Sanders Filibusters/Clinton Takes Over!

Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, has been engaged in a filibuster on the Senate floor; he doesn’t like the Obama/GOP tax plan.


Good optics

I may not agree with him, but I applaud the man getting up and actually going through with a filibuster. After watching numerous drama-free, procedural “declared filibusters” through the latter part of Bush’s presidency–actions that really meant, “we’re just obstructing and going home”–Sanders is putting his money where his mouth is (or, rather, putting his mouth where the money is) and taking a stand.

I say good on him!

Those who are snarking about it, or bemusedly looking on, should beware: This is an extremely powerful optic. People who have no idea what Sanders is talking about will start cheering him for the sheer novelty of a filibuster. Those who have romantic memories of Jimmy Stewart reading the Constitution and Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians on the Senate floor will confer that same romance upon Sanders’ efforts. The press, always ripe for “something new” and on board with Sanders’ politics, will talk up his courage to make such a “heroic” stand.

Don’t laugh at this. Americans love the cowboy, and a filibuster is a cowboyesque optic: one man standing against all comers, attempting to stem what he views as a ruinous tide. This move by Sanders, if he sticks with it, may capture imaginations nor usually engaged; it could have wide repercussions.

Everyone who loves politics should wear the phrase “do not get cocky” on their wrists, and teach it to their children. Politics turns on a dime. That’s why two years is such a very, very long time.

:::After 8.5 hours, Sanders yields. I guess Clinton’s message got through. Missed opportunity for Dems to galvanize nation:::

UPDATE:
Meanwhile:
Bill Clinton appears to have taken over the presidency from a weary bored in over his head Barack Obama, who said, “bite me, this job is hard; you take over! I’m gonna go shoot hoops with Reggie!”


This is bad, bad optics!


Realllly bad optics!

This astonishing scene does draw attention away from the filibuster. And Clinton must know how bad it makes Obama look; Obama could not demonstrate that he’s not up to par any more clearly.

Best Tweet! And another good one

Satire is sometimes prophetic! ;-)

UPDATE II:
This is surreal and priceless;
Clinton at the podium, pointing his finger, saying “I’m out of politics, now,” while defending Obama, who is demonstrating just how out of his depths he is, or–perhaps more correctly–that he just doesn’t have that “first class temperament” of legend.

Video here

If SNL tried to play this scenario for laughs, people would say it was too out there! This is like a politco-junkie’s longest, strangest trip, ever!

UPDATE III:
Ace is just stunned, and links to a picture taken by Jake Tapper. Go see.

Remember this playlet from 2008?. I wonder what promise Don Clinton extracted from Obama for today’s assist?

On second thought, it may have been a brilliant move to bring Clinton in–for the sake of easing the minds of his base–but it was not brilliant to leave the room with Clinton at the podium.

Either way, it seems to me that without Rahm at the helm, Obama has no one directing him.

Instapundit: “Help me Bubba-wan; you’re my only hope!
Allahpundit: Clinton is Apparently President Again
Bookworm: Something Very Weird is Going On in DC
Chris Matthews: Goes Full Drool
Ed Driscoll: has the best round-up!
Kim Priestap: wonders if Clinton will be Obama’s COO?
Iowahawk (prescient, from 2008): Obama Names Bill Clinton President

Well, touching on that, here is what I wrote just about a year ago:

I suspect that what Obama wanted was to be the King, not the President. The King’s role is largely ceremonial. In time of national tragedy the King goes before the camera and says, “this is very sad.” If he can assign blame on a perceived enemy he does so, and then he steps aside and retires to his amusements while those actually in charge clean up the mess and determine how to prevent future messes. Everyone loves the King, defers to the King, rushes to do for the King, but the King -who tends to get bored and distracted by the dry business of actually governing- is responsible for very little, and most are just as glad of it.

Best Comment: In this thread: “and they said Bush ‘lacked gravitas’?”

More from Hot Air

Check back for more updates! Meanwhile I’m back on my assignment!

More:
Jammie Wearing Fool
The Corner
Dave Weigel
Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s

Related:
Jonah Goldberg
Noisy Room

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  • http://lwolt.wordpress.com/ Larry Sheldon

    Can’t go see. AssofSpazHQ hjas blocked be from several worthwhile blogs, and his.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I really don’t find it comforting that the Clintons are in charge again.

    (I wonder what happened? It looked like Obama had trumped Hillary, with all the Wikilieaks revelations—but here’s Bill, back again!)

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  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    Wow. Just wow. Ditto the observation about SNL.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Bill ain’t in charge. Don’t underestimate Obama’s capacity for petulance. He won’t like being stood up.

    As for Sanders, sure, this is something new for the modern Senate, but it is hardly novel for socialists and communists to seize the microphone and talk and talk and talk for hours upon hours on end. Compared to Fidel or Hugo, this guy is a putz.

  • http://DearDrFreelance.com Jake P

    Oy. Watching that clip, I flashed back to Kanye’s “Imma let you finish” move on Taylor Swift. What a train wreck these people are.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Meanwhile the Republicans are mostly being squishes, like usual.

    Once again it is going to be up to Sarah Palin to come in and make them man up on making the tax rates permanent, rather than merely the same old game playing temporary rates, i.e. a deferred tax increase, in exchange for spending money we don’t have.

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  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Was the Clinton take over phenomenal or what? If this doesn’t prove that Obama is in over his head, nothing else will. I actually feel sympathy for Obama.

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  • Jeff

    This is what happens when the media propagandizes and deifies someone totally unqualified to be president as being qualified.

  • Old Fan – Brooklyn

    GREAT post, and certainly it is another embarrassing disaster.

    Remember, Bill Clinton was the same one who recently lobbied Democrats in Washington to pass Obamacare? He told Democrats they have to pass that nightmare, to avoid a massive loss in the recent Midterms. Now they are going to follow his advice?

    Even more amusing, Bill Clinton is now advocating for keeping the roll back of the CLINTON massive TAX increases from the early 1990’s, (in the form of the Bush Cuts). He is basically supporting a deal, which intends to keep the Tax Cuts which primarily ended the disastrous CLINTON TAX increases, (those tax hikes actually aided in bringing the USA a Recession in 2000 – as the bubble burst).

    It could not be more ironic.

    For some time, I feel some of the best pundits on Our Side, fail to focus on the Democratic Party as a whole, thus enabling the few as individuals. The continued push of the Clintons on the USA by the Democratic Partisan denial, is a primary example of the problem. Hillary is busy making a mess at the State Department, and Bill Clinton continues to be a major cog in this disastrous Democratic Party Machine – the Sestak Bribery attempt is a primary example.

    Yet, often, perhaps in the wake of the ugly Impeachment issue, some are afraid to bluntly analyze the Clintons these days for fear of being too Partisan. Hillary’s epic failures with ‘smart power’ are largely ignored.

    The entire end product tends to give life to a very misguided public perception, such as the idea the Clintons are more “moderate”. This is silly, as Bill and Hillary even once advised Carter back in the day, and they personally tried to Nationalize Health Care, appeased the most dangerous threats, even treated Radical Terrorism as a mere law enforcement issue, etc.

    Public perception is essential in politics. Bill and Hillary remain symbols of the Democratic Party, yet both are as poor of an offering as Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc.

    Just for the record, I think Mr. Krauthammer has it wrong on the deal to continue the Bush Tax Cuts. Wrong especially on the politics, suggesting this all favors Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama and his Party, will be swallowing another large dose of reality, on something they once bitterly vilified, just like GITMO, the effort to liberate Iraq with force, Wiretaps, the Patriot Act, etc. They have exploited opposing the Bush Tax Cuts (“for the rich”), and now have to embrace these lower tax rates.

    It is another classic irony.

    Conservatives and Republicans are winning.

    The Democrats have proven to be utterly incapable of governing – their policies are disastrous of all.

  • Susan

    Unbelievable.

    Perhaps this helps explain why our nation and foreign policies are such a mess. BO votes present and then bolts off to play golf, basketball, attend/throw parties, snub foreign dignitaries so he can eat dinner with the wife and kids, or ignore situations like the murdered protestors in Iran (this list could go on ad nauseum).

    Oy vey. It seems that BO hasn’t a clue about the responsibilities of the POTUS or the grave importance of legislation like this. Sheesh, he’s either a slacker full or excuses or a slavish husband who lacks sense.

    Or… is all this appalling behavior just par for the course in the life of a privileged narcissist?

    P.S. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • SKAY

    It is interesting how former Democrat Presidents just CANNOT seem to leave the stage.

    I agree with Bender about socialists/communists-
    they cannot stop telling us how much better their Utopia will be and what better place to do it than the floor of the US Senate.

    The Democrats are adding much more outrageous pet project spending to this bill–how typical. Of course Harry Reid is still majority leader in the Senate and Nancy is still theSpeaker in the House so common sense is out of the window..

  • Janemarie

    Yes, the video looks bad, but I think Obama wins if any sort of tax-cut bill is passed. This video will be forgotten. He gets a bigger pass from the MSM than any prior President; he plays the race card whenever he feels he needs to; we know from his prior elections that he is merciless and unscrupulous. I think it will be very hard to beat him in 2012 unless the economy stays in the tank.

  • Lisa

    To put this visual into perspective, just imagine if Daddy Bush came in and took the podium over for little Bush junior; to ‘splain things properly. Yikes! Who really controls Obama’s puppet strings!? He’s definitely not the man running the show.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    I think it will be very hard to beat him in 2012 unless the economy stays in the tank

    Usually a good economy is a giant plus in favor of an incumbent, but in the past that incumbent has always been likable. People personally liked him, even if they disagreed with his other policies. People found Bill Clinton likable — he was a fun guy, even to those who opposed his politics.

    Obama is not likable. More and more people are catching on to his unending pretentious, contemptuous, condescending, denigrating behavior. In short, they see that he is a jerk. And even if the economy is doing well, that likability factor will probably overcome any advantages he has. People will say, “do we really want to put up with this for another four years?”

    Besides, people do have short memories, but it will not be enough for the economy to start picking up in 2012 for them to give Obama any great credit. People will remember that the economy has been disasterous the rest of the time. And, given the HUGE drags placed on the economy by Obama, the economy will not be doing well in 2012. It can’t.

    To the extent that economics is a science, it is scientifically impossible for that to happen with sky-high debt, the pressure for even higher taxes, sky-high government regulation, and sky-high government-imposed mandates. Can a person thrive when all the blood has been sucked out of him and someone is stomping on his throat?

    Marxism, neo-Marxism, and socialism FAIL everywhere they have been tried. They have failed disasterously. And they ain’t going to suddenly work just because The One is president.

  • Old Fan – Brooklyn

    “Meanwhile the Republicans are mostly being squishes, like usual.”

    This is not accurate, and is stuck on a bias that is wrongly seeing much of the Republican offering in the most negative light.

    It simply isn’t conservative, based on the facts.

    Also, after the Midterms, Mrs. Palin stated repeatedly on FOX, that the Republicans should absolutely ‘reach out’ and “work with” Obama and Democrats.

    The claims Sarah Palin is going to keep all on the conservative path is denying the record – the reality Mrs. Palin embraced the most liberal platform ever offered by the GOP with the Maverick Ticket. Sarah Palin joined with John McCain’s Cap and Trade folly. This Maverick Ticket even opposed much of the Bush Tax Cuts, and debased much of the most admirable efforts provided by Republican Leadership in the essential GWOT.

    This is a problem for Mrs. Palin, as her devotees see her as something which is far from reality. In fact, her record in Alaska was one of providing tax increases in a populist manner for Oil Companies, which raised the cost of living for all in the USA. She built “Climate Panel” bureaucracy in the Alaskan Government, much like the kind Nancy Pelosi was recently denied on the Federal Level. In fact, I will never forget Mrs. Palin’s responses to many questions on FOX which defy the image, mimicking Mr. Obama on the Big Spill by only saying repeatedly “we should hold the companies accountable”. Even most recently with Mr. Baier, only suggesting we have wage and hiring “FREEZES” in response to a serious question about “what to cut” on the Federal Level.

    The reality is, one Celebrity alone will never get the job done. If we want Republicans to embrace more sound conservative policy, we have to voice our desires in a strong, constructive, positive manner.

    Sadly, regretfully, the hype has been proven far too overt with the Palin experience. But such is life. Mrs. Palin is a fine American, yet she is human, and a little stuck on Image and Identity politics instead of substance. Time will tell. We can all hope she grows, and still inspires many young conservatives – especially many women.

  • http://queenofallsaints.wordpress.com Nicholas Jagneaux

    I agree with Bender. Heading into the 2000 election, the economic conditions of the 1990s seemed to benefit Al Gore enormously.

    If the economy was the primary deciding factor in the election, he should have won hands-down. But, he wasn’t likeable; GWB was and won.

    Even those who want to insist that Gore won have to admit that the economic conditions favored him so much that it never should have been that close – except that he wasn’t likeable.

    (Of couse, by the time Bush took office, the economy had already begun to take a downturn; but, generally, the public wasn’t aware of these indicators when voting in November.)

  • Piano Girl88

    I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the Clinton home over on Whitehaven Street in DC last night ~ bet that would have been one interesting conversation!

  • http://FIRSTTHINGS,COM ANNE MARIE

    Watch out for “SARAH PALIN”. I used to be an ardent supporter of hers,when she first came on the scene.
    Then i heard she gave a speech in Europe at no other than the “CFR”. That gave me a jolt !! I am not saying she is a member or is not a member.
    But boy,can you trust “ANYBODY TODAY” ?????

  • http://FIRSTTHINGS,COM ANNE MARIE

    Look at NOBAMA’S FACE CLOSELY. IT SEEMS TO BE THINKING —I’m using you today,ha! but just wait and see what happens if “HILLARY AND YOU TRY ANYTHING —COME 2012 !!!!!
    I have heard the Clinton’s despise “NOBAMA”!!!
    What an “ELECTION THIS BABY IS GOING TO BE—–we thought 2010 was a mess!

  • Jim Hicks

    When your tax rate goes up 50% on Jan. 1, you will not be applauding the Vermont Senator!

    For those in the 10% tax bracket, it will then be 15% – a 50% increase. The poorest, not the richest, will be the hardest hit.

  • Jeff

    He managed to make himself seem two feet tall politically, and hen-pecked, at the same time. “Wouldn’t want to keep the first lady waiting.” Keep her waiting, Barack, you’re the president of the United States, you numbskull.

  • Mandy

    I for one, cannot imagine applauding or admiring Sanders for his filibuster. He is a socialist! The voters in Vermont are entitled to vote for whomever they choose, but as far as I am concerned, Socialists do not belong in the Senate. His whole philosophy violates our Constitution, so the oath he took is meaningless. The dog and pony show that goes on in the Senate is usually immensely boring and Sanders’ 9 hour tirade was a complete waste of time.

  • Dagwood

    Old Fan – thanks for posting. Your two comments above were insightful, balanced and imo on the target.

  • dry valleys

    I’m not especially surprised he has given way. I “supported” him because I thought he was better than Republicans, I can’t imagine myself ever not thinking that, it doesn’t mean I have to endorse his centrism & failure to connect to the millions of disenchanted in a meaningful way (people who are similar to the millions of Britons waiting for a true alternative to Blatcherism, which the coalition & its predecessor have shown fairly conclusively isn’t on offer from any of them).

    The working class are not in any mood for their lords & masters to get concessions forever denied to them.

    I wonder about one thing though. Given that Obama offers so many re-runs of the last episode, are conservatives eventually going to stop saying he’s a Trotskyist, Muslim Stalinist? Surely he can’t be both an establishment politician & part of whatever subversive conspiracy it is this time.

    Sanders has got the strength to stand, I not only agree with the principle of dissent but with his specific position. Bankers etc. whinged about a similar higher rate of tax being introduced in Britain but none of them followed through with their threats to leave the country. Miraculously, the government called their bluff, a blessed relief from their usual surrender, with no adverse consequences. If Obama had done that, “going Galt” would have petered out as people managed not to put their money where their mouth was.

  • mlw

    Please don’t get into politics, for whatever reason. I gave up so many blogs because I don’t want to talk about politics.

    Also, Senator Sanders is NOT a Democrat. He caucuses with them, but he is an independent and an avowed Socialist.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Valleys, a lot of people may soon be “going Galt”—not because they really intend to, but, as they lose their jobs, they’re just not going to be able to pay the taxes demanded of them.

    Nobody’s getting much in the way of concessions these days, not the working class, and not their alleged “Lords and masters” (whoever they are.) Government largesse only takes you so far; then, somebody, somewhere, has to start creating weatlh, or the whole system goes to foozle. Actually, come to think of it, socialist states eventually do wind up breaking down, as there are fewer and fewer paying into the system. Rioting, and attacking somebody else you think might be oppressing you doesn’t do a thing to fix it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    But when things get tough, we can always blame:

    1. Sarah Palin.

    2. Bankers. Any bankers. All bankers. Everywhere. At all times. Bankers bad. Woot!

    3. The “Lords and Masters” whoever they are. (Just make some up, if you can’t think of any.)

    4. Sarah Palin.

    Such blame will not fix anything of course, but it makes us feel better.

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  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    I’m really surprised at you RS.

    Of course we’ll blame George Bush too.

  • JDC

    Hey, I know I’m a bit late to the party, but Bender said a thing and I am curious as to what he meant:

    “To the extent that economics is a science, it is scientifically impossible for that to happen with sky-high debt, the pressure for even higher taxes, sky-high government regulation, and sky-high government-imposed mandates.”

    Yo, Bends, if you’re around, can you explain why government debt, pressure for taxation (either high or low), and government regulation/mandates need result in a sluggish economy? I mean, if it’s scientifically impossible I imagine there must exist SOME way to demonstrate this, whether theoretically or empirically, yes? Thanks in advance!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    sometimes I surprise myself, Bender!:)

    Given the current state of the world, which seems inclined to embrace unworkable systems, such as Socialism, to the last gasp, and beyond, sarcasm sometimes seems the only way to respond!

    I blame bankers If we riot, everything will get better!/sarc.

    (I’m sure a lot of people blame Bush!)

  • dry valleys

    Last time I looked I’d never done any rioting, nor is it on my to-do list. Nor does anyone say that European social democracies, such as Sweden & Germany, have fared especially badly in the recession. It is right-wing countries such as Italy, Ireland, Great Britain (whose “Labour” governments were actually right-wing) that have taken the blows.

    In emerging economies such as Brazil, they manage to make themselves more prosperous with left-wing governments, not in spite of them but because of them. I do not endorse the regimes in places like Venezuela that lack a proper rule of law, I endorse a mixed economy in which, in fact, private-sector businesses do perfectly well.

    Only recently the head of the Confederation of British Industry, who you’d have thought knew a few things about making money, endorsed the higher rate tax (a higher rate than would have existed in America had the Bush tax cuts been repealed).

    You do see the chasm that is opening up between opposing views. I don’t describe my own views as especially radical, nor would anyone be outraged by me in several well-off European countries. Yet since the 1980s it has become trendy to support shrinking the state when we are doing well or when we are not.

    They even have bankers in Germany etc, it’s just that they don’t have a licence to do whatever they want with the taxpayer footing any bills run up.

  • dry valleys

    I would also point out that I am not some dilettante sitting in a university giving lectures on how good Marx was, I am someone who grew up in a working-class community that had demonstrably got worse off during the 1980s. Which I attribute to the Thatcher government’s policies. I don’t agree with the belief, which seems to have made itself mainstream, that it was all somehow worth it.

  • archangel

    A couple of points, perhaps made already or not…

    1) Sanders is a true Socialist. He is also the only HONEST “Democrat” in the Congress. I completely disagree with him but I RESPECT HIM for the simple fact that he is the ONLY DEMOCRAT to call himself what he is… a SOCIALIST.

    2) NEVER, and I mean NEVER has the presidential podium been literally VACATED by a sitting president to a FORMER PRESIDENT. There have been times when a former president has made remarks from a podium shared with a current one. But this was the PRESS ROOM. Literally the “throne” upon which the “ruler” speaks to the masses, via the press. Granted its not the Oval Office where high pronouncements are made… but in the realm of functionality; its the PRESS ROOM where the president connects. BHO simply walked away.

    I may be the contrarian on this next point but what happened here tells me he possible will not even run again. He is obviously disgusted and disinterested in the job. He hates it. He had hints of it when he ran. Remember he is the one who brought up the one-term concept for himself. Its hard for a “messiah” to realize he’s not a “king”. He KNOWS he’s over matched; and this after only 2 years. It will not surprise me if he pulls an LBJ.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I’m sorry for your troubles, Valleys. Not being English myself, I’m not even going to begin speculating about the overall goodness, or badness, of the Thatcher reforms.

    But, honestly, socialism in general has a rotten track record for improving the lives of the working class, or anybody else. Eventually, the system breaks down, as everyone becomes unwilling, or unable, to continue paying into it, and the public demands more and more “free” services from the government—not to mention that it has a strong bent towards totalitarinaism, and is too easily taken over by strongmen, such as Castro, Chavez, Stalin, etc.

    (In a world where the American sitting president has, apparently, just ceded his office to Bill Clinton, sarcasm seems the best response—though the world is getting to the point you can’t even satirize it anymore! Let’s laugh at it, while we still can.)

  • archangel

    May I take a stab at this. Its not just gov’t debt. Its debt in general. The economic situation in the world is not a crisis of “liquidity”… ie cash. It is a DEBT crisis; private and public. The Euro is pretty close to imploding as a world currency and China’s bubble is close to popping. The inflation rate in China is becoming a problem for them. IMO, we have the opposite problem with declining assets and no manufacturing. All those stores with 50%-70% off signs are probably closing for good. The growth of the last 20 years was FINANCED… both public and private. The bill has come due. Paying the debt down, restructuring, or simply taxing will simply KILL whatever economoc growth there is. Private households pay down their debt by not spending. Purchases are put off. Businesses don’t hire and make do with the workers at hand or simply go part time. Any profits (not REVENUE) go to paying off the debt run up in the past.

    That is what austerity is: corporate, private, soveriegn. It doesn’t matter. Capital is a finite resource and no matter how much and how long its financed… it comes due.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, here in the US, some us don’t believe that “Hope and Change”, stimulus, “Cash for Clunkers,” Obamacare (which nobody seems to like) being rammed down our throats by congress—hey, you’ll find out what’s actually in it when it becomes law, ‘kay?—has been worth it at all.

    As I said before, a lot of Americans have gone Galt, not because they actually wanted to, but because they’ve lost jobs, homes, and simply can’t pay the taxes anymore. Passing more unemployment benefits is being held out as the magic talisman that will save evreybody, but this is only a stopgap solution; the unemployment will run out eventually, and what then? Blame the bankers? Bush? Republicans? Margaret Thatcher? (who left the political scene some time ago); the Illuminati? Space aliens?

    I mean look at those misguided souls rioting in Greece! Do they really think that if they’re violent enough, that will somehow put more money in the nation’s economy?

    I say we blame the mysterious race of lizard men, who are supposed to live in tunnels under Los Angeles! Hey, what better way to explain Governor Schwarzneger?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    You make some good points, Archangel.

    Given the debt situation, and the fact that we no longer manufacture anything in this country, we’re in trouble. The wonderful new “Service” and “knowledge” economies the elites were promising us would be so great, never materialized, and we’ve got that debt situation to somehow manage. . .

    Booooosh! I blame Booosh! And the Lizard Men! /Sarc.! :)

  • JDC

    Archangel: actually, very few Democrats break towards actual Socialism (ala Sanders); some of them are Social Democrats (center left but still favor the capitalist means of production – the congressional progressive caucus tends to break this way), some are Social Liberals (centrists balanced between free market and social welfare positions – i.e. the “New Democrats”), and the rest are hard to distinguish from the neoliberal orthodoxy of the last three decades (see: Blue Dog Coalition). It’s a surprisingly varied bunch.

    Also, some of your analysis is sound – particularly the emphasis on private debt. Public debt, for us, is not now nor ever need be a problem, as a sovereign government issuing its own fiat-currency can never involuntarily default on debt, nor does repaying said debt affect such a sovereign government’s capacity for present or future spending in any way. Plus, government debt represents non-government assets, which is stimulative to the private sector during recessionary periods.

    Private debt, though, yes, that is more problematic, particularly since it sets off a debt-deflationary cycle (first expressed by Irving Fischer, though later refined by Minsky) in which unstable/diminishing/disappearing incomes only serve to exacerbate the problem, while dwindling demand causes deflation (which hurts debtors all the more). This is why the best thing a government could possibly do to mitigate a recession is ignore urges towards austerity measures, and keep the game going by filling the gap with stimulative fiscal policy until the private sector rebounds. It’s not as if it costs anything, strictly speaking; the federal government is not revenue-constrained, and history has shown quite conclusively that inaction carries costs that transcend simple dollar totals.

    That’s actually why I disagree with Bernie on this issue. As much as the wealth inequality in the USA has reached absurd, unsustainable levels, we need all the stimulus we can get. If taxes are going up, we’d need to raise spending by a commensurate degree, or else we risk worsening the situation. Considering the way congress is trending, I can’t help but think future fiscal stimulus will be slim to none, so if tax relief is what we can get, I say take it.

  • dry valleys

    A comment of mine (to which the one that appeared was a footnote) has gone missing. In it I elaborate why I would take European social democracy over communism, or the Third Way, or neoliberalism. This does not enormously endear me to Obama but thinking about the alternative would probably keep me in his camp.

    You’d have to ask rioting Greeks why they are taking to the streets, as they tend not to inform me of the reasons behind their actions.

  • archangel

    I couldn’t disagree more on your point about Democrats in general as well as public debt NOT being a problem. The former is a “label” and philosophy arguement which I’m not going to get into. As for public debt, its a HUGE problem regardless whether a printing press is available or not. The printing press solution is destroying the Euro as I type as well as the EU as a whole. You can not run up the kind of debt that Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc have and print paper to cover it. Talk about economic suicide!

    As for those who can’t print; I’ll give you two examples… Harrisburg PA and the entire state of CALIFORNIA. Debts matter, regardless of persuasion. The minute the debt outstrips ones ability to truly pay for it, be it through hard money (gold, silver) or soft (cash backed a non-commodity)… the debt becomes a killer.

    Weath equality is the talk of SOCIALISM and it does not work except in a monastery. To expect the job creator and risk taker to accept the same reward as those less inclined is a social injustice. Wealth is not the enemy. There are many poor people who are as vile and greedy as the richest of mizers. Covetousness is on both sides. The poor have different challenges than the rich, BUT both have challenges that are God-centered. The rich have the challenge of being good stewards and caretakers of those less fortunate. They have the challenge of keeping themselves grounded and not to be tied to possessions as idols. The poor on the other hand have the challenge of not just survival but not selling their human dignity for the false riches that they seek. Buying lottery tickets as opposed to MILK is an example.

    So, I would suggest that you adjust your wealth reference. Read Job. Read the parable about the “talents”. Read about the widow making bread for her son before Elijah enters the picture. God is not looking for wealth equality. That’s the mantra of someone who has made the state, god. He’s looking to break the human heart so that He may rebuild it. Rich or poor… that’s the goal.

  • JDC

    Archangel your point about “running the presses” is invalid because none of the examples you gave met the criteria I established (sovereign state issuing its own fiat-currency). Neither PA nor California issues currency. All states within the USA ARE revenue-constrained, while the federal government is not. This is the operational reality of the matter, and is not up for debate. The federal government literally does not have a finite store of money anywhere; when it spends, it creates money ex nihilo. When it taxes, it destroys money. The debt and deficit might better be described as something of an interest rate management account (IRMA). Further, your examples (Greece, Ireland, et al) have all given up their currency sovereignty to join the Eurozone, and subsequently have robbed themselves of any hope of significant fiscal intervention. You cannot shoehorn a non-sovereign non-issuer into the specific circumstance I am describing.

    Believe it or not, it’s possible to spell “socialism” without using capital letters. Further, socialism is not a categorically bad thing by simple dint of “being socialism.” You speak of “job creators,” yet fail to realize that all socialism is, strictly speaking, is the capacity to not have to depend upon a Capital class to work – i.e. the capacity to work for yourself and possess the fruits of your own labor. By holding productive property in common, all it’s effectively done is minimized rent (not as in “apartments” but rather as in “-seeking behaviors”) and disallowed the act of surplus value extraction (i.e. paying someone less than the value they create). Obviously, the big examples of socialism you have to go on are predominantly operating in a Leninist/Maoist paradigm, but those are by no means the sole configurations dreamt up.

    My favorite brief summary of the matter is that there are three critical factors that go into production: land, capital, and labor. The three major historical systems each favor one: feudalism land, capitalism capital, and socialism labor.

    Your conception of the poor and rich simply having different “roles,” to be quite blunt, has no place in the same paragraph in which you would reference “justice.” Ultimately, your conception of it seems more in line with the maxim of Thucydides: the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer as they must. Simply hand-waving the problem away (“eh, God’ll sort ‘em all out in the end”) seems… a bit protestant, if I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes to say so. If we’re to be the Body of Christ, then we’re nothing less than duty-bound to seek justice and improve the lot of the least among us.

    Also, I couldn’t help but detect a note of contempt in the reference to buying lottery tickets instead of milk. (Please do correct me if I’m wrong; just saying.) Frankly, if someone is buying lottery tickets instead of food while undernourished, this doesn’t make me any less sympathetic. In such a case, I see either someone either in the throes of a severe addiction to gambling, or someone doing what little they can to stave off despair by clinging to a thin, feeble hope for security otherwise out of their reach.

    Ultimately, a more even wealth distribution IS a vehicle for justice. I am not even talking about absolutes, here, mind you; I will happily agree that a doctor should be paid more than a busboy. However, if the top 1% of the population literally controls 34.3% of the total wealth in a country while the bottom 40% of the population controls a net 0.2%, we’ve entered into a realm so far beyond justification of “well, the CEO took some risks so yeah give him the whole pot for the rest of his life and his kids and grandkids too even though they didn’t necessarily do anything at all” that you’re effectively weakening any other arguments you’re making by association.

    So, I would suggest that you adjust your wealth reference. While I agree that God is not looking for wealth equality, he is looking for us to treat each other with the simple dignity we are due. Your framing of Christianity as somehow being at odds with or unconcerned with social justice ignores both a) the fact that Christianity has been the biggest vehicle for such in the history of the world and b) any reference to anything post-Old Testament. Your formulation of a Christian ethics is curiously pre-Christian.

  • archangel

    I never stated Christianity is at odds with the needs of our fellow man. The church’s mission is the salvation of souls. It takes seriously the cries of the poor and satiates their needs. How you misconstrued that point speaks more about your mindset. The term “Social Justice” is so pregnant with open ended obfuscations that it is somewhat meaningless. For some, “Social Justice” is no more than re-distribution of wealth through any means possible; confiscation if need be. That would be akin to socialism. Your notion of a more equal distribution of wealth is Marxism… period. Marxism at its very core is evil as far as I’m concerned. Your economic understanding, like his, is based soley on cohersion. Christians don’t need to be coherced… we do it naturally.

    My very Christian ideas of rich and poor is derived from the notion that God doesn’t play favorites. To be wealthy is not intrincically more evil or more righteous than being poor. Second, “social justice” from an OT standpoint is actually no different than NT standpoint. The NT formulation is simply the completion and fulfillment of the OT. The OT formulation (showing the nominal favorites of God) deals with widows and orphans… the fatherless and those without caregivers. Using the NT formulation from Paul who was referring to those working in the world preaching, his quote is that let he who does not work not eat.

    The two go hand in hand. The Christian concept of social justice is to help the needy. NOT penalize the successful. The goal is to let the successful help through the their faith. Read PBXVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth”… specifically the portion explaining Jesus’ temptations in the desert. Notably, the portion where Satan tempts Him to change the stones to bread; then get back to me. Further, understand that early Christianity depended upon the very wealthy types to thrive. When no one is wealthy, then everyone’s poor… except for the commisioners in charge of the distribution. You should change the socialist buzz words. It may work with fellow travelers but not with me. The sooner “Liberation Theology” is dumped farther into the eclesiastical dump heap, the better. Marx and Jesus don’t mix. Agape to you.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    “Marx and Jesus don’t mix”—Amen to that!


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