RINOhood, so he can’t make it past the primaries), Ted Cruz (who’s an asshole), and Louie Gomhert (who is literally more stupid than Rick Perry), we can be guaranteed weak opposition. Bachnuts went the Palin route–failed candidacy followed by massive speaking deals; so they don’t have a female candidate. They can’t land the female demographic, and the minorities are going to vote straight Democrat after the Republican “justices” gutted the VRA. This is going to be a curb-stomp.

  141. I hope to god I’m not related to that Stutzman, but given that I am a Stutzman originally from northern Indiana where all my family and extended family and their extended family are also from, the probability is pretty damn high. :/ Of course, I am now living in the red state hell of Kansas, which is not better.

  142. The irrational hatred of the Clintons is one major reason for hoping Hillary will stay out of the race. But for me, one major reason is age.

    She’s very qualified. She knows what life in the White House is like (from being First Lady for 8 years). She knows how the legislature works, from her 8 years in the Senate. She’s got experience in foreign affairs from being SecState for 4 years. She’s been on the Presidential campaign trail, as Candidate’s Wife and Candidate 3 times. That’s more experience at that level than most of the potential candidates. But that experience took time, which brings me back to her age.

    If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, she would be the 2nd oldest president to assume office, ever, only behind Ronald Reagan. She grew up in the Vietnam era, just like Bill Clinton and George W Bush, but unlike Barack Obama (who was 15 when the war ended). There’s a generational difference in attitude that I’d like to see us not go back toward.

    This same objection knocks out a bunch of other potential candidates: Warren, Kerry, and Biden as the main three. It leaves Cuomo, Booker, and Deval as possibilities.

  143. Eh, Cuomo can’t pull in swing states. Booker’s got the race card against him, and he can’t speak like Obama can to make up for it. Rush Holt’s a good choice, though–he’s the smartest man in Congress, not that that means anything anymore.

    I’m still voting for Mrs. Scalzi.

  144. @guthrie

    Indeed, well said…the motives are every bit as important as the tools used in their service. My main point is that fascism is usually generically called fascism, whereas Nazism is typically a more reserved for 1930′s Germany’s particular brand of it, because the Nazi’s were heavily imitating the Italian ultranationalists. But as I acknowledged in my reply to Kat, that’s a bit of a nit pick. And now back to the here and now since John has asked for a return to topic.

  145. Stevie: I did indeed list it incorrectly on the pipeline — the 2 trillion was a figure re J.P. Morgan’s worth. I mixed stuff up late at night. It is, as you noted, actually nearly 100 billion potential profit for the Kochs on the pipeline. Which is still 100 billion reasons to break the government and force an agreement. Additionally of course the Kochs are Christian Dominionists, as are Cruz, Bachman, both Pauls, Ryan, and good old Palin. Their goal is to reduce the power of the state and break down government as much as possible not just for profit, though that’s a main mission, but to replace the secular government with a Christian fundamentalist theocracy that runs (roughly) on Christian biblical law. That observance to dominionism, though, is still largely profit motive — it makes them money to wage a long term war and fundraise against the “secularization” of a secular democracy.

    Gulliver: Technically, Golden Dawn is neither fascist or Nazism in the sense of repeating those movements blow for blow. In terms of general philosophy and social outlook, however, Golden Dawn has embraced the views of the Nazis in regards to Roma, immigrants and exactly how they want to set up their police state. So I went with that. However, I do not object to the nit pick, as one shouldn’t use the Nz word carelessly anyway. They are their own movement — and it’s the same anti-democratic, xenophobic, strip-mining for profit philosophy as we have in all the other countries.

    Corporations profit off both success and downfall, war and peace, dictatorships and democracies, and whether the far right or the far left are in power. I think they go after tax cuts just for kicks, really. It’s not like they actually need them at this point. All the hysteria is just a feint for “we think we’ll make money now and in future by going this way.” Only this one was really open about it on the far right. And Jeb Bush got an expansion in what qualifies for teaching positions out of the gov re-start-up for his profit ed reform project, allowing him to further go after the teaching unions. There were a number of little bits like that sneaking through the legislature. So again, the progressives did not win. We survived. Thousands of kids are still getting kicked off of SNAP after Nov. 1, unless Congress acts and the Republicans are instead going for deeper cuts in the program. We’re starving our kids — for Exxon, J.P. Morgan, and General Electric. And the Democrats may give in and cut SS and Medicare as the lesser evil. Which is why they shutdown the government in the first place. Now they can go and be draconian and hey, at least it isn’t default.

  146. @Kat: Fair enough.

    Rule of Acquisition #34: War is good for business.

    Rule of Acquisition #35: Peace is good for business.

  147. Well, Floored, knowing the Ferengi just became more important, now that the Tea Party are using them as a model.

  148. @ Xopher: Nah, at least the Ferengi have a code. I mean, at least Quark made sure that he was the only dude sexually harassing his employees–and he took it like a man when he learned the hard way that a short guy flirting with a Klingon woman is in for a WORLD of pain.

  149. For the n’th time. People – countries are not people.

    It doesn’t matter if the US owes China $2.5 trillion. They don’t need a plan to pay them because the plan to pay it back is implicit in the nature of the bonds that were issued in the first place. The bonds were issued with specific redemption terms over specific times. The payment terms are a factor in all ongoing spending and budgets and the interest rates involved are such that it’s not really an issue handling them.

    Countries are not people. Repeat until it sinks in.

  150. Kat

    JP Morgan is said to have $2 trillion in assets; in order to calculate its’ worth you need to know what its’ liabilities are, and nobody can answer that question, least of all JP Morgan itself. It has changed the way it calculates risk on credit derivatives at least 4 times in the last 18 months; the undervaluing of those risks led to the London loss it recorded of over $6 billion last year. The projected $13 billion settlement with the US Goverment relates to the activities of Bear Sterns before JP Morgan acquired it; the possibility of criminal charges remains open.

    JP Morgan took over Bear Sterns because the US government asked it to; Jamie Dimon is being criticised for agreeing to do so. It self-evidently wasn’t a good deal for JP Morgan, but it happened because he and the US government believed that neither the US nor the global financial markets could have survived another catastrophic default. No-one will ever know whether they were right or wrong since Scalzi can’t provide us with a functioning multiple universe spanning time machine.

    I think you need to recognise that there are important differences between people like Dimon and the Kochs; the former is not a total nutcase who wants to see Christianity forcibly imposed across the face of the planet. He’s prepared to pay the $13 billion to the US government instead of engaging in a war of attrition in the courts, knows very well that the Tea Partiers are several sandwiches short of a picnic, and is undoubtedly fully signed up to the IMF’s and the World Bank’s position; sequestration and other Republican wheezes are not a viable option as far as the real world is concerned. After all, if the global financial markets go down now then JP Morgan goes down with them, and that is not the epitaph he wants on his tombstone.

    I really don’t see why the Democrats should cave in to the nutcases; strange as it may seem, in this instance every conservative investor sees the Democrats as the voice of reason, and almost by definition governments are conservative investors. There are not many things which unite Saudi, China, Russia, Japan et al; in fact, this is probably the only thing which does. In the end it will come down to who holds their nerve; that and the 14th Amendment, of course…

  151. @Floored – Primarily because of her name and the fact that it would make the nastiness we’ve seen with Obama in office seem like a pleasant afternoon. Also she’s getting up there in age and we’ve had a Clinton or a Bush running in every election but the last one for my adult lifetime. New blood is needed, preferably a blue state Governor who had some federal experience in the past, but I don’t know who that would be.

  152. xopher: knowing the Ferengi just became more important, now that the Tea Party are using them as a model

    Wait, what? Tea Party women are forbidden to wear clothing???

  153. ZOMG MY EYES MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!!! MAKE IT STOOOOOOOOPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  154. Daveon

    China does not hold $2.5 trillion of US Treasury bonds; it’s around half that figure. And yes, the Treasury actually does need a plan because creditors want to see orderly arrangements in place to continue the rollovers.

    But not all is lost because you are at least perfectly correct on one thing; countries are not people.

    However, even ignoring foreign Government holdings, there are a lot of foregn people who hold Treasury bonds in their own right, just as they hold US$ in their own right; and those people are even keener on a plan than their governments are…

  155. Stevie:

    I think you need to recognise that there are important differences between people like Dimon and the Kochs;

    1) I never said that there weren’t important differences between Dimon and the Kochs. I did not say that Dimon was a Dominionist, and I would assume he isn’t.

    2) That doesn’t mean that on the financial front, Dimon and JP Morgan — one of the biggest global companies in the world — gets a pass on the world wrecking. JP Morgan, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, etc. deliberately and recklessly all crashed the U.S. and world economies, without backup plan, insisted that the world governments bail them out with no strings attached, refused to use that money to make the loans they promised to make, blackmailed governments into austerity (see Greece,) which took food out of kids’ mouths and led to massive continued unemployment and second recessions for many countries, ruthlessly threw people out of their homes while perpetuating massive mortgage fraud, crushed or bought some of their less adept rivals (which is how Morgan scooped up Stearns,) made massive profits from the world recession and subsequent government blackmail, and hit new records for profits, lack of taxes, executive pay and bonuses in the six years since. And which politicians and lobbying groups have Morgan and the other Wall Street banks consistently backed? Republicans (while throwing occasional money at the Democrats.)

    Morgan did not buy Stearns to help out the U.S. government, just because the government was desperate on the “too big to fail” front. Morgan engineered it so they were the best option — they cut a deal, one that worked for them, since the U.S. government bent over backwards on tax cuts and goodies for Morgan, and lent Morgan 29 billion to buy Stearns. So that 13 billion in fines they’re paying for Stearns’ privateering? That’s under half the money we gave them to buy the company in the first place. It’s our money we are paying ourselves for Stearns’ malfeasance. The U.S. government has been doing regular bailouts for JP Morgan since 1895. And Morgan bought Stearns for the big bank equivalent of pennies, causing an enormous loss for Stearns shareholders. It was profiteering, plain and simple.

    Ted Cruz’s wife worked for JP Morgan, and Merill Lynch and now Goldman Sachs. Who do you think is giving him his big money? These companies don’t conspire necessarily together, but they all engage in business practices that happily crash national economies for profit and then help “rebuild” those economies, for profit and blackmail. They don’t owe allegiances to any country. The executives don’t even owe allegiances to the companies themselves and walk off with huge amounts of cash when they go bust. And they pay a lot of money to politicians to keep countries from regulating how they operate.

    Dimon isn’t a religious fanatic, but he is a crook. And he doesn’t give two farts about the U.S. economy or what happens in the country. His bank and the others have actively worked to get politicians to gut social services, stimulus spending, and infrastructure rebuilding, in favor of more corporate tax cuts and financial subsidies, continued lack of regulation, and impoverished labor forces. Not only have the banks walked away with all the money the energy companies don’t want, but they are in even riskier, more dangerous positions now than they were in 2007 — and when the next crash comes, on schedule, somewhere around 2016-2022 — it’s likely going to be worse.

    So I’m not calling them wingnuts anymore or extremists even. I may drop the words Tea Party because there really isn’t a Tea Party. Because these people are entirely rational, backed by corporate industry and finance, and working “religious” crusades for cash and destruction to create more cash, same as always.There really aren’t two factions in the GOP; it’s just deal making.

  156. No, I think there really is a Tea Party. That is, there are people who call themselves Tea Partiers who really truly think that Tea Party philosophy is the solution to a crushingly large and dinosaur-butt stupid government bureaucracy. Imagine if you believed all government worked just like your worst day at the DMV, and further imagine that the Republican Party, which you believe ought to be the party of small government, small business and self-reliance, turns out to be the party of Making Rich People Richer. (Hey, give them some slack on that last one.) You might well think the Tea Party is a good solution.

    Of course, the people running and funding the Tea Party are exactly the kind of mega-rich supervillains-sans-panache that normally would be served by the GOP, except for the being completely wacky part. But that doesn’t mean the people on the bottom layer are lying about what they think they’re joining.

  157. One of the best bits of Ferengi writing came from the first episode I think they introduced the Dominion (last episode of season 2, perhaps?). Captain Cisco and Quark are trapped together and Quark made an observation about Humanity that I thought was one of the better commentaries from an alien race in Trek about the Federation:

    Oh, wait, here it is on Youtube (it’s always on Youtube).

  158. My favorite was always “The Magnificent Ferengi”. That was a freaking riot.

    I am considering going to my friend’s Halloween party as a Ferengi. I’ll challenge people to duels with my battle cry: “For…my…PROFIT!”

  159. mythago: Tea Partiers who really truly think that Tea Party philosophy.

    Using the word “philosophy” (from the greek word meaning “love of wisdom”) to talk about anything the Tea Party does, well, I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

    The tea party grass roots is merely operating from fear and scarcity, and their solution is power (remember all the threats of gun violence from various Tea Party folks), tribalism (xenophobia, really), and obediance to their cherry-picked interpretations of the Constitution. The biggest myth they operate from is that not only that there’s no such thing as society (Thatcher), but that when individuals start working together it must always make things worse. Ronald Reagan is the true forefather of the Tea Party. Reagan’s quote “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” is Tea Party dogma. They’d probably adopt Thatcher as one of their own, except she’s British and they, well, they are the Tea Party.

  160. There really isn’t a Tea Party. Ron Paul’s libertarians came up with the idea for a stunt event and it was stolen by the corporate lobbyists to gin up the same base group of the right that they’ve always ginned up. This group wasn’t newly in power — they’ve always been in power — upper middle class and well off mostly white men who think government regulation is the worst problem in the world because it means they might have less power and cash.

    They don’t all agree with each other and it’s an uneasy coalition. And they’ve often destroyed their communities in order to keep other groups at bay and enrich themselves further. Even the poorer white folk see merit and more cash by keeping power out of the hands of those they are sure won’t share with them (which also keeps it out of their hands, but hey, that’s somehow still better.) By dragging the conversation more and more over to the right, with a controversy addicted media, these people reset what is normal. Sequestration is now normal, the baseline. That and laying SS open to cuts again is what the shutdown did — the shutdown that half the country still doesn’t know actually happened, including numerous Republicans and conservative independents.

    Corporations fund sports arenas, arts centers, academic grants and scientific research, charities — for profit and PR. In return, besides the profit and the PR, they want the governments to give them cash and goodies when they want and as little regulation as possible to do what they want. Areas of government that are not very profitable for them — government run schools and prisons, social services and financial aid, pensions and SS, they want to destroy and/or privatize. Areas that are profitable for them — private charter schools, private run prisons, defense contracts, energy subsidies to the richest industry on Earth, etc. — those they want more of. The conservatives are on board with that; they just say whatever might work and try to get themselves the best positions.

    There is no coherent Tea Party philosophy. There is no coherent Tea Party organization, political party, new views on any issue, etc. It’s just a jab, jab, jab strategy that conservatives and their backers have used forever. We do seem to be in an age of the Ferengi:

    162. Even in the worst of times someone turns a profit.
    177. Know your enemies … but do business with them always.
    211. Employees are rungs on the ladder of success. Don’t hesitate to step on them.
    239. Never be afraid to mislabel a product.
    242. More is good … all is better.
    266. When in doubt, lie.

  161. I am pretty sure that the Ferengi were supposed to be 20th century Americans in general and not just the libertarian fringe of our society. Or at least that Federation citizens would not be able to tell the difference between us.

  162. You sure that’s Rule of Acquisition 242, Kat? I thought it was 277.

    More seriously, there WAS in fact a wave of highly conservative voters in 2010. THese people were basically the same core of nuts, pumped up and enhanced by anti-Obama racists, and then augmented with some nuts who’d never bothered voting before. The conservative elites carefully advertised and crafted a hardcore Dunning-Kruger caucus of wingnuts, and tried to use them as fodder for rule 211.

    They misjudged the power of fanatical wingnuts. Convinced by the elite that this Is The End , unless A Conservative Savior Rises (like Batman or something), the nuts promplty held the country hostage. Repeatedly.

    We just survived the worst yet. I’m taking bets on how long the government will be shut down over the debt ceiling.

    Furthermore, the Ferengi are miles above the Tea Party. At least Quark had respect, and he took it like a man when he really screwed up.

  163. @Floored:

    I’m still pulling for Mrs. Scalzi. She’s better-looking than all the opposition. Probably smarter, too

    @Greg

    Wait, what? Tea Party women are forbidden to wear clothing???

    @Phoenician

    This may be better than the alternative…

    @Floored:

    ZOMG MY EYES MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!!! MAKE IT STOOOOOOOOPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can we please refrain from referring to a woman’s appearance in a political discussion? Making fun of anyone because of their appearance doesn’t magically become okay if they disagree with your political philosophy. It’s even worse when it’s a gendered insult coming from a group of people who claim to care about women’s rights.

    Praising a woman for her looks in this context is also sexist. I admit that this one took me a while to understand–why shouldn’t someone be happy that someone else considers them attractive? This problem here is that the compliment implies a woman’s looks are relevant qualifications to her service in the US Congress, in a way a man’s are not.That makes it sexist. In case you don’t take my word for it, here and here are some comments related to exactly this issue in the context of science fiction and fantasy.

    I appreciate that this is well off-topic from the main post. But we who claim to be progressives need to stop reaching for sexist tropes in political discussions.

  164. Really, we think sexist comments are a good idea at this point?

    Whoops – I was referring to the tacky lack of taste rather than the appearance of the women in question, and my comment would equally apply to male Tea Partiers wearing such ridiculous outfits. I apologise to anyone who thought I was poking fun at the women qua women.

  165. Eric: Can we please refrain from referring to a woman’s appearance in a political discussion?

    Jeebus. Fuhging. Shyst. Someone compared the Tea Party to the Ferengi, and the Ferengi have a rule that “women are forbidden to wear clothing”, so I made a joke about the Ferengi and their sexist ways. Making a joke that mocks sexism is not in fact sexism.

    As for Phoenecian and Floored, I can’t speak for their intention, but I clicked on the “better than the alternative” and saw two people with every part of their clothing being an American flag, which I saw as representing mindless, unquestioning, flag-waving, gaudy silliness.

    There are no “gendered insult”s in the comments you quoted. And the only comment that mentioned a woman’s appearance was the one referring to Mrs Scalzi. And I believe Mr. Scalzi himself has noted more than once on this blog that his wife is better looking than he is.

  166. 1. With respect to Mrs. Scalzi, I was noting that elections are basically popularity contests these days, and photogenic candidates have a distinct advantage. Mrs. Scalzi is beautiful, and the opposition tends to resemble a deflated toad (Mitch McConnel, for example), and so she can probably beat most of the opposition.

    2. Again, referring to the awful tacky flag suits. They even look a little silly on Captain America.

    3. And, Eric, Greg was making a Ferengi joke, although he perhaps did not realize that post-DS9 season 7, Ferengi women are in fact allowed to wear clothes (thanks to brand-new Grand Nagus Rom).

  167. @ Gulliver: I think that the next time you play Dabo with Leeta, you’re going to lose a whole lot more than your shirt and your latinum, making comments like that. I heard that Quark hired a couple of Nausicaan goons to rearrange the face of anyone who insults his brother.

  168. Floored:

    More seriously, there WAS in fact a wave of highly conservative voters in 2010. THese people were basically the same core of nuts, pumped up and enhanced by anti-Obama racists, and then augmented with some nuts who’d never bothered voting before.

    They really weren’t. They were rank and file Republicans who had voted before voting in a non-presidential election when turn-out is low. When turn-out is low, Republicans tend to win. When it’s high, Democrats tend to win. The economy was in the pits and Democrats had the Presidency and most of Congress, making them the incumbents in charge, and when the economy is bad, incumbents get voted against in protest, no extremism needed. In addition, Republicans had gerrymandered the hay out of numerous districts, creating red zones where no matter who the Republican candidate was, they won. Even with that, many prominent “Tea Party” candidates who had aced their primaries with astroturf funding lost their elections to Democrats. Here, have another article from Michael Lind on the subject with data and everything: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/22/tea_party_is_an_anti_populist_elite_tool_and_it_has_progressives_fooled/

    What we call Tea Party extremists are just regular conservative small businessmen and middle managers, decently educated, who see government regulation as driving up their costs and have little interest in aid to the poor, whom they regard as bad customers. They’re used to being the big shots in their small ponds and they don’t like federal oversight and having to do business with folks not like themselves. And politicians who can appeal to them (and whatever other prejudices they have,) with ballistic rhetoric raise money.

    “Ultimately though, and this is the key everybody is missing, we have arrived at this point because the leadership of the party has fundraised off its opposition to Obamacare in two campaign cycles, but has never aggressively sought to oppose it legislatively.” — That’s a quote from Eric Erickson of far right website Redstate. It’s very funny since Erickson himself does the exact same thing — and with no regulations on what he does with the money.

    It’s not just the leadership, though. Ted Cruz made himself a heap of fund-raising mulah off the shutdown, which pursued a goal that Cruz knew would never be reached, but he got camera and pundit time. Maine governor LePage tells a conservative fundraising crowd that 47% of able-bodied Maine residents don’t work, a number that is spectacularly false and silly — but tells them that LePage will continue to punish labor and support businesses. Everybody knows it isn’t true and the likelihood is that LePage can’t come through with a lot of what he offers them, but that he offers it is worth throwing some money at.

    And it’s smoke and mirrors — everyone watches Cruz the dancing bear and ignores what Cantor and Ryan were up to, which was successful. The sneaky and highly unethical rule change that kept a vote on the resolution from going to the floor of the House — where it would have passed and ended the shutdown — put the power to call the vote entirely in Cantor’s hands. And he didn’t do it till the last sec when they could set up for future negotiations on SS, Medicare and aid cuts through the Senate deal. That’s not a split of factions — it’s a con. The rhetoric is extreme because you have to go more and more extreme to prove you’re the best crusader in a competitive field, whether it’s identity politics in Quebec or anti-refugees in Australia. But the actual actions, positions and goals remain the same as they were before — money and the power to control the money and take advantage of any government and economic shift, good or bad.

  169. @Floored: It’s not me, but polls show 50% of Ferengi believe Rom is a socialist. They point to all his time spent working among the hu-mans and later even for the Federation, a club of speciest classist war-mongering imperialists which doesn’t even pay in latinum or believe in the Great Material Continuum. His brother has repeatedly openly defied the Ferengi Commerce Authority and Ferengi patriot and former liquidator Brunt has released records showing his brother gave his employees raises. Rom’s son is a Starfleet officer, for Grand Nagus Gint’s sake! When will Ferenginar wake up‽ When the Ferengi Alliance is no longer on the Gold-Pressed Latinum standard?

  170. Oh, so you want to talk to Mister Quark’s “special friends” from Nausica, do you? I’m sure that they will be pleased to make guramba from your…bits.

  171. Someone compared the Tea Party to the Ferengi, and the Ferengi have a rule that “women are forbidden to wear clothing

    If you’re comfortable with a line of thought that goes in the space of a few comments from comparing the Tea Party to Ferenghi, to immediately connecting that to unclothed Ferenghi women, to connecting that to unclothed Tea Party women, to making derisive comments about what Tea Party women do wear, then, well, I’m not going to convince you of much. Carry on.

  172. @Floored, Greg,

    What I got from that joke was, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the Tea Party women had to go around naked like Ferengi women do?” Perhaps hypothetically you could have substituted men in there. But, for one thing, you didn’t. And even if you had, the joke wouldn’t have carried the same weight because we live in a sexist society that assigns very different levels of shame to female nudity than it does to male. Ditto for the garish outfits.

    With regard to Scalzi running for office, it doesn’t matter whether or not you can show that she really is attractive. The point is that you brought up someone’s name as a potential Representative, and promptly mentioned her looks as a relevant issue. Again, context matters, and many women are struggling against being judged professionally at least in part on their looks–even if they are considered attractive.

  173. Just to be clear, my purpose in quote the Rules of Acquisition was not to compare the Tea Party to Ferengi.

  174. 1. Uhhh…that in no way resembles my thought process. Or, most likely, Greg’s, for that matter. We’re comparing Tea Party jackals to Ferengi jackals, and poking fun at some of the most ridiculous aspects of their society.

    2. Like it or not, looks matter in politics. The President looked cool and suave and modern, as opposed to the MittBot, who used too much grease in his hair and had a smarmy smile. Guess who won? Paul Ryan (reasonably decent-looking guy) gets nominated for VP, and MittBot’s campaign gets a boost. JFK goes into the debate with a fresh haircut and Man-tan, and Nixon goes in looking like he got the shit kicked out of him. JFK wins. Warren G. Harding goes in looking presidential despite being a lily-livered idiot, against a guy who is actually able to string multiple sentences together. Harding won, by the way.

    (Lincoln doesn’t really count due to the unique circumstances of his election, although he did fare better with the regal-looking beard as opposed to the awkward-looking bare chin)

    Looks do matter, to some extent. Thus, although we would prefer that this were not the case, they are relevant with regard to potential candidates.

  175. Eric Mills is exactly right. And justifying sexist comments in terms of “But but I would have said OMG MY EYES! if it was men wearing that stuff, too!” or “No no no, I was referencing an SF context that just happens to itself be full of sexism! And I went straight for the gender-related tropes in that particular fandom! But you’re not allowed to call it a gendered comment!” or “But don’t you see, I’m not saying *I* believe women in politics are all about beauty not brains–I’m just pointing out that everyone else seems to!” is just disingenuous.

    Especially in the last case, when the statement regarding Mrs. Scalzi’s hypothetical candidacy in terms of her looks first and brains seconds was in fact “I’d vote for her” not “The voting populace at large would vote for her.” Shame on you.

    This community is better than that.

    Thank you, Eric.

  176. I offer this thought. When something I say is misinterpreted by people whom I believe are listening in good faith, I apologize for any offense my lack of clarity caused, regardless of whether or not my apology will be accepted. I do not believe Floored et al was being disingenuous or rationalizing their own sexism (though without access to their minds that’s a supposition on my part based on their comment histories). I do believe they failed to clearly distinguish between their own acclimation of Mrs. Scalzi’s electability and what they believed would be candidacy strengths in our sexist electorate.

  177. Dude, I’m not trying to be sexist. If we were debating, say, Brad Pitt’s candidacy chances, I would mention his looks first, especially given the tone of my original comment. I just happened to be (somewhat jokingly) evaluating Mrs. Scalzi’s prospects as a candidate, not Brad Pitt’s prospects.

    Furthermore, I would like to note that I have seen drag queens in flag suits at the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT, and my first thought is ALWAYS “ZOMG MY EYES MAKE IT STOP!!!!!” The fact that I used this thought in reference to actual women is not, in fact, sexist, since I would have the exact same response to men, intersex individuals, those with Turner syndrome, and/or aliens, if they happened to be in flag suits.

  178. Nicole: Eric Mills is exactly right.

    certainly not exactly.

    “No no no, I was referencing an SF context that just happens to itself be full of sexism! And I went straight for the gender-related tropes in that particular fandom!

    Look, I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, all right? I didn’t know there were 250-some rules of ferengi culture or whatever. All I know about ferengi are what little I’ve seen in the few episodes that I’ve seen them reveal something about their culture. And the ferengi culture seems to be the butt of the writer’s jokes. They’re short, ugly, laissez-faire capitalists. Beyond that, the only other thing I’ve seen about their culture is that their ears are erogenous zones and their women are forbidden to wear clothes. Apparently, that last one got updated in later episodes.

    But the point is simply this: the ferengi are meant to represent laissez-faire capitalists, and the fact that they’re short, ugly, sexist, and have weird sex organs are all intended by the writers to gross us out about ferengi and their free market capitalism. And I picked the one I thought was the most offensive ferengi trait.

    Not because I agree with the idea of controlling how women dress, but because it was the most extreme of the few disgusting traits I knew about the ferengi.

    “But but I would have said OMG MY EYES! if it was men wearing that stuff, too!”

    Yeah, I would, and I do. I’ve mocked Justin Bieber for wearing pants that have a crotch down to his ankles. It isn’t sexist. Poking fun at Bjork for wearing a weird swan dress isn’t sexist either. Seeing Lady Gaga in a dress made of meat and going what the ever loving fuck is that? is not sexist. I love Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s music, but when they did a concert in nothing but a sock on their junk, I was like “OH MY GAWD!”. People make fun of Boehner having orangish skin and Donald Trump having a dead tribble on his head.

    poking fun at someone’s appearance isn’t sexist. Maybe it isn’t always nice, but that doesn’t mean you get to inflate the charge from “not nice” to “sexist” in order to increase the punishment you want to hand out.

  179. Regarding politics and personal image:

    There was an episode I saw on TV recently. (I think it was “Brain Games” on NatGeo, the episode called “Power of Persuation”.) Anyway, they took campaign pictures from local political races that were over and showed pictures of the two main opponents to random people. I can’t remember the number, but it was something like 70%. Random people could look at the pictures of the politicans they knew nothing about, in races they knew nothing about, and pick which one was the winner 70% of the time.

    This certainly smacks up against the “May the best candidate win” notion of democracy. And the idea that the winner is picked based on how they look certainly invokes the “no fair!” response. But a wise man once said, ‘you’re in the wrong universe for fair”.

    So, probably not fair (in a meritocracy==fair sense), but not specifically sexist. Even when both candidates were men, people could generally pick who won simply by comparing campaign pictures.

  180. Donald Trump having a dead tribble on his head

    You, sir, win the Intraweebs for the day.

  181. @Greg

    And the ferengi culture seems to be the butt of the writer’s jokes. They’re short, ugly, laissez-faire capitalists.

    Actually, not quite. In The Next Generation they’re depicted as being the embodiment of greed. Indeed, until Deep Space Nine pretty much all “aliens” in the Star Trek universe were platonic distillations of human vices and virtues, and virtues taken to monomaniacal vice-like extremes (such as Klingon honor), as if the human heart had been split through a prism into funhouse-mirror caricatures of actual personality traits. This was one of the main criticisms of most of the various series. The one series that was at least as often an exception to this rule as an example of it was Deep Space Nine, which explored some of the alien cultures in greater depth through the sort of ongoing story-arcs that were avoided in the other more episodic incarnations. Anyway, DS9 explored the Ferengi culture in much greater detail, and also used it on occasion as a foil for the Federation’s frequent hypocrisy.

    Nonetheless, what we saw of the Ferengi Alliance showed it to be far from laissez-faire. It’s depicted as a vertically integrated state corporatism rife with graft and cronyism. The state is more involved in the markets than ours has ever been, with considerably more power over business invested in the organs of the state such as the Ferengi Commerce Authority which can shutter private Ferengi enterprises with far greater impunity than our own government. While the Federation is clearly not capitalist (at least not materially), what little of its economic policy is hinted at is shown to be much less hands-on than either the Ferengi or even ours. It’s power to intercede in member-world’s government is repeatedly shown to be very limited. While that can in part be attributed to it being a supranational organization, the machinery of its government is clearly more extensive, involved and way less toothless than the United Nations or even its predecessor the slightly less hobbled League of Nations.

    The Ferengi represent greed, not capital investment markets per se. If anything, the Ferengi are obsessed with scarcity despite a technological level on par with the Federation and the other less materially-oriented Alpha Quadrant powers. My crack to Floored about the Gold-Pressed Latinum standard alluded to the Ferengi insistence on one of the few hard currencies that can’t be replicated ad nauseam, while the Federation (and presumably all its member-worlds) have long since moved to a credit system for whatever it is they trade (presumably non-material goods like education and perhaps real estate on the finite number of habitable planets). By The Next Generation even dilithium, essential to the Federation’s apparently unlimited energy production, is “re-crystallized in the chamber“ presumably reducing or eliminating the need to mine or purchase it.

    Comparing Star Trek civilizations, particular in the era depicted after Gene Roddenberry went progressive utopianist (and the Ferengi were discovered by Captain Picard), to our present-day scarcity-based economies is a fool’s errand. I submit that Roddenberry’s point in creating the Ferengi was not as a comment on capitalism or socialism or any other ism, but to show how small-minded and banal greed was in the universe of plenty he was almost religiously confident we were heading into. And, even if replicators and antimatter reactors, or equivalent hand-wavium, turns out to be fundamentally unattainable for us, he had a point in so far as much of our current economy is based on enforced scarcities that benefit a handful of wealthy elites who are happy to use politics to enforce those scarcities. Regardless of the load they sell their base, the GOP’s power brokers don’t want small government. They want a government that works for them to the exclusion of the commonwealth. Thomas Edison publicly stated he would have had Tesla’s AC current outlawed if he could. He groundlessly (hehe) claimed it was because AC power was unsafe, but guess who held the patents on DC power. AC power completely revolutionized the world and made possible the modernization of our civilization. AC power is our antimatter-reactor and Edison is the Ferengi.

  182. With regard to the link to the women wearing American flag-decorated clothing (ugh), I refer you all to this link, specifically part d which states: “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”

    So, there’s that…

  183. Gulliver: It’s depicted as a vertically integrated state corporatism rife with graft and cronyism.

    But that’s what laissez faire would actually look like if implemented in the real world, with real people, and real governments. Laissez-faire is a fairy tale that can’t operate in the real world.

  184. @ Greg: Beat me to it. And exactly. The Ferengi are creepily human in this regard.

  185. Star Trek’s Ferengi practice the antithesis of free market capitalism.

    Governance by monarchal pyramidal protection racket which officially endorses fraudulent business practices that would give Michael Corleone pause.

    Ferengi Alliance exercises a universal monopoly over all trade rights of all Ferengi and disallows any private enterprise competition with the corporate theocracy (yes, they have an actual state religion).

    Feudalistic franchises enforced by autocratic bureaucracies which fund themselves by levying arbitrary taxes on a per petitioner basis.

    Whether or not a market could operate without government involvement is not the point (and I quite agree there are real world limits). The point is that the Ferengi government is more integrated with its populace’s trade activities that any real world government. The only major world economy that even comes close is perhaps the People’s Republic of China.

    So to call them laissez faire capitalists is still just plain incorrect.

  186. Gulliver–the Ferengi Alliance is the logical conclusion of laissez-faire capitalism. People with money will amass more of it, and income inequality will grow unless checked. Why? Simple greed. The Ferengi, humorous as they are, are very human–and very greedy.

  187. @Floored

    the Ferengi Alliance is the logical conclusion of laissez-faire capitalism.

    Floored, I’m sorry to be Brunt (sorry, resistance was futile), but that statement is as nonsensical as saying the Culture is the logical conclusion of Marxism. Since neither Marxism nor laissez-faire capitalism is an implementable economic system, there is no logical conclusion to either one. State corporatism, however, is very real and there are several diverse paths to get there, all if which involve the marriage of political power and wealth.

  188. Gulliver, laissez-faire INEVITABLY becomes state corporatism without checks against business expansion. Those with money will use that money to make more money while sabotaging others’ efforts, and eventually will set up a legal system that favors those with money over those without. I mean, this is just plain greed at work.

    Also, resistance was futile for that pun. I understand.

  189. @Floored: Think about that. A legal system that favors specific groups of investors is not laissez-faire. What you’re describing is corporate capture of government, not just markets. It doesn’t really matter whether money is used to lobby for political power or political power is used to amass wealth. It’s usually both at the same time anyway. The government is still regulating the markets, which is the diametric opposite of laissez-faire. It doesn’t become laissez-faire just because the regulations are engineered to the benefit of the wealthiest corporations instead of the commonwealth. The laissez-faire state is a myth. In the real world politics and money are drawn to each other with like poles of an electron. If you discover the monopole, do let us know.

  190. I’m not saying that the end result is laissez-faire. I’m saying that it is what laissez-faire becomes when the components of a laissez-faire economy are motivated in whole or in part by greed (as most humans, and the Ferengi, are).

    The laissez-faire state is a myth.

    Or perhaps a highly transient state on the way to the Ferengi Alliance.

    Finally, I suspect that we have been talking past each other for some time. Hope this clears things up.

  191. There may be a certain amount of violent agreement going on. I consider economic models to be highly simplified representations of reality. Laissez-faire, however, is not a model. It’s a slogan form 17th century French mercantilism used to suggest that the best way for government to help business grow was to get out of its way. That’s not even an economic theory. Certainly there are times when the slogan is sage advice, and times when it’s a horrendous idea. What is not up for debate is that the chief job of the Grand Nagus as head of state is to open new markets and help Ferengi expand their economic influence.

  192. Gulliver,

    Any form of government (or economic policy) will produce perfect results if the entire population consists of nothing but perfect people. The difference is that some forms fo government tolerate more imperfect people than others while still producing good results and other forms of government immediately disintegrate into utter shit when enacted by a real world population.

    The only way to start out with laissez faire and have it stay a perfect implementation of laissez faire is if you have an entire population of perfect people. But if you apply laissez faire on a real world population, it turns into shit very soon.

    Laissez faire implemented in the real world looks like the Medici family, the robber barrons and tycoons of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, and Wall Street arguing for relaxed government regulation in the 80′s and a government bailout when years of unregulated, high risk funny business came crashing down and brought the economy down with it.

    You are either arguing for a form of “laissez faire” that is only possible with an entire population of perfect people (at which point, you’re arguing for a fairy tale that only happens in Ayn Rand novels and not the real world), or you’re holding a secret fire for laissez faire, and you simply don’t like its reputation sullied by being associated with short, ugly, sexist Ferengi.

  193. @Greg

    The only way to start out with laissez faire…

    You can’t. No one can. Governments and markets don’t spring fully formed from the brows of economists or internet commenters. They don’t grow in a vacuum. Government and markets are joined at the hip from their prehistoric inception.

    You are either…

    No, I’m telling you it’s a pithy little French term coined by Renaissance businessmen to tell government its help would be counterproductive. Setting aside the fact that that isn’t always true (something I as a former small business owner can attest to), it isn’t even a comment on whether “leave it be” capitalism is good for the commonwealth; it’s a comment on whether it’s good for businesses. The term doesn’t even mean what you apparently think it means.

    The term has nothing to do with the Ferengi government which does precisely the opposite. This isn’t a matter of what I think is or is not a good economic policy. Laissez faire government does not and never has existed and almost certainly never will. But that is utterly irrelevant to whether it’s practiced by the Ferengi since they’re a fictional civilization and could practice any economic system the writers fancied giving them. And yet the Ferengi government and society is not “leave it be” capitalism any more than 2+2=5. You can try to argue that it is till the cows come home, but that won’t change what is shown on screen. You can hypothesize how the Ferengi got there. But what scant little is shown of Ferengi history shows it’s graft and cronyism all the way down. Since it’s fiction, you can fill in the ample blanks from your imagination. If you think the only way to get to state corporatism is by government not trying to help businesses, I think your wrong, but that’s whole other discussion. And since you seem inclined to speculate on my motives rather than my clear-cut arguments, I can’t say I’m terribly eager to lay down on your digital couch for a round of remote psychoanalysis, but I’ll be happy to discuss the arguments on their own merits or lack thereof.

    And just because you postulate that I’m doing A or B doesn’t make it so. But what the heck. You want to know my critical opinion of the Ferengi as a fictional property? I think they’re an offensive antisemitic stereotype, but that they’re nonetheless a fairly apt commentary on the folly of being motivated only by material profit. The assumption that beauty is tantamount to virtue is another reason the Ferengi are a bigoted stereotype. In several episodes they’re subject to racial profiling by Federation citizens, officers and other species.

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Suspicions_%28episode%29

    Perhaps the writers were trying to undo some of the damage they’d done by creating them the way they did.

    Also, when you say perfect I think you mean ideal. Perfect means after the fact and refers to the completion of a process. A form of government or people adhering strictly to someone’s idea of what they should be would be that person’s ideal. Ideals are subjective. Reality is not.

    The Medicis were mercantilists that became the government. That happened, among other miscarriages of regulation, because they were allowed state-enforced monopolies on lucrative shipping interests. They were no more operating in the mythical free market than today’s crony capitalists.

  194. And we have, in fact, reached agreement by arguing with each other long after we should have agreed. Good to know.

    Greg, I think that you’re misreading what Gulliver has been saying. He knows damn well that “laissez-faire” is not an economic policy, or even a realistically workable state (similar to Communism; looks great on paper, never works in real life).

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