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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Darkest Before the Dawn

This isn't a serious prediction or anything. I'm not a futurist, I'm an Unfuturist. I'm not privy to the counsels of our elite lawmakers. But I must say I cannot see exactly how Republicans extricate themselves from the shutdown now that they made it happen.

I'm not even going to dignify the claims of Republicans that it is the Democrat's fault that we have a shutdown: we only have government shut downs when Republicans have enough power to make that happen, Republicans have been repeatedly threatening and bringing us to the brink of a shutdown since the 2010 mid-terms put them in a position to do so, Republicans are on record and on tape salivating over the prospect of a shutdown, giddy with excitement in anticipation of a shutdown, clapping their hands like toddlers on a sugar high after voting for a shutdown, hell, Republicans hate government, hate governing, are philosophically committed to drowning government in a bathtub and shutting it down permanently, there is no question who wanted this and who owns it.

All that aside, I just don't see what forces or arguments can be brought to bear by the so-called pragmatic or moderate Republicans to end this debacle any time soon. Those forces and arguments were already available and failed to prevent the shutdown itself and so it is hard to see how they will end the shutdown once begun. I must say, those who believe pressures will be brought to bear on these inexperienced Republican Representatives to change their minds seem to be indulging in the same daydream that lead so many of them to say that reason would prevail before a shutdown occurred in the first place, ignoring all the palpable evidence to the contrary in the yahoo congress.

Snug in white undereducated rural districts in which Obama lost the election in a landslide, it is hard to see what sorts of impacts are going to nudge the calculations of these reactionaries in some new direction. I doubt many of the worst Republicans will be voted out in mid-terms despite their present unbelievably bad, almost traitorously bad, nearly criminally bad, behavior -- it is more likely that comparatively better (but still awful) Republicans will be voted out in districts that somewhat better reflect the reality of the diverse urban society that America has become, ideally enough so that Democrats regain the majority and hence the gerrymandered idiot-brigade is marginalized into complete irrelevance thereby (for people who disdain Darwin and Keynes, or gun or global temperature statistics you can be sure that such considerations are far beyond their capacity). That's a long shot, but these fools are doing their damnedest to make it possible.

To return to more near-term stakes, since it is hard to see just what might change the minds (I use the term loosely) of the authors of the present fiasco, I tend to suppose it will continue on not for hours or days but for weeks. I will be pleasantly surprised but am not at all hopeful that the shutdown will be resolved before the debt ceiling negotiations which would have been a second bite at the shutdown apple had this first one not succeeded anyway.

I actually do not think that the Republicans will be able to come to an agreement to raise the debt limit, flabbergastingly insane though this eventuality may be. At that point, one of two things likely happens. John Boehner, who is on record saying that the full faith and credit of the United States is not something he believes should be trifled with (he is also on record saying he would have nothing to do with a government shutdown, by the way), may break the Hastert Rule and circumvent the lunatics with a vote drawing its majority from Democrats, this time inevitably precipitating a crisis in his Speakership which Democrats either allow him to lose or support him in, making him speaker of a House coalition the majority of the members of whom are actually Democrats (making Nancy Pelosi the effective Speaker) -- or, President Obama will make recourse to one of a few Constitutionally arguable strategies for raising the debt ceiling unilaterally as the Executive, probably citing a fourteenth amendment rationale (tho' I prefer, of course, the Scooby Doo five trillion dollar coin).

Either action would marginalize Republicans into non-players, which in my view would almost certainly provoke an Impeachment crisis. Just as these white-racist know-nothing patriarchal pricks have been itching to shut the government down since they were inappropriately elected to government, so too most of them have been declaring Obama an islamofascist non-native illegitimate non-President who should be impeached for living and I have as little doubt that they would seek his impeachment once given the rationale of an executive remedy to an engineered debt-ceiling crisis as I had a doubt that they would shut the government down the minute they could swing as they so obviously have wanted to do from the beginning and now have done.

Of course, it's hard to see how Republicans can maintain a House majority in the aftermath of such a spectacle, nor regain a majority in the House or Senate, let alone the White House, after the stink of this kind of epic nonsense has played out: Even a few election cycles of Democratic dominance would transform the composition of the Supreme Court and lower courts, deliver a public option and pre-retirement Medicare buy-in on the road to single payer, a Social Security modeled paid child care and family leave act, immigration reform with a generous pathway to citizenship, serious investments in renewable infrastructure and heavy regulation of carbon polluting industries, a new tax bracket or two for the richest of the rich, a financial transaction tax, a raising of the taxable cap on income to save Social Security for generations, a refurbished Glass-Steagall to re-impose a firewall between investing and gambling, a raising of the national minimum wage to twelve to fifteen dollars an hour pegged to inflation, institute card check to facilitate collective bargaining (even in Right to Serf states), unify fair and easy election standards to secure reliable election results and increase the franchise and voter participation across the nation, impose a host of commonsense gun safety regulations and bans on military style weapons, invest in medical research and space exploration with who knows what extraordinary benefits to human well being, continue a shift from unilateral militarism into multilateral diplomacy, aid, and outreach as well as ending the war on terror and shuttering the violations of civil liberties enabled by the authorization of force agreement that inaugurated the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq based on lies and implemented in war crimes, and provide safe and easy access to abortion and other healthcare services in every county in every state in the entire United States.

There are Democratic Representatives who actively and repeatedly advocate for all of these outcomes all the time, and with sizable Democratic support, versions of many of them got through the House but not the Senate when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, none of these are pie in the sky proposals, I am not even mentioning even more progressive possibilities I think might be entertained in a generation of Democratic control of all the branches (nor am I dwelling on the danger of an even stronger resurgence of corporatist influence on the Democrats as cash was diverted from the moribund Republicans to a Democratic Party that was the only game in town), but suffice it to say that the results of the current Republican foolishness in the face of demographic realities and planetary dynamisms is likely to be radically otherwise than they anticipate or intend.

UPDATE: By indulging his Tea Party know-nothings in their every idiot tantrum right up to the deadline, Boehner was able to keep and perhaps even somewhat strengthen his Speakership (it had nowhere to go but up) despite breaking the Hastert Rule as predicted to raise the debt ceiling and end the shutdown after all. Boehner's capacity to manage his zealots fee fees has thus averted the darker Impeachment crisis eventualities that worried me when I posted this. Of course, the can has simply been kicked down the road yet again and we may have all that to look forward to still. I would prefer to think, in our President's phrase, that the fever has finally broken and that we may be moving from the darkness to the dawn without the darkness getting quite as dark as I feared (which is not to deny it's been pretty damn dark).


jimf said...

> tho' I prefer, of course, the Scooby Doo five trillion dollar coin

Oh, I thought that was Astro, from The Jetsons.
In keeping with Futurism, and all that.


Dale Carrico said...

If Astro said "ruh roh," then definitely.

jimf said...

Well, if you type "astro jetsons" into Google's search box,
the second suggested completion is "astro jetsons ruh roh".

Let's see:
The family dog Astro can mumble and say his words beginning
with R's. Astro's catch phrases are "Ruh-roh!" and "Right, Reorge!"
or "Rats Rall Right Reorge!" Later Hanna-Barbera cartoon dogs,
including Scooby-Doo and Muttley, would have the same
speech impediment; voice actor Don Messick played all three.

Well, that explains it. (The dog, not the shutdown,
or the impending default.)

Dale Carrico said...

I'm sold. Hell, let's really do this thing! Clearly the presidentially minted debt-payoff coin should be square as per the original BSG cubit, but made of gold pressed latinum, featuring Astro on one side and Janeway's Arachnia on the other.