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If it weren’t for his willingness to jump into the abyss of torture and torment, Jack Bauer would have been the hero as opposed to anti-hero of the first decade of the 21st century. It wasn’t that Jack wanted to be a bad guy — but, he was faced continuously with impossible odds and the ticking clock. Backed into a corner, he had to do things — slap somebody with a defibrillator, let the ghouls pump some sort of psycho-poison into an informat, hook up their testicles to a nuclear reactor — to save the nation.

His justification and that of the Bush administration for its affinity for torment was that the bad guys offered him no choice. He would accept the scapegoat role, but the country would not fail due to the venality and greed and intransigence and flawed ambition of the others.

Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer

Keiffer Sutherland is Barrack Obama. Nobody else can stomach his response to the Republican holdup on taxes, so he’ll do what others of principle cannot, because he responds to a higher principle.

OK, AXE…do you believe that shit? Yeah, to a point. The thing about intransigence and drawing lines in the sand is that you really have to be on a cliff’s edge or raging river’s bank for them to have any real meaning.

If your flanks are naked, you’re fucked. Rolled up, enveloped, surrounded and overwhelmed. Between the media noise machine and the short attention span of the public, a stand on principles that fails to accomplish the policy goal but is noble but still looks like a failure to most Americans.

In this case, the principle in the House may have been some sort of progressive realism, but Obama’s has been far simpler — let’s cobble together a government that might work, and do what is necessary to get there. Jack Bauer is a reflective enough character; he knows that he’s defending the last, best hope of man by violating the rules and principles that make it the last best hope. I’m pretty sure that Barrack Obama — Ironist-in-Chief, self-reflective pardoner of turkeys — realizes the the contradiction. But, what the hell is he supposed to do?

Now, feelings in the House of Representatives have been pretty naked. They’ve done what they’ve been asked, and Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as an incredibly effective Speaker surrounded in government leadership by jackasses. That said, this is not the time for hurt feelings

Resistance is expected to be fiercest in the House, where Ms. Pelosi planned to discuss the proposed agreement with rank-and-file lawmakers later in the day.

“The tax proposal announced by the president clearly presents the differences between Democrats and Republicans,” Ms. Pelosi said in her statement. “Any provision must be judged by two criteria: does it create jobs to grow our economy and does it add to the deficit?

“The Democratic provisions will create jobs and help 155 million workers through tax cuts for the middle class, helping working families who are struggling and growing the economy. The Republican demands would provide tax cuts to the millionaires and billionaires, fail to create jobs and increase the deficit.”

She continued: “To add insult to injury, the Republican estate tax proposal would help only 39,000 of America’s richest families, while adding about $25 billion more to the deficit.Republicans have held the middle class hostage for provisions that benefit only the wealthiest 3 percent, do not create jobs, and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit.”

House Democrats last week approved President Obama’s preferred tax plan, which would have let the Bush-era rates expire at the end of the month on annual income above $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals.

Well, Speaker Pelosi does in fact sum it up well. Unfortunately, the alternative to passing this thing are complex and generally bad. I think that the compromise doesn’t do enough, by the way — the 99ers need help and there needs to be more job creation. I’ve always thought that the best tax approach was to allow tax credits in some places instead of deductions or in addition to deductions. If United Motherfuckers should increase the number of employees making less than $100000 by 100, they’ve got some additional productivity; they also have a deduction from their costs equal to the cost of salaries and benefits; sweeten it by adding a 3% credit. If you do that, well, you’re reducing taxes as a reward for adding jobs, not just because…

However, that gets arcane. It’s just to point out that there are other possibilities that could have been investigated. However, that would require a willingness to engage in actual thinking as opposed to exchange of talking points. The real corruption of the Bush years is going to lie in our increased inability to think beyond talking points on a PowerPoint slide.

A greater problem is time. This discussion should have been happening in the summer of 2008. Yeah, 2008. And, it needed to stay way up on the agenda! There would have been time for debate, discussion and forced compromise. FORCED COMPROMISE. Lock the bastards in the fucking room and keep them there until they can come to an agreement.Or, get a majority big enough to not need them.

Probably not going to happen with this President and this Senate Leader. Harry Reid is tougher than he looks, but the Senate is a “deliberative” body, occasional flareups of assholeness aside. But, at this point the time has run out…doing something for most is better than getting nothing done for any in the real world.

Chris Matthews had an interesting point yesterday, and Representative Anthony Weiner seemed to echo it. The President has a different job than the members of the Legislative Branch. At the end of the day, he has to execute policy, enforce laws and work with what he has to work with. While the screwed up mess he’s stuck with is in large part his own fault — although he had a lot of help! Martha Coakley and Massachusetts come to mind immediately — Letting extended unemployment benefits go south and having everybody face tax increases with the highest percentage increase going to the lowest tax brackets interestingly enough, which just goes to show that math is interesting and kind of pointed. Holding your breathe until you passout for the sake of bitchslapping the rich is a flawed strategy.

If I were suddenly Chairman of the National Democratic Party, which is a fate I would do whatever I needed to in order to avoid, I’d stake out a message for 2012 and put that on ever Democratic piece of paper, legislation, sound bite and fence…Republicans are the party of the Rich! Had I been Speaker Pelosi in August of 2010, this would have been the issue. The changes in the tax code would have been sent to the Senate and trumpeted. Of course it wouldn’t have passed the Senate as proposed; but, come on. Make the fight. People don’t understand nor particularly care about the deranged, the arcane, the parliamentary. They care about what’s happening in their lives.

Of course, the theory that small businesses and entrepreneurs are going to out and invest their extra money is silly. With the exception of people who can think long term, the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gates and Alan Mulallhys and so on, the rich will put their savings into the tools and toys of the rich–Maybachs, mansions and hedge funds. But, the rest of us will probably spend the money in order to survive.

The time to start the fight is now. However, it needs to be done in such a way that no more pain is inflicted on the average American. I suspect the Democrats will probably do that — what will be interesting is the size of the pound of flesh taken out of the Republicans. Spin this correctly, and you set up Boehner and McConnell for two really tough years as their rough beasts not only slouch toward Bethlehem but take up residence in the inns and offices. Win the war after losing every battle…

Bob Dylan – Idiot Wind – Bootleg Series Vol.2 – MyVideo

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