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[Cross-posted at The Left Coaster.]

In one of the strangest moments of my political life I found myself agreeing and even feeling sort of gratefully sympathetic to David Brooks on the PBS Newshour last Friday, of all people, as he attempted to explain the ridiculous word and phenomena of DC sequester. Since that sick city mental bubble chose a word no one uses and then even incorrectly applied it, a clearly unhappy BoBo took an admirable path of truth in stating the sequester was a doomsday machine no one thought would ever be used, and now Congress was about to do something really stupid.

I was instantly grateful for the plain truth in plain language—even from this infuriating destructive clown who smashes the integrity of journalism on a daily basis—so that everyone could immediately understand, since everyone is now paying attention.  It’s extremely important for the political junkies and careful political watchers to remember that most of the country doesn’t know the sequester story and history, they need a real definition of what it is and what will happen, it was critically important BoBo get it right in that moment and for once he came through.

Speaking as political junkie, historian, news addict and sociologist I would further define the sequester as being Profoundly Stupid, of course (cutting spending during an employment crisis is economically idiotic, an idea that should have been laughed out of existence 80 freaking years ago) but also very unhappily now officially a Policy Disaster, a policy and political environment for whatever reason completely out of control and smashing our people and country into disastrous harm and pain, right now in real time.

It’s the Obamaquester! The House Republican leadership desperately tried to spin on Friday, surely one of the most pathetic responsibility dodges and diction choices ever to be conjured in the human mind, and that’s saying a lot from the obfuscation capital that DC is. Even those barely paying attention know the Republicans have been screaming for cuts for 2 years, now that they’re here Obama did it?  David Brooks wasn’t unhappy because of the screaming stupidity of it all (trust me, intellectual integrity is not one of his life goals), he was morose because he knew damn well the Republicans were going to bear the brunt of the insanity assignment when the public truly figures this out.

The brunt of it, yes.  If the sequester is such a disaster as the Dumbest Thing Ever, how could it actually happen?  Charitably, the President mis-interpreted the Republicans as rational political actors, when in fact they’re babbling mental children political radicals, incoherently blaming Obama for what they wanted.  Their people are politically out of control, they can’t respond the rational moves of the President, they’re broken and their utter dysfunctionality has taken down all of Congress and Obama with them.

[sigh] The little people will just have to get used to more unemployment from the disaster, that’s ultimately what it all means, and even worse a more degraded faith in Congress and DC, if that were possible.  So much of economic health is all about faith and confidence, how are we supposed to move forward on anything with Republicans babbling Obamaquester! like drooling zombies, mentally dead to anything?

Earth to DC, US employment is a screaming disaster in lost jobs, smashed wages and inadequate retirement.  Now y’all’ve add fiscal policy to the screaming disaster list, way to go, out of control and bringing us further down.

The drug war and our cruel and incredibly vast incarceration rate is on the list.  So is climate change, income inequality, our sick defense spending and out-of-control Drone Executive (times was invading a sovereign country with missiles that slaughter children was instantly construed as the war it is), health care remains a festering disaster, finance and banking is broken, immigration desperately needs resolving, and we have a huge if simple job to stop burning oil and gasoline in the next 30 years, can climate change be ignored forever?

The above list isn’t a rant demanding that somehow DC pull its head out of its butt and perform the obvious, it’s simply the reality of pain that lashes the American little people on a daily basis.  So far the stated rhetoric from DC is that the only urgent problem on the disaster list is gun control.

Obviously, from a historical perspective, the United States is in poor shape with Executive and Congressional leadership unable to respond and indeed furthering current disasters. The potential in the Democratic Party to grow into leadership with the ability to handle disasters remains murky and unclear, while obviously gone from the Obamaquester! Republicans forever.

Originally posted to paradox on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 07:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  paradox - if the sequester stays in place (10+ / 0-)

    will total US federal government spending for F2013 be lower than for F2012? Is the sequester an actual year-to-year reduction in spending, or does it reduce the rate of growth?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 07:42:16 AM PST

    •  It depends what you look at. (9+ / 0-)

      If you talk about overall federal spending, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, no, it's not an actual cut in spending.  In total the federal government will spend more this year than last year.

      If you are talking about just discretionary spending -- excluding Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the national debt, which together are 50% of the budget -- then the sequester means that we would spend slightly less on that half of the budget than we did last year, I think.

      •  Medicare is facing a 2% cut (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NancyWH, elwior, Cliss, Urban Owl

        which is about $10 Billion. Urban Owl has the Sequester FAQ linked for reference below.

        "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

        by Siri on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:40:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Siri - a 2% cut year to year? (0+ / 0-)

          They are forecasting an actual reduction in the amount spent by 2% in F2013 versus F2012? With the explosion of boomers reaching 65 every year, it's very hard to believe that Medicare will be spending less in F2013. If you have a link for that, I would really like to see it.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 05:23:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a reduction in the reimbursement to providers (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep, antirove

            Their rates are being reduced to 98% of current billing rates.

            Medicare pay: Budget sequester adds to annual payment rate woes

            Benefits received by enrollees in Medicare are safe, but the physicians and other health professionals who provide their health care are not. In 2013, sequestration begins to hit those contracted to provide Medicare services — including doctors, hospitals, nurses, therapists, medical suppliers and drug providers. Their payments will be reduced by 2%, so physicians and others will receive 98 cents for every dollar’s worth of medical care they provide until 2021 — to the tune of $11 billion in 2013 and $123 billion through 2021.
            The AMA's sources for the linked article:
            Sources: “Estimated Impact of Automatic Budget Enforcement Procedures Specified in the Budget Control Act,” Congressional Budget Office, Sept. 12, 2011; “Medicare’s Payments to Physicians: The Budgetary Impact of Alternative Policies,” CBO, June 16, 2011

            The amount spent will depend of the claims submitted. These are forecasts of what the reimbursement shortfalls will be. Any way you slice it, the providers are going to see a cut if the sequester goes through.

            "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

            by Siri on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 06:49:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Siri - I believe that the providers will see a cut (0+ / 0-)

              but that does not mean that Medicare spending for F2013 will be below F2012. I think that would be highly unlikely and that Medicare spending will increase year over year.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:10:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Interest on debt not part of discretionary spend (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cliss, VClib, Urban Owl

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:02:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  However when anyone including you, (9+ / 0-)

        Describes Social security as monies being paid by the federal government, they should be seriously reprimanded. Social Security has its own damn fund. That Fund has been paid into by everyone in this country who works at a job wherein FICA is withheld. The Baby Boomers have helped the situation because thirteen percent of them have already died. (War in Vietnam, AIDS holocaust, and now the rising cancer and hepatitis epidemics.)

        I am so tired of people saying things like this. Bill Maher always has his stupid pie chart, which shows the Social Security checks coming out of the General Fund. My idiotic Blue Dog Congressman does the same thing. Whether the monies do or   don't get administered by the General Fund, I don't really know, as it might be the General Fund acts as the Administrator and pays out the monies. But the Fund is alive and well and has a 2.1 trillion or even more! surplus.

        Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

        by Truedelphi on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:45:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Truedelphi - from an accounting perspective (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Urban Owl

          you are completely correct. Unfortunately from a cash flow perspective the feds co-mingle everything and we have had a few years recently when SocSec has taken in less than it has paid out.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 05:26:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's not true (0+ / 0-)

          despite many people here saying so.

          How do I know - well, in that case Obama's payroll tax reduction of 2% for two years would have reduced the solvency of SS but did that happen?  I was told not, because the lost $$s were simply made up from "general revenues" (aka borrowing) - IOW, the government has a single pot of money (even though some like to try to put artificial partitions within that pot, no matter how silly that is to anyone but a hardcore accountant . . .)

    •  Yes, here's the numbers (8+ / 0-)

      And the budget deficit has been shrinking the last few years, not a well-known fact.

      Sequester FAQ

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:25:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Sam (0+ / 0-)

        are so proud of themselves.

        Instead of making $200,000/year and spending $300,000/year, they are now making $225,000/year and spending $275,000/year.

        Well, government finance is different than personal finance.

        Yes, there will come a time when dollars won't be accepted for imported oil or Chinese made stuff.

        Saddam refused to accept dollars for oil.

  •  To be honest, I'm struggling to come up with (19+ / 0-)

    something worth saying. The degree of disfunction and down-right stupidity on the federal level of politics is disheartening to say the least.

    The sensation that I think I want to throw up is all that comes to mind thinking of this "sequester" deal. But I'm also stuck trying to imagine a way out considering the current actors in this 'American Tragedy'.

    Sheesh. All I can advise is for people to try and prepare for another economic downturn. Will it inevitably lead to a real depression? I don't know, but globally, the potential is there.

    Again, sheesh.

    Physics is bulls**t. Don't let them fool you. Fire IS magic.

    by Pescadero Bill on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 08:07:22 AM PST

  •  Sorry, but this whole diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, Wary, Cliss

    just strikes me as more of that "both sides are to blame" blather.

    And, of course, this isn't over yet. The pressure is ramping up on Republicans to do something, since their efforts to blame Obama for this are simply not working.

    How many times have we seen this same movie? The debt ceiling. The fiscal cliff. At the last minute, Republicans blink.

    I suspect they're going to blink this time, too.

  •  It can't very well be Obama's sequester (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Wary, elwior

    when it was passed by both houses of Congress. Last I checked the Executive Branch didn't make laws.

    •  It was proposed by the President, so (8+ / 0-)

      he can't credibly disavow it, either.  

      •  Citation please! (0+ / 0-)

        "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain

        by andersr on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:14:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Citations (6+ / 0-)

          here and here.

          Lew and Nabors, on behalf of the President, proposed as a way to get Republicans to vote to raise the debt ceiling enough to get past the 2012 elections.  They proposed it first to Reid, then to Boehner.  

          Reid and Boehner both accepted the President's proposal, and then went to their constituents, who voted to pass it.  

          •  I still think it's ignoring the timeline (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wary, elwior, CharlieHipHop, notagain, antirove

            to just say Obama did it. The GOP steadfastly refused to raise the debt ceiling without some kind of deal on cuts. We went through a credit downgrade because of it. This is their baby. Born of their insane need to feed their crazy base. They were literally holding our entire economy hostage,so this draconian package was put together. One that no one ever dreamed would get pushed through. It was supposed to drive a deal not actually happen. They have the power to stop it but instead of doing so, they are just pointing fingers.

            Cuts this drastic in our current fragile economy are going to be disastrous. They still can't seem to bring themselves to admit it though they are already looking to place blame for it.

            "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

            by Siri on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:50:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are making a point about (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1, VClib, MPociask

              WHY the President proposed a sequester.  And that's legitimate.  

              But there's no question that the sequester was the President's proposal, pitched to Reid and Boehner by Lew and Nabors.  

              One that no one ever dreamed would get pushed through. It was supposed to drive a deal not actually happen.
              I look at is as a miscalculation by the President.  He was essentially bluffing, proposing something out there that he didn't want, betting on the fact that the Republicans would fold rather than let the defense cuts happen.  That's pretty clear, from Woodward's interviews with the principals.  So far, Republicans have called his bluff.  
          •  Propsals are not same as passing a bill (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior, snacksandpop

            Republicans in house did NOT have to pass the darn thing, my Democratic Representative along with 94 others voted against the bill!

            CONGRESS passes BILLS to become laws!

            Proposals ARE NOT LAWS they are simply put PROPOSALS!

            Congress did NOT have to pass a bill nor any bill based upon ANY mere PROPOSAL! They refuse to pass many, most PROPOSALS matter of fact, or VOTE against them!

            Using a mere PROPOSAL as the basis to put ALL BLAME on the President is lubricious, simple, childish  especially when the Republicans PASSED they BILL!

            All Pres did was PROPOSE an idea CONGRESS PASSED a BILL Pres Obama signed it into law--BUT Republicans all along had opportunity and DUTY to NOT vote for and PASS a PROPOSAL as a bill IF they did NOT want it, simple as that.  

            •  Where is the "Dave" Moment (5+ / 0-)

              I think it is beyond question that the idea of the sequester originated at the White House and Congress bought into the concept and wrote a bill based on a proposal introduced by a member of member of Congress, which was duly voted on and passed by the House and Senate and which the President signed.  That is called history.  

              Laws are not where federal or state governance ends, it is actually the beginning.  The real action is in the rule making to implement the law, which can take some time.  Rules and laws can of course be amended.

              Although I agree this is the wrong time to suck money and consumer demand out of the economy, it is absurd that federal agencies subject to discretionary spending cannot find less than 3% of their budget to cut without harming services.  

              We can all agree that we should invest in a new smart grid, fix our infrastructure, have the world's best broadband, etc., but our government does not have to be so large to accomplish this.  

              A few years ago I worked as a senior staffer for a senior Democratic member of the NYS Assembly who chaired a very powerful committee with subpoena power.  If you have never attended a legislative committee meeting over proposed legislation, I guarantee you will find it amusing.  Almost no one reads the bills, if a Democrat chairs the committee the members of his party go along like lap dogs and the Republicans (they are pretty moderate in NY) will reflexively say the proposed bill is anti-jobs, big gov't etc. and then the Dems vote to send the bill to the floor where it gets passed.  

              I also learned a lot about how state budgeting works from a guy who was a top dog at the NYS Dormitory Authority and who knew more about the budget than almost anyone in town.  The Dormitory Authority is an innocuous sounding agency that has the authority to issue revenue bonds.  The last bond issue I saw was for more than $1b.  This guy could have made millions on Wall Street (he was asked constantly) but he liked his low key life upstate.  When asked how much of the NYS budget was 'waste, fraud and abuse', his reply was around 10%.  The 2012-13 budget under Governor Cuomo is $132.5b.

              Let's assume the same holds true for the federal budget but be generous and say 5% is 'waste, fraud and abuse'.  The agencies have known this sequester was coming for quite some time.  Couldn't some contingency plans to trim fat have been written?

              Most pundits agree Obama is winning the messaging war but so what?  He owns this crisis as much as Congress.  He is the President and must lead.  The first thing he should have done when he took the Oath of Office in 2009 was to rent an auditorium and demand that all the heads of federal agencies and their top deputies show up and explain what the hell they actually do for a living.  There are something like 9 federal agencies that deal with clean energy subsidies.  Does anyone think this is a good idea?  

              I realize that a lot of federal workers have already lost their jobs but the government is just too big.  I went to college in D.C. in the 80s and the change in the prosperity of the city and surrounding areas is stunning.  

              Perhaps Obama will pull a "Dave" this week.  Assemble all of the cabinet with the media in the room just like Kevin Kline as the fictional president who brought along his own accountant Charles Grodin who was stunned at what he saw when he actually read the federal budget.  

              Propose specific and reasonable cuts to unnecessary or redundant programs on prime time television to each agency head.  Let the cabinet secretaries defend their turf and watch them crumble.  No more "sequester".  Show your cabinet the door.  

              Next drag in Ways and Means and the Senate tax committee and tell them to close absurd loopholes and cap deductions and raise the SS salary cap to $250k.  Watch how fast they cave too.  Then tell them to get working on throwing out the entire 17,000 page tax code.  

              A friend who is a tax lawyer at a top firm told me that there are only about a dozen people in the country who actually really understand the tax code - a few top law partners, a few university professors and a few top hill staffers.  No one else has a real clue.  Make it simple and make it fair.  

              Instead what we get is a constant parade of horribles from the President and the cabinet.  That is not why I voted for this man.  Twice.

              •  What you're saying makes sense (0+ / 0-)

                That's why it will probably never happen.  

                Too many people scratching each other's backs and greasing each other's hands make this sort of common-sense reform impossible in practice.

              •  Obama has done his best to persuade (0+ / 0-)

                but persuasion alone cannot move the Congress to act. They don't take orders. They don't even take reasonable suggestions. The sequester, even if it was the President's idea, was intended to be an option so bad no one would choose it. The budget commission was supposed to come up with an acceptable alternative. The sequester was what nobody wanted, and it was assumed it would be avoided. Bad assumption. Guiding the Congress to a reasonable outcome does not work, because it is totally dysfunctional. And that is so very largely because of the Republican members.

              •  Just exactly how is the federal (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                codairem, MPociask
                government ... just too big?
                By percent of GDP?
                By total revenue?

                By what measure?  Because a city has grown? Lots of cities have grown remarkably (look at Dallas-Fort Worth and suburbs since 1980) but that has nothing to do with the size of government.

                The federal government is just too big" doesn't seem to have any validity to me without specifics.

                For example, I believe the DHS is a runaway agency resulting from the most massive concentration of federal government powers contra our civil rights since World War II.  That's a tiny bit more specific.

                I think Pentagon spending being double what it was when Bush was first elected being just way too big, especially when one of his asinine wars has been ended and the other is winding down.

                But, overall, I don't think federal government is just too big.

                This is a great idea that will never happen with these Republicans in the Congress:

                Next drag in Ways and Means and the Senate tax committee and tell them to close absurd loopholes and cap deductions and raise the SS salary cap to $250k.  Watch how fast they cave too.  Then tell them to get working on throwing out the entire 17,000 page tax code
                .  

                I'd change that "throwing out" to revising severely. We don't need anything like a flat tax or other giveaway to the rich.  We do need an understandable, fair and equitably-applied progressive income tax system. We have none of that today.

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:13:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The federal government spends (0+ / 0-)

                  about $10,000/year/American.

                  That's $40,000/family of four/year spent by the federal government alone.

                  Tens of milions of families of four earn less than $40,000/year.

                  •  So, the spending is too high? That's what (0+ / 0-)

                    "too big" means?  

                    Are taxes taking more or less of GDP than they used to?

                    Is the spending a problem because the revenues don't cover  the expenditures?  Or should spending simply be lower, because...___?

                    What would happen to the average family of four's income (which is a large family, BTW, most households are around 2.something people, on average) if Federal government spending were to be slashed?  I think I've read that recession followed every attempt to balance the budget.

                    Lots of questions.  I find the "too big" argument to be similar to Grover Norquist's concepts, which is why that statement inspires lots of questions.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:22:18 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Hmmm.... Turns out, US spending is sorta low (0+ / 0-)

                    while having a much larger GDP.

                    The devil is in the details.   I don't know how to embed this chart, but here's the link.

                    It isn't just how much is spent, but how large the overall economy of the nation is.

                    And if we look at "percent expenditure of GDP by Federal Govt," once again, the USA is lower than many nations, even, apparently, Brazil.  Here's the link to the chart.

                    So, for me anyway, the "too much spending" doesn't seem to hold water as far as an argument the government is too big.  We have an enormous GDP and we spend less (percentage wise and per capita, both) than many other modern nations.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:44:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  government is too big? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                codairem, Apost8, YucatanMan

                I am reliably informed that extended attack fire crew availability (meaning the standard 20 person hand crew) has dropped by almost half since the 1990s. Most of those wildland crews are federal workers. We really need those crews. With a workforce of a little over one million workers making generalizations may not turn out to  be accuraate.

          •  Deficit Reduction v. Spending Cuts (0+ / 0-)

            From TPM:

            “Unless a joint committee bill achieving an amount greater than $1,200,000,000,000 in deficit reduction as provided in section 401(b)(3)(B)(i)(II) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is enacted by January 15, 2012, the discretionary spending limits listed in section 251(c) shall be revised, and discretionary appropriations and direct spending shall be reduced.”

            Key words: “deficit reduction.” Not “spending cuts.”

            The two are not the same thing.
      •  Yes, and at the time it was heralded (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask

        as another example of how the guy was/is the best 11th dimensional chess player ever!

        But, I guess that a few fewer dimensions than the 26 that Sheldon Cooper requires for his universe to work . ..

    •  Who first broached sequestration is irrelevant (9+ / 0-)

      in my view.

      The whole point of the Budget Control Act being to avoid failure on the debt ceiling, and afford an escape route for a future, better balanced (revenue + cost-saving) budget outline. Time being bought by moving the date of required action down the road.

      As Klein argues in this WashPo posting - events have moved on since. All in the direction of getting a more balanced approach.

      The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
      In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.
      Whether the White House responded to republican demands for automatic cuts by crafting this time-bomb, or simply presented the poison pill as the sole means to avoid total failure in the debt ceiling negotiations is less important than the impact of the pending imposition of this unwanted policy.

      And, yes, everyone has their fingerprints on this. But it was the GOP's incalcitrance that forced all political actors to grasp the gun.

      •  That's the argument Evan Bayh made this morning (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cliss, VClib, AmericanAnt, MPociask

        on one of the Sunday shows.  He said yes, the President made the deal for cuts only in exchange for getting the debt ceiling issue past the 2012 election, but essentially that since he won the election, he can now repudiate that his deal.  

        That may well be correct as a matter of politics.  But if that is the case, what possible incentive do Republicans have for entering into another deal with the President if he feels free-- for whatever reason --  not to honor deals he makes with Republicans? No matter who you are, you don't negotiate with someone who cuts a deal with you and then disavows it.  

        The President's disavowing of the deal he made in the Budget Control Act makes it LESS likely the Republicans will negotiate with him again, it seems to me, and more likely there will be stalemate through the 2014 elections.  

        •  I am not making an argument favoring repudiation (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wary, elwior, zinger99

          (and of what - "ownership"? - laughable grounds).

          The point is simple, arguing over who named or first proferred the plan is irrelevant.

          Especially when the alternative is unwanted, untargeted  and ineffective austerity.

          Your concern for the hurt feelings of republicans is touching by the way. I suppose somebody on DKos has to take the GOP's corner, it might as well be you. Still they are - ostensibly - adults. They can get over themselves, for a change, and actually make a better deal.

          Or the GOP can take your advice - and refuse to avoid an undesirable outcome. Because, if they did, by your logic, it would mean they disavow a "deal" they made when voting for the Budget Control Act?

          Failure by the GOP to make a balanced offer, with lots of accompanying finger-pointing, can only lead me to the conclusion that the GOP view the sequester as preferable - i.e., the Republicans want it.

          •  I have no concern for the "feelings" of any (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Sparhawk, MPociask

            elected politician, frankly.  

            My point is not about "feelings."  It is about the realities of any negotiation -- including a negotiation between political opponents.  If you want negotiation and compromise, as the President says he wants, then each side has to trust that the other will abide by the deal reached at the end of the negotiation.  You cannot negotiate with someone if you have no belief that the other side will abide by the deal you reach.  You cannot negotiate with someone if you belief that, after a deal is reached and you perform your part (raise the debt ceiling enough to get past the 2012 election), the other side will attempt to change the terms of the deal.  The President's actions are making a new deal with Republicans now less likely, rather than more likely.  It's not about feelings.  It's about basic negotiation.  

            My point is that, because the President now feels empowered to change the deal he agreed to in July of 2011, that's his prerogative.  But it makes it LESS likely that he will get another deal with Republicans, because no successful negotiations can ever take place -- in any context -- if there is no trust that the parties will abide by a deal reached in that negotiation.  

            On the other hand, if the President does NOT want compromise with the Republicans (despite saying he does) and instead wants stalemate until the next election in the hope that Democrats retake the House, then what he is doing makes sense.  

            •  excuse me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              zinger99

              you must be referring to different republicans than the ones we have. You seem to feel they can be expected to do anything in good faith

              when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

              by bunsk on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 01:31:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, I don't. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, Sparhawk, MPociask

                Certainly, certainly, there was a LOT of distrust that had built up since 2009.  

                In this particular deal, however, the Republicans followed through (the President was savvy enough to structure a deal they had to honor because they had to go first), and the President is the one changing the deal he specifically proposed and made.  The deal was, in its simplest terms: (1) an increase in the debt ceiling big enough to get the President past the November 2012 election (Republicans wanted a smaller increase so the issue would come up again in fall of 2012, but gave that up in exchange for the guaranteed spending cuts); in exchange for (2) guaranteed spending cuts of a certain amount (the President wanted a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, but gave up the tax increases in exchange for getting the Republicans to push the debt ceiling past the 2012 election).  

                The Republicans passed a debt ceiling increase large enough to get past the 2012 election.  The President is going back to the position (a balance of tax increases and spending cuts) that he specifically gave up in order to get that debt ceiling increase.  Democrats have been saying Republicans weren't negotiating in good faith prior to this, and they may have had a point.  This particular deal, however, gives Republicans the ability to make that same claim about the President.

                You can certainly argue that the President was forced into making a deal that he never intended to keep because of the fact that the election of 2010 gave control of the House to a group that had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling unless there were big spending cuts accompanying that.  You can certainly arguing that the Republicans should never have demanded spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, even though that's what they campaigned on in 2010.  That's a REASON for the President making a deal that he is now essentially repudiating.    

                •  Repubs negotiating in good faith? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  zinger99

                  Wow, that's a stretch. A real stretch.

                  Dissent.

                  The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                  by ozsea1 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:53:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  When did I say they negotiated in Good Faith? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib, MPociask

                    I said that in this deal, they had no choice but to follow through with the deal they made, because they had to go first to raise the debt ceiling in accordance with that deal.  

                    In this particular deal, they did what the deal required of them.  The fact that, after they raised the debt ceiling as they were required to as a result of their deal, the President has decided not to abide by the terms of the deal (wanting tax increases in place of the amount of spending cuts he expressly proposed and agreed to) gives them a talking point on this particular deal.  

        •  Republicans already broke agreement (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, antirove

          Since they are still not dealing with the debt limit then.

          Speaker Boehner has already announced he will not deal with the President one on one  again. Jan 2, 2013

          Boehner won't negotiate with PBO 1 on 1 again

          Speaker Boehner also says he's passed 2 bills to deal with the sequester BUT they're no longer valid since it was last Congress, he didn't or couldn't have them brought to a vote this Congress.

          Republicans also claimed far and wide that the President did NOT have any 'plan' but someone reminded them his plan was posted on the government web site.

          So, where's the 'beef' that it's only the President that poor old Republicans can't 'trust' again in deal making since Pres is being faulted now as UnTrustworthy to deal with?

          I dunno, I can't buy that it's ONLY the President that 'can't be trusted' seems very one sided to me, but that's me.

          •  It certainly is not ONLY the President (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Sparhawk

            that bears responsibility here.  

            The President proposed it, Sen. Reid accepted it, Speaker Boehner accepted it, and both of them brought it to the floor for it to be passed.  

            They all share in blame for the fact that we are lurching from crisis to crisis, because they all were complicit in setting up this crisis.  

            It may well be that the President does not believe that he can trust Speaker Boehner to follow through on  deal, either, and that's why there is no negotiation possible.  I think that it's the general consensus that neither side has any trust in the other side in Washington.  

            I only make the point about the President changing the terms of a deal he agreed to because that's the latest event (certainly not the only event) in the "I don't trust the other side" saga.  And if the President wants the Republicans to come to the table for a negotiation, it's counterproductive.  If he wants to take a political position, live with a complete stalemate for two more years, and try to take Congress in 2014, then it makes sense.  

            •  The problem with this argument is that the (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, concernedamerican, antirove

              sequester was designed to be something to encourage the Supercommittee to make a deal. They had months to do it, and avoid this,  and still didn't get it done. The ones who really imposed this on us were those in that committee who refused categorically to do any deal, except on their terms, which was the Rs. Remember, the Rs rejected Simpson Bowles as well, because it was not expressly on their terms.  The last opportunity to avoid this was the Supercommittee and the Rs wouldn't take the exist that included.. Had they compromised then, we would flat out not be in this spot.

              But then, they never were going to compromise, and if there is a reason that O should share blame here, it is that he didn't realize in 2011 exactly how crazy the Rs were, and are, and thought that if he could get past the debt limit, they wouldn't continue to be quite that crazy.

              •  The President shares the blame (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, Sparhawk, MPociask

                for proposing a deal that he thought would be really really bad for the country (the sequester cuts), based on a "bluff" -- his bet that the Republicans would cave rather than let the defense cuts go through.  

                Elections have consequences.  The Tea Party had a big victory in 2010, and that's the Congress the people of this country sent to Washington in 2011.  Under our Constitution, both sides were required to deal with each other.  Certainly, Republicans share in some blame for using the debt ceiling as a political issue, but most of those guys ran in 2010 on not raising the debt ceiling unless spending was cut, and the people gave them control of the House in 2010 by a big margin.  

                The President can't say, because of the 2010 election, I couldn't get what I wanted (a clean debt ceiling increase) so I have no responsibility whatsoever for what I proposed.

                The Republicans bear some of the blame.  The President bears some of the blame.  They made a deal:  $x in guaranteed spending cuts (guaranteed in the sense that the were written into law and would happen unless Congress could substitute something that BOTH sides, Democrats AND those same Republicans would accept) in exchange for raising the debt ceiling past November 2012.  They BOTH got something they wanted -- the Republicans got a guarantee of spending cuts (NOT deficit reduction, but spending cuts) and the President got guarantee that he would not face another debt ceiling crisis while he was running for re-election.  They BOTH signed on to that deal.  They BOTH bear responsibility for that deal.  Neither can say, "I bear no responsibility for proposing/agreeing to that deal."  

                So, the President got a debt ceiling increase past November 2012 that he wanted.  Now we are faced with the guaranteed spending cuts he proposed in exchange for getting that.  He is not the ONLY party to responsible for a two-way deal.  He is ONE of the parties responsible for that two-way deal.  

                •  "Elections have consequences." (0+ / 0-)

                  And one of the 2012's winning election themes was raising revenue and balanced spending cuts.

                  Please keep that in mind, while you hew to the "fair and balanced" road.

                  The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                  by ozsea1 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 05:31:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Lest we forget, the fundamental kinds of Stupid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bmcphail, claude, zinger99

    are well studied and nicely laid out for us (you should go to the link for some really wonderful graphical representations):

    THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY
    by Carlo M. Cipolla
    illustrations by James Donnelly

    The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

    Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

    Stupid Person No. 1
    At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one's estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:

    a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.

    b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one's activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

    The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol σ.

    THE SECOND BASIC LAW

    Stupid Person No. 2 Cultural trends now fashionable in the West favour an egalitarian approach to life. People like to think of human beings as the output of a perfectly engineered mass production machine. Geneticists and sociologists especially go out of their way to prove, with an impressive apparatus of scientific data and formulations that all men are naturally equal and if some are more equal than others, this is attributable to nurture and not to nature. I take an exception to this general view. It is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation, that men are not equal, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors. One is stupid in the same way one is red-haired; one belongs to the stupid set as one belongs to a blood group. A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence. Although convinced that fraction of human beings are stupid and that they are so because of genetic traits, I am not a reactionary trying to reintroduce surreptitiously class or race discrimination. I firmly believe that stupidity is an indiscriminate privilege of all human groups and is uniformly distributed according to a constant proportion. This fact is scientifically expressed by the Second Basic Law which states that

    The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

    In this regard, Nature seems indeed to have outdone herself. It is well known that Nature manages, rather mysteriously, to keep constant the relative frequency of certain natural phenomena. For instance, whether men proliferate at the Northern Pole or at the Equator, whether the matching couples are developed or underdeveloped, whether they are black, red, white or yellow the female to male ratio among the newly born is a constant, with a very slight prevalence of males. We do not know how Nature achieves this remarkable result but we know that in order to achieve it Nature must operate with large numbers. The most remarkable fact about the frequency of stupidity is that Nature succeeds in making this frequency equal to the probability quite independently from the size of the group.

    Thus one finds the same percentage of stupid people whether one is considering very large groups or one is dealing with very small ones. No other set of observable phenomena offers such striking proof of the powers of Nature.

    The evidence that education has nothing to do with the probability was provided by experiments carried on in a large number of universities all over the world. One may distinguish the composite population which constitutes a university in five major groups, namely the blue-collar workers, the white-collar employees, the students, the administrators and the professors.

    Whenever I analyzed the blue-collar workers I found that the fraction σ of them were stupid. As σ's value was higher than I expected (First Law), paying my tribute to fashion I thought at first that segregation, poverty, lack of education were to be blamed. But moving up the social ladder I found that the same ratio was prevalent among the white-collar employees and among the students. More impressive still were the results among the professors. Whether I considered a large university or a small college, a famous institution or an obscure one, I found that the same fraction σ of the professors are stupid. So bewildered was I by the results, that I made a special point to extend my research to a specially selected group, to a real elite, the Nobel laureates. The result confirmed Nature's supreme powers: σ fraction of the Nobel laureates are stupid.

    This idea was hard to accept and digest but too many experimental results proved its fundamental veracity. The Second Basic Law is an iron law, and it does not admit exceptions. The Women's Liberation Movement will support the Second Basic Law as it shows that stupid individuals are proportionately as numerous among men as among women. The underdeveloped of the Third World will probably take solace at the Second Basic Law as they can find in it the proof that after all the developed are not so developed. Whether the Second Basic Law is liked or not, however, its implications are frightening: the Law implies that whether you move in distinguished circles or you take refuge among the head-hunters of Polynesia, whether you lock yourself into a monastery or decide to spend the rest of your life in the company of beautiful and lascivious women, you always have to face the same percentage of stupid people - which percentage (in accordance with the First Law) will always surpass your expectations.

    THE THIRD (AND GOLDEN) BASIC LAW

    The Third Basic Law assumes, although it does not state it explicitly, that human beings fall into four basic categories: the helpless, the intelligent, the bandit and the stupid. It will be easily recognized by the perspicacious reader that these four categories correspond to the four areas I, H, S, B, of the basic graph (see below).

    Figure 1

    If Tom takes an action and suffers a loss while producing a gain to Dick, Tom's mark will fall in field H: Tom acted helplessly. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain while yielding a gain also to Dick, Tom's mark will fall in area I: Tom acted intelligently. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain causing Dick a loss, Tom's mark will fall in area B: Tom acted as a bandit. Stupidity is related to area S and to all positions on axis Y below point O. As the Third Basic Law explicitly clarifies:

    A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

    When confronted for the first time with the Third Basic Law, rational people instinctively react with feelings of skepticism and incredulity. The fact is that reasonable people have difficulty in conceiving and understanding unreasonable behaviour. But let us abandon the lofty plane of theory and let us look pragmatically at our daily life. We all recollect occasions in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his gain and our loss: we had to deal with a bandit. We also recollect cases in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his loss and our gain: we had to deal with a helpless person. We can recollect cases in which a fellow took an action by which both parties gained: he was intelligent. Such cases do indeed occur. But upon thoughtful reflection you must admit that these are not the events which punctuate most frequently our daily life. Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation - or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.

    FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION

    Most people do not act consistently. Under certain circumstances a given person acts intelligently and under different circumstances the same person will act helplessly. The only important exception to the rule is represented by the stupid people who normally show a strong proclivity toward perfect consistency in all fields of human endeavours.

    From all that proceeds, it does not follow that we can chart on the basic graph only stupid individuals. We can calculate for each person his weighted average position in the plane of figure 1 quite independently from his degree of inconsistency. A helpless person may occasionally behave intelligently and on occasion he may perform a bandit's action. But since the person in question is fundamentally helpless most of his action will have the characteristics of helplessness. Thus the overall weighted average position of all the actions of such a person will place him in the H quadrant of the basic graph.

    The fact that it is possible to place on the graph individuals instead of their actions allows some digression about the frequency of the bandit and stupid types.

    The perfect bandit is one who, with his actions, causes to other individuals losses equal to his gains. The crudest type of banditry is theft. A person who robs you of 100 pounds without causing you an extra loss or harm is a perfect bandit: you lose 100 pounds, he gains 100 pounds. In the basic graph the perfect bandits would appear on a 45-degree diagonal line that divides the area B into two perfectly symmetrical sub-areas (line OM of figure 2).

    Figure 2

    However the "perfect" bandits are relatively few. The line OM divides the area B into two sub-areas, B1, and B2, and by far the largest majority of the bandits falls somewhere in one of these two sub-areas.

    The bandits who fall in area B1 are those individuals whose actions yield to them profits which are larger than the losses they cause to other people. All bandits who are entitled to a position in area B1 are bandits with overtones of intelligence and as they get closer to the right side of the X axis they share more and more the characteristics of the intelligent person.

    Unfortunately the individuals entitled to a position in the B1 area are not very numerous. Most bandits actually fall in area B2. The individuals who fall in this area are those whose actions yield to them gains inferior to the losses inflicted to other people. If someone kills you in order to rob you of fifty pounds or if he murders you in order to spend a weekend with your wife at Monte Carlo, we can be sure that he is not a perfect bandit. Even by using his values to measure his gains (but still using your values to measure your losses) he falls in the B2 area very close to the border of sheer stupidity. Generals who cause vast destruction and innumerable casualties in return for a promotion or a medal fall in the same area.

    The frequency distribution of the stupid people is totally different from that of the bandit. While bandits are mostly scattered over an area stupid people are heavily concentrated along one line, specifically on the Y axis below point O. The reason for this is that by far the majority of stupid people are basically and unwaveringly stupid - in other words they perseveringly insist in causing harm and losses to other people without deriving any gain, whether positive or negative.

    There are however people who by their improbable actions not only cause damages to other people but in addition hurt themselves. They are a sort of super-stupid who, in our system of accounting, will appear somewhere in the area S to the left of the Y axis.

    THE POWER OF STUPIDITY

    It is not difficult to understand how social, political and institutional power enhances the damaging potential of a stupid person. But one still has to explain and understand what essentially it is that makes a stupid person dangerous to other people - in other words what constitutes the power of stupidity.

    Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behaviour. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit's actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit's actions, his nasty manoeuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

    With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy. Because the stupid person's actions do not conform to the rules of rationality, it follows that:

    a) one is generally caught by surprise by the attack; b) even when one becomes aware of the attack, one cannot organize a rational defense, because the attack itself lacks any rational structure.

    The fact that the activity and movements of a stupid creature are absolutely erratic and irrational not only makes defense problematic but it also makes any counter-attack extremely difficult - like trying to shoot at an object which is capable of the most improbable and unimaginable movements. This is what both Dickens and Schiller had in mind when the former stated that "with stupidity and sound digestion man may front much" and the latter wrote that "against stupidity the very Gods fight in vain."

    THE FOURTH BASIC LAW

    That helpless people, namely those who in our accounting system fall into the H area, do not normally recognize how dangerous stupid people are, is not at all surprising. Their failure is just another expression of their helplessness. The truly amazing fact, however, is that also intelligent people and bandits often fail to recognize the power to damage inherent in stupidity. It is extremely difficult to explain why this should happen and one can only remark that when confronted with stupid individuals often intelligent men as well as bandits make the mistake of indulging in feelings of self-complacency and contemptuousness instead of immediately secreting adequate quantities of adrenaline and building up defenses.

    One is tempted to believe that a stupid man will only do harm to himself but this is confusing stupidity with helplessness. On occasion one is tempted to associate oneself with a stupid individual in order to use him for one's own schemes. Such a manoeuvre cannot but have disastrous effects because a) it is based on a complete misunderstanding of the essential nature of stupidity and b) it gives the stupid person added scope for the exercise of his gifts. One may hope to outmanoeuvre the stupid and, up to a point, one may actually do so. But because of the erratic behaviour of the stupid, one cannot foresee all the stupid's actions and reactions and before long one will be pulverized by the unpredictable moves of the stupid partner.

    This is clearly summarized in the Fourth Basic Law which states that:

    Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

    Through centuries and millennia, in public as in private life, countless individuals have failed to take account of the Fourth Basic Law and the failure has caused mankind incalculable losses.

    THE FIFTH BASIC LAW

    Instead of considering the welfare of the individual let us consider the welfare of the society, regarded in this context as the algebraic sum of the individual conditions. A full understanding of the Fifth Basic Law is essential to the analysis. It may be parenthetically added here that of the Five Basic Laws, the Fifth is certainly the best known and its corollary is quoted very frequently. The Fifth Basic Law states that:

    A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

    The corollary of the Law is that:

    A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

    The result of the action of a perfect bandit (the person who falls on line OM of figure 2) is purely and simply a transfer of wealth and/or welfare. After the action of a perfect bandit, the bandit has a plus on his account which plus is exactly equivalent to the minus he has caused to another person. The society as a whole is neither better nor worse off. If all members of a society were perfect bandits the society would remain stagnant but there would be no major disaster. The whole business would amount to massive transfers of wealth and welfare in favour of those who would take action. If all members of the society would take action in regular turns, not only the society as a whole but also individuals would find themselves in a perfectly steady state of no change.

    When stupid people are at work, the story is totally different. Stupid people cause losses to other people with no counterpart of gains on their own account. Thus the society as a whole is impoverished. The system of accounting which finds expression in the basic graphs shows that while all actions of individuals falling to the right of the line POM (see fig. 3) add to the welfare of a society; although in different degrees, the actions of all individuals falling to the left of the same line POM cause a deterioration.

    Figure 3

    In other words the helpless with overtones of intelligence (area H1), the bandits with overtones of intelligence (area B1) and above all the intelligent (area I) all contribute, though in different degrees, to accrue to the welfare of a society. On the other hand the bandits with overtones of stupidity (area B2) and the helpless with overtones of stupidity (area H1) manage to add losses to those caused by stupid people thus enhancing the nefarious destructive power of the latter group.

    All this suggests some reflection on the performance of societies. According to the Second Basic Law, the fraction of stupid people is a constant σ which is not affected by time, space, race, class or any other socio- cultural or historical variable. It would be a profound mistake to believe the number of stupid people in a declining society is greater than in a developing society. Both such societies are plagued by the same percentage of stupid people. The difference between the two societies is that in the society which performs poorly:

    a) the stupid members of the society are allowed by the other members to become more active and take more actions; b) there is a change in the composition of the non-stupid section with a relative decline of populations of areas I, H1 and B1 and a proportionate increase of populations H2 and B2.

    This theoretical presumption is abundantly confirmed by an exhaustive analysis of historical cases. In fact the historical analysis allows us to reformulate the theoretical conclusions in a more factual way and with more realistic detail.

    Whether one considers classical, or medieval, or modern or contemporary times one is impressed by the fact that any country moving uphill has its unavoidable σ fraction of stupid people. However the country moving uphill also has an unusually high fraction of intelligent people who manage to keep the σ fraction at bay and at the same time produce enough gains for themselves and the other members of the community to make progress a certainty.

    In a country which is moving downhill, the fraction of stupid people is still equal to σ; however in the remaining population one notices among those in power an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity (sub-area B1 of quadrant B in figure 3) and among those not in power an equally alarming growth in the number of helpless individuals (area H in basic graph, fig.1). Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the σ fraction and makes decline a certainty. And the country goes to Hell.

    (There is genius at work in this thesis. It came round about by way of reader Sam Keen, who sent us a thin gray monograph printed in Bologna, Italy. The trail eventually led to Carlo M. Cipolla, the author, who is currently Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley

    - Kevin Kelly, Whole Earth Review. Spring 1987 p2-7)

    Update: Prof. Cipolla retired from UCB in 1991, and died on September 5, 2000, in Pavia, Italy. His heirs have tried to assert control over the text, but it was released to the public domain, and cannot be retracted.

    http://cantrip.org/...

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:16:29 AM PST

  •  We little ppl are so sick of this (6+ / 0-)

    One crisis after another. Never thought the US would be this low and pathetic. We have learned nothing it seems.

  •  As an aside, I think that one of Obama's (10+ / 0-)

    greatest flaws is his overreliance on rationality as a way of understanding and reacting to the world, especially its human dimensions and actors. I.e. he appears to genuinely believe in the late 19th and early 20th century delusion that the world and the people in it is basically a complex machine that can ultimately be understood and controlled through mostly rational means.

    And I think that he believes this not only because he appears to be, by nature, a very rational-type person, a la the Star Trek character Spock, but because I think that he also uses rationality as a way of shielding himself, emotionally and practically, from the often very irrational aspects of life and the world, and especially its people. I.e. he may be overly rational by nature (which many smart liberals are), but I believe that he's also this way for psychological and practical reasons--it's a self-defense escape mechanism.

    Unfortunately, as is painfully obvious, not only isn't the world and its people always rational, but the people we're dealing with are the very definition of irrational. Or, more accurately, they're quite rational, but for irrational reasons. I.e. there's a method to their madness. And yet he continues to act and talk as if it were not so, as if they're just having legitimate differences of opinion.

    Which is just plain silly.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:32:59 AM PST

    •  Honesty and rationality = character flaws in DC (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, elwior, zinger99

      Long ago, and far away, I was responsible for a project that required political and Wall Street support.  One of the lessons I learned is that many of our rulers view honesty and rationality as character flaws - weaknesses to be exploited.  I haven't the slightest doubt that our bottomlessly cynical Republican beltway elites view Obama that way.  

      •  When you know that you can't succeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo, elwior, ozsea1, YucatanMan

        by playing by the rules fairly and squarely--or can succeed much more, or more quickly and easily, by defying them--and the stakes of not succeeding are high in your view, the temptation for some to bypass them is quite strong, to the point of being irresistible. That in a nutshell is why Repubs are so brazenly dishonest, vicious and immoral.

        Some of them just want to succeed, badly, at things that if they played by the rules they'd likely never do well in--or at least not lose. I.e. it's an ego thing. They just can't handle being "losers", so they're willing to cheat in order to be "winners". I view Boehner as such a Repub, a weak, vain and stupid mediocrity who doesn't like to think of himself as an also ran, which he obviously is.

        To others it's about cultural survival, as they see their racist and sexist white male dinosaur way of life dying out. I think that this is ultimately what drives most of their base to support them--they're terrified of losing their formerly privileged positions in society, and are willing to cheat to preserve it.

        For others, it's a way of making a good living without actually having a real job, while being able to pretend to have one and be successful at it. E.g. Limbaugh, all the fools who work for Murdoch, and the rest of the RWNM, which includes those pundits and strategists one sees on TV. They're con artists.

        And for yet others, who would probably have succeeded even if they played fair, it's about succeeding even more, because to them there is literally no such thing as too much success. E.g. the Koch brothers, banksters, and all those other greedy sociopaths who simply can never be rich or powerful enough.

        Obama's got a good read on some of them, but not all of them, I fear. These are not "good" people who have different views from ours. These are, at best, morons and crazy people--at BEST. And all too often, way worse.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:47:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, elwior, YucatanMan, irmaly, Apost8, MPociask

      What we need to deal with this Republican party is a junk yard dog and not a rational person.  

      However, after numerous attempts at "rationality" fail to get the desired result, how long before "rationality" becomes irrational?  

      It seems to me "rationality" is crossing into the classic definition of insanity which is:  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  

      We're watching government by insanity and irrationality and the country is suffering because of it.  

    •  On the other hand (9+ / 0-)

      Obama has from the get go pushed 'austerity' and fix the deficit. His campaign and SFTU populist rhetorical double speak regarding jobs and the economy is not connected to any policy, 'reforms', taxes or regulation that's going to do anything to help the real economy we all live and work in. He the one who is willing to grand bargain away our social programs that are needed now more then ever.  

      His appointment from Geithner, Summers to the cat food commission and even Holder, are a good indicator of where he stands on 'fiscal policy'. Lew? He whips up the deficit debt hysteria with the best of the deficit hawks. The sequester is just another in a series of unfathomable unbelievable kabuki shows. Our government is so broken that these skirmishes between the GOP and Democrat's just seem to be about the degrees of misery, punishment and austerity they are going to wring out of 'we the people'. Shared sacrifice all for the obscene profitability of the corporate over lords and the rich. Here we go for another round of haggling over cuts and our real economies demise.  

                          How To End The Deficit    
                       End The Wars  Tax The Rich
       

      •  I honestly don't know to what extent (5+ / 0-)

        Obama has been saying these things to please the powerful corporate and pundit center, and to what extent he actually believes it. But clearly he's been pushing for and to a large extent implementing it one way or another and I simply don't buy all the 11DC explanations for why it's part of his brilliant "long game" strategy for taking the country back from the 1%. That's like Bill telling Hillary that his cheating on her was proof of how much he loved her. Wuh?!?

        I think that one of the main differences between the two parties is that one wants to effectively enslave the 99% and destroy the planet, while the other wants to make the lives of the 99% just barely tolerable enough to make it worth living, while preserving enough of the planet for the 1% to live well for a long time. I.e. they're both for oligarchy, and differ mainly in how nice they're willing to be to everyone else that they're screwing over.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:17:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade

          Presidential candidate Obama had a fairly liberal track record.  In retrospect, that was probably a lot of realpolitik for the district he was in, helped along perhaps by his Ivy League education, and then positioning himself for a Presidential run.  But even then there were troubling signs - for example, calling Ronald Reagan a transformative politician.  Was he just talking about his ability to transform the national conversation?  If so, where was President Obama's effort to change the national dialogue back to the left?  Perhaps he just really, actually admired Reagan, and bought into a lot of the "Government is the Problem" critique.  Who knows.

  •  Thank you so much for the rescue (8+ / 0-)

    I was about to unplug for Sunday and checked the site briefly.

    [places palms together] Thank you, as always I am seriously honored.  It's happened a few times lately and unfortunately I have not communicated my gratitude.

    I hope your Sunday goes well, that steady doses of good food, small smiles and the presence of your people keep you happy, all the time. Yeah.

  •  Very simple. (10+ / 0-)

    To mix metaphors, we made a bargain with the devil to avert a previous disaster and now all our chickens are coming home to roost.

    This is not a bug -- it is a feature of Republican strategy: Destroy government until they can get back in power and resurrect it just enough to send taxpayer money to corporations while calling it "privitazation".

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:11:14 AM PST

    •  An accidental strategy for the most part, mostly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo, elwior, NoMoreLies

      because I don't think they plan to the degree of fine adjustments in the mechanisms to bring the machine to a halt as much as they simply stand back and throw a wrench into the gears and wait to see what happens.

      Nope, I don't think they have the smarts to know the outcome of their actions and that's the most frightening part of their obstructionism.

      The GOP has become a threat to the nation.

      Physics is bulls**t. Don't let them fool you. Fire IS magic.

      by Pescadero Bill on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:49:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly, they had no one as familiar (0+ / 0-)

        with the deep weeds of the budget on their side as Lew.

      •  It's a strategy simple to execute (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bensdad, johanus

        They want government to fail.  They can do this two ways: one, poor running of the government.  That's bad pr, though.  Two - set government up to fail by starving it of funds (the starve the beast approach).  This is easy!  Cut taxes, and don't worry about controlling spending for the short term.  Want to pass expensive Medicare additions, or go off on expensive foreign adventures?  Great!  Eventually, once you've run up enough red ink, politicians are forced to make gigantic cuts, and the government is hacked to pieces.  

        I think it's a very deliberate strategy, and it'd be unwise to underestimate our opponents.  

    •  Well, let's examine those chickens, shall we? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kickemout, codairem

      If the sequester goes into effect, there will be severe cuts to the military budget, things that Republicans (and their defense contractor lobby contributors) will hate, but we pretty much approve of.  Meanwhile, our sacred programs (SS, Medicare, Medicaid) are essentially exempt.

      What inconvenience and economic harm the sequester does cause will be blamed on Republicans. That's what the polling clearly shows.

      If Republicans blink ( as I suspect they will), we are going to get increased revenues in any negotiated deal.

      Personally, I think those are some pretty good looking chickens.

      •  They won't blink. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan

        They are thinking about 2014. They do think that doubling down on sabotage, producing bad economic data, will compel Americans to hand the Senate to them....and the White House in 2016. They really don't care about wrecking the middle class. That is not who they work for.

        If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

        by Bensdad on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 01:13:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd like to believe that... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bensdad

          But I also believe that many of the Republicans are not evil men, just that they've bought into an entirely different, non-reality based world view.  

          They think that cutting the government is genuinely good.  They think that massive cuts will spur growth.  They think that the government wastes a ton of money on unimportant things.  They also know that their base, which is very red, also thinks those things, so it will be both politically advantageous and good for the country for the sequester to go into effect.  

          Defense cuts, some of them don't like, but the ascendent libertarian style Republicans do like them, and anyway military spending has grown so much in the last decade that no one can seriously think that paltry cut will hurt US security.

      •  It's been discussed on Hartmann's show (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan, codairem

        That the repugs in the House will propose a sequester solution in March that will restore military funding and preserve the cuts elsewhere, then play the Fear and Weakened Military Fear Card, causing Dems in both Houses to cave.

        Thus giving Obama what he was told to get all along....

        The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

        by ozsea1 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:58:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We now have government (6+ / 0-)

    We now have government by endless manufactured crises with the appropriate eye catching name.  

    It's disgusting.  

  •  World Peace was achieved in the early 1900s -- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior
    If the sequester is such a disaster as the Dumbest Thing Ever, how could it actually happen?  
    -- because the web of alliances and axes (axises?) and the arms race of the era (dreadnought vessels) made the thought of war on the European continent a disaster, the Dumbest Thing Ever.

    IOW, we are soooooo screwed.

    adm

    honi soit qui mal y pense

    by admadm on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:56:44 AM PST

    •  I don't think that's an accurate analogy (0+ / 0-)

      Every European country in the early 1900's was furiously preparing for the next general war, because they all knew another war was coming.  The participants of a future conflagration, and when and where it would start, were certainly unknown.  But Germany, France, and Britain were all aiming for complete global domination, and the Russian Empire wasn't sitting on its heels either.  

      For what it's worth, the Cold War offers a frightening analogy.  A full blown nuclear war is the dumbest thing ever, and it hasn't happened.  Yet.  

  •  All I can say is... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, irmaly

    1)  Start mounting a phone bomb line of over 2,000 calls to every GOP Congressman and Senator and don't stop until they've had enough and finally cave in.

    2)  Focus on 2014.  Stop making 2014 appear to be another 2010.  Not going to happen.

  •  The GOP will try to claim that the sequester (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    isn't that bad.  When it hits and they feel the heat, we'll see how long their position holds.  Strategically, the GOP has only allowed itself to claim victory if it gets massive cuts in programs with no tax increases.  That just isn't going to happen from the Democrats, so I really don't see much upside for the GOP.  The only game I can see is to bog the government down long enough to hurt the recovery to give them a chance to win the Senate in 2014.  

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:49:10 AM PST

  •  Human instinct abhors change (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, elwior

    because, in a real evolutionary world change (like mutations) is likely to be, in Gaffer Gamgee's words, "for the worst".  Therefore people will not be motivated to face the risks inherent in change until things are very, very bad indeed.

    We're getting there.  Consider it an opportunity.

  •  It's sickening (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, codairem

    The Fed is still giving away $85 Billion per month to the banks (their QE3 project) to try to keep the economy "afloat", yet they wont do anything directly to help the middle-class.  Nothing to help with unemployment.

  •  What I have learned about government over Last (0+ / 0-)

    Ten years is that the more stupid an idea is, the more likely anyone in the Political Class will embrace it.

    But the entire article you wrote is most excellent, and I gave it a big Rec. Wish I could give it a dozen more.

    Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

    by Truedelphi on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:47:20 PM PST

  •  Can we please stop using DC as a euphemism? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    CONGRESS is sick.  Washington, D.C. is a wonderful city, and it also happens to be my home, so you'll have to pardon my defensiveness.

    /rant

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 05:57:29 AM PST

  •  It entered disasterland (0+ / 0-)

    with the pasage of the Bush tax cuts over ten years ago.

    About $5 trillion in war spending dug a bigger ditch.

    The Bush housing boom and bust caused more misery.

     

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