by Michael Farrell



Sad days, kissing the cheeks
of the families who are walking away
Tragic, the pubs are opposing,
the system is broken, decay
Because business is down at the depot,
defenses are the only things built
Neighbors wave goodbye to each other
This country is over, they say

Lately, the 21st century’s been… crazy
It’s the sing of the times
Buildings decomposing in slumber
There’s no work for all till they wake

Too many faults, no reasons
The rains that fall, dry bleeding
Upon the ashes of our homes
Our homes
Save our homes
The word on the street here is panic
There’s a riot at hand
People, taking care of the people
There’s no other way, or we’ll break
Yeah, this is life
In a modern town
The windows smashed open with the doors kicked out
It’s not a good day left to be in a fight
’cause living is hard through the struggles of life
If nothing gets done it will never be right
Flogging Molly

I have been suffering from a mild case of agoraphobia of late — nothing works, if I leave the house I risk bumping into someone I know and care about, and I’m just going to get depressed. It is baseball season, and that helps. The news is generally amusing enough although I have begun to realize that Bat Boy Obama waiting on the adult leadership of the Republican party to get control is probably why we’re still waiting for a reasonable stimulus, infrastructure and jobs bills. So, we are about to head down the road to economic serfdom to banks and China…Hayek’s insight had a lot to do with balance. He saw socialism and communism as being totally unbalanced. I don’t think he would have approved the government not paying its debt.

There is an incredible editorial in the NY Times this morning, an OPED about the President exercising his constitutional authority to save the nation as the House of Representatives struggles to get it’s head out of it’s fourth point of contact.. It’s well worth reading and quoting in full. However, the most telling paragraphs for me are these…

The basic problem today is that the president and the House Republicans are locked in a classic bargaining game. The worst outcome for both is default on the debt, but each side holds out for a favorable deal. They will certainly go to the wire, but economists who have studied bargaining games have shown that there is always a real possibility of breakdown rather than compromise, because only by refusing to deal can each side convey the seriousness of its position. That is why labor strikes occur even though workers and managers do jointly better if they make a deal. Failure to raise the debt ceiling, however, is not akin to any old plant shutdown: it would be catastrophic.

A proposal has been floated by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, under which Congress would delegate to the president the power to raise the debt ceiling, subject to some minor procedural constraints. Mr. McConnells ploy is suspect, because it assumes away the problem that it attempts to solve: the internal paralysis of Congress. Congress probably cannot act on its own for example, by creating a veto-proof budget because it is internally deadlocked. Not only do Democrats and Republicans disagree, but so do the Republican leaders, who want to avoid a debt default, and the Tea Party-inspired Republican back-benchers, who appear to believe that only a purifying Gtterdmmerung can put public finances back in order. The latest proposed deal negotiated by House Speaker John A. Boehner and President Obama is vulnerable to the same problem.

The bargaining process depends on some good faith and lack of hidden agendas. Obama has treated the Republicans as having good faith and the best interests of the country at heart. This is an absurd position. We’re in an economic tailspin, and Mitch McConnell feels free to say that the number 1 legislative goal of all Republicans is the defeat of Barrack Obama in 2012. In order to do so, he spent the first two years of Obama’s term obstructing and obfuscating and encouraging the worst elements of the right. No, he didn’t talk about killing him or calling him a liar. McConnell was too crafty for that. No Joe Wilson “you lie” nonsense from him. He just wheedled.

I think that the most important legislative goal of any citizen is to do what’s best for the nation. The best that this President can do is start freezing these idiots out. Govern, as Bush did despite a more reasonable Congress even when the Dems had control, largely by executive order. Pound the Bully Pulpit, goddamnit. The banks and the monied interests are not going to be your friends; so, make them respond through respect and fear of what can happen.

Any one who has more than a dime in his pocket who votes Republican is just not serious about the country so long as the Tea Party and the Reactionaries and the craven, greedy and ignorant political classes are in charge. That simple — and if the President exercises his authority on the debt, he will go a long way toward making them irrelevant. If he doesn’t, he accelerates the downhill slide of the Republic to being more like France on the world stage. And, more like Albania on the national stage in terms of education, infrastructure, public health, economic growth and hope.

So, is Obama going to do what’s right? Or is he going to keep the light on and the coffee at the bargaining table? Well, at this point, I’m not comfortable. I suspect that there’s some triangulation going on that is a serious problem. Hey, you can blame the Republicans, but if you have the tools and don’t use them, you’re as bad or worse. I’m not terribly sanguine that either side — Republican congressional leadership or Democratic administration is up to the challenge of history. Tbilsi, here we come…