False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic


I am totally with James Fallows on this issue (and we definitely don’t always agree). But it is just wrong for the beltway media to take “ a plague on both your houses” attitude on the news when it comes to discussing passing or not passing legislation. An accurate description of who voted for what and who used the filibuster is far more relevant and intelligent than an attitude that those Democrats and Republicans should play nice with each other.

I don’t want them to play nice with each other. I want the middle class in this country protected and I’m tired of compromise.

How do you tell who your friends and enemies are if the dominant media narrative is the two political parties aren’t worth a damn and you should leave politics alone because it’s a dirty business?

I don’t like the Democrats and I like the Republicans even less but if the media drives most people from political discussion and action than a small minority are going to be the activists and that is counterproductive in a democracy.

James Pilant

 

James Fallows

False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

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Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame (via James Fallows from The Atlantic)


James Fallows continues his comments on the current debt ceiling crisis. –

Here’s a comparison: Suppose, by similar quirk, there was an arbitrary ceiling on the amount of ammunition the U.S. military could buy each year. Or the amount of fuel for drones, bombers, and Humvees. Like overall national debt, these purchases are foreseeable consequences of previous political decisions — in this case, about the wars the country decides to fight. But suppose that when the “ammo ceiling” came due for its routine extension, a group of legislators said they would refuse. No more bullets or jet fuel after August 2, and for good measure no more food for the troops, unless demands for radical change in future foreign policy were met in full. That would rightly be seen as blackmail, and as a reckless willingness to damage the nation for partisan ends. A similar reckless exercise in blackmail is underway now, with the difference that the consequences can be longer-lasting and worse.

Blackmail- that’s exactly how I see it. I am happy to observe that I am not the only one.

There is not much to be done now. The Republicans cannot generate a bill that will get a majority of their own caucus’ vote. Without that, there is no chance of a congressional action ending the crisis. The only ball park left is for the President to declare that based on a Constitutional provision, the United States will continue to pay its debts.

I doubt if he has the will or the courage. Of course, even mice pushed into a corner will on occasion bite.

James Pilant

The U.S. as ‘Lethal Laughing Stock’ (via James Fallows from the Atlantic)


This is from James Fallows –

Yesterday I mentioned that governmental paralysis over the debt ceiling — a wholly artificial construct* being addressed with mainly incoherent arguments** — was already turning the strongest, richest country in the world into an international laughing stock, whether or not we reach the final disaster of a default.

Yes, that’s about right.

It’s easy to blame the ideology driven House or Representatives but the real villain is the President. Obama has established a reputation as a negotiator ever ready to cave under every imaginable circumstance, always willing to appear as the “adult in the room” no matter what has to be given up to maintain that image. But if that isn’t enough, we have a President celebrated for his eloquence who is constantly unable to rally the American people behind any major policy whatever. His speech this week should have laid out the shady blackmail being played out by the House, instead it’s a wimp suggestion to “call your congressman.”

I would like to explain something to Mr. Obama. My congressman is one of those people who are blackmailing him to do what they want on the budget. There is no threat I can imagine including physical violence that will change his mind. He could not care less what I think and probably even less what the President thinks.

I am a constituent of this person only in the most technical sense. In reality I am meaningless to him. His real constituency is Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and talk radio. The President’s call for phone call activism is a waste of his and my time.

So, the train wreck approaches. Will the President cave? Of course – that’s almost his profession.

But that is not enough any more to stop default. There are too many competing plans and the Republicans Congress is split – unable to generate a majority for any one plan. Even if they can get it together in these last few days. any bill put together by these petty blackmailers, is dead on arrival in the Senate.

So, disaster is coming, kinds of a 2012 apocalypse on an early schedule.

James Pilant

 

Today’s (Needless) Hysteria: the S&P Panic (via The Atlantic)


I find the S&P rating panic to be bizarre. They have decided to throw their weight into politics after a decade of incompetent performance such as giving high ratings to the toxic assets that almost destroyed our economy. This will certainly enhance their reputation for neutrality and judgment. After a decade of predictions, often frightening in their irrationality, why not jump into a new arena of prediction?

These guys shouldn’t be making prognostications. The ones who helped create the current economic mess should be winnowed out between the merely incompetent and those that have committed fraud.

I get tired of these highly paid experts. I have freshmen and sophomores in starting business classes that would never even have considered making this kind of decision.

Perhaps, I should have them send in some resumes.

I guess the air up that at the top of the financial industry is so intoxicating, that these people could think they were so influential that the government itself will bow to their legislative demands. This isn’t Greece or Ireland. This is the United States and if some half-assed twerp thinks this economy rises or falls on his judgment, he needs to be put in his place.

James Pilant

Please read James Fallows’ post on this matter.

I agree with Clive Crook’s puzzlement about the S&P downgrade “bombshell” today:

“S&P adduces no new information that I can see. Competent ratings of opaque instruments such as, oh, mortgage-backed securities would be very useful to investors (not that ratings agencies troubled to provide competent ratings in that case, obviously). But why should anybody need that kind of help in judging the soundness of US government bonds? S&P knows nothing about them that you or I don’t know.”

And I like James K. Galbraith’s derisive guffaw, For More