Monday, October 1, 2012

The Congressional "Chicken" Comes Home to Roost

Spelling It Out:
How In The World Did All This "Happen?"

With a public approval rating at a single digit and national voters completely irritated with its absolute refusal to act for economic recovery, the US House continues to meander through day after day of naming post offices, passing impossible abortion laws and suffocating state efforts to maintain even a minimal staff of civil servants such as teachers, policemen and fire fighters.  On the days when no additional wreckage is being added to the national land fill, the House's days are packed with rejections of Sharia Law, repeated, wild chest beating reaffirmations of total allegiance to the war mongers currently in command of Israel and adolescent bellicosity for Iran.

It is a disaster.  It is sickening. It is un-American.  Depending on which definition you might prefer, we may as well call it treason.

The President has illuminated this bizarre lack of Congressional interest a number of times, possibly with some fleeting hope of spurring action from the recalcitrant ideologues, but his actions have brought no results.  Opinion polls, usually measurements of trends vitally interesting to incumbent Congressmen, are impotent irritants to the House tea bags. 

Their dilapidated "train wreck" will continue with its fits and starts right out to the horizon, on the same tracks, with the same policy and bathed in the same blistering hubris.  House Republicans are, at their own peril, still listening exclusively to the 15% of voters who home school, square dance and drink beer at shabby American Legion bars across the country.

These complaints are nothing new.  Further, there is nothing news worthy about them which could possibly make them merit "topic status" for a MeanMesa posting.

Normally, at just about this point, MeanMesa would propose some sort of solution to this dilemma, but this time, that isn't required.  Everyone who visits here knows exactly how to solve this problem.  There's no valid reason to add paragraph after paragraph of riling laments, so let's take a different track.

Let's look at where we might have been right now if the House tea bags had not obstructed every possible remedial plan in the sordid company of their Senatorial counterparts who immediately filibustered anything which escaped the death grip of the political hill billies controlling the Congress.

First of all, we need a "big picture."

These people have all of our tax money.  We can't do anything until they agree to cooperate.  This would be representational democracy if these folks in the House were trying hard to get things moving again, however, their continuing, constant refusal to allow any of our money to be applied to any proposal which might ease the pangs of this depression -- unquestionably a depression caused by them -- is beyond felonius extortion.

It's as if they somehow assumed that they would never need our votes again.

We have to wonder just what they might have in mind.

GOP Strategies, Perceptions and Misperceptions 

It's easy enough to fall into an infatuation with the "usual suspects" among liberal complaints.  One needn't walk far at all before the conversation turns to the rapacious 1%, the corrupt banksters, the thoroughly cratered health care system, Big Oil or the Defense Procurement Scams.  However, as proverbial laments might go, when we find ourselves becoming too comfortable with just cooling our feet in the mud, we may lose sight of the lake just beyond.

To depart from this dismal abyss, let's take a look at some specifics about where we would be if the Congress had been working to rehabilitate the depression economy the out of control Republicans created less than a decade ago.  We must remember -- that as a very successful national economy -- there is no particularly persuasive reason to assume that we should necessarily be plummeting into the suffocating grey pain of wild austerity panic.

Somewhere between Bangor and San Diego the incredible wealth we took for granted only a few years back must still exist -- even if it has been hidden from view or occupies different pockets.  Likewise, as is the case with all recessions, the clear dilemma lies in demand while the "low hanging fruit" solution-wise always appears to be couched, somehow, in supply.

This current, skillfully orchestrated, recession, while much more vicious than most, is no exception.

The supply side, if it were to function within the bounds of ideological, theoretical, policy "purity," would argue that over spending has produced unmanageable debt which has introduced a high interest liability which, in turn, resulted in high cash service costs, retracting credit offerings and, ultimately, the collapse of the economy.

"Boiled down to the bones," this would simply mean that since we were clearly not interested in  operating the county's government based on its tax revenue, we were determined to operate it on borrowed money instead.  When the debt became so unmanageably high and interest rates increased in a corresponding way, this policy began to cost too much.

GOP-Tea Bag Truck Driving School (image source)

The specific part of "cost too much" has to do with credit.  With the startling redistribution of wealth upward during the Bush autocracy, the "operating capital" of the country became stranded in the pockets of the politically connected class who have very little incentive to "operate" in this country. It followed the jobs to distant factories becoming the credit which lubricated these obviously temporary, foreign investments.

Enthralled under the hypnotic spell of finally relegating the economic remnant of the US's previously dynamic economic position into a slowly dwindling consumption market, the prospect of producing in the labor wastelands abroad then selling here found a mortally grisly match with the traditional short sightedness of the oligarch class.

Some part of the "profit" would be extracted from producing shoddy American consumer goods at 30% of the domestic cost and selling them as bargains at 80% of the "old price."  The remainder of the "profit" would be extracted from the interest paid on the credit used to purchase these goods by consumers who still had buying habits left over from the days when they were drawing reasonable pay checks.

Although this overly simplified explanation has merit as a "fundamental cause," there were, naturally, a million other "moving parts," most of which had something to do with individual profit opportunities.  Some of the "moving parts," although costly in terms of actual cash or social enmity, were ideological opportunities which would not have ever been palatable in better times.

We can squarely tie everything from voter suppression to anti-abortion hyperbole to the economic disaster.  None of these sorts of things would have offered a satisfactory "return on investment" had such efforts been made in better times.  In this collection of "less than desirable" diagonal opportunities which have only now surfaced amid the calamity, we can also include other, otherwise more subtle, causes such as the suddenly active, drastic, social re-engineering ambitions of the oligarchs and even a good few of the arcane economic "happenings" associated with the first "nips of the wringer" coming with the serious, rapidly approaching, global climate change.

These were all the imminent dangers Republicans were prepared to manipulate for their stated political ambitions.  These dangerous maladies were the tools in the Republican "tool kit" which would be used as a means to sustain desperately poor economic conditions long enough to recapture the White House and Congress.

Polishing Up the Disasters For the 2012 Election

The Republican political problem arose on two fronts.

First, when any group brazenly embraces such powerfully destructive forces for some purpose other than mitigating the threat -- in this case, for the purpose of artificially maintaining economic collapse for political reasons -- everyone else will steadfastly hope that they actually know what they're doing.  It turns out that the Republicans had, in a way quite consistent with their contemporary record,  no idea how to handle and manipulate such power.

Second, the actual policy was to be one thing, that is, the political manipulation of the economy, while the perception of resultant events was intended to be quite another.  For this side of the challenge, Republicans relied on their well developed "imaging factory" along with an obedient mass media.  Their scheme required an effective management of the perception of events, a task they obviously considered "doable" given the paucity of information held by majority of voters they intended to deceive.

We see the very reasonable course of this last strategy unfolding today.  The Republican campaigns had hoped that the superficial messaging would still be effective over the low information crowd primarily because their economic sabotage would have "softened up" what might have otherwise been a problem with common sense.

However, the "softening up" effort has begun to produce an abiding distaste rather than an increase in political compliance, and the "common sense" problem has apparently exceeded their strategic calculations.  The GOP campaign problem lies in the middle ground between the now out of control "softening up" and unexpectedly high levels of common sense in response to it.  The tea bag amateurs were not competent to direct -- or even contain -- the "softening up" they unleashed.

There's nothing particularly promising about voters discussing their bruises while waiting to vote.

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