Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reign of the Morons: Shutdown Fun for Multimillionaires, Hostages Shot, How Brave Insurance Conglomerates Marched Over Selma's Bridge - Bill Keller Digs Deeper, TBogg's Back (Missed the Action)

Lawmakers get checks, even in shutdown mode

Members of Congress get paid at a cost of $10,583.85 per hour to taxpayers.
There's absolutely nothing surprising about this at all (you know?).

(Please consider making even a small contribution to the Welcome to  Pottersville2 Quarterly Fundraiser happening now ($5.00 is suggested for those on a tight budget) or sending a link to your friends if you think the subjects discussed here are worth publicizing. Thank you for your support. We really appreciate it. Anything you can do will make a huge difference in this blog's ability to survive in these difficult economic times.)

The Reign of the Morons Is Here

Shutdown the Government. Really? (photo: Getty Images)

Charles Pierce, Esquire

nly the truly child-like can have expected anything else.

In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees.

But there has never been in a single Congress - or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress - a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party's 2012 nominee for president of the United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in large measure, closed this morning.

We have elected the people sitting on hold, waiting for their moment on an evening drive-time radio talk show.

We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.

We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn't seem to mind that at all.

We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation's insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up the the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson's account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.

We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.

This is what they came to Washington to do - to break the government of the United States. It doesn't matter any more whether they're doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party's mouthbreathing base.

It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately.

The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address in which government "was" the problem, through Bill Clinton's ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being "over," through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find "common ground" and a "Third Way."

Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country's higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.READ MORE

Multimillionaire Republican Lawmaker Says Government Shutdown ‘Is My Idea of Fun’

Rep. David Schweikert speaks to Fox News

As 800,000 federal employees were set to be furloughed due to a government shutdown on Tuesday, a Republican lawmaker with a net worth of around $6 million was positively cheerful about the situation, telling NPR that it was his “idea of fun.”

Following an impasse that resulted in Republicans failing at both delaying President Barack Obama’s health care reform law and stopping a government shutdown, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) insisted to NPR that the GOP had used the right tactics.

“It’s been fascinating because in some ways we had to go through — I don’t want to refer to it as dance — but this process for a lot of the American people to actually start to tune in and understand what we were talking about and where the concerns were and where we thought — actually, the way the health care law was written is damaging the economy and creating sort of a part-time kind of America,” he declared.

Schweikert asserted that using a government shutdown to try to stop a law was “nothing new.”

“The process is actually designed where you expected the Senate to throw back an offer and you expect the House to do its dance,” he continued. “You’ve got to understand, the previous shutdowns — what is it, 17 of them, at least during my lifetime — have all been in some subject about funding.”

The NPR host pointed out that a “silent majority” of House Republicans now reportedly thought that the shutdown was not in the best interest of the country.

“Well, I think there’s always a sense that it’s very uncomfortable when now you’re up against a government slowdown,” Schweikert remarked. “I see a division even on the left side. Even look at some of last night’s votes, where we had Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes.”

“This is my idea of fun,” he added in conclusion.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government began the process of furloughing and suspending the pay of 800,000 workers. While workers did receive back pay in the 1995-96 shutdown, it was not clear if or when the austerity-minded lawmakers would do the same for the current employees. To make matters worse, many workers were already facing furloughs over the so-called “sequestration” spending cuts imposed earlier this year.

However, Schweikert and other lawmakers will continue to get paid while the government is in shutdown mode. But with a net worth of $6,165,011, the Arizona Republican could probably survive an unpaid furlough better than many Americans.

Of Mice and Mud: The Allure of the Quick Solution

Dead Zone: The Deeper Poison Beyond the NSA Revelations

By Chris Floyd

The power of unlimited surveillance, as hideous and repulsive and inhuman as it is, still pales next to the greater power which our elites have granted to themselves: to kill - without warning, without warrant, without trial, without mercy - anyone they choose to kill.

Have you wondered lately how Jamie Dimon's JPMorgan gets off with billion-dollar fines on obviously fraudulent deals that would send anyone else to prison for a very long time?

It's easy!

The bank is being investigated for other crimes by seven federal agencies, several states, and two foreign nations. Reportedly, the settlement Attorney General Eric Holder and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently discussed for these transgressions may total some $11 billion.

Article image
The $920 million punishment was levied in September because top-level mismanagement caused shareholders to lose a whopping $6 billion in a trade scandal last year, and because the CEO and other ranking executives tried to cover up the loss.

Media reports say the bank agreed to pay the fine to settle those charges, but therein lies yet another crime committed by the bankers gone wild — a crime sanctioned by the same regulators who made the charges. When it’s reported that “the bank” will pony up a billion dollars, who exactly is that?

Not the bankers who committed the illegalities, but Chase’s shareholders. Wow. The money the bankers lost belonged to shareholders, yet they’re being socked for another billion to cover the bankers’ fine. Imagine if you were burglarized, then were fined for that theft.

As John Coffee, Adolf A. Berle professor of law at Columbia Law School, said, “It’s not just adding insult to injury, it’s adding injury to injury.”

Federal regulators say it’s easier to get bankers to settle a case if they can hand the fine to shareholders, who don’t even get a say in the decision. But going after the bankers, they claim, would require a jury trial — and jurors might not convict.

Huh? What kind of pathetic justice is that? Besides, it’s ridiculous to think that jurors wouldn’t jump at the chance to convict Wall Street banksters. That’s a jury I’d like to serve on, wouldn’t you?

And as to the ex-paper of record's record (Bill Keller's delusional thought mayhem deconstructed):

Dear Bill Keller: Conservatives Never Left the 60s and That’s the Problem

Hey, Bill Keller, you and I need to talk. It’s about your column from Monday saying that the right wing in this country is “finally having their 1960s,” which, um . . . yeah. I know it must have seemed like such a good idea on the 11th green on Sunday afternoon or after your fourth Boodles martini on some sun-blasted yacht deck, but your premise, here, prima facie, kind of sucks like a chest wound, buddy.

“Something’s happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear,” you quoted, but please, let me get comfortable here and maybe Uncle Bill is going to enlighten me about that time the brave insurance conglomerates marched across that bridge into Selma, AL and got beaten back by the vicious truncheons of a crowd of people with diabetes, asthma, pelvic inflammatory disease and other pre-existing conditions.

No? Or are you perhaps falling prey to their weird psychic tic among baby-boomers that everything you like (Ted Cruz, Ashton Kutcher’s speech on jobs, repealing Obamacare) is just a new (albeit lesser, natch!) version of yourselves and everything you don’t like (“Girls,” same sex marriage, selfies, women embracing their sexuality) is evidence of some kind of pathology and moral decline? Maybe?

Anyway, this image you’ve cooked up in your head of showboating ignoramuses like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) as some kind of “go-for-broke” iconoclasts for the times á la Abbie Hoffman in the 1960s is completely specious. In no way, form or fashion could Paul or Cruz be seen as a crusader for any higher idea or notion of justice. Those two men are a pair of swindlers who happen to be campaigning for president.

Ted Cruz stands for nothing further than the greater glorification of Ted Cruz. Rand Paul is much the same, but hey, could you maybe buy some gold, too? You’ve got it all wrong, Bill. I sincerely question your level of discernment here.

But then again, how smart can you be, when you keep offering a pipeline to the world for the fourth-grade-level, 3-martini burbling of Maureen Dowd and the moral hazard maundering of Upper Class Twit of the Year David Brooks? It’s almost like you all include Paul Krugman just so you can make him sit at a different table in the Grey Lady’s canteen and snicker about him behind his back.

But let’s back up here to another famous Bill who was born with a silver foot in his mouth, that slicked-up fascist bully-boy William F. Buckley Jr., who opined that a conservative is a person standing athwart the flow of history shouting, “STOP!” It appears to have escaped your notice that this modern conservative clown show isn’t so much a new protest vanguard as a group of people standing athwart the flow of history with their fingers in their ears, going, “LA LA LA LAAAAAA!”

We know these obstructionist jackholes were alive when Newt Gingrich tried this stunt in the 1990s and ended up getting locked out on the porch of the GOP frat house in his underwear in the middle of the night. Were they just not paying attention?

In parting, let me offer you this, Mr. Keller. Stop writing columns. Well, that and the fact that you are 180 degrees wrong on this topic. If the last election cycle has shown us nothing else, it’s that for conservatives, it’s permanently the 1960s. They are frozen at that moment in time for eternity. The last old white men and their wives who make up the GOP are still trying to keep women from taking birth control, still trying to keep people of color from voting and still furious that there’s a brown-skinned man in the White House who isn’t a butler.

US Cowardice Will Let Israel's Isolated Right Off The Hook

By Robert Fisk

These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US - and especially its present, shallow leader - the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war.

Jamie Dimon Could Use A Call From A Certain Super Bowl Champion Right About Now

By Bess Levin

If a certain someone can’t get to the phone, any old professional athlete with a knack for pumping up the beaten down will do.

The Justice Department’s pursuit of possible criminal charges against J.P. Morgan Chase is based in large part on a key cooperator from inside the bank who is aiding the government and has provided information suggesting the bank vastly overstated the quality of mortgages that were being bundled into securities and sold to investors, according to people familiar with the matter . . . The woman who wrote that email has been cooperating with federal authorities and is expected to be available as a witness if the government ever brings a case to court, these people said.

Her cooperation, along with documents, has fueled confidence among some lawyers within the Justice Department that they have built a solid, prosecutable case built on hard evidence. Among the documents the government has are ones suggesting J.P. Morgan knew the underlying mortgages it sold were of poor quality but told investors otherwise, according to people familiar with the investigation. Based partly on that belief, the Justice Department has been pressing the bank in negotiations to admit wrongdoing in some form. Bank officials have been adamant no crimes were committed and insist they won’t admit to criminal wrongdoing. In the discussions, the bank has also denied suggestions that the Sacramento evidence is particularly incriminating or damaging to J.P. Morgan’s reputation, according to people familiar with the discussions.

J.P. Morgan Employee Helps in U.S. Probe [WSJ] Related:

On One of The Worst Days Of WhaleGate For Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s Vice-Chairman Thought It Would Make Him Feel Better To Hear From Another Guy Who’s Sort Of But Not Really Been There

  • 30 Sep 2013 at 3:35 PM

You Have Until 4 O’Clock To Sell Everything

In the coming month, markets face four huge tests: the Washington debt crisis, the release of September employment data, third-quarter earnings releases and the Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting.

All four of these horsemen could disrupt investments, and some could tank the market. Money managers hope all will be nonevents and stocks will finish the year higher. But there are no guarantees. Many people are delaying decisions, with some betting on an October market dive. Optimists might use that as a chance to buy in cheaper.

Those of you who, for some reason or other, choose not to move entirely into gold over the next few minutes will at least have something to get excited about on Friday, maybe.

The Labor Department may release the September jobs report next week even if the federal government is partially shut down, according to planning documents made public Friday.

In a memo from Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen to her superiors, Ms. Groshen said the administration could authorize the department to release a “principal federal economic indicator” after a shutdown occurs. The employment report, scheduled for release next Friday, is one of those indicators.

In the memo, Ms. Groshen references the release of the Consumer Price Index report, also a principal indicator, after the government was shutdown in 1995. “The risk of disclosure of the CPI data during a shutdown was deemed to be unacceptable,” she said.

Republicans Win Standoff, Shoot Hostages Anyway

By Richard Eskow, Campaign For America's Future
01 October 13

n the end, the Republicans won. A majority in Congress, made up of Republicans who understood they'd won and Democrats who feared a government shutdown, would have voted for a bill that included all of the Republicans' wrong-headed fiscal demands.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi couldn't have stated it more plainly: "We'll take your number to keep government open. Give us a chance to vote for it."

It didn't matter. House Speaker John Boehner wouldn't let Democrats - the party which won the Senate and the White House, and which won 1.4 million more votes for the House than his own - give him the budget-slashing bill he'd demanded. He wouldn't let them vote to accept his own draconian austerity budget, a budget that voters had rejected only last year. Some might say that he chose shutdown over surrender.

Remember that: It isn't the "Tea Party fringe" or Ted Cruz who's doing this. The shutdown has been orchestrated by John Boehner and the leadership of the mainstream Republican Party.

Boehner would only allow Congress to vote on a continuing resolution that delayed parts of the Affordable Care Act, a bill which he knew the Senate would reject the following day. He doesn't even seem to care much about Obamacare anymore, but he forced a vote on it anyway - despite being offered the spending cuts he's been pushing for a long time.

In their high-stakes standoff, the Republican leadership got everything they'd originally wanted. Then they started shooting hostages anyway.
Even some other Republicans were appalled. One House member, mixing metaphors as effortlessly as his peers mix martinis, described his fellow Republicans as "lemmings with suicide vests."
What are they thinking? It's hard to tell, since the GOP itself appears to be in complete chaos. But make no mistake about it: That is a hostage crisis, and however long or short the government shutdown turns out to be, the hostages - the American people - are already paying the price.
The economy has begun shrinking.
Morgan Stanley analysts estimate that the Republican shutdown will "trim annual GDP growth by approximately 15 basis points per week of closing."
With stocks down in seven out of the last eight sessions, the GOP's wealthy patrons are already paying for its antics. Now it gets worse: Investors won't receive the government reports they depend on. Twitter and other companies may not even be able to conduct their much-awaited, and supposedly wealth-producing, IPOs.
The nation's indebtedness, about which Republicans profess to care so much, is also being sacrificed. Investors, seeing the extreme lengths to which congressional Republicans are prepared to go, are losing confidence in the nation's willingness to honor its debts. That could have severe long-term consequences for the country's fiscal health.
So could the reaction of the ratings agencies, which, however discredited by recent events, still have an enormous impact on the government's borrowing costs. "This sort of political brinkmanship is the dominant reason the rating is no longer AAA," said an S&P official. The agency warned that an extended shutdown could drive ratings even lower, which would increase borrowing costs.
Starting Tuesday, individual Americans will join the ranks of hostages.
Suffering immediately will be 800,000 households, as their paychecks stop arriving. Soon others will share their suffering, as the businesses which depend on those families lose revenue and are forced to lay people off. The elderly and disabled will soon be forced to sacrifice as their checks fail to arrive.
Not that it's fiscal doom and gloom everywhere. On Tuesday, the first day of the shutdown, the political fundraisers are still scheduled to take place as planned.
Americans' understanding of the crisis wasn't helped by reports like this one from the Associated Press, which asked "Who'll blink?" without providing proper context.
But the "he said/she said" reporting described by Joshua Holland hasn't protected the Republicans from public wrath, at least not entirely. Polls show that more Americans will blame them for a government shutdown, and that more than two-thirds of Americans believe that even a brief shutdown will be bad for the country. (They're right.)
So why are they doing it?
Jonathan Chait points to a legislative meeting Republicans held after losing the 2012 election, and to an agreement called "the Williamsburg Accord" in which they swore to accept no further compromises. And even though there are no compromises on the budget itself - Democrats have agreed to accept the Republicans' spending levels with no changes - the Right appears to have pumped itself up into something approaching a frenzy.
Even the "Williamsburg Accord" permits Republicans to accept their opponents' surrender - but not, apparently, if the Right has raised its demands in the meantime.
Today, at the last minute, Republicans proposed a "conference committee" to press for even more.
Rewarding them in that way would have ensured an endless parade of future crises. Apparently some Democrats understand that, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid replied by saying his party would not "go to conference with a gun to our head."
A majority of the public believes that Republicans are behaving like "spoiled children," according to one poll, although a better analogy might be drunk drivers.
Don't get us wrong: We don't mind the boozing, but even lawmakers don't usually drink until the job is finished. They certainly don't treat a government shutdown, which is tragic in both human and economic terms, as a reason to have a party.
A party that has been cynical and greedy for a long time has now become something even more disturbing: It has become irrational.
This is no longer a hostage negotiation. It has become something far more unpredictable, and therefore much more frightening. Republicans have come full circle from the days when Ronald Reagan proclaimed that "it's morning in America." It's midnight in John Boehner's America as we write these words, and the shutdown has officially begun.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tbogg quits quitting.

But what I really discovered is that the internet with its blogs and twitter-twatting and shouty-facing and whatnots and whosis and urgent reporting of breaking stories – reporting that turns out to be wrong 90% of the time. Yeah, I’m looking at you CNN – is a hard thing to shake.


TONY said...

Interesting that the Washington media think the fact that the Police shot dead the unarmed lady in the car while they were not being paid during the shutdown is a cause for cheering. Is this an example of what the NRA call 'good guys with guns'?

Cirze said...

Obviously, T.

In the same world that steel-structured buildings fall down in seconds from jet fuel fires.

It all just makes me wonder what they are preparing US for experiencing next.

It can't be anything less than world shattering.