Politico reported yesterday that House Speaker John Boehner is laying the groundwork for that most elusive of all chimeras, the “grand bargain” with President Obama before he steps down. Barring that, he’ll push through a clean debt ceiling hike. Either way, this ends four years of constant hostage taking of the nation’s—and the world’s—economy for short term political gain.
It didn’t have to be like this. At his heart, I don’t believe Mr. Boehner is a bomb-throwing nihilist as are the members of the “Freedom Caucus”. He’s been in Congress since the 1990s, and has a concern for the institution. He could have easily followed in the time-honored tradition of seeking to build coalitions with those across the aisle and sideline the radicals in his own party. He wouldn’t have gotten everything he wanted, but he would have gotten some of it, and the country would have worked much more efficiently.
I have been growing increasingly bemused as Anno Domini MMXV continues to unfold apace. And by “bemused”, I really mean, “Goddammit, we’re heading to hell in a handbasket!”
But nothing matches the complete clusterfuck around funding the Department of Homeland Security, a department born in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and which, if you will recall, Republicans held up as a sacred institution to protect God-fearing Americans from those hordes of brown people seeking to kill them. (Union protections for DHS workers? Why do you love Al-Qaeda??)
Let’s recap. In last year’s Cromnibus (soon to appear in the next Transformers movie), Congress left out funding for DHS. Why? Well, fast forward to this year. John Boehner and his merry pranksters passed a DHS funding bill. But they wanted to show that Kenyan in the White House that treating “illegals” like children of God was not going to wash with Republicans in firm control of both chambers. So they attached several riders to a must-pass bill stripping all of President Obama’s actions for DREAMers and his executive action on the undocumented. There, that’ll show him! Done and dusted, and the first round of drinks are on Rusty Boehner!
The above is an actual quote by Heritage Foundation president and Teabagger extraordinaire Jim DeMint, formerly of the Senate until he found a way to make more money off the rubes principled conservatives.
Yes, the slaves were eventually freed because, according to DeMint’s conflation of history, it was in the Constitution that “all men are created equal and have inalienable rights”. They were also freed due to the efforts of William Wilberforce, noted English anti-slavery campaigner, who just happened to die in 1833, thirty years before the Emancipation Proclamation and the `13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. Government had no role in the freeing of the slaves. It was all people power!
But, wait, why did we need amendments to the Constitution if the freedom of slaves was in it from the start? Because, of course, nothing of the kind was in the Constitution. Slavery was allowed to continue, and the slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of the census. I’m sure they were very glad to know that not only were they not full human beings under the Constitution, but that even that diminution of their humanity allowed slave states to have an outsized influence in Congress, since those slaves counted towards apportionment of House seats.
The fact is that history doesn’t look too kindly on the successors to those slave holders. They are, rather correctly, excoriated.
In an unexpected twist, the political world starts today with circumstances that look eerily similar to those from 24 hours ago: a bipartisan Senate deal is taking shape and a fractured House remains unpredictable. The point of yesterday, apparently, was to waste a day, humiliate House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and bring the nation just a little closer to default.
After House Republicans rejected a series of desperate attempts by Boehner to make them happy, attention turned back to the Senate, which waited until after the lower chamber imploded to renew its talks. By all appearances, the basic framework of an agreement is in place.
Michael Tomasky: Senate Debt Ceiling Deal Won’t Mean This Chaos Is Over. Far From It.
Tuesday might have ended with the Senate on the cusp of a deal to avert a default, but it also featured Boehner bowing and scraping to his House crazies to come up with a competing plan that failed.
This is a sad and sickening spectacle, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Not as bad as Watergate, you say? I beg to differ. However this turns out this has been in its way worse than Watergate. Watergate ultimately vindicated our system against the machinations of one sociopath. It took time, because he was a president. But even he ultimately observed democratic norms and, when cornered, did the honorable thing.
Today, we have a clavern of sociopaths who know nothing of honor, and we have no easy way to stop them. Except at the ballot box. Except that they’ve rigged that, too, with their House districts. They’ve rigged the whole game so that they light the match and then point at President Obama and shout: “Look! Fire!” And overseeing it all is House Speaker John Boehner, as of Tuesday officially the worst high-ranking elected officer in the history of the United States.
Here’s how grave the House Republicans’ condition has become: They’re now in the care of a mortician.
In the early minutes of a marathon meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday morning, Rep. Steve Southerland, a funeral director from Florida, rose to suggest the lawmakers sing “Amazing Grace” — and his colleagues joined him in a rendition of the burial hymn.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
It was an appropriate choice, for the House GOP is practicing its own form of mortuary science: It is burying both the Republican brand and America’s standing in the world.
…. A great portion of the courtier press that now expresses horror at what is going on now went gleefully along for the ride as it became inevitable. Any members of that courtier press who relished the pursuit of Bill Clinton’s penis, or conducted the absurd campaign of untruth that was waged against Al Gore between 1999 and 2000 lost the right years ago credibly to denounce conservative extremism and Republican vandalism.
That means you, Roger Simon of Politico, who was so shocked the other day to discover that racism may have afflicted the process of government since the president’s election, but who once claimed to right to make candidates like Gore “jump through hoops” for the pure hella-fun of it.
That means you, Chris Matthews, who chased the presidential dick for two years, all the way through an impeachment process that was a constitutional absurdity, but who now discovers that the campaign of destruction never truly stopped.
That means you, Andrew Sullivan, with your current existential torment over How It Came To This….
…… This means all of you who went along for the ride on torture, and on Iraq, and who hid under the bed after 9/11. This is how the power came to rest with Ted Yoho, who is a fool and a know-nothing. This is how historical inevitability is created. This is how its momentum becomes unstoppable. This is how the wreckage piles up.
Bob Cesca: Why Isn’t the GOP Complaining About the Deficit? Because It’s Dropping — Fast.
As we careen headlong toward the debt ceiling deadline, with the House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner in full Three-Stooges-Trying-To-Fix-The-Plumbing mode, the issue area that’s been overshadowed by the grandstanding, political props and brinksmanship is government spending itself.
The budget deficit is really the 4,000 pound gorilla in the room and the Republicans refuse to discuss anything other than the fact that employer mandate for the dreaded Affordable Care Act begins a year after the individual mandate. Yes, we’re in the middle of a showdown over the debt because of Obamacare rather than, you know, spending and fiscal responsibility.
Why aren’t they talking about the deficit? That’s easy: they can’t say anything bad about it because the Obama administration’s record on the deficit is kind of stellar.
TPM: McCain: ‘Republicans Have To Understand We Have Lost This Battle’
With the government shutdown in its third week and the United States dangerously close to the debt limit, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged members of his party on Tuesday to stop digging.
“It’s very, very serious,” McCain said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”
Barring an accident of political brinksmanship, the United States will not default on its debts and other obligations.
Economic conditions provide exactly zero reasons to worry that the U.S. cannot service its debts. The danger in the current crisis, therefore, is not catastrophic economic collapse.
Rather, the danger is that the House’s tea party Republicans, in their zeal to block President Barack Obama’s policies, especially on health care, have damaged investors’ long-term trust in the U.S. government. And by thwarting the principle of majority rule, they have demonstrated a disrupting power that they may wield into the next decade, causing further erosion in confidence.
As the federal government enters its sixteenth day of shutdown and stands just hours away from defaulting on the national debt, the largest newspaper in Texas has pulled its endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The conservative lawmaker delivered a 21-hour speech on Sep. 24, urging Senate and House Republicans to vote against any government funding measure that includes appropriations for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and is viewed as at least partially responsible for the current impasse.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” during the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 Joining them, from left, are: Harry Johnson, Sr.; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; and Herman “Skip” Mason (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama says goodbye to former President George H. W. Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, prior to departure from Easterwood Field landing zone, in College Station, Texas, Oct. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Neighbors in West Newton, Mass., react as the President headed their way after speaking at an event next door, Oct. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: Republican support in ‘jaw-dropping’ free fall
Professional pollsters for major news organizations are notoriously cautious people who avoid hyperbole. So when Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff conducted the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll and described the results as “jaw-dropping,” it’s worth appreciating why.
Let’s put it this way: if this poll were a campfire story, it’d leave Republicans shaking uncontrollably in their sleeping bags. The GOP wasn’t in especially good shape before, but the shutdown crisis and the threats to crash the economy on purpose have been an unmitigated disaster for the party, causing the sort of collapse in public support pollsters simply don’t see very often.
What’s the good news for Republicans in the poll? There is no good news.
…. Skeptics warned from the start that it was a suicide mission for Republicans to shut down the federal government in a long-shot attempt to defund Obamacare. Now that such dire predictions have come to pass, the lawmakers who engineered the shutdown are getting the conflagration — and the martyrdom — they sought.
….. Cruz has seen his reputation take a 16-point negative turn in the national Gallup poll since June. Cruz’s partner in the rebellion, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, has seen a 20-point negative swing in his home state over the same time period.
…. Even the infamous Koch brothers, financiers of the tea party, are distancing themselves from the shutdown contretemps….
The Boston Globe recently reported that David Koch gave MIT $20 million for a child-care facility, because “I got a tear in my eye” hearing about researchers’ need for child care. Maybe the lachrymose Koch will weep for his country when he realizes the economic destruction caused by the groups he bankrolled.
As the Republican plan to deprive Americans of health care by holding the government’s operations hostage and threatening default has fallen apart in the face of withering public backlash and the strength of a president who has refused to pay ransom for Congress doing its job, some Republicans are still holding out hope that the same president who they hoped to destroy will bail them out from their own quagmire and save their face. Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
… In the mean time, Jay Carney has re-iterated that the president will not pay a ransom simply to reopen government and pay America’s bills.
What does all this mean? The best I can tell, the president is exactly in the same position he has always been in: Republicans need to end the shutdown, stop threatening default, and then the normal process of budget negotiations can resume. Once it does resume after the GOP ends the crisis they inflicted on America, the framework, as far as the president is concerned, needs to include both long term budget savings and increased taxes from those who can afford it.
ThinkProgress: Congressman: Workers Furloughed In Shutdown Should Not Get Backpay
While the House unanimously passed a bill last week to pay the 800,000 workers who have been deemed non-essential in the shutdown their lost wages once the government opens again, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) thinks they shouldn’t get paid.
At a teletown hall on Thursday, a constituent called in to say, “The people that had to work should be paid. But the people that are home watching Netflix and whatever, I’m not sure that we should be sending them checks.”
UPI: US postal worker fired for throwing away Obamacare mail
The United States Postal Service has fired a Fresno, Calif., mailman who admitted he threw away letters about “Obamacare.”
Residents of a Central Fresno apartment complex took photos of a nearby dumpster filled with mail about “Obamacare.” Witnesses saw the postal carrier discarding the mail.
“He just kept glancing over his shoulder over and over again. It was like he knew what he was doing was wrong,” said witness Jerry Dills. “It was just amazing, I looked down in there and there was a bunch of people’s addresses and right away… I knew this was absolutely wrong.”
UPI: First lady Michelle Obama welcomes Pakistani teen shot by Taliban
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan last year, was greeted at the White House Friday by first lady Michelle Obama.
“President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama today welcomed Malala Yousafzai to the Oval Office to thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls education in Pakistan,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams. As the first lady has said, ‘Investing in girls’ education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their communities, and their countries.'”
“Across the globe there are girls who will one day lead nations, if only we afford them the chance to choose their own destinies,” President Obama said in his proclamation to mark the International Day of the Girl. “And on every continent, there are girls who will go on to change the world in ways we can only imagine, if only we allow them the freedom to dream.”
Media Matters: Once Again, Sunday Morning Talk Shows Are White, Male, And Conservative
In the first nine months of 2013, white men dominated the guest lists on the broadcast network Sunday shows and CNN’s State of the Union. MSNBC was the only network achieving notable diversity in its guests, particularly on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. Republicans and conservatives are hosted significantly more on the broadcast Sunday shows than Democrats and progressives.
President Obama greets the student finalists of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge as they enter the Oval Office, Oct. 12, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
A quick trip down memory lane. Democrats had suffered a crushing blow on no other day than the 1st Anniversary of Pres Obama’s Inauguration into office. Jan 20, 2010. We had lost Sen Ted Kennedy’s seat. The fate of the Healthcare bill hung in a balance. It had passed the House earlier in December 2009. The Senate version passed in a cliffhanger moment with ailing WV Senator Robert Bird being wheeled in, and Sen Sherrod Brown flown in by WH straight from a funeral, to cast the critical filibuster-proof vote just a breath before Christmas Day 2009 rolled in, and start of congressional winter recess.
But come January 2010, the two bills needed to be reconciled. On this anniversary date, Scott Brown trounced Martha Cokeley in the MA senate special election. Democrats’ threadbare 60 filibuster-proof caucus, gone. Healthcare reform teetered on brink of collapse. Many Very Serious People in the Beltway, pundits and Democrats told the President to give or radically scale back his Healthcare quest. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel read him the “Political-Implications-Riot-Act.” WH was in a deep funk.
Then came the Republican House’s grand invitation to Pres Obama visit their caucus retreat in Baltimore, MD. They probably wanted to humiliate the president for his recent loss, through fake chivalry.
WH RSVPed with one tiny request, whose acceptance a House GOP member later said was the biggest mistake they ever made. Pres Obama had asked to bring camera crew along.
First were his opening remarks calling for both parties to work together:
There’s a reason that the 1 hr 20 minute Q&A section that followed these opening remarks shook the Beltway political universe, prompting media calls for British-style “Prime Minister’s question Time” tradition to be established here in the US, to engender real dialog among political parties. Of course GOP rejected the idea and it fizzled. But for many Democrats, what became known as The Baltimore Massacre, would be grist for partisan loremaking. One man. 183 GOP congresscritters & their families. (Sinews taut). Room darkened, spotlight on POTUS against black curtained backdrop. T’was like oratory in a theater. No notes. Brilliance extempore.
The entire exchange is worth spending time listening to again in its entirety just for the sheer thrill of watching President Obama glow in the den of the opposition.
However, there is a segment key to the subject of this essay; that President Obama foresaw exactly the predicament that Republicans would be in now, incapable of saying “Yes” to anything he proposes, offers or agrees with them on, that they become convulsed contortionists.
Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had asked Pres Obama why he won’t take GOP (harebrained) plans on healthcare reform. He patiently tried to explain to her that Democrats HAD included many Republican ideas into the healthcare bills if they were objectively shown to be workable. But the critical point he made was that their reflexive rejection of anything he’s proposed including personal demonization of him, was going to hurt them in the long run.
So, 45 months ago President Obama predicted exactly to a T the current GOP Convulsions. We’ve seen this phenomenon play out over and over, but none of those prior occasions have been as dire as the shutdown we’re in the midst of and the looming economic catastrophe should we enter default.
Speaker Boehner, there is a way to retreat from that feeble ledge. President Obama WILL help you if you let him.