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Image vs. Reality at the GOP Convention

August 30, 2012

Give those Republicans some due credit: they’ve been putting on the kind of show that would have done Ziegfeld proud. Saddled with a vanilla nominee in Mitt Romney, they’ve been firing up their base with a multi-megawatt display of passion and purpose. And not only their base: the Republicans have  jettisoned their dowdy image as the party of aging white guys; they’ve produced an array of stirring speakers who represent youth, ethnicity and womanhood… the future of America wrapped up in an attractive and exciting (yet still suitably conservative) package.

Back in my college days, communications scholar Marshall McLuhan gained a measure of fame for proclaiming that “the medium is the message.” In other words, what you say isn’t as important as how you say it… and how it comes across to your audience. So far, the 2012 GOP convention has excelled at skipping over the hard truths in the service of a lofty idealism that should play nicely on Main Street.

Ann Romney proved herself a powerful messenger as she forged an emotional bond with the wives of America. A decent and courageous woman who has suffered her share of hardships, she understandably overlooked the fact that some hardships are suffered a little more easily when your net worth is in the hundreds of millions. I have to wonder if a Romney presidency would grant less-privileged multiple sclerosis sufferers the kind of superior medical care that stabilized her own condition and allowed her to speak so passionately at the convention.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, never one to pull punches, delivered a rousing (if self-centered) sermon that credited his late mother with imparting his guiding philosophy in life: that it’s more important to be respected than liked. Aside from the questionable wisdom of that philosophy (I’d counter that a genuinely successful human being needs to maintain a fine balance between the two), it’s clear that Christie is elevating toughness to a virtue.

Toughness fits Christie’s “Jersey bulldog” image, and today’s Republicans respond to his kind of toughness.  Not for them the wimpy bleeding-heart histrionics of Obama liberals. What does it matter if a Romney presidency adds to the burdens of the middle-class and working-class Republicans who will be voting for him? They can all revel in their toughness… and their dogged faith in a system that holds out the dangling carrot of success for everyone who makes the effort.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a magnificent woman and an equally magnificent speaker, qualities she demonstrated almost effortlessly during her dazzling convention speech. Orating without a teleprompter, she spun a vision of America as an “exceptional” nation that must continue to exert its leadership around the globe. Inspiring stuff, though my inner alarm system tends to start beeping whenever I hear the words “America” and “exceptional” in the same sentence. (Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan believed they were “exceptional,” too.)

Again, here was a morally questionable vision (neocon interventionism) couched in soaring rhetoric reminiscent of JFK’s inaugural address. Back in 1961, the young president promised that “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Alas, after our decade in Vietnam, a grueling war in Iraq and an interminable engagement in the wilds of Afghanistan, that kind of expansive idealism seems not only dated but fatally unsustainable. During an ongoing economic crisis at home, we simply can’t continue to bankrupt ourselves by policing the world.

I didn’t expect VP nominee Paul Ryan to be such a firebrand onstage. His photos tend to fit his reputation as a dorky policy wonk, but he had all the right stuff when he mounted the stage in Tampa. Animated, youthful and bold, he praised his mother’s work ethic, ripped into Obama as a failed president, set the stage for Romney the turnaround wizard, and essentially anointed himself as the  political standard-bearer for his generation.

Ryan also played fast and loose with the facts, as when he accused Obama of breaking his campaign promise to keep a struggling General Motors plant open. (Fact 1: Obama never promised to keep the plant open. Fact 2: It shut down while Bush was still president.) “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” harrumphed Romney operative Neil Newhouse. That’s right… just dole out the Kool-Aid and encourage all those financially strapped conservative believers to drink all they like. No matter that the Romney team would boost military spending during a budget crisis, roll back benefits for the poor and elderly, and shift even more of the tax burden from the rich to the middle class… it takes real patriotism (and toughness) to vote against your own interests.

And of course, all those inspired, idealistic and passionate speeches only made the Republican vision more lethally convincing across Middle America. Let’s see if the GOP nominee can strike a proper balance between image and truth when he steps to the podium for his big moment tonight.

345 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2012 2:44 pm

    A snide, self-serving response. Wow, color me surprised. The fact is that both Mitt and Paul actually have accomplished something in life. How about you Kevin, what is your big claim to fame?

    • August 30, 2012 7:28 pm

      Actually, Rich, Kevin is a successful businessman.

    • September 2, 2012 4:01 pm

      “Accomplishing something in life” is vastly overrated. Eventually you die and whatever accomplishments you have made are subsumed into the vast ocean of history.

      • September 2, 2012 5:57 pm

        While that may be a metaphysical truth (perhaps) it is not necessarily a good way to choose a POTUS. Based on Obama’s accomplishments, the voters should have known better.

      • September 2, 2012 6:21 pm

        Perhaps not, of course- when you want to choose a POTUS, you know he needs to be up to the job- but what does it say for someone commenting on a blog about politics?

      • September 2, 2012 9:01 pm

        You might ask yourself the same question, being that you posted on this blog. Duh!

      • September 3, 2012 1:17 am

        Rich/Bastiat: Thelyniezian was just commenting on your response to Kevin’s comment. In other words, someone who comments here doesn’t have to be more accomplished than Mitt or Paul in order to criticize their ideas. That’s the great thing about freedom of speech, right?

        By the way… welcome to the fray, thelyniezian. (What does your name mean?) I saw that you commented on some of my 3-way debates on the issues… I haven’t got around to those yet, but I’ll give it my best.

      • September 3, 2012 5:07 am

        [If you want to know, my name is based on a fictional country called Lyniezia I invented in my head- it’s partly signifying the fact I have at times been at odds with the rest of society (like a foreign inhabitant of my own country)- partly just sounded “cool” when I thought it up.]

        Yes, I guess that’s true about freedom of speech- and I do have a bit of an issue with people who imagine their views are only valid if they’ve done something or experienced something- but perhaps more broadly that some people choose to measure a human life in narrow terms of success and failure. Being a successful politician who is a front-runner to be POTUS (or his second-in-command) doesn’t automatically make you more of a “success” than being some random guy who comments on blogs, and such is true even for doing well in business. You are successful in those fields, true, but in life generally? Is there any such thing as “success” on a worldly level, when we all end up in the same place?

      • September 3, 2012 8:47 am

        Success is an abstraction, so you can apply it however you want. In a sense, so is accomplisment. That said, Mitt has certain accomplishments that can be verified. What I find funny is that he gets criticised for the way he has contstructed his his life and accomplishment by people who have no understanding of what he did nor how. Very often these same people have produced very little in value in their own lives, Yet, they feel very righteous and competent to stand in judgement.

        Let’s use that same prism on our current POTUS. Do you really want 4 more years of the misery we have before us right now? Just exactly what has HE accomplshed in 4 yrs on the job that you would like to see more of?

        As for freedom of speech, of course you have that and thank God and America you do. That said, no one guarantees you that anyone else gives a hoot about your point of view. That is another matter.

      • September 9, 2012 7:20 am

        It might be worth pointing out I’m British, though do take a bit of an interest in American politics (it would be hard to avoid, anyway). As such, I’m not quite as in the thick of it as regards the accomplishments or lack thereof, of your politicians (and, of course my right to freedom of speech is guaranteed by our own laws….)

        So, it would be worth your pointing out how exactly what Obama has done in office does not constitute accomplishment, and how Romney in his political career has been any better? Are you referring to the economy in this, rather than things like healthcare reforms (which you may oppose, or think they have not gone far enough, don’t know)? Or just making big promises of change he hasn’t managed?

        (Just curious, that’s all.)

      • September 9, 2012 10:39 am

        Obama: Specific promies not kept:

        Close Gitmo, end both ME wars, unemployment under 6%, cut the deficit in half, transparency in govt’t operations, bring back cooperation between the parties, unite the country.

        Others: hurt relationships with UK, Israel, Canda, France. Helped Egypt and Libya fall to the Muslim Brotherhood.

        I could go on.

        Mitt: Built and ran arguably the world’s best private equity firm; saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, while taking no salary. Ran Mass for 4 yrs, took no salary, left office with an unemployment rate of 4%.

        I could go on, but that might give you an idea.

  2. August 30, 2012 3:51 pm

    Rick: A disappointing analysis–a mixture of obvious points and snide remarks–well below your usual standards. I miss the genius-level humor you used to inject in your comments. My fellow bloggers on this site seem to be long on criticism and too short on solutions. I may get too bored to stick around long enough for your comments on the DNC convention, but I hope you return to your normal self by then. It should be a gold mine for humorists.

    • August 30, 2012 7:31 pm

      Et tu, RP? I had to rush this one to press without revisions, but I think it does what I wanted it to do. And yes, I’ll have plenty to say when Obama gets the official nod next month.

  3. Rob Anderson permalink
    August 30, 2012 4:47 pm

    Republican Convention speakers so far:

    1. An airhead

    2. An arrogant sexist

    3. A war criminal

    4. A neo-fascist

    Keep up the good work, GOP!!

    • August 30, 2012 7:32 pm

      Rob: I think I’ve guessed who’s who. 😉

    • JB Say permalink
      August 30, 2012 9:50 pm

      Spoken by a guy who still lives in a hotel room?

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        September 5, 2012 5:01 pm

        Up until a month ago I’d been living in my car thanks to the glories of corporate orthodoxy (i.e., off-shoring). But thanks for asking.

      • September 5, 2012 6:33 pm

        You are welcome!

  4. AMAC permalink
    August 30, 2012 8:04 pm

    I suppose I will be the first to leave a positive comment…
    I agree that the Republicans have done a great job with the convention. I assume that the Romney poll numbers will go up, from what I have seen of the convention. Overall, I would say the Republicans have been very good at communicating their message for the last decade or so. I think the Democrats definately could learn something form the Republicans on winning public support for policy and ideas in general. As I belong to neither of the two parties, I think that my opinion is fairly balanced. I enjoyed the article. I don’t think the comments you made were offensive, but obviously they were not recieved well by some! I will say Rob’s comments were pretty abrasive and were Belloff’s. But, that was expected. Par for the course, I guess. I suppose you cannot acknowlege accomplishment or critisize flaws unless you are more succesful or well-known that the subject? I guess we could just talk about entertainment news. How are those Kardashian sisters, anyway?

    • August 30, 2012 9:23 pm

      Thanks, AMAC. I honestly didn’t see how I was being snarky… I just related my honest observations on the convention speeches. It reminds me of that Harry Truman quote on giving ’em hell: “I just told the truth and they THOUGHT it was hell.”

  5. pearows permalink
    August 30, 2012 8:24 pm

    Oh dear. Well, I guess my reaction to all of this is a combination of resignation and dismay.

    As much as we always hear about judging people by their character, the fact is, many commenters here judge others by their politics. So, Republicans must be – cue up Rob – “airheads, sexists, war criminals, and neo-facists.” You left out “racist”, Rob…was that merely an oversight? Or did the fact that Mia Love, Artur Davis and Condi Rice all spoke at the convention cause you to hold your fire on that one?

    And, Rich, I think that you probably could have expressed your disagreement without offense. But you clearly wanted to offend.

    Rick, I am not surprised that you think that Mitt Romney might refuse to “grant less-privileged multiple sclerosis sufferers the kind of superior medical care that stabilized her own condition, ” because I know that you believe that Romney, because of his wealth and the way that he acquired it, must be a cold-hearted bastard. I’m not surprised, but it just doesn’t square with the fact that I know you to be reasonable and,for the most part, open-minded. I do wonder how, as POTUS, he would use his executive power to withhold care from poor women, but that’s another issue. Perhaps it is part of “The GOP War on Women” that I have heard so much about…..and will doubtless hear more next week, when the Democrats have their own convention and feature the famous Sandra Fluke as a prime time speaker. No taxation without contraception.

    The other stuff…well, we are not going to agree on much in this election cycle, I fear. But I will observe that the collective Democrat/liberal freak-out over Paul Ryan’s speech, and the dozens of “fact-checking” articles that I read today, are testament to the effectiveness, power, and basic truth of that speech. Ryan is the real deal, and, as you observed, he has the communication skills to explain his policy beliefs. To the other side, that is a very scary thing.

    (Note: you probably shouldn’t say things like “just dole out the Kool-Aid and encourage all those financially strapped conservative believers to drink all they like.” Over-the-top snarky, and provokes those angry responses 😉 )

    • August 30, 2012 9:40 pm

      PR: I don’t think Romney is a cold-hearted bastard; I’m convinced that he’s a decent guy, at least in private life. But he’s also an extreme pragmatist with no real core beliefs. Pragmatism isn’t an evil (we could even use a little of it in today’s ineffectual government)… it’s just that pragmatism is valueless — amoral, if you will — and for better or worse, I’m a values-oriented guy. I still believe in archaic concepts like fairness and justice.

      I also believe (as should be apparent by now) that the Republicans have won the loyalty of financially strapped Middle Americans by appealing to their patriotism, individualism, social conservatism and respect for hard work. The implication of the Republican preachers is that everyone who makes the effort will be rewarded, when we know that hasn’t been true for a while now (if it ever was).

      To me, it seems less than noble for rich Republicans to hypnotize poorer Republicans into supporting their agenda, which would transfer yet MORE money from the middle class to the upper tier. How? If you call for increased military spending along with tax cuts for the rich, guess who’s going to end up paying the difference.

      • August 30, 2012 9:53 pm


        It might surprise you to know that your stereotypes are not supported by any facts. GOP members come in all stripes, just like you Dems.

      • September 8, 2012 8:51 am

        Withing the highest quintile – 32% of voters are registered republican 30% are registered democrat. Within the 2nd highest quintile it is a 30/30 split.

        The GOP is not the party of the rich.

      • September 8, 2012 9:17 am

        In several studies of the top 1% either by income or wealth, party affiliation is only favors republicans slight.
        In terms of ideology rather than political affiliation (conservative/liberal) they breakdown exactly the same as the rest of us – in other words there are more rich MODERATE republicans.
        The striking departure is on issues of economics – regardless of of party, they are more opposed to deficits, and more critical of government – whether democrat or republican.

      • September 8, 2012 9:21 am

        The richest states in this country are the most strongly democratic. The poorest are the most strongly republican.

        Conversely those states that have been growing the fastest, that are the most fiscally responsible over the past several decades are most strongly republican.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      September 5, 2012 5:11 pm

      My judgements are based on the fact that I take the Republicans – and the Democrats – at their word when they say that their politics flow from personal values that express the content of their character. How, exactly, is Condi Rice NOT a war criminal if the Nuremberg standard is applied? Anne Romney has demonstrated, over and over again, that while her feet may be on the ground her head is straight up her ass. What part of the New Jersey governor’s scornful comments about women are NOT sexist or demonstrably arrogant (as someone who has suffered weight issues I know the *exact* source of those comments, but it’s not an excuse)? And have you read Ryan’s speeches and books? The only reason he doesn’t walk around in a brown shirt and jack boots is because his fellow Republicas would undoubtedly find it declasse.

      • September 5, 2012 6:34 pm

        You continue to sound like a sore loser. Perhaps the Communist Party would be your cup of tea?

  6. August 30, 2012 9:46 pm

    What the heck happened here? Rich’s first comment has vanished, and some of the others got bumped down to the bottom. I didn’t do it… honest! Maybe there’s a troll hunter on the loose.

  7. August 30, 2012 9:49 pm

    Just to show that I’m a good sport, I’ll repost Rich’s first comment from my e-mail records:

    No offense Rick but you couldn’t hold Mitt or Paul’s briefcase. It must make you feel quite smug to criticise those who are clearly your intellectual superiors and whose accomplishments actually amount to something more than a web blog.

    I suggest you rename your blog to something more apt, like: the arrogant musings of Mr. Nobody.

    I guess that was meant to be offensive! Hoe did I do?

  8. Rabbit permalink
    August 31, 2012 8:19 am

    Well, aside from the predictable internet snarling, what can we learn from this?

    Thus far there has been a small bounce of less than 2 points according to Real Clear politics recent poll compilation. As of today Obama has a narrow lead in popular and electoral votes. It may take a few more days for a bounce to show in a poll compilation though.

    93% have their minds made up. That leaves 7%, those must be the real non affiliated moderates, centrists, and independents. They will decide the outcome. (Or perhaps that 7% are sleeping or disenchanted and the outline of the decision is in already.)

    I liked Brooks take on the convention, its the sort of object decent analysis 98% of the commentariat won’t provide. As a moderate, I am looking from a moderate standpoint for the issues that affect those of us who do not have an ideological fever. One is that the moderate revolution I hope for seems as far away as ever. There are not even the beginnings of a moderate unified consciousness. Perhaps after the election when the dust settles? Election time belongs to the hotheads and ideologues and partisan spinners. I can dream.

    If I were the dems I would take the campaign to those 7% undecideds in the form of necessity to avoid one party control in any form, as the house is in GOP hands and senate could be. But Whatever the outcome of this election, its not going to be a landslide knockout for either party, and no one will be able to claim a mandate. A nation that has been divided nearly exactly 50/50 for the last 12 years does not need the insane hubris we get from our political parties that we get.

  9. JB Say permalink
    August 31, 2012 8:55 am

    $16T in “offical” debt; $43T in unfunded promises. $1T in current deficits for as far as one can see. What is the “moderate” solution to this issue? What is Obama’s solution to the situation we find oureselves in?

    If addressing these issues with fact based analysis is considered “radical” then yes, indeed, Houston, we do have a problem. When the house is on fire, it is usually a good idea to acknowledge that fact.

    Take every $ from very “rich” American and you are still dead broke.

    So, you moderates, where are y0ur answers?

    • August 31, 2012 12:57 pm

      Cutting the Pentagon’s budget by half would be a start. We can’t afford to micromanage the world’s affairs, especially during a budget crisis that coincides with an endless recession. Cut foreign aid, especially to unfriendly “allies” like Pakistan. Cut subsidies to oil and other corporate/financial entities; if middle class people don’t qualify for government assistance, they sure as hell shouldn’t. Make it illegal to stash money in tax shelters… in fact, I’m starting to lean toward a flat tax imposed on everyone, rich and poor alike, capital gains as well as earned income, without loopholes.

      • Rabbit permalink
        August 31, 2012 1:16 pm

        Oh Ouch, Rick, that bit about the pentagon budget is terribly naive. It is not a realistic position, Keep the strong sword, just don’t break it through over use,.Fund wars with a tax if you really must have them. That would save trillions.

        I think its the first time I’ve really disagreed with you strongly. Moderates have to live in the real world, not a fantasy world of positions that cannot be brought into reality.

        Perhaps you mean this idea as something that would be worked towards in the far distant future. If its an immediate answer, then….

      • August 31, 2012 8:52 pm

        Rabbit: Consider this: If we were to cut the US defense budget in half, it would still be 2 1/2 times greater than that of China (the country with the second biggest defense budget). As it is, our defense budget is far greater than the budgets of the next 10 countries combined.

        Yes, we need to carry a big stick, but we could do it with a much slimmer military. I’d like to see most of the savings go toward paying down the deficit — with a little left over for manned space exploration.

      • pearows permalink
        August 31, 2012 9:11 pm

        Agreed with Ian on the Pentagon. Hollowing out the military is foolhardy and dangerous. Not to mention that that estimates based on the potential cuts from the sequester will cost hundreds of thousands, possibly over a million jobs in the private sector, lowering GDP by more than 1%. Job loss in the private sector alone would be in the hundreds of thousands. Military spending does not equal war, and military cuts do not lead to increases in social services.

        Agree with you, Rick, on foreign aid to hostile governments, agree strongly with you on ending all corporate welfare subsidies (oil is not the worst) and I would include small business subsidies and industry organizations in that as well. It’s just buying up special interest group voters, and by ending this stuff we would end a lot of the lobbying by businesses vying for the cash.

        Strongly agree on ending loopholes and shelters, and making sure that everyone, except for the desperately poor, pays some form of income tax. I disagree with you on taxing unearned income,(profit from selling your property, dividends, interest, etc). For that reason, I do like the Fair Tax, but I’ve already menntioned that I fear it’s just too revolutionary.

      • pearows permalink
        August 31, 2012 9:16 pm

        Heh, I repeated myself on the job loss thing, in the process of rewording my comment. But, heck, it bears repeating 🙂

      • August 31, 2012 10:09 pm

        PR: You make some good points about the consequences of a serious cutback in the military budget… I didn’t think about all the companies that depend on the Pentagon for contracts. But it would definitely help us roll back the deficit. I guess the ideal solution would be a gradual scaling down of our miltary budget rather than a dramatic “slash.”

      • September 4, 2012 9:49 pm

        Agreed with Rick, not Priscilla and Ian on the Pentagon. We spend more than everyone else combined.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        September 5, 2012 5:19 pm

        This is a bit off-topic, but do you know who the enemy is in the soon-to-be-released remake of “Red Dawn”?

        The Chinese. I shit you not.

  10. August 31, 2012 9:01 am

    $16T is official debt (T-Bills). $44T in unfunded promises. $1T in current deficits per year for as far as the eye can see. What is the “moderate” response to this situation? What is the Obama response (no legally passed budget in 3 years). What can Obama offer that he has not shown us?

    Snipe at the GOP all you want but they are the only ones actually talking about the mess we have on our hands (whiich some of them actually helped create). When the house is on fire, it is usually a good first step to say so.

    OK, let’s take every dime from every “rich” American. That will actually not make a damn bit of difference other than to make some people feel very good about themselves.

    Houston, we have a problem and denial is at the heart of the issue.

    • Rabbit permalink
      August 31, 2012 9:41 am

      There is a problem, but calm objective non-partisan heads have not been prominent among those analyzing it.

      Our debt is roughly equal to our GNP. If my own debt were roughly equal to my yearly income I would be delighted. Oh, its a poor imperfect analogy for sure, but how many other nations have far larger ratios? Subtract out two unfunded multi trillion dollar wars started by GOP hotheads and where would we be? (not denying that we needed an immediate military answer to Afghanistan)

      The unfunded entitlement promises are a more severe issue. They are not beyond solution, but the sooner both sides stop posing and start finding actual compromises the better.

      I might make an analogy between this issue and the climate change issue. One of our two American sides recognizes it exists but that side has absurd ideological unrealistic solutions (shut nuclear power plants, put up wind mills) , while the other side for the most part hotly denies it exists, against 98% of the evidence. Which side is worse? On the entitlements deficit issue at least the dems don’t actually deny it exists for the most part, while they are not eager to start any actual work on it, while the GOP seems under the sway of solutions that are unrealistic and will never gain sufficient support to be tried, thank god. So are we getting anywhere with the hyper partisan crazies like yourself?

      Moderates want a process of compromise carried out by serious people, not by the two present parties that are more and more dominated by their more extreme elements.

      As well, entitlements are only one, albeit huge, issue; on nearly every other issue the GOP has become so extreme that speaking for myself, I can’t even vote for the GOP at the state level for fear of supporting an increasing unrooted from reality or decency GOP, even though I am not happy with my state’s overzealous democrats. Moderates want something approaching objective rationality, not partisan ideological rhetoric and red meat thrown at rabid base voters.

      Our problems are actually solvable, do you really believe they are not? If the only possible financial solutions were the radical Libertarian ones the GOP is presently paying lip service to then we Would be in a fine mess.

      BTW, No one, not even crazies like Micheal Moore (who certainly ain’t interested in having his stash raided) is talking about taking every dime from the rich, that’s a straw man. Think more Warren Buffett’s rationale and proposal

      Sadly, most of your posts read like they were written by someone who Hates Bastiat and Say and is out to give their reputations a bad name by being an online jerk under their heading. Aren’t you supposedly too busy teaching for such nonsense?

      • JB Say permalink
        August 31, 2012 11:10 am

        Our problems are NOT soluable within the current political paradigm and with the thinking that debt does not matter. In fact, every dollar taken from a citizen is a dollar that is commited to serving the political class. In other words, much of it simply goes to pure and unadulterated waste (can you spell solyndra?).

        Perhaps you are happy funding this current administrations golf trips, and chrony capitalism, but I am not. I will vote for anyone not named Obama as that is my choice right now. It is an easy choice. As for being a jerk, take a long look in the mirror. If you to have a go on economic matters, I would be happy to oblige.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 31, 2012 11:17 am

        Rabbit, I have to agree with much of your comment, but is voting for those that believe that the governments ability to tax and spend is unending a wise decision.( You did make the comment about being unable to vote for the GOP). I do not accept many of the positions taken by the GOP, but they are the only party I see today that have the guts to put things on the table to open a discussion so maybe a moderate position will become law.

        Ryan has provided a plan in his budget that will address the Medicare problems. As far as I know, the senate finace committee has not proposed a budget for many years. And the independant auditor that provides actuarial statements of facts for the Medicare program all but said Obama’s plan is filled with untruths. Do we not deserve better than what we have?

      • September 2, 2012 1:01 am

        Our debt is not equal to our GNP. As noted unfunded liabilities exceed 54T – by many estimates they are over 100T. These are real promises that we have made that absent serious change will have to be paid for.
        They are essentially our mortgage. That 15T+ of debt is more like our credit card debt – if your credit card debt equalled your income you are in deep trouble.

        But it gets far worse. Because this is only the governments debt.
        Our income is 16T, but the income of the federal government is only about 2.5T. And we the people have legitimate debt of our own. I beleive there is well over 50T in outstanding mortgages alone – that must be paid for out of that 16T/year of income.

        Pretending that the income of the entire nation is the income of the government while only the debt of the government must be paid by off by that is cheating.

        I will be happy to agree that we should never have gone into Iraq, and that we should have left afghanistan years ago. But total cost to the end of 2008 of Iraq and afghanistan was 3T – huge – about half the Increase in Debt during the entire Bush adminstration, and less than what Obama has added in 4 years.

        You say you want reasoned compromise. But those “Radical Libertarian” solutions you say the GOP is esposing, at very best leave us worse than we are at the moment.

        We are not adding $1T to the economy each year. But we are adding $1T to the debt and will continue to add atleast half that for several decades under the most fiscally conservative plan being actively considered by either party.

        Treading water means decreasing the yearly increase in debt to 20% or less of increase in GDP. that means cutting spending back to 2007 levels (or 2008 – TARP) immediately. Does not sound too bad until you grasp that is about an 800B yearly cut. We nearly had a political blood bath with you calling for Republican scalps in order to reduce the rate of increase in spending by 1.2T over a decade.

        Sure our problems are solvable – but the first step is understanding how large they really are.

        The argument about confiscating 100% of the wealth of the top 20% is not meant to be serious. It is meant to point out how ludicrous trying to solve this by taxing the bejesus out of the top quintile is. You will destroy the economy and get enough money to pay the deficit for this year. Having confiscated everything the top 20% have – how are you planing to fix things next year ?

        Further we know – far more solidly that anything you think you know about AGW, that taxes on investment are economically damaging and frequently produce no new revenue and often decrease tax revenue.
        If you do nto like that – go argue with noted libertarian and Obama NEC head Christine Romer – not me.

      • September 2, 2012 9:09 am

        Enough with the facts, Smith. You are going to bring all these moderates down, man!
        Bummer. Reality bites and Smith will NOT play along with the charade.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        September 5, 2012 5:26 pm

        “..not by the two present parties that are more and more dominated by their more extreme elements.”

        Are you kidding me? While I will vigorously agree that the Republicans are controlled by the right-wing extremists, if the same were true of Democrats I and people like me would be holding high elected office, or at least be well-paid consultants. We’re not, and furthermore our current President is to the right of the late father of his opponent. Please learn a little history (not to mention political economy) before you post such nonsense.

    • Andy Tonti permalink
      August 31, 2012 10:02 am

      My, oh my!! So we need to squeeze every dime from all “rich” Americans. No not really.

      How about amending the tax code to express equity throughout the tax rate scale, and eliminate most of the loopholes that allow the “rich” to shelter their unearned income in island tax havens? Not an action to wring out evry last dime from the rich, but maybe just a tiny push to have all Americans, rich to not-so-rich, pay taxes in a fair and accountable manner.


      • August 31, 2012 11:13 am

        Pure nonsense. I am in the so- called middle class. My effective federal tax rate last year was about 6%, not counting SS and Medicare. Is the average American paying an effective tax rate higher than Romney? I doubt it. If they are, they should find another tax preparer.

      • August 31, 2012 11:15 am

        Then again, perhaps we should have all Americans pay something to finance the Federal Government? Nah, terrible idea.

      • August 31, 2012 9:01 pm

        How is it nonsense for Andy to suggest a more equitable tax code that eliminates loopholes and requires everyone with income to put some money into the pot? I thought you were in favor of that.

        By the way, not everyone in the middle class is fortunate enough to pay 6% in taxes… I think Romney’s secretary was paying around 14%, and plenty of us pay more, even with good accountants sweating the details.

      • September 4, 2012 9:54 pm

        If the top 25% of tax payers are hiding all their loot in the cayman islands how comes they are supplying 85% of all tax revenue (IRS 2009.)

        i am all for a fairer tax system. No deductions at all, flat tax everyone over poverty pays 20%, no double taxation.

      • September 4, 2012 10:14 pm

        No fair, using facts and all.

      • September 4, 2012 9:58 pm

        The average federal income tax rate for those in the 2nd highest quartile – the middle class, is just below 6%. The top quartile averages 15% and the bottom two half averages below 2% again IRS 2009.

      • September 4, 2012 10:16 pm

        Yes, as I pointed out, my effective tax rate on a slightly over 6 figure income was about 6%. That is a fact.

  11. August 31, 2012 9:02 am

    Sorry for the double post. Perhaps it was worth saying twice?

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      September 5, 2012 5:29 pm

      No it wasn’t, and for the record we had this same stupid debate in the run-up to Clinton’s upper income tax increases, and the world (let alone the country) did not come to an end. I remember a Nightline show in which a guy who custom builds yachts was bitching about how the rich weren’t going to buy them anymore, but I rather doubt he went out of business.

      • September 5, 2012 6:36 pm

        Indeed. See, if he went out of business, then there would be more jobs. No, wait a minute, that’s not right!

  12. Ron P permalink
    August 31, 2012 10:59 am

    Rick, you state “Ryan also played fast and loose with the facts”.

    I request you take a look at the following link and click on the “statement of actuarial opinion” Just a couple pages long and pay close attention to the way they protray how the facts align with what President Obama has said about his changes to Medicare.

    Click to access TR2012.pdf

    I would hope that you keep in mind this report when you review the Democrat Party convention. Do we deserve better people in government that will tell us the truth and not play games with numbers that will drive this country into an economic mess for our future generations, or should we accept lies and deception and not hold those doing the deceiving responsible and try something different?

    • August 31, 2012 9:21 pm

      RP: I couldn’t get that document to load, but I think it’s a foregone conclusion that politicians from either party will distort the truth to maximize the voter appeal of their agendas. It’s human nature; everyone sees life through a filter that reflects their biases. (Of course, a moderate’s filter tends to be clearer than liberal and conservative filters.) With politicians, it’s even more noticeable because they’re always promoting their view of the world.

      And yes, politicians need to be held responsible for lies and distortions. The Politifact site has that great “Truthometer” that rates politicians’ statements as true, mostly true, partly true, mostly false and “pants on fire.” Too bad so few Americans know about it.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 31, 2012 11:41 pm

        Rick, do a search on “2012 medicare trustees report” and that will link you to a PDF file that is a copy of the actuarial report. Basically they state that the assumptions used by the administration would severely impact seniors access to care due to the large reduction in expenditures coming from physician reimbursement. They also state that they do not believe the public would accept this happening and therefore believe the reimbursements will have to be reenstated, thus eliminating the savings that has been proposed and included in their assumptions.

        Right now the changes included in the ACA is all smoke and mirrows and when people read the law and understand its full impact, those will have to be repealed and new savings from other sources included or additional spending on the ACA will have to be budgeted.

  13. Ron P permalink
    August 31, 2012 11:03 am

    Second try, first one did not post at end of comments for some reason.

    Rick, you state “Ryan also played fast and loose with the facts”.

    I request you take a look at the following link and click on the “statement of actuarial opinion” Just a couple pages long and pay close attention to the way they protray how the facts align with what President Obama has said about his changes to Medicare.

    Click to access TR2012.pdf

    I would hope that you keep in mind this report when you review the Democrat Party convention. Do we deserve better people in government that will tell us the truth and not play games with numbers that will drive this country into an economic mess for our future generations, or should we accept lies and deception and not hold those doing the deceiving responsible and try something different?

    • Rabbit permalink
      August 31, 2012 1:07 pm

      “Do we deserve better people in government that will tell us the truth and not play games with numbers that will drive this country into an economic mess for our future generations,

      or should we accept lies and deception and not hold those doing the deceiving responsible and try something different?”

      If I had the time, I would find a way to paste in a video of the old John McEnroe screaming “You cannot be serious!” This question is naive tripe, pure and simple.

      When the GOP turns into a party that is not turned 150 degrees from the first half of your question, then they will be much more competitive for moderate votes. As it is today the GOP is not a credible alternative for many moderates, the hope among many of the central GOP figures is to govern from the far right. That ain’t gonna sell.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 31, 2012 1:48 pm

        Rabbit, did you take a couple of minutes to access the link I supplied. Just 2 minutes of your time will give you an example that Obama is 180 degrees in his position on Medicare campared to his rhetoric. Just clicl the “opinion” once there.

      • pearows permalink
        August 31, 2012 9:23 pm

        Ron P, the definition of “moderate” here requires that you hate the GOP, consider anyone who wants to cut any government program an extreme right-winger, and believe that Obamacare was passed so that everyone would have quality healthcare and be able to keep their own doctors.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 31, 2012 11:54 pm

        OOPS, then I must have been in LALA land when I decided to follow this site. I was of the opinion a moderate could accept parts of both sides positions. For me, a moderate is one that believes that we need to balance our budget, but in a way where a position around 50-50 in increased revenues and decreased spending is used (not to exceed + or- 10% either way), that increased revenues can be achieved through tax reforms (like a fair tax) and less special interest loopholes along with better regulations to encourage job creation, that spending cuts can be achieved through zero based budgeting and requiring each and every government program to be justified yearly, not just prior year expenses adjusted for inflation and finally, that healthcare laws can be written to insure everyone has access to insurance without the use of a government program like Medicaid (state exchanges use medicaid rates) where most doctors do not participate, resulting in most medicaid patients ending up in clinics or emergency rooms.

        So I will stick around awhile, after week at the beach, and see how things go. So far it appears everyone can make comments that support their positions on this site and still be nice, unlike so many others where those that do not agree with their positions are made to look like idiots.

  14. August 31, 2012 11:18 am

    BTW- we all know that this issue about Romeny’s taxes is a ruse, to avoid talking about what an abject failure the POTUS has been. If Romney filed fraudulent tax returns, the IRS can resolve that pretty quickly. Clearly he did not. Now, Tim G. at the Treasury, well, that is another matter altogther.

    And, does one wonder why John Corzine still walks around a free man?

    I wonder

  15. Rabbit permalink
    August 31, 2012 12:53 pm

    Well. I was asked what moderates would suggest by our snarly libertarian of the day. and just for the hell of it I took the invitation seriously and I gave what seemed to me to be a thoughtful answer. I heard back some nonsense about golf trips and cronyism, as those those were invented by the current administration. That is what passes as a strong argument to the “intellectual wing” of the GOP that our jovial jbastiat represents.

    I hate to be repetitious, but 12 years of responsible financial leadership by G.H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had us in good shape, in the black, (as we were in all those years from Ike through Carter). For which the Norquist voters rebelled against Bush I; today those same voters are are the core of the debt rebellion in the GOP today.

    It ain’t the system itself that is broken, its the inability to find compromise solutions to adjusting it that we have with today’s two political midget parties. Two terribly crippled parties are not conducive to solving anything.

    Obama ought to be 20 points behind with this economy, the debt, and the racism factor, instead he is 1 point ahead. How many Moderates do you think the GOP is winning? .

    If the GOP were a serious party with serious answers they would ran away with this election. It is a national tragedy that the opposition party is not fit to lead.

    Its no wonder that Libertarians and Conservatives invade the New Moderate to berate and just about deny the very idea of moderates; we moderates, not here in blogland but in the bigger world, are a huge thorn in their fantasies. May it be ever thus.

    • August 31, 2012 1:22 pm

      Rabbit: The Republicans have made their bed by marginalizing the moderates in their party. Romney had to disguise his moderate inclinations to snag the nomination… though he was aided by a particularly kooky, whacked-out crop of GOP contenders (poor, unregarded Jon Huntsman excepted). Choosing Paul Ryan as the VP nominee will energize the conservative base but won’t win the moderate votes they need to succeed.

      Alas, there hasn’t been a successful new-party launch in the U.S. since the original abolitionist Republicans in the 1850s. With all the piles of money required to play the political game today, a moderate third party doesn’t seem to stand a chance of getting to the launching pad… even though it would probably attract a plurality of American voters.

      I was hoping the Tea Party faction would have started its own party and left the GOP to the moderates, but now that they’ve essentially hijacked the GOP they can just sit where they are. I suppose the Democrats are our “moderate” party these days… there really isn’t much (if any) radicalism among conventional Democrats today.

      What we REALLY need is a radical reform movement to upset the chess board and clean up American politics once and for all. Something like Continental Congress 2.0 and its list of grievances (whatever happened to them?). It could engage people from all points on the political spectrum and temper the polarization that’s tearing the country apart.

      Meanwhile, I’m happy to be a thorn in the fantasies of any stubborn ideologue. Glad you are, too.

      • Rabbit permalink
        August 31, 2012 1:45 pm

        I guess I will have to disagree with you twice,in one day Rick, this time about the Dems being the moderate party. They are Relatively more moderate, OK, but still not moderate. They really do not seem to get it that its time to preserve what we have by compromise and by cutting budgets somewhat across the board. To many democrats would like continual expansion of government, as we saw when they held veto proof majorities, and I think that we have reached our upper limit, according to the average American and to economic principles. I’ll take a vastly diluted and ideologically defanged version of what the Libertarians are telling us. We need a practical limit on government promises. Its cruel to make promises that one cannot keep.

        I’m becoming so darned cantankerous, now I’ve even turned on you Rick, its time for me to take a break for a day or so.

        I wish that if there are some true moderates in the form of AMAC or Pat Riot lurking here on the TNM among the ~ 60 subscribers that they would take up the pen and let me shut my overactive mouth… I’m overdoing it again.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 31, 2012 1:58 pm

        Well I have to agree with Rabbit on the Dem’s being relatively more moderate. But moderate they are not. One only has to look at North Carolina where Heath Shular has decided not to run. He could be considered one of the blue dog democrats which is a fast dieing breed, Shular decided not to run since his district has become much more liberal due to redistricting.

        And that is much of the problem today. Redistricting has led to much more safe far right and far left electorates resulting in fringe candidates from both parties. Where years ago Pelosi, as well as Ryan, would have been considered a small minority within their party, today they are the mainstream within each of their parties.

        Moderation is dead and compromise was layed to rest when that happened.

      • August 31, 2012 9:33 pm

        Rabbit and Ron: Granted, the Democrats are simply the lesser of two evils at this point. Extremism is rampant, and it keeps reinforcing itself because the internet has given everyone an opportunity to hang out with politically kindred spirits in their own little niches. (This site is probably the most ideologically diverse of any I’ve seen.) I’ve essentially given up on Twitter because of all the overt propaganda being spouted by both sides.

        On top of that, we still have to confront age-old issues like gerrymandering and other finagling that favors partisan incumbents. I’m still holding out hope for the success of that Petition for the Redress of Grievances, though I know it has only the slimmest chance of influencing anyone in Washington.

      • pearows permalink
        August 31, 2012 9:34 pm

        I will agree with this…that there are moderate Democrats who would certainly help move the needle back to more moderation, if their party leadership was not set on a much more left wing agenda. Just as there are many Republicans who are not extreme. Way back…probably over a year ago, I posted a link here to the Ryan/Wyden healthcare proposal. Ron Wyden is a Senator from Oregon, a brilliant guy, in the mold of Paul Ryan, but a liberal where Ryan is conservative.

        They were able to work this stuff out in a very detailed way – but, of course, the compromises that they made doomed their effort, just as it doomed the Simpson-Bowles Commission. This is absolutely a failure of leadership (not meaning to sound like a GOP candidate here).

    • JB Say permalink
      August 31, 2012 1:35 pm

      You moderates simply snipe at both parties. That may make you FEEl better but it does nothing to address issues. I would love to see some of Rick’s ideas moved ahead, flat tax, no subsidies. In fact, in that regard, he has much of Ronmey and Ryan supporters behind him.

      I will start with my own state of Iowa. Let’s eliminate farm subsidies and ethanol mandates tomorrow.

      Defense, indeed, lets cut that too. We do NOT need to be the cop of the world. Do we need to STILL sitting in Afghanastan and Iraq? Ah, no.
      Did we need to send Jets to Libyia? Do we need to send money the Muslim Broths in Egypt?

      This all is happending under a guy who promised a entirely new vision of the world. Same old, same old.

      Send him to the heap and bring in a new team. They can hardly do worse IMO.

      • August 31, 2012 9:39 pm

        We actually agree here, except for the last sentence… I think Romney and Ryan really could do worse than Obama. They want to raise military spending while cutting taxes (at least on the rich).. how are they going to avoid running up the deficit even more? They aren’t much different from Bush II in that department.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 1, 2012 10:54 am

        “I will start with my own state of Iowa. Let’s eliminate farm subsidies and ethanol mandates tomorrow.”

        Heh, I did some post doc research in Iowa City, nice place.

        You know Rich, if you truly believe in what you said above then the way to do that is to go to the middle of farm country and carry a sign with those views and strike up conversations with farmers, those farmers and their farm lobbyists are the ones you need to convince, not us bloggers. Until you can do that your idea is under the category of an online fantasy, of which there are millions competing to see which can get nowhere faster.

      • September 1, 2012 2:32 pm

        Actually, I have spoken to several farmers who, not suprisingly, are not at all warm to the idea of losing their great deal. This is like asking Congress to say, take a retirement package like the rest of us get (almost zero).

        It doesn’t compute that they should give up something that they know feel is a right. And so it goes. That said, I don’t see any rationale for paying folks to not grow food and so forth. That is why I like markets. Markets (real markets) seem to ferret out this nonsense fairly quickly.

  16. Rabbit permalink
    August 31, 2012 1:26 pm

    “Do we deserve better people in government that will tell us the truth…”

    Oh, the Irony for the various Ron Ps and RPs.

    Did not some of the Ron Paul delegates walk out of the convention due to Paul voters having their votes stolen in Maine by the same GOP we are supposed to expect the miracle of truth from?

    Being a Ron Paul Republican must be a constant exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    • August 31, 2012 1:40 pm

      Ron Paul is not a republican in fact nor in word. He is a libertarian and as such, is simply out of the GOP mainstream. I like some of Ron’s ideas but he comes across as crazy, so even the good ideas sound wierd.

      And, all this coming from a libertarian.

      • September 1, 2012 3:08 pm

        He sounded alot more crazy prior to 2008.
        Now he and numerous Austrian economists who have been labeled crazy for years seem pretty vindicated.

        Maybe some see him as crazy, but as a result of him, it is possible to credibly be libertarian and also be republican, and an increasing minority of republicans identify themselves with libertarian values.

      • September 1, 2012 3:14 pm

        As a libertarian, my concern about Uncle Ron is not what he say (most of the time) but that his inability to explain more fully WHY he says what he says. He is not a dummy, but simply mouthing Von Mises without elaboration is not going to cut it. Austrian principles take a bit of explaining, and Ron is articulate enough to do so.

        Rand is much better, IMHO.

  17. August 31, 2012 3:15 pm

    Rick, I was looking forward to reading your take on the RNC speakers. It was scary to see the enthusiasm with which they (the speakers) were received. I started watching Mitt’s speech… I couldn’t take it! I have never, ever, heard so many words strung together without actually communicating anything!!! It wasn’t even a great show. I’m trying to get through the 2012 GOP platform and I haven’t found anything substantive there either. I’ll let you know.

    • August 31, 2012 9:15 pm

      I doubt you are trying very hard.

    • August 31, 2012 9:48 pm

      Clara: Romney’s speech was pure vanilla… he was trying hard to look kindly and human, but he just came across bland. He’s a puzzling case: a very smart, decent, articulate and telegenic man who just can’t fire the public imagination (even though he likes to fire people… sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

      As for his policies… they seem to be a mish-mash because he wants to please the conservative base while staying reasonably true to his more moderate instincts… not an easy task. But even when he was trying to appeal to moderates (as in his acceptance speech), he was vague (creating 12 million new jobs? How??) and ultimately not too convincing.

      It was a halfway decent speech, but he needed to be more than halfway decent to win the support of undecided voters.

      • Ron P permalink
        September 1, 2012 12:07 am

        Rick, we now have 8 weeks or so until the election, with 2 debates coming up in that period. Romney will have to get specific on some of his proposals or he will be all but dead in the water after the first debate as Obama will never allow him to speak in generalities.

        As for the speech, it was meant t do one thing, make the man more human. Nothing else. He may or may not have accomplished what was needed as he wrote the speech himself. Being from a Morman background, most of the members of the LDS do not talk about themselves or their achievements. It is almost against their moral upbringing to do that. Had this speech been written by someone like Peggy Noonan or another political speech writer, it would have included much more on personal issues and people he had helped over the years.

        We will not know the outcome of this speech until after the DNC to see where the polls end up at that time.

      • pearows permalink
        September 1, 2012 12:09 am

        Actually, Romney was a hell of lot more specific about how he would create those jobs than Obama has ever been….then again, Obama’s strategy on this consists primarily of waiting for Republicans to propose an idea and then attacking it and demonizing anyone who supports it.

        Romney has always struck me as a throwback to another generation- I know that he is technically a baby-boomer, but his demeanor and style are more along the lines of the “greatest generation.” I like that about him…he is solid and decent and results oriented. He’s not “cool” like Obama. He IS kinda vanilla. But, he has literally succeeded in everything he has ever done, and without ever being tainted with even the tiniest hint of scandal. I would like to see some successful leadership in Washington.

        I thought Mitt’s speech was very good. I thought Marco Rubio’s speech was great. When it comes to soaring oratory, I think he runs circles around Obama. Did you watch him?

        Ryan and Rubio are “rock stars”….Romney is not. He’s a fixer.

      • pearows permalink
        September 1, 2012 12:20 am

        Ok, putting Seamus the Dog in the rooftop carrier in the 70’s might qualify as a hint of scandal…….

      • September 1, 2012 6:56 am


        You can’t have it both ways. You so-called moderates want a party that represents a broad spectrum of thought but when the GOP attempts to do that, you call Romney’s speech, “bland.” Would you prefer a speech blaming his predessors for anything that every went wrong on his watch?

        Candidates by definition, have to try to deal with a spectrum of wants and needs. Given the breadth of the GOP these days, I think Romney balances this quite well, certainly better than Barry does on the left.

  18. Rabbit permalink
    August 31, 2012 4:19 pm

    This is beautiful, strange but beautiful.

  19. August 31, 2012 9:14 pm

    “How is it nonsense for Andy to suggest a more equitable tax code that eliminates loopholes and requires everyone with income to put some money into the pot? I thought you were in favor of that.

    By the way, not everyone in the middle class is fortunate enough to pay 6% in taxes… I think Romney’s secretary was paying around 14%, and plenty of us pay more, even with good accountants sweating the details.”

    Equitable? Define please. How is it equitable for Romney to pay millions of dollars in income taxes on income derived from money that has already been taxed at least once, if not more?
    On the other hand, many pay NOTHING. How is that equitable? Are those who pay nothing consuming no services, claiming no “rights?” Do those who pay nothing get to vote? You get my point?

    As for my tax rate, I am not “fortunate” but simply lucky. Apparently, the idiots in DC want me to pay little since they wrote the tax code. I am simply following the law. Is that wrong?

    I assume you and Romney are following suit. If you are unhappy, don’t blame me, blame DC pols like Obama. After all, he is all about fair!

    • August 31, 2012 9:54 pm

      Rich: I’ve said that I think everyone with income should put some tax money into the pot… even the working poor.. .even if it’s just a token amount. Everyone needs to have a stake in the system.

      • September 1, 2012 6:57 am

        Agreed. Try to find one liberal to agree with you on that one!

    • pearows permalink
      August 31, 2012 9:58 pm

      Rick, I am genuinely curious as to how you rationalize the double-taxation issue of the cap gains tax.

      If investment income is taxed at 15%, after already being taxed at a corporate rate of 35%, the effective tax rate on investment income is much higher than the top rate on wage income. And, of course, that does not count state and local taxes and the death tax.

      I think it’s unfair, but, for the sake of argument, let’s say those rich folks deserve double and triple taxation. How do you encourage capital investment, with its job creating potential (and don’t tease me about the job creator thing…I know the GOP flogs it to death, but it IS true that there is no capitalism without capital)>

      • August 31, 2012 10:23 pm

        PR: It’s complicated. Granted, much of our investment income comes from work income that has already been taxed. But I was thinking of corporate executives and other one-percenters who get paid in the form of stock options… or people like Romney whose income is overwhelmingly from investments. These folks shouldn’t be paying a smaller percentage than wage earners. Maybe there should be a special tax category for them so regular small investors aren’t subjected to double taxation.

        Agreed that “there is no capitalism without capital” (good line)… but I’d guess that more jobs are created by middle-class entrepreneurs than by high-level capitalists. Investment bankers don’t hire anyone. (There… that wasn’t teasing, was it?)

      • September 1, 2012 7:01 am

        Rick, it is NOT complicated. When I am paid a dividend, it is based on income that I invested AFTER I paid tax on it. Then, the corporation that I own a residual share in is taxed whether or not they pay me a dividend. If they do pay me a dividend, I am taxed again.

        How is it “fair” to bump up the tax rate on my three-time taxed income just because I was smart enough to actual save and invest? If you increase the tax on my dividend, do you think I might actually change my investment strategy? Or, do you think I should just spend my money and count on the Feds to take care of me.

        Think beyound “equitable” as defined by the statists in the world. What’s mine, IS mine.

      • September 1, 2012 11:38 am

        Rich: See my comment above yours. There are plenty of top executives who get most of their pay in the form of stock options, so wouldn’t they be paying just a capital gains tax on all that loot? That doesn’t seem fair to me. I’m fine with small investors paying just a small capital gains tax on money that’s already been taxed.

        Personal note: I wrote the single biggest check of my life to pay Uncle Sam on my father’s estate after he died. That money had already been taxed, of course… but I didn’t feel a grudge (pain, yes, but not a grudge) because I know I didn’t earn that money through any kind of work. If my dad had hung on for a few more years, until Bush II took office and his administration changed the inheritance rules, my brother and I wouldn’t have been gouged so deeply. But the way I see it, that money was all a windfall… I didn’t earn it myself.

      • September 1, 2012 2:34 pm

        We will have to disagree here Rick. The only way to deal with the beast that is the Federal Govt is to starve it (hats off to Milton Friedman).

      • pearows permalink
        September 1, 2012 3:18 pm

        Gotta agree with Rich here, Rick. I didn’t earn my father’s money, but both of my parents saved and invested while they worked and lived frugally as retirees, so that they would be able to pass something down to their children. My dad would often say, once he reached his 80’s, that he hoped that we would use the inheritance that we got from him to put our kids, his grandkids, through college and not have to skimp on saving for our own retirement. He was very proud of being able to do this….and, although he was not a rich man, he worked with an accountant to shelter that money, which he had paid a full boat of taxes on, from as much further taxation as possible. Was that unpatriotic? I don’t think so…this was a guy who enlisted in the army at 28, and fought in WWII for 4 years, despite being old enough to avoid going. He just didn’t see the fairness in the IRS grabbing more of his hard-earned savings, when he wanted it to go to his family.

        By the way, “starting in 2013, all or part of the net investment income, including long-term capital gains and dividends, collected by higher-income folks can get socked with an additional 3.8% “Medicare contribution tax.” Therefore, the maximum federal rate on long-term gains for 2013 and beyond will actually be 23.8% (versus the current 15%) and the maximum rate on dividends will be a whopping 43.4% (versus the current 15%).”

        As I’ve said before, “higher income folks” don’t have a high bar to clear for that designation. If you sell your home and make a tidy profit one year, you might easily become one of them!

      • September 1, 2012 5:27 pm

        When the collective starts to believe that your money is their money, the game is nearly over. Refer to Greece for an object lesson in what is to come.

      • September 1, 2012 3:25 pm


        Please think through your remarks on taxes.

        Yes, there are alot of people whose income is subject only to capitol gains taxes. But everything they receive was already taxed at 35% BEFORE they received it.

        I will be happy to eliminate capitol gains taxes – treat any money that any individual receives as ordinary income. But to do that you must eliminate corporate taxes or you are taxing the same money twice.

        The fundamental problem with the economy at the moment is that no one is investing. Businesses have cash – they are not expanding. Banks have money – no one wants it.

        Unless you are proposing that government just take over the entire economy – and we know how badly that works, government can not fix this.
        The Fed and Obama have created every possible incentive they can think of – but investment is down.

        Democrats like to claim supply side has been refuted – well we are in the midst of a Randian, John Galt, Supply Side Capitol strike.

        You can piss and moan and complain about fairness. You can confiscate whatever you wish. But absent conditions where that minority of us – big and small that “built this” are willing to take risks and try to make things happen – your screwed.

        If you do not like that – go “build it” yourself, no one is stopping you.

      • September 1, 2012 5:02 pm

        Wow! Heaven only knows where this comment will end up, but I’ve been impressed with some of the recent comments. They show a realistic understanding of fiscal issues affecting the entire country, as opposed to fuzzy thinking based on what works for such robust economic powerhouses as Vermont. I ask again of those “moderates” who feel they must criticize all GOP suggestions as lies or misrepresentations: what are the Dem proposals?

      • September 1, 2012 5:39 pm

        Indeed, I am still waiting for the jobs counsel to meet again (after 7 months) or for Barry to meet with the leaders of Congress to negotiate his “agenda.”
        Guess I will have a long wait.

      • September 1, 2012 5:31 pm

        Indeed, incentives matter. When those who are willing to risk their resources change their minds, productive job creation goes out the window!

      • September 3, 2012 12:38 am

        asmith/Dave: Going back to the relatively minor but still pertinent issue of taxing stock options… Yes, the money is being taxed twice (when the corporation pays and when the employee pays), but the beneficiary of those stock options is only being taxed once… and paying an absurdly low rate, given the stratospheric income of most of these indivuduals.

        I don’t think any reasonable person, right or left, could expect a secretary earning $40K per year to pay a higher tax rate than a corporate executive whose total pay package might be a hundred or even a thousand times greater. It’s blatant inequities like this that cause the left to cry out for income redistribution. Obviously not everyone in the upper tier pays lower tax rates than middle-class folks, but enough of them do to warrant a serious revision of our tax codes.

      • pearows permalink
        September 3, 2012 10:42 am

        But, Rick, those stock options are part of the executive’s compensation, and as, such are income, and, as such have been taxed at the higher corporate rate. And then they are taxed again. You can make a case for putting greater restrictions on exercising stock options, especially in the case of highly compensated executives who do a crappy job. If a corporate executive performs poorly in his industry, he would not be rewarded by being granted lucrative options.

        Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, by punishing everyone with unearned income doesn’t make sense, even if you place income limits and ceilings on it.

  20. August 31, 2012 11:08 pm

    Does anybody on this blog actually believe the Dems will substantially decrease spending and make a dent in the national debt, if Obama gets four more years? The budget proposal submitted to Congress by the WH this year called for trillions more in deficit spending–it didn’t get a single vote. The debt is real and deadly for the future of our country. All of you supposed moderates get really excited about beating up on the GOP, perhaps you are really MINOs. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that four more years of deficit spending will be fatal to all of our entitlement programs. The GOP at least claims it wants to get spending under control. You all are so busy claiming that they are lying, that you don’t seem to notice that the Dems have refused to present a Senate generated budget of any kind, and have presented no plan for getting spending under control. Some of you are stating (as if it is self evident) that the Dems are the more moderate party–REALLY?

    • pearows permalink
      August 31, 2012 11:35 pm

      Seriously, RP. I don’t get it either.

    • September 1, 2012 7:03 am

      Since the Obamatons have not passed a budget in three years and Congress voted 515-0 against Barry’s last budget, I guess your take is correct. The Dems have actually stopped the pretense that they care about spending, deficits, jobs, etc.When did that jobs council last meet again?

    • Rabbit permalink
      September 1, 2012 2:05 pm

      Sorry for the complete post, but I think it is worthwhile. Its from the CS Monitor and its pretty objective. Partisans will see it all from their own perspective, moderates will find plenty of BS from both sides. Dem Sen. Manchin’s comments stake out the moderate position pretty well. The Bowles-Simpson plan would be an excellent place to start to compromise, neither party seems ready.

      “Senate Republicans plead for a budget as frustrations boil over
      Senate Republicans proposed five budgets Wednesday, but the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated them all. Republicans say Democrats are punting on tough choices, Democrats say they already have a budget.
      By David Grant, Staff writer / May 16, 2012
      Senate Republicans on Wednesday offered five different budget proposals, all of which were defeated by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
      The burst of Republican activity amounted to a primal scream of frustration over the fact that the Senate has not passed a budget in three years. Many political analysts agree with Republicans, who charge thatDemocrats have steadfastly refused to offer a budget to protect senators facing tough reelection contests from unpopular votes.
      For their part, Democrats say last summer’s Budget Control Act – the legislation stemming from the debt-ceiling deal, which included caps on discretionary spending for the next decade – effectively functions as a budget.
      None of the five proposals introduced Wednesday crossed the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. Three came from GOP senators, one was the House budget championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, and the final offering was President Obama’s own budget, which Democrats said Republicans changed and introduced only as a gimmick – it was unanimously defeated.
      In conversations with reporters and on the Senate floor, Republicans repeatedly denounced Senate Democrats for failing offer their own budget proposal.
      “Does the majority party not feel an obligation to tell the American people where they want to lead the country?” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama on the Senate floor. “Do they, in a time of financial crisis, feel they don’t have to lay out a plan?”
      The Senate proposals came from Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky,Mike Lee of Utah, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and broadly aimed to bring the federal budget into balance within the next decade.
      To do so, they envision broad cuts to government spending, such as the elimination of four government departments under Senator Paul’s budget, overhauls of Medicare and Social Security under Senator Lee’s proposal, and slashing discretionary spending back to 2006 levels under Senator Toomey’s plan.

      “Who’s taking the political risk here?” Toomey told reporters. “The people that put their name on a specific set of reforms and ideas for which they’ll be held accountable. And then there’s another group of people who are hiding in the weeds.”
      “Much has been said about the need for compromise,” said Paul. “How do you compromise with the other side if they have no proposition?”
      Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) ofNevada rejected the comments, pointing to the Budget Control Act. “Since August those Republicans have developed a case of amnesia,” he said on the Senate floor. “Why else would they walk around Washingtonclaiming we don’t have a budget?”
      One of the most vulnerable Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, took shots at both sides. He issued a statement saying he, too, was fed up with a lack of progress on the budget and drilled Mr. Obama’s offering because it “digs an even deeper debt hole for the next generation.” But he also said Republican budgets would “destroy” Social Security and Medicare.
      What does Senator Manchin propose? The bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission plan. That plan, which features a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases, has received frequent praise from members of both parties but drawn precious little legislative action.
      When a version of the commission plan was offered in the House earlier this year, it crashed with only 43 affirming votes (out of 435 members of the House).Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia and other centrist lawmakers have been working on Senate legislation mirroring Simpson-Bowles but have yet to introduce it.
      What might solve the budget impasse? Manchin is the lone Senate Democrat (among nine Republicans) to back a proposal to tie congressional pay to passing the budget. Should Congress eschew passing appropriations bills by Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, members would cease receiving their pay.
      At a press conference for the new Fix Congress Now Caucus on Wednesday, a half dozen House members from both parties discussed the proposal known as “no budget, no pay.”
      Why would their measure prod Congress into budgetary action?
      “We will have engaged the most powerful lobbyists on earth to get it done,” saidRep. Jim Cooper (D) of Tennessee. “Namely, our spouses, because they have a strong interest in us getting paid.””

      • September 1, 2012 2:35 pm

        If the POTUS had wanted to pass a budget of any kind, he would have worked for that event. To my knowledge, he hasn’t had one productive meeting with either the House or the Senate.

      • September 1, 2012 3:37 pm

        Amazing a post from Rabbit that is almost favorable to Republicans.

        The Budget Control act is not a Budget. It is vaguely reminiscent of Grahm Rudman many years ago.

        Further it was an agreement to $1T in spending cuts – almost all in the distant future, in return for $1T in additional debt NOW. Shortly after the election the government will run out of money AGAIN. Essentially having already spent the future savings. It is extremely likely that any deal increasing the debt limit will require even greater cuts – again trading future cuts for current spending.

        After the election we will face the so called “Fiscal Cliff” – the point at which a very small part of the spending cuts starts to phase in. This as well as the concurrent expiration fo the Bush tax cuts is purportedly so disastrous the economy will collapse – according to the same people who told us that spending 800B in stimulus would fix the economy.

        Essentially Read is saying we have a budget – an agreement to cut spending in the future – that we have every intention of backing out of as soon as the election is past

  21. Rabbit permalink
    September 1, 2012 9:59 am

    I have to laugh when I see all the libertarian and conservative anger at the existence of moderates and our moderate behavior. Over the years of my posting here and there as a self declared moderate it has been shown to me over and over that liberals think anyone who attacks their positions is a conservative and not a moderate, and conservatives totally rip on me and call me a communist, not a moderate. Ha, ha.

    So, some human psychology here, Ideologically driven people have simply taken on the same pattern of behavior that drove the religious wars in history. One type of Christian burning another type at the stake, oh good old Queen Mary. People afflicted with pure belief in some idea insist on war in one way or another; peace and compromise they cannot tolerate for long. They become convinced of some idea and believe that all will be lost if they don’t convert the heathen. There is no middle ground, believe that Easter falls on a certain day, or there will be war. Believe we must lower taxes or civilization will end, or visa versa.

    Well, we live in somewhat improved times compared to those of the Crusades, here and there. Moderates are anywhere up to 40% of the US population. Pure Libertarians are perhaps 5% of the US voters. Moderates define the country’s wish for a compromise. The 5% dream that all their values and fears can win somehow over everyone else’s values and fears and ndeluded themselves that their fears and values are universal and objectively correct.

    We will solve our problems when we find a compromise between left and right. That is where the politically possible solutions are. Get over your fantasies, non-moderates. Dave Brooks’ column that Priscilla recommended to me said this quite well, it described the delusion the parties have that they will win a total victory.

    I think we are short of actual Liberals here for me to berate, other than very occasional drive by cursings, As to all who push the GOP here, reform your party so moderates can vote for it. I started here to describe what needs to be reformed and then I got a better idea and erased it. Instead, I’ll ask you GOP supporters:

    What do you think the GOP has to do to reform itself so that in the future, faced with a candidate and a party that are as weak as Barack and the Democrats of 2012 you will win in a landslide instead of being 1 point behind?

    • September 1, 2012 3:53 pm

      We apparently read different history.

      i see myriads of instances where people without values, ideology, principles, were able to gain power by co-opting the ideology, values and principles of others.

      I see examples were tyrants have co-opted just about every religion, communism, nationalism, social ism inflicting war and death on all.

      Yet despite this I can not find the great historic instance resulting in libertarian totalitarianism.

      Further while many have killed in the name of religion, are you arguing that Christianity, Islam, Judiasm, …. are inherently vile destructive war mongering ideologies ?

      I do believe that you should judge a tree by its fruit. We see the fruit of communism.
      All the great problems facing us today are clearly the fruit of progressiveness.

      I will be happy to agree with you that any ideology that presumes the right to kill or steal from others – for any reason, but particularly on the basis of differences in beliefs is immoral. Find in libertarian ism the right to use violence other than in response to violence, and I will be happy to join you in condemning it.

      • September 1, 2012 5:33 pm

        Imagine looking at the aactual experience of Communism and Socialism. A novel concept, one which I agree with!

    • September 1, 2012 4:12 pm


      The only way you get moderates to 40% of the population is to include a substantial number of people who would not agree with you on almost anything.

      i have no idea what a “pure libertarian” is. Libertarian party members are probably less than the 5% you cite – I consider myself libertarian and know many other libertarians, and do not know a single member of the libertarian party.
      Are Ron Paul voters Libertarian ? The last RCP average had Obama beating Paul by 8%. Many Polls still have Paul ahead.
      What about Gary Johnson ? PPP has Johnson at 7%. Head to head against Obama based on positions not names Johnson defeats Obama handily.

      If you ever got what you wanted and were able to get people to vote based on the proximity of candidates to their values – libertarians would dominate.

      According to Nate Silver (New York Times) using CNN poll data identification with libertarian values is now 63%.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 1, 2012 5:27 pm

        Accordiing to CBS exit polls in 2008 44% of voters were moderate, 34% were conservative, and 22% were moderate. Gallup has moderates at 36 to 39%. How you view my own views relative to others is a giant non sequiter, more ersatz logic.

        I took the liberty of looking that Nate Silver result up and, as I was sure it would be the case, the result is not so dramatically supportive of your thesis as you would like to believe.

        It was based on two (yes two, not just the minimum of one, but an entire two) very general questions, each of which had the choice of agree or disagree. There was a modest increase in recent polls to those agreeing with one answer that was supposed to indicate libertarian values. Nate Silver himself noted that the answers gave no indication to how a person acts in practice.

        Also, according to the rational of the answers *I* have libertarian values, and I sure as hell am NOT a libertarian.

        Based on the logic of the poll results on a Paul Obama matchup you believe that Paul being 8 point back says something about acceptance of libertarianism? So you are pretending not to realize that a anyone at all to the right of center runs no more than 10 points behind Obama, no matter how nutty? Any public figure vs Obama runs apparently respectably, it has nothing to do with public endorsement of their values 40-45% just reject Obama completely. Last I saw Bachman was running close to that range, does that mean that 40% of the country believes that Hillary Clinton is running a Muslim conspiracy out of the State Dept? (I think its probably actually less than 20%)

        Oh Shit, I’m pointing out obviously wild and delusional logic to Dave about Libertarianism on the New Moderate, again what a stupid waste of time!

        Its enough to make me want to find a Libertarian blog site and flood it with moderate stuff they care nothing about, incessantly. But that would be another waste of my time.

        There has never been a totalitarian Libertarian regime? (another Dave post). There has never been a Libertarian regime, period! In the free market of ideas, the lassaiz faire version of the free market seems, ironically to have been losing ground for hundreds of years.

        If Libertarians truly wish not to force anyone to do anything against their will they are going to have to give up participation in the political system, since that is the inevitable target of political power. Politically active Libertarians is like the concept of politically active Buddhists.

        Libertarian this, Libertarian that, Libertarian dog, Libertarian cat, Libertarian Libertarian, Libertarian Conservative, Libertarian Libertarian Libertarian Libertarian Libertarian.

        So sick of the word.

      • September 1, 2012 5:35 pm

        I concur. I have never joined the Libertarian party, as they are indeed a strange bunch. That said, you will likely never be forced to do anything by a true liberatarian. That, I admire.

      • September 1, 2012 6:10 pm

        When CBS says 44% of voters in 2008 exit polls were “moderates”
        What they clearly meant (totals add up to 100%) is not registered or identifying as democrat or republican.

        That means absolutely nothing with respect to whether they share any political values or views with you.

        And by that definition – you are compelled to accept me fully into the “moderate” camp.

        You are free to define moderate however you please
        But the non-sequitur you are looking for is:
        44% of voters are not affiliated with a party
        Rabbit is not affiliated with a party
        therefore 44% of voters share Rabbit’s political views or ideology.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 1, 2012 6:45 pm

        Libertarian Tyrant! A proven contradiction to your own thesis! You are telling 44% of Americas what they believe! The choices, dear oblivious one, were not Moderate, Dem, or Rep, they were Moderate, Liberal, or Conservative. You will wiggle and squirm and abuse logic and the meanings of English words for all you are worth; you can run but you cannot hide: 44% in that poll placed themselves as moderate in a clearly defined by the question continuum of liberal, moderate, and conservative.

        I’m sorry, but IF a person seems to be dumber than a bag of rocks most of the time THEN perhaps they really ARE dumber than a bag of rocks. How much credibility does a bag of rocks have, unless one is dealing with stone masons?

        Look Dave, do you not notice that this gets nowhere? I don’t want to change your faith in your beliefs, that would be like trying to argue you out of loving your wife, you NEED those beliefs and I am happy to let you have them. It would be decent of you to just stop trying to browbeat me (not to mention other moderates here) into agreeing with them, You are not Sam-I-am and I am not going to eventually relent and try and then enjoy libertarian eggs and ham,

      • September 2, 2012 8:57 am

        Let’s face it, there are no firm definitions of these terms and you know it. If I call myself a Liberatarian, the best I can hope for is some broad agreement on very basic principles on political economy. That said, trying to get my fellow Libertarians to agree on much of anything specific is very hard (try talking abortion with a libertarian).

        I believe that the main reason that some folks like the term “Moderate” is that is sounds so nice! “Can’t we all just get along” (R. King, RIP)?

    • Rabbit permalink
      September 1, 2012 5:42 pm

      Dave: “Amazing a post from Rabbit that is almost favorable to Republicans.”

      I believe that is called intellectual integrity.

      Senator Manchin’s comments articulated a moderate position clearly, and the republican gimmick of altering Obama’s proposal and submitting it was exposed as a ploy for (gasp) political mileage, as milked by GOP spinners. Really stupid.

      I thought it was a fair article and I agreed with the Senators comments about both the consequences of the Dem and Rep. ideas.

      This is way too F$%^$&^ addictive, a sickness. I’m going to get to the point where I just type That is delusional after these Libertarian fantasies, and then just shorten it to TID Time to do something productive. See ya!

      • September 1, 2012 6:25 pm

        Actually I think submitting Obama’s budget was an excellent tactic.
        If democrats will not submit their own budget – do it for them.
        Whether it was alter is debateable, but even if it was, the easy solution is for democrats to submit whatever it is they beleive is the real thing. Then there is no debate about it authenticity.

        Frankly, how you can get to the end of the remarks you quoted without grasping that the democrats are either:
        A) fiscally clueless
        B) unwilling to stick their necks out and commit to ANYTHING.

        is beyond me.

        Republicans proposed numerous budgets. You can criticize them, you can dismiss them, but they have made clear what their values are what they believe,, what their intentions are.
        Democrats are unwilling to do even that.

        Worse still in the Senate, democrats are in the majority.
        The responsibility of the minority party is to whittle away at the proposals of the majority party until what is left is only that kernel that is valuable to all.
        The responsibility of the majority party is to actually govern.

        I can only read your remarks as a demonstration that democrats have abandoned that responsibility.

        I believe that often doing nothing is the best choice particularly for government. But that is NOT your view or that of the left.

        If Reid and democrats have actually joined the limited government, less is more bandwagon – I will be happy to welcome them. But what is clear is that they are afflicted with political cowardice. They are unwilling to stand in front of voters standing behind their own values.

        If you are a senator, and you do not believe you can be re-elected for doing your job as you believe – then it is time for you to step aside. That is particularly true if you are a pro-democracy progressive.

        If you claim to believe in democracy, AND you claim that voters are too stupid to govern themselves or to understand your votes on issues – then you are a tyrant not a democrat. You are holding on to power by deception. You are stealing something that even your own values assert is not yours.

      • September 2, 2012 8:50 am

        Yes, perhaps the Dems have to pass a budget before we can know what’s IN the budget (N. Pelosi)?

      • September 1, 2012 6:44 pm

        Respond “TID” all you want. i expect to be measured by what I actually wrote, and how well that conforms to the real world.

        Ranting TID^2 is meaningless.

        If something is in error – point out the error – with real facts and real logic.

        Aparently my “reductio ad absurdum” references have caused you to explore logic.

        Calling something a non-sequitur does not make it so.

        CBS labels all unaffiliated voters “moderate”
        I am an un-affilliateed voter and therefore a CBS “moderate”
        therefore all unaffiliated voters share my values

        IS a non-sequitur.

        I will add a disclaimer – I do not actually know that you are an unaffiliated voter – and you did not actually say. but if you actually have an affiliation that would only make your argument worse.

        CBS labels all unaffilaited voters “moderate”
        I label myself “moderate”
        therfore and unaffiliated voters share my values.

        That is a really big non-sequitur.

        And that is part of what I have been trying to grasp.

        We all share a great deal of common ground.
        But we also all have vastly different views on many issues.
        Between 22 and 40% of us identify as conservative – But despite your rants only a few conservatives are like David Duke conversely only a few are like Mitt Romney. That same diversity exists across the political spectrum. Whatever a moderate is, and even if you are somehow one – which I doubt, they are neither all nor mostly like you.

        Most experts are predicting a close election – there is even speculation that Romney can easily win the popular vote while losing the electoral college. Presuming your 2008 exit poll numbers are correct that would require 40% of “moderates” to vote for Romney.

      • September 2, 2012 8:52 am

        No fair, using logid? Life is much easier with broad-brushed stereotypes. Reduces streee and all.

      • September 1, 2012 6:48 pm


        You put up a post that I think is pretty good and pretty informative, and pretty well tied to the real world, I give you kudos and this is your idea of a response ?

  22. September 1, 2012 4:36 pm

    Rick’s original post was surprising. Aside from some caustic turns of phrase, it was surprisingly accurate and favorable to Republicans.

    I have been surprised at the personal venom that has been displayed in many of the responses.

    I have hounded nearly everyone here on issues of fact, ideology, morality, …

    But I have tried hard to avoid ad hominem.

    I think some of the ideas that I read here are stupid – but not the people.

    If I have or do ever malign an individual distinct from their ideas – call me on the carpet.

    One of the reasons I come here, is because unlike some much higher profile blogs, there is very little name calling.

    Ian’s fixation of identifying most everyone to the right of Obama as an extremist ultra conservative is about as vicious as it normally gets.

    Yet for some reason this relatively benign post has triggered a disproportionate amount of personal attacks in a very short time. I even felt some of Rick’s posts were getting more personal than normal.

    This Blog is Rick’s. He gets to make the rules. If I do not like them, I can go elsewhere.
    I would prefer if Rick did not feel compelled to censor his blog.

    I am an absolutist on free speech – that GOVERNMENT can not limit our speech for any reason. That does not mean you can break into someones home and call the an asshole.
    Nor does it meant that government or anyone else is obligated to provide you a bully pulpit to malign others.

    If you think that libertarian means anyone can do anything they please anywhere without consequence – you have no grasp of liberty. Freedom includes the right of individuals to not buy, not listen to, turn off, or to restrict the use of whatever is ours in any way we please.

    • Rabbit permalink
      September 1, 2012 5:31 pm

      er, 22% were liberal. And good knows where this will go.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 1, 2012 5:32 pm

        Er, God knows,…

    • September 3, 2012 12:48 am

      Dave: Thanks for the fair-minded comment. I was surprised at the visceral response to what was essentially an ambivalent view of the GOP convention. Well, Rich is a visceral guy, but he wasn’t the only one to attack this particular column of mine. I don’t mind the difference of opinion, though I wish we had a few liberal commentators here (besides Rob) for balance… and so that our conservative commentators could see that I’m not exactly a raving leftist.

  23. September 1, 2012 7:06 pm


    Here is some of what purports to be “science”.
    This paper reads to me as oblivious of reality as many posts here.

    Click to access LskyetalPsychScienceinPressClimateConspiracy.pdf

    We start with a presumption that all skeptics are loons. We all beleive the moon landings were faked – presumably that includes atleast two of the astronauts that landed on the moon as well as numerous non-hansonites at NASA that are skeptics.
    We do not believe that HIV causes aides or that smoking causes cancer, we are prone to believe conspiracy theories (like that humans are wrecking the planet a and if we dont are revert immediately to a lifestyle incapable of supporting more than 10% of currently living people the world will come to an end). Several other studies have found that skeptics on the whole tend to be better educated and more knowledgeable on the subject of AGW than non skeptics – yet Lewandowsky concludes we are all knuckle draggers.
    And where does his data come from ? surveys purportedly conducted on participants in a handful of representative skeptic blogs. Of course non of the significant skeptic blogs are among those Lewandowsky surveyed, and the so called skeptics are all busy polling themselves as well as the blog participants on those blogs Lewandowsky purportedly used and so far it is begining to look like not only was the methodology abysmally poor – but that some or all of the data might be fake.

    And yes I am making a Straw Man argument here. But it is fun, and the parallels are wonderful.

    • September 2, 2012 8:59 am

      As an academic, I can tell you from experience that there is very little science in much of the social science literature.

      • September 2, 2012 10:41 am

        FA Hayek’s Nobel valedictory famously not only says that, but he goes further and demonstrates that the attempts to transform studies that are not really sciences into sciences drives us to false conclusions and idiotic results wrapped in a mantle of scientism. He was speaking about economics, but he was also speaking about the “social sciences”.
        Further the same fallacious thinking is at the root of AGW and the entire green movements efforts to reshape politics with little actual connection to the environment.

        I can not seem to get a link to the actual paper but a paper just published shows a 9+ month lag between Temperature increases over the past 4 decades and CO2 – The temperature increases first.
        I f this holds up it not only falsifies CO2 as a driver of recent temperatures, but separately falsifies humans as the source of increasing CO2 – if temperature leads then the source of the CO2 increases is temperature related releases from the ocean.

  24. September 1, 2012 11:07 pm

    Percentage of americans in a household receiving government benefits 1980-today, US Census bureau

  25. September 2, 2012 12:07 am


    I do not get your attack on my use of Nate Silver’s poll results.

    Fine you do not think that 63% of americans are card carrying extremist “pure” libertarians. Neither do I nor was that the point.
    But those 63% who as increasing distrustful of government to whatever extent – are not moderates – atleast not the same flavor of moderate that you are.

    If you want to make this bizarre – though possibly true argument that peoples responses to polls say little about how that act in practice – great, but don’t bother to quote me another poll again as you have just claimed they have no meaning.

    You have strange ideological blinders and miss nearly all the points I make.

    The fact that Ron Paul is running within 8 points of President Obama (at other times he has run ahead) does not make 46% of americans libertarians it just means that Paul who is certainly “extremist” libertarian by your measures, is capable of getting the vote of 46% of us – atleast on a poll.

    Whether you like it or not, libertarian in the broadest terms – getting government out of our lives is far more palatable than you grasp.

    That does not mean a majority of americans are prepared to get rid of stoplights or whatever more “purist” libertarian policy you wish to fixate on today.

    Are you really prepared to answer yes to “Government is trying to do too many things and should leave more to individuals and businesses” and “government should not favor any particular set of values” ?

    If so let me welcome you as an official libertarian. That is pretty much the minimum it takes. and that gets you into the 63%. Only one problem – those statements conflict with most everything you post here. Which puts you into the 37% – at best the extreme left side of moderate.


    As to your argument that anyone to the right of center runs no more than 10 points behind Obama – that still puts 45% of the county in that extreme right wing ultra conservative catagory you keep ranting about.

    If you are going to try to shove 45% of the country off the right edge of the world – that does not leave much room for moderates.

    Which is the core of a rant I have been dropping on you for a long time.

    You claim to value compromise. Whether the number is 63% or 45% is only marginally important, a huge percentage of americans not only don’t agree with you, but you seem to despise them, and are completely incapable of compromise with them.
    If moderate means compromise – which is what you say it does, your obligated to compromise with them – and most of them are to the right of Ryan and Romney.

    • September 2, 2012 9:07 am

      In my experience, many statists actually don’t know that they are exactly that. Deep down inside they harbor a view that humans are so essentially flawed that they cannot lookout for themselves. They believe that government is the answer to these flaws and it is really just finding the right set of governmental actions to apply to hold this all together for the “little people in flyover country.” (N.Pelosi).

      You know, the ones who “cling to their guns and religions” (B. Obama).

      The arrogance of these folks is just unbelieveable some times.

      • September 3, 2012 1:00 am

        Rich: I agree that the left can be infuriatingly condescending in its attitude toward the “little people”… I actually think they’re more racist than conservatives in their assumption that minorities can’t make it without perpetual assistance.

        But everyone has to agree that we need some degree of government intervention, starting with laws against murder and robbery at the bare minimum. It’s a matter of degrees… finding the best possible balance between too much intervention and too little. That’s where we all have our differences of opinion, of course.

        So it’s not that liberals think we’re all flawed and conservatives don’t… it’s more about deciding what degree of control we need to ensure a reasonably level playing field.

      • September 3, 2012 8:39 am

        I think true liberals never met a government program they didn’t like, except maybe for defense. As for me, I think the government is very good at only a few things (defense is one) and should get out of most other things. Yes, we needs laws and they need to be enforced (immigration). Of course, liberals love the laws they love and want others in the waste bin.

        My favorite is abortion. The fems consider a fetus a baby when they feel like having a child. If not, it is a fetus (read body part) to be disposed of at their descretion. To many, this strkes us as just a bit disingenuous (or murder, take your pick).

        So, yes, Rick, I do get a bit visceral but it helps keep me young!

  26. September 2, 2012 12:09 am


    I will be perfectly happy to provide you with a long list of sites you can post on to your hearts content.

    I am sure they will welcome you. But don’t expect them to accept poorly reasoned arguments, unsupported by data, that only apply to hypothetical versions of reality.

  27. September 2, 2012 12:30 am


    Never been a pure libertarian regime – correct,
    Of course there has never been a pure communist regime – which all good communists assure me is the only reason that communism fails in practice.
    Nor has there been a pure socialist regime, pure progressive regime, pure …. regime.

    But there have been governments that are more libertarian than others.
    Ours started that way, and still is one of the most liberty minded countries in the world.
    Of all the totalitarian nations that have ever been – none were born of even quasi libertarian roots.

    As to the historical strength of libertarian ideas – despite never having a truly free market anywhere, just having more freedom than at anytime before is indisputably responsible for the greatest improvement of the human condition over the shortest time frame than has ever occurred.

    Through the past 400 years there have been inumerable societal changes, movements have waxed and waned, but only one factor has been consistent from begining to end. Only one factor is responsible for that explosion in standard of living that continues through today, and that is greater freedom of all kinds than has ever existed before in human history.

    As to success in the marketplace of ideas – what has happened to the divine right of kings ? Where is Marx ? Does socialism appear to be exploding ? I know you personally see the New Deal and great society as the epitomy of western civilization – but do you really beleive a majority share that view ? Do you really beleive that Progressive values have a future ? In that marketplace of ideas the value of freedom has waxed and waned but unlike all others it is still around after 400 years, and still strong if not dominant.

    There is no central conflict between libertarian values and the political system.
    If have no problem using force to prohibit you from initiating violence on another, nor forcing you to compensate those you harm for the real harm you do.

    The founders of this country went farther – but not that much farther.

    If the term libertarian causes you apoplexy, I can use the older term “liberal” only that is usually prefaced with “classical” because modern liberals do believe in using force to impose their values on others.

  28. September 2, 2012 11:08 am


    I do not think anyone posting here – whether they label themselves libertarian – which whether you like it or not essentially means moderate, or conservative is angry over the existance of moderates.

    What is riling is this patently obvious collection of tepid liberals claiming to be moderate.

    Worse still they do precisely as you purportedly experienced elsewhere and describe anyone with views on iota different from theirs as “extreme radical conservative”

    I frequently end up compelled to defend conservatives here. I am not conservative. I part company on many issues. Even where I agree with conservatives I strongly doubt their sincerity. i am deeply suspicious that the recent focus on the right on limited government and fiscal responsibility will vaporize the moment they believe the crisis in under control.

    The fact that I do not trust conservatives does not make them wrong on all issues.

    The meme repeated over and over on TNM is

    Oh woe is me, if only the left and right could compromise and get along we could easily solve all our problems. Oh why is it that that recalcitrant obstructionist right is incapable of compromising and accepting that the left is correct ?

    To me that does not sound at all moderate, yet nearly every post here follows that exact theme. A few decades ago most everyone would have called the Tea Party a MODERATE revolution within the GOP. Their primary emphasis is Fiscal, they are a throw back to Jack Kemp who no one would have placed on the extreme right. Yet all I here is that the tea party is racsist. and extremist.

    If the Tea Party represents the extreme right of the GOP today, then the GOP has shifted significantly left over the past 4 decades.

    • September 2, 2012 11:10 am

      A statist is a statist, no matter what label they might want to put on it.

  29. September 2, 2012 6:12 pm

    Great blog. Same thing happened at their last convention. They flashed the cameras on the 5 people of color in the whole stadium and then called it diverse. They’re whole campaign is fake, i.e. lying about Medicare cuts, “party of inclusion”, etc.

    • September 2, 2012 8:59 pm

      Nonsense, again. Those people of color are mayors, governors, senators. Wake up! The libs keep playing minority groups like they are their ONLY friends. What crap.

      Color, race. It is the only game the libs know.

      • September 2, 2012 10:39 pm

        Democrats aren’t playing games, Republicans are. Lying about Medicaid cuts, inclusiveness, “Romney Care”, tax breaks for the rich, etc. People of color are represented by Democrats and they know it.

      • September 2, 2012 10:48 pm

        Sure! That is why they are such a happy bunch, they are doing so well under the current administration. What was that unemployment figure again for minorities? I can see you do live in NE, so I understand your inability to see the forest for the trees.

        Ted Kennedy. Nuff said.

      • September 3, 2012 1:08 am

        NEF: Welcome… looks as if you’ve already had your initiation. Hang in there.

        My own take on the GOP’s diversity or lack thereof: the GOP leadership seems to be genuinely diverse, with blacks, Hispanics and Asians in prominent positions. So I don’t think they were faking it at the convention. Rather, it’s the GOP constituency that continues to be overwhelmingly white. Last I heard, Romney actually had 0% support among blacks (Condi Rice and a handful of others excepted).

      • September 3, 2012 8:40 am

        Maybe, just maybe, black voters are racists?
        That would be the Chris Mathews take, in reverse of course.

  30. Rabbit permalink
    September 3, 2012 8:22 am

    From the Wsshinton post:

    “The nation’s shifting demographics have caused some Republican leaders to worry not only about the party’s future but about winning in November, particularly in key swing states such as Virginia and Nevada.

    “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.””

    • September 3, 2012 8:50 am

      “When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count onf Paul’s support. ”

      This is the GOP problem with voters.We will enventually run of of Peter’s dumb emough to keep paying the bills.

  31. Rabbit permalink
    September 3, 2012 8:42 am

    May the entire racist culture that thrives in in the core of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh,,right wing nut radio in general, Birthers, come back to marginalize them as time goes on. This is a genuinely cheerful prospect in American politics.

    • September 3, 2012 8:59 am

      A the racist card. Now, why did I not think this would surface eventually. It is nice that Chris Mathews has joined out blog. So, if I am a fan of Thomas Sowell or Sheby Steele, but I think Al Sharpton should be in jail, am I a racist? If so, how can that be. Isn’t racism defining a man simply by his race or color? If so, I must be guily of something else.

      And, I am. I am judging Al Sharpton by his words and deeds, as I am the other two fine scholars that I mentioned.

      As for Rush Limbaugh, I don’t listen to his show or read his daily musings, so I guess I have no opinion about him.

      I assume Rabbit, that you believe there are no racists in the Democratic party?

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 9:13 am

        Quite incorrect. To be honest, I am a racist, and I think everyone is. Its inborn, its a product of our xenophobia, fear of everything different. We are all thus programmed by nature for good evolutionary reasons. Starting from this built in fear of difference folks on the left of center tend to feel bad about their racism and try to overcome it and compensate for it deliberately, its part of the left of center culture and ideology. Too many folks of the right of center embrace their racism, also part of the culture and ideology. I’ll be glad to see the angry (mostly old) white men put themselves slowly out of business, while being oblivious to what they are doing. You can tell them directly what they are doing, it makes no matter, they will do it all the same. Sad, but funny.

        Part of me is in fact liberal and thinks this can’t happen too soon, part of me is a moderate who respects the point of view of honest conservatives like McCain and thinks that if the GOP rides slowly off into the sunset we will reap the consequences of less and less restrained leftism.

      • September 3, 2012 9:34 am

        “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

        Above is the definition of racism, from Webster. So, Rabbit, are you saying that you (and all of us) are racists? If so, I feel sad for you and your world view.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 9:49 am

        Oh Please, you have an unerring instinct for dogs that won’t hunt. Above you suggested that black voters are racists. I am simply honest, you unfortunately think its clever to be disingenious.and are foolish enough to believe it works.

        Racism is something far more complex than can be distilled into a Webster definition. Its visceral.

        In grade school and high school I got into quite a few fights, well, people picked on me and then my inner Irish/Scots genes rose up and punched them in the face. Believe me, my first fight with a black kid felt entirely different. That is the racism in our programming.

        Today many of my heroes and best friends are of color, not withstanding my genetic programming,

      • September 3, 2012 10:22 am

        Well, that is “might white” of you, you know to have friends and heroes “of color. That said, you are a self-proclaimed racist. So, that must also make you a hypocrite, you know, admiring folks who you feel are inherently inferior.

        You can’t have it both ways. Either you do, or you don’t. As for me, I don’t assent to your definition of racist. If I vote for a person, I am voting for whether or not I think they are most qualified. In the case of Obama, that is an easy choice, irrespective of what his background is.

        Now, if Thomas Sowell were a politician and young enough, I would vote for him. How do you reconcile all this? The answer is obvious. Some individuals make race important, and some don’t (by choice). Take a look at the person, what they have done and what they stand for, i.e., their character. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t you don’t.

        How hard does this have to be? Or, we can get all squishy on this and start making crap up. By the way, I have no issue with you speaking for yourself. If you believe that your racism is genetic, so be it.

        Just don’t speak for the rest of humanity. We can do this for ourselves, thanks.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 11:02 am

        Racism is based first of all on fear, which Webster forgot to mention. Human behavior is thought by many in the psychology field to come down in the end to Love and Fear. Love of your own, fear of foreign or hurtful. History seems to show that most if not all races, peoples, and nationalities have their feelings of superiority. The list of exceptions is short. Denial of this is pretty difficult.

        You are welcome to choose a short definition of racism that you can claim not to accept, while your other comments about black voters make the racial bug up your ass crystal clear. If you think that is a winning argument, go with it. I think I described this behavior above.

        Me speak for humanity? Oh, the false offense! I clearly wrote the words, “I think,” making it clear that this is my own opinion. So are you pretending to be illiterate or is it real? This is the kind of weak argument that passes for your best shot, while there are other comments of mine I would think you might find gave a better angle.

      • September 3, 2012 12:40 pm

        Personal attack is a sign of a failure of logic. Congrats, you have just lost. My comment on black american voters was phrased in the form of a question. Is one not allowed to question the voting preference of black american?

        Apparently not. But, if you are rabbit (a fitting name I might add) you can indict the entire GOP party and all “old white men.”

        Interesting set of rules you got there buddy.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 1:06 pm

        Yes, personal attack is a sign of failure of logic, go back and read your own stuff. You lost the moment you first entered TNM, firing your slimeballs and you lost again recently when you re entered.

        This is now boring, we sound just like all too many others hurling meaningless you are toos and worse on the internet. I actually had a set of points, not one of which you actually chose to dispute with logic, although many could be disputed that way.

        In general, I am just one small person here, The Republican senator’s comments should worry you much, much more than my little internet postings. Your issue is with the reality he is describing.

        “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

        You are one of those “angry white guys”, perhaps you can clone yourself before its too late?

      • September 3, 2012 1:09 pm

        Yes, you are correct, in that you are just one small person. That said, I thought I would leave you with a bit of history about civil rights and the Democratic party. Enjoy:

      • September 3, 2012 1:15 pm

        By party

        The original House version:[16]
        Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)
        Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

        Cloture in the Senate:[17]
        Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)
        Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

        The Senate version:[16]
        Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
        Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

        The Senate version, voted on by the House:[16]
        Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
        Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

        Voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

    • pearows permalink
      September 3, 2012 10:18 am

      Ian, YOU played the race card, by stating your wish that the “entire racist culture that thrives in in the core of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh,,right wing nut radio in general, Birthers, come back to marginalize them as time goes on.”

      I don’t know if you do this intentionally, but you often summarily damn Republicans and conservatives like this – and, make no mistake, when you say the “CORE of the GOP” is racist, you are damning every Republican, and I think that you must know that.

      The fact that “some of your best friends” are of color becomes meaningless really, by your own standards. If the party of Condoleeza Rice, Allen West, Michael Steele and Artur Davis is, at its very core, a racist party, then apparently, whomever one admires, loves, or agrees with is of no importance, when compared to his simple party affiliation.

      And xenophobia and racism are not the same.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 10:45 am

        You are correct Priscilla, I’m damning the entire GOP with the tiny exception of those in it who have dealt honestly and harshly with the GOPs large racist core element. I damn the core for the blatant racism they think is correct and funny and I blame the moderates for not speaking out. The Birther thing is inherently and obviously racist. Romney tried to play on it as humor, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Put as many people of color as you want on the podium, the core of the party chanted USA, USA when a Puerto Rican woman spoke and then there was that throwing of peanuts at the Black CNN camerawoman along with the idiot racist comment “This is how we feed the animals.”

        Both parties face, of course, a dilemma, they need their crazies and try hard not to antagonize them. Its not easy putting together a winning coalition. I sympathize with decent republicans, still I expect them to do FAR more, most of the core will still vote even if they are rebuked on their racism but that rebuke does not come often our loudly.

        The main thing that made me give up on the new moderate a while back was having to hear the twaddle that Rush Limbaugh is not playing racial politics and fanning the racism of the GOP/Conservative base, which is repulsive and disgraceful.

        I’m sorry Priscilla, whether you wish to admit it or not right wing radio runs as close to the line of blatant racism as they can get away with, its a form of humor to them and a sort of secret handshake with the cruder elements of their audience and they often step over that line. Protests from within the party are quite uncommon. Its a GOP problem, if the problem is not dealt with demographics are going to do exactly what the Senator said.

        “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.””

        I lose a great deal of respect for those who pretend this doesn’t exist.

        I asked the question the other day of how the GOP should reform itself so that the next time it faces a candidate as weak as Obama is it runs far ahead. The silence was deafening.

        Keep your head in the sand if you wish, the liberal portion of my character loves to see that.

      • September 3, 2012 10:57 am

        To my knowledge, Rush Limbaugh did not attend the GOP convention, did not have a role and has never run for office on the GOP ticket. Interesting that this is all you can talk about.

        Question: Does the fact that black American voters support Obama almost unanimously suggest that they might have a racial bias? No, that couldn’t be, could it?

        If you want to condem political parties by proxy, you can find plenty of folks on the left to whine about. Bill Ayers comes to mind, and the list would be long and sorry.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 3, 2012 11:14 am

        No, nor did Miss Alaska, this was after all an attempt to sell the GOP to all Americans and even the GOP leadership realizes that Rush is not helpful to that effort.

        But I am pretty sure that I am not imagining the influence Rush has on the GOP. Given that when GOP leaders make the error of criticizing him they feel the need to make a public apology…

        Denial of the force of Rush Limbaugh and his values on the GOP is another dog that will not hunt. You like to blame everything on liberals but your real problem is that moderates are not stupid or blind. You need good arguments to make us ignore the nasty side of the GOP and you are not coming up with them.

      • September 3, 2012 12:48 pm

        The nasty side of the GOP. All parties (by definition) have folks that many don’t want to associate with. Since the US Communist party recently endorsed Obama, that must mean he agrees with their platform. Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, Al Sharpton: I assume many Dems would like to look away from these guys also.

        That said, America is still a relatively free country and Rush L must have a market for his ideas, as he makes a ton of dough doing it.

        As for moderates not being blind or dumb, well I think you have provided plenty of both but then again, that is only my opinion.

      • pearows permalink
        September 3, 2012 12:32 pm

        Ian, there are things on which we agree. In many ways, I do believe that you are a moderate liberal as you self-describe. But you seem to have a blind spot when it comes to recognizing the difference between core and fringe elements of the parties. I’m guessing it’s because you read and believe the politically charged nonsense that passes for “fact-checking” in the media, without ever going any farther to find out whether these “facts” are actually true.

        The other day, a good friend of mine – a liberal Obama supporter, as many of my friends are (I do live in NJ after all!) asked me what I thought of the Ryan-Akin “rape bill.” I was a bit confused, and questioned how this anti-federalist outrage had escaped the notice of the press, and she directed me to Think Progress and Huff Po where it was dutifully reported that Ryan and Akin had “co-sponsored” a “rape bill.” Further investigation led me to realize that the bill was actually one that was co-sponsored by 227 members of the House, and was actually originated by Rep Chris Smith of NJ (not my rep, btw). At least 10 Dems were also “co-sponsors” of the bill which sought to further identify and clarify exceptions to the Hyde Amendment, which already prevents the use of taxpayer funds for abortion. It passed the House, died in the Senate.

        Now, I don’t want to get into an abortion debate, but to call this bill a “Ryan-Akin Rape Bill” is inflammatory and disingenuous. And this is the kind of thing that I see being passed off as “fact” in the liberal world. And imagining that Rush Limbaugh is giving marching orders to Mitt Romney is the same kind of nonsense.

      • September 3, 2012 12:43 pm

        I have to say that I personally don’t know one person (including my conservative friends) who listen to, or quote Rush L.

  32. Rabbit permalink
    September 3, 2012 2:04 pm

    Priscilla, I think you have known me long enough here to know that I do a lot of my own fact checking. It is interesting that my son told me yesterday (from his time spent reading liberal media) that Rush’s latest target is fact checkers. Its a GOP buzzword at present, so Rush is just on the bandwagon. Oh, fact checkers, how horrible fact checking.

    Conservative talk radio has listeners in the tens of millions. Michele Bachman and 5 or 6 Republican house members (don’t remember) went on a recent crusade to tar Hillary Clinton and Mrs. Weiner with a McCarthy crusade-like accusation about Muslim cells in the state dept. (immediately denounced by the ever decent McCain). Then there was the republican judge in Texas who announced that Obama was going to send UN troops into Texas, but I guess that is just pathetic. The birthers… the list is not short and these millions of nuts are the party activists; the rot in the GOP is not some small fringe. What percentage of GOP voters actually believe the Obama is a muslim or not a citizen? Its not a small percentage. The response to all this rot from the leadership is underwhelming, the Romney birther joke is one of those little attempts to connect with exactly that nutball collective.

    Speaking of fact checking, here is an excerpt of the so-called news ( which I found reported online at many conservative websites, including FOX) that the Communist party had endorsed Obama. Which would mean exactly nothing even if they had, since they are a miniscule and uninfluential fringe group, who do not participate in Dem politics (believe me, I knew some of these people at UVM, they hate the democrats even more than republicans) unlike the millions in conservative talk radio nation ditto heads who Are devoted GOP members.


    Illinois Review saw numerous headlines and was emailed about the Communists joining the National Education Association in endorsing Obama early for 2012, but we couldn’t find anything from the Communist Party, so we asked them directly if they had endorsed Obama. Libero Della Piana, spokesperson for the group, responded:

    No, we have not endorsed Barack Obama nor are we in the business of endorsing candidates. There are many articles and positions of the Party on our website, including our outlook on the 2012 elections. Here is the main report to our recent National Committee meeting:

    So we checked out the link, which was the Community Party USA President Sam Webb’s assessment of the current situation and what Communist sympathizers have to anticipate in 2012. Webb’s not happy at all with Barack Obama’s “austerity” measures and encourages four things to happen within the Democratic Party…”

    • Rabbit permalink
      September 3, 2012 3:00 pm

      Here I’ll be fair and mention the revolting number of dems who had Bush Derangement syndrome and Jimmy Carter telling Micheal Moore that he loved Moores’ idiot conspiracy theory book about 9/11 at the 2004 Dem convention. The Dems had a negative bump from that convention, the first in history.

    • Priscilla permalink
      September 3, 2012 4:22 pm

      Nothing wrong with real fact-checking. Gotta use actual facts, though, and be as committed as possible to a non-partisan reading of those facts. It is a fact that Huma Abedin’s mother, father, and brother were or are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. If you or I had a similar background, it would be reasonable to suggest that it be investigated before we had access to the highest levels of classified state info. My understanding is that that assurance of such security clearance was being sought. I’m not a Bachmann fan, but , factually , her questioning of Abedin’s clearance seemed , at the very least, reasonable.

      Journalists owe it to us to be even handed and honest in their fact checking. But, alas, there are so few real journalists.

      • pearows permalink
        September 3, 2012 9:13 pm

        Ok, I took it upon myself to do a little more “fact checking” on the Huma Abedin thing. I think it’s fair to say that Bachmann was raising questions that, by their nature, had the potential to be inflammatory, and she was doing it in a very public way. And, although she may in fact believe that it is important to bring these questions forward, the spectre of a McCarthyite witch hunt should have given her pause. I think Bachmann has more than a touch of the crazy.

        Bachman believes in her enemy identification skills, just like Joseph McCarthy did. And watch out for vaccines too. And let’s hope she is not as right as McCarthy turned out to be in seeing real enemies hiding in plain sight.

        I’ll concede you the better of this particular discussion. But, as you said, prominent Republicans like McCain and Boehner came immediately to Abedin’s defense. Your lumping of all Republicans into a bucket based on the behavior of the fringe of the party still perplexes me.

    • September 3, 2012 9:19 pm

      Hear is a link to one of the actual letters that Rep. Bachman sent.
      I would think that would be the best means of judging her statements.

      Click to access letter_to_rep._ellison.pdf

      The majority of her letter is references to other government investigations, reports, actual cases. You can check these.

      Then you can draw your own conclusions.

      Did she accurately cite those those documents ?
      Do they mean what she claims they mean ?
      Do her conclusions follow from the purported facts she presents ?

      I have no special desire to defend Rep. Bachman, fundamentally she is a religious social conservative who is occasionally solid economically.

      But if I am going to judge her I am going to do so based on her own words and actions not on what others say about her.

      You make a big deal about fact check organizations – as if bringing up a web site with “fact” and “check” in the url somehow endows a site with infallibility or makes otherwise biased people suddenly objective.

      As I have indicated before this is the internet era. Primary sources are available.
      Rather than believe Rush or Maddow, check things out.

      Personally I think the left is losing an increasingly desperate spin war against reality.
      The right is less articulate and on occasion equally disconnected from reality, but the left has totally lost connection with reality. Progressive ideas just do not work. Sometimes they fail worse than others.

      I arrived at my “extremist” ideology pragmatically. I got there by slowly discovering that in every instance where I thought government had actually done well, that a full exposition of the facts demonstrated otherwise.

      “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.” Sen Moynihan.

  33. September 3, 2012 9:20 pm

    Sen. Moynihan noted that government programs to aid blacks destroyed black families and social institutions.

    This problem is not limited to black families and welfare, it is universal to the entire progressive ideology. When government attempts to help the less fortunate, it is not only inefficient and ineffective, but ultimately causes more harm to those it seeks to help than good.

    I did not expect this to be a universal truth, but with government effort I have examined, that is what the facts revealed.

    Rabbit would be surprised to know that once upon a time I was more liberal than he was – I believe as most progressives today do that what failures they are were correctable policy mistakes. Even today – the latter part of that is true. There is no theoretical reason that government can not be efficient, effective and net good.
    Communist tell us all the time that what we see as the failures of communism are only imperfect attempts.

    What I learned on my own, long before I read Hayek, was that what is theoretically possible is irrelevant, those policy failures that doom everything government does are inseparable from the political process. Progressive government will fail because progressive policies must be conceived and implemented by humans in the political process.

  34. September 3, 2012 9:36 pm


    I think that Rand Paul has thus far proved more politically adept. He is not nearly as good at making enemies inside the GOP as his father.

    But that is not the same as articulate. Though Ron Paul’s delivery is significantly different from most politicians today, he is pretty good at communicating his ideas to his audience.

    Possibly more so than any other politician Ron speaks directly to his audience. He rarely dodges difficult questions. He says exactly what he thinks and why.

    Further he is far more nuanced than he is generally given credit for. Monetarily he is not simply a gold crank. He appears to have a better grasp of money than Milton Friedman.

    i also think he has a pretty good grasp – particularly this time arround of who he is and what he is here for. He was never running to win the Republican presidential nomination, but to shape the future.

    He is a republican because he has learned that a libertarian third party is just not realistic, and because more people will listen to a libertarian republican than will listen to a libertarian. He is not a democrat because the ideology of the modern democratic party is irreconcilable with liberty – though that was not always so.

    My personal views are closer to those of Gary Johnson, but Johnson would have been better off remaining within the Republican Party in the long run.

    Even if I wish that was not true.

    • September 3, 2012 10:07 pm

      I like Ron and I think he is much smarter than he appears. Therein lies the problem. When we can find a very articulate libertarian to discuss Von Mises and Rothbard, I do believe that we can “convert” many more conservates to the light side of classic liberal economics.

  35. September 3, 2012 9:53 pm


    You see the democrats as the lessor of two evils ?

    How so ?

    From LBJ through the present there has been only 1 Democratic presidential candidate with a whit of economic Sense – Bill Clinton – yet Democrats have run screaming from that fiscally responsible brand.

    Government failure is inarguably at the root of the worst problems facing us..
    Absent the great recession – we would still be faced with the impending collapse of medicare and social security. Admitted Bush gave us a few more idiotic progressive entitlements, but at a time when it was patently obvious that the signature pieces of the New Deal and Great Society were failing, Democrats created a new mess in the same vein.

    The majority of americans are still opposed. Partly they are opposed because it is just not possible to translate a majority view that healthcare needed reform, into majority support for a specific solution. But partly it is because they know that if we do not kill it soon, we will become addicted and it will kill us.
    If Ian wants to claim Social Security and Medicare are popular – he is absolutely right.
    But the very people receiving it grasp that it has failed. They are just unwilling to personally pay the price for that failure.

    I do not grasp how an ever growing government expanding faster than the economy can ever be moderate – whether accomplished by democrats or republicans.

    I do not grasp how the ever increasing tax burden that demands is ever moderate – no matter what “class” is paying it.

    Judged by any standard that requires government to deliver value, or just be sustainable, republicans fail abysmally, but democrats are an order of magnitude worse, and but for a single instance have been so since LBJ.
    Worse still everything that is killing us, is the signature accomplishments of the democratic party over the past century.

    How is unsustainable moderate ?

    • September 4, 2012 11:40 am

      Dave/asmith: I’m hoping this response ends up in the right place. You weren’t here when the comments got scrambled… Rich’s first comment got knocked off while some others got bumped down to the bottom. The other comments were threading normally, but we might continue to have problems at the bottom. Anyway, I’ll be posting a new column this week and we can continue the debate there.

      I think it’s unrealistic to generalize about more spending and bigger government. Some government “meddling” is vital while some is superfluous or coercive. Here’s an example that covers both categories: Whatever you think of Obamacare, you have to concede that we couldn’t continue denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. No civilized society should let sick people go bankrupt simply for being sick. Agreed?

      On the other hand, it strikes me as unfair to force insurance companies to take risks on unhealthy customers. I think the crux of the problem is that we needed a public option for high-risk people who couldn’t get insured by private companies. Yet the conservatives were up in arms against any mention of a public option — it would be socialistic… it would be stepping on the feet of the private sector… it would raise our taxes! Yet it would have been more practical — and fairer to both the insurers and the insured — to have a public option available for people rejected by private insurance companies.

      Because of the outcry, we ended up with the strange hybrid known as Obamacare, a system that forces people to buy insurance and forces companies to insure them. All because so many conservatives were so staunchly opposed to government “getting into the insurance business.” To my mind, offering a public option would have been less coercive and more constructive… supplementing the private sector with a needed safety net.

      I think a lot of conservatives are motivated by their fear of the “slippery slope”… they’ll reject a reasonable government program because they’re afraid that it will lead to greater and greater government intrusion. It’s not an unreasonable fear, but look at the reality: Obama, that supposedly raving socialist, could have implemented a New Deal style job creation program after he took office following the 2008 financial meltdown and recession. He didn’t. And it still mystifies me that he didn’t, because we sure as hell needed one. If a “lefty” like Obama couldn’t bring himself to go as far as FDR, it’s unlikely that he wants to turn the U.S. into a socialist state.

      • September 4, 2012 12:09 pm

        Rick: Specific to you comment on “jobs programs” I refer you to the following quote from Milton Friedman. Think it aptly destroys the notion that they make sense:

        At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

      • pearows permalink
        September 4, 2012 1:09 pm

        Actually, the reason that the public option was rejected was because there were too many Democrats who made it clear that they would not vote for any reform act that included it. You may recall that Joe Lieberman created quite a stir by publicly stating that.

        And the reason is not the “slippery slope.” exactly. It’s more the “fast track” to socialized medicine. There has been no one, literally NO ONE, over the last decade, who has not acknowledged the need for healthcare reform. And there have been many options presented. But only one has been touted repeatedly as a strategy for getting to a single-payer, government-run sytem: the public option, which would, in short order, destroy the private health insurance industry and create a crisis necessitating a full government takeover of the system.

        Obama 2003 – “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. … We may not get there immediately.”

        Rep Jan Schakowsky, 2009 – “My single-payer friends, he was right. … This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there, and I believe we will.”

        HHS Sec’y Kathleen Sebelius, 2009 – “I’m all for a single-payer system, eventually. … What we have to do, though, is work with what we’ve got to close the gap.”

        The problem here is that, whether or not you want a nationalized healthcare system, it is very clear that the majority of Americans, Democrat or Republican, do not. Yet, the unsatisfactory hybrid system that we may be stuck with is there to force us in that direction. To me, that is the core of the Obamacare debate.

      • September 4, 2012 3:02 pm

        I don’t know, Priscilla. Why couldn’t we simply have created a safety net for the “uninsurables”? How would that necessarily lead to a single-payer system — even if Obama wanted to move in that direction? Nobody could interpret such a safety net as a government takeover of the healthcare system (we already have Medicaid and Medicare, anyway, so we’ve had a partial government takeover for half a century)… it simply would rescue the minority of people who fall through the cracks of the current private insurance system. I think that’s a pretty moderate solution.

        It might be that health insurance shouldn’t have been a for-profit enterprise in the first place, because the people who need it most urgently can’t get it unless they’re covered in a group plan. But that’s our system and I’m realistic enough to accept it… with the abovementioned modification for people with pre-existing conditions.

      • September 4, 2012 3:16 pm

        Rich: Good Milton Friedman story… yes, there’s the danger of creating “make-work” jobs, but look at some of the great public works projects that came out of the New Deal. Those jobs programs aren’t designed to be permanent… they would have provided some needed relief for the unemployed during the free-fall of 2008 and beyond, though. We have so much crumbling infrastructure that nobody in those programs would need to use spoons.

      • Rich Belloff permalink
        September 4, 2012 3:21 pm

        If I recall correctly, we funded nearly $800B for “stimulus.” Are you suggesting that was not enough? That is nearly 1/3 of the entire federal budget and about a 5% bump in GDP.

      • September 4, 2012 7:49 pm


        No I do not have to conceded that some meddling is vital.
        At best i have to concede that we are unlikely to eliminate government meddling all at once, it may take decades even generations – that is called compromise and moderate.

        No one disagrees that healthcare had become a problem and that there was a concensus to do something – but something is not anything.
        Further the mess with respect to healthcare is specifically because of decades of government meddling.

        The pre-existing conditions provision of PPACA is popular – that does not actually make it something we MUST do. If you have actually read Eliabeth Warrens report on Bankruptcies and Health Care costs, Healthcare costs were a factor in less than 30% of all bankruptcies, and the average outstanding healthcare expenses those was $2000.00, and was only a small part of total debt discharged in bankruptcy.

        Expressed differently the very report that purportedly underpins your argument – doesn’t.

        This is one of the reasons I keep begging and pleading with everyone here to actually bother to get real facts from primary sources.

        Do not trust what the president, MSNBC, or even Elizabeth Warren say about her own report – actually read the thing. It is not that long or difficult. And far from making a compelling case for saving the middle class medical bankruptcies, it demonstrates that there was no serious problem.

        Beyond that, any society that destroys its freedom, and ruins its economy in order to provide some purportedly essential benefit to some group in need is doom.

        Sure I have sympathy for people who have gotten into a healthcare bind.
        That is not an obligation to commit suicide.

        My children are adopted. My Daughter came from an unimaginably bad orphanage in China. For years after adopting her I could not watch late night Television for fear of Seeing Sally Struthers telling me that just 15 cents a day could save some child growing up under conditions exactly like my daughter. I do not have infinite wealth. If I do not look after myself and my own family then my own daughter will suffer again.

        This nation is no different. We are morally obligated AS INDIVIDUALS to do what we can for our fellow man – and personally I feel more obligated to children living in garbage dumps in guatemala then someone in the US compelled to go bankrupt over medical expenses.

        The destruction of the Black Family that Sen. Moynihan refered to in the quote above was CAUSED by governments efforts to help them.

        Wishing that government intervention can make something better not worse DOES NOT MAKE IT SO. Worse after the left has taxed the crap out of all of us for their personal favorite heart bleed, no one feels motivated to do anything to actually help these people.

        Our communities are being destroyed because we no longer feel any obligation to our neighbor – that is governments job. Not only is it not and never was, but when it tries it does so abysmally.

        Do you really think all those moneyed special interests that you are so afraid of don’t also have their eye on the government safety net pie too ?

        Is there some fundimental difference between the military industrial complex version of corporate welfare, and that slopping in the entitlement trough ?

      • September 4, 2012 7:59 pm


        If you actually want to fix health care and health insurance it is trivial.
        Eliminate ERISA, Eliminate the business deductibility of health insurance, eliminate tax deductions for extraordinary medical expenses, Eliminate Medicare/Medicaid – you have created an obligation so you are going to have to find a way to buy them out, eliminate restrictions on insurance sales accross state lines, and all the myriads of other regulations on health insurance.

        Essentially do exactly the same thing to Health insurance as we effectively did to Auto insurance in the 80’s. Convert it back into a free market.

        You can now buy exactly the coverage you want – no more no less. Auto insurance companies are falling all over themselves trying to craft packages to meet your needs. Costs are radically lower.

        I know you do not want to believe this, but markets actually work.
        In fact they are the only thing that works.

        Markets are not only the only “fair” way to allocate scarce resources, they are the only way to eliminate scarcity.

        Whatever you think you like about PPACA – and there is much that sounds good. It is doomed to fail. It is essentially a gigantic messy system of price controls. They ALWAYS fail horribly. Do you remember the gas lines in the 70’s ? The housing bubble was atleast partially caused by price controls on interest rates particularly for sub prime loans.

      • September 4, 2012 8:01 pm

        Do you understand that you are nearly perfectly channelling William Graham Sumner’s “The Forgotten Man”.

        that is when A and B get together and agree that D should pay for some benefit to C.

      • September 4, 2012 8:18 pm

        The reason for opposing “the public option” is not because “it was socialistic” it is because socialism fails – always.

        This is not some MacCarthyite anti-communist rant. Whether the ideas of Marx or socialism appeal to you or not, their real world record is abysmal.
        Nothing has inflicted so much misery on humanity.

        Socialism may provoke a knee jerk reaction from conservatives, but if you are truly moderate you should grasp that the real reason to oppose moving in the direction of socialism is that it is a failed system of values that inflicts misery on people in the name of doing good.

        God ends do not justify bad means, but bad ends justify nothing

        If you have been alive for the past 40 years you know how badly socialism ends. And if you don’t get it from the failure of the USSR, look at Cuba, or North Korea. If you want less extreme examples, look at Greece.
        People are rioting in the streets because their pensions are being cut.

        How do you propose to fix Greece ? Should the German’s work their ass off to prop up greek pensioners ? Is the greek government supposed to borrow more money it does nto have, at exhorbitant interest rates – because anyone loaning money to greece knows they will not get repaid ?

        How are those greek pensioners any different from US Seniors ?
        They were promised their government benefits. They paid their taxes, now it is their turn to collect and they are being told to buzz off. Is that fair ?
        Well that is the kind of fairness that this government is responsible for charity crap leads to.

        No one should be depreived healthcare because of a pre-existing condition ?

        I can think of hundreds of other things that should not be.
        Everyone should be able to work too.
        Oh and they should have a “living wage”.
        and …..

        Where does it end ?
        The answer is it ends when we fail.

        Whatever you give away to those whose need appeals to you today must be created by someone else. The only wealth any nation has is what it produces. Government is a voracious consumer of wealth producing little or nothing.

      • September 4, 2012 8:24 pm

        The great depression lasted right up to the eve of WWII – several noted economist believe it continued through the war.

        Regardless neither the spending taxes and regulation of Hoover or FDR made the slightest difference.

        The wealth of the nation, our standard of living, the conditions of the rich and poor alike all come from what we produce – NOTHING ELSE.
        any action government takes to address some problem – whether it is jobs or health insurance – that does not inarguably produce more than it consumes, is net destructive – it lowers our standard of living.

      • September 4, 2012 8:38 pm

        You think PPACA is so necessary – how are you planning on surviving it ?

        Medicare is already running $200B/year in the red. PPACA steals another 80B/year from medicare, and still PPACA itself is atleast another $100B/year in the red in addition.

        These numbers aren’t mine – they are from CBO or The Social Security and Medicare Trusties report.

        Personally I think we will be extremely lucky to get off that cheap.
        What federal program has ever cost less than 3 times what it was projected too.

        There is a reason for prices – because it is impossible for us to have everything that we want. We must ultimately pay with what we produce for what we want. Prices are the means the market – which is just another name for people, coordinate what we want with what we can afford.

        Government stepping in does not really change what we want. Nor does it change what we can afford – but it does change what we get. Whatever it gives to one it must take from another. Worse still when you take from the productive – they produce less – to the detriment of all of us.

        I do not want Romney or Republicans to win this election because I do not want them blamed for the disaster that is inevitably coming. I do not particularly like either Romney or the Republicans. I just believe the chances of the democrats ever becoming fiscally responsible are zilch. The republicans are slowly learning. They need a few more years in the wilderness yet.

      • September 4, 2012 8:41 pm


        Do you actually grasp that Social Security, Medicare, and even PPACA are in deep fiscal trouble ? That the money just does not exist to pay for them ?

      • September 4, 2012 9:43 pm

        Why let the facts stand in the way of a really cool dream (cost-free trade-offs).

      • Priscilla permalink
        September 5, 2012 11:38 am

        It’s a very moderate solution, Rick. Just not at all the solution we got.

  36. September 3, 2012 10:02 pm

    Has something gone horribly wrong with post threading ?
    Posts and replies seem to get added with poor relation to where they belong.

  37. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:08 pm

    Speaking of facts, here are a few to counter the US economic catastrophe under Obama mindset.
    A comparison of growth in GDP since 2008 between USA, UK, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany has which country ahead? Answer: USA, with Germany running close to our level. All the rest of these economies have been mired in deep recessions since the crisis, especially UK and Italy, where the slash spending approach has prevailed 9necessary in Italy I’ll grant).

    As another interesting comparison, I got interested in where the US ranks worldwide in Govt spending as a fraction of GDP. According to the Heritage foundation and the WSJ index of economic freedom, the US is at 38.9%, which places us at position 57. Ahead of us, with govt spending being a higher fraction of GDP is every first world nation except Japan, 37.1%, Austrailia, 34%, and Switzerland, 32%. China is at 20%.
    I ranked this chart in descending order by clicking twice on the govt expend column.
    The modern economies of the world seem to all fall firmly in the progressive camp. I don’t know how one would conceive of China, its a different animal.

    • September 4, 2012 9:12 pm


      Do you not understand your own statistics ?

      The US has:
      The highest standard of living of nearly any developed nation.
      The Highest GDP
      The highest rate of GDP growth.
      And nations with higher government spending have
      lower standards of living,
      Lower GDP,
      Lower rates of growth in GDP,
      I do nto know where you got your economic Freedom rank.
      The US is currently Ranked in 10th place according to the Heritage ranking you site – not 57th. It is exceeded, by Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritus, and Ireland.
      The ONLY European nation on that list is Switerland – whose rate of taxes over the past 40 years has been nearly identical to ours, Canada’s has dropped nearly to ours – coinciding with their rise in economic freedom, Irelands has also been dropping to near ours – atleast until 2005 Every other nation with higher economic freedom, has tax rates as a percent of GDP below ours.

      The US is between 6th and 8th in the world rankings for GDP PPP per capita.
      Exceeded by nations like Singapore and Hong Kong (oops) and Luxemborg, Qater and Brunei, Macau, Kuwait, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Bermuda

      In terms of Median household income – even more important than GDP PPP percaptia because it essentially factors out “income inequality” The US is second – to Luxemborg.

      Basically the very statistics you cite are the same ones that demonstrate that progressive economics fails.

      There is a reason the World Bank concluded that economic freedom results in improved standard of living and a strong social safety net reduces standard of living.

      It is driven precisely by the very same data you are citing – except over the past 40 years.

      We have grown from 25% of the world economy in 1980 to 33% today.

      I would note at the same time, that all US per capita figures include approximately 38Million mostly poor legal immigrants and potentially another 12M dirt poor illegal immigrants. What do you think would happen to US per capita standard of living if you removed much of bottom 20% ?

      • September 4, 2012 9:44 pm

        Your first question is an affirmative. Rabbit does not understand statistics.

  38. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:10 pm

    My comment is awaiting moderation. I find this endlessly ironic, even here on the new moderate we still are awaiting moderation.

  39. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:14 pm

    As an experiment to see if my links are hanging my comment up in awaiting moderation limbo, I’ll remove the links and post them separately.

    Speaking of facts, here are a few to counter the US economic catastrophe under Obama mindset.
    A comparison of growth in GDP since 2008 between USA, UK, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany has which country ahead? Answer: USA, with Germany running close to our level. All the rest of these economies have been mired in deep recessions since the crisis, especially UK and Italy, where the slash spending approach has prevailed 9necessary in Italy I’ll grant).

    As another interesting comparison, I got interested in where the US ranks worldwide in Govt spending as a fraction of GDP. According to the Heritage foundation and the WSJ index of economic freedom, the US is at 38.9%, which places us at position 57. Ahead of us, with govt spending being a higher fraction of GDP is every first world nation except Japan, 37.1%, Austrailia, 34%, and Switzerland, 32%. China is at 20%.

    I ranked this chart in descending order by clicking twice on the govt expend column.
    The modern economies of the world seem to all fall firmly in the progressive camp. I don’t know how one would conceive of China, its a different animal.

    • Rabbit permalink
      September 4, 2012 12:16 pm

      yep, its the links, lets see if I can post them here.


    • September 4, 2012 12:21 pm

      Well, let’s look at the two sets of data you presented, which you try to use to prove two different points. If in fact, the US has done relatiively better than these other countries of late, it may very well be due to the fact that we devote less (relatively) of our GDP to governmental functions. It would be very hard to assert that resources taken by government are somehow more efficient than when left in the hands of private citizens, and these two sets of data seem to suggest this.

      See, it is just as easy to assert this as to try and prove that Obama has done a credible job as a POTUS, especially given the fact that he hasn’t met one economic goal that he set for himself.

    • September 4, 2012 9:17 pm

      Absolutely Europe was weak prior to this crisis – with growth over the past several decades about .5% lower than ours, and they have been hit harder by this than we have.

      How do you think we grew from 25% to 33% of the world economy ?

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 9:48 pm

        I posted the link if you wish to know where I got my figures. I speak of the ratio of Govt spending/GDP for which the US is in 57th place, I did not speak of not total freedom. I said that clearly..

        Are you seriously claiming that the US economy is not a progressive economy? Because I am pretty sure that you have complained for years now that US is too progressive and that progressive programs are disasters that are killing us. I don’t think you can have it both ways, we are progressive and nearly doomed on account of that or we are a beacon of freedom in an otherwise progressive first world. In truth we are in the middle of the pack of world economies regarding the government spending/GDP and every first world nation has a “progressive” economy. If you wish to argue that within the range of progressive economies its better to be less progressive than more OK, but that does not seem to be your argument. Your argument is that government and regulation are poison and that we need to eliminate these progressive impediments to success in order to thrive.

        We are progressive and we are thriving Since each economy is individual and has its own individual character you cannot simply make some kind of linear regression analysis and then extrapolate down to zero to promote the benefits of a supposed low/no government spending/regulation regime. That would be Burma. Wanna live in Burma?

        You are engaged in a fight with reality. You tell us over and over that progressive ideas have lost. One looks at the statistics and its clear that progressive ideas won, and long ago, The most successful economies (other than China, who knows what to call them) are all what you call progressive Marxists lost, Lassaiz faire lost. The best path is in the middle. Within that range, one can debate, but the idea of leaving that range is delusional.

  40. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:22 pm

    The libertarian lassaiz faire belief that our level of government can be cut to one fifth of what it is and this will lead to an economic paradise can be tested against reality. Only one country in the world has a level of Govt. spending as a fraction of GDP that is one fifth of the US level, that would be Burma, at 8%.

    Tickets to Burma anyone?

    • September 4, 2012 12:24 pm

      I have never seen any credible source assert this 20% rule that you stated. On its face, this is either you lying or seeking out a crazy as source material.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 12:46 pm

        ASmith(from the previous topic): I will be happy to admit I think we would do better with 1/5 the government we have now.

        Heh, heh

        Dave has long been unhappy with me for descriptions of his government size ideas that fall short of the word crazy.

        I am happy in this one case to be in complete agreement with you jbastiat!

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 12:38 pm

        The source of the idea that the US would be better off at one fifth of its present government spending was your ol buddy Dave, aka, Asmith, on these very pages.


    • September 4, 2012 9:38 pm


      But Hong Kong and Singapore have governments that are between 1/3 and one half ours – if you include state and local government costs.
      And Burma is experiencing 5.5% economic growth while the US is less than 1.7%.
      Further at the peak of the Civil war US government spending was 7% of GDP – and average growth for the 19th century (where government spending was typically closer to 3%) was 7%.

      We can play these numbers games forever. Except for one thing. This issue has already been decided. Smaller governments in developed countries outperform larger ones.
      Economic growth is 1% lower for each 10% of GDP government consumes.

      Sure there might be one or two outliers – though even those seem to follow the exact same rule they just have a higher y intercept.

      No we really do not have much data for countries that spend less than about 15% of GDP on government – because the vast majority are undeveloped and have nearly non-existant corrupt governments. We do not really know what happens between 15% and about 8% – there is almost no modern data. There is no developed country that spends that little, and most undeveloped countires spend less and remain undeveloped for reasons having nothing to do with government spending.

      That said we do have data on economic performance of developed nations with spending below 15% from the 19th century – and amazingly it is a record of robust growth and conforms pretty much exactly to the modern studies of developed nations in the past 40 years. I.E if you want solid 7% economic growth year over year you get that when government is below 7% of GDP.

      Do you understand how unbeleivably fantastic 7% year over year economic growth is ? That is an increase in standard of living of 810 times over a century, not 810%, Conversely a 3% growth rate increases standard of living of 18 times. while a 1% growth rate increases standard of living 2.7 times/century
      If a generation is 25 years the improvements over a 25 year time frame are
      7% = factor of 5, 3% = a factor of 2, 1% = a factor of 1.26

      Of those choices which do you think will improve conditions for the least well off in society the most ?

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 9:54 pm

        Well, duh, and babies grow faster than adults, what a giant revelation. When you are a tiny and backward third world economy you have more room for growth. When you are a mature first world economy the potential for growth is far less. Very mysterious and profound, excuse my sarcasm.

      • September 4, 2012 10:17 pm

        Clearly, you have never been to HK and Singapore.

  41. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:57 pm

    I don’t mean to gloat (oh, I’m lying here, I am gloating to my very gills) but history has ended, the war is over, Libertarian jbastiat has pronounced that I am the victor, Asmith’s ideas on the proper place of government are not credible and belong to a “crazy.” I always preferred the word extremist, but crazy does well too.

    • September 4, 2012 3:23 pm

      So, in your strange world, libertarians agree on everything. Hmm, that may explain some of your posts.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 3:42 pm

        Weak jbastiat but I love ya anyhow, you made my day.

        There is an obvious difference between disagreeing within some rational limits and being a crazy without credibility. Dave’s beliefs are so far out there you accused me of lying that any libertarian out there even has such beliefs. Your mutual back slapping routine is going to be a bit straining I think now.

        My strange world? Part of doing battle is knowing when to retreat and not confusing it with time to attack.

      • September 4, 2012 4:03 pm

        This made your day? “The prosecution rests your honor!”

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 4:09 pm

        Well, along with the bantering nature of internet conversations some people do try to root their intellectual products here. You are here mostly to trade one liners and you probably have no idea how much time and effort Dave has put into trying to inflate the very bag of extreme lassaiz faire hot air you just put an irreparable hole through.

        Whether you realize it or not, its a tremendous achievement and you are to be congratulated for your inadvertent game winning goal.

      • September 4, 2012 4:55 pm

        Message to Vermont’s own nattering gnat: Your unseemly preening over a supposed intellectual victory (in your mind, only) is ridiculous. Perhaps you should stop masquerading as a moderate, and start a new blog titled “The Flaming Liberal”.

      • September 4, 2012 6:54 pm

        Notice Rabbit did not address his muff earlier when he tried to tie the US to underspending federal dollars but outperforming our socialist buddies in Europe. Shh, don’t mention it!

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 8:06 pm

        Heh, RP, I’ll channel jbastiat for you too

        “Personal attack is a sign of a failure of logic. Congrats, you have just lost.”

      • September 4, 2012 6:52 pm

        What a small life you must live indeed!

      • September 4, 2012 9:39 pm

        So you quote a bunch of statistics that basically prove the opposite of what you say, and declare victory ?

        I rest my case you are a liberal.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 9:57 pm

        No Dave, as anyone who can read will see I took the statement of your fellow libertarian that your notions of government size have no credibility and are the work of a “crazy”. I rest my case, you are a crazy.

      • September 4, 2012 10:15 pm


        What are you, like 12 yrs old? Grow up man!

  42. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 8:12 pm

    Jbastiat: Notice Rabbit did not address his muff earlier when he tried to tie the US to underspending federal dollars but outperforming our socialist buddies in Europe. Shh, don’t mention it!

    Ah, Japan that socialist paradise! Meanwhile, Germany is neck and neck with us in spite of its higher govt spending. . I don’t think you can pull a correlation of your guess.

    But I will be more honest than I believe you will ever be and concede that each nation has its own particular economic issues. My point was actually just that the US economy is not the catastrophe its convenient for the GOP to make of it, we’ve done better than other first world economies since the crash. Not what you want to hear I know…

    • September 4, 2012 9:46 pm

      Germany’s current growth rate is neck in neck with ours.
      Germany’s economy is about 1/5 ours while their population is a abit less than 1/3 ours.
      and there median household income is about 2/3 ours.
      Do you understand that the median german income is just about the same as the top of the bottom 20% in the US ?

      Oh to be german.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 4, 2012 9:59 pm

        However, I was clearly speaking about growth rate, your holy grail.

      • September 4, 2012 11:27 pm

        From 1991 through 2012 Germany averaged a whopping .3%

        Why do you think the German median income is so low compared to ours ?

        I keep trying to get through to you how consequential even a 1%/year increase in the rate of growth is.

        Germany itself is slightly anomalous – German reunification occured in 1990, and one of the most prosperous countries in europe absorbed essentially a third world country.

        That explains a lower average standard of living. It does not explain the pathetic growth rate since 1990.

        From 1974 through 1997 German spending was higher as a percentage of GDP that that of the US – as was that of France and the UK. Correspondingly economic growth was lower.

        Standard of living increases with economic growth.
        Economic growth increases with smaller government
        therefore countries with long term lower growth have declining relative standards of living.

        From 2000-2007 US growth was about 2.5%
        We had a recession in 2008, spent 750B on Tarp, then 850B on stimulus in 2009 and have increased baseline government spending by $1T/year over 2007. Economic growth is pretty close to 0%.

        Keynes/Phillips were right – you can trade inflation for employment – temporarily. More dubiously can trade government spending for economic growth. But at best the growth is small, and temporary.

        We are far from the norms for recovery in a recession.
        And please do not feed me the bunk about this is different – this is a financial recession.
        In 2000 the stock market lost nearly 8T in a very short time.
        The Nasdaq lost 78% of its value – nearly as much as the crash in 1929 but over a much shorted period. There was an 8 month recession with an unemployment peak of 6.3%, and a decline in GDP of 0.3%.
        This was the provocation for the Bush tax cuts.

        In 1987 the Market lost 37% of its value – 22% in a single day
        There was no recession.

        The Recession Reagan inherited lasted just under 2 years, unemployment peaked at 10.8%, GDP dropped by 4.9%
        Growth peaked at over 7%

        The late 2008 recession was 18 months. the decline in GDP about 5%, the peak unemployment 10%, The stock market drop was a bit less than 50% Growth almost 3 years out is less than 2%.

        There is nothing special about a “financial crisis.”. They do not even have to result in a recession. The “Great recession” is the result of a housing bubble. The “financial crisis” is the result of the housing bubble.
        The housing bubble is the result of poor choices by the federal government and the federal reserve.

        The poor recovery is the result of poor choices by the federal government. We are essentially paying for the stimulus right now.
        We have increased our spending and decreased our growth.

        Post this recession in both Europe and the US the strongest predictor for strength of economic recovery was Debt to GDP ratios. The next best predictor was a negative correlation to stimulus.

        Those nations with higher debt to GDP rations have severly impaired or non-existant recoveries. Of developed nations these are in order
        Japan, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, US.

        Most developed nations with low debt and no stimulus are performing well right now.

        There are some complications because:

        US Fiscal policy from 1997 through 2008 forced nearly identical fiscal policy in Europe. There is no central bank on earth that can go toe to toe with the Federal reserve and bet against US fiscal policy and survive.
        Whatever we do no matter how ill conceived Europe and the rest of the world will nominally follow – even when they know it is a bad idea.

        Essentially we exported the housing boom to Europe. Further Europe has been recovering from decades of socialist neglect. Though many European social democracies have actively been winding down the high tax nany state progressives aka moderates so admire, they are nearly all still at higher levels of taxation than we are. Those with high levels of debt, high taxes, who had not been winding down their nanny states were by far the hardest hit (excepting Ireland which got suckered by the ECB).

        Further the post recession Federal reserve policies have essentially been exporting inflation to the rest of the world.

        One of the reasons that Nations outside the US are starting to Head the Libertarian rant about government controlled money, is that the entire world is at the whim of US fiscal policy, and whatever we do harms them more than us.

  43. Rabbit permalink
    September 4, 2012 8:34 pm

    Priscilla: “I’ll concede you the better of this particular discussion. But, as you said, prominent Republicans like McCain and Boehner came immediately to Abedin’s defense.”

    Conceding a point (which you have often done before too) makes you a TNM goddess. Actually I don’t agree that I go the the better of the Abedin topic, because it was you and not I that corrected your first response, which (the first response) I admit surprised me.

    If the blog was limited to participation by those who were actually capable of conceding a point I’d be much happier.

    • pearows permalink
      September 4, 2012 11:13 pm

      Moderation means sometimes having to say you’re sorry 😉

      • September 4, 2012 11:46 pm

        Good line, Priscilla… the extremists are never sorry.

        Man, this board must have been lighting up all evening while I was watching the Democrats do their thing in Charlotte. Wasn’t anybody else here watching the festivities? If not, you missed a string of blockbuster speeches. I haven’t witnessed oratory like this since the ’60s. I’m not even referring to the content of the speeches… just their emotional directness, eloquence and passion. (The content was pretty substantial, too.)

        Cory Booker, Deval Patrick (current gov. of Mass.), Julian Castro (mayor of San Antonio) and Michelle Obama were all magnificent. Bill Clinton and Obama will have some tough acts to follow. The Democrats have been following the golden rule of direct-response advertising: appeal to the emotions, not the intellect. Not always the best policy for governing, but essential during a campaign.

        I see that Dave directed a string of comments in my direction. I’ll have to take notes and respond tomorrow.

      • September 5, 2012 7:06 am


        You just invalidated any claim to being a “moderate.” Man, you must miss the 60s and your daily dose of “queen for a day.”

        It take not one ounce of brainpower to whine about the poor, the downtrodden. What question must be answered is this: After nearly 50 years of increased spending and federal programs, why are these terrible issues worse than they were before?

        Perhaps a new formula must be applied, other than OPM.

      • pearows permalink
        September 5, 2012 9:10 am

        It’s all in your perspective, Rick. To me, Michelle Obama was a very good speaker but her too long speech could be summarized as “My husband is a good father, my father was a good father (and Ann Romney is not the only one with MS!). Barack needs more time to prove that he can help people rise above their circumstances! Class warfare? What class warfare? Barack is a uniter!”

        And the media goes wild!!

        Julian Castro and Cory Booker were ok – Booker must have been put in a bad time slot as punishment for sticking up for Romney and Bain Capital earlier this summer. But they sounded like they were saying the same thing as the GOP speakers were saying, only that THEIR side would provide more opportunity. Honestly, did any one of them point to a specific initiative or program over the last 4 years – or even over the next – to justify their guy, who has been POTUS for one full term?

        I dread the abortion-palooza coming up today.

      • September 5, 2012 9:31 am

        Indeed! An empty gun just keeps making the same sound, click, click, click. Hope and Change, Forward, Urghhhhhhhhhh!

      • September 5, 2012 11:06 am

        Rich: Believe it or not, I was a Nixon man during the late ’60s and fiercely opposed to the student radical movement, but even then I had to concede that the Dems were more galvanizing speakers. What surprised me about the speeches last night was the emphasis on old-time middle-class Republican virtues like hard work, family, and the spirit of enterprise. Sure, there were some calculated hankie moments, but on the whole I thought they spoke honestly and convincingly. Short on specifics, of course, but that wasn’t the purpose of last night’s speeches. It was a pep rally to energize the troops, and it was a humdinger.

        PR: Yes, you could summarize Michelle’s speech that way (funny summary, by the way)… but hey, we’re looking at the most maligned president since, well, George W. Bush. The guy has taken an incredible amount of heat for a mess he inherited, so I won’t deny him a moment or two of public canonization.

        Even though last night’s speeches weren’t supposed to be heavy on policy, I thought they carried the message that Obama saved us from another Great Depression, saved the auto industry when others were willing to let it go under, and helped gain affordable health coverage for Americans who otherwise would have been bankrupted by illness. And they didn’t even have to rub it in that he ended the war in Iraq and took out Osama bin Laden.

        I thought that the removal of God from the platform (they wouldn’t allow the term “God-given rights”) was typical lefty PC police action, which didn’t exactly thrill me. And of course they talk about a “woman’s right to control her own body” rather than the less palatable “abortion on demand.” (I was never a fan of euphemisms.) It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds today and tomorrow. I’m looking forward to Clinton’s speech more than Obama’s.

      • pearows permalink
        September 6, 2012 12:52 am

        Thanks, RB…I really do appreciate your always generous-spirited and honest take on things, even when we don’t agree (which is, admittedly, often).

        I can’t resist giving my brief summary of the already infamous floor vote to
        re-instate God and Jerusalem into the Dem Platform:

        Delegates: “NO!!”

        Villaraigosa : “Wait….Whaaa?”

        Delegates: “NO!!!”

        Villaraigosa: “Let’s try this again…”

        Delegates: “NO!!!!!”

        Villaraigosa: “It is a unanimous decision. It passes.”

        Delegates: “Wait…Whaaa?

      • September 6, 2012 7:55 am

        That was a priceless little bit of DEMOCRACY in action. I believe that film clip will be the highlight of the GOP fall campaign. They simply have to show that over and over. How many Christian and Jewish votes do you think that might have cost them?

        Obama must have had a cow when he saw that footage, which of course might magically “disappear” like Bin Laden’s dead body.

        Then again, Bill Clinton really really likes Barak.

  44. September 4, 2012 10:24 pm


    You really just do not get this “Corporations are people” thing at all.

    When you tax the profits of a corporation you are taxing the people who own the company – the shareholders, when you tax their capitol gains, you are taxing them AGAIN.

    Government likes to play this shell game with taxes – do you really think that your employer thinks they are paying the “employer” side of your social security and medicare taxes ? Or do you think they consider that part of what it costs to have you as an employee ?

    Atleast social security and medicare taxes are somewhat regressive and therefore minimally economically destructive.

    Corporate and capitol gains taxes are economic disasters. They destroy growth jobs, our future. They do not just steal from the “rich” they steal everyone’s future.

    The average corporation has a return of about 9%. If the return is much lower – shareholders will move elsewhere and the business will die, along with all the jobs and whatever wealth was produced.

    To get a real 9% return with a 35% tax rate, they must actually have a return of 12%.
    That means any business that would have been viable with a gross return between 9 and 12% just does not happen – because the net return is below 9%.

    Capitol gains taxes take another 1.5% off that – i.e. with no corporate taxes and no capitol gains taxes, businesses with a 7.5% return would yield the same return to stockholders as a business with a 12% gross return does after taxes.
    That is nearly a doubled rate of return required to cover the reduction in return from taxes.

    That also means the effective tax rate for the investor is nearly 50%.

    How many business models do you think there are out there that have between a 7.5% and 12% gross rate o return that would be viable absent taxes on capitol ?
    How many jobs do you think they would create ?

    I suspect eliminating corporate taxes, and treating capitol gains like ordinary income with a single flat tax rate, would almost entirely eliminate unemployment while producing the same amount of revenue for government.

  45. pearows permalink
    September 4, 2012 11:26 pm

    Ok, tonight I saw a clip of an MSNBC host, Melissa Harris-Perry, which totally cristallizes my problem with liberals. She said, in a greater rant against the idea that being an entrepreneur is about taking risks, “What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? ”

    Well, perhaps living in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Niger, Chad,Laos, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, North Korea…..I could go on.

    Is she freaking serious? I am not trying to downplay the problems of poverty in America. But Americans worry about – and care about – their poor. ALL Americans, in their way. I’m really quite sick of liberal Democrats insisting that, if you don’t care in exactly their way, you don’t care.

    • September 5, 2012 7:02 am

      I watched some of the Dem convention and almost gagged. What a pity party. All that was missing were the violins and Kleenex.

      What a pathetic play on the heartstrings.

  46. Pat Riot permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:50 am

    A good hearty thread! Many good points and good jabs above. A bit of an “early American” feel to it with all the passionate discourse and squabbling leading to drinks at the pub! A toast to TNM! A toast to Freedom of Speech. A toast to Liberty.

    Excuse me, I’ve been away again, stimulating our economy and helping to save our Republic as usual. I see from several instances above that we Moderates are still misunderstood. Despite some of Rick’s archive posts explaining the virtues of moderation, we Moderates are still misunderstood. It’s a wording problem and a perception problem. It’s that human tendency for generalization and labeling. All us limited humans are somewhat guilty of generalizing and labeling.

    Part of the problem is the perception of “being in the middle” and “compromise.” These words carry connotations of not being far enough in a particular camp, and that can suggest not being strong enough.

    Being a Moderate is not about being between viewpoints. Being Moderate is about arriving at particular solutions per the particular problems and not per party and not per ideals.

    Ideals and principles are certainly good, until they get in the way of solving real problems. “Standing one’s ground” is admirable, for instance, but not when one’s house is on fire. Then it’s stupid. Problem-specific solutions are what Moderates value, not stubborn idealism. Rabbit gets it. George Washington got it in his farewell address when he warned of the poison of political parties.

    Moderate doesn’t fit within Left, Middle, Right. Moderate doesn’t fit between Liberal and Conservative. Although a Moderate often tries to work through compromise, that’s a method, not a viewpoint, and IT’S NOT THE MIDDLE. Let’s try this: Liberal is to Conservative is to Moderate as Honda is to Cadillac is to travel. Ok, that’s a bit obscure, but do you see it?

    • Pat Riot permalink
      September 5, 2012 12:58 am

      Tried to post at the end after reading all 234 comments, but it’s here–twice! Anyway, good thread you opinionated people!

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 5, 2012 11:28 am

        Hi Pat, so happy to see you back! You read all the 234 posts?!? You are crazy enough to be here, for sure.


        You are not a moderate you are a flaming liberal!

        Just breakin you in.

  47. Pat Riot permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:55 am

    A good hearty thread! Many good points and good jabs above. A bit of an “early American” feel to it with all the passionate discourse and squabbling leading to drinks at the pub! A toast to TNM! A toast to Freedom of Speech. A toast to Liberty.

    Excuse me, I’ve been away again, stimulating our economy and helping to save our Republic as usual. I see from several instances above that we Moderates are still misunderstood. Despite some of Rick’s archive posts explaining the virtues of moderation, we Moderates are still misunderstood. It’s a wording problem and a perception problem. It’s that human tendency for generalization and labeling. All us limited humans are somewhat guilty of generalizing and labeling.

    Part of the problem is the perception of “being in the middle” and “compromise.” These words carry connotations of not being far enough in a particular camp, and that can suggest not being strong enough.

    Being a Moderate is not about being between viewpoints. Being Moderate is about arriving at particular solutions per the particular problems and not per party and not per ideals.

    Ideals and principles are certainly good, until they get in the way of solving real problems. “Standing one’s ground” is admirable, for instance, but not when one’s house is on fire. Then it’s stupid. Problem-specific solutions are what Moderates value, not stubborn idealism. Rabbit gets it. George Washington got it in his farewell address when he warned of the poison of political parties.

    Moderate doesn’t fit within Left, Middle, Right. Moderate doesn’t fit between Liberal and Conservative. Although a Moderate often tries to work through compromise, that’s a method, not a viewpoint, and IT’S NOT THE MIDDLE. Let’s try this: Liberal is to Conservative is to Moderate as Honda is to Cadillac is to travel. Ok, that’s a bit obscure, but do you see it?

    • pearows permalink
      September 5, 2012 9:27 am

      Welcome (back) to the jungle, Pat!

    • September 5, 2012 11:16 am

      Good to see you back in action, Pat, but be sure to wear a helmet…the natives are restless.

      It’s true that a good moderate isn’t simply a middle-of-the-road compromiser; we have priniciples, one of which is balance. That prinicple often happens to put us in the middle, but it’s not where we have to live. Moderates are capable of radical action, like Washington and Franklin, but our ultimate aim is a society without bias in favor of (or against) any class of people.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 5, 2012 11:47 am

        Rick, You are simply a liberal who are you kidding? You’ve gotta be a liberal or who would the libertarians, trolls, and libertarian trolls go after, you’ll be a flaming liberal even if they have to force you. (not very libertarian is it?)

        Actual serious campaign workers for the GOP or the Dems work on the principle that you ring a doorbell (or post to a blog) , try to find supporters and get them to vote and when you encounter those who do not agree you are polite and thank them for their time and then leave to spend time on more promising persons without pissing off and motivating those who might work against you. Here we have too many who come to sell us the GOP ticket and ideas and then stay to get pissed off when they find no takers and then they camp out and shit on the porch, its a brilliant strategy, eh?

        Actually, to be honest I’m glad that the only liberals here are the moderate type, the sound of true flaming liberals and true right wing nuts going at it is a sound I don’t want to hear, even if ifs only in print.

        Sigh, it could be worse, we could all line up with various sharpened farm implements and charge at each other, a la braveheart, this method of aggression in better right? I think it must be better, I’m almost sure….

      • pearows permalink
        September 5, 2012 4:15 pm

        Ian, I’m not sure I get your point? First of all, Dave has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to vote for Romney, and may, in fact, vote for Obama. Granted, he would be doing that in order to hasten the fiscal crisis or create gridlock, or both, but, in any case, he is certainly not “selling the GOP ticket.”

        I’ve been pretty open about my specific reasons for opposing Democrats at this point in time, and also about my opinion about the presidency being an executive leadership position, for which Barack Obama is poorly suited.

        RP, in his/her brief appearances, has also struck me as having a pretty even-handed perspective, in other words, a moderate one, when it comes to politics, as has RonP.

        Rich is more partisan in his opinions, but no more so than you have been, insisting that all Republicans, at their core, are racist followers of Rush. Or libertarians, whichever is worse.

        I mean, on the one hand, we’re all supposed to have strong and balanced viewpoints, with the aim of “a society without bias in favor of (or against) any class of people.” But bias is often in the eye of the beholder….as this hilarious video explains:

        I’m not selling you anything – and I assume you are not selling anything to me.

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 5, 2012 4:20 pm

        Not directed at you at all Priscilla, you do sell the GOP but not in a get pissed off and crap all over the place when it does not work way, so my targets this time are different ones…

    • September 5, 2012 7:38 pm


      I arrived at those “extremist” “ideological” positions pragmatically.
      First I realized that sometimes government doesn’t work,
      then often, and ultimately I realized that even my personally most cherished government programs were failures. And that the world required to make it possible for government to successfully implement them was never happening.

      So I believe strongly in solutions over ideology – despite what Ian make think. But I hold solutions to a very high standard – they must at the very least be better than doing nothing. Most do not meet that standard.

      I do not despise compromise – but I have also seen in the real world were compromise very often produces worse results than losing. Actual failure is fixable – particularly when it is obvious. Should the democrats and republicans fail to fix our government problems, the consequences may be very painful – but presuming we recognize the failure and immediately change course they may be very short lived. One of the problems with the social safety net is that it creates potential consequences that take much longer to clear.

      But compromise is not always bad. If a solution really is good enough, it need not be perfect. But it still has to actually solve the problem.

      My complaint about TNM is not just that they compromise, not even just that the compromise almost always heavily favoring the left, but the almost always compromise in ways that do not meet the “first do no harm” principle.

      We have made promises to seniors and others that we can not keep without destroying the nation. When they are honest most on either the right or the left acknowledge that.

      Without addressing details several things are necescary:

      In one form or another keeping as much of the promises that we have made as is practical – as time moves on that consideration becomes less significant. If you are 55 or under today and are stupid enough to beleive that Social Security and Medicare are going to meet your needs – I will have little sympathy for you when you get screwed.
      But if you have better reason to believe the lies you were told. You believe you paid for the benefits you are receiving.

      The next consideration is not destroying the nation trying to keep those promises.
      If your proposed solution just pushes fiscal disaster a few years down the road, it is a non-starter. It should not even be on the table. Our problems are serious, if you can not propose serious solutions – get out of the way.

      After mere survival there is the question of thriving. Do we keep our commitments to one group at the expense of all of our future. I have harped constantly on the fact that a single percent of additional growth each year doubles our standard of living each generation. We have to question whether we are willing to sacrifice a part of the future of those younger than us in return for keeping more of the promises we have made to those older than us.

      The final and possibly most significant facet is Christs admonition – “Go and sin no more”. We must learn something from our mistakes.

      PPACA is a criminal act. At a time during which it was well known that Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Part D, …. are were failing and not by small measures, this administration chose to create a new entitlement sufficiently insolvent that its was fiscally unsound from the start. It steals almost $800B/decade from medicare – which is already atleast 1.6T/decade short and growing, and even after that PPACA runs 1T/decade short. Even if it was a wonderful program that lived up to every expectation
      now seems like an abysmaly bad time to gamble on the same type of programs that created the mess we are in. Some here are correct in noting some provisions of PPACA may prove extremely popular. All the worse. The most disasterous government programs are those that are exhorbitantly expensive – but wonderful for a large enough constituency to be unrepeatable.
      The fundimental problem with Social Security and Medicare is that regardless of how unsound they are, regardless of the fact that nearly all of us could actually do better on our own – we are basically happy with them. But we are happy wih something that is unsustainable.

      If a moderate wishes to argue that the democrats or presidents economic plan is superior to Ryan’s or Romney’s or pretty much any other plan that is fine.
      But before even comparing – does it solve the problem or just push it further down the road ? Does it keep as much of our promises as is feasable ? How much harm does it inflict on the next generation ? An finally does it actually recognize and reverse itself on the mistakes we have already made ?

      Inarguably Ryan’s plan fails each of those tests. So how does a sane person argue that something that has not actually been proposed – there is no real democratic plan, is superior ?

      The only way that the “moderate” solutions – left leaning compromises pass muster, is in the Schumpeterian fashion – the quicker we fail them the sooner we can move to recovery.

      Though how that is moderate I do not know.

  48. September 5, 2012 7:23 am

    Apparently, you CAN run out of OPM and then, there are real consequences. Who would have thought?

  49. Rabbit permalink
    September 5, 2012 11:25 am

    jbastiat: “Rabbit,
    What are you, like 12 yrs old? Grow up man!”

    At this point I know I am supposed to respond with an equally lame one liner but I will go off script and admit that yes, I do sound like a 12 year old at times here. Its what happens when one makes the insane decision to have a conversation with a troll with a 5 pound rat up his ass. If I continue I’ll sound like I’m eight within a week.

    Bastiat, say something intelligent and interesting for the first time and I may respond, so far your wit and wisdom have been unimpressive, you are simply a troll, like all other trolls, its a boring breed no matter what the ideology.

    • September 5, 2012 11:28 am

      Still awaiting your response to the voting record of Democrats on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Who are the racists in the building?

    • AMAC permalink
      September 5, 2012 10:01 pm

      Who is being childish? Who is lashing out at anyone with a differing opinion? Who substitutes idiotic insults for debate. Clearly jbastiat is the one being childish. Just another roadblock to reasonable discussion. A good reason to take time off of the internet… We “So Called Moderates” just don’t get it. Libertarians are the ones grounded in reality??? Yes, libertarians have some good ideas. A blind squirrel can find an acorn. How is that for debate?

  50. Rabbit permalink
    September 6, 2012 10:04 am

    Priscilla: “Rich is more partisan in his opinions, but no more so than you have been, insisting that all Republicans, at their core, are racist followers of Rush. Or libertarians, whichever is worse.”

    I skimmed your post rapidly, as I was late for a band practice. Today I caught this gem. Oh dear, you have undone your good work.

    The idea that I have said is that all republicans at their core are racists is an extrapolation of fancy from an extraplolation of fancy. I have made a serious point of mentioning many, many times that there are many decent republicans and that I sympathize with their predicament. Find where I said that Republicans, at their core, are racist followers of Rush. Or libertarians, whichever is worse and I will buy you dinner. To compare me with jbastiat does not harm my credibility, it harms yours.

    You have undone your good work. You can now look forward to a mindless backslapping comment from troll bastiat to your comments. Congrats.

    • September 6, 2012 10:38 am

      I am still waiting for your reply on the votes in Congress on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the GOP is at its core, racist (as you admitted you were), those votes don’t suggest this conclusion, but in fact the opposite.

      You contine to ignore what you don’t want to acknowledge while hurling insults my way. Back to my question as to whether you are 12 yrs old?

    • Priscilla permalink
      September 6, 2012 10:46 am

      Too bad. It was nice to get a back pat from you, but I shall survive. Nice move, implying that I’m sucking up to get props from Republican partisans though…. Untrue, of course, but slick.

      And, speaking of slick, I’m sure most of us watched Clinton last night. I was reminded why I voted for the guy twice- he is able to connect with an audience like no other politician since Reagan. My summary of speeches:
      Sandra Fluke: “No taxation without Contraception!” (I called this one, no surprise)

      Elizabeth “pocohontas” Warren: Corporations are not people but Republicans are stupid and heartless and think that they are. ”

      Big Dog Bill: ” Republicans are nice people, but they are mean and want to keep blacks and hispanics from voting by asking for ID. Also, remember Well, the truth may be partly that you need to become a better interviewer/auditioned, which you can do. But the other truth is that you have not been on a lot of interviews and auditions and the ones you have been on have been ” important”. I personally think you just need more practice in putting yourself out there….doing interviews and auditions just for the experience. You have a lot of talent , and you’re a quick study, but you need to become more persistent and determined. Stay positive. You did good. down? They want that. And Ryan totally lied about Obamacare taking $7B out of Medicare. Obamacare is a good thing. And we’re all in this together- unless you elect Romney, then we’re on our own, because he does not feel your pain. And Obama will totally do a better job if he gets another chance! “

      • Priscilla permalink
        September 6, 2012 10:52 am

        Heh. My comment got combined with an email I sent to a young colleague who was turned down for a job. I’m typing on my phone, and must have pasted that in. Actually, given Clinton’s rambling near the end, it almost works!

      • Rabbit permalink
        September 6, 2012 11:03 am

        I notice that you were not able to provide any reference to my alleged comment, since their is no evidence..

        What you are illustrating is Exactly why I feel the way I do about the GOP. You have one group, the nice GOP group who apparently have mostly economic arguments and concerns, but they are blind to and even dependent on the ugly core group of crude partisans and are not about to cleanse their party or even acknowledge what is going on. You prefer a disingenious strategy of feigning disbelief that any one could possibly connect you to the ugly partisans, its just some slick trick.

        I have found you to be quite conservative, highly partisan, and yes, you are selling something here, the GOP and its policies. I suppose we all are selling something here, but its supposed to be moderation, which means more than just speaking politely. In fact, Pat just did a pretty brilliant job of explaining recently what I think moderation is.

        I previously wrote that:

        “…part of me is a moderate who respects the point of view of honest conservatives like McCain and thinks that if the GOP rides slowly off into the sunset we will reap the consequences of less and less restrained leftism.”

        Can you or any GOP partisan here sincerely make the same statement but its reverse from the moderate conservative perspective? I have large doubts, restraining the large right wing element in the GOP does not appear to be a big concern.

        If the GOP fails to wash Obama away in November maybe then the idea will occur.

      • September 6, 2012 11:44 am

        Well done, nice summary. Didn’t Clinton commit perjury and give up his law license? A liar, talking about a liar.

      • September 6, 2012 2:28 pm

        Let me step in for a moment. (What am I stepping in?, I ask myself.) Rabbit has raised a valid point about the two strands within today’s GOP, and how the hard-line strand on the right has been slowly strangling the strand in the center.

        I actually used to lean Republican in my younger days (because the Dems were leaning too far left), but the way I see it, the GOP has essentially been taken over by “pod people” who loudly demand adherence to libertarian principles and call for the heads of Republican politicians who don’t comply. Would Ike be a Republican today?… would Nixon or Ford or Everett Dirksen or even Bob Dole? Probably not (at least not if they were entering politics at this point). Thanks to the Tea Party, Grover Norquist and the right-wing talking heads, moderate Republicans are an endangered species.

        Rich, you tried to score points from the Democrats’ voting record on the 1964 Civil Rights act, but I think you know what happened. Southern Democrats used to be overwhelmingly conservative on Civil Rights, dating all the way back to Reconstruction. LBJ knew he’d lose the South if he proposed his Civil Rights legislation, but he went ahead anyway and took the consequences. (In the ’64 election, Goldwater won the South, but LBJ still won in a landslide.) Here was a great shift comparable to what’s going on in the GOP today… there used to be two strands of Democrats, and the liberal strand essentially strangled the conservative strand… Jim Crow Democrats were squeezed out, and the Dems became the party of RFK and McGovern.

        For all his personal peccadilloes, at least Clinton moved the party back to the center — though I fault him for the repeal of Glass-Steagall and enabling the subprime mortgage crisis (interesting that the former was a conservative action while the latter was favored by liberals). Most important, he balanced the budget without punishing (or overindulging) either the rich or the poor. Whatever you think of him personally, he was a solid president. I think we were all better off during the Clinton era, don’t you?

        Though our resident moderates can speak for themselves, they’re obviously getting frustrated by the increasingly hostile nature of the exchanges here. It’s hard to debate issues rationally when your opponents are flinging barbs, so they feel impelled to start flinging barbs themselves. Unfortunately, what’s happening here is a mirror of what’s happening to our national political discourse: we’re engaging in ideological warfare.

        I’ll try to keep the peace the best I can, but I expect our partisans here to show a little more respect for the honorable opposition. Good-natured barbs are fine, but let’s not resort to using flame-throwers, OK?

      • September 6, 2012 2:46 pm

        If the so-called hard right of the GOP were strangling the party, Romney would not have been nominated, Santorum would have. He was WAY right of Romney. If the hard RW controlled the party, the much maligned “diversity” of the party (Cuban, Haitian, Black, Female) would not have been front and center. If the hard RW controlled the party, Rommey’s speech would have had a reference to war and would have led with socially conservate references.

        It did not. Sorry, but the hard right does not control the GOP. Now, at the Democratic convention, what prevails? Anti-god and Anti-semites made that very clear last night.

      • September 6, 2012 3:07 pm

        All valid points, Rich… though I think the GOP settled for Romney because the candidates that aroused more passion were either too kooky or incapable of winning the national election (or both). I was thinking of the Norquist pledge, the widespread scorn for RINOs, and moderate Republicans being drummed out of their own primaries. And of course, Romney picked a right-wing standard bearer for VP. But I’ll grant you that there hasn’t been a total takeover by the right wing yet. (It’ll be interesting to see what kind of GOP candidates will pop up in 2016 if Romney doesn’t win.)

        I didn’t like it that the Dems deliberately jettisoned a casual mention of God from their platform, either. And they had to know that changing the terms on Israel would be inflammatory. From what I heard, Obama insisted that they restore both God and Israel to their former place in the platform, so they did. Yes, the Democrats have their own extremist fringe… still, they’re nowhere as dominant as the GOP fringe. If Elizabeth Warren emerges as a presidential candidate in 2016, though, all bets are off. (I might have to form a centrist third party all by myself!)

  51. Rabbit permalink
    September 6, 2012 3:04 pm

    1964 was 48 years ago, those legislators are are retired, most or all are dead. The racist southern voters who were behind the filibuster of the Civil rights act of 1964 switched parties and the Republicans ruled the south for many decades thereafter, becoming the new home to the angry white racist voters.

    Somehow we are supposed to not know about this.

    From Wiki;

    “Though the “Solid South” had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party’s defense of slavery prior to the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation.
    The strategy was first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater[1] in the late 1960s.[2] The strategy was successful in some regards. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party, but at the expense of losing more than 90 percent of black voters to the Democratic Party. As the twentieth century came to a close, the Republican Party began trying to appeal again to black voters, though with little success.[2]

    Although the phrase “Southern strategy” is often attributed to Nixon’s political strategistKevin Phillips, he did not originate it,[4] but merely popularized it.[5] In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence:
    From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
    While Phillips sought to polarize ethnic voting in general, and not just to win the white South, the South was by far the biggest prize yielded by his approach. Its success began at the presidential level, gradually trickling down to statewide offices, the Senate, and the House, as some legacy segregationist Democrats retired or switched to the GOP”

    • September 6, 2012 7:20 pm

      I am presuming that Virginia and north Carolina aren’t part o the South – as they voted for Obama in 2008 – McCain won missouri by only 3,000 votes – I guess that is not really part of the South either. McCain won Alaska by 22 points – I guess that is part of the Racist south. Obama won Maryland by 22% – I been there, its part of the South.

      So what is this supposed to mean anyway ?

      This isn’t that secret code stuff – Republicans have flipped the south and therefore must all be racists ?

      Let me give you a clue. There is a UW poll that purportedly found Racism in the Tea Party – only 35% of respondents who identified with the Tea Party rated Blacks as hard working – the similarly rank minorities lower than anyone else in every catagory.

      Only problem you have to look thoroughly at the results. They also rated Whites low in all the same catagories – higher than Blacks and minorities, but the difference between The Tea Party ranking of Blacks and minorities and their ranking of Whites on the same issues was no greater than the difference between how liberals rated blacks and minorities and how they rated whites on the same issues.

      Essentially Tea Party members think we are all Lazy, and while they are harder on minorities that whites they are no harder than liberals, who think everyone works harder – but blacks and minorities are still lazier than whites.


      • Rabbit permalink
        September 6, 2012 7:57 pm

        Also cherry picking, show me where I said that all republicans are racists and I offer you the same free dinner Priscilla has yet to earn. You have such an amazing ability to miss the freakin point. I have heaped my scorn on two segments of the GOP, those that are the actual racists and those that ignore their actions and the harm they do (some of whom even subtly encourage them).

        I said that following the the Civil rights acts the GOP became the home to the displaced southern folks who Phillips called “negrophobes.” Democrats did not win in the deep south in a presidential election for decades after 1964. Little by little that has changed, as you go north, as African American percentages of the populations grow larger, as time goes by and race is less important as an issue to many. Some people grew up, on the other hand some millions find Rush’s racism attractive.

        “From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

        The above quote truly could not be more clear. I’v e never even heard anyone dispute that the south went republican following the civil rights legislation.

        The inherent racism of the birther phenomenon and many of the comments of Right wing radio talking heads is hardly less obvious and the reason for those comments is that they are popular among that constituency. Romney himself played the birther riff, nudge nudge wink wink, and why did he do that?

        Trying to pin the fact that 90+ of african americans voted or will vote for Obama on “black racism,” as was done by our resident right-wing troll, is another symptom of the disease, 90% of the african american vote has gone to white democratic candidates since 1964, its not “black racism” its black common sense, the white “negrophobes” flocked to the other party. .

      • September 6, 2012 9:10 pm

        When one sees “racism” everywhere, it gives me pause. Perhaps you are simply projecting. Talk to your therapist for a second opinion.

      • September 8, 2012 8:18 pm


        lets not split hairs. You don’t think all Republicans are racist. But you have made it clear you think republicans are far more racist. That the south is just a seething hotbed of racism anxious to return to Jim Crow.

        But Black’s are moving south in record numbers. 57% of blacks currently live in the south, this is the largest percentage since the great migration almost a century ago. Further they are moving from the urban north to white communities, not existing black southern enclaves. They are moving because they have more opportunities there.

        While at Montpelier I found an interesting qoute from a famous Black women from the early 20th century.

        Southerners disdain negroes as a group, but accept them as individuals, while northerners embrace them as a group, but disdain them as individuals.

        I really hate defending Rush Limbaugh – but presumably you know who James Golden is ?

        Regardless, at the very least you see racism as a far greater problem within republicans and the Tea Party than among democrats.

        There are only a small number of elected Black Republicans – but everyone comes from a majority white district. There are few if any elected black democrats from a districts that are majority white.

        Seems to me that white Republicans are more capable of seeing past the color of ones skin, than Democrats are.

        One day black americans will wake up and discover that progressives have done more harm to their culture, their community their prospects than Jim Crow ever did.

  52. Rabbit permalink
    September 6, 2012 4:53 pm

    I decided to look up Allen Phillips to see if lightening had struck him yet and found that ironically, he experienced a mid life conversion and is now the author of books that are highly critical of the GOP.

    A description of Phillips book “American Theocracy” from Wiki:

    American Theocracy (2006)
    Allen Dwight Callahan[1] states the book’s theme is that the Republican Party (GOP), religious fundamentalism, petroleum, and borrowed money are an “Unholy Alliance.”[2] The last chapter, in a nod to his first major work, is titled “The Erring Republican Majority.” American Theocracy “presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness.”

    • September 6, 2012 7:03 pm

      i have been hear a long time and heard nary a peep of criticism of religious fundimentalism. I will be happy to agree if Mr. Phillips thinks it is a bad thing, and that it appears to afflict republicans more than democrats.
      I am deeply concerned that Social Conservatives – AKA Religious fundimentallists will regain control of the GOP. For the moment they are waning.

      But if you really want to launch an honest rant about social conservatives and religious fundimentalism and its evils – so long as you can manage to keep your facts straight I will be happy to join you.

      Has the GOP been fiscally irresponsible – absolutely. There can be little doubt that Clinton was far more fiscally responsible than Bush II. Unfortunately Obama is been more fiscally irresponsible in 4 years than Bush managed in 8. Had President Obama found his inner Clinton early in his first term we would be in the midst of solid recovery, and no republican could get elected dog catcher.


      Is the GOP shortsighted – certainly. Both parties are very short sighted. But at this moment the Democrats take the prizes for inability to see more than a few days ahead.

  53. September 6, 2012 6:39 pm


    You used to lean more republican but have shifted because the GOP has become more radical ?

    Barry Goldwater was nearly as Libertarian as Ron Paul.

    Nixon was a moderate ?

    Reagan was essentially a more articulate version of Goldwater.

    I will give you the Bush’s as essentially moderate Republicans.

    But is there any Republican in the mold of a Jesse Helms among the Current GOP Crop in the house and Senate ?

    An assortment of polls indicate that Gary Marriage is only a serious issue for a small minority of Republicans. In one poll 59% of Republicans supported either Marraige or some form of Civil unions, in another 51% opposed. While Republicans lag the rest o the nation on these and many either issues of individual liberty they are FAR ahead of where they were during the time you claimed to “lean republican”

    It is my personal ferverent hope that the GOP moves further towards fiscal responsibility and further away from intolerance on issues of individual liberty – which is slowly exactly what they are doing. Precisely the opposite is true of Democrats.

    Is not spending money that we do not have such neanderthal behavior that you just can not tolerate the presence of such a knuckle dragger ?

    Do you really want the GOP of Jesse Helms, Pat Buchanon, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell of Pat Robertson back ? That is the kinder Gentler GOP that you want ?

    Today we have Obama as President, and Biden as VP. While that is not the same as a return to McGovern – though I would note McGovern seems to have discovered that government ain’t the panacea he had thought, it sure is not Clinton.

    You wonder why I beg everyone here to get a dose of reality.
    I just can’t believe that you are trying to sell me the GOP of yore as in anyway superior to that today.

    Yes, the GOP has for the moment adopted atleast the fiscally responsible aspects of libertarianism – we shall see whether they can stick to that. But that is one of the few GOOD Things about the modern GOP.

    Bush brought us the next step in the modern police state – DHS, TSA, The Patriot act – which of these has Obama actually backed away from ?

    There are many good reason to criticize the GOP – but TNM seems to fixate on shredding them for the few things they get right.

    • September 6, 2012 7:30 pm

      Cherry-picking again, Dave. I didn’t say I liked ALL the old-style Republicans… in fact, I gave some examples of moderate old-style Republicans who would feel marginalized in today’s GOP — Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Everett Dirksen, Bob Dole. Nelson Rockefeller would be a Democrat today, and even George Romney (Mitt’s dad) might have gone to the other side.

      Goldwater was too extreme for me. And while I liked Reagan personally, it was his presidency that started tipping me more toward the Democrats (though they came up with some pretty dismal candidates to run against him). Reagan was the first of the “New Republican” presidents… he embraced trickle-down economics, which Bush the Elder memorably dismissed as “voodoo economics” during the 1980 primaries. (By the way, GHW Bush is yet another decent Republican who would probably grit his teeth at today’s GOP if he were still active in politics; I’m sure he’ll vote for Romney, but I could actually see him voting Democrat if, say, Rick Santorum had won the nomination).

      We’ve seen since the collapse of 2008 that wealth doesn’t trickle down from the rich to middle class; in fact, almost the opposite is true: we need a stable middle class that can spend confidently enough so that wealth trickles up to America’s companies.

      Oh, and I hope you don’t think I willfully shred the Republicans for the things they get right. If I thought they were getting it right, I wouldn’t shred them. I just think it would be unconscionable for a moderate like me to stand idly by while the GOP does everything it can to widen the wealth gap between haves and have-nots during a long-term recession.

      If I have a bias in favor of any class, it’s the middle class. And right now, the American middle class is withering.

      • September 8, 2012 12:44 am

        Yes, cherry picking – all the good republicans were before we were born.

        Lets see – I was two when Eisenhower left office. Prior Republicans if anything more strongly resemble the current crop – or maybe Ron Paul.

        You want to use Nixon as an example of a moderate Republican.
        Fine but economically he strongly resembled current democrats and failed abysmally. Watergate is so huge no one remembers anything else about Nixon – or if they do it is foreign policy which he was actually good at. But still domestically he is the worst president from Truman through Bush.

        If you did not like Reagan as a President – then please resign your “Moderate” affiliation immediately.

        Whatever you wish to say “Trickle-down” and Voodoo” worked and probably 90% of americans today would be happy to return to the growth of the Reagan years. Reagan is still ranked 11 points above Clinton the next most popular of modern presidents. Bush the Elder infamously went from the highest approval rating of any president in history to a single term president in two years – probably his excellent grasp of economics.

        You are still making these bizzare claims about how wealth works.

        First Bush I was complete wrong. It is not “trickle down” it is trickle up.
        The “rich” get to keep on average less than 10% of the wealth that they are responsible for creating.

        As to the collapse of 2008. That is what bubbles do – they collapse.
        The relevant question is how did the bubble come about ?
        Are you actually going to argue that there was not a housing bubble ?
        If not are you really going to try to claim it was created by Wall Street greed ?

        It is people willing to take risks – and often fail that are the engine of the economy – whether they are rich, poor, or middle class.
        Further what is particularly unique about this country is that we do not have “stable” classes – the norm is for each of use to move up two quintiles during our adulthood. But being able to move up – automatically means there is a risk of moving down. I would say you can eliminate that risk at the cost of stagnation – but as we are seeing now – stagnation is death. The biological and economic imperatives are grow or die. There is no stable secure. If you want that – go back to the first 150,000 years of human existance – stable secure poverty.

        No i do not think you willfully shred republicans for what they get right.
        I think you are two ideologically blind to grasp what they actually get right – and that is a big part of why I do not think you are moderate.
        Whatever moderate is it certainly is not “blinded by ideology”

        I was barely in grade school when I grasped that constantly increasing taxes was unsustainable. That there had to be some limit. Very few posting here grasp what should have been obvious before middle school.
        We can argue about what rates should be, but unless you are willing to accept that there must be a limit, and then grasp that you can not even sanely discuss raising taxes without committing to your own limit.
        And if taxes are limited so is spending.

    • September 6, 2012 7:40 pm

      Well, we’ve broken our house record for number of comments on a single post. The old record was 286 for “Occupy Wall Street: Not for Lefties Only.” Future historians will have their hands full sifting through all this online commentary, and we’re just a grain of sand on the beach. I already feel their pain.

  54. pearows permalink
    September 6, 2012 9:38 pm

    Lordy, this thread is getting too long. I can’t find your free dinner contest, Ian, but I’m guessing that it has something to do with me showing “evidence” about something. In a near 300 comment thread (Wow, Rick!), especially one that has seemed beset with some threading malfunctions, it’s just too confusing.

    Anyway, I really don’t want to get into a discussion about who is more liberal, moderate, conservative, racist, trollish, etc. among this commentariat. Although we have digressed here and there, I have considered this primarily a thread about the conventions and political parties and speeches, and I am, for the most part enjoying discussing that and so I’m going to stick with it. We can always get back to labeling each other and everyone else in the comments after Rick’s next post.

    Watching the 2 conventions – and I have watched them both pretty equally – I really have been struck by the raw emotion of the Democrats as opposed to the Republicans, and their openess about the fact that emotion can and should carry the day. Politicians have to “care” about us- each and every one of us – deeply and emotionally, and they have to “connect” with us, by proving that they feel our pain and suffering. I saw tears streaming down the faces of delegates listening to Michele Obama talk about her marriage. And the absolute idolatry in the crowd’s reaction to Clinton was obvious.

    The GOP convention, by contrast, was very high energy and entusiastic, but lacked that true believer intensity that I’ve seen from the Dems.

    And that intensity creeps me out, frankly. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a cold, unfeeling person – far from it….but, the idea of believing that a politician needs to empathize with my personal circustances and feel my pain on a visceral level seems to me bizarre. Think back to the beginning of the Democratic primaries in 2008…who was the most feeling and “empathetic” candidate (hint: not Obama or Hillary). It was John Edwards…. who spoke eloquently about ” Two Americas” and how he would extend his hand to the poor and the suffering…..all the while, enriching himself with campaign cash, cheating on his dying wife, fathering a child with his mistress and hiding it from the willfully blind press (thank godness for the tabloids, or we may have never known) and building a staggeringly big and luxurious mansion.

    We don’t know these politicians. They show us the face that we want them to see. But we can judge them by more prosaic standards. For example, the fact that Barack and Michelle Obama have become ever richer as his career has advanced, and they have lived an almost royal lifestyle on the taxpayer dime bothers me. Is that why he would like us to believe that he “cares” more than Mitt Romey and deserves re-election after a first term that by all accounts, even his own has been no better than “incomplete” and in the opinion of many a failure? He likes to portray the Romneys as “out of touch,” but , if you look at it another way, Romney will not be able to live a richer and more luxurious lifestyle as POTUS than he would be able to live as a private citizen. Does that make him out of touch, or does that make him focused on doing the job without regard to personal power or financial gain? I don’t know, but it’s exactly what Democrats said about the Kennedy’s back in the day – “better to elect a rich man who is not looking to make his fortune in politics.”

    Anyway, this is long….but when Elizabeth Warren says that “the system is rigged,” after she flat-out lied about being a Native American in order to take advantage of affirmative action, and has lied about it ever since…well, I just can’t get all welled-up when she rhapsodizes about how much she and other politicians want to un-rig it.

    So, there you have it. I don’t think that Democrats care about me or you any more than Republicans do. They just need to appeal to a different base. Right now, I think the GOP is more likely to get us on track economically, and Romney/Ryan has greater understanding of how to do that and superior leadership qualities. Simple as that.

    • pearows permalink
      September 6, 2012 9:44 pm

      Oops. “They show us the face that we want them to see” obviously should have been that “they want us to see.” Long day.

    • September 6, 2012 9:47 pm

      At the end of the day, the Dems want to feel better about themselves and to do it with OPM.. The GOP is a BIT more concerned about the fate of the country, IMO.

      That is sufficient for me. That, and having the Obamas banished to Hawaii.

      • September 8, 2012 7:35 pm

        I would prefer to see the president put the largess he has aquired at the public trough into – say the stratford inn in Connecticut – as George McGovern did.

        I would like to see President Obama get some real world experience in “Building it”

    • September 8, 2012 7:48 pm

      I could care less whether a politician “feels my pain”. I am more concerned about what they do. More evil has been done in the name of purportedly righteous causes. I expect that sometime in the future we will look back on the progressive era much as we do the crusades. How could people honestly believe they could make the world better – make things better for those least well off, when they started by stealing ?

      Ian and I share a disdain for religion – I have a deep faith, but I believe we are supposed to be on our own. I have faith that given the opportunity the overwhelming majority of us will get things mostly right most of the time. But i have no interest in arguments that require faith that flies in the face of facts. The world is not flat, the earth is not the center of the universe, You can not make us all more wealthy buy moving wealth around, good ends rarely come from bad means, you can not spend more than you produce indefinitely. Man good or evil is not the center of the universe either.

      Where Ian and I part company, is that from what I see he has traded one religion for another. There is no difference between progressives and crusaders or even terrorists, anyone seeking to impose their will on all by force is evil and wrong.

  55. Pat Riot permalink
    September 6, 2012 10:15 pm

    Thanks for the welcome back Priscilla, Ian, Rick, and Dave. Congrats Rick–this thread will break 300 comments shortly, or it already did while I keep getting interrupted writing this. Anyway, if you build it…

    I re-read my post from the other night and it seemed pompous and preachy. I guess I was a little rusty and tired (and maybe a little pompous and preachy!) I’m glad I’m not under intense public scrutiny like Romney and Obama. I don’t care much for either personality or either party, but what fine lines the candidate try to walk in the intense limelight! I’m glad some of my less-than-impressive moments in life haven’t gone viral on youtube or made headlines in newspapers.

  56. Anonymous permalink
    September 6, 2012 10:29 pm

    I believe the Romney-Obama debates are scheduled for October 3rd and October 16th, and Vice-Presidential debate for October 11. I hope there won’t be too many awkward attacks. I hope these upcoming debates are something we can be slightly proud of.

    This might be post #300. Rick, do I get a prize?

    • September 7, 2012 12:02 am

      I’m assuming this is you, Pat. Yep, you snagged the 300th post, but I’m afraid the prize will have to go to “Anonymous.” 😉

      Anyway, we’ve blown away the old record for number of comments on one of my columns, though I’m not entirely convinced that this is a good thing. (All that earnest verbiage that none of us will be reading five days from now!)

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 7, 2012 7:46 pm

        Darn! If only I would have logged on when I made comment #300…then the TNM T-shirt would go to me instead of “anonymous”! Just thought of a joke: Did you hear about the TNM T-shirts? They only come in Medium. haha. Oy, I’m helping to perpetuate the stereotype. Really they come in XXL and micro sizes, depending on tne situation….

    • September 8, 2012 7:31 pm

      I hope that both candidates argue their vision and attempt to expose the fallacies of the other. I hope they attack each other – so long as the attacks are about real differences.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 8, 2012 10:21 pm

        I welcome real debate between the candidates. For example, a “liberal” or dem or progressive might say why they think “trickle-down” doesn’t really happen, and then the conservative or repub or libertarian might say how unobstructed free enterprise helps all of the boats in the bay to rise, and both sides can give examples and do their best to explain their ideology and ideas. But when they start saying “you said this” and “you said that” and “no I didn’t” and “yes, you did,” then it’s like a schoolyard argument that I think is embarrassing for the country, especially since they are usually taking their opponent’s words out of context and because these politicians are so often changing their tune and backpeddling.

        Asmith I believe that because the bickering & fighting was more virulent / dangerous in colonial times (including duels with pistols) that you think that such bickering is a good thing because change is supposed to be a long, arduous process, yada, yada, et cetera. I also believe you have the notion that “things are pretty much how they used to be and will continue to be that way because that is how human nature is…

        To the contrary, just because something used to be, and it led to some positive outcomes (like the formation of the USA), doesn’t mean it’s good now or what we need now. It’s time for a more mature discussion. I cherish the Founding Fathers and still read their writings, but they also had their own generational ignorance back then (and I’m not just talking about slavery– they had some hideous body odor (ha!) and entertained other backward notions.

        Nothing wrong with some strong arguments, but I long for the candidates to give us specifics about what we should do and why it will work.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 8, 2012 10:27 pm

        So, Dave, I agree with what you said above: you said:
        I hope that both candidates argue their vision and attempt to expose the fallacies of the other. I hope they attack each other – so long as the attacks are about real differences.

        Yes, I can agree with that!

  57. Pat Riot permalink
    September 6, 2012 11:03 pm

    Watching & listening to Obama in a hotel lobby in Plymouth Meeting, PA. 10:55 p.m. EST. The man can hit a speaking rhythm. I wonder how many times he practiced the speech. He’s smooth. You gotta give him that. Lots of pandering, definitely, but also quite a number of moderate statements. It’s the words and well-worded sentences that grab me. Many of the words are inspirational. I want to believe. I wish I could believe Obama. I wish I could believe Romney. I still don’t know who is the lesser of evils.

    • pearows permalink
      September 6, 2012 11:22 pm

      Pat, It really is a choice election in some ways. On one hand you have the Social Democrat, and on the other hand, the Reagan Republican. I do understand that there are those who prefer the redistributionist route, and believe that that is the American Way. I don’t agree.

      But if I did agree, I would worry about Obama. He was too green when he took office, and he’s too confused and defensive now. I’m with Eastwood. We need to let him go.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 7, 2012 12:02 am

        Pearows, I do worry about Obama, but I worry about Romney too. No matter how smooth a speaker Obama is, I remember how the White House and other Feds have acted in the last few years, such as how they treated the State of Arizona. That was alarming and revealing to me. Even if the White House had a different stance than Governor Brewer or AZ border officials, the differences could have been handled with more respect. I know sometimes situations can escalate, but then there were no conciliatory statements afterward. Sorry so much here suddenly about the Feds vs. Arizona, but that is just one example why I have to remember that rousing political speeches are just rousing political speeches.

      • September 7, 2012 7:56 am


      • AMAC permalink
        September 8, 2012 1:11 am

        Once again, I do plan to vote Republican this election. However, I don’t see it as a choice of redistribution or fiscal responsibility. That is silly. If what Obama has spoken of is redistribution, then it already exists now and will with Romney. It is not as if he is going to freeze accounts and seize funds! I am taking a hedonist approach as I did with the Bush 2 re-election. Things either were stagnant or worse, depending of perception, so a change is needed. I also think Romney could shift the Republicans away from the right, which is needed. Speaking of Reagan though, take a look at the 1980 Republican platform vs the 2012 Republican Platform. It is scary. The platform does not guide legeslative efforts, but I think it is a good barometer of the status of the party. I want medicade and SS to be there when I get of age, and I worry the Dems will keep the don’t touch it attitude to placate to the base. I also think that Romney could guide the Republican controlled house to a more reasonable nature, not that it is Obama’s fault, but a reality. So many hate him so much, it is hard for him to get much done. I don’t think he had a fair shake, but I think we need to make a change. Hopefully he has blazed a trail to make way for a more diverse represenative government in the future. That would be a good enough legacy for any president. Diversity in perspective, most importantly.

      • September 8, 2012 9:58 am

        Obama might have done “more” had he actually tried. The last two years he has been AWOL in my opinion. In one sense, that might be a good thing. All they guy ever proposes is to raise taxes and expand goverment “investment.”

      • pearows permalink
        September 8, 2012 9:08 am

        Well, AMAC, I don’t know if I think it is “silly”to call Obama a redistributionist, since he has essentially called himself one, and his pretty constant reiteration of wanting to tax the rich to help the poor – which, if that is not redistributionist, I don’t know what is – is his signature position.

        On the other hand, if you define redistribution as seizing accounts, then, no, he has not gone there.

        And he has, as Pat points out, pitted the federal government against states in some aggressive and remarkable ways. The lawsuits against SC are even more shocking than Arizona in some ways, since one of them involves right to work laws, which one would think the government should support.

        I don’t get very exercised about party platforms, since they generally remain the same and are generally ignored by the actual candidates.

        Anyway, we agree about Medicare and SS. And, as far as bipartisan reform is concerned, I agree that it’s unlikely under Obama. I do see it happening under Romney, although (and I am sure that Dave will call me out on this) it may not be the small government reform that conservatives and libertarians want, so they will see gridlock as the better option. I read excerpts of the new Bob Woodward book, which details how far John Boehner went to defy Eric Cantor and the tea party wing of the GOP in order to get a debt deal, only to be double-crossed and reneged on by the President. No way to get things done.

      • AMAC permalink
        September 8, 2012 2:15 pm


        Do you not think that we currently, and have for many decades, used tax dollars from the rich to help the poor? Did we call Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon,Clinton, etc. redistributionists? Right to work laws are fine with me, I just think that right now they are being timed to strike the death blow to unions. I am not a supporter of all unions, but many have had very succesful relationships with many companies, and workers. I would point to the Teamster and UPS relationship as an example. UPS has become the leader in its market, the employees are the best paid, and both sides give at the negotiation table when necessary (i.e. recent pension changes via latest contract, early negotiation at companies request which was over a year ahead of scheduled talks, etc.) I don’t want to see unions disapear, but many do need to re-evaluate their positions and goals. Companies and Unions can be overly inflexible to the detriment of the company and its employees.

        Also, I do agree that the platform is not an engine for policy, I stated that it is a barometer for where the party is.

      • Priscilla permalink
        September 8, 2012 3:55 pm

        AMAC, Yes we do use tax money for social safety net programs. But what bothers me about the current rhetoric is the targeting of specific income groups as not “paying their fair share,” and the increasing pressure to raise tax rates on the so-called “rich” without reforming the tax code. And that rhetoric has come from Democrats ,primarily.

        And I agree that,to a degree, unions have been demonized recently. I do believe that there is a place for unions- an important place- in our economy, but I don’t think that , as in the case of Boeing and SC, a union or government agency should be able to dictate where a corporation builds a factory…..especially when no union jobs are at stake. And that is what I found disturbing about the SC suit.

      • September 8, 2012 5:46 pm

        That suit was window dressing. Obama knew it would make him look good to the unions while knowing he would lose. Didn’t cost him a penny, personally.

      • September 8, 2012 7:16 pm

        I do not think Romney is a Reagan Republican – if he was I would have little problem voting for him.
        Romney currently speaks like a Reagan republican because that is what he needs to do to get elected. He speaks fairly eloquently. But i think he will government as Obama-Lite – which should actually make most here at TNM ecstatic, but is far less than I think we need to resolve our problems.

      • pearows permalink
        September 9, 2012 12:12 am

        I don’t know, Dave. I hear your argument from every libertarian and “true” conservative – True-Cons, I call them. Everyone is a RINO, everyone is Obama-Lite. Bi-partisanship is disdained, because it means that government will remain too big. So, in “standing on principle,” you eliminate any possiblity of your ideas filtering into the mainstream, as the left creates greater and greater dependency and the tipping point is reached. And you lose. I think that your belief in some sort of national “light bulb” moment after 4 more years of profligate spending and borrowing is, frankly, a fantasy.

        Perhaps a GOP Congress will slow things down, but not much. These days you need at least 2 branches of the government to get anything done. Witness 2009-2010.

      • AMAC permalink
        September 9, 2012 11:54 am


        Yes the rhetoric has been proliferating the idea of class warfare. And the opposition’s rhetoric has been the redistributionist or socialist labels. I am not trying to attack or trying to support Obama and all of his comments. He has made plenty of mistakes. I just think the political rhetoric has taken the place of facts in the political discussion and it doesn’t seem to bother all that many people. I know I can’t have an effect on the congressional elections of states other than mine, but in my opinion, Romney should win the white house, Democrats the house, and Republicans a slight majority in the Senate. I think that they have, for the most part, all stood by and allowed political gaming to take precident over necessity. I think that they have all stood by arguing over who lit the match and forgot to help put out the fire. Some have more responsibility than others, and some have actually tried to help. I am not a lunatic saying 100% turnover, but I do think the shifts I have stated are justified.

        As some have stated in this thread, it is easy for me (as an independent) to hurle criticism at both parties. However, I would argue both parties have made it easy for me to do this. I am insulted when a politician uses a national stage to call names, use unjustified lables, ingnore facts, and deflect criticism. I would like to hear plans, facts, strategy, etc. Unfortunately, it is easier to call someone a socialist or an elitist than it is to bring up specifics. Also, we are to blame as Americans. We have made it easy to shovel BS onto the public. As a whole, you could argue that BS is what we want and want we tune into. When I hear those around me discuss politics, I hear the same rhetoric that was disseminated from the tv.

    • September 7, 2012 7:55 am

      Actions speak louder than words. The easiest thing for a pol to do it talk.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 7, 2012 7:39 pm

        Yep. Actions do speak louder, especially when there’s a pattern to the actions.

  58. September 8, 2012 7:27 pm


    Unions are an appropriate free market response when employers fail to adequately consider employees. They tend to wax and wane commensurate with the behavior of employers.

    The only issue I have is the role of government, not that of unions. So long as government stays out of labor relations – other than enforcing contracts, and supressing violence, I have no problems.

    Public employee unions are an entirely different matter. There is a greater conflict between politicians who employ the people who contribute to them politicaly than between politicians who regulate businesses that contribute to them.

    I am not going to take anyone to task for seeing something different in their crystal ball that I do. Romney could step into Reagan’s shoes, Obama could find his inner Clinton in his second term. Democrats and Republicans could resolve the issues with social security and medicare. I think all these are unlikely, but I have no special tools for divining the future. If I am going to rant it is going to be about the failure to see the world as it is, or to expect a different outcome from the same choices.

    • pearows permalink
      September 9, 2012 12:18 am

      Of course, you are correct about public employee unions. But, politically, they have joined forces with the private unions…..

      And the NLRB exists for the purpose of inserting the government into labor relations.

      • September 9, 2012 4:29 pm

        Eliminate the NLRB, eliminate public unions, eliminate any laws pro or con regarding unions, and prosecute violent acts regardless of who engages in them.

        Labor unions will wax and wane proportionate to employers treatment of employees.

        Presuming people are free to join and leave unions as they wish, then unions have exactly the same political rights as corporations – where stockholders are free to buy and sell their ownership of companies.

        To the extent my assumptions above are false that is not because unions are evil – any more than corporations are, but that to repeat my constant meme – whatever power you grant government someone will find a way of buying.

        It is irrelevant what special interest has manipulated which politician.

        One of the other fallisies in the TNM rant against money in politics is the presumption that there actually is such a thing as a clear public interest rather than the wishes of some special interest. We are not government by majority rule – not just because of the tyranny of the majority but also because on most issues there is not really a broad public concesensus.

        PPACA is the perfect example. A majority of people wanted reform. But there was no majority behind any specific reform – not that popularity is a good justification for bad ideas.

  59. Pat Riot permalink
    September 9, 2012 9:37 pm

    Labor unions were strong in the U.S. after WWII in large part because the U.S. infrastructure was intact–in stark contrast to Japan and industrialized nations in Europe which had been bombed to smithereens. The U.S. factory owners needed workers and so organized workers had leverage. It hurt U.S. companies when strong labor unions conducted walk-outs and set up picket lines and kept machinery turned off during negotiations for better health coverage and better wages.

    By the 1970s U.S. companies were figuring out they could go elsewhere for less regulation and less demanding workers and more profits. This was a KE Y WATERSHED “MOMENT” in U.S. history in which corporate profits were allowed to be more important than the State of the Union / future of America. Big Money bought off politicians who allowed companies/profits to become more important than the economic health of our nation. Most of the populace was asleep and/or distracted. I am generalizing and oversimplifying here of course. For example I understand that corruption had become a part of powerful labor unions.

    Unions don’t wax and wane naturally in markets. Big Money persuaded politicians to enact laws that gradually made unions less and less powerful and gradually more irrelevant.

    People who think union workers make too much are perhaps making too little themselves. I’m not part of a union. I’m self-employed. I’m looking at things here as objectively as I can at the macro level where it DOES MATTER who gets bought out and what the laws of the land are. Global markets do not protect the sovereignty or health of a nation–the people and its leaders are supposed to. The people and its leaders have let many things slip.

    Romney and Ryan are the big biz candidates who will continue to weaken unions and lessen the value of American workers. If elected, most jobs they create will be “shit jobs” to use the technical term. Obama and the Feds will continue to weaken us through high debt, weak borders, etc. etc. These were the only choices we were permitted to have.

    • pearows permalink
      September 9, 2012 11:44 pm

      I’m intrigued by what you say, Pat, but it’s confusing. There is no doubt that any growth in the current job market, such as it is, is pretty much dominated by shit jobs. Are you saying essentially that there is no scenario that will produce a growth in good jobs? And, I hear what you’re saying about union wages, but don’t you think that global competition has had at least as much a role in this as politicians? (these are genuine, not rhetorical questions, btw).
      You’re bummin’ me out, man 😉

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 10, 2012 7:53 am

        Pearows, I can envision many scenarios that will produce a growth in good jobs, but not by placing hope in the current Republican or Democratic parties.

        I see our hope for growth being what we as a people can manage to do in spite of our hijacked government and those who are working against “we the people” and not for us. It’s a formula of innovation & cooperation that includes such things as accelerated education and clever circumventing of blockages our inept government is putting in our way, and much more.

        These are my quick responses to you before I dive into Dave’s responses. One thing that may not come across on this blog with my occassional bickering with Dave is that I usually agree with much of what he has to say. It’s the “absoluteness” or extent of a few of his core ideas that I don’t agree with.

        Regarding global competition, America was led into global competition in many wrong ways by “Bernie Madoff types” who saw mega opportunities for personal gain and not for the health of we the people. We could produce much of what we need for ourselves with quality working conditions and wages while still maintaining global trade and an immensely more respected place in the world. We could be doing so much better.It’s right out there in front of us like electrons already were in the cave man days. Now to read Dave…

      • September 10, 2012 8:02 am

        There no “good jobs” or “shit jobs” just jobs. One MIGHT take a look at the regulatory climate in the US to see how the cost of employing a worker might be reduced from the employer’s standpoint. In fact, that process could take a lifetime and won’t happen because lawyers and lawmakers are incented to keep these laws firmly in place. In fact, we can expect more, as this formula is never questioned.

        In the meantime, we will hear speeches from lawyers and lawmakers on how they will create jobs in the FUTURE!

    • September 10, 2012 12:27 am


      I lived through much of the period from the peak of labor union poower in the US through its decline. I am hard pressed to recall a single instance during that time when government stepped in and disempowered unions – even today at both the state and federal levels there are numerous laws heavily tipping the balance in favor of unions – even private unions – yet unions still declined.

      I have no personal animus towards labor unions. But the evidence i see suggests they are responsible for their own decline.

      I would also note that unions have a very complex relationship with the Democratic party.
      While they are a major source of funding and foot soldiers, they are at odds with much of progressive ideology. From their inception through to the 60’s labor unions were notoriously racist. Unions have made no secret that their objective is the benefit of their own members not society or the country. Unions are as protectionist as big business, probably the single most significant anti-immigrant force in the country. They actively seek government sponsored monopolies not just for their won workers but for the businesses they are part of.

      Unions are big proponents of minimum wage laws – specifically because they decrease non-union employment.

      Much of what I describe above I have no problem with – it is a natural part of free markets.

      I do seek a powerful government that chooses business – or anyone else’s interests over unions. I seek to reduce the power of government so that there is little for anyone to buy.

      The argument about earning too much or too little is nonsense.
      If you believe you are underpaid – and that seriously matters to you, you are free to do something about it – including form or join a union. But if you overprice yourself – you are likely out of work – whether in a union or not.

      If you are self employed you should understand this. Certainly there are natural pressures on employees that make them reluctant to demand higher wages – but exactly the same pressures bear on business – bit and little. Better to make 10% and hold onto your market than 20% in a market where you are shark bait.

      If you are self employed you have had to persuade others to hire you. When you have more work than you can handle do your prices go up ? When your mortgage looms and there is no work do your prices come down ? Why should labor or other business be different ?

      One of the things missing in the “who built that” debate is risk.
      It is not just hard work that drives the economy but skilled risk taking.
      If you can trade some ephemeral perception of security for a smaller share of the pie, but you do not get ahead without taking risks – and often failing and suffering the consequences.

      We are not in a drawn out recession because we have lost our ability to produce, or to work hard, or because there is a shortage of ideas or credit.
      We are in a protracted recession because we have diminished the incentives to take risks. Even if things stay exactly as they are eventually we will overcome that. Someone will figure out how to beat the new rules. Further risk takers will not stay on the sidelines forever – it is in their nature. But so long as the burden of government is overly large risk taking and therefore growth will remain small – and we will all suffer.

      Those who are ranting that too much risk blew up the system – should look arround this is what too little risk looks like.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        September 10, 2012 8:26 am

        I agree strongly that U.S. labor unions contributed greatly to their own demise. Unions got a taste of power so to speak and they abused it terribly: protecting workers who didn’t deserve to be protected, being myopic and not foreseeing future market pressures that the owners would be dealing with, mismanagement,..the list of mistakes by unions goes on. The unions helped drive the owners to go elsewhere. I see this as one of the predominent factors in our recession as I’ve said before: the “monopoly men” (big business) learned how to not need the American workers. They are in China, Dubai, and all over the world taking advantage of easier laws and desperate people. That would be one thing if big business owners moved to other countries and became part of those countries. It’s a different thing, and the crime of the century, when they utilize our tax dollars, our government, our military** to do it, while our own infrastructure at home is using duct tape and prayers to hold itself together. Where are our sleek bullet trains? Where are our new state-of-the-art production facilities? A few here and there but mostly we’re retro-fitting old brick buildings if they haven’t been turned into dance clubs, God help us! A big part of the answer is for the American People to not need those big business owners and not need their government so much. The American People have to learn to not wait around and be dependent…**One of the things that gives leverage to U.S. bargaining around the world is the world’s largest and most advanced military. OK this was a bit of a rant but no time to edit–gotta git to work!

    • September 10, 2012 12:39 am

      Off course recovery will involve growth in shit jobs. Most of the recession has been a loss of “shit jobs”. The unemployment rate is vastly lower as you climb the skills ladder. Many technical professions have growing demand with no available prospects.

      The primary way low or no skill labor or those who have never held a job, get anyway is by starting with the “shit jobs” The reason that unemployment among poor uneducated young black males has always been high is that they can not productively do anything but the “shit jobs” and by setting the minimum wage sufficiently high you disqualify them from even those.

      But in a real recovery as production increases even the pay for shit jobs must increase. You can not produce more without more labor, and as you reduce unemployment you shift the balance of power regarding wages from employers to employees.

      During the 1920 recession wages dropped – probably by as much as 30%, but within 18months they were back above where they started and rising rapidly. Sticky wages are actually a cause of protracted recessions.

      • September 10, 2012 8:06 am

        I think I will disagree on the statement about needing more labor. In fact, as the price of workers has been pushed up by regulation and other means, employers have substituted technology for human beings. This makes sense, as the technology has simply become a MUCH more attractive way to produce.

        Recently, I watched a doc about Jaguar’s new plants in the UK. Robots make 90% of the car. According to Jaguar, the bots are much more reliable,, never go on strike, and make a much better car (fewer errors, closer tolerances).


  60. September 10, 2012 9:16 am


    I am not trying to argue that Romney is a RHINO. I am honestly surprised that TNM has not gotten behind Romney, because he is a true moderate. I do not think that is somehow inherently evil, just that it is not what we need.

    While he has taken conservative positions on social issues – he could not win the Republican nomination otherwise, and sufficient numbers of social conservatives will sit out the election that he can not back away from those. But given his past pro-choice, pro gay record, I highly doubt these views will have significance past november.

    Further the debate in this election is economic. Whoever wins will have a mandate on an approach to our economic problems – no more. Romney is fairly good at articulating the limited government free market position, but he record reflects a belief that problems are solved by decisive public leadership and action, and this is where I part company.

    This is my view – it is my own conclusions, based on the reasons I have expressed. I have little interaction with “true” conservatives, so I have no idea what they claim. To the extent that others influence me those influences are primarily liberal or libertarian. Even when conservatives get an issue right, they are unlikely to grasp the underlying principles, as such they are at best a source of data, but not ideas.

  61. September 10, 2012 9:59 am

    Of course people who expected obvious rewards drove us towards more open markets.

    Of course we could produce everything we buy elsewhere here, probably with better quality and better working conditions.

    Many of the protectionist arguments are true.

    But that does not make them compelling.

    Protectionism is a trivial target for reductio ad absurdem – why stop at national boarders, why not make everything we need within our state, community, or even home ?

    Absent a credible argument that something important changes as the argument devolves to forging steel in your back yard, we have to accept that there must be good and legitimate reasons and benefits for what Adam Smith called “The division of labor”

    It is irrelevant whether you as an individual or we as a nation can produce something better or even cheaper locally. What matters is what is the best use of our time and resources. I can do a better job mowing the grass than my children. Does that mean I should mow the grass ?

    Even now unemployment in this country declines rapidly with increasing skill level.
    We have a substantial and growing shortage of Doctors, Engineers, and most every skill actually associated with production.

    We have a small surplus of unskilled labor at the bottom. Much of which is not at the moment capable of competing with similar low skilled foreign labor. That is a solvable problem but government and protectionist attitudes active interfere.

    And that is only one side of the issue.

    On the other Take WalMart alone. Here is a store full of goods of a quality that was only available to the wealthy just a few decades ago. Yet Walmart shoppers are clearly not wealthy. To a large extent they are the class that would have had the jobs producing plastic cups, flat screens, bath towels etc. Yet obviously they are better off. They have income somehow – or they would not be buying things at Walmart, and they are able to buy far more than they could several decades ago

    I have made the argument before that the standard of living for the supposedly stagnant poor has increased dramatically over the past several decades – well they bought all that wealth they could not afford primarily is stores like walmart. And they bought all that wealth primarily with money earned either in necescary jobs that can not be exported, or in jobs where their skills could be used more productively.

    The critical flaw in protectionist arguments is the failure to grasp that absent government interference, whatever labor exists within a developed nation will be used and mostly in the most productive means it is capable of. The US produces more of the worlds goods and services than it ever has before – even in the heyday of american blue collar labor.

    Some of the proponents of free trade may have made great wealth from that advocacy – but so has the nation.

    Or GDP/PPP per capita (and therefore our standard of living) dwarfs most every other developed nation in the world. We are exceeed in GDP/PPP per capita, and standard of living only by small nations that are oil or finance silos.

    Further our trading partners benefit greatly from this. If you want working conditions in china or india or … to improve – keep buying their goods.

    The arguments against free trade are the most glaring example of Bastiats fallacy of the seen and unseen.

    Many actions in free markets have obvious winners and losers that we can see clearly. But all economic activities have both obvious and less obvious consequences. Typically the less obvious consequences dwarf the obvious ones.

    We see the unemployed broom makers whose jobs have moved to Mexico, but we miss the emergence of new better paid jobs, or the shift of skilled jobs from elsewhere to here. And we ignore the fact that being able to buy a broom, or plastic cup, or bedsheets, or …. at a small fraction of what we paid a decade ago, means that we are ALL better off, both rich and poor, and that we have greater ability to purchase the more expensive goods that can only be produced here.

    If in the distant future the US directly produced no goods, if the entire nation was employed conceiving and designing the products of the future – all to be produced elsewhere, we would be far more affluent than we are today.
    That is what reductio ad absurdem leads to run the other direction. That is not going to happen – but clearly there is nothing wrong with moving in that direction

    • Pat Riot permalink
      September 10, 2012 8:31 pm

      Well, at least you are recognizing my protectionist tendencies and didn’t refer to them as isolationism. But then your tendency is to go to the extreme of the concept: you said “why stop at national boarders, why not make everything we need within our state, community, or even home ?” Well that would be too extreme. I am a moderate protectionist. Unrestricted free trade hasn’t been working out for most American workers. A fully stocked wallmart I(i.e. lots of cheap goods availabe in whatever big box stores) does not equate to a high standard of living.

      • September 10, 2012 9:46 pm

        Actually, your last statement is, on its face, not provable, either way. Wal Mart low prices are simply that. Whether that does or does not raise or lower standards of living could go either way. If you need the low prices, you might feel differently than if you don’t.

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