Demoralized

I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am right now. The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomache. I really can not believe that we have a major party that is behaving the way the Republicans are, and even worse, I can’t believe they are being rewarded for this behavior. They were rewarded at the polls, the Democrats are in disarray, and the country is sort of just stalled. Nothing meaningful can be accomplished, and the Republicans and the media don’t care.

I’ve scanned the news for something interesting and uplifting to write about, and every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv. And the worst thing is I don’t see anything changing. This is a structural problem, with the rich, the corporate masters, the media, and the money party pulling the strings. I’m not the sharpest tack, but I try to at least pay attention, and I find it hard to attain the information I need to make a good decision. I’m waffling back and forth on the tax deal because there really is nowhere to get a critical, unvarnished look at things. If I’m having this much trouble, how are other people who aren’t obsessed with things working these issues out.

And that is when I get more depressed. They probably aren’t. They’re just voting for their team. Sarah Palin shoots animals and hates the lieberals! One of us!

Fuck it.

204 replies
  1. 1
    liberal says:

    My dose of nausea came from seeing Michele Bachman on the Today Show or whatever this morning.

  2. 2
    Cat Lady says:

    Empire death throes.

    That is all.

  3. 3
    Jamie says:

    I’m pretty close to you on my reaction to the recent politics. Unfortunately this is going to get worse before it gets better. The lunatics are running the asylum.

  4. 4
    Poopyman says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am right now.

    Welcome to -me in 1972, 1974, 1980, 2000- my world. I think this just means you’ve passed the final hurdle into being a true Democrat.

  5. 5
    MikeTheZ says:

    I’m sending Obama a fiddle and a toga. Think he’ll get the message?

  6. 6
    Dave says:

    John, when I am down and out, I just think of the words of that great philosopher, Josey Wales:

    Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.

    Fuck it? No, sir. Fuck THEM.

  7. 7
    Noonan says:

    David Leonhardt actually has a fairly positive interview with Moody’s lead analyst:

    The objective of the Recovery Act was to end the Great Recession and jump-start a recovery. It succeeded. The objective of this package is to ensure the recovery evolves into a self-reinforcing expansion. I’m confident it will do that.

    Although that’s not nearly as cool as saying ‘Eff the prez’

  8. 8
    Svensker says:

    And this is still with Dems in charge of Congress. Wait until January!

    To be honest, it’s why we moved to Canada.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    Sarah Palin is going to be our next President. Get used to the idea.

    One of my friends who has an uncanny track record in predicting such things called it over a year ago. I’ve refused to believe it, but I’m not so sure now.

  10. 10
    Chris Grrr says:

    You’re reading my mind, Cole.

  11. 11
    Rosalita says:

    more mojitos might help

  12. 12
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    I really can not believe that we have a major party that is behaving the way the Republicans are, and even worse, I can’t believe they are being rewarded for this behavior.

    Somehow, almost magically, Repubs have managed to become the institutionalized street thugs of our political process…

    No one expects any good, or production, or responsible behavior from them anymore, and the worse they act, all people do is shrug and say “Republicans… what did you expect?”

    Kind impressive, actually…

    Perhaps if we just offer to pay them some protection money, they’ll just go away and leave us alone…

  13. 13
    biff diggerence says:

    You’re not alone. Mebbe ‘making a list’ will help those of us similarly afflicted. Let’s call it “Those we can do without”. Here’s my list:

    John Roberts

    Nino Scalia

    The Koch Brothers

    Blankenship, that scumbag WV mine baron

    Grover Norquist

  14. 14
    Third Eye Open says:

    Long fight, arc bends towards Justice, yadda-yadda-yadda.

    Do you think that even another Oklahoma City would put these nitwits back in the bottle? I don’t.

  15. 15
    dave says:

    I know how you feel since it pretty much mirrors my own attitude right now. The tax cut package was worrying me also but I read an item in Steve Benen’s blog under his Thursday mini-hits, about the fourth or fifth item in the list that had some nice graphs illustrating how the tax cuts are distributed. I still don’t like the high end cuts and the estate tax cuts but It needs to pass warts and all.

  16. 16
    Poopyman says:

    Having said what I said at #4, I do have to admit that it’s never seemed worse. Mostly because it’s just as easy to read my own 401k statements as it is to read my local weekly papers with their pages of foreclosure sales notices, which follow right behind the articles on the hard-hit local food banks.

    And while the blogosphere is just a bunch of DFHs, they have been depressingly accurate pretty much since Day 1.

  17. 17
    azlib says:

    I am with you, John. It is depressing. Our political elites seem incapable of even considering rational policy. And our media goes along with it. We have one major political party which is simply insane and another which cowers when bullied and just looks weak.

    Sane, fact based policy debate, has no place in the current environment. It is as if most people involved see it as just a game to be played without understanding how decisions affect real peoples’ lives.

    I sometimes think we collectively have a massive case of ADD.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Third Eye Open:
    Another Bastille might. Where are the people with pitchforks?

  19. 19
    c u n d gulag says:

    I’m disgusted, too.
    On the other hand, I’m 52, and I’ve figured out my retirement plan.
    No, not 401K.
    Prison!
    Hey, you get 3 hots and a cot!
    The key is to end up in Minimum or Medium Security. I’ve taught College in a Maximum, and you don’t want to end up there.
    So, when the time comes, which, with no UI extension, may be soon, I’ll have to figure out what I need to do to gain ‘security’ for my old age.
    Suggestions?*

    *Besides soap-on-a-rope, I mean.

  20. 20
    Culture of Truth says:

    John, if it helps, polls out today show Dems beat Republicans in opposition to a government shutdown and people want to lower the deficit by taxing the rich.

  21. 21

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am right now.

    Same here. Most comparable moments were after the 2000 and 2004 elections.

    After Bush stole the 2000 election, I was upset, but I figured there was a limit to the damage he could do to this country. I was wrong, of course, but it limited just how bad I could feel about the outcome.

    After the 2004 election, I was genuinely depressed. I remember that the basement had gotten into worse shape than usual, and I went down there for days, savagely attacking the mess and mildew, to work out the pain of that loss.

    The thing that hurt the most was that by then, it was clear that global warming needed to be addressed pretty soon, and with Bush in the White House, there wasn’t a prayer that we’d do anything about it before 2009.

    Here in 2010, we’ve had our brief chance to do something about climate change, and due to the vagaries of which Senators are up for election when, there’s not a prayer that another opportunity to address climate change will come up again before 2017 – unless the filibuster is brought to an end before then, but I don’t have high hopes there. And by 2017, it will in all likelihood be just too late to pass a law to slow down the accumulation of greenhouse gases before the feedback loops take over.

    My son is 3 years old, and I feel we’ve already made the most consequential decision of his life for him.

    So, in the words of a certain fictional robot, I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.

  22. 22
    NonyNony says:

    Once you see fnords it is impossible to not see the fnords.

    Sad but true. Once you realize the lies you’ve been fed all your life, the world gets extra depressing. My transition from Republican conservative to liberal enough that Democrats are way too conservative for me involved a lot of “Santa Claus” moments where you realize “hey waitaminute – that’s not how they told me it was supposed to work”. Mostly as far as global economics goes (the 90s were particularly instructive to me as to just how wrong the conventional wisdom on economics really is), but also government. I was cynical about government when I was a Republican, but in a much different way than I am today.

    I’d like to say that it gets less depressing the further away from your Republican leanings you drift, but I think I’d be lying. You definitely build up some callouses though. Or at least I have.

  23. 23
    Alwhite says:

    Welcome to my world John. I watch America being disassembled in the 80s & at thought we needed a miracle to undo the damage. While I was not overly happy with all of Clintons policies I thought we at least were headed back to reality & salvation. Then for 8 years watched in horror as Americans seemed to demand more and greater destruction of their well being. While Obama was not my first choice I hoped we could at least start the long road to recovery with a slightly smarter electorate. HA!

    We joke about Obama being worse that Boy Blunder but in one key area he is worse: He gave us reason to hope things would get better but mostly it is just more of the same.

    In the first episode of Futurama Bender enters a suicide booth & is given his options, Quick & painless or slow and excruciation. We seem to want the latter.

  24. 24

    @Violet: You bring the pitchforks, I’ll bring torches.

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    Of course, you could just smash your computer, stop paying attention, head down to the local megachurch, and put your faith in Jayzus. Those folks don’t seem to be too worried. That’s what you’re looking for, right? Peace of mind?

  26. 26
    liberal says:

    @Noonan:
    LOL!

    Let’s see…Mark Zandi…former economic adviser to the McCain campaign.

    (Actually, the funniest part is In an interview, he said he became involved with the campaign over a year ago through Kevin Hassett, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and adviser to Mr. McCain in 2000. [emphasis added])

    Of course the package would help the economy. As usual, the question is, is the price worth it?

  27. 27
    TooManyJens says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:

    Perhaps if we just offer to pay them some protection money, they’ll just go away and leave us alone…

    What do you think the tax cuts are? But they won’t leave us alone.

  28. 28
    Skepticat says:

    Thanks for writing that out, JC. It’s pretty much how I feel, but I’m too damned depressed to put even that much effort into it.

  29. 29
    Rommie says:

    It’s all a Kabuki dance to avoid what most feel is coming – a straight-up fight. Whether it’s political, as in a full-on Government Shutdown, or something more, it’s clear that the Republicans aren’t going to have a Come to Jesus moment and change course.

    Having the experience of the First Civil War in mind, where the Confederacy was willing to lose the war rather than change course, is in the back of the mind of those in opposition. Once it’s on, it’s ON like a barrel-throwing gorilla.
    No one’s willing to go that far. Yet.

  30. 30
    agrippa says:

    The USA is just like any country – only more so.

    Sure, the USA is badly governed; but, if you understand that politics and governing have nothing to do with each other, it may be clearer.

    A useful idea may be: the ‘seinfeldization’ of politics. That is, it is about nothing. This is not 1968, when people were all hot and bothered about real issues. What is it about now? Nothing.

    Well, what about the the ‘teabaggers’ and the ‘firebaggers’ ?

    What are they arguing about? Nothing that politics or governing can cure?

  31. 31

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am right now. The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomache

    Dude I’m so with you. And while I’m sure it was not intentional I love the mashup of “stomache” – stomach + ache. That’s how I feel, too.

    I took the month of November off and emerged much happier and healthier as a result. The thing is, politics is not where change happens. I don’t know if it’s ever where changed happens. But what I’ve said for years — most recently last January, here — is that there is only one way to change the world, and that is through the creative arts. It is, indeed, the only thing that ever has changed the world. Beause art, music, literature and film engage people on a level that politics does not. It engages people emotionally.

    So, what we need to do is all forget about this political shit and spend our time and money doing things that reach people in a different way. Make a cute little cartoon about polar bears and penguins and see if that can negate some of the global warming denialism coming from the right.

    This is, after all, why conservatives always denigrate “Hollywood liberals,” even though Reagan and Schwarzenegger were movie stars and Sarah Palin has a TV show.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    It’s what the Republicans do best — make politics so depressing and demoralizing that people don’t bother to pay attention and they can keep control of everything. This isn’t a side effect of what they do. It’s the reason they do what they do. That’s why they can flip-flop so easily between things like “deficits don’t matter!” and “deficits will crush us all!” The only important thing is to keep people confused and angry so they keep electing Republicans.

  33. 33
    Cat says:

    @biff diggerence:

    You’re not alone. Mebbe ‘making a list’ will help those of us similarly afflicted. Let’s call it “Those we can do without”. Here’s my list:

    Is this done on your mirror in lipstick?

  34. 34
    LGRooney says:

    Understandable. And this

    there really is nowhere to get a critical, unvarnished look at things

    We know the right wing is wrong but the realists on the other side can’t focus the attention the way the right can because they are always debating the particulars.

    On the issue of this tax package it is even more distressful because opinion and debate is scattered all over. The right, the left and the center, can’t agree within their own realms whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

    And, sadly, that’s the way it is with most issues in this world which is why it is so utterly demoralizing being liberal because we know very little is black-and-white. Hell, I envy the idiots who just take directions at times; those directions seem to be as stable and unwavering as a nice warm blanket on a cold winter’s night.

    Then my thoughts turn to “The Tale of the Grand Inquisitor” and the beautiful question posed there by Dostoevsky: do men want to be happy or free? Of course, we know the options are not exclusive of one another but there is greater happiness in not having to make the decisions, leaving them up to someone else, and following along. Having choices, and having the responsibility for making those choices, will at times lead to the lesser of two evils and it isn’t fully satisfying. But, I prefer honesty and freedom and the occasional exasperation contained within that existence.

  35. 35
    biff diggerence says:

    They were all giggling on Morning Toke about Nixon’s remark about the possibility of Ronald Reagan becoming President one day:

    “Can you imagine . . . ” RMN

    Nixon was a creep, but he knew Reagan was an outright moron.

  36. 36
    Tractarian says:

    Chin up, John. Our nation isn’t perfect. Our countrymen certainly aren’t. But you’ve got your family, your health (sorta), you’ve got shelter, food, and companionship (sorta). And – get this –most Americans do also.

    The pervasive tribalism and ignorance makes me sick sometimes too. And it’s possible that, in a 100 or 150 years, this country could be in a much worse place. But, as of now, things could be a hell of a lot worse.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Take the weekend off. Get drunk. Play with your animals. Show up Monday morning ready to fight again.

  38. 38
    biff diggerence says:

    @Cat:

    Has to be. Anything permanent will get the FBI knocking on my door.

  39. 39
    Blue Neponset says:

    You can reforge your equipment in WoW now. They also have an archeology profession. How does that not cheer you up?

    On a more serious note, Haiti is being overrun by a new Cholera bug. Any time I get bummed out about politics I remember that we still live in the US. 98.55486666% of the things we complain about are a luxury.

  40. 40
    Noonan says:

    @liberal:

    As soon as someone on the left shows a path to a better deal I’ll be all for it. And no, playing a game of chicken we know the left doesn’t have the sac for is not a better way.

  41. 41
    RobertB says:

    +1 Poopyman, although my string of losses started in 1980 because I was too young to vote until then.

    The real demoralizer here (for me anyway) is the sheer unwillingness or inability for somebody (anybody!) to draw a line in the sand. Someone has to be the adult in the room, sure. But you have to throw a shitfit every once in a while just to let them know you’re not fooled by the games.

    You want to hear my specific demoralization story? Too bad, you’re going to anyway. Tom Bwokaw has some special about race relations in the USA, that they’ve been plugging on USA (I was too sick to do anything but watch but Law and Order: SVU for two days). He had some tagline like, “Race relations in the USA; can the divide be healed, or is it insurmountable?” It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows back in 2008, but the fact that you can even ask that question two years after the first African-American president is elected is kind of stunning. And I’d say the chances that Bwokaw is going to bring up the fact that the GOP is making hay out of race-baiting are about the same as my chances of winning Powerball.

  42. 42
    mutt says:

    When you stare into the Abyss……..wingnuts stare back.
    You hold your section of the trench well. Fuck it, go pour a doublee, and see whats on TCM……the graveyards are filled with “indespensible men”….

  43. 43
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Violet:

    Yeah, I am sure the American people are lining up to engage in taking back their country. Right after they get to Wal-Mart to get a $79 plasma.

    I am 29, and I have quite a few students still in their undergrads, or have siblings still in HS, but from my own anecdotal experience, they are turned off by politics in general. I get FB messages all the time about, “Why can’t you post something nice for a change? Why does it always have to be about politics? They are both just as bad as each other.”

  44. 44
    patrick says:

    To be honest, it’s why we moved to Canada.

    I’m only 3 1/2 hours from canada, and I’m really starting to think about it….

    John, keep this in mind with the how much does each group get vs. how much does each person get in the tax cuts–the original talk of the bush tax cuts, 1/2 OF ALL THE COST was to give 98% a tax cut, 1/2 OF ALL THE COST was to give 2% A TAX CUT

    this is a shit sandwich, I’ve called both my senators to urge them not to eat it. my rep is Hoekstra until january, so calling him is about as useless as jacking off a neutered dog.

    My household is above the median, and grosses ~$60-70k/yr. I’d rather pay the extra $1200 or so in taxes than see this pass. for me the deal breaker is the ” temporary” payroll tax holiday that will fuck social security over.

    a real negotiator would have negotiated exempting the first $20k of income from the payroll tax in exchange for eliminating the upper cap.

  45. 45
    LGRooney says:

    And, I have to say, I found myself smiling at the British protesters yesterday. Would that we had the moxie to take the streets but I have a son to think about, debts to pay, a host of other relatives dependent on my earnings, and, well, I just can’t be bothered to go after the police state today.

  46. 46
    Davis X. Machina says:

    A lifetime of reading in the classics, where everyone from Thucydides to Tacitus was sure the world is going to hell, two thousand years ago, has convinced me that either:

    a.) hell is a lot further away than we think, because we’re not there yet, after an additional two thousand years, or
    b.) hell isn’t as bad as we think, because we arrived there a long time ago, and nobody in the intervening two thousand years actually noticed, or
    c.) there is no hell.

  47. 47
    HansSolo says:

    I’m with you 100%.

    If you need a pickup, and are feeling down, I’d suggest you take the following advice:

  48. 48
    harlana says:

    I’ve never seen this side of you, John! Now I’m really worried. :-o

  49. 49
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @MikeTheZ: Shouldn’t that go to DeMint.

  50. 50
    HansSolo says:

    I’m with you 100%.

    If you are feeling down, and need a smile, I suggest you do as the following song says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqR_SwwByMM

  51. 51
    beltane says:

    @Violet: The people with pitchforks are all in England, throwing stuff at Prince Charles’s limo. We don’t do that pitchfork stuff here because we know that Jesus might make us royalty too one day.

  52. 52
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I’d recommend dulling it all out by going on meds but it might make you a Republican again, so– dunno.

    I’m joking. Yes I know it’s sad that I have to add that but- I do.

    But so yeah, welcome to the non-conservative portion of the populace, where most people don’t really give a shit what you think, even the ones who pretend to for a while.

    Fun isn’t it?

  53. 53
    Zifnab says:

    And the worst thing is I don’t see anything changing. This is a structural problem, with the rich, the corporate masters, the media, and the money party pulling the strings.

    People need to feel the pain. Specifically, voters in the red states. Houston, for instance, never really blinked at the Great Recession. Housing prices didn’t drop much. Living conditions were fairly stable. Jobs dipped, but recovered. Dallas was about the same way. Hell, Austin grew through much of the recession. Not surprisingly, this state went bright red in ’10.

    California got hit by the housing crisis the worst. It’s large latino population was deeply threatened by local xenophobic politicians (anti-latino sentiment is one thing the Texas GOP has done a smart job of throttling down). Deficits were impacting basic social services. And the state held solid blue.

    Also, a little less gerrymandering would be nice.

  54. 54
    geg6 says:

    I’m as disgusted as you are, John; perhaps quite a bit more. Unlike you, I got disgusted with this whole mess a week or more ago.

    You know, I’ve been reading a biography of Katherine Swynford (nee de Roet, b.1350 d.1403, third wife of John of Gaunt and whose sister, Phillippa, was married to Geoffrey Chaucer). There is a story that, before she was married to John of Gaunt, she was one of Duchess Blanche’s (John of Gaunt’s first wife) ladies and was one of the few who survived the plague that hit the palace and eventually killed Blanche. One of the scenes that Katherine witnessed as the plague swept the palace was the aristocracy, courtiers, and ministers running around, half-naked and drunk as skunks, the main hall dancing desperately, screwing indiscriminately, eating whatever was to hand regardless of its spoilage, and drinking with complete and utter abandon as everyone around them died horrible deaths that they completely ignored.

    I feel like Katherine today.

  55. 55
    mofo says:

    Ditto & right on & you said it! and all that.

    I have NEVER been more disheartened & disgusted. I simply cannot watch the news & read the blogs like I used to–even during my 2000 Bush/Gore fury.

    Plus, I’m a Dolphin & Chelsea fan,so I truly have nothing to maintain my interest or enthusiasm,.

    The lone bright spot of late has been the response of the London & UK students—we need a lot more of that anger & indignation. Charles & Camilla are lucky they weren’t taken away in tumbrils.

  56. 56
    amk says:

    Take heart, cole. At least they’re not beating college kids like limeys do. Not yet.

  57. 57
    Silver Owl says:

    I reached the same point after the election. My stance is if Americans want the crap kicked out of them by greedy abusive arseholes, then far be it from me to continue to try to stop it. When they get tired of being beat then we can get busy building a present and future for our nation. To me right now, it’s the situation of the abused spouse that keeps returning to the abuser.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @geg6: Poe’s Masque of the Red Death come to life?

  59. 59
    geg6 says:

    @Noonan:

    Moody’s as prognosticator? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    And then to point to Mark Zandi and say hey! this deal is the awesome! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry if I don’t take his or Moody’s word for anything.at.all.

  60. 60
    General Stuck says:

    Mr. Cole, you are getting it. You can’t hold up a house of cards when it is past time it came crashing down. You can’t make sense of it, nor change it in any way, like you can building something. The thing has to happen, then you can care constructively again. The tax deal, either way it goes is both bad and good, but matters not much for the coming deconstruction and it’s aftermath and then the hard work of putting The Big Phoenix Bird back in the air begins. There is just too much wrong to get worked up about to where it causes loss of sleep. Though some of that is going to occur.

    I am, as I write this comment, listening to Bernie Sanders lay it all out in stark terms on the senate floor, what faces us. I will pay attention, and continue to care, but will no longer be gritting my teeth to hold back this destiny, to the point it makes me unwell. Obama is reverting to his humanity is all. It is not particularly good national policy, his deal, but my guess is he is realizing irreversible path we are set onto, with the GOP seeing to it our road to hell is paved with gold for their masters. It is the fantasy of every oligarch that money will protect and insulate them from both pain and mortality. It is too bad they have to take the rest of us down with them.

    I expect the House will extract one or two more progressive nuggets for the bargain with the devil, before it’s made. All in all, it won’t make a lot of difference except maybe make the poor a little more comfortable for the journey down the prim rose path the plutocrats are dragging the country by the nuts down.

    I still care, but not enough to blog much about it, nor worry too much about something that has to happen, and that I can’t change, that is for the best. In the long term/

    Americans have to hurt, just like much of the rest of the world, to figure out what matters.

  61. 61
    jwb says:

    @Violet: Very, very doubtful, but I no longer see that scenario as particularly scary, since I just don’t see that Palin as president would be a whole lot different than any other Republican as president. She’s owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate overlords, and you can say the same thing about every other Republican who is now in the running. This is true, for the most part, with the Democrats as well, which is not, by the way, the same as saying there is no difference between Dems and Goopers. It just means that the overlords have a grip on both parties sufficient to keep their priorities on top, and barring an economic meltdown that brings the people into the streets with rusty pitchforks I don’t see much that’s going to change that. So, yes, I imagine that we are looking at decades of eating shit sandwiches. But Palin as President—it would probably end up looking a lot like the country under GWB.

  62. 62
    NobodySpecial says:

    I’ve scanned the news for something interesting and uplifting to write about, and every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv.

    Fuck all that.

    You want to vent? Write an old fashioned LTE to your local dead tree vendor, and do that at least once a month. Most of the people you see every day in your local town don’t know any better because every one around them validates their viewpoint. Stick your two cents out there, and many times the chances are good that even if you fail, SOMETHING sticks.

    I repeat what I said in an earlier thread – I am not aware of a single time in American political history where the non-squeaky wheel got the grease. So don’t break your shit, start squeaking.

  63. 63
    Jamie says:

    hey, Deus, you need to also account for the possibility that this is hell.

  64. 64
    Xenos says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Or D: Rome did go to hell. I doubt Tacitus had a real sense of what the Gothic Wars in the 6th century would be like, but they probably amount to what he would consider hell to be like.

  65. 65
    stuckinred says:

    1968

    January 23
    North Korean patrol boats capture the USS Pueblo, a US Navy intelligence gathering vessel and its 83 man crew on charges of violating the communist country’s twelve-mile territorial limit.
    January 31
    At half-past midnight on Wednesday morning the North Vietnamese launch the Tet offensive at Nha Trang.
    February 18
    The US State Department announces the highest US casualty toll of the Vietnam War. The previous week saw 543 Americans killed in action, and 2547 wounded.

    April 4
    Martin Luther King Jr. spends the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis working and meeting with local leaders on plans for his Poor People’s March on Washington to take place late in the month. At 6pm, as he greets the car and friends in the courtyard, King is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle.

    June 4/5
    On the night of the California Primary Robert Kennedy addresses a large crowd of supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco. He has won victories in California and South Dakota and is confident that his campaign will go on to unite the many factions stressing the country. As he leaves the stage, at 12:13AM on the morning of the fifth Kennedy is shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Jordanian living in Los Angeles.

    August 8
    At their Party convention in Miami Beach the Republicans nominate Richard Milhouse Nixon to be their presidential candidate

    August 20
    The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia with over 200,000 warsaw pact troops, putting an end to the “Prague Spring,” and beginning a period of enforced and oppressive “normalization.”

    August 28
    By most accounts, on Wednesday evening Chicago police take action against crowds of demonstrators without provocation. The police beat some marchers unconscious and send at least 100 to emergency rooms while arresting 175.
    Mayor Daley tried the next day to explain the police action at a press conference. He famously explained: “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

    October 2
    Police and military troops in Mexico City react violently to a student – led protest in Tlatelolco Square. Hundreds of the demonstrators are killed or injured.

    November 5
    Election Day. The results of the popular vote are 31,770,000 for Nixon, 43.4 percent of the total; 31,270,000 or 42.7 percent for Humphrey; 9,906,000 or 13.5 percent for wallace; and 0.4 percent for other candidates.

  66. 66
    Poopyman says:

    @Third Eye Open: I’d really like to hear how you reply to a question like that, because to me that sounds like a primo Teachable Moment.

  67. 67
    jwb says:

    @Third Eye Open: No, at this point the wingnut brigade is so far gone they’d celebrate the terrorist as a real Murkin hero, and David Broder would bravely stand up and blame the Dems for being too partisan.

  68. 68
    some other guy says:

    @Noonan:

    David Leonhardt actually has a fairly positive interview with Moody’s lead analyst…

    Who is such a reliable prognosticator

    Although that’s not nearly as cool as saying ‘Eff the prez’

    Indeed. “Eff Mark Zandi”

  69. 69
    stuckinred says:

    @General Stuck:
    If the thunder don’t get ya
    the lightning will

  70. 70
    some other guy says:

    @some other guy:

    Seriously, first Krauthammer, now Zandi. All we need is Kristol to endorse this deal for the hat trick!

  71. 71
    WyldPirate says:

    @Violet:

    Sarah Palin is going to be our next President. Get used to the idea.
    One of my friends who has an uncanny track record in predicting such things called it over a year ago. I’ve refused to believe it, but I’m not so sure now.

    Apropos of your comment, and in honor of the prelude to Palin that was Bush and the overall general stupidity of the US electorate, I give you this from H.L. Mencken,  Writing for theBaltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920, in an article entitled “Bayard vs. Lionheart”, reprinted in On Politics: A Carnivale of Buncombe

    The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre— the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. 

    The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

  72. 72
    jwb says:

    @Mnemosyne: It turns more people into low information voters, which in turn makes pervasive media control more effective.

  73. 73
    Crusty Dem says:

    @Poopyman:

    Correct! Of course, you’re not really a true liberal until you decide to decouple, buy a place in the woods, and start taking out the establishment..

    Oh, and this about sums things up for me.

  74. 74
    Jamie says:

    after the last 10 years it’s pretty amazing that Moody’s is still in business

  75. 75
    APulpo says:

    I’ve scanned the news for something interesting and uplifting to write about, and every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv

    Not politics but it did make me feel better –

  76. 76
    Poopyman says:

    @amk: Oh, beating is so old fashioned. Us Amurikans do things hi-tech. We microwave our protesters. Or tazer ’em. Whichever is handiest.

  77. 77
    bemused says:

    I’ve been awafflin’ too, back and forth, back and forth. I’m reading what all those economic people I respect are saying and I still can’t decide what is the lesser evil option at present. It comes down to best guesses, imo. And who knows what will if anything change in the next couple of weeks.
    A pox on republican legislators. According to polls, even their voters aren’t as in love with tax breaks for the wealthy as they are.

  78. 78
    Brachiator says:

    The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. I really can not believe that we have a major party that is behaving the way the Republicans are, and even worse, I can’t believe they are being rewarded for this behavior.

    The Republicans are acting exactly as they have promised to behave. But the Democrats are responding like Nervous Nellies, scared of the Republicans, scared of the voters, scared of polls, scared of the media, scared of the implications of their own ideas, even when they are demonstrably superior to anything coming from the GOP.

    And as for the obligatory, “Oh my gosh and golly, the Democrats had to rescue the 2 million people whose unemployment compensation needed extending,” the compromise plan hurts hundreds of millions while supposedly helping 2 million. And even here, help is not quite around the corner.

    Many people want Congress to approve a deal to extend tax cuts by Dec. 31 to avoid a financial hit next year. But for 185,000 jobless Californians, the crucial deadline for passing the agreement is Saturday.
    __
    That’s when their special extended unemployment benefits will run out.
    __
    They are among 410,695 Californians and about 2 million people nationwide whose benefits will expire throughout this month without the reauthorization of federal money for emergency unemployment aid, which is included in the deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.

    So the government is going to help these people. But not just yet. Because this was the best deal that they could get.

  79. 79
    jwb says:

    @beltane: Thing is, we used to be pretty damn good at the pitchfork stuff.

  80. 80
    Beth in VA says:

    Clearly we are not alone. In 2003 I was aghast about the Iraq War, and in 2004 when people re-elected Bush it was very, very bad. Maybe it’s just because November of 2008 just felt so good and hopeful. We thought people had learned something. The Republicans surely would have learned something, right? No! Double-down on class warfare, double-down on DADT…depressing.

  81. 81
    handsmile says:

    But good people, don’t you realize “IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!”

    Just turn on your television if you doubt it. ( Yelling “Fuck off and die” after each commercial offers some relief.)

    From this morning’s sack of outrage (reach in and take your pick): while the corporate media bleats about the peasants revolting on poor Charles and Camilla, do go read the Guardian newspaper’s eyewitness accounts of wholesale police brutality during yesterday’s protests in London. Higher education for tens of thousands of British students is jeopardized, but of course the true victims are the Overlords.

    In such wretched times, it’s a filament of hope to read others here who feel as despondent as I do.

  82. 82
    rickstersherpa says:

    See the link to David Leonhardt below as mirror House Democrats should use to see who is to blame for the current legislative deadlock.

    By the way, Pelosi and the Blue Dogs in the House are primarily to blame for this currnet imbroglio, because they decided that voting ont the budget resolution with a huge deficit for FY 2011 would hurt them in the upcoming election. At the time all the Tea Party types in their district was going “deficit, deficit, deficit.” Of course, getting the economy growing fast would have helped all of their political fortunes a lot more, but that seem something the could not grasp, or because of the all the group think they have inhaled over the last 30 years of Reaganism, believed Government could not do more to accelerte the growth or directly hire people for jobs. If Congress had voted the budget resoultion through, it would not have been subject to filibuster rules. And of course these guys got massacred anyway.

    Movement Conservative Republicans are many things, but I have to give them this (perhaps it is the little engine of furious resentment that seems to burn in so many of them), they are far better at bouncing off the canvas after devastating defeats then we Democrats are.

    I admit I do have ambivalence about the President. He has done many things well with an extremely bad hand, but other things he seems both tone death and uncomprehending. Further, I suspect that he is enthralled with the neo-liberal corporate group think of the Rubinites (Rubin, Orzag, Summers, Lew, etc.) and the Hamiliton project. Hence the unwillingness to give a full throated defense to Social Security and the progressive tax system.
    December 10, 2010, 10:15 am.

    Tax-Cut Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
    By DAVID LEONHARDT
    Keith Hennessey, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush, lays out how he thinks the Democrats could — and should — have dealt with the Bush tax cuts:

    In early 2010, pass a budget resolution conference report that creates a reconciliation bill for the President’s preferred tax policy.

    … This is the partisan path that would have eliminated Republicans’ ability to block the Democrats’ preferred policy. With a simple majority of the House and Senate, Democrats could have had a complete policy win.

    The budget resolution is a concurrent resolution that is not signed by the President. The failure to pass a budget resolution and create a reconciliation bill is entirely a failure of the Legislative Branch.

    Even better for the Left, the budget resolution (had there been one) could have provided protected reconciliation status only for tax changes of a certain deficit size. Congressional Democratic Leaders could have precluded the additional $700 B deficit effect of the Republicans’ preferred alternative. Thus the Democratic-preferred alternative would have needed only 51 votes in the Senate, while the Republican-preferred policy would have needed 60. That’s the margin of victory….”
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes......a-shoulda/

  83. 83
    Roy G says:

    The one ray of sunshine is WikiLeaks. We want Truth, not just Hope!

  84. 84
    Tractarian says:

    @stuckinred:

    Thanks for this.

  85. 85
    JPL says:

    John, Your analysis is right on..I’ve scanned the news for something interesting and uplifting to write about, and every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv. And the worst thing is I don’t see anything changing. This is a structural problem, with the rich, the corporate masters, the media, and the money party pulling the strings.

    On the front page of MSNBC.com… This headline appears

    First Read: President finally acts presidential

    When doesn’t President Obama act presidential. Are they saying that Bush’s cowboy act was presidential. I’m confused.

  86. 86
    El Tiburon says:

    Stage 2 anger and don’t it feel good. Now turn that pout inside out and use your voice for positive change.

  87. 87
    Observer says:

    John said:

    They were rewarded at the polls, the Democrats are in disarray, and the country is sort of just stalled. Nothing meaningful can be accomplished, and the Republicans and the media don’t care.

    But that’s not exactly true. If you’re a Republican or one of their wealthy backers, lots of meaningful things have been accomplised.

    Here’s the list from just in this tax deal alone:
    1) “won” the argument that tax cuts help the economy. Obama uses (and always has) Republican talking points on tax cuts and the hapless Dems follow.

    2) won the argument that the government is powerless to fix the economy. Amazingly this is at odds with #1 but it is still true. Obama decided on a too small stimulus and then pretended that he meant that all along. Now everyone knows the stimulus didn’t work.

    3) won the argument on Social Security. The pool of money belonging to Social Security has long been a goal of the Republicans to steal it for themselves (via the newly won “tax cuts are good for the economy” argument). They’ve tried for 40 years to talk it down by saying SS owns “worthless IOUs” and that mainly didn’t work. The main reason it didn’t work is because the funds were directly paid by workers and not general revenues so they were “firewalled”. By cutting the SS direct contributions by 1/3 and then using general revenues the Republicans (in about 20 years) can now say “look we shouldn’t be so generous with how much money we pay out in SS” and then proceed to screw your 20 years older self JUST LIKE THEY’VE SCREWED WITH UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. To my knowledge, no other country does their version of Social Security any way other than direct contributions, but now Obama and Ezra Klein apparently know better than the other 500 Million people living in other rich countries and all their predecessors over the past 80 years. FWIW, Norway with a 5 million person population have over $500 Billion with a B in their retirement fund. You do the math. LOL.

    4) won the estate tax argumebt for really rich people. The Obama rates are even lower than the Bush rates.

    So there’s been lots of progress in the past two years, it’s just all for rich people.

    While the Repubs have been busy doing “God’s work” with Obama, you John Cole have been pretending on and off that somehow Jane Hamasher is a bigger threat to you than Obama.

    If there’s one thing that should cause Dems to rally it would be this last point #3, but it just does not seem like any Dem or Dem staffer really cares much about it.

    Either they and you don’t care or they and you just aren’t that smart.

    Either way, this is a critical moment in time and either you’re for the middle class or you’re for Obama. Just don’t complain in 20 years when the chickens come home to roost.

  88. 88
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Xenos: It’s all relative. A Tacitus probably would notice. To a dirt peasant, who swapped an Ostragothic landlord for a Roman senatorial one, it was a very ‘meh’ kind of thing. His family would have been already bound to the land, at least de facto, for generations at that point.

    The moral of the story is, don’t be an aristocrat. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

  89. 89

    I smell another “I’m taking a break” post coming.

  90. 90
    Athenae says:

    Al Swearengen: Pain or damage don’t end the world, or despair or fucking beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man—and give some back.

    From the noted philosopher and theologian David Milch, of whose church I would very much like to be a member.

    A.

  91. 91
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Poopyman:

    My students are mostly Environmental Studies or Urban Planning students. This is what gets to me. These aren’t Business or Econ people, they actually study the causes and effects, and fergawdsake they get an entire semester on implementation of laws. I can send them links to all the Media-Matters stories I want, I have actually brought in WSJ articles that have nice little pictures to show them the effects of apathy, but they have other things to think about. Today, my average undergrad walks away from a public university 35K+ in debt, they are only really useful in State or Federal offices dealing with environmental concerns, and now those jobs are looking like they will go up in smoke. They are just plain beaten down. And, this is only my opinion, but the feeling I get is that the Dems just don’t know how to interact with this generation. They do not have political heroes, in fact they all know Al Gore, but less than 1 in 30, I would say, know who their House member is (it was Alan Boyd…) They want passion, not technocrats. Whether that is a net-positive in the long-run? Well, I will hold my judgment on that.

  92. 92
    Nick says:

    Bush was a big disappointment to his base as well.

    For example, remember Limbaugh’s complaint about being tired of carrying water for Bush? The Medicare drug program and No Child Left Behind were the sorts of programs conservatives generally hate. The infringement of civil rights and the Iraq adventure would have drawn howls had a Democrat done them.

  93. 93
    Noonan says:

    @some other guy:

    Shooting the messenger is easy. But taking aim at the message takes a bit more work. Zandi’s argument is backed by Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein, if people on the left need a friendly liberal to make them feel warmer and fuzzier about the math.

    My point remains: Among all this flailing about failing we still have a deal that a) appears to help the poor, the economy and the jobless and b) every day that passes the GOP’s leverage increases. Anyone who thinks we’re going to get a better piece of legislation after the first of the year isn’t dealing in reality.

    I don’t like the bitter pill we have to swallow on giving a tax break to the rich. But people voted for a divided House. So here we are.

  94. 94
    DBrown says:

    What about human nature, John (especially ones born in the South), that makes you think they have changed at all since the civil war? An elite that puts its own value ahead of the country and fellow Amerikans is a truth that does not change – look at Raygun and his crazy supporters. The poor/lower class are just as easy to control as the white trash of the Confederate days but they have fewer excuses for their stupidity.

    Demorat politicians are just as owned by big money as anyone – they just don’t always act as blatant as the thug party about it.

    I guess some people who grew up from the 50’s to 70’s didn’t realize that the rest of the world wouldn’t just sit still as we controlled 50% of the main economic activity – those days (much as oil soon will be) are gone for ever; our fall was written in the 70’s when we ignored the oil shock and finally went for the first thug puppet – raygun the brain fart.

    Bloody hands cheney and his boy toy puppet bush whack were just the normal types of thugs that we’ll see from now on.

  95. 95
    GregB says:

    Just call out my name, I’ll come running.

  96. 96
    jibeaux says:

    It definitely enough to make you spike your coffee.

    I was trying really hard to come to terms with the tax “deal”, trying to believe that it was maybe the best we were going to do and at least the unemployed would get more benefits and maybe some important legislation could finally stop being held hostage and move forward. And then I read about how we’re not going to have START or the repeal of DADT or the Dream Act, or, well, anything, and then I remembered “This is the SENATE. We have a tax cut that’s going to expire in less than 3 weeks if we do nothing at all, the Republicans don’t have the numbers to change that, and we let them hold us hostage by threatening OBSTRUCTION?”

    Think I can still find some a that Four Loko?

  97. 97
    DS says:

    Now, Obama wants to reform the tax code. WHY DIDN’T YOU PROPOSE THIS IN 2009!!!!!!!

  98. 98
    roshan says:

    I guess DeMint is going to get his wish for an Obama Waterloo. He wasn’t able to stop Obama from passing major reforms but in the process the GOP has successfully stopped the democrats and the left in general, of gaining any positive reinforcements of seeing their ideology bear any fruit for the American public.

  99. 99
    John S. says:

    Jesus, talk about manic depressive progressive…

  100. 100
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @some other guy:

    Who is such a reliable prognosticator…

    That was a pretty weak list. It looks to me more like the writer just threw a lot of quotes out and hoped that the sheer volume of them would make it look like it was incredibly damning.

    For instance, just to pick out a few (out of many)…

    “Well, it’s going to take a long time until we’re through. I think we will see mortgage quality, particularly in subprime, weaken all the way through 2008 and in fact, we’ll see elevated levels of delinquency default all the way into 2009.”
    __
    CNN – Aug 25, 2007

    “It shows that declines are now across all markets, that this is a nationwide housing collapse rather than one in a few markets,” said Mark Zandi”
    __
    Reuters – June 26, 2008

    “All the signs suggest we have a long way to go,” he added. “In terms of the financial panic I am hopeful that we are near the bottom. But in terms of the broader economy there is a lot more to come.””
    __
    Christian Science Monitor – Oct. 28, 2008

    What exactly are wrong about these? And even if I were convinced that there’s something wrong with these, they’d hardly be “abysmal.”

    Then there are a lot of more recent quotes (say, about Q4 2009 on) that you simply can’t measure correctness of:

    “Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Economy.com, thinks it’ll be 2011 before the number of foreclosures ebbs, receding to about 1.1 million, as the economy improves.”
    __
    Bloomberg – Nov 19, 2009

    Hint: It’s not 2011 yet.

    Really, how is this supposed to prove anything?

  101. 101
    Jamie says:

    @DS:

    probably, because he wanted to reform health care first?

  102. 102
    The Raven says:

    Sympathies, John. Times are bad, and while I see the seeds of hope, they will take time to come to fruition. (And of course we corvids may eat them up.)

    If I’m having this much trouble, how are other people who aren’t obsessed with things working these issues out.

    Why, yes, John that’s why we have people voting against their own interests. For most people, it is much easier to treat politics as a team sport, and root for your team.

  103. 103
    Athenae says:

    They want passion, not technocrats.

    And they are being told, every day, by our abdicating media, that passion is bias, when it’s the furthest thing from.

    A.

  104. 104
    John S. says:

    Now, Obama wants to reform the tax code. WHY DIDN’T YOU PROPOSE THIS IN 2009

    What good would it have done?

    If Obama calling for a vote on the expiring tax cuts BEFORE the election didn’t illicit a response from Congress, what the fuck makes you think they would have heeded him on reforming the tax code? In case you didn’t notice, a lot of Democrats spent October running away from anything having to do with Obama, including issues the public sided with Democrats on.

    I guess this is just another episode of “It’s Obama’s fault!” and working your way backwards from that proposition.

  105. 105
    Culture of Truth says:

    yeah, Norway! Or something.

  106. 106
    WyldPirate says:

    @GregB:

    Just call out my name, I’ll come running.

    To see you again

  107. 107
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Athenae:

    I will never forget an experience I had this semester in my River Basin class. One of the returning students (a grad student) was talking about some of the activism she had been engaged in over kayaking passage through the lower portions of the Flint river (SE Georgia). She told a story about getting arrested for illegally launching into a supposed “private” portion of the river. This woman, who has worked for FDEP for years, who is probably in her late fifties, had EVERY.SINGLE.EAR! I actually had students stop her after class to know how to get involved with a group that is fighting this injustice. An entire semester of telling them the horrors of Corps management and Federal/State abdication of responsibility…and a single mature woman is the only thing that really causes them to care. Almost enough to give you hope…almost

  108. 108
    some other guy says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    There’s a pattern in the all the quotes on that page: Zandi consistently understates, sometimes massively, our economic problems, and his predictions are nearly always more rosy than reality. The bottom– and subsequent turnaround– is always right around the corner, according to Zandi. He’s a cheerleader for the financial sector, not an honest analyst. He’s about as reliable as Scott Rasmussen, IMO.

  109. 109
    Breezeblock says:

    I am down with this post. I used to swear and curse at the TV and radio when Republicans said or did something stupid or evil (which is freaking all the time).

    I’ll still vote, but I don’t care anymore.

    George Carlin sums it up rather nicely. “The American Dream”. Fuck yeah.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

  110. 110
    roshan says:

    The left always forgets to fight the ideological war before moving on to displays of wonkishness about policy. If you get the country sold on your ideology first then whatever numbers or facts you throw up next as policy would get a pass w/o too many questions from the media or the general public. And that would always help when you need the numbers in the senate and house to pass any legislation.

  111. 111
    Poopyman says:

    @Third Eye Open: This is just sad. They can just walk along the beach there to see (and probably smell) the results of apathy.

    But… they are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today.

  112. 112
    Emma says:

    Keeping people ignorant is not a bug, it’s a feature.

    One of the things I don’t often see discussed in any media is the fact that the conservatives/fundamentalists/corporatists in this country have spent over thirty years creating an environment where any “serious” political discussion beginswith two assumptions: (1) that government is either incompetent or evil, facts to the contrary notwithstanding; and (2)that liberals take stuff away from whites to give to those “shiftless, lazy” others. Within this framework, any progress, no matter how minor, becomes a miracle.

  113. 113
    Observer says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Okay you have reading comprehension. You need to look at the sequence.

    First of you’ve mixed up the dates. The date is above the quote not below. So the first quote you have is from July 2007.

    But the sequence is important. He’s doing Freidman units.
    Aug 2006: the housing bottom is “3 or 4 quarters” away.
    Oct 2006: the bottom is 1 year away but the correction is now in “full swing”.
    Jan 2007: he’s worried about raising wages and inflation
    March 2007: we’ll reach the bottom in the spring but the crisis is only in rural areas not in cities
    April 2007: we’ll reach the bottom in the summer
    June 2007: no, now I mean we’ll reach the bottom next summer
    July 6, 2007: I take that back: the economy isn’t going to weaken further
    July 27, 2007 (your quote): I take back that take back from 3 weeks ago. we’ll suck until 2009.
    Aug, 2007: whoa! I meant everything is now twice as worse as what I said 3 weeks ago. And Oh, forget what i said about the cities.
    Sept 4, 2007: Now that I’m working for McCain, I take back the gloom. The bottom will peak in 2008.
    Sept 7, 2007 (three days later): no what I meant was the economy is 4 times worse than what I said in July and forget what I said 3 days ago.


    and so it goes on.

  114. 114
    stuckinred says:

    @Tractarian: I just can’t get all depressed I guess.

  115. 115
    Brachiator says:

    @Noonan:

    My point remains: Among all this flailing about failing we still have a deal that a) appears to help the poor, the economy and the jobless and b) every day that passes the GOP’s leverage increases. Anyone who thinks we’re going to get a better piece of legislation after the first of the year isn’t dealing in reality.

    I think you are wrong here.

    It is arguable that this deal helps the poor. Also, the entire argument about “helping the poor” is stale cheese when the entire middle class is unraveling.

    The Bush tax cuts did nothing substantial for the economy or the jobless when first enacted. By what magic are they now effective?

    The payroll tax cut was rightly dismissed as a stunt when first proposed by John McCain (and echoed by Hillary Clinton) during the presidential primary and later again in 2009.

    Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others have proposed some form of tax payroll holiday or reduction. According to a GOP House leadership advisor, more than half the Republican House caucus has gone on record at some point supporting a reduction in, or suspension of, the payroll tax.
    __
    In 2009, the White House rebuffed the idea, preferring its grab bag of stimulus spending programs….
    __
    The GOP embrace of the idea is not universal. One advisor to a hardline conservative senator e-mailed me “the payroll tax holiday ($120 billion) won’t really create many jobs and will drain more from Social Security.”…

    And there is also this little nugget, from the same article: The payroll tax cut, moreover, applies to all workers with no phase out for higher-income earners.So the rich get an extra cookie to go along with the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

    That this was the best deal possible ignores the facts that the Democrats didn’t really try, and also sabotaged themselves by deliberately putting off consideration of tax policy until after the mid-term elections.

  116. 116
    Marmot says:

    @Zifnab: You’re right in the general case, but not the specific. Dallas, Houston and Austin voted Democratic on the county level, as usual. It’s the suburban and rural folks who need to feel a bit of the pain they’re causing, but surprise! They’ve been feeling it for a while already.

  117. 117
    Scott P. says:

    The thing is, politics is not where change happens. I don’t know if it’s ever where changed happens. But what I’ve said for years—most recently last January, here—is that there is only one way to change the world, and that is through the creative arts. It is, indeed, the only thing that ever has changed the world.

    Sorry, I have to call B.S. The arts can have a significant effect, to be sure, but it wasn’t Uncle Tom’s Cabin that freed the slaves, it was Lincoln and the Union army. It wasn’t Cannery Row that improved working conditions, it was Teddy Roosevelt and other Progressives. It wasn’t the damned arts that ended the Vietnam War, or passed the Civil Rights Act, or built Hoover fucking Dam.

    Concede politics to the Republicans, and you’ll get Orwell’s vision of the future.

    I guess some people who grew up from the 50’s to 70’s didn’t realize that the rest of the world wouldn’t just sit still as we controlled 50% of the main economic activity – those days (much as oil soon will be) are gone for ever;

    I hope you understand that economic growth depends on absolute factors, not relative ones, that despite the fact that we don’t control 50% of the world’s economy, and the world hasn’t sit still, we are far better off today than in the 50s or 70s, and that the better the world does economically, the better for us that is, because it isn’t a zero-sum game.

  118. 118
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @John S.:

    If Obama calling for a vote on the expiring tax cuts BEFORE the election didn’t illicit a response from Congress, what the fuck makes you think they would have heeded him on reforming the tax code?

    ObamaarmtwistingLBJcommitteechairsFDRprimarythreatJFKparty
    leaderHSTbullypulpit!

    That’s what.

  119. 119
    Monty says:

    Obama, the Democrats, and even the Republicans are becoming irrelevant to the structure of US politics. The basic reality is that Big Money corporatism is in charge now, and that’s the end of it. I think the Republicans understand the need to kowtow to the oligarchy far better than do Dems and they’ve been compliant little toadies for decades. However, at this point neither one is needed by the oligarchy. It largely doesn’t matter which party gets elected and writes laws, because in effect neither of them can do or say jack squat.

    The only way to stop this is for the citizenry to take this country back from the owners by force. It will be horrible and bloody and tragic. But there’s no choice.

    Have a nice day.

  120. 120
    Carl Nyberg says:

    @Noonan:

    What piece of information should make anyone feel confident the Democrats will fight the Republicans harder when the tax cuts expire than the Democrats are fighting now?

    The Republicans are committed to dismantling the social contract. The Democrats are committed to finding a middle-ground sweet spot where they don’t take too much criticism in the media so they can be re-elected without offending the oligarchs.

  121. 121
    stuckinred says:

    @Monty: blah blah blah, I’ll bet you’ll be right up front with all the other intellectuals.

  122. 122
    p.a. says:

    Seems Cole is cracking. (Note the lack of Tunch/Lilly/Rosie life-affirming posts.) Probably hasn’t been a Democrat long enough to realize despair is our default position. If this runs deeper than a bout of dead-auto fueled depression, I say there’s about a 20% chance he announces a ‘blogging sabbatical’ the way some others have (I still miss Billmon). I hope the other posters keep this place going; I like it here.

    As for the nation that once considered itself ‘the last best hope of man’, if current trends keep up, we’ll get just what we- as a people, not as individuals- deserve. That sucks for the righteous, for sure.

  123. 123
    Suffern ACE says:

    @John S.: In 2009, wasn’t he cutting taxes? Wouldn’t it have been rather odd for him to start talking about raising taxes at the same time?

    It has not been proven that Democratic or Republican middle class voters on this issue will not switch parties over potential tax increases. The middle class got a tax cut under Bush that no one seems to want to talk about them giving up, even though that also has blown a hole in government revenue stream. Regardless of whether they used that money to buy nice things over the past 10 years (I believe they might have tried to buy houses with some of it), or if that money simply got siphoned up into their medical insurance premiums, or put into stocks and bonds (its thrilling when they go up!), it’s still going to be difficult for any politician to turn to middle class voters and tell them that they can’t have as much going forward.

    Dems could talk about raising taxes. But are they dealing with Clinton voters or Mondale voters?

  124. 124

    @biff diggerence:

    Let’s put

    Clarence Thomas
    Samuel Alito
    Jim DeMint
    John Kyl
    Kerry Killinger (the fuckhead who drove Washington Mutual into the ground) on that list too.

  125. 125
    eemom says:

    ya want some comedy relief?

    This “headline” cracked me up:

    Jane Hamsher, Alan Grayson and Ralph Nader Discuss Tax Cut Deal On Lawrence O’Donnell

  126. 126
    Brachiator says:

    @John S.:

    If Obama calling for a vote on the expiring tax cuts BEFORE the election didn’t illicit a response from Congress, what the fuck makes you think they would have heeded him on reforming the tax code? In case you didn’t notice, a lot of Democrats spent October running away from anything having to do with Obama, including issues the public sided with Democrats on.

    Yeah, the “It’s Obama’s fault!” is stale cheese and ignores the craven stupidity of the Democrats in Congress, but I wish that Obama had played it this way:

    He announces early on that the Bush tax cuts are dead, that he will not entertain making them permanent and will veto any legislation that seeks to extend them.

    He does not make the expiration date of some of his stimulus related tax breaks (the enhanced education credit, etc.) coincide with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

    Instead of expecting the Democrats to act like adults, he sends Congress a detailed outline of a tax bill that he wants. Even if the Republicans had balked and the Democrats squawked, more media attention would have been on Obama’s tax plans than on the expiring Bush tax cuts.

    He gave himself some negotiating room. He gave up (and should have) wanting to make middle class tax breaks permanent. There was other stuff that he might have been able to do. But it doesn’t much matter now.

  127. 127
    Barry says:

    @Davis X. Machina: “A lifetime of reading in the classics, where everyone from Thucydides to Tacitus was sure the world is going to hell, two thousand years ago, has convinced me that either:”

    Remember that things can get extremely bad, and not be ‘truly’ hell. Just in the USA: Great Depression, Civil War, Gilded AGE, WWI, WWII,….

    However, that doesn’t mean that we should just consider ourselves blessed that the USA isn’t truly a hell on Earth.

  128. 128
    JimK says:

    @c u n d gulag: The articles I’ve been reading about prison life state you only get one “hot” meal a day, and showers twice a week.

  129. 129
    Carl Nyberg says:

    @roshan:

    The media does not allow the Left to fight an ideological war to make its case. That’s a bedrock rule of how we discuss policy in the United States.

    The media is willing to say things that are untrue and make no sense. E.g. “ABC headline: Sen. Conrad: Extend All Tax Cuts; Time to Get ‘Serious’ About Deficit”.

    But the traditional media is absolutely unwilling to allow the Left to repeatedly make the case that U.S. society (government, banks, corporations, courts) have created a system for transferring massive wealth from the many to the few.

  130. 130
    Noonan says:

    @Brachiator:

    I’m going to go ahead and let Drum talk for me:

    In the end, this is the second stimulus we all wanted. It’s not a very efficient stimulus, and it sadly caves into the conservative snake oil that the sum total of fiscal policy is tax cuts, but them’s the breaks. Anyone who doesn’t like it needs to spend the next two years persuading the public not just to tell pollsters they don’t like tax cuts for the rich, but to actually vote out of office anyone who supports tax cuts for the rich. That’s the only way we’ll win the replay of this battle in 2012.

    I also don’t see the point in bickering about what should have happened before the election. We are where we are, with a GOP House getting ready to take over in January. This is the best deal out there. In fact, it’s the only deal out there.

  131. 131
    Marmot says:

    @Brachiator:

    The Republicans are acting exactly as they have promised to behave. But the Democrats are responding like Nervous Nellies, scared of the Republicans, scared of the voters, scared of polls, scared of the media, scared of the implications of their own ideas, even when they are demonstrably superior to anything coming from the GOP.

    This was true throughout the ’90s, when I felt like John does now. The Repubs threw everything at Clinton–drug-smuggling allegations, Vince Foster’s “murder”, stopping airport traffic for a hair cut, being one of the America haters of the hippie generation, the “Clinton Death List”, and so on. Not once did Dems get together to charge Republicans as flat-out liars and conspiracy theorists. That should’ve been Gore’s platform “I’m not totally fucking insane, but these guys are–demonstrably so.”

    But no, Dems never gang up. Who knows why?

    Anyway, it’s better this time — I’m not alone in watching ochlocracy take hold. You guys see it too. That’s got to count for something.

  132. 132
    DBrown says:

    Thanks Scott P. for reading my post but the relative numbers do matter – all our gains in economic growth over the last ten years has been wall street stealing – our mfg sector has fallen (huge) and all the solid middle class jobs with it – nothing has replaced those jobs. That matters a lot. Don’t see what will support the 50 -100 million people that want to be middle class – with oil soon to start running out, we are screwed (unlike the rest of the world that does not depend on cheap liquid fuel like our economy does … )

  133. 133
    Marmot says:

    @Noonan:

    I also don’t see the point in bickering about what should have happened before the election or last year. We are where we are, with a GOP House getting ready to take over in January. This is the best deal out there. In fact, it’s the only deal out there.

    The point is “I fucking told you so!” Seriously. The “not fighting back” strategy is a loser, and it’s important to point it out all the goddamn time.

    But yeah, if this is the best deal we can get, then take it. But throw out knowledge of how we got here, through Dem dithering and cowardice? Bull.

    EDIT: Of course, the Repubs are the real bad guys here. But that’s become a law of nature, a given.

  134. 134
    Carl Nyberg says:

    @Scott P.:

    Concede politics to the Republicans, and you’ll get Orwell’s vision of the future.

    Things seem to be moving in the direction the GOP wants even when Democrats have majorities and have the presidency.

  135. 135
    Elie says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Amen.

    Well said.

    Reading history and philosophy is critical for sanity and perspective, but few do it with open minds and the intellectual honesty necessary to get a grip on real world.

    It is actually a sad thing.

  136. 136

    @Southern Beale:

    But what I’ve said for years—most recently last January, here—is that there is only one way to change the world, and that is through the creative arts. It is, indeed, the only thing that ever has changed the world. Beause art, music, literature and film engage people on a level that politics does not. It engages people emotionally.
    __
    So, what we need to do is all forget about this political shit and spend our time and money doing things that reach people in a different way. Make a cute little cartoon about polar bears and penguins and see if that can negate some of the global warming denialism coming from the right.

    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on Balloon Juice and this sort of belief if why progressives and liberals keep getting their sorry asses handed to them by the fascists of the Republican party. To continue what Scott P. wrote it wasn’t the Kingston Trio who got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, it was Lyndon Johnson. It wasn’t Pete Seeger who desegregated the schools in Little Rock, it was the 82nd Airborne division and despite what Woody Guthrie claimed, no, his guitar did not kill any fascists. Tom Lehrer wrote an absolutely fantastic song about this sort of left wing idiocy.

    Intro, from the album, That Was the Year That Was

    One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realise should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

    The Folk Song Army
    Tom Lehrer

    We are the Folk Song Army.
    Everyone of us cares.
    We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
    Unlike the rest of you squares.
    __
    There are innocuous folk songs.
    Yeah, but we regard ’em with scorn.
    The folks who sing ’em have no social conscience.
    Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.
    __
    If you feel dissatisfaction,
    Strum your frustrations away.
    Some people may prefer action,
    But give me a folk song any old day.
    __
    The tune don’t have to be clever,
    And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
    It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
    And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.
    __
    Remember the war against Franco?
    That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
    Though he may have won all the battles,
    We had all the good songs.
    __
    So join in the Folk Song Army,
    Guitars are the weapons we bring
    To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
    Ready! Aim! Sing!

  137. 137
    Alex S. says:

    Become a buddhist.

  138. 138
    nepat says:

    Really, folks, get a grip. After the last few days, I’m actually relieved (and none too surprised) the “progressive” movement is as small as it is. What a bunch of sad sacks!

  139. 139
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Stupid is beating smart to death in America. Many of the same people who “want my country back” and bitch about the mess we are in are the same people who keep voting the crooks who did it back to Washinton D.C. They are pissed that things are fucked up yet they are the ones who voted in the asshats who have fucked us over and many who are still there, fucking us over.

    Yes, we are fucked but we did do it to ourselves.

  140. 140
    stuckinred says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    you like this better

    We are forces of chaos and anarchy
    Everything they say we are we are
    And we are very
    Proud of ourselves
    Up against the wall
    Up against the wall motherfucker
    Tear down the walls

  141. 141
    stuckinred says:

    @Alex S.: namaste

  142. 142
    You Don't Say says:

    It is depressing and making me think I need to rethink my approach to getting news and taking action.

    Whining everywhere, from the president to Congress to Keith Olbermann to the rest of us, most of it coming from people I am supposed to side with.

    And how anyone can continue to support the Republican party is beyond me. The party has dropped all pretense and laid bare its craven disregard for anyone but the rich and already powerful.

  143. 143
    John S. says:

    I hope this cleans up the formatting.

  144. 144
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’m with you.

  145. 145
    Nellcote says:

    @Noonan:

    This is the best deal out there. In fact, it’s the only deal out there.

    This. I hear the howling from the Dems. about the President’s proposal but I have yet to see their alternative. One that can get past the senate before the end of the year, that is.

  146. 146
    Brachiator says:

    @Noonan:

    In the end, this is the second stimulus we all wanted.

    Nonsense. It’s not even in the ballpark.

    This is the best deal out there. In fact, it’s the only deal out there.

    That it is the only deal out there is a fact. That it is the “best deal” is an empty rationalization.

    @Marmot:

    Anyway, it’s better this time—I’m not alone in watching ochlocracy take hold. You guys see it too.

    That’s got to count for something. Let’s hope so.

  147. 147
    MJ says:

    @Blue Neponset:
    Edit: FYWP!
    Oh you read about Palin’s plans to visit Haiti on an Evangelical mission as well. It’s horrible how many nasty bugs like her have infected the island.

  148. 148
    stuckinred says:

    Don’t let it bring you down
    it’s only castle’s burning

  149. 149
    MikeMc says:

    I don’t blame either political party or the President. I blame the American people. Take the republicans, for example, they lie about a lot of things. They have no trouble with it. They get away with it. They get away with it because our fellow citizens can’t be bothered with finding out what’s real. Being ill-informed is an acceptable trait. In fact, it’s rewarded. That troubles me more than anything else currently going in the country. A complete lack of, even elementary, knowledge on variety of important subjects. In certain polls the public option was preferred by more than 50% of the population. However, more than 70% couldn’t explain what it was. How is that? It’s a fucking simple concept! It feels like Americans are becoming to lazy to even listen or read or absorb. We’re lazy. Commentators love to tell us “the country is demoralized”! They aren’t demoralized. 95% simply don’t care.

    People who comment on this blog, for the most part, know what they’re talking about, but have you ever tried to have political conversations with people out in the world? There lack of knowledge and understanding is profound. That’s demoralizing.

  150. 150
    Artnoize says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Our true power is in how we chose to spend our money.
    The only common trait we ALL share is that we are consumers.

    Do not reward your enemies [when you have a viable option].

  151. 151
    Julie says:

    I look to Paul Krugman for his take on these matters. Dr. Krugman has been frighteningly accurate on so much in these past ten years, and with recent history. He says no on the tax package, and that any economic electoral benefit will have passed by the time the election rolls around. There are also too many time bombs or new hostages in the package.

    It bugs me that so many of the same people who contributed to the economic destruction are going to benefit the most from this tax package. I need the tax break more than they do, and I am willing to suck it up and pay more taxes.

    As for being demoralized, this is bound to happen when one of the major parties has a scortched earth policy, and people reward them for the cleverness of that policy. I’m willing to riot if you are willing.

  152. 152
    Martin says:

    Meh. Nothing is any different now than it has ever been. DC marinates in drama. And it’s not like we even have that much more real information on what’s going on than we did 30 years ago. Yeah, we get it faster, but in place of actual information we now just get 10 billion times more people ruminating on what it all means, adding almost nothing to what’s actually happening and mostly getting it all wrong and overreacting – and in some cases building whole campaigns around their wrongness, creating all new fake realities like death panels and Obama committing more heinous war crimes than Hitler. About the only thing different now is that voters can be rapidly mobilized to spam their congressfolk or do money bombs. Everything else is precisely the same as it was in the 70s or the 40s.

    Just calm the fuck down everyone and react to things actually happening. Read the narratives, but don’t put emotion into it. Be 100% skeptical of it because as the narrative volume grows its likelihood of being right approaches zero.

  153. 153
    Noonan says:

    @Brachiator:

    That it is the “best deal” is an empty rationalization.

    It’s actually not when you consider how our Congress works. Getting these losers to do anything remotely productive is typically asking too much. And so by default the only deal becomes the best deal — especially with the clock running down before the new Congress — and having the outline of an agreement means much more than platitudes about what we should do or could have done. Because in the end getting 60 votes in the Senate is a lot harder than jockeying a keyboard and demanding purity tests. That goes for people on both sides of the aisle.

  154. 154
    MikeTheZ says:

    @MikeMc: I always thought of this in the abstract “Americans are stupid.” Never really put it into concrete until I met someone who said “I don’t agree with Obama because he’s a socialist.” Its horrifying to talk to someone like that, who has no concrete evidence but simply KNOW it. This is the death of America.

  155. 155
    Jamie says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    that sums things up quite nicely, unfortunately

  156. 156
    stuckinred says:

    @Julie: What do you mean by “riot”? You ever had your head smashed with a billy club? Your shins? Ever puke from the tear gas? Ever get cornered and jumped by 5 fuckers who don’t agree with you? Maybe you are just talking. . .

  157. 157
    The Other Chuck says:

    I am really considering emigrating.

    It’s not because of the stupidity of our leaders. It’s because we have really finally reaped the fruits of the shabby destruction of our primary education system, and the stupid simply runs the whole place, especially concentrated in states that I not only want to see secede, I would actively entertain the idea of ejecting them. I simply do not want the union to continue, and since that’s a non-starter, I do not want to continue being part of the union.

    Yes, Europe and Canada may also be fucked up in their own ways, but European Austerity is what the US would call cradle-to-grave nanny state.

    I just wish I had a college degree, because I really can’t figure out how to immigrate to one of the countries I’d want to live in otherwise.

  158. 158
    Martin says:

    @Noonan: Well, and people seem to really put too much stock in the linearity of politics. We’ll all acknowledge that policy and politics are often out of whack with each other, so if you can change the politics of a situation, you can often change the policy.

    Anyone with kids knows this. You can’t get your kid to mow the lawn, but change the politics and you can. Spouses will fight like cats and dogs under one set of conditions and then be humping each other under a different set not an hour later. It’s not at all linear, it’s not a flat operational space. Change the politics and the outcomes can change entirely. Obama has (whether you consider this a failure to lead or not) completely changed the politics of the tax debate. It may not yield a better solution, but the playing field today is vastly different than it was the other day so things impossible 2 days ago are possible today, and things possible 2 days ago are impossible today. Just having Bernie Sanders and Jim DeMint in the same procedural camp should tell you that much. And I wouldn’t be surprised if those two guys, leading their own filibuster charges, helped shape a resolution to the problem.

    They call it sausage making for a reason. Sit back and enjoy the show and trust that your team aren’t totally incompetent as y’all seem too eager to claim.

  159. 159
    Kryptik says:

    Preach, John, preach.

    It just feels like quicksand these days. More you struggle, more you scream, more you want to get shit done, the more you sink in, because fuck if anyone else is helping you up.

  160. 160
    Monty says:

    @The Other Chuck: I’m considering South America. I know some people in Colombia, but living there would be like America fastfoward 20 years. Maybe Ecuador; Spanish isn’t too hard to learn.

  161. 161
    WyldPirate says:

    @stuckinred:

    Reading those Jefferson Airplane lyrics makes me feel Roger Waters might have pulled a little inspiration from that.

    Coincidental probably.

    Hard to believe it has been over 30 years since The Wall was released.

  162. 162
    Third Eye Open says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    Learn Chinese and hop a freighter. Seriously, you think Australia is looking for scary Americans to kick out?

  163. 163
    PR says:

    How do you counteract nihilism? That’s what we’re dealing with. The Right isn’t just greedy, or stupid, or repressive. I honestly don’t think they mind if the whole show burns to the ground.

  164. 164
    KDP says:

    @Third Eye Open: I’ve just started in an MPA program. During a class discussion several weeks ago, I mentioned that each of us can become involved in the process by calling our elected representatives and, more importantly to me, the committee offices when a particular issue is under discussion. We cannot call senators and reps out of our districts, but the committee offices are available. I called the Senate Armed Services Committee last month to express my desire that DADT remain in the defense appropriations bill. I relayed that to our class.

    One student responded that ‘people don’t have time to make those phone calls.’ This from a student who seeks to obtain a masters degree in Public Administration. Really? A 1 minute conversation to a readily available phone number to make your voice heard is too much work? I and others in the class were aghast. Happily, another student (who is gay and whose partner is in the Navy) thanked me after the class and asked for details about who to contact.

  165. 165
    ChrisWWW says:

    I don’t know about John Cole, but my despair derives from the fact that very little has changed fundamentally since power changed hands from Republicans to Democrats. Didn’t we all agree that the Bush years were an unmitigated disaster? So, why haven’t we shifted course on Iraq, Afghanistan, unfair and untenable tax cuts, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, climate change, etc. Hell, even health care is only a slight bit better, it’s still going to bankrupt us in a few years.

    However, I still feel better than I did in 2004-2006. At least now the slightly sane party, aka Democrats, control the executive and a chamber of Congress. Back then all we could do was watch in horror, now we’re at least in the game until 2012.

  166. 166
    stuckinred says:

    @WyldPirate: My brother manages a Floyd cover band in LA and he’s been running all over seeing Waters in the last week. I liked them ok but they hit a little late for me.

  167. 167
    cat48 says:

    @Violet:

    Sarah Palin is going to be our next President. Get used to the idea.

    Well, she wrote an Wall St oped endorsing Paul Ryan’s Roadmap where he basically makes SocSec a Welfare Prg and Privatization prg and Medicare into a Voucher Plan where U buy your own Insurance.

    So in the future, decide to work hard to elect a Dem who will veto that or keep Congress as is. The Deficit Com. trims recommended to SocSec will look like small potatoes compared to what Rethugs would do to the programs.

  168. 168
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Brachiator:

    Yeah, the “It’s Obama’s fault!” is stale cheese and ignores the craven stupidity of the Democrats in Congress, but I wish that Obama had played it this way:

    Oh… I get it now (not being sarcastic) — make none of the discussion about “the Bush tax cuts” but rather “what policies will we follow after ‘the Bush tax cuts’ have ended.” Yeah, that sounds like it would have been a _really_ good idea. The “Bush tax cuts” language started all the way back in the primaries, probably as a way for Democrats to sneer at how stupid a policy it was.

  169. 169
    Triassic Sands says:

    All in all, it won’t make a lot of difference except maybe make the poor a little more comfortable for the journey…

    Yeah, those poor people get all the breaks.

  170. 170
    Jill says:

    @Dave:

    This is exactly why I believe it is a good sign that progressives are getting angrier and angrier at Obama. To force him to wake up and deal with reality, deal with what it will really take to lead this country in the face of escalating challenges to his authority by the GOP Every time he doesn’t negotiate in good faith and capitulates to the demands of the GOP he weakens his standing, authority, the Democratic party and paints himself further into a corner with no way to get out.

    The tax debate right now is a game of chicken and those expecting the Democrats to fold first are enabling the demise of the Democratic party and this president. Why is it unreasonable that the debate be re-framed so that the GOP is the party held responsible if taxes are raised on the middle class. To me it is more responsible, for the long term health of this country, for the Dems to hold firm on this issue and force the hands of the GOP to cave. If not now, when??? And there are plenty of notable people advocating that returning to previous tax levels, if that is what it takes to stand up to the GOP and recalibrate the control of power in Washington and restore our political process, is an acceptable price to pay. The head of the machinist union was on Olbermann the other night and said his union members did not see a significant increase when taxes were cut under Bush and they will not see a significant change if their tax rate were to return to previous levels. He thoroughly believed the greater gain and benefit to his members would be for the president to regain the leadership and authority his office requires, even if it has to be done at the expense of higher taxes for his members.
    And claiming that this tax package has to pass because it is the only way to get unemployment benefits for the unemployed is another canard. The Democrats should continue to bring up an independent bill to extend unemployment over and over until they get the GOP to cave and pass a bill. Let the GOP be on record time after time for denying the unemployed the benefits they need. At some point their constituents, who can’t all be among the wealthiest 1%, would no longer be able to deny their representative were acting in the representative’s own self interests rather than constituents.

    Every time the President and the Democrats refuse to stand firm in the face of fierce opposition from the GOP, to their said committed positions, they are sacrificing a piece of the Democratic party and hurting their constituents. Chronically undermining the Democratic party is as dysfunctional and reprehensible as GOP obstructionism. And both behaviors are equally contributing to rendering our political process totally ineffectual, harming American citizens, Democrats and Republicans alike, and if left to continue, will eventually destroy our Democracy.

    I don’t know what else there is to do but to get mad at the president and Democrats in congress for not standing up for their supposedly principled positions, even when the going gets rough, especially when the going gets rough. Their fecklessness is beyond infuriating it is unacceptable.

  171. 171
    Brachiator says:

    @Noonan: RE: That it is the “best deal” is an empty rationalization.

    It’s actually not when you consider how our Congress works. Getting these losers to do anything remotely productive is typically asking too much.

    It’s simpler than this. The media, and most people, are lazy and dumb. So for now, we get the conventional wisdom from the most conventional and wise of the Beltway crowd that this is the best deal possible. And people eat it up, because they want to believe, despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary.

    Later, there will be news stories and books about the details of behind the scenes negotiations. The conclusions may be different and a lot messier, but most people will have moved on and won’t even be thinking about what happened in December, 2010.

    And I suppose that posters should pick their rhetorical template. So either “It’s a miracle that [Law X] got passed!” or “It was too much to ask that Congress pass [Law Y].” Of course, neither has anything to do with reality, but people have to talk about something besides Sarah Palin.

  172. 172
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ChrisWWW:

    Didn’t we all agree that the Bush years were an unmitigated disaster?

    That’s part of the problem, actually — a lot of people who voted for Obama don’t think that Bush’s policies were wrong, just that Bush screwed up their execution. They want Obama and Congress to keep doing the same things the Republicans have been doing for the past 30 years but, you know, better.

    We changed out the party that’s in charge of things but we didn’t change people’s minds about fundamental policy like whether or not Americans are entitled to health care.

  173. 173
    Curt says:

    It is sort of draining..all this…isn’t it. I am truly beginning to believe that we can not stop the downward slide of this republic. Can you envision either party wanting to work together again?

  174. 174
    Third Eye Open says:

    @KDP:

    If I could make a guess, its not that they think its too much of a burden on their time to do it, but that some of them feel overwhelmed. Perhaps they have never called their elected leaders, perhaps they think they will quiz them on WHY they hold a certain position. Maybe they just don’t want to be faced with the responsibility for speaking out when it seems that no one is paying attention anyways. Who knows. But I can honestly say that among my own academic peers, they care far more about who is going to get the UF coaching gig, and what that means for our recruiting class, rather than how making a stink about further cuts in education can have a direct impact on their lives.

  175. 175
    Julie says:

    @ stuckinred

    Perhaps protest would have been a better word choice.

    I have no experience with tear gas, but I was forced to play girls field hockey in jr. high.

  176. 176
    BombIranForChrist says:

    I don’t think much is going to change until a whole lot of people say “fuck it”.

    I personally think the time for compromise is over. Let the chips fall where they may.

  177. 177
    Blackfrancis says:

    I would agree about feeling demoralized. Then I saw Bernie Sanders on C-Span 2 and felt a little better. Sure, I understand the futility of it all, but at least there is a voice out there speaking some reason. I wish more people would notice. (directed at the general public, not the folks here.)

  178. 178
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Oh… I get it now (not being sarcastic)—make none of the discussion about “the Bush tax cuts” but rather “what policies will we follow after ‘the Bush tax cuts’ have ended.”

    Yep. That’s pretty much it. I think that Obama had good political and tax policy reasons for putting a stake through the heart of “Bush tax cuts.”

    That’s not the path he chose and I think this will make it harder to push good tax legislation through in the future, but now about the only thing we can really do is to see what happens next.

  179. 179
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Jill:

    Why is it unreasonable that the debate be re-framed so that the GOP is the party held responsible if taxes are raised on the middle class.

    It’s not unreasonable at all. The difficult part is… how to do it. And it’s never worked. OK, maybe it did in 1992 when GHW Bush got reamed by Democrats _and_ Republicans for raising taxes. I think you’ll find that making Republicans be held responsible for a tax increase is an _extremely_ difficult conceptual problem.

  180. 180
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Brachiator: I’m not sure it would have been a panacea, but it would be interesting, and maybe it would have forced Republicans to be the ones bringing up Bush’s name as synonymous with their policy preference.

    It also might have been interesting to re-tell the history, which was that the “Bush tax cuts” were introduced ten years ago as a strategy for dealing with a budgetary surplus in a safe and prosperous world, and at the present moment every one of those features has become obsolete. That way the discussion would be, “What should our tax policy be in the present day?” And Democrats would have a much better shot at winning that argument. Hmm. I honestly hadn’t thought about it in those terms before.

    I think it would still become “tax cuts for some” vs. “tax cuts for all,” a debate Republicans tend to win, but maybe they would have had to expend a bit more effort in the process.

  181. 181
    Suck It Up! says:

    This is exactly why I believe it is a good sign that progressives are getting angrier and angrier at Obama. To force him to wake up and deal with reality, deal with what it will really take to lead this country in the face of escalating challenges to his authority by the GOP Every time he doesn’t negotiate in good faith and capitulates to the demands of the GOP he weakens his standing, authority, the Democratic party and paints himself further into a corner with no way to get out.

    omg. the progressive movement – if there is one – will continue to to be angry and eventually irrelevant as long as you keep believing this mess. omg.

  182. 182

    John,

    I felt like that after the 2004 elections. God, I was so pissed! Why aren’t these crooked, irresponsible, criminal, lying assholes getting punished at the polls?!?

    Do you remember what happened next?

    Hang in there. It just non-political junkies a bit longer to catch on than it takes us.

  183. 183
    A L says:

    Part of growing up and becoming wiser is understanding that people can and often will try to hurt you for their own gain, that your trust is not just to be meted out to whomever shows up promising wonderful things.

    Take this as a lesson and you will be less depressed, Cole.

  184. 184
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’m not sure it would have been a panacea, but it would be interesting, and maybe it would have forced Republicans to be the ones bringing up Bush’s name as synonymous with their policy preference.

    Yep. And although the Obama Administration could not have foreseen this, now that the Republicans control the House, where money bills must originate, killing the Bush tax cuts would force them to start from scratch in a way, and justify their reasons for wanting to resurrect a failed policy.

    I think it would still become “tax cuts for some” vs. “tax cuts for all,” a debate Republicans tend to win, but maybe they would have had to expend a bit more effort in the process.

    The Democrats under Clinton and Obama won the election even if they did not win the debate. And it seems to me that sometimes Democrats don’t see when they actually are winning, and when they are framing the debate stupidly (this gets back to my rant about the Democrats needing to use Perot style visual aids).

    Also, the debate which the Democrats have rarely lost is the one about which party best uses the power of the government to make sure that the average citizen gets a fair deal.

  185. 185
    Raoul says:

    Well-since you cannot not find a critical analysis, the next best thing is to gauge the credibility and track record of those offering the deal- may I suggest neither is very good.

  186. 186
    Jill says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Okay, but there are many different ways to re-frame something.
    The frustration is the Democrats inability to re-frame anything to their advantage. The Democrats completely lost the narrative early on in this debate when they let the GOP frame the expiration of these tax rates as a tax increase. The cuts were not paid for beyond 10 years and NO letting them sunset would not be in effect raising taxes but rather extending them would in effect be a tax cut that would have to be paid for.

    Or now that we are this far down the road why couldn’t the Democrats re-frame the debate so that people understood that extending all the tax rates, as the GOP wanted, would be irresponsible. That they couldn’t justify adding to the deficit without seeing some stimulative benefit, which is what we would be doing if the tax rate for those earning above $250K was extended. That this burden to the deficit would far outweigh any stimulative benefit of extending the tax rates to those earning under $250K. So, if the GOP couldn’t agree to act responsibly and extend only the stimulative tax rates the only responsible thing the Democrats could do is allow all the tax rates to expire as they were intended to (at which point the GOP would have caved as Bohener already indicated.) And it would be responsible to let the tax rates expire at this point because if anyone thinks the Democrats are going to be in a stronger position or any more capable of changing this dynamic in 2012 they are delusional.

  187. 187
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    A lifetime of reading in the classics

    I’ve found that reading deep history is an antedote for my rage and despair over contemporary events. I start with the classics and keep going back in time as far as I have to, to put the present into a more comfortable perspective, if necessary going back thru prehistory and into the historical sciences – archeology, evolutionary biology, geology, astronomy, cosmology.

    This may not work for everybody however – if you get back to the first picoseconds of the Big Bang and you are still depressed or pissed-off, this could be a problem. Perhaps a different technique, such as substance abuse, might provide better dividends.

  188. 188
    HyperIon says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum wrote:

    I smell another “I’m taking a break” post coming.

    Yeah, which will be followed in a couple of hours by a spate of new posts that can be summarized by “God, I hate republicans”.

    Kinda like Stuck who made another of his “I’m taking a break” announcements a couple of days ago and is back again today with multiple comments.

  189. 189
    MarkusR says:

    I now understand why libertarians smoke pot.

  190. 190
    lou says:

    Bernie Sanders’ ongoing filibuster should make you feel better. Wish Democratic senators would show a spine like our resident honest-to-God socialist.
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.....and-hours/

  191. 191
    Ruckus says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:
    Perhaps if we just offer to pay them some protection money, they’ll just go away and leave us alone…
    That’s exactly what they’re asking for. And just like the mob it’s never enough.

  192. 192

    John Cole wrote:

    I really can not believe that we have a major party that is behaving the way the Republicans are, and even worse, I can’t believe they are being rewarded for this behavior.

    The Republicans were dead for a generation until Obama resuscitated them.

    every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv.

    Those feelings are caused by powerlessness. You voted for someone who empowered you, but instead he empowered your enemy.

    You just haven’t fully integrated the fact that Obama betrayed you and other progressive voters. When you integrate that fact, then you will regain a sense of direction and stop being manic-depressive.

  193. 193
    SectarianSofa says:

    @Cole

    Wasn’t it DougJ who linked to a Steve Benen / washingtonmonthly.com piece yesterday or thereabouts? I like his take on the tax stuff, because it’s right. Has a nice chart there today.

  194. 194

    @General Stuck:

    I expect the House will extract one or two more progressive nuggets for the bargain with the devil, before it’s made. All in all, it won’t make a lot of difference

    I liked your comment, but this bit made me wonder. Bargains with the devil always make a huge difference – the biggest difference possible, actually.

  195. 195
    Christin says:

    Wow. You’re on a roll this past week with feeling like pure utter shit Mr. Cole.

    I felt like your post for 8 years. From 2000 to probably January 2008.
    I could not see any light in the world.

    I refuse to live like that anymore. Life is too fucking short to be in a dark cold place.

    And I realized it’s people that made me feel this despair. Caring about every damn person and wanting to tear my hair out and scream when the voted against their interests. Knocking on thousands of doors in other states. Making gadzillions of phone calls non stop. Every year, year after year after year.
    Yeah yeah, woe is me. Trust me. It ain’t about woe is me.

    So poor people who said it was too hard for them to vote or who did not care. Well. I can’t help you with your bad choices. But still, when the good did not show up to defeat the bad, I was so frustrated and angry I was constantly seething. In NJ, the D’s did not show up to vote whining it all sucks. And now we got Donuts et al. Whatever. I’m done. I can’t care about people who don’t give a shit to care – when I’m in a good place if I let myself be.

    So I’m letting myself be a good place. The only thing I’m caring about right at this moment are abused animals, polar bears, penguins et al who did nothing to deserve our horrendous callous acts of terror, inhumanity and brutality against them. That does not depress me. It makes me work to help as many as I can.

    People, are no longer, going to bring me into the abyss. I also don’t give a shit how cold that sounds. It is . What it is.

  196. 196
    Triassic Sands says:

    I also don’t give a shit how cold that sounds.

    What are you looking for — people to tell you that not caring about other people is OK? You sound like you’re on your way to becoming a Republican. I feel sorry for you.

  197. 197
    SectarianSofa says:

    @Christin:

    Hmm. The animal stuff actually depresses me as much as the people stuff. A lot of it converges really, doesn’t it, on the larger scale? (I.e., climate change, pollution, religion of apocolypse versus stewardship, etc..)

  198. 198
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Do you remember what happened next?

    A sectarian civil war in Iraq erupted and the city of Baghdad ethnically cleansed, the housing equity bubble popped, trillions of dollars of productive capacity and wealth were lost worldwide, every Western nation of the world banded together to aid and abet financial fraud as the only way to preserve what was left of the equity and commercial paper markets, the recession upended any chance for a global response to climate change conditions, and the United States found itself with 10% nationwide unemployment? Oh, and Barack Obama was elected the next President and ushered in progressive health insurance reforms that haven’t actually taken hold yet, so yes, there was that as well.

    Yeah, those were some great years…

  199. 199
    mclaren says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am right now.

    Think back to 1984, with the senile sociopath Ronald Reagan coasting to re-election based on “Morning in America” commercials and policies that were destroying the country — the very same policies wrecking America today, mind you — were being wildly applauded by most of the electorate.

    That was more demoralizing, more cynical-making, and more disgusting than today.

  200. 200
    mclaren says:

    I’ve scanned the news for something interesting and uplifting to write about, and every headline I see just depresses me and makes me want to go back to bed or smash my computer and tv.

    Okay, guess it’s my turn to become the polyanna sparkly pony good fairy of optimism for a change.

    Here are four news stories that are interesting and uplifting.

    First, the Self Organizing Learning Project. Give poor kids laptops and they will teach themselves. This works — a guy who became a genetic engineer in India started out as a dirt-poor kid who was given a laptop and taught himself to the point where he qualified for the best schools.

    Self Organizing Learning Environment.

    UCSF researchers report AIDs breakthrough. Truvada, a pill used to treat HIV infections, has turned out to be a key to protecting healthy gay men from contracting the disease, according to a global study reported by CBS San Francisco. Daily doses of Truvada helped cut the risk of infection by 44 percent when used in a regimen with condoms, counseling and other prevention services. Men who dilligently took their pills found they were protected better, up to 73 percent.

    Drug cuts risk of AIDs infection by 73 percent.

    If that isn’t good news, I don’t know what is — note that this applies to the world’s poorest people too, so it’s not just gay men who benefit here. Places like Africa where AIDS infection rates run 60% in some areas are going to be helped by this.

    Speaking of Africa and poverty, here’s a great article about how mobile phones are helping some of the world’s poorest people to lift themselves out of depredation. In the third world, typically many people will pool their savings so they can share a single cellphone.
    Mobile phones help lift poor people out of poverty.

    Hillary Clinton announced a U.S. government plan to contribute 50 million dollars to send fuel-efficient stoves to the world’s poorest people. This is a win-win, because according to the UN, smoke from more primitive stoves kills 1.9 million people per year, mostly women and children, while also contributing to global warming through emissions and deforestation. Helping save 1.9 million people per year while fighting global warming may not be the Second Coming, but, damn! It’s not trivial.

    Secretary of State Clinton’s Plan to Help the Planet’s Poor with More Efficient Stoves.

  201. 201
    DPirate says:

    They’re just voting for their team

    Aren’t you? You could have written this post about the democrats any day of the last 4 years.

  202. 202
    bob h says:

    When public affairs and staying politically engaged has been a big part of your life for forty years and you suddenly realize it is unworthy of your attention, it leaves a horrible void. I’ve been feeling the same way since the Summer.

  203. 203
    blahblahblah says:

    I already posted this in the last thread, but I like it so much I’ll offer it to the BJ masses once again. It sums up our faux two party system perfectly:

    http://i.imgur.com/knb3Q.png

  204. 204

    […] The reason is in part due to my disgust with the politics and political direction of the country. John Cole says it very well: I don’t think I’ve ever been as demoralized, cynical, and disgusted with politics as I am […]

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