Friday, February 06, 2009

Invite the Filibuster!

Just a brief thought here.

Like anybody sensible, I have reservations about the great big Christmas Tree Stimulus Bill.  Half a dozen GOP senators are doing what the whole party ought to do, pointing out reasonable objections and negotiating about them in good faith.  Partly because there are still a few reasonable  Republicans in the Senate (gerrymandering has insured  there are almost none in the House) and in part because they were deputized to do so, by a party that knows what will happen, if they obstruct too much.

But a thought occurred to me that I must share (despite breaking my vow to limit political postings to a minimum.)  You see, there is a fascinating mythology going around. Everybody seems to think it's necessary for the Democrats to gather  a super-majority of 60 votes in the Senate, in order to pass legislation, because that is the number needed to invoke a motion of cloture, limit debate and terminate a fillibuster.  But consider underlying assumptions.

 First , that Republican party discipline will remain uncannily strong.  Second, that a filibuster of the Stimulus Bill comes without silver linings. Yes, party discipline is strong in a GOP that has been honed into an instrument of incredibly narrow dogmatism, especially in the House. But this runs counter to the country's mood, and may backfire.

Remember that a filibuster is - above all - an act of political theater. (Which is one reason Democrats used it so seldom during the Bush years.) In fact, it is a bluff.  If the majority ever called that bluff, the minority would have to maintain a tiring, round-the-clock tag team blather festival, in which elderly, bleary-eyed, elderly Southern senators would have to keep on talking and talking -- trawling for increasingly incoherent things to say in front of CSPAN cameras -- calling themselves "heroic" for standing up against legislation that has the backing of a popular president and a large majority of Americans.

And this is a losing situation for the Democrats... how? And who then gets the blame, with every bad piece of economic news?

There is something to be said for having the Dems deal with the filibuster threat right up front, by calling the Republicans' bluff.  Forcing the issue while the President is popular and the issues are stark would put the GOP on notice and also set the precedent that Obama is willing to face such threats down.

 Then, once this shiboleth is broken - and true to his nature -  let the President offer his hand.


Anonymous said...

One l. But many excellent writers were poor spellers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, so let's not haggle and quibble about minutia.

Latest cuts to the stimulus package: food stamps, head start, child nutrition and public transit.

But the worst are these bipartisan proposed cuts in the NSF and NASA:

This is the most short-sighted self-destructive behavior imaginable. Child nutrition, head start and basic science funding for the NSF pay extravagant divideds many times over, for many years. Yet blockhead senators and congresscritters propose cutting these incredibly productive investments in favor of...what?

Billions for bonuses from the TARP bailout to pay Wall Street con artists who wrecked the world economy.

It's mind boggling.

"Violent unrest rocks China as economic crisis hits"

At the same time, looks like that global warming thing is actually real, not some figment of scientists' imagination.
"China declares highest level of emergency for worst droughts in 50 years." It hit 116 F in Sydney Australia yesterday. Get read for temperatures in the 120s in Los Angeles in the next few years. How much longer can short-sighted foolish people continue to live in Southern California as global warming drives the temperatures up into Death Valley territory and 40% of the Sierra snow pack goes away, making the Colorado River a damp creek?

"IMF says advanced economies already in a depression"

"How America kills geniuses"

"Bloomberg to new york middle class: GET OUT"

The subhead on this one is "Not satisfied that America is a banana republic, IMB outsources all north american jobs."
But there's a silver lining! If IBM lays you off and outsources your job to India, you can go to India and keep working. Sounds like something The Onion wrote, except it's real.

"Whistling past the afghan graveyard: Where empires go to die"

Remember -- there is NO ALTERNATIVE to the capitalist market. No alternative!

David Brin said...


Tony Fisk said...

SE Australia has been living with global warming for a few years now. Melbourne's water supply looks set to run dry in the next ten years (hint: find another city with a 5 year storage capacity)

We had an unprecedented run of 3 days of temperatures in the mid forties (ie 110-115) a couple of weeks ago. Then, yesterday, we had the hottest day on record (46-47 degrees celsius) yesterday (death toll from the bushfires in Victoria is now expected to exceed 40)

I had been going to go for a bushwalk today Even with a *much* lower temperature forecast, I spent yesterday wondering just what it was I was thinking, and had already decided to bail when the leader rang up to cancel it. (hint: the closest township to the walk was: Marysville)

We haven't seen conditions even remotely like this in over twenty five years. The met. bureau is expecting at least one more like it in the next decade.

The climate denialist nerocons have, indeed, been fiddling!

On a more upbeat note, check out how the folks nurturing the crippled Hyabusa space probe have managed to achieve stability in all three axes of rotation. As Emily says, cooool!

unsin: newspeak for virtue

Rob Perkins said...

And in other regions, specifically the U.S. this winter, we're seeing the coldest temperatures on record and the largest amounts of snowfall.

Someone refute this: I was told two weeks ago that the northern polar ice cap's extent had returned to 1978 levels... is that false?

I don't really treat those two data points as a refutation of global warming. It seems to me that global warming causes more energy to be present in climate systems, and thus rather than looking for some steady increase in temperature, I look for more energetic weather. More extremes of temperature or precipitation levels. Am I wrong about that frame of mind?

Also, I think it's spelled "minutiae", if more than one tiny detail is present.

Tony Fisk said...

I hadn't heard about the polar ice cap, but have no difficulty believing that the *extent* has returning to 1978 levels. I doubt it's anything like the average 1978 thickness, however.

One climate model suggests that, with diminished ice formation at the pole, there is a reduced amount of dense brine sinking down to draw up warmer water from the south via the gulfstream. This would cause polar regions to become colder (and conversely, tropical regions to become hotter)

Famed for routinely providing four seasons in a day, Melbourne's weather has always been 'energetic' (harking back to bushwalking, I remember going on one where we had snow after a previous day in the mid-thirties)

We've actually had an unusually cool start to this summer, with the really wild stuff only kicking in at the end of January. Perversely, It's quite a cool day today.

The reason for this changeability has to do with Melbourne's position at the edge of the 'roaring forties'. Weather systems and associated cold fronts come through from the Southern Ocean and hot northerlies can turn into cold southerlies in minutes (incidentally, making the current fires extremely treacherous) Those fronts are the main source of rain in the past, but have recently been missing Victoria, or coming through at a much depressed angle.

My ad hoc (and very simplistic) climate modelling assumes the CO2 blanket to be fairly evenly distributed, so that heat tends to build where it falls: primarily at the equator. Since this area is heating up, it tends to expand, pushing hadley cells and what have you away from the equator. Hence the deflected cold fronts, ongoing desertification, and increased monsoonal activity in Queensland (interesting aside: a lot of our recent rainfall has come from moist air streams coming in from the Northwest from the Timor Sea! One problem with this is that our main catchment is in a rainshadow in this direction. Another is that it comes too late to help with the crop growing season, actually damaging it)

bictuble: a long, slender tuberous vegetable resembling a biro, perfect for gnawing on during those long filibuster sessions.

Anonymous said...

If the majority ever called that bluff, the minority would have to maintain a tiring, round-the-clock tag team blather festival, in which elderly, bleary-eyed, elderly Southern senators would have to keep on talking and talking -- trawling for increasingly incoherent things to say in front of CSPAN cameras -- calling themselves "heroic" for standing up against legislation that has the backing of a popular president and a large majority of Americans.

Sadly, this is flat-out not true. You see, there are basically two kinds of filibusters. One is the "theatrical" filibuster, in which a single senator refuses to yield the floor. He can delay a bill for as long as he can keep talking, but its only real use is as a publicity stunt; a majority can go on being a majority for longer than Strom Thurmond can stand on his feet protesting the Civil Rights Act.

Today, the real life filibuster, the one that actually works, is a "procedural" filibuster. Here's how it works. Senator A is of the majority party and wants to pass a bill. Senator B is of the minority party and doesn't want it passed.

Senator A: I'd like to have a motion to begin discussion of this bill.
Senator B: I'm not ready to vote on that. We need to discuss that motion to begin discussion.
::time passes::
Senator A: I'd like to have a motion to begin discussion of this bill.
Senator B: I'm still not ready to vote on the motion to begin discussion of that bill. We need to discuss it some more.
Senator A: No you don't. You're filibustering. I call for a cloture vote.
::cloture fails::
::time passes::
::some senators get tired and leave::
Senator B: We don't have a quorum. I want a roll call.
Senator A: Ugh. Go ahead.
::roll call fails::
Senator B: Ha! I win! Everyone has to go home now!

In order to implement a procedural filibuster, you need one senator in the minority party to keep saying that he wants to discuss, not the bill, but the motion to bring the bill to the floor for discussion. He doesn't have to stand and talk. He just has to keep calling for more discussion. Furthermore, there must be a quorum of Senators present, or the filibusterer can call for a roll call and end the session. Therefore, the majority party has to keep a quorum present, while the minority party just needs one guy. Today, breaking a filibuster requires far more endurance from far more people than actually performing one.

If it's so easy, why didn't the Democrats filibuster more in the Senate when they were in the minority? Basically, it's because of a custom and/or principle that abusing the filibuster is bad. In other words, the only reason they didn't is because they didn't want to. The current crop of Republicans, on the other hand, have much less reluctance to use any tool they have in order to get their way. Which is why, today, the Democrats need 60 votes to get anything through the Senate, but the Republicans didn't - the Democrats were spineless, and the Republicans are ruthless.

Anonymous said...

There is no point to trying to break a filibuster for a pile of crap like this bill.

It's literally worse than nothing.

If it doesn't get fixed in conference, it will sink Obama for good. No matter what "compromises" are made, when it fails utterly the public will still see it as his bill.


"According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, are even more pessimistic."

"The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad."

David Brin said...

just how serious the current situation is.

Jumper said...

It's unfortunate but also simple: we have to start agitating for the next stimulus bill NOW.

David Brin said...

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Please go to:
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Anonymous said...

Tony Fisk is correct. Here's the info on the "sea ice at 1979 levels."

However, the National Snow and Ice Data Center says "Arctic Sea Ice Down to Second-Lowest Extent; Likely Record-Low Volume."

At the same time, the antarctic ice extent has now hit the highest level since 1979.

"While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice near it diminished during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice elsewhere has been more extensive and longer lasting, which explains the increase in total extent."

So, no, this arctic ice back to 1979 levels thing doesn't mean global warming is wrong. The key is the overall trend plus the reduction in ice volume, meaning thickness. Also, we're talking about open sea ice here, which differs from the ice on land.

Miscellaneous oddball stuff -- "Here comes the e-book revolution." We've heard that before, but this time it really seems to be happening.

Here's a tangential viewpoint that sort of supports the previous claims but obliquely, by John Siracusa, who's seen it all before--

A pair of scathing editorials about Obama's economic policy -- one from Frank Sirota on Salon titled "Obama's Team of Zombies."

"Obama's national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq war opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.
"Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White House's economic team -- a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants."

Another from Frank Rich from the New York Times:
"The new president who vowed to change Washington’s culture will have to fight much harder to keep from being co-opted by it instead. There are simply too many major players in the Obama team who are either alumni of the financial bubble’s insiders’ club or of the somnambulant governmental establishment that presided over the catastrophe."

"New Open-source Software Permits Faster Desktop Computer Simulations Of Molecular Motion"

"Economic Death Spiral at the Pentagon" by Chalmers Johnson.

"Like much of the rest of the world, Americans know that the U.S. automotive industry is in the grips of what may be a fatal decline. Unless it receives emergency financing and undergoes significant reform, it is undoubtedly headed for the graveyard in which many American industries are already buried, including those that made televisions and other consumer electronics, many types of scientific and medical equipment, machine tools, textiles, and much earth-moving equipment—and that's to name only the most obvious candidates. They all lost their competitiveness to newly emerging economies that were able to outpace them in innovative design, price, quality, service, and fuel economy, among other things.

"A similar, if far less well known, crisis exists when it comes to the military-industrial complex. That crisis has its roots in the corrupt and deceitful practices that have long characterized the high command of the Armed Forces, civilian executives of the armaments industries, and Congressional opportunists and criminals looking for pork-barrel projects, defense installations for their districts, or even bribes for votes.

"Given our economic crisis, the estimated trillion dollars we spend each year on the military and its weaponry is simply unsustainable. Even if present fiscal constraints no longer existed, we would still have misspent too much of our tax revenues on too few, overly expensive, overly complex weapons systems that leave us ill-prepared to defend the country in a real military emergency. We face a double crisis at the Pentagon: we can no longer afford the pretense of being the Earth's sole superpower, and we cannot afford to perpetuate a system in which the military-industrial complex makes its fortune off inferior, poorly designed weapons."

"A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution? Two new studies show that the effects of a mother's early environment can be passed on to the next generation."

This one is really weird - French fighter jet grounded by a Windows virus.

Seriously, what are they doing running Windows on military hardware? I thought military computers were supposed to be hardened and secure and use some non-easily-infected exotic operating system.

"1 million French out of work thanks to dodgy data - UK next?
"As the UK prepares to put in place its shiny new vetting database later this year, analysis of a similar project in France reveals a devastating degree of inaccuracy, leading to real hardship for a very large number of people."

Students then and now:

How schools destroy creativity:

For linux freaks like me, this qualifies as true pornography. OpenPandora, an open source platform that aspires to be the ultimate handheld device. Game machine, ebook reader, you name it: this thing is supposed to be configurable to do it all. Or will be, once the bugs get worked out (and haven't we all heard THAT before?)

As a final truly astounding fact, here's an article in the Wall Street Journal that points out that pay disparity in the United States today is greater than under the last king in 18th century France.

I think we know what happened in France in 1798...

Wayne Conrad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't know that a filibuster would be all bad. As to content, heck, have a couple of stout pages trundle the entire bill up to the podium, its something like 1200 pages, and start reading. With comments where appropriate. As new addenda accrue add them. I think the characterization of this as dressed up Pork is more true than not.
Good for those who say, lets take the time to write something usefull.
Beware of Emergency measures by any government.

gmknobl said...

No matter whether we have a filibuster by a single person, a procedural one by the rank and file house or senate republican, I believe we're heading in the wrong direction by when there is a compromise to remove such things as Head Start funding or so on (the list is long) and if there is at this point any attempt to compromise with the current members of the party that think Bush is a great and wonderful person at all.

Instead, I believe Obama should be chiding the current republican faithful over not supporting what American wants and needs. With his approval ratings, public opinion will be behind him. Even though this risks alienating many for quite a while in the manner Dr. Brin has mentioned in the past, exacerbating the division between thinkers and reactionaries in Congress (all right, a false and prejudiced dichotomy, I admit but I think my point stands) I think he can't do this himself for the short amount of time it would take to get some very nice bills passed which signal great changes for the better. Only then, after they are chided and programs are in place that stand a good chance of working, can a hand be extended in compromise again. And if upon the next bunch of logic-driven changes being put forward they continue to obstruct, chide them again.

Obama has only used this minimally so far. He needs to do it much more and with less compromise.

This carrot and stick approach might work better.

I'm with Paul Krugman on what should be done to help the economy. There is good history to show us what happens when a solid Keynesian approach is taken versus what happens when you start cutting funding. Look here for one argument:

It may not be the only solution, but tax cuts for the wealthy have been proven not to work while the one horrible instance we have to experiment with such recovery has shown that proper funding and job creation does. No amount of hand extending to obstructionists, no amount of tax cutting while eliminating good ideas will work now. So, don't even bother for now.

Anonymous said...

1588 pages and counting.

The last time something this big was rushed through it was the much maligned Patriot Act. Remember how much you all liked that one?

I expect to pay more taxes.
I am ok with that.

But this expansion of debt, and of government involvment in our daily lives could last for generations.

Remind me, why are we not taking a couple of weeks to think about it?


Rob Perkins said...

If Obama keeps his promise to change the D.C. culture, it will take much longer than two weeks.

Same goes for the registered lobbyist promises or any of the other high ideologies.

I'm willing to give him more than two months, and wouldn't be surprised if the process didn't really pick up steam for two years.

Letting House Democrats author a first bill does two things: It exposes the culture to the general public as Republicans howl (filling a vital loyal opposition role, or exposing themselves as part of the corruption; take your pick), and it permits Obama to show a deference to the Congress it hasn't seen since Cheney too the oath.

The sense of urgency he's pushing could serve two political purposes. One is to give the public the perception that he's doing something. The other is a stark warning to the Congress not to let this thing die in committee. Call it a shot across the Republican bow. We tried their economic ideas for 15 years and didn't make a lot of progress, beyond a pair of bubble-burst cycles. All while the bridges fell down.

(Yeah, that's hyperbole. I have a tint of Brin's rhetorical disease.)

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Seems like either the people wanting the cuts don't understand how a stimulus works -- or don't want it to work period. I've suspected for years now, that Republican leaders don't really like a middle class. Rumsfeld thinks that civil war and anarchy are "what you get with a Democracy." Get off my lawn, hippies!

Food Stamps and Mass Transit and Education -- are there any BETTER forms of stimulus?

>> Obama has made a bit of a tactical error in my book. Not that he probably had a choice. There may be no way to actually stand up for what is right -- given that we have to still pretend that the last President wasn't a naked Emperor who was either smart and working for the other side, or an idiot, and it didn't make much real difference -- except all the pockets getting lined seemed to suggest that someone had skills.

IN negotiating - especially if you have the upper hand, you start from an unreasonable position. To get concessions, and be able to put your name on the bill, you give something to get something. Obama, started with a bill that was a reasonable compromise and is negotiating away its utility, in order to NOT get Republican support. Giving ample opportunity for Republicans to crow about what they saved America from -- snatching it from the jaws of Socialism, as if 7 of 10 people right now wouldn't rather be in Sweden. He should be passing this bill by pushing it further to the Left and get the lousy, weak-kneed Blue Dog Dems to stay in session until it was passed.

Obama, bring pillows and blankets to congress and the senate and call it the "Pajama Party." Because Americans are not sleeping well right now. He seems to be doing a better job of the bully pulpit. But I would try the personal touch of going to a Senator's office with a fresh group of constituents who lost their jobs. Bring the TV cameras. Skewer anyone not on board and praise those that are. We don't have three years to waste as job cuts create more job cuts from the shrinking market.

Republicans are NEVER going to be your friend. Take a page from how Republicans have described the "enemy" -- it is projection. You can only get them to fear you -- they don't even understand nice.

After setting that groundwork. This week I'd start going after embezzlers, ponzi scheme artists, and Hank Paulson. Before you can GET thoughtful, and friendly with these folks, there needs to be blood in the water and real fear. Crooks and cynics, like those that we are dealing with here, only move towards conscience as a LAST RESORT. If it will keep them out of prison, they'd even vote for an increase to minimum wage.

You can't make it better, until you start laying blame on the culprits. I am heartened that Obama has taken the high road -- but he doesn't have the media, or the lobbyists and we don't have time or money to buy them off like BushCo did. The media NEEDS someone to praise or punish -- so throw them red meat because there are a LOT OF PEOPLE who MIHOP or LIHOP the destruction of our economy.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

I'll argue with anyone saying that we don't need this "Jobs Bill."

Right now our economic system is imploding.

The root cause, is TOO MUCH PRODUCTIVITY. Meaning the working man is not getting paid more as productivity goes up. Part of that metric that even computes productivity -- is paying people less for the same job, or having them output more (work harder or more efficiently) or of course, outsourcing jobs.

The outsourced jobs, often go to places where they don't bother with clean air laws, or labor practices. So those folks are getting screwed, until someone else is willing to screw their people even worse.

So, over the last 30 years, we've been lowering the value of work. Meanwhile, Wall Street went from a blip to having 25% of the economy. The original idea was to raise capital for startup companies and entrepreneurs. Does the Quadrillion + dollars in the Derivatives market do anything but make money on money? No.

Corporations pay about 9% of the tax now. Bill Gates, because he gets dividends, may be paying as low as 17% tax, while my rate is about 42% because my consumption items, health care, day care, utilities and Social Security tax are a larger portion of my expenses. After the first two minutes, Bill Gates has met his SS, food, and day care costs. So the rest becomes deductible. Can I deduct my payments to doctors and health insurance? No.

>> Anyway, I just wanted to point out, that over the years, the burden has been shifted onto the Middle Class. When Reagan took office, the marginal tax rate on people earning the equivalent of $3 Million a year would have been 72%. Now, forget that you've been told that lower taxes = productivity, because it is a bald faced lie.

But the thing is, we went from the wealthy paying MORE Tax as a percentage of income, because we KNEW that pooling too much money at the top was bad for Democracy and labor. Somehow, we forgot.

>> But without money going to food stamps and transit and doing everything in the Government's power to stimulate spending -- each job cut will beget more job cuts.

This week it's Nissan cutting 20,000 jobs. Next week, it will be a telecommunications company or a food chain cutting jobs, because they are ANTICIPATING LOWER PROFITS. Not just their costs -- but that they will sell less. Wow -- I suppose that whole "supply-side" thing was crap... well, yes, now that you mention it. WE have too much supply and nobody is going to buy. Why? Because without money in the hands of workers there is no demand. We've run out of credit, and banks won't lend unless they think you have a job -- but you won't have a job unless someone buys that car.

80% if our economy is consumer driven. Well, the consumers are tapped out, and getting laid off. What we have right now is a classic death spiral. If the Republicans don't let Obama push this jobs bill, then they will not only kill the Goose that Lays the golden eggs, they will cook it and feed it to the dog.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

One last question to ask anyone who doesn't want government spending to stimulate our economy.

What other option is there?

>> Option One) Tax cuts: OK. Nissan cut 20,000 jobs because they anticipate lower sales. Nissan now goes from some paltry sum of taxes paid, to 0 taxes, or maybe a big wet one from the government and they get Government money. What are they going to do with it?
A) Invest in a production plant.
B) Hire more workers from the 20,000 they fired.
C) Write the executives a big fat bonus.
.... I'm not going to even bother answering this one for you.

>> Option Two) Reduce regulations and let the FREE MARKET come up with a solution.
OK, what? Is some company with enough capital to create an alternative energy network like Exxon going to create the infrastructure to put battery charges at gas stations, and have something ready for an electric car? No. They will wait until government forces them to, or picks up the tab. AT&T didn't lay down the fiber optic to make the backbone for the internet, they let the government spend $500 Billion, and then they charge you to access the taxpayer's internet. Gee, it's really tough to make a living that way, but they manage.
We still use immunization techniques from Big Pharma that guarantee that your flu shot is 18 months too old when you get it. It costs money to use a method faster than the old "inject an egg" technique. Since nobody pay enough attention to useless immunizations, they can charge you just as much for the old vaccine as they would for one that was only 3 months behind the current crop of infections. THAT is how markets work.

Big, long term, infrastructure investments that MIGHT change the economy, are never going to pass through a board of Directors in THIS AMERICA in the next few years.

The next killer product didn't materialize during the Bush administration. Before that, it was THE INTERNET. That was created with government funding.

Likewise, those people in rural areas with phones, the internet, plumbing, and ELECTRICITY -- thank a Socialist hippie Liberal, because the FREE MARKET wasn't going to bother.

You are a LOT more productive, because you have all these things. But the productivity followed the investment.

>> Anyone for an Option Three?
Please submit your idea for how the free market is going to create demand without paying people more, reducing the work week, hiring more workers, or making long-term investments that hurt their stock valuations this quarter. To raise the bar, you usually have to have a rule imposed on all the companies by Government.

Without a stimulus bill and MORE REGULATIONS, there is not going to be MORE JOBS next month. Short term cash and tax breaks end up going into a mattress right now.

Anonymous said...

I also write and am a poor speller: mainly because I transpose the errors. Anway I agree with your analysis of the Filibuster situation.

Here is a site you might like.


J. Matson Heininger

Anonymous said...

P.Z. Meyers shreds Ray Kurzweil's kooky singularity fantasies.

"Bond market calls Fed's bluff as global economy falls apart"

"The depression scenario is here"

"Actual unemployment rate 13.9%: Counting the ranks of `underemployed' as a result of cutbacks on hours, the unofficial rate hit the highest level in at least 15 years, according to economist David Rosenberg"

"IBM to build world's most powerful supercomputer -- to be used for nuclear weapons research."
Because if there's anything America needs right now, it's more nuclear weapons.

America "Too politically frightened" to admit its banks are insolvent (from the Financial Times):,C,RBS,LYG,BCS,FAZ,SKF

"The coming collapse of the middle class"
Crucial part starts about 8 minutes in.

From the German magazine Der Spiegel (English language version) "Iceland on the Thames: Can countries go bankrupt?",1518,604523,00.html

U.S. economy worst since 1970's: GE's Immelt:
The U.S. economy is in its worst shape since the deep recession of 1974 and 1975, and if it deteriorates further the most meaningful comparisons will be to the Great Depression, General Electric Co (GE.N) Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said on Thursday.
"We're at least to 1974-75," Immelt said at a Wall Street Journal Executive Breakfast event in New York.
"Once you break through '74-'75, you don't stop 'til you get to 1929," he said.

To see where America is at right now, take a look at this 20 minute video of Instapundit, Michelle Malkin and Joe the Plumber giving us the benefit of their cosmic wisdom about the economy:

As John Cole put it:
“There is so much to love about this, I don’t know where to start, but certainly Joe the Plumber bemoaning the lack of spending cuts and general program cuts in the stimulus bill was a highlight. It is almost as if he doesn’t have the first damned clue what he is talking about.
“I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.”

The sheer level of craziness right now in America is breathtaking.

The IMF says we're in a full-on depression...yet we can't reduce interest rates on credit cards below the loanshark-level 35% compounded rate we're at right now. That's a Tommy-Bentnose-the-Loanshark interest rate. In a deflationary environment in the midst of a full-on depression, the average John Q. Public is still paying mafia loanshark interest rates on their credit cards.

We're in another depression...yet we can't let judges reduce bizarrely inflated mortgages on homeowners who've defaulted ("cramdowns"). No, no cramdowns allowed, better to let all the homeowners go broke.

We're in another depression...yet we can't reduce the hundred-million-dollar bonuses for superwealthy incompetents who screwed up the economy in the first place by placing stupid bets the stock and bond market.

We're in another depression...yet we can't reduce Pentagon spending on Rube Goldberg weapons systems that don't even work.

We're in another depression...yet we must cut funding for science and education and nutrition for children in order to pay hundreds of billions to bail out corrupt Wall Street thieves.

We're in another depression...yet we can't break up any of the giant corporate monopolies that cause sky-high prices on cable TV, home electronics, health insurance, you name it. These giant monopolies are "too big to fail" so we can't break them up -- instead, we just have to keep feeding these giant failing monopolies hundreds of billions of tax dollars.

It's insane. Insane. Insane. Insane. Insane.

gmknobl said...

There is some suspicion in blogosphereland that Obama will invite a filibuster once he gets his (very popular) education monies put back in the stimulus plan.

One thing is for sure, even though I think this bill isn't going far enough - I'm with Krugman - it is an ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' BREATH O' FRESH AIR to see Obama talking to reporters and citizens at large LIKE THEY ARE INTELLIGENT. This one thing makes me scream YIPPEE for joy! YOU GO BARACK!

Anonymous said...

1. Rob: It's not hyperbole if bridges did fall down (and they did).

2. Any Kiwis out there? Is New Zealand going through the same drought that Australia is, or is the geography too different?

3. Gardeners: If you're about ready to replace your gasoline-driven or electric lawnmower, buy a spin-reel mower (the traditional human-powered, hand-pushed mower). You'll fight obesity and save money and not have to store gasoline in the garage. Health, wealth, and safety!

Anonymous said...

William Shattner:

Uh - well, an obvious oversight:

Option 3: Do Nothing. Don't cut taxes. Don't de-regulate. Do stop scaring people with "it's an economic disaster of unprecedented scale from which only a $Trillion dollar bailout can save us".

Do something to ease the situation of those who are worst off - not to "fix the economy", but simply because that's what government is expected to do these days, and it'd be pointlessly unfair to change that now.

Make sure the economy isn't being made worse by some government policies, as has happened in so many past recessions/depressions.

The economy will not keep spiralling ever downward until we're all sitting in caves eating grass. A base level of demand will be hit, the "death spiral" will level off, confidence will recover, pent-up demand will cause the economy to quickly rebound.

Obama could said "Folks - it's a recession. They happen, then they end. It's about hit bottom, and in a few months it'll be obvious that things are getting better. We're not going to spend a trillion dollars, because that'd just delay the economic correction and likely cause harmful inflation once the economy rebounds."

"We're going to set up a zero-interest loan program for those that need extra help to stay in their homes and pay their other bills. Beyond that, well, I'm going to get to work on the things you sent me here to do."

Screaming that the economy is doomed can be a self-fulfilling prophecy - but so can calmly saying "It'll be over soon, let's get on with our lives".