The Cave-Men Speak!

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The massive margin of victory for the Senate's bailout bill wasn't a huge surprise, given how much horse-trading went on to round up support. (I'm sure it helped that neither presidential candidate arrived in the city to "save" the bill until the night of the vote.) Nine Democrats and battlin' Bernie Sanders opposed the bill from the left, 15 Republicans opposed it from the right, and the rest of the GOP conference, on order of its leadership, caved in and voted for the bill.

Tom Coburn (R-OK), the biggest and most headline-grabbing cave-man, employs some just-this-once-and-never-again reasoning.

This bill does not represent a new and sudden departure from free market principles as much as it represents an emergency response to congressional actions that have ignored free market principles, and our Constitution, for decades. If anyone in Washington should offer their resignation it should be the members of Congress who peddled the fantasy of free home ownership without risk. No institution in our country is more responsible for the myth or borrowing without consequences than the United States Congress.

Taxpayers who want to ensure that this doesn't happen again should send a very clear message to Washington that it's time for Congress to live within its means and restore the principles of limited government and free markets that made this country great. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this bill does not lead us down a slippery slope of European style socialism and slow economic growth

John Sununu (R-NH), in a tight re-election race, says the same thing but with a wee bit more optimism.

This bill is far from perfect, but it is necessary, and necessary now to protect all Americans. Negotiators, led by Senator Judd Gregg and others, have worked hard to improve taxpayer protections that I have called for from the start: better Congressional oversight, a temporary structure, and assurances that any gains will be used to pay down the national debt. Expanding the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations coverage adds an important level of security and confidence for the small businesses that are the lifeblood of New Hampshire's economy. [E]xtending tax incentives and research and development will encourage renewed investment and job creation.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says it was all an unavoidable response to a potential disaster.

What we are trying to do is prevent a more serious problem by taking a measured response, which will cost the taxpayers the least amount of money and clear up the economic traffic so we can start moving again, and so housing can gradually begin to come back. When housing gradually begins to come back, the economy will begin to come back.

And Larry Craig (R-ID), still a senator for three more months, explains that the bill was imperfect but included a sweetener that made it impossible to resist.

Doing nothing is not an option, and I would have voted for the original House bill supported by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, because it protected taxpayers, eliminated golden parachutes for greedy CEOs, and gave Congress the authority to end this rescue if it is not serving the taxpayers and the economy. But the bill approved by the Senate tonight goes a step farther by fully funding the Craig/Wyden 'county payments' program to rural schools for four years, with a 75 percent increase for Idaho schools, and by protecting middle class taxpayers this year from the burden of the Alternative Minimum Tax.

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  1. I guess its business as usual: You tap, er… scratch my foot and I’ll tap, er… scratch your foot.

  2. Craig Wyden my ass.

  3. What we are trying to do is prevent a more serious problem by taking a measured response

    *outright, prolonged, laughter*

    *sighs, bangs head on desk*

  4. This bill does not represent a new and sudden departure from free market principles as much as it represents an emergency response to congressional actions that have ignored free market principles, and our Constitution, for decades.

    So, shouldn’t the emergency response do something to advance those free market principles and our Constitution, Sen. Coburn? Aren’t you just admitting that this emergency response is doubling down on the very things that created the emergency?

  5. When housing gradually begins to come back, the economy will begin to come back.

    All you food, services, electronics and durable goods producers, go fuck off. We’re talking about real economic inputs here.

    Now where’s that flannel shirt subsidy I was promised?

  6. God damn it Sununu. Just as you begin to edge out Shaheen int he polls you drop this bag of lit dog crap on the voters’ door step.

  7. Let’s see:

    Coburn’s comments are so ridiculously self-contradictory they almost have the zen of CCP responses to criticism. I mean, principles are most relevant when they’re the uncomfortable choice. Then we have a guy who loves the ultimate non sequitur: that the merits of modest tax breaks are somehow relevant in a $700 billion outlay. Another wants to reestablish our reliance on home equity.

    And Larry Craig will give it up for pocket change? Who knew?

    We really don’t learn too good, I guess.

  8. And we will re-elect these pecksniffs hoping for a better result next time. There will be a next time and it will arrive sooner rather than later.

    No wonder the next CONgress will quickly move to disarm us.

  9. The House had better quash this. I expect very little from the Senate but this is fucking ridiculous. These fucks are going directly against the majority of their constituency just to get some things they’ve wanted. They are arrogant beyond any dream of arrogance.

  10. The natives seem to be getting restless. Seems like a good time for someone to step up and direct the anger into righteous channels.
    Is anyone up to the task? (I’m lookin’ at you, Bob Barr AND you Ron Paul. Time to kiss and make up and get to work.)

  11. Doesn’t it just make one simultaneously laugh and cry? This is representative democracy in action. This is government-the same thing that so many, including folks who post here, assert is what we need in order to avoid “anarchy”. Its time you get your intellectual limitations out of your ass and wake up:

    More government equals more chaos and disorder.

  12. Gotta give credit to Craig for admitting he got bought off before he would vote for the bill.

    He’s still slime, just live everyone else who had to have wooden arrow subsidies and other crap.

  13. No surprises here. The citizens of our constitutional republic have constantly voted for these clowns and now are getting what they deserve. Why should we free marketers expect Congress will now listen to us? We haven’t educated anywhere near a majority of voters, we haven’t cost many Congressmen their jobs, we couldn’t convince Ron Paul to run as an independent, and we can’t even convince most of our friends and relatives to stop believing in government as Santa Claus or that neither of these guys running represent real change.

  14. libertymike’s argument in a hard crunchy nutshell:

    1. This government is a representative democracy
    2. This government sucks
    3. Therefore, all representative democracies suck

    Methinks you skipped *just a few* steps in your ironclad logical argument, there, skippy.

  15. 2a) The majority always sucks.

  16. all representative democracies suck

    Are you saying this isn’t true, dude?

    “Hello fellow American. This you should vote me. I leave power good. Thank you. Thank you. If you vote me I’m hot. What? Taxes they’ll be lower son. The democratic vote for me is right thing to do Philadelphia. So do.”

  17. Craig Wyden my ass.

    Careful now, he may take that as an invitation…

  18. Green Man!

  19. “…the fantasy of free home ownership without risk. No institution in our country is more responsible for the myth of borrowing without consequences than the United States Congress.”

    Can’t argue with that.
    Not that it won’t fall on deaf ears, Main Street and Wall Street? included.

  20. I prefer a representative republic when the representatives have limited powers. Congressional tyranny, however, is no less wrong or oppressive than the tyranny of one dude.

  21. I’m not surprised the smell of pork, once again, wins the day. Politicians are concerned, first and foremost, with getting re-elected. Their secondmost concern is how much pull they have in Washington — i.e., how effective they are in legislating their morals.

    Pork and pull…pulled pork…wait, I get it. This is all a big Confederate conspiracy, isn’t it?

    It’s all so clear to me now.

    Excuse me while I get busy *not* panicking about the market correction and *start* panicking about the price inflation this bailout is sure to cause in the near term, and income tax increase we’ll be seeing in the long run to pay for how hard this legislation will eventually fail, fail, fail (I’m thinking of the FDIC coverage increase, specifically).

  22. Epi —

    I’m not about to accept it as an axiomatic truth. The Swiss Cantons…seem to get along just fine with their crazy representative democracy.

    An obvious counterexample, much like a kick in the balls following an insensitive comment to a woman, brings things into full focus.

    Many towns and even a few cities are by-and-large happy with their governance structure (town halls! madness!), and I would hesitate to objectively say *they* suck. Sure, they have some unnatural advantages, like not being able to print their own money (thus avoiding sweet temptation), and having jurisdictions of manageable size. But still, they are counterexamples to the notion that representative democracy, generally, *just plain sucks*.

    When Hobbes pointed out that government is a necessary evil, it seems that everyone gets fixated either on the “necessary” part or the “evil” part, forgetting that they are inseparable. My thing is, it is generally *possible* (I would never say “easy”!) to ameliorate the “evil”, whereas the “necessary” is a rather less flexible quantity.

  23. … but with a whimper.

    I’m going to open a bottle of Tullamore Dew, roll a cigarette, put the headphones on and lament the stupidity of my fellow citizens and their elected representatives.

    After the whiskey is gone and the interstate commerce conducted, I’m going to draw the curtains and pass out on the couch.

    I should be real fucking good company tomorrow.

  24. I worked on McConnell’s home computer a few times way back when. In retrospect, it makes me sorry I didn’t slip some kiddie porn on there when I had the chance. It could have saved us a load of trouble today.

  25. But still, they are counterexamples to the notion that representative democracy, generally, *just plain sucks*.

    You have been to a town hall meeting, right? With the craziness, the tiny percentage of the actual residents represented, and the way the First Selectman ignores everyone anyway? Trust me–it sucks.

    Representative democracy is, like any form of government, evil. It is collectivism. The idea that one person can represent the interests of a group of people is a fantasy. The representative ends up representing themselves.

    Anarcho-capitalism, dude. It’s a win until it dissolves into pure anarchy, but then at least I have my guns, my last of the V8 Interceptors, and a tanker full of gas.

  26. I take it that, other than Craig, none of these men have faced the reality that they will NOT be returned for a new Congress. To the misfortune of all citizens.

  27. The Dow is down 259 points as of now, and this is after the slam dunk Senate vote last night.

    So, I thought the big point drop on Monday was from the House vote going sour in favor of the Wall St. idiots? Could it be our fabulous press hasn’t the first fucking clue and is talking completely out of their collective asses? Ya think?

  28. Anarcho-capitalism, dude. It’s a win until it dissolves into pure anarchy

    Er, yeah, isn’t that kind of the problem?

    I’m convinced that there isn’t really a doctrine that, if believed by enough people, would make the world a better place. Part of “making the world better” is actually doing something: education, informing, talking, leading.

    I think the idea of “we’re fucked no matter what” is extremely counterproductive: we’re fucked, until we decide not to be so any longer. And that requires effort.

  29. Er, yeah, isn’t that kind of the problem?

    Everything is a problem. Any government will always grow, which is another reason I am against them. We’re humans. We’ll fuck up any system.

    I just favor systems that promote the maximum individual liberty for the most time.

  30. I would support anarchy if I didn’t have representative democracy and our own history to hint how bad the mob would be:

    Peasant 1: A Wall Street banker! We have found a Wall Street banker! Can we burn her?
    Belvedere: How do you know that she is a Wall Street banker?
    Peasant 2: Because she looks like one!
    Witch: I am not a Wall Street banker! I am not a Wall Street banker! They dressed me up like this, and this is not my nose it is a false one!
    Peasant 1: Well, we did do the nose, and the hat.

  31. “And Larry Craig (R-ID), still a senator for three more months, explains that the bill was imperfect but included a sweetener that made it impossible to resist.”

    Hmmm, I only saw the following words and my mind began to wander:

    _ Larry Craig sweetener impossible to resist.

    Then I checked the bill text and what do you know:

    Sec. 603. Secure public restrooms from undercover officers to ensure private sexual liaisons are not impeded.

    Quote from Craig:
    “Doing nothing is not an option, and I would have voted for the original House bill supported by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, because it protected taxpayers, eliminated golden parachutes for greedy CEOs, and gave Congress the authority to end this rescue if it is not serving the taxpayers and the economy. Plus all the gay sex, you can’t forget about that!”

    Sorry for the bad humor. I am not in a good mood today.

  32. Taxpayers who want to ensure that this doesn’t happen again should send a very clear message to Washington that it’s time for Congress to live within its means and restore the principles of limited government and free markets that made this country great.

    Fuck you, Coburn. That’s EXACTLY what I have been doing to my Republican senators and congressman for as long as I can remember, via personal correspondance, CAGW, etc. and it has not done a damn thing.

    Brett

  33. I feel like that damn caveman from the Geico commercials. Everywhere I go someone is talking about how we must have that bailout bill. Sickening.

  34. I’m sure the inclusion of the pot-sweetening $13 million Federal grant for glory holes in Idaho bathrooms had something to do with Craig’s support.

  35. Fuck you, Coburn. That’s EXACTLY what I have been doing to my Republican senators and congressman for as long as I can remember, via personal correspondance, CAGW, etc. and it has not done a damn thing.

    See, I thought he was imploring you to vote him out of the Senate.

  36. Everything is a problem. Any government will always grow, which is another reason I am against them. We’re humans. We’ll fuck up any system.

    That’s why, one hundred and fifty years before the birth of computer science, Thomas Jefferson intuitively offered the political analogue of the “Reset Button”.

    The point is, government, if it is based on decent principles, can provide a short period of actual effective and non-malignant government. Then, it ossifies and becomes an enemy of the people it was originally designed to represent. So, every few decades or so (I’d shoot for optimistic and say once a century or so), one must blow up the ossified government, clear away the cruft, install a new one, rinse, repeat.

    Cyclical democracy punctuated by short periods of revolution is, in my mind, infinitely preferable to a complete crash followed by a new dark age.

  37. Elemenope,

    It’s good in theory, but we haven’t shown much willingness to overthrow the government so far. And if we succeeded, who is to say that we’d retain a limited government afterward? One major flaw with Jefferson’s position is that popular revolts rarely end the way the U.S. Revolution did.

    I used to think a Constitutional Convention would be a good idea–you know, to put the shackles back on the federal government, but I don’t think that would work. We’d almost certainly gut any concept of limited government today. Maybe we need a Re-Enlightenment to popularize the principle that giving too much power to people is always bad.

  38. Cyclical democracy punctuated by short periods of revolution is, in my mind, infinitely preferable to a complete crash followed by a new dark age.

    You see any revolutions here recently? Jefferson and Co. designed it well enough to make rapid losses of liberty hard. So instead, we’re the frog in the water, very slowly heating up.

    People like stability. So you’ll get long periods of stability and then big upheavals.

  39. Maybe we need a Re-Enlightenment to popularize the principle that giving too much power to people is always bad.

    This has always struck me as the most ironic note. The Enlightenment occurred, in no small part, because of educational opportunities becoming available to people other than the aristocracy. Then, as now, that means huge capital investment by the government in University-level education.

    Of course, in principle, we’re against that, too. Government interference, and all that. But history gives little evidence to show that people will just *spontaneously* become more educated and enlightened, absent such a humongous underwritten investment.

    This strikes me as a somewhat intractable ideological problem.

    BTW, just to be clear, I did not think revolution in our actual context is likely or really even very possible, absent some event causing complete systemic collapse and/or the deaths of a huge number of people. I was just saying that there is a *theoretically* better way than anarchy to organize human affairs, one that does not toss so quickly the benefits of representative democracy.

  40. And just to preempt the market counterargument, I would argue that in large part “education” as a marketable good has a deeply skewed transactional value. Namely, it is generally only valued consummate with its utility by people who already have it, and not accurately priced by people who might seek it in an open market.

    Deeper irony, and all that.

  41. I was just saying that there is a *theoretically* better way than anarchy to organize human affairs

    Anarchy in the political sense does not mean a lack of order, necessarily; it merely means a lack of a government. You should know this.

  42. For the record, I’m no anarchist. That’s Episiarch. However, even though I’m okay with some government, I’m curious about what mechanism could be put in place to stop the slow decline into tyranny. The Constitution and the American system in general worked pretty well for a while, but the end is in sight. Whether we can reinstate the shackles of limited government before we become an out-and-out tyranny is the question, of course. I think we have a while before things will become openly bad, but we’re reaching the point where the government will no longer be under even our tenuous control.

  43. Anarchy in the political sense does not mean a lack of order, necessarily; it merely means a lack of a government. You should know this.

    I *do* know this, but as you helpfully already admitted in this thread, anarcho-capitalism (or probably any other anarchic condition with an underlying systemic order) with inevitably tend either towards formalized orders of power (i.e. government) or collapse towards actual social anarchy.

  44. I’m curious about what mechanism could be put in place to stop the slow decline into tyranny.

    Civil wars occasionally help. Sometimes they *hurt* I suppose.

  45. “and the rest of the GOP conference, on order of its leadership, caved in and voted for the bill.” (From the article.)

    Saying the GOP “caved” in on this big-business bailout is like saying Hillary Clinton “caved” in and supported socialized medicine. Leading the charge is not caving in.

    Scott

  46. with inevitably tend either towards formalized orders of power (i.e. government) or collapse towards actual social anarchy

    So will governments. I prefer to start out at a the lowest possible level of government–none–so that as it grows (Deadwood!) it takes longer to get oppressive.

  47. I’m curious about what mechanism could be put in place to stop the slow decline into tyranny.

    There’s no such mechanism that will work in the absence of a culture that isn’t pretty hostile to the State. That’s really what we’ve lost – the rest of it (bad SCOTUS decisions, the regulatory state, the redistribution state, etc.) are really more symptoms.

  48. R C,

    I agree–hence my Re-Enlightenment statement above–but I also think we could build in more checks to slow the fall. No doubt that more skepticism about government in general would make a world of difference.

  49. “Doing nothing is not an option”

    Of course, theoretically it is, but politically it isn’t. A crisis like this is actually a terrible time to try and get people to accept a smaller role for government. That has to be done over a long time, and during times that people will accept such an option. For now, it’s a hard sell.

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