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Emaciated Beast —

October 7, 2013

Fat PoliticsFat NewsDickweed

Note: The political views contained within this post belong to the author and not the collective blog.

As many of you are aware, the United States government is in the middle of a shutdown that is essentially a repeat of the 1996 shutdown waged against President Bill Clinton over budget battles. As with 1996, the present shutdown affects non-essential workers and services, and once the government ultimately reopened the result was Bill Clinton routing Bob Dole in the Presidential election, while Republicans lost some House seats.

This time around, the polls look even worse for Republicans with the 2014 Midterms just around the corner. That’s why the blame game has become central to this story, even though 63% of Americans put the blame squarely on the GOP. The electoral fallout from Ted Cruz’s gambit is why establishment Republicans have tried to nip this legislative revolt in the bud, to no avail. And every day, the Republican ship is taking on more water.

What’s a party to do?

Well, if you’re the propaganda arm of the Republican Party (aka Fox News), then you spin the shutdown as entirely Obama’s fault, while simultaneously downplaying the negative effects for those too savvy to fall for the claim that the hostage-taker is the victim.

Throughout the first half of 2013, Senate Democrats have asked to go to conference committee on the budget (where you would negotiate the terms) 18 times, but the House rejected each one. Finally, Republicans called for a conference committee moments before the last Monday’s midnight shutdown deadline. Leveraging this superficial offer, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted this photo saying, “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate.”

Ready to Negotiate

Last Supper of the Dude-Bros

Ignoring these basic facts, Fox News pushes stubbornly ahead with its ridiculous claim that President Obama won’t negotiate (Pro Tip: If only one side is making demands, then only one side is at fault). And, of course, the media has to feign “balance” by suggesting that both sides are to blame when, in reality, only one party is making demands to selectively fund the government in an attempt to re-legislate the Affordable Care Act.

This is all standard issue propaganda that MSNBC engages in as well, but the reason I bring all this up is to point out the way Fox News is trying to soften the image of the shutdown. Although both parties have people attempting to frame every political issue linguistically, nobody has achieved Orwellian Newspeak like Frank Luntz, the infamous Republican political consultant. It was Luntz who recommended that Republicans start calling the Estate Tax (which affects only the richest 0.3% of the population) the Death Tax to evoke the sense of being “taxed to death.” Nothing has changed about the issue, but now the issue is framed in such a way that the first impression may sway the opinion of the other 99.7%.

Democrats use semantic shenanigans too, but Republicans have been incredibly successful at affecting the first impressions (frequently, the only impressions) of complicated issues, and now they’re at it again. While Fox wants to convince you that the shutdown is Obama’s fault, it’s also pushing the idea that the shutdown isn’t that bad. This kind of mixed messaging serves a dual purpose: first, blame every bad thing on President Obama, and second, mitigate the fallout from its viewers who aren’t that gullible.

The former goal is easy: simply hammer the claim that it’s unfair that Obama won’t negotiate with those who have taken the government hostage. The latter is harder, but they’re using Luntz-like language to reassure viewers: it’s not a government shutdown, it’s a government slimdown. Fox News has even gone so far as to change Associated Press articles to reflect the “Slimdown” vs. Big Government“Shutdown” language.

By appropriating diet culture language, Republicans can simultaneously demonize so-called Big Government and suggest that governing via manufactured crisis is healthy. After all, who would be against slimming down a great, big, fat oaf like Big Government?

This isn’t the first time Republicans have compared Big Government to a gluttonous cretin in need of a crash diet. In fact, since the Reagen era, the GOP has been advancing a political strategy known as “Starve the Beast,” which was best summarized by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist who said in 2004, “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Apparently the Tea Party couldn’t wait any long and they are now attempting to drown our government now through sequester spending levels, shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt ceiling, which would be economically disastrous.

All of this because the House doesn’t have the power to force the Senate to accept, let alone convince the President to sign, their 40+ resolutions to repeal Obamacare.

My point is not just to air my grievances against a self-destructive, nihilistic political party waging an extra-Constitutional policy fight on behalf of the Koch Brothers who have been planning this shutdown since Obama was reelected by investing over $200 million in forcing a shutdown. I call out both political parties when they use fat people as pawns in their messaging wars. You’ve no doubt seen some variation of this fucked up meme:

Left Too

True sentiment, but not funny, fellow liberals.

But this particular fight is much larger, and I found Fox’s attempt to soften the perception of the shutdown fascinating. I mean, if there’s one thing all Americans can agree on, it’s that fatties — even symbolic fatties like the US government — need to slim down.

My hope, as a staunch liberal, is that this slimdown will go the way of 95% of real life slimdowns that end with the dieter realizing such a Spartan lifestyle is unsustainable in the long-term. Then, in 2014 we work to fire those who forced this “lifestyle change” on us in the first place.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2013 1:26 pm

    This is GD brilliant. All of it. I hope the USian voters speak LOUD AND CLEAR in 2014 and we’ll see a lot of places go blue that were red, and new blue places where they never were before. Diets don’t work, whether they’re for your economy or your body. If you want to improve things economically you’ve got to spend spend spend! Self love rocks whether it’s for a country or a person.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 7, 2013 10:01 pm

      That is the Keynesian economic philosophy. People who follow Austrian economic theory believe otherwise. Here’s a great rap demonstrating both schools.

  2. Kala permalink
    October 7, 2013 1:57 pm

    I’d like to break the fingers off of every person that’s ever made one of those stupid meme pictures by stealing some random’s person photo. Disrespectful garbage. If you want to be the face of Stupid Teapartier or Good Guy Greg or Dumb Bad Girlfriend, go on ahead, but don’t go stealing someone’s photo like a complete fucking dickwad.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    October 7, 2013 5:26 pm

    This whole situation is rage-inducing. My only consolation is that the GOP will probably see the same results they did when they pulled this shit back in 1996 (would serve them right, IMO). As for those who create the memes using fat people as representative of our government – yeah, uninformed, ill-informed, bigoted douchebuckets who spew the party line without knowing or caring that’s it’s mostly lies, simply because it’s easier to do that than it is to read, comprehend, and be educated, responsible voters.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 7, 2013 10:15 pm

      The ’96 shutdown resulted in a balanced budget, though at this point I’d be happy with a budget of any kind. We haven’t seen one passed since 2009. However, we can both agree that those memes are in bad taste.

  4. Novathecat permalink
    October 7, 2013 6:32 pm

    I’m not appreciating the liberal politics on a fat acceptance blog. While the fat bashing images used are offensive (and have been around since Thomas Nast’s Tammany Hall cartoons in the 19th century), partisan politics do not belong in this space. IMHO, the shutdown is the fault of both parties, and the bad optics (putting barricades around monuments) are coming from the White House, not the House of Congress. This did not happen in the last shutdown.

    • JeninCanada permalink
      October 7, 2013 6:58 pm

      [thread derail] Well, there’s where’d you be wrong. The GOP is holding the States hostage over the Affordable Care act and throwing a tantrum that they’re not getting their way. They could pass a budget tonight that would get things going again but because they wont get their way on a wish list of laughable items, they’re acting like a bunch of six year olds. Atchka clearly, VERY clearly, points out that this is a GOP created problem, and Obama is right on in not negotiating with that bunch of cretins. /thread derail]

      • Novathecat permalink
        October 7, 2013 7:02 pm

        So my complaint about partisonship get a super-partisan reply that assumes all readers of this blog are liberal Democrats. Nuts!

        • Pyctsi permalink
          October 7, 2013 7:28 pm

          No the assumption is that Atchka holds these views and if you don’t like them you are welcome to read a different post.

        • October 8, 2013 2:52 pm

          LOL. I am quite to the left of every liberal Democrat I know. So far, I haven’t had a gag slapped on me here. I guess even if that happens, I’ll keep reading from time to time just because there would still be other, less Party-oriented subjects worth reading about.

          Sort of like how I grit my teeth and read worthwhile things on Lefty political blogs even though their ignorance and hostility to fat folks often makes me cringe. [shrug] The universe is not a perfect place.

    • October 7, 2013 9:53 pm

      I’m sorry you don’t appreciate the liberal politics, but as I wrote at the top, they’re my views, which you are free to disagree with. Although this is not strictly a liberal blog, most of our bloggers are. Gingeroid is one of our new bloggers who is right-leaning and libertarian in her views, and has already written from that perspective, which you can find here. For the record, my criticism is not limited to Republicans, as I have repeatedly criticized Democrats generally and Michelle Obama specifically. I also did an extensive piece on the Nast cartoons you mentioned. Although I am ideological, I’m certainly not partisan and will criticize whoever is in the wrong.

      As far as the shutdown goes, you are welcome to disagree with me on who is at fault, but the fact remains that no previous minority party in Congress has attempted to impose their will by shutting down the government, let alone default on the debt ceiling. If America wanted the Tea Party to repeal Obamacare, then they would have voted for Mitt Romney, which they did not. And now, after over 40 repeal votes that went nowhere, they are attempting to leverage the full faith and credit of the United States in exchange for concessions that they can’t get through normal legislative means. Again, this is unprecedented in its brazen disregard for the outcome of the 2012 election. Only one party is making demands in exchange for keeping the government open and our credit rating in tact. And before you suggest that Democrats should just negotiate, they already have by not requesting an end to sequestration-level spending. We can argue about the optics of the barricades and why these public spaces were closed during the 1996 shutdown as well, but the basic fact remains that Republicans could end the shutdown now by letting the clean CR go to a vote, but they won’t. They are choosing to keep the government closed, not the Democrats.

      Now, if you have a problem with me expressing my opinion on my blog, which includes a disclaimer so you’re aware of the content, then I apologize, but that’s the way it is. If you want to debate the facts of what I am saying, I welcome that as well. But if you are trying to tell me that politics is off limits, then I bid you good day because sometimes weight and politics do intersect, and I have a hearty interest in both subjects. In short, I call ’em like I see ’em.

      And all of our bloggers, including Gingeroid, is permitted to express their opinions as well, and I’m allowed to publicly disagree with those opinions. That’s what we want. That is dialogue. And we will not turn feature down one iota.

      I hope you understand.


      • gingeroid permalink
        October 7, 2013 10:14 pm

        Our government is designed on the idea of separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. A checks the legislative branch has on executive power is the power of the purse. We’ve gone nearly 5 years without a budget. Instead, the government is operating on continuing resolutions which basically say they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing. What the House is currently doing via piecemeal appropriations bills is closer to an actual budgeting process.

        As for the allegation that the Republicans are holding the government hostage, it’s hard to negotiate when the Democrats flat out say we won’t negotiate. Do everything my way is neither negotiation nor compromise. You’ll also notice the GOP has already caved on their desire to defund Obamacare with amendments to delay the individual mandate (bringing parity to the unconstitutional executive decision to delay the employer mandate), repeal the medical device tax (is anyone really opposed to this?), and subject Congress to the same regulations as the rest of the American people. If the two parties actually negotiated, who knows what the end result will be. Delay of individual mandate for 6 months, no medical device tax, and Congress is still exempted? Who knows because all we hear is my way or the highway.

        Lastly, Wikipedia has a nice chart of all government shutdowns showing which parties controlled the presidency, House, and Senate. 2 on 1 is not at all uncommon. The government shut down nearly every year of Reagan’s administration, with the Democrats only controlling the Senate for most of it. Furthermore, the government spent 57 days in shutdown status during the Carter administration, and that’s when Democrats had the House, Senate, and presidency. It is also not unheard of to defund an unpopular program, the Vietnam War or Medicare-funded abortions for instance. This is hardly a new or unique phenomenon.

        • Trates permalink
          October 8, 2013 1:41 am

          To my knowledge the issues on the table are no longer about funding Obama’s pet project. It’s about delaying the individual mandate as was done to businesses.

          At this point anyone looking at both ends can see that it’s not one-sided in any way.

          You state that “If only one side is making demands, then only one side is at fault”.

          Well I’m sorry but you can’t negotiate by yourself for one.

          For another the Senate is in effect demanding Congress (who are beholden to *their* constituents) to go all-in on a bill that did make them a Congressional majority.

          Or to put it another way they demand that Congress ignore those who voted them in in order to fund a government that has more cash than sense.

          When there was a Liberal majority it was no shock that they shoved through so much. No it’s a “Conservative” one and people are eager to drag out pitchforks.

          And this happens every. Single. Time.

          As for the debt limit I saw a pic going around that summed things up nicely.

          If you come home and your house is filled to the rafters with shit you can raise the ceiling or empty out the shit.

          • October 8, 2013 10:38 am

            I explain the problems with this “negotiation” in this comment.

            As far as the debt ceiling goes, your metaphor doesn’t work. A better metaphor is that you come home to find boxes upon boxes upon boxes of crap you bought on Amazon with your credit cards, and then you decide you aren’t going to pay your bills. Except when the United States defaults on their bills, the consequences are catastrophic, which is why no other party has ever threatened to do so in exchange for unilateral concessions on the debt ceiling in exchange for unraveling a law passed by both houses, signed by the President and approved by the Supreme Court.


        • October 8, 2013 10:20 am

          See my new thread to avoid noodling.


    • gingeroid permalink
      October 7, 2013 9:55 pm

      Nova, have you considered writing for FIerce, Freethinking Fatties? I’m a big fan of more voices, not less. I believe I’m the only conservatarian writing and I just started. As this shutdown is demonstrating, conservatism is a diverse ideology with many voices. We could certainly use more non-liberal voices here IMO.

  5. October 8, 2013 9:59 am

    Ho hum. These “showdowns” between two closely-aligned defenders of the super-rich are about as predictable as pro-wrestling, and about as authentic, too. Excuse me while I sit in the corner and roll my eyes one more time.

  6. October 8, 2013 10:20 am

    First of all, the difference between this shutdown and all the previous listed is that all the previous listed were fights over the budget. Also, all these fights were budget battles in conference that went past the deadline by 1, 2 or 3 days. As I said, Democrats requested conference committee 18 times this year, but GOP rejected EVERY SINGLE ONE until just moments before the shutdown. The difference between this shutdown and all previous is that this is a fight over implementation of a law that passed all three chambers and was vetted by the Supreme Court. Saying that the “GOP has already caved” is like saying that the GOP actually had the ability to stop Obamacare and chose not to in good conscience. That’s completely wrong. If Republicans want to repeal a law, there is a specific process they must go through, which they have attempted over 40 times. That process includes the Presidential election, during which Mitt Romney made repealing Obamacare a cornerstone. The Tea Party could not garner enough support to enact their will, so they are using underhanded means to get their way.

    Incidentally, checks and balances is not just for the President, it’s for ALL the parties. So, the fact that the House tried to repeal Obamacare, but couldn’t, the fact that states sued over constitutionality of Obamacare and failed, are examples of checks and balances in action. Now, because checks and balances have rebuked their efforts, they are using their only remaining power — the power to run our economy into the ground — to force concessions they can’t get through the normal legislative process. Shutdowns happen over budget disagreements (the Carter years were all about abortion funding), but only Republicans have collectively used the debt limit as a bargaining chip, saying “Give us X or the economy gets it.” This is why what Republicans are doing can’t be called “negotiating” in the traditional Congressional sense. You negotiate in conference, not by threatening to damage the country if the other side doesn’t give you what you want.

    As far as delaying the employer mandate, that affects 0.2% of those the uninsured, per the Rand Corporation (PDF since 95% of corporations already offer healthcare. Those employees will still be eligible for healthcare through the exchanges. Delaying the individual mandate (a concept originally championed by The Heritage Foundation, which is now fighting it tooth and nail) would affect the vast majority of the uninsured who would be unable to get insurance. So, you’re comparing apples to oranges.

    As far as the “Congress gets an exemption claim,” both Politifact and have pointed out that this is blatantly false and that there is NO EXEMPTION for Congress. It’s a lie, plain and simple. Finally, the medical device tax could be settled through regular legislative process, as many Dems agree on that. But Republicans have never presented a bill to deal with that single issue. The only bills they have offered are complete repeals of Obamacare. Again, that’s not negotiation.

    Tl;dr: Previous shutdowns were a result of conference committee impasse on actual budgetary issues, while this shutdown is a result of Republicans rejecting conference committee for months, then demanding across-the-board concessions on a law that went through the ENTIRE checks and balances process in exchange for them doing their fucking jobs.


    • gingeroid permalink
      October 8, 2013 7:35 pm

      Harry Reid made a tax increase a non-negotiable condition of coming to conference. In today’s parlance, that might be known as hostage taking. There is also no excuse for the failures to pass a budget in prior years on either side. I agree the GOP isn’t going to stop Obamacare. However, nobody enters into negotiations with their desired outcome and negotiates down from it. They come in asking for more that they’re willing to accept so that they get closer to their desired outcome. Obamacare is a budget issue because it is a federal expenditure and, because the Supreme Court determined that the fines and penalties are taxes, also a revenue issue.

      Remember that the House flipped in 2010 because the people didn’t want Cap & Trade or Obamacare. Mitt Romney lost for a variety of reasons – being Mormon, being too moderate, etc. It’s hard to parse out Obamacare feelings solely from that. I’ll give you the Senate. The latest polling data shows that Obamacare is a divisive issue among voters. Even discounting the Fox poll, the consensus is still against. We’re also starting to see opinion changes from Obama voters like that viral “Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.” article.

      The only thing delaying the individual mandate does is remove the element of force. People are still free to use the exchanges to sign up for insurance policies. The delay removes the penalty for those who choose not to be insured. I think striking the mandate permanently and allowing the exchanges might be a compromise worth shooting for. The Congressional “exemption” was a bad choice of words, I agree. It is about the progressive’s favorite word, fairness. With the exchanges being touted as the best thing since sliced bread, it’s only fair for Congress et al. to be purchasing their insurance policies through there. By choosing to keep FEHB, it sends the message of, “good for thee but not me.”

      Lastly, the debt ceiling really is a case of the sky is falling. When a person maxes out their credit cards, it’s generally regarded as a bad move to get more credit cards. Refusal to raise the debt ceiling is not failing to pay the bills, it’s deciding not to extend the credit limit. The government takes in more than enough revenue to cover the cost of interest on the debt, which would prevent default.

      • vesta44 permalink
        October 8, 2013 10:48 pm

        The problem with polls saying that most voters are against “Obamacare” is that when you ask those very same voters about “Obamacare” and the ACA, most of them will say they don’t want anything to do with “Obamacare”, but they think the ACA is a good idea. Talk about uninformed voters – “Obamacare” and the ACA are the same damned thing, but to hear voters talk, you’d NEVER know it. And people are just too willing to hold on to their ignorance, educating themselves is just too much trouble and they’d rather listen to Faux News and be told what they should believe instead of reading and figuring it out for themselves.

        • October 9, 2013 10:30 am

          Considering that proponents of single-payer healthcare were literally shut out of the discussions that ultimately led to Obama’s plan, I don’t think such cherry-picking of information can be considered the sole province of outlets like Fox.

          • Elizabeth permalink
            October 12, 2013 10:15 am

            A Democratic congressman said Rahm Emmanuel came to Congress with the bill he (and presumably Obama) wanted passed, and that was exactly the bill that was passed. No single-payer option was included.

            • October 12, 2013 10:36 am

              But it should have been, given that millions of Americans actually wanted such a plan, or an expanded version of Medicare. But what Big Insurance wanted, Big Insurance got. It bought and paid for the likes of Bacchus, Obama, and Emmanuel fair and square, after all. :p

              Fuck the Democratic Party.

  7. October 8, 2013 11:46 am

    Are Democrats perfect? No, and we all know it. But the majority of that party isn’t trying to demonize minorities, women, the poor, teachers, government employees, unions, gays, non-Christians, pushing government into bedrooms but limiting it everywhere else and trying to ensure people who need health insurance don’t get it but we pay for theirs.

    The GOP that we once knew is gone and it’s not going to come back as long as they pander to Tea Party extremists, who don’t belong in government period. Why would you employ someone to work in a field they hate? It’s like hiring the KKK to work at BET. These right-wing fringe politicians should not be wielding this much power yet the GOP doesn’t have the balls to stand up to them for fear of losing votes and the moderate Republicans who will work with Democrats are apparently nowhere to be found, drowned out by the Tea Party loudmouths.

    Enough is enough and I hope by 2014 voters have the balls to stand up to them and get these morons who wouldn’t know the Constitution if it bit them on their butts out of office.

    • October 8, 2013 12:10 pm

      “Not perfect” is a spouse who sometimes fails to pick up their socks or one who snores. “Not perfect” is a restaurant where you ordered wheat toast with your eggs and they bring you sourdough instead.

      Democrats have done genuinely evil stuff, and they continue to do so. Spying on one’s own citizens at home and drone-bombing civilians overseas, for instance? That goes way beyond “not perfect.”

      No, sorry. Just because I dislike the GOP is no reason to rally ’round the Democrats.

      • October 8, 2013 1:46 pm

        The drone program is what we should have been doing all these years instead of attacking Iraq. Of the 746 people killed in drone strikes, 400 were civilians. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties caused by boots-on-the-ground warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. With cooperation from the Libyan government, we have been attacking Islamic extremists, rather than decimating entire cities and fomenting internal conflicts (which is what causes the majority of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan).

        All civilian deaths are tragic, but in wartime there will be collateral damage. Our choice is how to limit that damage, and I prefer an approach that does not inflame anti-American sentiments and trigger pre-existing sectarian violence. Unless you have an alternate plan for wiping out terrorists in training, drones are our best option.

        As far as domestic spying, a lot of it is overblown. The vast majority of the “spying” is meta-data collection, which is not the same as spying, and any leaks on violations of civil liberties have come to light due to internal oversight. I think that more oversight is good, but I find the blanket leaks of Snowden to be reckless and dangerous to American foreign policy. I think there should be a balance.

        All that being said, I once voted for the GOP, then I became disenfranchised with both parties and voted Independent, and both choices led to Republican leadership that nearly destroyed this country. Like it or not, we have a two party system, and my beliefs align far better with Democrats than Republicans, and I will no longer allow the party that is hellbent on privatizing America to have any real power. Democrats aren’t perfect, but they are more dedicated to fairness and justice than any other viable option, and I strongly support them.


        • October 8, 2013 2:12 pm

          I find it odd that you linked to an article which points to those figures as “high.”

          You’ve laid out the difference between American Liberals and those to their Left succinctly, however. Liberals talk about how to make constant interventionism overseas more palatable. (And let’s be honest here: Most Americans who favor drones do so because they prize the lives of Americans over those of foreigners. Frankly, I’m more than a little weary of hearing that violent interventionism in the affairs of sovereign nations is okay so long as we can claim we’re chasing extremists. We don’t even treat religious extremists in our own country like this, at least not right now.)

          Greens talk about ending interventionism.

          I don’t really have time to tackle your (in my eyes) extremely sanguine view about domestic spying. And hey, it’s your blog. But I vociferously disagree that it’s no big deal, and I have a great deal of respect for people like Snowden. Obama’s hostility towards him is no surprise, however. Obama has been using whistleblowers as punching bags pretty much from the moment he took office.

          Yes, we have a two-party system, and so long as millions of people who claim to want something more from life continue to shore it up, that’s all we’ll have. Excuse me if, after a couple of decades of that same old song, I want something different and withhold my support from parties that steadfastly refuse to provide it. Yes, it’s terrible that real people are being hurt in this latest chess game, but it’s still only a game– to them. Nobody of prominence in either party is going to suffer any lasting hurt while they keep pushing us all around on the board like the pawns they know we are.

          • October 8, 2013 2:31 pm

            First of all, the religious extremists in our country aren’t killing Americans. Al Qaeda and Muslim terrorist groups are intent on attacking and killing us. That’s why we’re at war. And yes, I believe we are justified in attacking terrorists in their country. But your claim that we are interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations is missing some important caveats: first, is that we used drone strikes with Pakistan and Libya’s approval. Even so, I support the strike on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, even without their permission. I am not an isolationist. I never have been. But I believe our foreign policy was severely abused in the past and that President Obama has shown remarkable judgement in limiting the scope of our interventions and in seeking international cooperation, which he has done with every major American intervention proposed. As far as the figure being “high” that’s in relation to what the Administration was claiming. It’s extremely low compared to the hundreds of thousands killed in the wake of our intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            I never said domestic spying was no big deal. I said that a lot of it was overblown (like the “shocking” revelation that we spy on other countries) and that we should focus on oversight. I don’t like how Snowden handled this situation. Some of his leaks were legitimate, but others went beyond “whistle-blowing” and bordered on treason, like telling China which targets we were spying on. There is no legitimate reason why this information needed to be made public. As far as Obama’s treatment of whistle-blowers, that’s a function of the NSA using more contractors, which lead to more leaks, which leads to more crackdowns. Aside from Chelsea Manning, every other leaker has gotten a sentence of less than two years and many got time served or house arrest. We cannot simply give every leaker a free pass. There are consequences for leaking (even Daniel Ellsberg was going to face a prison sentence until it was revealed that Nixon was spying on him) and there’s nothing unusual about that.

            However, I’m certain this is something we’ll just have to agree to disagree on. And I’m okay with that.


        • October 8, 2013 2:14 pm

          To clarify, by “them,” I mean: Democrats and Republicans in office.

        • October 8, 2013 2:48 pm

          Replying here to avoid what you call “Noodling,” Shannon.
          As a pro-choice woman, I have to say that it’s news to me to hear that religious extremists aren’t causing real casualties and destruction here at home. (To cite just one possible example.)

          FTR, I’m not an isolationist. I frankly balk at the idea that the only way to share a planet with foreign countries is to either build a wall OR engage in an endless cycle of funding/growing highly questionable organizations/leaders only to turn around a few years later and decimate their countries when they prove (repeatedly) to be less malleable than we’d like– all for the nebulous goal of “furthering our interests.”

          Anyway, I’ll get off the soapbox now. Thanks for your time.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 8, 2013 6:50 pm

      Just because I dislike the GOP is no reason to rally ’round the Democrats.
      Could not agree more. People are so sucked into party loyalty that they’re willing to excuse all kinds of things they’d abhor were it not their party doing it. It’s hard to imagine anyone’s not opposed to droning U.S. citizens sans due process. Yet the night Rand Paul was giving his filibuster, I had a statist friend tell me that Rand was an idiot with nothing worth hearing. Maybe he’d be more interested if it were Ron Wyden (D).

      Both of them have teamed up to write legislation to restrain the NSA. Again, something I wouldn’t think people would be opposed to, but Lindsay Graham seemed ok with Verizon collecting his metadata. I find all these domestic spy programs (Hemisphere, XKEYSCORE, PRISM, whatever we don’t know about yet, etc.) to be problematic for 2 less obvious reasons. 1) It inverts the paradigm of innocent until proven guilty. 2) It’s insulting to law enforcement. What happened to the days of conducting an investigation, presenting your evidence to obtain a warrant, and then busting the bad guy? Now we’re using metadata and warrantless wiretaps supposedly for national security purposes to create retroactive probable cause for narcotics enforcement.

      tl;dr To paraphrase something Penn Jilette often says, if we focused only on the issues we agreed on, we’d be so much freer than we are today by the time we run out of common ground.

      • October 9, 2013 10:40 am

        I hear you on the folly of “My party right or wrong.” Also, I agree with Jilette that it would be better for us to focus more on the issues we agree on. Maybe that’s not always workable, but it’s one of the reasons that I’d prefer to see a more coalition-oriented, multiparty system in the U.S. It’s tough to find others who are interested, though. Not just because of political orthodoxy and knee-jerk loyalty to the duopoly, but because there’s something in our respective natures that just seems to adore a huge, interminable brawl– whether we’re at work or at leisure. :/ But I am trying to break the habit, personally.

  8. Trates permalink
    October 8, 2013 12:15 pm

    Except we are not “paying it off”. We are buying more time so we can negotiate to buy more time which will in turn be used to negotiate for more time.

    I’m watching as our debt in the span of three minutes cranks by a million dollars and we are looking for…MORE TIME!

    It’s stupid. Beyond stupid. It’s suicidal.

    Also I kept an eye on the Supreme Court during the proceedings and wondered when a “penalty” proposed as a “penalty” became a “tax” that is so unlike any other tax in history.

    Right now though my Congressman *is* doing his job to the best of his ability. I’ll likely vote for him again if he runs.

    • October 8, 2013 1:36 pm

      Actually, the Federal Deficit is dropping faster than at any time since before WWII under President Obama, so that even pundits from the American Enterprise Institute are saying that austerity is actually going to start hurting us soon.

      The reason we have to keep raising the debt ceiling is not just due to spending, it’s due to a severe drop in revenue because Republicans will not negotiate on raising taxes for the wealthy. In previous budget fights, Obama has put entitlement cuts on the table (even the Daily Caller admits this), but Republicans refused to budge because they won’t allow ANY tax hikes on the wealthy. They could actually balance the budget like Clinton did, but Republicans are the ones who have routinely shot down negotiations over the budget, which is precipitated all previous shutdown and default threats.

      Your Congressman is welcome to represent his district, but what is unconscionable is that he would try to impose his will on a country that voted AGAINST his district’s views. If America wanted Obamacare repealed, they would have elected Romney and they did not.


  9. emi11n permalink
    October 9, 2013 3:00 pm

    This seems like a non-sequiteur now, but I’d like to comment on your remark about the estate tax, which as you mentioned, affects “only the richest 0.3% of the population”. This is true– depending on how you define “rich”. The tax has a really bad effect on family farmers, who are land-rich but cash-poor. Joel Salatin has written about his estate tax dilemma, wherin the farm his parents bought for $49,000 is now valued at $1.5 million. In order to inherit from his mother the farm that he has been living and working on all of his life, he will have to pay 35% of its value in taxes, over half a million dollars. As he says, “although we have certainly increased its productive capacity, thirtyfold would be a stretch. By a long shot… One of our neighbors just had to pay $300,000 inheritance taxes just to keep owning his farm. It wiped out his entire life’s savings… in the name of anything that makes sense, why in the world would a culture make it practically impossible for its farm businesses to pass to the next generation? Succession is hard enough as it is, without throwing this inheritance monkey wrench into the mix…when you tax inheritance, you destroy farms.” These kinds of laws are written by bureaucrats who have no idea what the full effect of the law will be. This tax makes absolutely no sense when it requires liquidation of an asset in order to inherit that asset. The assessed value of anything is meaningless until that item is sold. This definitely does not just affect “the rich”. I just hought this was an aspect of the estate tax you might not have considered.

  10. Elizabeth permalink
    October 11, 2013 9:04 am

    I would strongly suggest that anyone interested in Shannon’s post try to find Chris Hedges’s piece on the Tea Party attitude toward government and how delighted they are to have shut it down. It helps to put people and their actions into context, and of course our media should be doing that.

    And isn’t it sickening to hear people defending Obama’s actions who would have condemned the same actions if undertaken by GWB? There’s a poster elsewhere who calls herself liberalsareinsane, and the older I get, the more I believe she is correct.

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