Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Dysfunctional America, An Apathetic Ill-Informed Populous, Flailing Failing Progressive And Finger Pointing Third Party Advocates Howling In The Wilderness Need To Address Reality!

A Dysfunctional America, An Apathetic Ill-Informed Populous, Flailing Failing Progressive And Finger Pointing Third Party Advocates Howling In The Wilderness Need To Address Reality!

“The recent debt limit debate is the apogee of Washington's dysfunction: and indicative of a political system that is seemingly incapable of dealing with national challenges.”

“How has America been reduced to one party holding a gun to the US economy and the other trading away its political principles to stop the trigger from being pulled?”
The Facts: You may criticize President Obama all you like for having not delivered on our hopes and desires, but the fact remains that those hopes, desires and dreams are not in today’s world going to be dictated by one man or woman in The White House. That kind of thinking is naive, even stupid.

It is no longer worth the time and effort to list and or bitch about the litany of corruption and corrosion that has contaminated every aspect of our existence. Obama cannot even approach our desires without the courageous support of his party; he does not have it; he cannot in full measure attempt to fulfill our hopes without our courageous support; he does not have it.

The daily garbage heap of verbal lint served up to America at every turn everyday is nothing more than the of drooling babble of sick people, a sick dysfunctional/non-functional nation of well herded beaten apathetic, fear cowering, selfish, misinformed, semi-political-literate, polarized, misdirected insecure citizenry running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, as we are supposed to, guaranteeing that we don’t wise up to the basic problem that must be resolved before anything meaningful and lasting can be accomplished; “Our Government has failed, crashed and unlike a computer we cannot simply reboot it to a clean start. That would take a revolution at the ballot box; our system does not permit that.

It would take a revolution in the outlook of elected leaders; within the current system that is impossibility. We are not going to incrementally cleanse the American system; we’ll all be enslaved and impoverished before those are dry on paper.

The change must truly be revolutionary and the American people will either accept that reality and rise up as others have across the globe or we can simply “Kiss The Great Experiment” goodbye and be tossed in the great dumpster of history as a failed nation and a failed people.

That is the fundamental issue and the answer is horribly obvious!
It Is Time For The American People To Determine The Priorities Of Our Nation.

One would have be an Ostrich with their head stuck in the sand not to realize that the Governing powers, elected and corporate, do not have the best interests of the average citizen on their agendas.  The time is coming when we will surrender to a being a growing under class living a third world existence, or we will rise up and take matters into our hands and fashion anew a nation that can believe in. We must not become a nation “Of the Corporations, for the Corporations and by the Corporations”.

“The recent debt limit debate is the apogee of Washington's dysfunction: and indicative of a political system that is seemingly incapable of dealing with national challenges.”

“How has America been reduced to one party holding a gun to the US economy and the other trading away its political principles to stop the trigger from being pulled?”

Nearly three years ago, on a night of great history, a slender 47-year-old black man who had just been elected to the nation's highest political office offered the American people an optimistic vision for the country's future. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama spoke of national unity: "We are not enemies, but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

That night, Obama offered the American people a clear sense of his overriding priority as president – it wasn't just to fix the ailing US economy, provide healthcare for all or end the war in Iraq. But rather, after eight years of political turmoil and disunity, through the force of his personality and political temperament, Obama would, as Lincoln said, "bind up the nation's wounds".

Things have not quite worked out as Obama planned. Even with poll results suggesting that Americans prize compromise and are tired of overt partisanship, the level of division and acrimony in Washington has grown exponentially since Obama took office. The recent debt limit debate is the apogee of Washington's dysfunction: and indicative of a political system that is seemingly incapable of dealing with national challenges. Indeed, whatever one may think of Standard & Poor's recent downgrade of US debt, the ratings agency view that "the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policy-making and political institutions have weakened" seems almost self-evident.

How has America been reduced to one party holding a gun to the US economy and the other trading away its political principles to stop the trigger from being pulled? 
The problem is that the US today has one party intent on utilizing government resources as a force for social good and another that rejects any significant role for the public sector. Compounding this collision of ideologies is a populace so indifferent to the workings of their own government that they are unable to choose which model they prefer.
This clash over the proper role for government in the US is one that has defined our national politics for more than a century. But in the last several years this conflict has become an existential one, with Republicans basically abdicating their responsibility to govern.
When in power they made little effort to deal with the nation's many challenges. In opposition, and particularly in the two and a half years since Obama took office, they have used the tool of the Senate filibuster and various other procedural impediments to try to stop nearly all Democratic initiatives in their tracks. Whatever legislation passed in the past few years is almost solely a product of Democratic cohesion (an attribute that is generally in short supply) – and a brief window in which Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.
From this perspective, threatening economic cataclysm in order to further reduce the size of government, by refusing to raise the debt limit, now seems like an inevitable step in Washington's scorched earth politics. That it forced Democrats to agree to trillions in painful spending cuts without any commensurate revenue hikes shows how successful this strategy of policy extortion can be.
So why do Democrats put up with it? They have little choice. The American political system discourages radicalism and relies on compromise.
Yet the violation of even the most customary rules of governance has made such deal-making now nearly impossible. It was once considered a given that, with the rarest of exceptions, a president would be able to appoint his own charges to key policy-making positions; and the debt ceiling was considered an occasionally politicized but generally pro forma exercise. 

No longer. In a system designed around collegiality, Democrats have few tools in their arsenal to combat the GOP's political obstinacy.
As a result, America is increasingly moving toward a parliamentary system in which politicians, rather than voting along regional lines or in pursuit of parochial interests, cast their ballot solely based on whether there is a D or R next to their name. Such a system might work well in the UK, but in the US, with its institutional focus on checks and balances and the many tools available for stopping legislation, a parliamentary-style system is a recipe for inaction.
What compounds the Democrats' challenge is that they are the party of activist government. When in opposition, they find it hard to use the Republicans' jamming techniques; when in power they feel the almost quaint need to act responsibly. Any scent of scandal or illegitimate behavior that undermines the electorate's confidence in government in turn undermines the Democrat's brand.
Case in point on the debt: liberals far and wide urged Obama to consider invoking the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which suggests that the country's public debt must continue to be paid. As the left argued, this would have resolved the crisis. In a worst-case scenario, Republicans might impeach the president in the House of Representatives, but, as the argument went, wouldn't this be a good way to rally the country around Obama?
But such tactical recommendations miss a crucial element; if low-information voters (the vast majority of Americans) look to Washington and see the nation's political leaders arguing about impeachment and constitutional crises that have little connection to their own lives it exacerbates their lack of confidence in government. For many conservatives it would only confirm their irrational belief that President Obama is a power-hungry tyrant.
Thus for Democrats, gridlock is their most pernicious enemy; a point Republicans understand all too well. The more they stop government from operating effectively the more it emphasizes their key political narrative that there is no reason to have any confidence in public institutions.
Tom Schaller, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said to me that Republicans understand that if you have a vat of sewage and you pour in a glass of wine you still have a vat of sewage. But if you pour a glass of sewage into a vat of wine, guess what, you now have a vat of sewage.
In short, a little political poison can go a long way. So while liberal complaints that President Obama is far too solicitous of Republicans and far too wedded to his post-partisan agenda (all probably true), a reversion to bare-knuckled politics is not necessarily going to make things any easier or better for progressives.
As the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg noted in the New York Times, "voters feel ever more estranged from government" and "they associate Democrats with government". More crises in Washington are not going to help that process.

Why do voters put up with such a situation? Polling suggests that the electorate wants their leaders to focus on jobs, rather than the deficit; and work toward compromise, rather than gridlock. So why then do they reward political parties, such as the Republicans, that act decidedly against not only their preferences but also their interests?

The answer lies in the apathy of the American people toward their own government.

The ultimate check on Republican nihilism would be voter revolt. But in the last congressional election, voters rewarded unprecedented Republican obstructionism with control of the House of Representatives.
What's worse, voter preferences are often contradictory. Polls suggest that the electorate wants political leaders to cut spending, but then also demand no cuts in any government program that isn't foreign aid.
They want Congress to focus more on creating jobs, but recoil at policies, such as the bailout of the US auto industry or the stimulus package, that did just that.
One problem is that Americans have been so inundated with anti-government rhetoric over the past 40 years they seem to have trouble identifying any link between government engagement and a robust economy.
Worst of all, Americans may prefer Democratic policies, but they have little confidence in government's ability to fulfill those promises and then blame both parties for inaction.
They are so mistrustful of government and shockingly uninformed about its working that, perversely, via the ballot boxes, they directly contribute to the political stalemate they so regularly decry.
The result is a political system that is perhaps more incapacitated than at any point in modern history. Across the US, states have to cut social services and benefits because they are receiving no support from the federal government.
Infrastructure is crumbling, millions of American students are trapped in under-performing schools, the existential threat of climate change is off the political radar screen and job growth is barely on the agenda.
Even the most recent agreement to cut the bloated federal deficit does virtually nothing to deal with the greatest driver of national indebtedness – healthcare spending.
What all of this suggests is that the episode played out over the past few weeks of one party threatening to plunge the nation into economic catastrophe is not some rare event – it's the new norm in American politics. And perhaps the most glaring indication that Barack Obama's vision of new post-partisan America will be a dream perhaps permanently deferred.

Matthew Norman: The Unmaking Of A President

At 50, observed George Orwell, "everyone has the face he deserves". Unusually for that godliest of lefty seers, he was wrong. Rupert Murdoch passed that milestone three decades ago with no appendages emerging from his temples (although in Orwell's defence, he may have endured a pioneering double hornectomy).
With Barack Obama, on the other hand, Orwell was broadly correct. The President hits the half-century tomorrow with the handsome, placid features he deserves. It is the fizzog of a gentle, decent if intellectually arrogant man, untormented by the self-loathing that made Nixon look so cruelly vulpine, and free from the lupine seediness that hinted at Bill Clinton's appetites long before that woman Miss Lewinsky's blue dress went to the DNA analysis section at Sketchley's.
Signs of middle age are evident, it's true, from the rapidly greying hair and heavy creasing at the sides of the mouth. But his face remains enviably unravaged by the sleep deprivation and unimaginable stresses imposed by the rapid imperial decline set in motion by his predecessor's monstrous cabal.
Michelle certainly likes it. "She still thinks I'm cute," said Obama the other day. "And I guess that's all that matters, isn't it?" Well, no, you felt, it isn't. Other things matter too: things such as his fiscal capitulation to the terrorist far right that will rob tens of millions – the very people on whose primary behalf he ran for president – to ensure that the rich, mega-rich and hyper-rich continue to pay a smaller proportion in tax than the average American nurse. Looking at that face today, in fact, the only way it could conform more precisely to Orwell's dictum is if, in the next 12 hours, his liver succumbed to the jaundice that turned it bright yellow. For this was a heartbreaking act of skin-saving cowardice.
I hate to come over all crudely simplistic about an event of byzantine complexity, because the cards Obama held were, like so many of the hands dealt him since taking office, close to unplayable. As Sarah Churchwell brilliantly wrote on these pages yesterday, there is no negotiating with as delusional, anti-democratic and rank ignorant an entity as the Tea Party. These people are the modern version of Samson, literature's first suicide bomber, and would bring the temple down on themselves to kill the enemy, be that the concept of taxation itself or a black leader, or both.
Obama survived by placating them. He may even, though it is far too soon to tell, have narrowed the odds on his re-election. If he has simultaneously repositioned himself as a centrist and highlighted Republican extremism, as Bill Clinton did to propel himself to a 1996 landslide after Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government, it may yet be seen as a masterstroke.
Yet sometimes intricate political calculation feels somewhere between despicably small-minded and blindingly irrelevant. Sometimes, there is nothing for it but to be clumpingly simplistic, and crudely state that those of us who fell in love with the promise of Obama the candidate can no longer blind ourselves to the reality of Obama the President. Governing in prose is one thing. Preferring weasel words to governing at all is another.
This column comes in sorrow rather than anger. He is, as I said, a good man, and who believed that one of those could win the White House? But no more than noble intent and high intellect is goodness enough. As the age of American hegemony implodes, war is being waged in the US between progressive and reactionary forces. In allowing the latter such an unmitigated triumph, he first retreated, then first went missing in action, and finally resurfaced to claim victory. All politicians do that, you might say, and therein lies the peculiarly tragic nature of this presidency. What was Obama, after all, if not the alternative to all politicians?
He could have drawn a line in the sand. He, who claimed he'd rather be a transformational one-term president than a two-term duffer, could have said, "You didn't elect me to preside over a brutal diminution of the rights of the needy, and I won't have it" and risked himself in the fight to spread the pain between poor and wealthy. He might have lost and become unelectable – even been forced to stand aside in 2012 for Hillary Clinton.
And would that be such a terrible thing? Hillary is not, one suspects, a good woman. There is little, if anything, she would not baulk at in pursuit of power. But whatever her moral elasticity, Hillary is a street-fighter, and would never have surrendered to the Tea Party's pulverizing nastiness and juggernaut stupidity. If the Republicans take the Senate next November and have control of both houses, who would you back to defend Obamacare?
Perhaps even at this late stage, liberal outrage at this repugnant deal offers her an opening for a primary challenge. If she stood and won on the, "I told you he wasn't up to it last time, but would you listen?" platform, the irony that would accompany Obama's cute face out of the Oval Office would be as depressing as any in memory.
The man elected as the peacenik, ultra-liberal enemy of entrenched poverty would be remembered as the ruthless Bin Laden assassin who presided over the most vicious assault on the poor in modern US history. Whatever the future holds for the one-time reincarnation of JFK, tomorrow no one other than Michelle will be tempted to sing "Happy Birthday Mr President" in the breathily adoring tones of Marilyn Monroe.


Plan to cut nation’s debt falls short, S&P says; reduction - a first - eclipses upbeat jobs report By Todd Wallack Globe Staff / August 6, 2011

A major rating agency last night downgraded the nation’s credit for the first time in history, after a wild day on Wall Street that saw stocks swing from triple-digit gains to triple-digit losses and back into positive territory as investors weighed the strongest US job gains in months against debt problems here and in Europe.



The downgrade could, over the long term, raise borrowing costs for the US government, as well as for consumers and businesses. Standard & Poor’s said it lowered the nation’s credit rating to AA+ from AAA because political leaders have yet to develop a credible plan to reduce the nation’s $14 trillion debt, despite the recent deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,’’ S&P said in a statement yesterday.

The downgrade, which came after stock markets closed, provided an emphatic counterpoint to a report by the Labor Department that US employers added 117,000 jobs in July, significantly more than the 46,000 in June and 53,000 in May. The unemployment rate improved slightly to 9.1 percent last month from 9.2 percent in June.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which plunged more than 500 points Thursday, jumped when markets opened yesterday on the employment report; nosedived as investors shifted their focus to the European debt crisis and underlying weakness of the US economy; and rebounded again to close higher on news that Italy took steps to resolve its debt problems. The Dow finished the day at 11,445, up 61 points.

The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined slightly, while the technology heavy Nasdaq Composite index fell nearly 1 percent, after plunging 5 percent Thursday.

The New York Times reported that Treasury Department officials said that the S&P downgrade announcement was delayed after Treasury found a serious mathematical error in a draft of the report, which was provided to the government yesterday afternoon. The officials said that S&P inadvertently added $2 trillion to its projection of the federal debt. 

Treasury said S&P conceded the problem after about an hour of discussion.

The other rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have said they have no immediate plans to downgrade the country’s credit rating, giving the government more time to make progress on debt reduction.

The lowering of the country’s rating could rattle confidence and raise borrowing costs for the government and consumers, impeding the already fragile recovery. The federal government makes about $250 billion in interest payments a year. So even a small increase in the rates demanded by investors in United States debt could add tens of billions of dollars to those payments.

Still, after several days of bad news and disappointing economic data, the July employment numbers were a relief, well above the 75,000 to 85,000 jobs economists were anticipating. Job losses were concentrated in government; private companies increased payrolls by 154,000.

In addition, the Labor Department said that job growth, while still weak, was better than initially reported in previous months. For example, job growth in June was initially estimated at just 18,000; that figure was revised to 46,000 yesterday.

“Everything about the report was solid,’’ said Mike Ryan, chief investment strategist for UBS Wealth Management Research Americas in New York.
Rose Grant, managing director for Eastern Investment Advisors in Boston, said the employment report suggests the economy is still growing - albeit slowly - and not headed toward another recession as many investors have feared. In addition, same-store retail sales figures rose Thursday, suggesting consumers are still spending money.

“The economy is still in slow-to-moderate growth mode,’’ Grant said. “This was news that the markets definitely needed to hear.’’

The Massachusetts economy has been growing faster than the nation as a whole, buoyed by its technology sector, as well as its cluster of universities, research hospitals, and life sciences firms. The Massachusetts unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent in June. The July figures are slated to be released in two weeks .
Nationally, economists warned that job creation numbers are not yet strong enough to make a significant dent in unemployment. The country typically needs to add about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth and will need to add 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month to bring down the unemployment rate, economists said.   
The labor market, some observers note, is even weaker than the official unemployment rate suggests. The rate balloons to 16.1 percent when people working part-time jobs because they can’t find full-time work and those who have given up job searches altogether are included. Only those who actively seek work are counted as unemployed.

Yesterday’s unemployment report was anxiously anticipated, after a steady drumbeat of gloomy economic data, including reports that showed weakening activity in manufacturing and a US economy that barely grew in the first half of the year. Many investors also remain worried about the agreement Congress reached this week to raise the debt ceiling.

Some fear its call to cut government spending at a time when it is needed to spur the economy.

Still, some financial executives said improving unemployment numbers could help squelch fears that the economy is sliding back into recession.

“I think it’s certainly going to give pause to those who have been reading the most tea leaves and were expecting a recession in the second half of the year,’’ said Roger Bayston, senior vice president of the Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group in San Mateo, Calif., which manages more than $329 billion in assets.

But Bayston said he believes the market swings will continue until US economic growth accelerates and the debt worries in the United States and Europe ease.

“We’re struggling with those bigger issues that still need resolution,’’ Bayston said.

Material from the Globe wire services is included in this report. Todd Wallack can be reached at

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