Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dysfunctional Democracy: Can It Long Endure?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The Agents of Hope and Change: Of different minds and sometimes a single purpose
Chris van Hollen D-Md

Dick Durbin D-Illinois

Tom Harkin D-Iowa
Steny Hoyer  D-Md

The Opposition: Striving Every Day to Keep the Rich Rich And The Poor in Their Place

Eric Cantor R-Va
Grover Norquist Unelected 
Mitch McConnell R-Ky

John Roberts R-Bush
Antonin Scalia R-Spanish Inquistion

 When fascism comes to the United States, it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. 
--Sinclair Lewis

This morning, the New York Times published the first paper of 2013. On the same page, a summary of the "Tentative Accord" ran over an article about a message from Chief Justice John Roberts to the Executive and Legislative branch.

What confused Mad Dog mightily is the phrase "Tentative Accord." What is this thing? A law?  Apparently, no bill was passed into law. The bullet points were neatly outlined, but they are not law. And is this an agreement between departing lame duck Congress and Mr. Obama or does it automatically get enacted by the new Congress? What is this "accord" exactly? 

Whatever it is, the Democrat Tom Harkin said Mr. Obama had given away the store.
 For Mad Dog, giving away the store would mean two things: 1. Mr. Obama gives in on taxing the rich at higher rates--and by rich 400K strikes Mad Dog as drawing the line in the Republicans' favor, but Mad Dog could life with this, having seen the movie and realizing political deals are always sullied  2. Not reducing or endangering Medicare or Social Security, not in premiums or financing. 

So Mad Dog still does not know what to think has happened, what has been swapped for what, until there is a bill to vote on.

As for the Chief Justice's message: He tells us the Judiciary can be a model of financial virtue, while "No one seriously doubts the country's fiscal ledge has gone awry."  
Actually, Chief Justice, Mad Dog seriously doubts this. Or if there is red ink, it flows from the wounds of two wars we can quickly end, if we chose.

Mr. Roberts  then extols his own thriftiness: "For each citizen's tax dollar only two tenths of one penny goes toward funding the entire third branch of government!"
(Exclamation point!)
Well, that's very impressive (!!! )considering the judiciary does not fund programs which provide for the nation's health care, financial security, defense, Coast Guard, border defense or manufacturing or infrastructure. The only expenses the judiciary incurs have to do with salaries,  building maintenance, and computer expenses. 
The Chief Justice tells us how hard working the judges are, "Hearings in Lower Manhattan the day after the storm hit, working in a building without heat or hot water that was only sparsely lit by gas-fueled emergency generators." And the Supreme Court, we are told heard arguments when the rest of official Washington was closed after Hurricane Sandy.
Oh, three cheers for the intrepid judges!  Perhaps they had to wear sweaters under their robes. 
None of these judges were hanging from helicopters on ropes, reeling in the drowning. Oh, don't get me started. I would love to see Mr. Roberts tell any of my New Hampshire neighbors, electricians who work on generators in the snow, builders who plow their way into construction sites, ship yard workers who get up at 4 AM to make their shift twenty miles from their homes, power line workers, plumbers, pipe fitters, auto mechanics, power plant workers, garbage collectors, men with weather beaten faces, thick shoulders and callused hands, or doctors who operate, frequently, through the night. 
These men, and women, would tell Mr. Roberts he does not know what hard work is.

What Chief Justice does not mention is that "retired" judges can pull their full salaries if they continue to hear one case a year, and if they agree to hear a few more, they can be provided with a secretary and an office, at government expense, while they draw their full salaries.
Oh, this is very thrifty, thank you very much.
This is the essence of the privileged life:  Justice Roberts likely studied very hard, in his warm dorm room and his library heated partially by the public dollar, on his way to becoming a justice. And he thinks he is a paragon of virtue because he goes to work when the lights are dim.
That is how far men like those who sit on the Supreme Court are from the lives of real hard working Americans.


  1. Well Mad Dog, you've made me laugh for the first time this new year-I missed Scalia's title at first-but yes, Inquisitor is quite fitting-he does look the part. I'm glad I'm not the only one not sure of what's going on with the cliff ordeal, or their last minute deal/negotiations/what have you. I did like Krugman's piece-it is more than a little annoying when people refer to both sides need to come together-since when did compromise mean movement on only one side. Last night my Republican friends' argument was if there was no deal it was due to the President's failure to lead(?)-there really is no end to the Republican stash of excuses..

    One last thing-I think your lack of empathy for Chief Justice Roberts and the other long suffering justices is just cruel. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have to go home at night and try and live with the unnerving eye strain brought on by reading in a dimly lit room, never mind having to deal with the added bulk of a sweater under those heavy robes. C'mon, those men are titans..

  2. Maud,

    You have Republican friends!!! You continue to be able to surprise me.
    I belonged to a swimming pool in suburban Maryland and Mr. Roberts was also a member. I never saw him there, but others did, and they assured me he swam in the water and did not walk on it. Apparently, when they are not in robes, some of the justices can act like normal people. This was not a country club, and Democrats and Republicans belonged. But you did not tend to strike up conversations with people reading The Wall Street Journal, if you were a Democrat.
    I don't know why I bother to mention all this. Just free associating, I guess.

    Mad Dog