Hertzberg: Republicans are Neo-Confederates and Obama Can Raise the Debt Ceiling Unilaterally

To get a sense of where the liberal establishment is hanging out these days, read former Carter speechwriter Hendrik "Rick" Hertzberg, one of The New Yorker's better-known editorialists (which is to say, one of The New Yorker's most ideological and poorly informed writers).

When it comes to raising the debt ceiling Hertzberg opines thus:

There are similarities [between yesterday's secessionists and today's Republicans]. Prominent among them is a belief that a federal law need not be repealed in order to be nullified. Equally noteworthy is an apparent inability to be reconciled to the results of an election. Last November, after a campaign that turned largely on the issue of health care, Barack Obama was reëlected with a popular majority of five million. In Senate races, Democrats drew ten million more votes than Republicans. In the House of Representatives, Republicans, whom Democrats outpolled by a million and a half, retained their legislative majority only by dint of the vagaries of districting and redistricting. The Confederates had a better case: in 1860, Abraham Lincoln got barely thirty-nine per cent of the vote, a smaller share than any Presidential winner since.

In the current imbroglio, Republicans threatened that, unless their demands were met, they would (a) shut down most of the government and, more alarmingly, (b) deny the Treasury the ability to borrow the money it needs to pay expenses that Congress has already authorized. 

All partisan sloganeering aside, this sort of thing is just sad. The logic here is mind-boggling: Forget the way that American elections and government structures actually work. The important thing is that across all elections last fall, Democrats drew more aggregate votes so they get to call all the shots even if they don't control the House. Representative government is only legitimate insofar as it represents what Rick Hertzberg knows to be good and decent and proper. And since Obama won re-election - or as The New Yorker insists (in deference to Big Umlaut) reëlection - that means he has the free hand of a Caesar to do whatever he wants in his second term.

Which isn't to say that Hertzberg wants you to get carried away with "the results of an election." Because some reëlections are better than others.

As it happens, Hertzberg didn't greet the second term of George W. Bush with a warm embrace. Back in 2004, he lamented the fact that Bush and the GOP managed to keep control of the White House, the Senate, and the House. "The system of checks and balances has broken down," he wrote back then. He certainly didn't call for his ideological confreres to reconcile themselves with that election. And of course now that power is shared, however unevenly, the system is even more broken down, because the Democrats can't simply impose their will.

But the really important thing, stresses Hertzberg in his more recent observation, is that Obama doesn't need Congress' approval to spend whatever he wants. Because...14th Amendment!:

It is widely said that the Obama Administration has “ruled out” recourse to the fourth section of the Fourteenth Amendment. Not so. In 2011, when the Republicans test-drove their debt-ceiling gambit, Timothy Geithner, then the Secretary of the Treasury, read the section to a breakfast gathering of reporters. A squall ensued; the President calmed it, saying that “lawyers” had advised him that the Fourteenth was not a “winning argument.” Similarly cagey equivocations have been forthcoming this time around. Obama has been careful to keep the option on life support.

So the Republicans are "similar" to the old slave power that seceded from the Union because...they are fully operating within the power structure as laid out by the Constitution. Their goals and tactics may be stupid and offensive and may even lead to their wholesale ouster in 2104. But are they acting unconstitutionally? No.

Yet if the former constitutional law instructor Obama - also a former senator who inveighed against raising the debt limit as a "failure of leadership" - goes against his own sense of the Constitution, that's just fine. In fact, says Hertzberg, it would be so popular that it "would be all [Obama] could do to head off a post-Bloombergian boomlet to somehow get around another amendment, the Twenty-second, and usher him to a third term." Sure, because while 70 percent of Americans oppose raising the debt limit, those people really don't count. Because some of them most certainly voted to keep the GOP in charge of the House. And you know what? Today's GOP are like Confederate secessionists - except "the Confederates had a better case."

Read the whole thing here.

Exit question for those of Hertzberg's view on debt: When should the debt ceiling not be extended? Was Sen. Obama just horsing around when he inveighed against back in 2006? And is it so wrong to condition the debt ceiling's increase on, you know, actually tackling long-range spending and debt issues? Or is that just total freaking madness?

And if you've got a really tough case of the Mondays, get a laugh out of Hertzberg's gloss on "The Drone Perplex" (is it any wonder that a Carter-era appratchik is the last man in America to use the word perplex without intentional irony or humor?). The real problem with Obama's secretive and almost-certainly extrajudicial use of drones to kill people (including American citizens) isn't simply that it participates in the "secrecy, deceit, and unchecked executive power" that characterizes most foreign-policy snafus. No, it's that "it has somehow managed to cast Rand Paul—who would abrogate the American social contract, consolidate the country’s transformation into a merciless plutocracy, and destroy the global power of the United States not just for ill but, in both senses, for good—as the conscience of a nation and the hero of its enlightened youth."

Note: I made minor edits and corrections to this around 3.50pm.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    No. And hell no.

  • JW||

    I'm so fucking over the bitter communitarian clingers and their democracy fetish. "You need to be forced to adopt our values and act upon them. For the good of society!"

    Uh, no, I don't, and why don't you go fuck yourself, for the good of society?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Leave me the fuck alone. It should be a political party.

  • JW||

    You must become one with the Body.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, um, yeah, totally, dude. Landru rules. Here, have this phaser blast.

  • Mr. Soul||

    I always thought Mittens looked like Landru. Just sayin..

  • Pro Libertate||

    Maybe he is. Maybe this unlimited, accountability-free governmental terror the Democrats are constructing will allow Romney to rise to total, unchallenged power.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    One of the great lies that intellectuals tell themselves is that 20th century totalitarians - Commies, Fascist and Nazis - gained power by appealing to the stupid and ignorant. When the reality is that there were intellectuals participating and cheering on all of those groups.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Look at the Nazis. Intellectually, a bullshit cause/philosophy led by thugs and goons, but they had support from German intelligentsia, such as Heidegger.

  • ||

    That is the thing. If ONLY the stupid and ignorant supported them, then the middle class would never have supported the Nazis. But the intellectual support from people like Heidegger legitimized Naziism in the eyes of the mainstream.

    Intellectuallys makes it OK for semi-informed people to support groups they otherwise would stay away from.They give it a veneer of respectability.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I agree. Because they keep mistakenly thinking that being smarter will allow them to keep the goons in control and also keep them safe. While that might work for some of them, the bulk get the result the rest of us get.

  • JW||

    the bulk get the result the rest of us get.

    It's almost like their masters know something that they don't. Who's the retard proletariat now?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm going to laugh with whatever power my lungs have left when they move these guys into the stockade across from the libertarian one.

  • JW||

    Oh, I plan on taunting them into a murderous frenzy, which will get them gassed first.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'll refuse to sell them prison contraband, since they don't believe in free markets.

  • JW||

    It's only fair, since you don't believe in socialized medicine and thus, you should be denied all medical care.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's okay, because I'll be paying one of the libertarian doctors in cigarettes for black-market healthcare.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The problem is people who are 1 standard deviation above "average intellect" aren't actually smart.

    "Smart" being just above average intellect is basically academic grade inflation.

    If you think I'm pitting hard-science vs. English Majors, I am. It isn't that the sciences don't have their own religious idiocies, it's that the other disciplines like to pat themselves on the back for seeing things other people aren't seeing - even if they aren't there. Symbolism may indeed be a key component of art, but it serves no purpose for analysis of history and current events.

    I leave symbolism to the symbol-minded. Convenient metaphors are nice for entertainment, but not for intellect.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    I'd argue it's not even a case of IQ (if that's what you mean by intellect. If not I apologize for the weird tangent).
    Geoff Colvin studied world-class talent and discovered someone with an IQ of 85 who was a world-class horse gamblerer-person whatever you call those guys that make money off of betting on horses.
    Thomas Sowell in Intellectuals and Society analyzed IQ and race and pointed to many flaws of IQ. I've heard IQ can't even measure creativity very well. The only thing I imagine IQ is good at is measuring how fast you learn/adapt.
    However, as Colvin might pointed out in Talent is Overrated, it's things like deliberate practice (knowing what you need to do to improve and doing it) and dedication and the desire to improve that counts. (Hell, one of the dumbest most emotional progtardy person I know has an IQ of 180-ish but says the smell of meat eaters disgusts her)
    This can also be applied to the intelligentsia. It's not that they're not smart it's that they don't want to be smart if it means challenging their beliefs and making themselves feel uncomfortable.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Another perfect example of this is paleolithic nutrition.
    You would not believe how many MDs, how many researchers turn into babbling hysterical retards when faced with this.
    I've heard countless times of people going paleo, improving their health, having theid MDs ask them their secret and then basically freakout when told what they ate. (Paleo goes against the gov't mandated nutritional guidelines all healthcare providers have been taught). Even people like Dr. Michael Eades laments the stupidity of many of his colleagues. (so did Dr. Atkins)
    As for the researchers, well, just read Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories for a good laugh.
    I doubt these MDs are stupid; they just don't want to do the effort necessary to challenge themselves and change their beliefs (and possibly risk getting sued/fired for giving politically incorrect nutritional advice... Atkins almost lost his medical license on a bogus charge because he was so hated).

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I wish more people knew how IQ tests work. The basic idea is to come up with a battery of tests, where success (earning high scores) requires certain known qualities of intelligence: spatial visualization, memory, logic, filling in the gaps with hindsight/foresight, mathematics, imagination, language prowess, speed in pattern recognition and reasoning, etc. Then, get a large number of people of various ages to take the tests. Plot the scores for the various tests for each chronological age. If your sample is large and representative enough, the graph will come out resembling the famous bell curve. The middle of the curve corresponds to the "average" score for that chronological age. To find IQ, identify the chronological age that has an average score corresponding to a person's individual score for that test. This becomes the "mental" age. Divide the mental age by the chronological age and multiply the result by 100. That's the person's IQ:

    IQ = (M/C)x100

    (continued in reply comment)

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    (continued from above)

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    (continued from above)

    An implication of the IQ formula is that the average IQ must ever and always be 100, because that means that the person performs as well on the tests as the statistically average person of the same chronological age. If someone of age 12 has an IQ of 125, for example, this means they perform as well on the tests as the average 15 year old.

    Improvement in mental performance is very rapid in childhood and levels off in adulthood, so people's IQs tend to "diminish" over time (i.e., performance on the tests becomes more typical of people their age). Mental ability in many tested areas actually declines with age, and this causes problems with IQ measurement. It defies reality, for instance, to say that someone having an IQ of 150 at age 50 is doing as well as the average 75 year old on the tests. Once you get out of youth's "mental growth" window, you need to start relying on other methods of measuring "intelligence." IQ was originally put forward as a tool for evaluating students and workers, and sorting them for various educational tracks and jobs.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    My mistake let me clarify: the popular assumption that high IQ = high success in life and high competence & talent. Many fall into this trap. IQ as a tool for abstract reasoning and intelligence already suffers from the flaws inherent in being made by mere mortals but when people start using it to essentially measure the worth of a person it falls apart.
    Geoff Colvin found that the difference between good performers & great, world-class performers lies not in talent or even IQ but in things like deliberate practice, which is harder to do than you might think.
    Even in the case of these dumb intellectuals, the idea that they merely lack IQ is, I'd argue, also wrong. Lack of intellectual curiosity and unwillingness to think critically at their own belief systems seems to be the problem, along with seeing themselves as on the side of Good; the Anointed Ones vs their Evil opponents. Why even bother listening to people you see as evil?
    They'd need to step out of the echo-chamber and actually look at what the other side is saying, from their perspective.
    If every progressive did this as one form of deliberate practice, there'd be less of them and they wouldn't be as irrational/incompetent as they are. But this requires putting yourself in an uncomfortable position. As crazy as it might sound I think this kind of laziness, along with simple ignorance some get from living in an echo-chamber, are the major reasons why the left-wing intelligentsia support dumb ideas.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    ...Note that Colvin was only researching and interviewing people that were already good/great at their fields. This doesn't mean IQ can't have an effect in making a mediocre/novice performer into a good one... he talks about this in his book.
    Also Thomas Sowell in Intellectuals & Society made good arguments why even high-IQ intellectuals will make mistakes and would fail if they established & ruled a authoritarian/totalitarian gov't regime. But you already knew that.
    See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wln6lNTxVpY

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    IQ is a very blunt tool for very pedestrian purposes. The various tests in the "battery" may or may not be good at measuring the intelligence components they exercise. The components themselves may not be as important to intelligence as the testers believe. The intelligence components measured by the tests may have little or nothing to do with one's ultimate success or happiness. The tests are most useful only during the stage of someone's life when they are being sorted out to follow various tracks in education or career. In the adult and mature years, IQ measurement isn't very useful at all, and it NEVER indicates how much "better or worse" as a person someone is, in comparison with another.

    The IQ measure is an artifact from a time when people in power believed (and people being ruled were convinced or bamboozled into going along with) the idea that elites "with passion and vision" (as Donald Fagen sang in "I.G.Y.") should scientifically manage people's individual fates, as well as society in general. In support of that idea, all sorts of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo notions were trotted out, including elements of coercive eugenics, and the categorization of people via IQ tests. Years later, the movie Gattaca would tell the story of a time and place where similar mumbo jumbo, this time based on people's individual genomes, was used by elites to elevate some and keep others down.

  • sarcasmic||

    That comment reminds me of those stupid liberals I run into from time to time who think they're really smart because smart people watch the Daily Show and they watch the Daily Show so they must be smart because smart people watch the Daily Show.

  • ||

    Exactly.

    Progressives are people who like to think they are enlightened, but actually aren't.

  • Sam Grove||

    They think that if they call or think themselves enlightened, then they are.

  • JW||

    they had support from German intelligentsia, such as Heidegger.

    Hertzberg, Heidegger, same difference.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    "Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table."

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Most of the nazi book burning footage you see in documentaries is of university students burning down Magnus Hirschfeld's sex research institute. The man was a gay cross-dressing Jew who almost got anti-gay laws abolished in Germany.
    His institute had accumulated rare, unique and priceless data from across Europe and the world.
    It would take two decades before anyone took the torch of sex research again, in the form of the American Alfred Kinsey. Americans have been leading sex research ever since and this is part of the reason why the universal language of science is English, not German.

  • sarcasmic||

    All the cool kids thought eugenics was a wonderfully enlightened idea until some German dude took the concept to its logical conclusion.

    Seriously though, I don't think they tell themselves that lie. That's a lie they tell everyone else. In their hearts they know that the only reason why Commies, Fascists and other murderous central planners failed was because the wrong people were in charge. The right people are in charge now, and they'll get it right, if the obstructionist Republicans can be silenced that is.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    German dude took the concept to its logical conclusion.

    Well, he took it to the conclusion that anyone with a shred of wisdom about human nature could have predicted. "Logically", eugenics called for the elimination of the stupid. The stupid are a major constituency in any country, so that option is not politically viable. Instead, it was time to fire up the tribalism and wipe out the furriners.

  • sarcasmic||

    Eugenics calls for the elimination of the inferior. Tribalism views other tribes as inferior. So wiping out other tribes fits in with the concept.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    To be fair, there is some logical merit in eugenics even if you might disagree with it. It's when they began forcing eugenics on people that the problems began.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    See Robert Heinlein's stories featuring Lazarus Long. Heinlein's was a "kinder and gentler," "free market" version of eugenics. If you're going to pursue directed evolution, best to do it as RAH described, imho.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Will do. I've read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
    Voluntary eugenics already sort of exists anyways. People engage in it whenever an inherited genetic problem influences their choice not to reproduce, or when pro-choicers choose to abort & make another child/fetus/cellclump after finding out the results of a genetic test.
    One major downside to this is the possible artificial selective pressure against genetic traits that might ultimately prove positive in one way or another.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    One major downside to this is the possible artificial selective pressure against genetic traits that might ultimately prove positive in one way or another.


    Perhaps.

    then again, some traits can be only harmful, like cystic fibrosis.

  • Pulseguy||

    There really isn't any logical merit in eugenics. Mainly because no one knows who will produce what over time. Where does most innovation come from, for example? Does it come from the upper classes, presumably those with the best genetic matter? Or, from the lower classes? Obviously it comes from the lower classes. It comes from a lower class person who is working his butt off to get out of the hole in which he was born. The upper classes tend to produce maintainers, not builders. The middle class, and slightly lower than middle tends to produce those who try a bit harder in order to succeed. Ever met any little rich kids? How many of them can take what life gives and be successful in their own right? My experience tells me not many. Although they might do better over time due to some handouts, ie they get to go to good schools and therefore get better jobs. But, in terms of creating and making society better - I don't see it.

    Eugenics pre-supposes one can determine where we should be allocating resources. It is Socialism by another name.

    Your idea is nothing more than wishful thinking. 'Wouldn't it be great if we could not have those who are less than us.'

  • Mickey Rat||

    While it may be counterintuitive, appealing to the ignorant and stupid and appealing to intellectuals are not mutually exclusive goals. That Venn diagram actually has considerable overlap.

  • Swiss Servator, Zurichmania!||

    "And if you've got a really tough case of the Mondays"

    Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays?"

    Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.

  • Swiss Servator, Zurichmania!||

    as the conscience of a nation and the hero of its enlightened youth

    Hmmmm. I wonder if there are any Leadership positions open in the Paul Jugend Youth?

  • Troy muy grande boner||

    I can imagine the atrocities that the Paul youth would commit. Like large groups running into parks and leaving people alone.

  • Swiss Servator, Zurichmania!||

    THAT MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!

  • ||

    It's amazing how totalitarian people like this clown are. They are dangerous as hell. I think they may be sociopaths, completely unable to see people who disagree with them as actual human beings. No, people who won't do what they want are just pieces to move around on a chess board or punish as necessary.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It is. I mean, imagine interviewing him and asking him whether government should be limited. What would he say? Only when Republicans are in power? Only when the government does something he doesn't like?

    It's like history is something that never happened. Or, for that matter, current events.

  • ||

    It's the danger of the echo chamber/bien pensant, ProL. If even the stupidest, most disproven-by-history ideas are still praised and treated as having merit by one's fellow ideological travelers, less...uh...bright people will start to believe that for some reason they can escape the lessons of history. They can't, but for some retarded reason they think they can, and that then leads to some really nasty results.

    Delusion isn't just a river on Ceti Alpha Five.

  • ||

    They can't, but for some retarded reason they think they can

    The retarded reason is they actually believe they're the Right People and should be in charge.

  • ||

    Think of the hubris, though. They're essentially saying that even though much more influential and historically famous people have tried doing certain things and failed over and over, they can succeed. These aren't people that have done great things before, yet for some reason they think they are fucking history-bucking geniuses. What brain parasite has caused them to be that delusional about their own abilities? They have literally no reason to think that they are the RIGHT PEOPLE, yet they do anyway. It's kind of insane if you think about it. It's a mass delusion of grandeur.

  • ||

    The brain parasite is themselves. They've rationalized their way into some deep bullshit because they

    want

    it to be true.

  • ||

    Oops. That was supposed to read "because they want it to be true.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It actually had more impact the first way.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's a mass delusion of grandeur.

    We are government
    Government is us
    Government is the will of the people
    We are the people
    Government can do anything if it has the will of the people
    Government is the ultimate power
    Government is us
    We are government
    We are the will of the people
    We can do anything with the will of the people
    We are the ultimate power
    We are gods

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Epi you should read Intellectuals and Society if you haven't already.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I don't even get that. These cheerleaders are as likely as me to end up being oppressed or even join me in the re-education camps. When the shit blows apart, it's anyone's guess who will hold the reins of power.

  • ||

    It's rationalization. They've convinced themselves that they're right, that everyone else is an absolute idiot, and surely the other people who think the right things will agree with them 100% of the time. They don't necessarily want to be in charge, they want like-minded people to be in charge who will have the balls to get rid of the yous and mes of the world.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tolerance means not tolerating anyone who thinks differently.
    Inclusiveness means excluding anyone who thinks differently.
    Equality means superiority over anyone who thinks differently.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    If 1984 were a longer book, I am sure that Orwell would have eventually introduced us to those particular principles of Ingsoc. Well done, sarcasmic!

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    (Or should I say, "doubleplusgood, sarcasmic!"? ;-) )

  • ||

    So they're lazy sociopaths.

  • ||

    Ah, but they're not lazy (except for intellectually). They're cowards. They really do want their enemies' blood to be shed, but they don't want to do the shedding themselves. They'll hire goons to do it. And history tells us there's no way that could ever go wrong.

  • sarcasmic||

    They really do want their enemies' blood to be shed, but they don't want to do the shedding themselves. They'll hire goons to do it.

    They want to steal from the rich and live off the plunder, but they can't because civilized societies view that as wrong. But government can steal all day long because it has the last word in violence. Now if we get the government to steal from the rich for us, and give us the plunder in return for votes, we can live off the rich forever!

    And history tells us there's no way that could ever go wrong.

  • JW||

    These cheerleaders are as likely as me to end up being oppressed or even join me in the re-education camps.

    Nope. This time it's different. I've seen that written by proggies repeatedly, recently. They actually believe this.

    Delusional AND projecting. It's a winning combination.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think leftists tend to fall into two camps. I think of them as the Manipulators and the Manipulated. The latter don't realize that they are being lied to because they judge ideas based upon the source instead of applying any critical thinking of their own (e.g. Tony). The former are liars and know it, but don't care (e.g. Krugnuts).

  • Mr. Soul||

    All organizations have the same org chart. THEM works for US.

    There are 3 kinds of people in these orgs. US, THEM and THEM-WHO-THINK-THEYRE US.

    Most of these intellectuals fall into the 3rd category and will find that out at the worst possible moment.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    This reminds me of the problem of feminism where most people see feminism as promoting equality and human rights; i.e. Euqity Feminism. Yet the people in charge, the people running the Womyn's Lobby, the people whose actions they enable every time they call themselves feminists... even as they accuse them of not being "real" feminists... clearly just want to line their own pockets and promote a female supremacist misandric agenda.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    You might enjoy reading the Unabomber Manifesto, for Ted K's views on leftists. As I always say, truth is where you find it.

  • JW||

    Since no one else is going to bother..

    Delusion isn't just a river on Ceti Alpha Five.

    THIS is Ceti Alpha Five!

  • Pelosi's Accommodator||

    I guess I should have refreshed.

  • Pelosi's Accommodator||

    THIS IS CETI ALPHA FIVE!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No, it's that "it has somehow managed to cast Rand Paul—who would abrogate the American social contract, consolidate the country’s transformation into a merciless plutocracy, and destroy the global power of the United States not just for ill but, in both senses, for good—as the conscience of a nation and the hero of its enlightened youth."

    Why, it's almost as though the man was an intellectually dishonest partisan.

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    I must have missed the meeting where we signed the social contract. Can someone give me the gist of it? My impression is that it requires me to give all my money to other people, without my consent, despite having plenty of bills to pay to people I actually agreed to pay.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    The "Social contract" is a blood oath that you signed at birth. You swore to fully submit yourself to the authority of The Holy 51% Majority in exchange for promises of Free Shit.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    It's the Holy Plurality of voters.

    Official numbers have Obama receiving 65,915,796 votes in the 2012 election. The US population is somewhere around 317,000,000, which, assuming that all votes for Obama were legitimate, means that Obama received votes from roughly 21% of all persons in the United States.

    So 21% of the population establishes the rule not only for the other 79% of us, but also for the remainder of the world unfortunate enough to have to deal with the economic and moral illiterates who have traditionally occupied 1600 PA.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    You know that little pinprick that every newborn gets? They say it is a medical test, but actually, the use it to put your blood signature on the social contract. True story!

  • ||

    Yes, but other people have even more bills they can't pay, even though they agreed to those bills knowing full well they couldn't pay them. So Tony and Shrike will be over presently to collect their fair share.

  • ||

    It should be filed with your birth certificate. It's the document with the footprint in faded blue ink.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's the document with the footprint in faded blue ink.

    You sign the social contract when your parents apply for your social security number.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, there was some written document, but there was a coup that resulted in crayon being written all over it by lesser people.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I must have missed the meeting where we signed the social contract. Can someone give me the gist of it?

    STFU and do what your betters tell you to do - in exchange they'll kill you last.

  • JW||

    they'll kill you last

    They LIED!

  • Troy muy grande boner||

    What is my consideration that I am giving up for this contract?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • ||

    There used to be this document called the US constitution, but as a living entity it evolved into something else.
    Next time, when you sign the social contract, avoid writing it in an artificial life simulation.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I thought that was some ship. The U.S.S. Constitution, that's it. What does that have to do with government? I doubt a wooden sailing ship has much bearing on a modern superstate like the U.S.

  • JD the elder||

    Heh. I wonder if anybody has ever used the "living document" in any other context?

    "You can't take the wording of this lease LITERALLY - it's a living document!"

    "What you don't understand is that my car loan agreement is a living document and has to change with the times!"

  • Lord Humungus||

    sounds good to me!

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    What happens if Obama unilaterally issues some T-bills and Congress immediately declares that it views them as illegal and promises to default on them? And if Congress refuses to pay up, and there is no Constitutional obligation for Congress to pay up, what happens? Does this clown think that other countries will be happy to enter a perpetual cycle of buying Obama's junk bonds and receiving interest payments on their Obama junk bonds when those interest payments can only be paid for with more junk bonds?

  • R C Dean||

    What happens if Obama unilaterally illegally issues some T-bills

    Well, he should be impeached, but we all know that ain't gonna happen.

    In the markets? Those bills would be heavily, heavily discounted on issue (unless, of course, the Treasury rigs the market, which it would undoubtedly due).

    In all probability, the only buyer willing to pay "full" price for those bills is the Fed. So they would disappear into the Fed balance sheet.

    AND NOTHING ELSE WOULD HAPPEN, amirite?

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    The government buys the bonds from itself with what cash?

  • H. ReardEn||

    When you own the printing presses, you will always have enough cash.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Pretty much.

    The think that everyone ignores is that no individual buys treasuries. They'll all bought by one institution or another. And they will game the system to keep it going.

  • ||

    It's junk bonds all the way down.

  • R C Dean||

    who would abrogate the American social contract, consolidate the country’s transformation into a merciless plutocracy, and destroy the global power of the United States

    Is it just me, or is this an equally good description of Obama and the "fundatmental transformation" that he has explicitly called for? The only conceivable stretch would be recognizing that crony capitalism is also a form of plutocracy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Mein Hoffen.

  • Jeff||

    Their goals may be stupid and offensive and may even lead to their wholescale ouster in 2104.

    I doubt the electorate has the attention span to remember this "shutdown" five minutes after it ends, let alone 91 years from now.

  • ||

    BARACK OBAMA'S HEAD 2104: THIS TIME YOU WILL BELIEVE IN HOPE AND CHANGE

  • Paul.||

    They still blame proposition 13 on everything in California... so I wouldn't be too cock sure.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    They being the politicians and their media whores.

    Prop 13 is immensely popular among the general public - which is why it's still in effect.

  • Calidissident||

    The funny thing about the "Confederate nullifiers!" meme is that before the war, the South was pissed about the Northern states nullifying the Fugitive Slave law. What law regarding slavery did the South have to nullify? The feds were on their side. Secession and nullification aren't the same thing.

  • CE||

    So, previous appropriations bills are settled law and can't be changed.
    Obamacare is settled law and can't be changed.
    But the debt ceiling law can be ignored at will?

  • R C Dean||

    "One Congress, one vote, one time."

    After that, Congress can't touch it, and its entirely up to the discretion of the executive.

    And people say W executed a massive power grab.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's not even remotely close to the truth, either. Not only is every law not in the Constitution basically up for grabs, going back before the Constitution, laws were even more flexible. Look at the English system.

    It's appalling that so many people in this country, of all places, can't see why we have (and need) limited government. One-man rule? In a country with our wealth, complexity, and power? Insane.

  • ||

    Look, just because the guy contradicts himself within a few sentences doesn't mean he's an idiot, you just don't understand the intricacies of his message, which is TEAM TEAM TEAM TEAM TEAM.

  • JW||

    TEAM TEAM TEAM TEAM TEAM

    You talk purdier than a 3 dollar whore.

  • ||

    The best part about Rand is how much he pisses morons like this guy off. I can't wait until the first money bomb; I've already started saving.

  • PapayaSF||

    a belief that a federal law need not be repealed in order to be nullified

    How unaware does a Democrat partisan have to be to attack Republicans in this way? We've had nearly five years of Obama ignoring federal laws regarding budgets, immigration, parts of Obamacare, and probably things I've forgotten. This is just jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

  • ||

    But Obama is destined to change the world! He's going to usher in a new era of racial harmony and social equality!
    He's the one we've been waiting for! We are winning! The fucking evil Republicans are stopping us from getting to the perfect progressive future! They are interfering with destiny and history and all good and just things which all right tihnking people know are true! Only evil people could want to stop us from fulfilling the dream of Amecian socialism, now hwne it is just within our grasp! Damn them! We hates them! We hates them forever!

  • BakedPenguin||

    I would love to see Obamacare repealed, obviously. Not just for the obvious reasons, but also since I suspect they would be screaming something much like "they tooks our precious!"

  • ||

    What hasn't occurred to them yet is that ALL of these problems are due to one single problem. The fact that the entire edifice relies upon the cooperation of Republicans to work. They just can't STAND it that Republicans just won't DO what they TELL THEM TO.
    You build this entire elaborate fucking health care system, and you make it positively depend on the cooperation of people who hate and oppose it to work.

    That's why progressives are such totalitarians. All their schemes rely on force. They can't devise a system that only relies upon the willing cooperation of people who believe in it. They have to make their mortal fucking enemies join it too. And then they are pissed that their mortal fucking enemies aren't cooperating. What is wrong with them?

  • Lady Bertrum||

    They can't devise a system that only relies upon the willing cooperation of people who believe in it.

    This is an excellent point. It's like a smothering embrace you can't escape. Because they know better, and, God dammit, they love us!! Like the idiot character in Of Mice and Men except they don't really love us. They hate us because we won't hold still.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Progressives as Daffy Duck

    The Monster is government the progs think they can control and Bugs is us.

  • ||

    Any system that relies upon the cooperation of non-consenting individuals is fatally flawed.

    All they have to do to bring down the system is not cooperate with it.

  • ||

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

    So in other words: the United States shall not disavow its debts. The clause is merely a clarification of the state of United States debt after the Civil War when foreign creditors of the Confederacy were insisting that the Federal government assume those debts.

    That's why it also says this:

    But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

    Amazing how assholes like this guy will snidely tell you that "the Right of the People to Keep and to Bear Arm shall not be Infringed" only applies to militias or muskets but will happily cherry pick one phrase from an obscure part of the 14th that doesn't even come close to saying what they insist it says.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Obama seems to know he can't do that. We'd be looking at a real constitutional crisis if he did, and not one of the good kind. It could totally fuck up what's left of our economy.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    I think the pertinent legal language was in the first part: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

    Since the Prez cannot legally issue debt without permission from Congress, any debt he does issue does not fall under the Amendment and is voidable at will.

  • ||

    Does this mean the prez is going to have to go out and get a second job to help support the family?

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Yes. But that's going to be a lot of blowjobs.

  • JW||

    So, Boehner's job, then.

  • Mr. Soul||

    "the Right of the People to can Keep and to Bear Arms shall not be Infringed"

  • Paul.||

    Treasury the ability to borrow the money it needs to pay expenses that Congress has already authorized.

    I keep hoping that one day, we'll look back on the concept of borrowing money to pay debts the way we'll look back at electric cars that have gas engines which charge the batteries.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I don't like hybrids, but I must concede that, done correctly, having a fossil fuel engine to charge the battery, and running the car electrically otherwise, is a more efficient use of fuel than burning the fuel in a motive engine. This is, for instance, why locomotives evolved to be diesel-electric hybrids.

  • ||

    It was my understanding that happened because electric motors are capable of generating considerably more torque than a combustion engine, and they can do it without needing a transmission. Can you imagine how many gears you'd need to accelerate a locomotive towing 100 coal cars from 0 60?

  • Redmanfms||

    Fuck it, I'm going for the Godwin.

    I'm starting to wonder if we are actually in a Weimar phase. I've seen progs talking about how the GOP is attempting to "Weimar" America, but I wonder if it is more than their colossal misunderstanding of the causes of Weimar's economic problems? These people are truly arguing that we need a totalitarian strong man to guise the ship of state. It's not just dipshit cranks like this weasel Hertzberg who are arguing for a turn toward fascism (not the lefty pejorative, the no-shit type), it's mainstream liberal pundits.

    The way the last 15 years have been shaping up, I'm going to be pleasantly surprised if there isn't bloodshed and lawlessness in the next 15, maybe sooner.

  • PapayaSF||

    From a letter on Jerry Pournelle's website:

    [...] The thing about playing Chicken is, both drivers get into the contest assuming that the other doesn’t actually want a head-on collision.

    The game changes fundamentally if one driver believes he’s immortal and doesn’t really like his old clunker anyway. This by way of introducing a truly disturbing thought about the upcoming debt-limit deadline.

    [...]

    President Obama’s foreign policy arguably is built around the assumption that the US’s post-WWII preeminent status in the world is an historical error that needs correcting. He pays the necessary public lip-service to the US being Number One, but both his actions and his appointments arguably point toward a chastised and diminished US.

    Suppose, now, for the sake of argument, some mix of:

    - genuine belief ALL their programs are sacred

    - genuine contempt and disdain for their opposition

    - belief that their opposition would certainly take the blame

    - cynical conviction that they could then increase their power in the resulting crisis, however diminished the country might be

    - and an underlying ideological conviction that diminishing the US is good for the world in any case should later this month cause the White House to say, what the hell, They Made Us Do It, and instruct the Treasury to start missing debt payments.
  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Isn't that kind of ass backwards? If anything, a fiscal policy built around the notion that you will forever be able to borrow at very favorable rates is exactly the sort of mentality you'd expect from someone who believes that the U.S. will forever be Numero Uno.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yeah,

    The argument is that a default causes a catastrophic drop in the federal governments credit rating that makes it impossible to borrow in the future.

    If that was true then defaulting would lead to massive decreases in the size of government - I'm all for it. Not sure why Obama would be though.

  • ||

    Projection is not just for the left. This alleged mindset applies just as much to the Tea Party, who doesn't care if the government destructively implodes and takes the economy with it. Those libs had it comin', I tells yuh!

  • Restoras||

    So, if we have no government we have no economy? Wow, who knew?

  • Paul.||

    well I guess if we've allowed the government to become our economy, then when the government goes, so goes the economy. Perhaps there's some way to disentangle the two?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Separation of commerce and state?

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Weimar demonstrated the catastrophic consequences of trying to pay your bills with printing. The U.S. isn't in that situation because people are still willing to lend it money. However, I'd bet Krugerrands that if the U.S. could no longer get a good deal through borrowing, it'd be printing like it was 1923. Then it's time for a fascist lunatic to come in and "fix" the political system, which has run out the ability to distribute free shit.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why do you think Democrats are warning of defaulting on the debt?

    Maybe it's because they want to.

    Maybe they want an economic crisis requiring a strong man, their strong man.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    No maybe about it--this is actually what at least some of them want.

    I mentioned a few days ago about the Obamabot telling me that we needed an "enlighted dictator" like Pericles or Marcus Aurelius. Mind-numbing historical ignorance aside, the most telling part of that statement is the inherent belief that totalitarianism is okay, "as long as our guy does it."

    So yeah, I don't think it would take much to spark some kind of shooting conflict. A one-week crash in the EBT system, or someone getting shot at a protest, might be just enough to do it.

  • R C Dean||

    Here's the dirty little secret:

    The majority (and I'm talking more than 2/3s) of debt issued since Obama took office has been bought by the Fed.

    IOW, we've been printing to pay our bills for years now. We're well into the Weimar phase.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I think people need to think of Weimar in terms of living standards, not in terms of consumer price trends.

    Greece is in the Weimar stage even though consumer prices are somewhat stable. (Consumer income is sinking.)

  • Killazontherun||

    dipshittery, dipshittery, dip derpy doo

    A git is as fucked uppy, as fucked uppy can be

    dipshittery, dipshittery, dip derpy doo

    Rude fuck will rub one out, in your face, all over you,

    like a popped boil from a cyst and that's chunky too

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I've thought of a legal way around the debt ceiling that doesn't involve hairbrained scheme like minting a trillion dollar coin.

    Have the FED sell back a trillion dollars worth of treasurers to the treasury for $1 - essentially forgiving the debt. There is no legal barrier to that happening.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The could even give it a nifty name like QE Z

  • PapayaSF||

    Pronounced "queasy."

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    You mean stop pretending that the Trust Fund is anything more than a Super Great Promise that SS will be entitled to future income tax revenues?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    More like stop pretending that QE is anything other than 'printing' money.

  • johnl||

    Ron Paul suggested this the last time it came up.

  • OldMexican||

    When it comes to raising the debt ceiling Hertzberg opines thus:
    There are similarities [between yesterday's secessionists and today's Republicans].


    But where does that leave the then Sen. Obama from 2006?

    "Prominent among them is a belief that a federal law need not be repealed in order to be nullified."


    This despite the fact that many liberal states have pretty much nullified various federal laws including immigration laws; or the fact that one of the grievances expressed by the South for secession was that northern states were nullifying what they considered very important laws, like the Fugitive Slave Act and such. So this is clearly NOT a belief prominent only among Republicans but something as American as apple pie and blowing foreign people to kingdom come.

    Representative government is only legitimate insofar as it represents what Rick Hertzberg knows to be good and decent and proper.


    Don't be surprised to know that that is how most people who believe in Democracy actually think: As long as the "right person" is in charge, then whatever "that person" does, is both moral and practical.

  • Andrew S.||

    Which is worse, the above article or this piece of HuffPo derp from last week http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79692.html saying that the GOP members of congress should be prosecuted for sedition?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Andrew S.

    Both are at the level of being the standard by which true awfulness should be measured.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    How do you manage to argue that the gravamen of your sedition charge is a fully lawful action? How do you argue that giving POTUS the power to criminally charge a legislator for "Voting wrong" is anything other than one man rule?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Equally noteworthy is an apparent inability to be reconciled to the results of an election.

    Because electing a president isn't merely electing the head of 1/3 of the federal government; we are electing a king, who should be empowered to do whatever he wants.

    Last November, after a campaign that turned largely on the issue of health care, Barack Obama was reëlected with a popular majority of five million.

    I thought it turned on that $300 million that Barack outspent Romney by? Or does money not buy elections when the Lightworker wins?

    Republicans, whom Democrats outpolled by a million and a half, retained their legislative majority only by dint of the vagaries of districting and redistricting.

    "But mommy! My guys won the MSNBC poll, the New York Times poll, and the TEAM Blue poll. They only won because of the "vagaries" of redistricting!" By "vagaries", he means TEAM Red won local elections and got to move the lines around to their benefit. Remember back in 2000 when TEAM Blue whined a sweet whine about the "vagaries" of the Electoral College?

    The Confederates had a better case: in 1860, Abraham Lincoln got barely thirty-nine per cent of the vote, a smaller share than any Presidential winner since.

    I like how HH fails to mention that Lincoln got that 39% while running against three other serious candidates and that he wasn't even on the ballot in the Southern states.

  • GILMORE||

    NEEDS MORE SCARVES AND BICYCLES

    Fuck me, is there some fashion magazine called "Liberal-Douchebag Quarterly" that he models for? and is it in French, just for kicks? quiche recipes by Jaque Derrida (actual eggs are theorized)? relationship advice by ... who's that fat bitch who called Marriage 'rape'? the new yorker once, long ago, was a semi respectible literary rag that has become an ass tampon for the worst of elitist liberal intellectual bowel-spew .

  • SugarFree||

    He hits all the highlights, doesn't he? The only misstep I see is the scarf. It should be insanely long, thick, yet somehow diaphanous and bunch around the neck like a slack foreskin.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You mean like Tom Baker's?

  • SugarFree||

    Close, but more like this idiot.

    Seriously, if your neck is that damn cold, go fuck yourself with a blowtorch.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What. . .what is that? Is it human? [Pokes it with a branch.]

  • SugarFree||

    [creature dissolves into puddle of artisanal mayonnaise]

  • Swiss Servator, Zurichmania!||

    A million Whovians just cried out in anger at you...

  • Pro Libertate||

    What? The only moment Dr. Who wasn't entirely silly and annoying was when Tom Baker was Dr. Who. I mean, that's a hell of a scarf.

  • Restoras||

    But Gilmore, are they really elitists if they really do know what's best for everyone else??

  • Invisible Finger||

    Don't forget the beard!

  • SugarFree||

    It's becoming an epic temper tantrum at this point. The more they beat the floor and scream until they are red in the face, the funnier it gets.

    The GOP is going to knuckle under, but the next three days is going to be hilarious.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's too bad that the House isn't willing to go all the way with this. Not just for Obamacare but to force a reduction in overall spending to the point where we don't have to increase the debt ceiling. Maybe even to the point of forcing through a balanced budget amendment. Man, that would be fun.

    If the House wanted to, it could say no indefinitely. And, what's better for the Republicans (and the nonparticipating LP, if it were involved) is that the Democrats inherently suffer more from a shutdown than the Republicans do, so this is one case where the tables can't easily be turned by this precedent.

  • Warty||

    social contract

    Fuck you.

  • JW||

    Thank you. We'll mark you down as signed.

  • Paul.||

    Well, even libertarians believe that there's a social contract. My contract reads: Mind your business, hands to yourself, and I'll do the same.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    This is actually on topic: Candy Crowley on CNN asks Rand Paul if he considered being a Democrat. Rand laughs out loud, says he's proud to be a Republican given the party's history from slavery to civil rights and the fact that Kentucky Republicans allegedly overthrew Jim Crow in the face of a united Democratic Party.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  • PapayaSF||

    Good comeback.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "There are similarities [between yesterday's secessionists and today's Republicans]. Prominent among them is a belief that a federal law need not be repealed in order to be nullified."

    Pause for reader to get indignant. Then, scarcely missing a beat, suggest that Obama could nullify the debt ceiling, which hasn't been repealed, by invoking the 14th Amendment.

  • cavalier973||

    "Neo"-Confederate? What gives you the idea I ever reconstructed, you idjit Yankee?

  • Skip||

    It also must have slipped Hertzy's little mind that Democrats portrayed Romney as the father of Obamacare last year.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You're not supposed to remember that part. Now you're supposed to remember the 2012 election as a Referendum on Obamacare, a Choice Between Two Opposed Ideas, on the one hand compassion and healing, on the other hand throwing poor crippled children into the snow where they freeze to death like the Little Match Girl.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The article could have stopped right after the part that identified this clown as a former Carter speechwriter.

    That pretty much says it all.

  • XM||

    The great majority of people who voted for Obama had little knowledge of the ACA. If you weren't emotionally invested in debates regarding the role of government in healthcare (or anything), then you probably knew even less.

    People voted for Obama because they either liked him personally or they hated Republicans. His low information supporters couldn't articulate his policy if their mother's lives depended on it.

    On ACA facebook, his adoring fans still parrot lines like "If you like your healthcare provided by your job, you can keep it and forget about high premiums".

  • pcolsen||

    Despite the idealistic talk Democrats and Republicans have barely the slightest interest in representative government. Partisan state legislatures have Gerrymandered House districts until almost all of them are effectively sinecures. Districts are designed to lock-in majorities so that candidates no longer need to appeal to moderate voters but only to the party faithful who control primaries and the people who make or bundle large contributions. Congressmen guilting of any attempt actually to represent any but very small groups of their constituents might lose their sinecures in the next election.

    To say that Democrats don't support representative Government is true. To say that the Republicans do any better is fantasy.

  • pcolsen||

    Most of the people who oppose raising the debt ceiling don't know what it means. I've read several analyses asserting that any damage that might come from not raising the debt ceiling can be avoided because the Treasury --- and then by implication, the President --- can prioritize payments so that the most critical are paid first.

    I think this will set a horrible precedent. Congress hasn't specified which payments are "more critical" than others, so the President (or his appointees) will select the ones to be paid. Do we really want the President free to choose which Congressional appropriations will be spent and which won't? More to the point, do we really want THIS President free to chose them?

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