« Fried Shrimp Heads | Main | Diehl wants a "forever" presence in Iraq »

17 July 2011

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Roy G.

'Became' is too passive a verb to describe the process. We are simply in the end game phase of the Republican Revolution, whereby they undertook a long term mission to cement their power by subverting the government. Their ideological insanity simply wasn't apparent for many years, but now it has come into plain sight. I remember shuddering when reading many years ago how the next crop of Rs were even crazier than Gingrich, and didn't think it possible; now, the next generation bears that to be true in spades, with Cantor, Bachmann, and their fellow travelers.

The majority of Democrats deserve a lesser, but still large share of the blame, because they merely wanted to reap the rewards of office, while neglecting their putative base. It's a joke that Dianne Feinstein represents any other part of California other than Nob Hill, and everyone seems intent on ignoring how her husband, Richard Blum, has raked in hundreds of millions in defense contracts during the past decade. Oh, and she's 78, and raring for another term.

In fact, Congress, especially the Senate, are intent upon *not* debating the pros and cons of legislation, but seek to do deals behind closed doors, pass legislation written by their patrons, ie. Wall Street and other big business interests, while keeping a lid on their constituency by muddying the waters.

I do think we're at a tipping point, where the corruption and incompetence in our current government are out of control. The Augean Stables need cleaning. Personally, I think a team of forensic accountants is needed, to follow the money our government has spent, including the Pentagon (the only multi-billion $ company in the world without an accounting system), and an incentivized whistleblower system combined with enlarged white color prison system. I'm dreaming, of course, but reckoning comes quickly in its own way, just ask Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.

Matthew

Col: I would add a "4. Be Honest With Yourself." Two items caught my eye this week.

First, "Crossroads" (Karl Rove) is running an ad about taking away Obama's "blank check." It calls for low taxes, a cut in spending....and a commitment to Medicare and Social Security. Fuzzy math lives!

Second, some retirees in South California want to break up California into two states. The area north and West of Los Angeles but South of the Liberal Bay Area and North would be the State of South California. Apparently, these retirees are sick of being embarrassed about California's inability to balance its books. One problem, though: this area of California is a net receiver of government largesse. It gets more from the state government than it contributes.

All of which merely reinforces your point: the country is becoming ungovernable because the people--yes, we are our own worst enemy--refuse to confirm our ideology to our daily reality.

Charles I

I watched the morning shows today. I confess, I do not understand, they will not increase revenues is it some kinda Religious thing?. They can't even balance the books, you just fought two wars on credit, and they want a balanced budget amendment. And call that a balanced approach.

Either that or they are part of a giant short on your economy, and then your democracy.

Religion is incomprehensible to me, except for the moment in the morning when I get up and look out my window, then give thanks for owning a beautiful point and not being born under a stick in Darfur. I say a prayer for the rest of Creation - "help 'em all out as best can be, God".

It's a grateful, sincere, platitude. A nothing. The gods I see out the window don't care ANYTHING about us. Or my conscience

I care about you guys. Can someone please explain the thinking going on with the refusal to raise revenues? How do you get out of here without concluding the Republicans are idiots or worse?

Is it really as simple as 20 or 30 years of think tanks, ranting and campaign finance?


VietnamVet

Colonel,

You are exactly right.

1/3 of the current deficits are due to the Forever Wars, 1/3 due to the Bush Tax Cuts and the final third due to safety nets and stimulus expenditures caused by the 2008 Crash of the deregulated financial markets. Until the housing market is fixed, the American economy will never recover. If the grand austerity plan pushed by President Obama goes through, there will be a Depression.

The politicians and corporate pundits who are promoting Social Security and Medicare benefits cuts; such as raising the retirement age, never ever mention a corresponding cut in payroll taxes or simply ending the wars. The reality is the fat cat politicians instead of paying benefits back to the tax payers need the payroll taxes to help pay the interest on the money borrowed for the following:

1) Fighting unwinnable never ending wars,
2) Assisting bankers and wealthy investors from avoiding taking a haircut on all their bad debt, and
3) Lowering corporation taxes.

Jay McAnally

Do #1 and you're more than half-way there.

#2 Only in America could we come up with such a mess. (Check it out; Highest cost, piddlin' result!)

#3 Hey, this is America. (Irony Alert in spades) Ride 'em cowboy! YeeHa!!!

Ken Hoop

http://www.stripes.com/news/cartwright-budget-cuts-could-force-a-return-to-the-draft-1.149228

Speaking of abandoning wars in relation to economic woes, I came across this somewhere very recently. Hopefully not in the comments or here elsewhere-in which case it has already doubtlessly been itself commented upon.

If not, perhaps the Col and/or others can react to Cartwright.

Norbert M Salamon

Another example of the lack of good government in USA and some other countries


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/graphic/2011/jul/15/smith-school-action-climate-change

Arun

I propose that any military action that lasts more than a week HAS to be funded by a tax increase. Of course, eg, a one year war may be funded by a tax increase that is spread over three years before it expires. But when everyone explicitly pays for a war, we will be less hasty in getting into them.

We need a War Tax!

alnval

Col. Lang:

Thank you for the post. I fear that your point that we have succumbed to greed and corruption by power will be much easier to address as the Brits are finding out than is the problem you identify of our politics having become enmeshed in the untestable rights and wrongs of theology.

A good current example (one of many unfortunately) is that of Governor Rick Perry of Texas. His plans for a national prayer revival on August 6 are truly frightening. (see Google)

Some of the clips I’ve seen of purported speakers for this event remind me of how loose we have become in tolerating the irrational, bizarre beliefs of others in the interests of fairness(?). For one speaker, Oprah is the unwitting agent of the devil. For another, the Emperor of Japan has been sexually seduced by the sun goddess [sic] thus unleashing unspeakable evil on the world.

I’m old enough to remember when such thinking was considered psychotic and if the person presented a threat to himself or others treatment was indicated. At best they would be permitted to practice their religious beliefs [sic] as long as they didn’t threaten the community or interfere with the flow of traffic. It was unthinkable that their bizarre, unhinged-from-reality thinking would be given a national stage and the imprimatur of a putative presidential candidate.

In the world of theology moral (untestable) absolutes are a given. No compromise allowed!

Thus, with no common denominator based on reality the theology with the biggest bang wins. In this system the only consequence of any import is whether the outcomes conform to the requirements dictated by the tenets of the theology. Or, as Michele Bachmann has pointed out, we must support Israel or the United States will be cursed by God.

As much as I hate to say it, you’re right. We may not survive.


Walrus

The question posed by Col. Lang is what brought me to SST in the first place - the "product" of Legislatures at State and Federal level has to be high quality decisions that are in the national interest.

While there is always room for disagreement and the contest of ideas, if the country ends up making crazy decisions, no matter how Democratic the production process, then the country will suffer.

This is where America is right now. Both sides of Federal Politics have a vested interest in satisfying rich special interest groups who finance their election. They do this by selective rotational betrayal of constituents, a process documented in detail by any number of journalists and authors.

We are unfortunately at a very dangerous potential inflexion point - either the Legislatures require reform through democratic process, or democratic process is itself abandoned out of frustration - which leads directly to Fascism, via the election of a popular President who promises to "cut through Red tape" - which is code for Government by autocracy.

zanzibar

Pat

I don't know what the proximate causes of the symptoms of our "ungovernability" are. But, in my opinion the fault is largely with us as citizens. The financial difficulty that we are in right now did not just happen overnight. It has taken decades to develop. I think we as a people have had free lunches for so long that we cannot countenance that any resolution of our intractable financial problems comes with a degree of pain. Second, we as a people it seems are in general innumerate. The consequence is we rely on "experts" like Nobel laureate academic economists who have no real world experience and are easily bought by the "monied" interests. They come up with fantastic theories and policies that allow us to continue living in the world of make believe.

The mathematical reality is that the growth rate of debt cannot be higher than GDP growth rate indefinitely. We have done that for many decades now, living beyond our means and the consequence is that the pain in resolving this differential get much worse each year that goes by.

Similarly, our health care costs have been growing at a rate faster than GDP growth rate for some time. Again, this cannot continue forever as health care at some point will consume all of GDP. Well before that point our current healthcare system will implode.

These train wrecks are plain to see. One only needs grade school arithmetic and some common sense not to be befuddled by the dazzling theories of the economist Ph.Ds. and our craven politicians.

My cynical view is that my fellow citizens will not act until they are forced to act by external forces like our creditors. At that point the pain in resolving the imbalances will be much much larger than if we had done it proactively well in advance.

In closing, I have couple questions for all the American SST correspondents based on a point raised by Bill Buckler.

A century ago our population was around 92 million. The annual budget was $0.7 billion and the total(funded & unfunded) liabilities were $2.7 billion. Today, we are around 310 million people. The annual budget is around $3,800 billion and the total liabilities are around $100,000 billion. So, for a 3.35 times increase in our population, we have a government that is around 5,300 times larger and our liabilities have grown 37,000 times bigger.

Is this the right trajectory? How large a government do you want - bigger to around what we have today or closer to or smaller than we had a century ago?

optimax

First, cutting SSI benefits will not reduce the national debt. It is seperate from the General Fund, though I bet most Americans don't know that because it isn't brought up on American Idle.

The oligarchy wants to starve government by cutting their own taxes and programs that help the poor and middle-class in order to privatize the public commons. An extreme version of private property that wants to collect fees from private citizens to put into their own pockets instead of supporting public ownership.

We are repeating the mistakes of the 1920s with no FDR in sight, and enough Americans may be dumb enough to think our problems can be solved through prayer and the return to an idealized, mythic past. We have become Israel.

Lars

The lack of pragmatism within the political classes is astonishing, to say the least.

But widespread popular ignorance is also a problem. I had to take a test to become an American. I have yet to find one native born American who can answer even one of those questions.

Maybe it is time to require a civics test to be able to vote?

R Whitman

PL

I agree with you completely. there is a simpler solution to your #2. Just charge what the VA pays for pharmaceuticals plus a small dispensing fee.

J

Colonel,

What we are witnessing today is when it all said and done, pure blatant 'brainwashing'. Just because a so-called religious figure says so, it is so. That if a politician who is the curried favor of the network broadcasting the story, what the politician says is given as 'gospel'.

The Murdoch hacking/spying scandal has opened up a can of worms that points to a foreigner who with the aid of a former U.S. President becomes a U.S. Citizen. Once he is in the door he begins buying up both U.S. media and U.S. politicans with an objective of ultra-nationalism (not for the U.S. mind you) on behalf of a foreign nation. How such an individual is able to amass such strategic and tactical power over the U.S. is truly amazing. Murdoch and his power base ultra-nationalism is one of the major reasons we are in the mess today that we the U.S. are in. A carefully crafted op of brainwashing/indoctrination is happening right under our noses.

A related article that gives one pause, shows 'brainwashing' and 'because it's policy it is blindly followed and the effect it has, can be read at:
http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/3-examples-of-how-its-policy-has-become-an-excuse-for-absolutely-unspeakable-acts

KimViner

I will echo the comments above. Seems that you have hit one out of the park with this post. Sadly your comment that the "underlying conflict may be fatal" may come true and be a horrible way to end this democracy.

Phil Cattar

Colonel ,I like all your points .Here are a few more.Impose term limits 2 terms for the Senate,6 for the house.Twelve years on the Supreme court.Reduce the salary of all Senators ,Reps,Justices by 7% immediately and do it for the next 4 years ,35 % total.Only increase thereafter at the rate of core inflation..................Build a strong firewall between ex politicans,government workers and the government.Serve your term and go home.A politican should serve the country because he loves it .Become an amateur.The word comes from the latin Amo,Amas ,love.The bottom line is to take the money out of government.Right now we have adverse selection in place.The system, as set up, attracts the worst candidates for the positions.

Patrick Lang

PC

I agree with all that. In Alexandria and in Virginia generally we are careful not to pay politicians enough for them to become professionals. pl

E L

So: "Since we're all probably screwed anyway, we may as well enjoy ourselves." —Alex Pareene

Mark Logan


I would like something done about the gerrymandering, which has gone on for so long that it has created too many "safe" seats.

@ Charles

The problem explained in 7 minutes. The "Stand up economist."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW9dxFrAk-I&feature=player_embedded

There simply is no substitute for an informed, engaged majority in a democracy. When times become tougher, I suspect that will happen. I believe it tried to with the Tea Party, but they we "informed" poorly. The market for real news had become too small, as the profits are mostly to be found in catering to narrow interests and the groups who stay tuned in between commercials, the "P1" demographic as they term it. Capture merely a few million, and be wealthy.

arbogast

This is essential background to what's happening in the US. This is Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post. This is Rupert Murdoch. Lawlessness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/business/media/for-news-corporation-troubles-that-money-cant-dispel.html?hp

optimax

Pay the President on par with a CEO,2.5 million, congress like middle-management and the Supremes 1 million like a rock star. I get what you pay for and since most of their money and perks come from the oligarchy, who get the benefits of their investment.

optimax

"You get," I don't get shit. Wishfull thinking.

ISL

Being in agreement, I suppose the solution is (irony alert) a strongman to make our country governable again. Pity we would need a new constitution, but its guidance seems heavily reduced in recent years. So who will be Ceasar?

John Stewart's behest echoes emptily: Could sanity return? Perhaps but it seems likely from inside and I fear the outside imposition (aka Greece). As a society, our structures have devolved towards an asset grab by those who can...

Laisse les bonne temps roullez!!!

Babak Makkinejad

zanzibar:

Spain, a country of 48 million, spends 8% of its GDP on health care and covers everyone. For example, they provide for free office visits (a bad idea, one should always charge for services, even a nominal 1 Euro fee would be better than nothing).

US is spending 16% of GDP and has more that 50 million people who are uninsured.

What I do not understand is why so few Americans question the blatant corruption that these numbers reveal.

Furthermore, perhaps you can explain this to me as well: How is it that Americans do not seem to grasp that this 50 million souls are part of the Team America and the state of their well being can help or hinder the United States as she competes against other teams: TEam Korea, Team EU, Team Israel, Team Japan, Team China and others.

[Bismarck and Franco understood all of this.]

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

January 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad