by Michael Farrell

Is it impossible to get a cup of coffee-flavored coffee? You can get every other flavor except coffee-flavored coffee! They got mochachino, cappuchino, frappachino, Al Pacino, what the fuck? www.what the!–Denis Leary

Starbucks has a new blend, Iced Coffee Blend. I guess they Blend it so it will make really good Iced Coffee when blended. Anyway, while I was waiting for Sonny the Anorexic 20 something to get me my Americano, she offered me a sample. In a plastic Starbucks Shotglass. Of Hot Iced Coffee Blend. Obviously, they are unclear on the concept…about as unclear as we are on the debt limit debate, the deficit and why the US can’t afford not to borrow and build and grow the infrastructure, American industry and hope for the future.

Now, the debt limit is about as artifical a piece of idiocy as we can expect from the Republicans. Greenspan, ole Al hisself, has said in the past that he doesn’t understand why the government goes through this drill. The other developed nations don’t do it. Most businesses do this — they borrow short term and long term, and play with the floats to keep going. The problem is not the borrowing — rather, the problem is when you can’t borrow anymore.

While those who claim we are no longer capable of paying off the debt and therefore should massively contract and give up on the dreams of economic justice, industrial democracy and the old “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare” piece of the American ideology are dominating the debate, there are alternative visions. Those visions are better morally, poltically, economically and historically. Given mankind’s ability to screw up sure things, I’m not sure that I can be too optimistic here, but I’ll try.

The market — the money market, the bond market — is eager to lend the US money by purchasing our debt through T-Bills. They — the bond market, the Germans, the Chinese, the US Banking Industry — are willing to do so because we’re the best game in town historically and economically. The cost of this borrowing, the interest, is at historic lows. There’s a reason for this, which should be almost like a Saint Paul falling off his horse on the road to Damascus moment to the Ayn Randian-Supply Side- Debit Hawks. The market, which they have raised to a level of sanctity exceeded only by the angelic choruses, the thrones and dominations and all the rest of that choir, isn’t worried about the US debt. They see it as the preferred cost-benefit-risk investment. Since the whole “let the market decide” nonsense is based on the idea that the market is rational, well, the deficit hawks are disregarding their own ideology.

So, from their point of view, the market is rational so long as it does what they think it should. Since it doesn’t, they’ll run around and compare the US economy to Bob’s Burger Palace and Beer Emporium in Incest Hollow, Kentucky. There are problems with that, of course. Like it’s a totally insane comparison. Or, comparing the US economy — which is the basis for the debt — to the Rand Paul household.

Now, how do we screw this up? There are a number of ways. The first and the one that makes the world the most nervous, is the possibility of US default on debt. If you can’t get the cash to meet current obligations, you ultimately are bankrupt. When you have to start stiffing your suppliers, things are bad; ask any government contractor and that’s been happening around the edges for a while. When you start stiffing your lenders by not being able to stay current and having to decide whom you’re going to pay, you’re insolvent. Now, the market wants to let us borrow more — we aren’t Greece, we aren’t Argentina, we aren’t Russia. They know that and all these people who babble about American exceptionalism ought to remember it. We’re still the greatest — most prosperous, most inventive, most productive — country in the world.

So, the way we go insolvent is to artifically truncate our ability to meet current obligations — not raise the debt limit as needed. Hell, establishing a debt limit is an artificial construct. It doesn’t control anything. So, what happens if we aren’t able to meet current obligations? What happens if we default?

Well, things change. The world will become nervous about our stability and our reasonableness. There are concerns in Russia that Vladamir Putin is their version of Robert Mugabe. Since we are a Democratic Republic as opposed to a kleptocratic autocracy, our version of Mugabe will be John Boehner and Mitch McConnell reinforced by Rand Paul and ilk doing their Facism as 100% Americanism Fan Dance. Irrationality triumphs because they don’t understand their own goddamned ideology, economic theory or how to act in the best interests of the country, or since they purport to believe in this stuff, their immortal souls…

Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal Greed_punished

fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For
I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was
thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and
you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me
no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not
care for me.

Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one
of these least ones, you did not do for me. And
these will go off to eternal punishment, but the
righteous to eternal life.

(Mt. 26: 41-43; 45-46)


Obama is not much help here. He’s been so busy triangulating the Republican position, the Progressive Democratic position and the public opinion that he can’t do anything. He’s done a lot of good things, but no great things because he lacks the willingness to be as dynamic a communicator with the bully pulpit of the presidency as he was in pursuit of it. While Madeline Albright’s point was perhaps off, when she questioned why we needed the greatest military in the world if we were never going to use it she asked a question that someone ought to ask Barrack Obama…why exactly did you want to be president anyway? To slow the descent of the Republic into something worse? Or, to continue to make the country great…

When I was in college, we had dances on campus. These “mixers” were really mating rituals, where the various Catholic Girl’s Schools sent busloads to Catholic West Point to see and be seen by the next generation of the rising Catholic middle class. We had beer, and there was music. Some of it was actually very good music — a little known Boston band called JAY GEILS and HIS Rhythm Kings featuring Petey Wolfe or somebody like that I recall doing covers of various R&B stuff.

The problem,as pointed out in Harry Potter and the Goblin of Fire is that girl’s tend to travel to these things in herds while the men travelled in packs. Some male had to brave the herd, some member of the herd had to agree to brave the man and the process might start. The way this was done was with the question, “Would you like to dance?” Most of the time, the answer was yes. However, the fear of rejection was great…unfortunately, we were a bunch of drunken egocentric assholes in those days. (Based on my samples of our class population and my own experience, we still largely are egocentric assholes, of course who drink less.) And, what do you do when you risk everything and the answer is no?

Well, one of my buddies had a way of either overcomming the resistance at best and at worst getting some of his own back. (We Irish are great at that. Starve us into economic slavery and disaspora, and we’ll sing three choruses of The Wild Colonial Boy and burn down a pub. By good, showed the bastards…) When rejected, Franny would say ” You don’t want to dance? Then why’d ya come here?”

The “constitutional option” on the debt is something the Prez doesn’t want to talk about which is insane. The 14th Amendment is very clear on this — we’re not in 2nd Amendment territory here, we’re dealing with the fact of government and the requirements of governing…

Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. (AXE emphasis) But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

SenatorMitchMcconnell So, while I dislike admitting it if only on aesthetic grounds, Mitch McConnell actually has a pretty good idea. I’d like there to be a more blanket approach, where this becomes what it is, a business practice, maintaining liquidity and solvency. As for the phrase “authorized by law” the debt becomes authorized when the Congress passes an appropriation bill and the President signs it. If Congress doesn’t want to incur any more debt, they should just go the hell home…if there are no more appropriations, then there will be no new debt, just the continuing cost of governing at the current level. ) Of course, same question — if you don’t want to dance, why’d ya come?

Christmoneychangers Now, since I regard the Republican Leadership in Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary of our insect-alien overlords (GE, the Koch Brothers, Pfizer, Merck, Boeing, JP Morgan-Chase, BOA, Goldman Sachs, the Vatican, the Templars, the Illuminati), I keep waiting for the adult leadership to recognize that their minions are about to drive their economic interests off the cliff…the problem that I see is that they’re so intellectually inbred of such bad genetic stock (Ron Paul is a harmless old coot/Cult Figure in Congress; Rand Paul is one of 100 with the power to delay if not stop just about anything…) that their hearing is not acute enough to hear the dog whistle. McConnell and Boehner are old stock and can still hear their Masters’ voices, but the Tea Party and the Randians and Rick-Bachman-Pawlenty-Overdrive and the rest are deaf to reason, national interest and enlightened self interest. Since the Democrats are only partially owned by the same interests, well, they can still hear. They snap back about some stuff, but they aren’t idiots. The Tea Party/Boehner-McConnell Republicans appear to be lemmings; most of the Democrats appear to be sheep. And, the Shepard appears to be interested in playing basketball as opposed to doing what he went into the field for.

Next Time, why Taxes are a good thing and why the Stimulus didn’t work better than it did.