Sometimes You Have to Make ‘Em Feel the Pain.

So much happened while we were hacked, down and rendered incapable of providing the great public service of our bloviation. We apologize to you as we continue to treat the shock to our systems.

But let’s see: Mark Dayton shucked his “tax the rich” crusade and settled for slice of Tim Pawlenty lite. He agreed with the modern conservative accounting regimen of budget-balancing-by-not-paying bills and taking out third mortgages. Today’s pledge-signing GOP loves that stuff. It protects the “job providers”. But it’s pretty disappointing to see a liberal Democrat concede to it.

Then, Rupert Murdoch’s influence-peddling “news” operation was caught in multiple frauds and crimes and is having its layers peeled back and splayed open like a Blooming Onion, not that his employees the Wall Street Journal opinion page or FoxNews see any relevance in the issue at all.

And in DC, Barack Obama, who long ago accepted something Mark Dayton didn’t have the stomach for, namely that when your opponent actually believes in the cleansing fires of Armageddon, you have no real choice other than to plan accordingly, and make them feel the consequences when they crash they burn.

I’ll save for later the role the governing ethos of Murdoch’s empire has had on both Dayton and Obama, Minnesota and the country, other than to say every raging apocalyptic needs a venue to broadcast his craziness. Some stand on street corners and preach the end of time. Others go on Sean Hannity’s show and claim that slamming shut the debt ceiling will liberate the job providers.

In one way it was good The Same Rowdy Crowd was down and out when Dayton signed his deal with Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers. Given a couple of days to think about it I regard it as less miserable than I did in my first reaction. The $500 million in bonding is maybe a quarter of what’s needed, (while you still have a AAA rating with some of the houses). But it is better than nothing. Nothing … and trusting that with fatter profits the state’s 1%ers will exercise a further sense of noblesse oblige and maybe rebuild the 494-35 interchange. Also, getting a cease-fire (until the 2012 session) on the GOP’s mail-order messiah shtick was worth something. I’m talking about the shtick where, to listen to allegedly credible adults, God and the Constitution require them to bring righteousness and propriety to our liberal-pagan land via state-issued IDs, more guns and fewer gays.

Besides the actual budgeting of the budget deal, (kind of a big part of the deal), what still galls me is that Dayton did not bring any heat to the feet of those who brought the state to its entirely self-inflicted crisis. For all his noble talk of requiring more from those with the most, Dayton’s messaging never took the “class warfare” complaint and reversed polarity. As in every other state and DC, the script from which Zellers, Koch and their Tea Party freshman take their rationale and talking points is calculated to protecting the advantages of the most advantaged, and slide sacrifice off on the middle class. That middle class needed a call to emotional arms it never got from Dayton.

Where was a unions, teachers, public employees, outraged partisans rally on Capitol Hill, a la Wisconsin only in nicer weather? Where was a TV campaign along the lines of what recall groups in Wisconsin are currently doing to GOP legislators? Was a call put out to politically creative types and liberal benefactors, here and across the country, to drive home an indelible message that the crisis, such as it was, was entirely avoidable and due exclusively to a GOP theory of government and accounting with no credible mooring in 21st century reality? What would the effect have been on Koch, Zellers et al of say 50,000 people on the Capitol steps, with speaker after speaker eviscerating the GOP’s bogus claims of financial rectitude and reminding all gathered who is first among equals in the GOP equation? Reminding the public the real fight today is for the health of the middle class? Or the impact of, as I say, two or three sharp-edged TV ads in heavy rotation for a week? Hell, Dayton himself could have paid for the latter.

Bottom line: Dayton allowed the state GOP to wander away from the shutdown protected by a fog of ambiguity.

The point of course is that the GOP’s solemn-sounding talk about deficit and reckless spending is a line of verbiage that only the most credulous chumps — and “balanced” reporters — continue to treat as true and legitimate. Everyone else can run the numbers and grasp the stunningly obvious reality that this is only about protecting the assets and the asset-producing systems of the already wealthy, the people who underwrite the careers of the “public servants” doing their work.

Obama, a more talented politician and far less a lone wolf than Dayton, appears to have known from last fall’s election that getting the GOP caucus to vote to raise the debt ceiling in a responsible way was something John Boehner was never going to be able to do. While Obama’s White House script may be coming a bit too much from Doris Kearn Goodwin’s “A Team of Rivals”, as opposed to the GOP’s from David L. Koch via Karl Rove, even Obama accepts the value of maneuvering your opponent into the painful position of the unambiguous perpetrator of a fraud against logic and society.

I still believe the true engineers of America 2011 — Wall Street — will hold sway with the 236 GOP House members and 41 Senate Republicans whose first allegiance is to Grover Norquist. But even if the country falls into default, (something a big chunk of that same pledge-signing crowd thinks is just liberal scare tactics), and Obama is damaged for such a self-inflicted calamity happening on his watch, all the facts and gearwork is in place for Obama to deliver a killing blow in the 2012 elections.

No big change ever happens without first some kind of shock or pain. No pain, no gain, you know. And sometimes, when the stakes are very high, you have to have an instinct and a strategy to target pain on the most cynical knaves in an intense and unequivocal way.

14 thoughts on “Sometimes You Have to Make ‘Em Feel the Pain.

  1. Joe Loveland says:

    You make a good point about “where was a unions, teachers, public employees, outraged partisans rally on Capitol Hill, a la Wisconsin only in nicer weather?”

    Maybe the nice weather prevented big protests? July days are such a scarce commodity, maybe giving them up was too high of a price to pay by vacationing/recreating shutdown workers and progressives. I think a lot of state workers grabbed a vacation or time with kids. If this was in February, maybe that meteorlogical dynamic would have been better for producing big crowds.

    The Republican deal Dayton accepted was fiscally irresponsible. But if Dayton had kept her shutdown another three months, I just don’t know if he could have gotten a better deal.

    I didn’t think Dayton made his taxation case very effectively during the shutdown. It’s a strong case, but I didn’t hear him make it much. All of the focus was on what was shutdown and was hurting because of it, rather than the merits of the various proposals. That created a lot of pressure to end it, without regard to the merits of the borrowing provisions.

    1. Erik Peterson says:

      The thing is, with summer vacation and the shutdown, the teachers and the union members would have been out on there own time.

  2. Newt says:

    I knew MN GOP was in the driver’s seat when all the media could find was a pathetic young couple that whined that they couldn’t get married in a state church.

    No protests at the Capitol. No one dying in the streets. It was a total bust.

    1. Dan Bredahl says:

      Actually, there were fatalities that resulted as part of the shutdown. But why would our local media report something like that when there are so many “feel good” stories to share.

      I’m sure you remember the six people who died down in New Ulm in that bread and breakfast fire on July 2nd? Two of them (the Bergman’s) were only staying there because they had been removed from Flandrau state park where they were camping. Had the shutdown not occurred, they would have still be in the state park camping and never been anywhere near that fire.

      I’m not blaming either side politically for the shutdown here. Just that it did have deadly consequences for two people.

  3. Lambo hit the nail on the head. Obama is a talented politician. He has not proven to be anyone who can make a tough decision regarding fiscal matters. When it doubt, fall back on the “tax the rich” cut the “corporate jets” tired old liberal pablum, solutions completely void of any meaningful solutions.

    Raising the top two income tax rates by 1 percentage point would yield about $115 billion over 10 years. Doing that, along with increases in cap gains, dividend tax rates and reducing deductions and exemptkons would amount to saving about $1 trillion over 10 years, not near enough to matter.

    We could save that each year by redoing the tax code and stripping all the goodies out. Bad news: Those goodies may disproportionately benefit the rich, but they also have a lot of benefit to the middle class.

    Whoops, no can do….lost too many votes. Thus, Mr. Obama ignores his own deficit commission and all the ideas they have, which constitute serious proposals. Instead, we get the same bullshit from a “transformational president.” So much gibberish and hype.

  4. john sherman says:

    Well, Brian, in my experience the claim is that things have to get worse before they can get better, but the fact is that things have to get worse before they get a hell of a lot worse.

    I’m waiting for the legislative Republicans to issue a thank-you note to Skip Humphrey for giving them the tobacco fund money to steal.

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    MinnPost poll:

    “By a whopping 2-1 margin, Minnesotans blame the Republicans who control both houses of the Legislature for the recent government shutdown more than they blame Gov. Mark Dayton, according to a poll taken this week for MinnPost.

    …the key swing group of self-identified independents was also much more likely to blame Republicans than to blame Dayton. Among independents, 46 percent “blamed” the Republicans, 18 percent blamed Dayton and 25 percent both.

  6. Newt says:

    This is the kind of union news that needs to be hung around the necks of Democrats …

    Law gives huge pension perks to union leaders

    In all, 23 expected to collect combined $56 million in their lifetimes

    •Liberato “Al” Naimoli, president of the Cement Workers Union Local 76. He retired last year from a $15,000-a-year city job that he last held a quarter-century ago. Today, Naimoli receives more than $13,000 a month from the city laborers’ pension fund even as he continues to earn nearly $300,000 annually as president of Local 76. His city laborers’ pension will pay him about $4 million during his lifetime, according to a Tribune/WGN-TV analysis based on the funds’ actuarial assumptions.

    •James McNally, vice president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. He receives nearly $115,000 a year even though at the time he retired, in 2008, he had not worked for the city in more than 13 years. He was only 51 when he started collecting a city pension. By the time he turns 78, he will have received roughly $4 million from the city laborers’ fund.

    •Dennis Gannon, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. In 2004, he began receiving more than $150,000 a year after retiring at age 50 from a $56,000-a-year city job that he had left nearly 13 years earlier. He received his city pension while collecting a salary of about $200,000 from the federation. During his lifetime, the city municipal pension fund will pay him approximately $5 million. Gannon told the Tribune that he was only following the law in filing for a city pension.,0,4724416.story

    Wisc Gov. Scott Walker is an American hero for standing up to this kind of assault on taxpayers.

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