The Mean Old Man Party looks forward to a bloodbath & rubs its hands in glee

by: Paul Rosenberg

Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 10:30

"I can't wait for the bloodbath in April." -- Alan Simpson (Mean Old Man Party, Versailles)

It's official now.  The "daddy party" is dead.  

In its place, behold: The Mean Old Man Party in all its splendorous wrath.  TPM reports:

The Republican co-chair of the White House's fiscal commission predicted this morning that his controversial recommendations for reducing long-term deficits will have a real opportunity to become enacted next year, when the nation brushes up against its debt ceiling, and newly elected Republicans threaten to send the country into default.

"I can't wait for the bloodbath in April," said Alan Simpson at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. "It won't matter whether two of us have signed this or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes, they're going to look around and say, 'What in the hell do we do now? We've got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give 'em a piece of meat, real meat, off of this package.' And boy the bloodbath will be extraordinary."

Well, at least he's honest.  Decompensation will do that to a psychopath.

Of course, the Mean Old Man Party still clings fiercely to it's prized "grown-up" trope, even as it threatens to crash the global economy if it doesn't get its way right now!

Yesterday, Republican leaders, including soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner and NRCC chairman Pete Sessions made it clear that the the GOP will attempt to tie increasing the debt limit to spending cuts.

"We're going to have to deal with it as adults," Boehner said at a leadership press conference. "Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part."

"Our understanding, as a majority, we have a debt limit issue," Sessions told reporters. "The United States must pay its debts."

"My sense is when you're out spending wildly and then you're willing to raise the debt limit, that's a problem," Sesssions said. "When you are with a comprehensive plan, including a budget that clearly lays out priorities and expectations of performance, then say you have to deal with what is there, is a very responsible position."

There's just one problem:  There isn't a spending problem--at least not on the part of liberal Democrats. Bush's wars, corporate welfare, sure.  But as for the middle-class domestic spending that the Mean Old Man Party has its eye on destroying, the federal government isn't "out spending wildly". That's just crazy uncle talk.

The real budget problems we face are two-fold:  

Paul Rosenberg :: The Mean Old Man Party looks forward to a bloodbath & rubs its hands in glee

(1) GOP fiscal irresponsibility--in the form of excessive tax cuts for the wealthy, spending for special interests (including the military/industrial complex), deregulatory recklessness and failure to invest for long-term growth, and (2) the most expensive, least efficient healthcare system on the planet.

Short/medium-Term deficit chart here. Long-Term chart here. Dean Baker (emailed comment for an RLN story I'm working on):

It is easy to show that there is no story of runaway spending, contrary to Bowles and Simpson's statements. Non-interest spending for 2020 is projected to be 18.6 percent of GDP. This is slightly less than the 18.8 percent share in 1980. In other words, spending has actually fallen as a share of GDP.

So what we have is the crazy uncles of the Mean Old Man Party posing as responsible adults, same as the folks who brought the economy crashing down on their watch a couple of years ago.  But the bloodbath they're looking forward to with glee is very, very real.

Paul Krugman "There Will Be Blood":

Think of Mr. Simpson's blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.

Some explanation: There's a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they've done it before.

Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America's role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson "can't wait." And he's what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it's doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party's cooperation - cooperation that won't be forthcoming.

This is nothing new for conservatives. Liberals believe that whoever wins an election has won the right to govern in a democracy. But hard-core conservatives simply do not believe in democracy. And they do not believe that non-conservatives have a legitimate right to govern. Ever.  If they need to destroy America in order to save it, that's fine with them.  In fact, that's how they get their jollies.

The real problem, as Krugman points out, is that Versailles refuses to see what's happening right in front of it:

Elite opinion has been slow to recognize this reality. Thus on the same day that Mr. Simpson rejoiced in the prospect of chaos, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, appealed for help in confronting mass unemployment. He asked for "a fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits."

My immediate thought was, why not ask for a pony, too? After all, the G.O.P. isn't interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernanke's efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment.

And on matters fiscal, the G.O.P. program is to do almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Bernanke called for. On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy - even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.

Thus, it's not just the Mean Old Man Party that is delusional.  It's everyone who still thinks this is your grandfather's GOP.  It's not.  Your grandfather's GOP had been twice humbled: first by the Great Depression, and second by being wrong about Hitler (both the isolationist and those who openly sympathized with him).  Today's GOP is in deep denial about both, and the mean old men who run it just can't wait to destroy everything that FDR and his heirs have accomplished since 1932.

Anyone who mouths the "fair and balanced" narrative in times like these is either a fool or a knave.  One side is out to destroy America, the other is trying to decide when, if and/or how to fight back.  In the tiredest of cliches of the moment, it's time to man up.  Not mean old man up.

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How does one confront such a "strategy"? (0.00 / 0)
But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they've done it before.

Clearly, negotiating with hostage-takers like the Tea-infused GOPpers is unlikely to do much of anything. Beyond validating and accepting some portion of the Chair's plan.

I doubt that much progress on building a progressive media network that can effectively counter that supporting the right and center is forthcoming on a timeframe needed to confront the blackmailers.

The only thing going on "our" side is the Schakowsky Plan and the reasoned comments of people like Krugman. How do we marshall these forces and stave off the hostage-takers?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

Well, It Really IS Crazy Talk, You Know (4.00 / 4)
So grassroots work can do some real good.  Local media, lobbying local representatives, organizing with with groups who will be affected, etc.  There is very little public support for what they want to do.  The appearance of inevitability is the biggest thing they've got going for them.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
government shutdown (4.00 / 3)
Whatever his problems, Clinton showed how to confront this strategy: call their bluff and make sure they take the blame for the government shutdown. Not that anyone wants the pain of the government shutting down, but it is by far preferable to negotiating with terrorists*.

The problem is that even if Obama uncharacteristically decides to suddenly confront rather than negotiating a compromise of a compromise of a compromise, he hasn't got the platform to stand on that Clinton had. Clinton ran in 1992 on "It's the economy, stupid". He had an established reputation for blunt and straight talk on economic matters, so he was strategically positioned to paint Gingrich as the irresponsible one.

Obama hasn't talked straight about anything since his Philadelphia speech on race. He's got no bully pulpit because he's refused to build one. Had he spent the last year pointing out over and over that the healthcare bill did more for the government's fiscal problems than any single piece of legislation ever had, then things would be different. But as it is, we have to wonder not only whether Obama will reverse course in the next four months and start using his bully pulpit, but also whether four months is enough time for him to build one.

*Terrorists is the right word. When I read Krugman's piece, the viciousness of the closing really hit me, and I started thinking whether Krugman had made a rhetorical overreach and opened himself to charges of calling for violence. Then I remembered that it was Simpson who inserted the "blood bath" rhetoric. These people are insinuating violence and have been for a while - they're clearly terrorists and should be called on it.

[ Parent ]
I wasn't really asking about the President (4.00 / 4)
It is beyond obvious that Obama will do virtually everything BUT confront conservatives on any issue. I, for one, don't plan on waiting around for the President to take the initiative. If the progressive caucus in the House is good for anything - this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the "grass roots" efforts can focus - push elected progressives to make some noise. For example - how much money could be saved by dissolving the Catfood Commission? Maybe we could give the members bus-tickets instead of flying them around? All symbolic, sure, but it might just get some attention from the M$M.

I agree on the issue of government shut-down politics. I'd hope that if and when such occurs, the progressives will start a "shadow congress" and put up bills intended to create jobs and stimulate the economy - highlighting the true cost of GOPper obstinance.

We should also be ready to take to the streets and demand that these GOPper "adults" stop their tantrums. If I knew where Alan Simpson lived - maybe I'd start the march in his backyard.

If Simpson wants a blood-bath - give him one he will not soon forget.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
The Catfood Commission Is Bankrolled By Pete Peterson's Foundation (4.00 / 1)
Which should really tell you everything you need to know.

They don't even bother to hide this stuff anymore.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
A commission called by the Executive costs the US nothing? (0.00 / 0)
Must be a sweet deal. Are the members paid? Do they get to write off their expenses?

Besides - even it is all I need to know, what about everyone else in the country?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Isn't this because (0.00 / 0)
congress declined to establish such a commission? The Executive can't spend money that hasn't been appropriated, but he can ask his right-wing base to spend it for him....

[ Parent ]
I Don't Think So (4.00 / 2)
The executive has money it can use on its own discretion, subject to oversight, of course.

The fact that it's not a congressional commission means that there was no upfront obligation to pay any attention to it.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
can we get rid of that discretionary money (0.00 / 0)
as a deficit reduction measure?

Probably one of the very few things we can agree with the Tea Partiers on is not trusting Obama's discretion.


[ Parent ]
I'm Sure That Cantor & His Pals Are Working On It (0.00 / 0)
even as we speak.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
Peterson's paying for the staff.  I don't really know about all their finances.  But the fact that any of it's being paid for by an outside zealot...

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
true- it doesn't take Obama to call their bluff... (0.00 / 0)
Harry Reid, or 41 other Democrats in the Senate could do it (assuming they don't change the filibuster rules, otherwise they need 51).

The Progressives in the House can't do anything about it, other than shout loud and make it clear who is being irresponsible if there is a shutdown. But shouting loud doesn't do much good if the Republicans can pass what they want anyway, and only the Senate or the President can stand in the way of the House Republicans passing what they want.

It's probably more likely that Reid will call the Republicans' bluff than Obama, and he showed in his campaign against Angle that he can hit back hard when he wants to. Maybe that's where the pressure really needs to be directed: tell Reid that a shutdown is preferable to giving Simpson his meat. Directing the pressure at Reid would also be a good show of no confidence in Obama.

[ Parent ]
Actually, Obama DIDN'T Talk Straight About Race In Philadelphia (4.00 / 2)
He badly misrepresented Rev. Wright as not believing progress was possible, just because he remained conscious of how much left there was to fix.

We should have known right then that there was something deeply wrong with Obama, since Wright's theology and politics were virtually the same as Martin Luther King's.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 1)
but it may be the closest he's ever come. I suppose I should have gone back to the 2004 Democratic convention speech, but I'd really have to remind myself what he said there and reassess whether he actually believed it.

[ Parent ]
One thing that gives me hope (0.00 / 0)
I don't recall many cases where Obama has actually compromised with "mainstream" Republicans.  Not necessarily for lack of trying, but with the exception of a handful of "moderates", Republican positions since Obama's taken office have been lunatic right, and they've been unwilling to compromise with him.  So however uncomfortable it's made him, Obama has been in de facto confrontation with them almost continually, just his rhetoric hasn't reflected it.  If he's compromised at all it's been with the Conservadems, and once or twice with people like Olympia Snowe.  Most of his positions have been sufficiently vague it's hard to tell if he's compromised, since it's hard to know what his base position was (if anything).

The coming two years is likely to be similar -- the Republicans are certifiable and they don't want to compromise with Obama, they want to defeat and destroy him.  So he likely won't have much chance at "bipartisanship," and any compromises they do offer will hopefully be so extreme that even Obama won't be able to swallow them.  Hopefully.

[ Parent ]
Pathological politics (4.00 / 3)
There was an article at huffpo the other day about the dynamic going on in American politics - the author called it "pathological politics", a term I think captures the stuation well.

Here's the address:

A couple high points:

I've written about what it takes to operate in an arena of pathological politics. In such organizations, there's a fixed-pie mindset. It goes like this: Every piece of anything you get is one I don't. Negotiating with such people is a high order skill. It has nothing to do with bipartisan goals. Pathological groups are filled with maneuverers and street fighters, not purists and team players.

Get a grip on the type of people you're dealing with and keep that firmly in mind. It's a pathological environment, not a garden party. The GOP is spring loaded to hostility and pumped up by taking over the House.

And my personal favorite:

Stop being predictable. When people are predictable in the way they respond or attack an issue, they're easily managed.

There's a story of a chess match between Boris Spassky, then the world champion, and Bobby Fischer.  Fischer had played Spassky before and lost.  Spassky was a shrewd player, he judged his opponents and worked slowly on their weaknesses until he emerged victorious.  Fischer realized this and did everything he could to scramble his patterns - he showed up late, he behaved erratically, made risky moves he'd never made before.  It worked - he ended up winning.  

The Obama team and Democrats have behaved predictably.  They need to scramble their patterns.

When the eagles are silent, the parrots jabber.  Winston Churchill

now I'm really curious - (0.00 / 0)
what y'all think is the right way to deal with such 'pathological politics' - because isn't that THEE question of the riddle everybody wants to solve? (at least on our side) -
Once upon a time the Republicans self-destructed with this type of attitude and the fact - that the American people have one of the shortest memories on this whole wide planet CAN NOT be the mandate to answer pathological politics with the a pathological fighting spirit.
Not that anybody wants to - Right? -
We just want Obama -(and the Dems) -  to fight back 'a little bit more'? -
The only problem with this concept - A 'little bit' is not enough in 'pathological politics - and if you aren't a Psychiatrist 'enough' might turn you into the same kind of pathological (and suicidal) idiots as the Republicans -

So - The only resolution (besides 'capitulation' which I still like because it brings out the empathy in people) - Is NOT being 'predictable' - okay let's try that -  and answer like good Psychiatrists!

[ Parent ]
That's why there are other suggestions in the original (0.00 / 0)
I provided a link to the original article for a reason.

The author provdided a list of suggestions.  I picked those that resonated with me.  Not being predictlbe is important when dealing with a pathological situation - Obama and other Dems have established a patter of "bipartisanship" above all, perpetually seeking compromise and middle ground.  It allow Republicans to use the same tactic again and again and again.  Change that pattern and you throw the Republicans off balance.  In the same way, Democrats respond predictably to Republican proposals to cut taxes.  The dynamic becomes self-reinforcing.  Dems have to change their responses to start changing the political environment.  It works.

The root of this problem is found in the simple concept that right now Republicans are seeing politics and policy as a zero sum game.  If Dems win, they lose and vice versa.  Dems have to realize that, have to see the dynamic at play before they can figure out their strategy.  That's one of the primary suggestions - recognize what you're dealing with.

When the eagles are silent, the parrots jabber.  Winston Churchill

[ Parent ]
I think - (0.00 / 0)
they know - since quite some time what they are dealing with and most of them stay kind of 'sane' - trying to deal with it in a more or less reasonable way -
(which is very admirable) - and in 'normal' conditions there is a 'payout' with pathological politicians losing all face -(remember 2004-2008) - But now there is this strange situation where 'the people' have spoken - about what?
To whom?  - And all what's left is complete and utter confusion!  

[ Parent ]
re: cuious (4.00 / 1)
Once upon a time the Republicans self-destructed with this type of attitude

Once upon the time the Democrats would push back against the right-wing noise machine

[ Parent ]
The Mean Old Man (0.00 / 0)

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!

I think the majority of people on the left (0.00 / 0)
Including most of the people who have responded here are completely underestimating what these people are saying.  There is nothing figurative or ideological in what Simpson is saying.  They fully expect chaos, death, bloodshed, and a fundamental change in the US.  And they expect to win without regard to the means necessary.  In case you haven't noticed, in the last week the most fundamentally religious among them are saying that only "killers" are heroes.  You error at great cost to yourself if you believe this is a small fraction of right wing opinion.

The foot soldiers of these people are being plied with hatred and selfrighteousness.  It is only a matter of time until we see these "open carry" advocates threatening the general public.  If you live in a red or purple state it is unlikely that local police forces will enforce the law against neo-brownshirts.  

If you think the Complicitor in Chief is going to help you, think again.  He's going to be spending all his time hoping the right doesn't find a way to eliminate him and the VP on the same day.  It is time to give up on him and find a new leader for the left.   I wouldn't spend too much time hoping it's Harry Reid.  I think it is probably time for Clint Eastwood's "Preacher."  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman


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