Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If You Don't Know What Happens During A Government Shutdown, You'll Probably Be Very Surprised (Who Are The Goons Who Will SHUT IT DOWN? Republicans of 2013)

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Welcome to fascism-run-amuck shutdown city.

So what actually happens during most government shutdowns?

Rebels Without a Clue

This may be the way the world ends — not with a bang but with a temper tantrum.

Our learned friend at Sardonicky has some answers to this fear-inspiring question:

In the event of a government shutdown this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will not be able to issue its Friday jobs numbers, the abysmal nature of which usually causes a slide in the market. Therefore, what can't be told will not endanger the bottom lines of the investor class. Our ignorance is their bliss.
From Reuters:

In a second explosive Washington cliffhanger, Congress must agree to increase the $16.7 trillion limit on federal borrowing, which the administration says will be reached by October 17.
If Capitol Hill fails to act in time, the unthinkable could happen and the United States could default on its debts.
But even in the options market, which is often seen as the place to offset risk and make protective bets against a decline in the stock market, there is little or no volatility premium priced in for the debt ceiling debate.
A growing number of market participants are even viewing the battle in Washington as an opportunity to jump into equities.
"Every situation we've had like this over the past few years has been a buying opportunity. This is just another wrinkle, not a time to change your strategy," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York with $400 billion in assets under management.
During the federal government shutdown from December 15, 1995, to January 6, 1996, the S&P 500 added 0.1 percent. During the November 13 to November 19, 1995, shutdown, the benchmark index actually rose 1.3 percent, according to data by Jason Goepfert, president of SentimenTrader.com.
An unthinkable tragedy of epic proportions if we default on our debts and merely threaten to drown government in a bathtub is a tried-and-true buying opportunity for the chosen few. Welcome to the feudal states of America.

Meanwhile, the official story from the Paper of Record is that the House of Reprehensibles is meeting in one of those increasingly common "rare Saturday sessions" (the crisis atmosphere is immediately ramped up just thinking of the spectacle of politicians working on weekends. It seems like only six months ago that Congress was meeting in a whole series of rare weekend, middle-of-the-night sessions, the better to screw us as we slept unaware in our beds.)

And President Obama, in his all-too-common Saturday dose of pabulum, proclaimed that "the American people have worked too hard to recover from crisis to see extremists in their Congress cause another one.”

Huh? I was not aware that the American people had actually recovered from anything. Most of us are hardly working, through no fault of our own, thanks to the real crisis: a decades-long unraveling of the social safety net and government for the common good that culminated in an epic crash and burn and the opening of the most extreme wealth chasm in American history. Even during the times of outright slavery, the income inequality was not as bad as it is now.

Here are reprints of my New York Times comments from yesterday and today. First, from Charles Blow's excellent piece on a Congress full of demented Ahabs stalking the whale of an Obamacare law:

Take a 2,000-page law that nobody's read, in large part because the average American reads about a book a year. Throw in ownership of 90% of all media outlets by six conglomerates. Add a coup d'etat by a minority faction owned by the Koch cabal, with its billionaire-bloated tentacles winding and squeezing their way around the Supreme Court to the halls of Congress, to the state houses, to K Street, cable, the hinterland, and beyond - and you've got yourself one epic mess, a tragedy in its final act.
And yes, right along with the pathological greed of the plutocrats, racism in the Age of Obama has blown up like a tempest in a Tea Pot.
Those Koch-funded alien abduction probe ads seem to be doing the trick. Because, according to another poll, while 46% of Americans view Obamacare negatively, only 37% view the Affordable Care Act negatively. Another 30% had no opinion, because explaining things is not in the pollsters' job description. Nor is it the job of the media, according to NBC flack Chuck Todd. They aim to please their sponsors by mastering the script.
In a sane world, in a real democracy, our politicians would be hounded daily over the fact that the vast majority of us want Medicare for All.
Just think. The law that created the Canadian single payer health plan is all of 13 pages long. But that is way too complex, when the continued spin of the closed feedback loop - wealth begetting power begetting wealth - depends upon keeping us simple, stunned and quiet.
And from yesterday's editorial on the Republican Ransom Note, in which the unnamed writer warns against a possible Democratic cave to extortion:

Here's how Disaster Capitalism kabuki always works (unless the Tea Party crashes the party again.)
The GOP submits its usual laundry list of impossibly outrageous demands. The Democrats, rather than countering with demands of their own, such as a Robin Hood transaction tax on Wall Street trades, a living wage bill, lifting the contribution cap on Social Security taxes - whine and complain and waffle. And then, phony disaster looming, they begin to capitulate, bit by teensy bit. Because they're the adults in the room. Also because the plutocrats of Fix the Debt are back in town, clamoring for Social Security and Medicare cuts.
Republicans want to slash $40 billion from SNAP? The Senate, bless their little adult hearts, already agreed to "snip" $4 billion, on top of the planned expiration of the increase in the program that was put into effect under the 2009 stimulus package and that nobody even dreamed of renewing. And the Dems are willing to cut even more. They haven't a clue or a care about the millions of people who might miss a few meals because of their grand bipartisan horse-trading.
As Gore Vidal observed, this country boasts one political party with two right wings. And we're drifting ever closer to the bipartisan-manufactured, plutocrat-approved point of no return from de facto feudalism.
It could be avoided if the president did his constitutional duty and invoked the 14th Amendment, simply ordering the government to pay the bills.
And finally, my comment on Paul Krugman's Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted:

If the malignant rich had as many brains as they do dollars, they'd know better than to whine and complain. The magnates have become magnets - for the seething anger of the great unwashed masses.
They feel compelled to rub our noses in it, with their insatiable need to criminalize poor people every bit as compelling as their endless craving for yet another financial fix. The extraction of rents, the extraction of 350 times the income of the average worker is not enough, nor is their reaping of 90% of all the gains since the collapse that they themselves instigated.
The thing about this new breed of plutocratic class warriors is that they ain't got no class.
Take the Extell Corp. of NYC, income disparity capital of the world. Developers (big political donors) wanted to get some special state subsidies for themselves, and tax deductions for the purchasers of luxury condos in their new high-rise. So, they grudgingly agreed to include some affordable apartments in the same building. The tenants, who already pay regressive tax rates on their own labor in order to fund the rich, are thus double-dipped through their rent payments. Oh - and they must use their own special back door to get in. Plus, they're barred from using the pool and the full-sized basketball court.
Economic apartheid is now the de facto policy of the feudal states of America. We are subsidizing our own serfdom and perpetuating our own inequality, just so that the rich may be quantitatively eased.

That whiz at Retirement Blues gives us even more insight into our oncoming tragedy:

The Republicans of 2013

I - The split in the Republican Party is between, on the one hand, ignorant, mean-spirited ideologues with a contempt for governance who refuse to accept the legitimacy of twice elected President Obama's presidency and are willing to ruin the economy and the country as a whole to make invalid political points; and, on the other hand, totally bat-guano-insane psychopaths.

II - In case there was any doubt, if Obama or his minions do anything - seriously, ANYTHING - it is a priori* wrong.

From our friend Chris Hedges:

The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.
We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. Most manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and, of those that remain, few are unionized. Our family farms have been destroyed by agro-businesses. Monsanto and its Faustian counterparts on Wall Street rule. They are steadily poisoning our lives and rendering us powerless. The corporate leviathan, which is global, is freed from the constraints of a single nation-state or government. Corporations are beyond regulation or control.
Politicians are too anemic, or more often too corrupt, to stand in the way of the accelerating corporate destruction. This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past. Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt.
It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. Much of the urban poor has been crippled and in many cases broken by a rewriting of laws, especially drug laws, that has permitted courts, probation officers, parole boards and police to randomly seize poor people of color, especially African-American men, without just cause and lock them in cages for years. In many of our most impoverished urban centers — our internal colonies, as Malcolm X called them — mobilization, at least at first, will be difficult. The urban poor are already in chains. These chains are being readied for the rest of us. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread,” Anatole France commented acidly.

So, we've got that going for us.

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