Tuesday Morning Open Thread

(Mike Thompson via GoComics.com — click link for full-sized image)
As long as the Austerity Bombers are yapping, I’m gonna keep harping. Today’s sermon, from Mr. Charles P. Pierce, “Why No Deal Is Better Than A Bad Deal“:

… Nothing has so illustrated the distance between the courtier press, and the elites that they have come to serve, then the ongoing mock-horror from both camps that politics can be messy and angry and frustrating. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the mock-horror has its roots in the acceptance of the lunatic notion that government should be run “more like a business.” You would think that, with the resounding defeat handed to an MBA automaton last month, this argument would go into eclipse for a while. But it is the clear basis for almost all of the anguish and garment-rending inside the Beltway.

There may not be a “deal.” Smart people have speculated that we may not need a “deal” and, in any case, a “deal” is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of “governing.” I have said more than once that it is not the president’s job to tame John Boehner’s crazy-ass caucus for him. The president was re-elected on a slate of policies that the country wanted. He has no affirmative obligation to water these down just to “get a deal done” for the sake of appearances, just as he is under no affirmative action to offer up Medicare and Social Security as blood sacrifices just so that John Boehner and his crazy caucus will be placated. The country must be governed, It does not necessarily have to be governed efficiently, as long as the manifest will of the people is somehow expressed through it. Perhaps the people would like it to run more smoothly, but they want most for it to run in such a way that it responds to their expressed wishes. For example, there is not clamoring in the country — or any real need — for the kind of austerity agenda to which all the fiscal cliffies seem to be trying to accustom us. If inefficiency is all that saves us from a damaging set of policies, then god bless inefficiency. (And remember old Dan Webster’s warning that the simplest governments in the world are despotisms.) If that inconveniences the mandarin class, well, that’s just going to have to be too bad.

34 replies
  1. 1
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    A little good news from my neck of the woods: the last of my furniture and boxes arrived today. Still need to get a couple more book shelves but I get to sleep in a real bed again (fie! yon air mattress!) and eat at a proper table. :D

  2. 2
    Raven says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Home sweet home. We just started the process of putting and addition on our house and I’m not looking forward to the logistics.

  3. 3
    Baud says:


    You’ll never get used to austerity if you keep relying on furniture like that.

  4. 4
    Linda Featheringill says:

    I quite agree with Pierce [big of me, I know]. A pre-cliff agreement would be nice but it isn’t essential.

    The proposal put forward by the Prez does have some nice features, though. No more debt ceiling fights?

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    @Linda Featheringill: According to Boehner he has the god given right to tank the economy.

  6. 6
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Baud: I moved to Australia to escape Austerity (fie on david cameron too!)

  7. 7
    Schlemizel says:

    So last night the old cat (now almost 19) made the most pitiful howl & stumbled and dragged herself into the room she was wobbly and disoriented. She sort of crumbled into a heap on the floor trembling and twitching. I laid down next to her and petted her and talked to her. After about two minutes of that she got very calm, just laid there purring but not even moving her tail. We laid there together for about another 5 minute then she got up as if nothing had happened and walked away.

    At first I thought it was a stroke but since there is no apparent paralysis or weakness maybe is was just a seizure. Not sure what to make of it though. She had an episode this summer where for about a week or so she couldn’t walk straight, sort of drifting to the left like a drunk. The vet couldn’t find anything despite too many

  8. 8
    Raven says:

    @Schlemizel: You took her to the emergency vet last night?

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:


    The old cat:

    Poor baby. I wish her comfort and interesting things to watch.

  10. 10
    Raven says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: A dear friend of mine just moved to Safety Bay.

  11. 11
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “I have said more than once that it is not the president’s job to tame John Boehner’s crazy-ass caucus for him.”

    Amen. Go over the cliff and start fresh in January when more Dems are in the Senate and House.

  12. 12
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Raven: that actually is the arse end of nowhere. wow.

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Two wonderful women who got married but couldn’t stay here so they went back to where they were welcome.

    eta One of them is from there, or Perth anyway.

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:


    They found nothing but offered an MRI for $1500. I don’t have that kind of money & the vet was dubious about what it would tell us or what he would do with anything he learned. He sort of threw up his hands and said “she’s pretty old”

    EDIT: I’ll add that after the earlier episode this summer we took her to the vet & they ran a bunch of tests and found nothing wrong with her.

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    @Schlemizel: Yea, watchful waiting.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @Schlemizel: Getting old sucks… It’s so sweet that you were able to comfort her.

  17. 17
    Schlemizel says:


    Pardon my ignorance but has OZ somehow avoided the current maelstrom?

    I envy the move – I would dearly love to leave here & that seems like such a nice destination. Please keep us up to date on what its like.

  18. 18
    Misterpuff says:

    If DC was run like a business, The Obstruction Division would be downsized and a lot of Teabaggers, Theocrats and dumbass country club GOP leadership types like Boehner and McConnell (especially McConnell) would be getting separation packages, a golden handshake and a kick out of the door.

    We would see how fast the pundits support the Dem CEO and Board of Directors, pretty darn fast, I reckon.

    They should be praying to the Baby Jesus how thankful they are DC is not run like business

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:


    If DC were run like a business Bain crapitall would have borrowed a ton of money to buy it, moved California’s debt to the rest of the country and set it up as a separate entity making a profit for them. They would have sold Hawaii to Japan & Alaska to China. The New York/New Jersey area be separated like CA but sold to an investor group. Oil and mineral rights would be sold off to the highest bidder with the local governments not getting a dime of that money. They would borrow against every asset they could find. Bain investors would pocket hundreds of billions. Then what was left of the country would go into bankruptcy and lenders would turn to the world bank to cover the losses to prevent a world wide melt down. Workers would have to take 50% pay and benefit cuts plus forgo social security and medicare.

    Yeah, run like a business

  20. 20
    Linda Featheringill says:


    “Getting old sucks”

    Ya noticed?

  21. 21
    JPL says:

    The local CBS station just had a story about training dogs to drive a car..link

    Hope no one say squirrel..

  22. 22
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Schlemizel: sweet sweet mineral extraction. no recession here (yet).

  23. 23
    WereBear says:

    @Schlemizel: Their brain wiring goes. We take such good care of them they just wear out.

    Nineteen is a tremendous accomplishment.

    Here’s some steps that have helped our elderly cat:

    Seizure Prevention with Diet

    Dear Pammy, Why do cats wail at night?

    Hope they are helpful!

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:


    Thanks a ton – I just knew people here would have suggestions. I realize there is not much more we can do for her but if we can make her comfortable or minimize the occurrence or damage done it would make us feel better too.


  25. 25
    Elizabelle says:

    In austerity-bombed Greece, the madam of 2 upscale brothels in Larissa stepped forward to sponsor the local men’s soccer team. They’re wearing “bubblegum pink” jerseys now, although putting the name of her “luxury” establishments on the team’s sports equipment is a bridge too far for league officials.

    Madam Soula also tried to donate $3,600 to an elementary school which was pleading for funds for a copier and textbooks, but they would not take her (legally-obtained) money.

    NYTimes story. Interesting look at hypocrisy and shabby treatment of an actual job creator, who rose from the ranks.

    She shoulda funded a think tank and laundered the money, hmm?

  26. 26
    danielx says:


    I truly feel for you. Our Oriental Shorthair (aka Greg, aka our bestest boy per my daughter) had a long standing sinus condition that finally worsened to the point where he couldn’t eat and had a hard time breathing. $1500 for a kitty MRI plus three grand for an operation was more than I could afford, and it broke my heart to sit with him on my lap the night before I had to get him put to sleep. We still miss him terribly….


  27. 27
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Schlemizel: My cat, who’s going on 18, has had both dramatic seizures (not since January, thankfully) and unsteady sidewinder walking for about a year. Also, longstanding respiratory issues. She’s on a steroid that helps manage both the walking (which is probably caused by fused vertebrae) and the breathing. We’ve also been taking her for a laser therapy treatment that seemed to be helping her back a lot in October and November, giving her much better posture and pace, but she seems to have hurt herself over the weekend and is hobbling more again. IIRC one of the vets she’s seen said that there was something a cat could get that would effect walking, and would involve a loud howl and cold feet, and I want to say it was “thrombosis,” but now I’m not sure, because that’s not what our cat has ever seemed to have.

  28. 28
    gene108 says:

    He has no affirmative obligation to water these down just to “get a deal done” for the sake of appearances

    What Mr. Pierce doesn’t get is, in paraphrasing the recent statement by Rep. Cole (R-OK), who is winding down his spot on C-SPAN right now is the Republicans will be in control of the House after the 2014 mid-terms and the 2016 Presidential elections.

    The gerrymandering done in 2010 makes the current crop of House Republicans immune to whatever vagaries and shifts in tempers the overall electorate may experience every two years.

    In short the “People’s” House no longer has to respond to the will of the people and is free to stake out its own agenda, because the Republicans will be safely re-elected.

    EDIT: Therefore House Republicans are under no obligation to get anything done and are free to offer up bad deal after bad deal to the President and the Senate.

  29. 29
    Schlemizel says:


    I feel your pain. Given the cats age I can’t imagine 2 or 3 thousand dollars would make her life better or longer. I am going to try some of the diet stuff mentioned in WereBears links.

    Its a hell of a thing we set ourselves up for when we let these furry things into our lives.

  30. 30
    danielx says:

    Yes, Virginia, there are people out there known as Villagers who believe that a bad bargain truly is the best of all possible worlds.

    When I see a David Brooks column titled The Truly Grand Bargain, I just know there will be something and probably several somethings to raise my blood pressure. And so it has turned out.

    Both parties say they are earnest about fundamental tax and entitlement reform. This deal would force them to think beyond the 10-year budget window and put credible plans on the table to address the long-term budget problems while there is still time. No more waiting for the other guy to go public with something serious. The ensuing debate would force voters to face the elemental truth — that they can only have a government as big as they are willing to pay for. It would force elected officials to find a long-term pro-growth solution as big as Simpson-Bowles.

    Republicans could say to the country: Hey, we don’t like raising tax rates. But we understand that when a nation is running a $16 trillion debt that is exploding year by year, everybody has to be willing to make compromises and sacrifices. We understand that the big thing holding the country back is that the political system doesn’t function. We want to tackle big things right now.

    The year 2013 would then be spent on natural Republican turf (tax and entitlement reform) instead of natural Democratic turf (expanding government programs). Democrats would have to submit a long-term vision for the country that either reduced entitlement benefits or raised middle-class taxes, violating Obama’s campaign pledge. Republicans would have to face their own myths and evasions, and become a true reform and modernization party.

    The money shot, as it were, is (in) that last paragraph. Our Dave naturally indicates that Democrats (and Obama) would have to screw their constituents on Social Security and Medicare (of course) in order to meet the terms of his proposed plan, while “Republicans would have to face their own myths and evasions, and become a true reform and modernization party.”

    In what parallel dimension has Mr. Brooks seen any willingness whatsoever for Republicans to do any such thing, following an Obama concession that leads to people getting screwed to meet Republican demands? I think I’ve seen this movie before, and it always ends the same way – with Charlie Brown played by Obama and the Republicans played by Lucy and the football. Or possibly the parable of the scorpion and the frog – you can fill in the blanks as to who plays who.

    It’s perfect. In this superlative Brooksian fantasy, Obama just has to screw the people who just voted him back into office (which based on past negotiations is not all that big a stretch) while Republicans suddenly, magically “face their own myths and evasions”. There is, of course, abundant evidence over the last thirty years of Republican willingness to face reality, right? (Cue Bart Simpson – “I’m not calling you a liar but…I can’t think of a way to finish that sentence.”)

    It is still, amazingly enough, a marvel to me how Brooks and any number of other Villagers have the ability to make decades of Republican horseshit (duly pointed out by the dirty fucking hippies) vanish straight down the memory hole. Promptly replaced, of course, by visions of sugarplums, statesmanlike bipartisanship and Republican mea culpas over turning over the intellectual heritage of their party to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Richard Mourdock, Rick Perry and a miscellany of other fools and demagogues.

    Here’s an insight, Dave ol’ buddy – those guys are the Republican Party, not you. You may have deluded yourself into believing that your tenure at the Weekly Standard gives you standing among them – nay, not so. They are not going to give up their hold on the mind and soul of the Republican Party. Any more than you are ever going to admit that such a thing as the Southern Strategy exists and that the Republican Party’s tactics for the last four decades have amounted to not-so-thinly disguised bigotry, and xenophobia (America fuck yeah!) while the party’s strategy had and has one true objective – advancing and defending the interests of the ultra affluent at all costs.

  31. 31

    There’s that number again:

    While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.

  32. 32
    Tonal Crow says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the mock-horror has its roots in the acceptance of the lunatic notion that government should be run “more like a business.”

    Planting this incorrect, destructive notion in the popular consciousness is perhaps the Republicans’ greatest rhetorical success. They use it to “justify” widespread perversion of government, from promoting corporate welfare, to gutting Social Security, Medicare, schools, etc., to privatizing government functions, to electing bidnessmen [1] as President.

    The fact is, government exists in large part to *counterbalance* business and other strong power centers. Hence, for example, the Art.I s.8 cl.3 of the Constitution, which give Congress power to regulate interstate and international commerce.

    [1] Bidnessman (n). A person, usually male, who runs a business in a rapacious and corrupt manner. Derivation is from George W. Bush’s pronunciation of “business”.

  33. 33


    The gerrymandering done in 2010 makes the current crop of House Republicans immune to whatever vagaries and shifts in tempers the overall electorate may experience every two years.

    I realize that they believe this (because that was their intent when they drew up the seats). That doesn’t, however, make it true: If anything, it increases their chances for GOP overreach… and the greater public appears to finally be onto them.

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz has apparently agreed to stay on as Dem chairman. While the odds are against the Dems retaking the House in 2014, if they can manage to use the OFA infrastructure for the mid-terms (something they failed to do in 2010), we may be surprised.

    At the very least, the Dems should make sure those GOP fuckers have to struggle to keep what they can.

  34. 34
    Felonius Monk says:

    I think the Dems need to make a concerted effort to discredit the rethug meme that “lower taxes on the rich mean more jobs”. It is this widely held belief that the wealthy are the job creators that keeps many of the non-wealthy voting republicans into office.

    I don’t think Dems stand much of a chance of regaining control of the House until this myth is eradicated. It also seems that the rethugs are quite aware of this also — else why the move to take down the CRS report showing that since 1945 lowering taxes on the upper brackets has not improved the economy in any measurable way.

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