Republicans & Democrats on Victory and Defeat

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robert gibbs.jpgI write this as a political independent who finds strengths and weaknesses in both of America’s major leading parties, but just as I observed during the battle against John Bolton’s Senate confirmation vote to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Democrats often declare defeat when they are ahead, and Republicans declare victory even when they are badly losing.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated what is obvious and increasingly probable: the Dems could lose the House in November. Charlie Cook called it first — but Gibbs is not really supposed to be a truth-teller. He’s got a team whose interests he needs to advance — and acknowledging defeat too early becomes self-fulfilling.
President Barack Obama won an overwhelming mandate in my view — the largest Democratic Party win since LBJ. But through his Presidency, Obama has operated as if he had the slimmest of margins.
Rather than getting kudos for trying to work across the aisle, the Republican opposition smelled weakness, indecision, and inchoateness among key players in the White House and overcame the GOP’s own internal divisions to become monolithically opposed to assisting the White House succeed on nearly any front.
Contrast this with George W. Bush who did win by the slimmest of slim margins in 2000 — and even that is still hotly debated — but yet still performed as if he had won 70% of the vote. Dems, who had a healthy presence in the Congress, crumbled.
Nancy Pelosi has a point. Perception matters — and recent history shows that in some cases, the assertion of strength (at home in America) gets you some yardage. Conceding early probably invites defeat.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

120 comments on “Republicans & Democrats on Victory and Defeat

  1. Don Bacon says:

    from the late, great Molly Ivins:
    “Anyway, it was

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  2. nadine says:

    questions, for $10 billion we could build a damn wall so they would all stop coming and risking death in the desert.

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  3. questions says:

    http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/071510_desertdeaths
    A piece on the deaths of Mexicans in the desert. I saw a fuller write up about this, but cannot find it.
    “Illegal immigrants are dying at a record rate in Arizona’s desert during July, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
    38 bodies of border crossers have been handled by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office since July 1, said Dr. Bruce Parks, chief medical examiner. That total is on pace to beat the single month record of 68 deaths, set in July 2005.
    From the Star:

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  4. questions says:

    Oh, and assaults on academic freedom neither of which has been screeded about here —
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/7/15/884729/-In-Virginia,-the-Assault-on-Academic-Freedom-Continues
    UVA
    This one is climate science related and then there’s another:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/7/16/884856/-Spotlight-Shines-on-Universitys-Assault-on-Academic-Freedom
    U of Alabama/Birmingham
    This one is a b-schooler trying to dump the labor history scholar, so I guess it doesn’t count as outrageous……

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  5. questions says:

    Useful stats and morning random stuff….
    “But the Top 5 percent in income earners

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  6. nadine says:

    I have no fealty to any UN agency. The place is a cesspit. But when even the UN can’t deny something it wants to deny, you know it’s obvious. It’s called an “admission against interest.”
    Of course the UN never wants to deny any charge against Israel, it wants to make them up all day long, no evidence needed.

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    The US finally, finally got Dr. ElBaradei out as chief of the IAEA, the guy who fought the US on Iraq, and now has a lap-dog as chief. His name escapes me, as it should. He has been told to say that he has suspicions (not evidence) and so he has done so, as ordered. Suspicions are a dime a dozen at the bazaar.
    Your personal fealty toward UN agencies and their suspicions is of course selective, depending upon whether their positions are pro- or anti-Israel. Goldstone comes to mind.
    This fact makes your observations worthless. Let’s move on.

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  8. nadine says:

    Don, even the lapdog IAEA no longer denies the obvious, that Iran has a nuke program. You sound a damn fool. What is the logic here — they hate America, so they must be innocent good guys?
    “IAEA Chief: Iran’s Nuclear Program is ‘Special Case’
    07 June 2010
    The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is a “special case” for the agency’s monitoring teams because of suspicions the country is hiding experimental nuclear programs.
    Speaking at the opening of an agency conference Monday in Vienna, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Iranian officials have not provided the necessary cooperation for the IAEA to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities. ”
    http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/IAEA-Chief-Irans-Nuclear-Program-is-Special-Case-95766659.html
    Meanwhile, enjoy “the Obama recovery summer”

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  9. Don Bacon says:

    nadine, the IAEA has consistently verified that Iran is not diverting fuel to a weapons program, your fondness for UAE ambassadors notwithstanding.
    Meanwhile, BACK ON TOPIC, I was captivated by this news report of our president at work:
    He came, he saw, he spent
    By Henry Payne / The Michigan View
    In the latest stop on his

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  10. nadine says:

    Don, there is a mountain of evidence that Iran’s centrifuges are not whirling for peaceful reasons, and other pile of evidence UNDER the mountain — that is the secret military enrichment facilities at Qom. Plus the separate ICBM projects. The neighbors don’t doubt, and they really need to know. Did you hear the UAE ambassador, by any chance?
    What is it with today’s left, who jump to believe the absolute worst about America but will believe any fairy story about Iran, confusing weakness for virtue? Nobody even knows if this regime is rational, or whether the millenial Twelvers will have the last say.

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    It is nice to be in my head, I assure you, dealing with truth and not fantasies. You have no evidence, that’s clear. Let’s move on, shall we?

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  12. nadine says:

    “What Iranian nukes? Is there any evidence of any? Or are they a figment of wild imaginations?”
    Ah, Don, it must be nice to be in your head, along with Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny.
    “As far as starting conflicts, Iran has never done so, unlike some other countries.”
    Bwhahahaha! Ask Pahlavan about that, he seems to retain much longer memories of the glories of the Persian Empires past. Hint: they weren’t peaceful mergers and acquisitions.

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  13. Dan Kervick says:

    It has … put the country inexorably on the road to national health care
    That is a truly stupid remark. I always thought Krauthammer, though a hateful neocon pill, was smarter than that. He’s been listening too much to the televised chowder-heads with their addled conspiracy theories, and is now going soft in the brain.

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    What Iranian nukes? Is there any evidence of any? Or are they a figment of wild imaginations?
    As far as starting conflicts, Iran has never done so, unlike some other countries.

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  15. nadine says:

    “Have you ever been through “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”? A wonderful book I started but never finished….” (questions)
    Indeed, it’s a classic. Robert Schiller’s “Irrational Exuberance” and “Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation” by Edward Chancellor are also excellent. Those I read through and they were well worth it. Kept me from losing all my gains when the dot com bubble burst…

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  16. nadine says:

    Walter Russell Mead is correct that Iranian nukes will doom Obama’s neo-Wilson international order project. But then, I think reality in any form will doom it, it’s so naive.
    But I don’t agree that Obama will go to war against Iran unless his provocative displays of US weakness tempt Iran to start the conflict in some manner the US just can’t ignore: by closing the Straights of Hormuz, for example.
    Then Obama will have blundered us into war rather than chosen it, as weak and confused leaders often do. Remember, Obama’s neo-Wilsonian vision comes with a perfect faith in “diplomacy” and “soft power” and international community in themselves, and objects only to democracies that start wars, not the triumph of fascists.
    Joe Klein is an illogical hysteric and I don’t pay attention to him.

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  17. nadine says:

    “As far as I can tell, the Republicans do not have a credible Presidential candidate who might pose a real risk to Obama’s reelecton (with the possible exception of Romney). Palin, Huckabee and Gingrich actually have a significantly weaker chance of ever beating Obama than Dole had of beating Clinton.” (Wigwag)
    Much too early to say that. How would you have rated Obama’s chances of being elected in July 2006?
    Romney has Romneycare hanging around his neck like the proverbial albatross. He’s going to have to do a major mea culpa if he wants to get past it.
    Furthermore, you are not factoring in several GOP governors are likely to declare: Pawlenty, Barbour and Daniels. Maybe Jindal, who knows?
    I think the nation will be in the mood for a track record of competence in 2012. I don’t think Obama will wear well because he is a rigid ideologue, a one-trick pony whose policies are a disaster. Clinton pivoted; Obama can’t and won’t. I really Obama will cling to his delusions of grandeur and blame others. It’s the Republicans’ fault. It’s the voters’ fault. It’s Bush’s fault. Hey, Zbig Brzezinski brought up the old “malaise” word today! Well, he should know.

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  18. WigWag says:

    By the way, Nadine, I think that Krauthammer has a point; I believe that the Democrats will take it on the chin in November but that this will actually help Obama politically. The nation seems to have a hankering for divided government again.
    As far as I can tell, the Republicans do not have a credible Presidential candidate who might pose a real risk to Obama’s reelecton (with the possible exception of Romney). Palin, Huckabee and Gingrich actually have a significantly weaker chance of ever beating Obama than Dole had of beating Clinton.
    Given how weak Obama is likely to be, it’s really extraordinary that the Republicans can’t find themselves a decent candidate who has the chance to raise the $200 million that will be needed to mount a credible campaign in 2012 and doesn’t start off with huge negatives. Candidates who begin their quest for the Presidency with 40-50 percent of the public already committed to not to considering their candidacy just don’t have a reasonable chance to be elected; that’s the situation with three of the Republican front-runners for 2012.
    My prediction is this; the Democrats will lose control of one or both chambers in 2010 and Obama will be reelected in 2012. Within months of his reelection, Obama will commence a major bombing campaign against Iran.
    By the way, for those who may be interested, both Walther Russell Mead and Joel Klein also make a compelling argument that Obama is likely to get the United States into a war with Iran before he leaves office.
    Here are the links,
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2003921,00.html

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  19. questions says:

    Have you ever been through “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”? A wonderful book I started but never finished….
    Not so sure “this time is different” is as much the issue according to Cassidy at any rate. In fact, the data seem to show that if you use a contrarian strategy, you are more likely to lose your job. So there’s actual job pressure on investors to run with the crowd rather than against it.
    If you lose money as a contrarian, you’re sunk. If you lose money, but so did everyone else, neither you nor anyone else is fired.
    The push is to go along with the crowd then.

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  20. WigWag says:

    Thanks, Nadine. I read Krauthammer regularly and had already seen his column.

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  21. WigWag says:

    Thanks, Nadine. I read Krauthammer regularly and had already seen his column.

    Reply

  22. nadine says:

    Wigwag, you might be interested in this vote of appreciation of Obama from the enemy camp:
    “I have a warning for Republicans: Don’t underestimate Barack Obama.
    Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.
    Second, there is major financial reform, which passed Congress on Thursday. Economists argue whether it will prevent meltdowns and bailouts as promised. But there is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace. Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary (the Wall Street Journal), “storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus.”
    Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that’s not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating carbon emissions by Environmental Protection Agency fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.
    But Obama’s most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed.
    These are not mere temporary countercyclical measures. They are structural deficits because, as everyone from Obama on down admits, the real money is in entitlements, most specifically Medicare and Medicaid. But Obamacare freezes these out as a source of debt reduction. Obamacare’s $500 billion in Medicare cuts and $600 billion in tax increases are siphoned away for a new entitlement — and no longer available for deficit reduction.
    The result? There just isn’t enough to cut elsewhere to prevent national insolvency. That will require massive tax increases — most likely a European-style value-added tax. Just as President Ronald Reagan cut taxes to starve the federal government and prevent massive growth in spending, Obama’s wild spending — and quarantining health-care costs from providing possible relief — will necessitate huge tax increases.
    ad_icon
    The net effect of 18 months of Obamaism will be to undo much of Reaganism. Both presidencies were highly ideological, grandly ambitious and often underappreciated by their own side.”
    – Charles Krauthammer
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/15/AR2010071504593.html

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  23. nadine says:

    “Bubbles and crazes have really interesting sociological and psychological structures. It actually becomes rational to allow yourself to get caught up in them, and if you time it well you’re fine. It’s only the ones who didn’t time it well who ended up as suckers.”
    That’s true, questions. But one of the necessary conditions to set off a bubble is a believable “this time it is different” story.
    If you look at the big bubbles of history, this story has usually centered on some new technology, that genuinely has a big value which nobody quite knows how to value since it is so new: Joint Stock companies. Canals. Railroads. Radio. The Internet. A few center on fashion crazes, like tulip bulbs. And some start when the government starts giving away free money, like Fannie and Freddie did when they started buying up subprime mortgages.

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  24. JohnH says:

    “Big Jewish givers aren’t stupid.” But that’s no guarantee that they’re not sociopaths. In fact, their avid funding of Israeli brutalization of Palestinians tends to confirm that they are.
    Another example, Arthur Sulzberg’s New York Times burying holocaust news.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1365252/posts

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  25. nadine says:

    “Big Jewish givers aren’t stupid; they didn’t earn the wealth that allows them to make large campaign contributions by being ill-informed and naive.” (Wigwag)
    They were stupid enough to support Obama in 2008, which should put paid to the idea that Jews are smarter than other people. Obama’s radical chic and his pro-Pal stance were all there to see if you looked.

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  26. Don Bacon says:

    I remember when Veeck sent that midget up to bat for the Saint Louis Browns. He had about a three inch strike zone. (if memory serves)

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  27. questions says:

    Paul,
    That piece certainly captures much of the flavor. I didn’t read the continuation, but add in the fact that people noted before the bubble burst that home price increases way way outstripped income increases, that people who qualified for prime mortgages were pushed into subprime mortgages, that mortgage brokers went door to door and encouraged unsuspecting and unsophisticated people to take out mortgages on their already paid off homes, that because incomes didn’t go up much, people used home equity to generate extra income, and so on.
    Bubbles and crazes have really interesting sociological and psychological structures. It actually becomes rational to allow yourself to get caught up in them, and if you time it well you’re fine. It’s only the ones who didn’t time it well who ended up as suckers.
    The whole structure needs to be to be redone from scratch, but that proves difficult as people are wedded to their money-making schemes. Even when those schemes turn in to money-losing schemes sometimes.
    By the way, WigWag, I still think the dems could do ok. Sharron Angle? Not so ok.
    And a small part of me almost likes Alvin Greene’s chances, especially since he has Mike Veeck in his court (on his field?). (see TPM for more.)
    If you haven’t read “Veeck as in Wreck” you should! It’s a fun read, and Bill Veeck was quite a character.

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  28. WigWag says:

    There is very little question that the Democrats are doomed in November, 2010. Whether or not they lose de facto control of either the Senate or the House of Representatives, they are bound to lose de jure control. The best they can hope for is a slim majority in either chamber; even if they maintain technical control, with the “blue-dogs,” in the House and Lieberman and Nelson (of Nebraska) in the Senate, the Congress might just as well be controlled by the Republicans.
    Leftists were gleeful in 2008 not only that Obama was elected but that the Democrats gained so many Senate seats. The reviled Joe Lieberman went from a position where the Democrats had to kiss his tuchas to stay in control of the Senate to a position where he was largely powerless. Just think how infuriating it’s going to be for “progressive” Democrats when Lieberman’s vote is crucial again and he gets to determine whether the Majority Leader is Harry Reid (should he survive) or Mitch McConnell.
    What could even be more interesting is the fact that if Lieberman and Nelson are the two determining votes of which party controls the Senate, they will have enormous power over who the Democrats will select as Majority Leader if Harry Reid goes down to defeat in Nevada. If Reid loses his reelection bid, the two Senators likely to run for Majority Leader are Richard Durban and Chuck Schumer. It is easy to contemplate the possibility that Lieberman and/or Nelson might threaten to bolt to the Republican Party if Schumer isn’t selected.
    Why would Lieberman and Nelson prefer Schumer? Well for one, as pro-Israel as Durban is, Schumer is even more pro-Israel. Secondly, the senior Senator from Illinois is close to Obama; Lieberman and Nelson can’t stand Obama and might be happy to stick it to him by threatening to turn the Senate over to the Republicans unless they are the king-makers in the race for the new Democratic leader.
    If the Democrats lose 8 seats in the Senate (a distinct possibility according to Nate Silver at 538) and if Reid loses (he’s behind in the polls) than good old Joe Lieberman and the curmudgeonly Ben Nelson are going to rule the roost. Watching the progressive blogosphere handle that one will be highly entertaining.
    Of course, all of this is really the fault of the President; it looks like the erstwhile messiah just turned out to be another in a long line of false messiahs.
    Under Obama’s leadership, Democratic fundraising is collapsing while Republican fundraising is surging. Obama has managed to infuriate most of the important Democratic constituencies and he has done his best to alienate two particularly important Democratic constituencies for fundraising; pro-Israel Jews and Wall Street.
    Without Wall Street money to counter Republican oil and gas money, Democrats simply can’t win. If Obama were truly a good politician (instead of a lucky one) he would have found a way to regulate Wall Street without insulting or disparaging it. He failed at this and the result is that the spigots of campaign cash that the Democrats need from the financial sector are now turned off.
    As for pro-Israel campaign cash, the President didn’t just infuriate the pro-Israel community with his insulting behavior to Prime Minister Netanyahu a few months back, but many big givers have noted his solicitous attitude towards the Palestinians and his insulting attitude towards Israel. Add to this, his decision to honor the anti-Semitic Mary Robinson, and it

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  29. questions says:

    Even Bob Inglis is in on it!!!
    “INGLIS: What I’m supposed to do as a Republican is just echo back to you Anne that yes, CRA was the cause of the financial meltdown in October of 2008. And if I said that to you I’d be clearly wrong because if you think about it, CRA had been around for decades. So how could it be that it caused the problem suddenly in October of 2008? … So therefore we can just establish it as a scapegoat. Democrats like it and we can of course put the racial hue on that and that makes it even more powerful. But if we do that, we go further away from the solution, the solution is to deal with those fundamental things, not pick up on scapegoats and run with it.”
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/the-top-5-republicans-who-think-the-tea-partiers-are-bad-news.php?ref=fpa
    It’s an ACTUAL REPUBLICAN saying it’s not the CRA! Wow!!!!!! I would almost vote for this guy just for this!
    Part of an item on the Repubs who dare step forth as truth speakers.

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  30. questions says:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/boehner-deregulate.php?ref=fpb
    The Boehner solution — no agency regulations for a year — except when there’s an emergency. Now that’s an, umm, idea.
    Nadine, you didn’t catch my sarcasm?!
    Past non-ridiculous regulations. Yep, that’s me. Dredging up the past over and over again, finding those ummm, non-ridiculous regulations. That’s what I do for a living!
    Nadine, I am sure that there are some regulations that we could do without. I am sure that many regulations that some people could do without others think are non-ridiculous.
    I think that ergonomics (Clinton, was it) was a great idea that was lampooned by the someone like the guy who’s been making the rounds because he thinks waitstaff are overpaid. Workstation injuries are life-altering and having decently designed computer key boards, padding under your feet at a cash register, scanners at the right height, chairs that don’t cause debilitating back injuries and all of that can actually be defended. Of course translating this stuff from a brief description into a law takes a lot of pages. But those pages exist because employers like to externalize their costs.
    If I save money by buying cheap office furniture, I get to keep the money I save. Meanwhile, my poor schmuck employees live their lives in pain so that I can live mine in comfort. Exteralization is a capitalist’s friend! And a worker’s or bystander’s life altering injury or life ending tragedy.
    If employers stopped with all the externalization, then perhaps we wouldn’t need so many pages of laws, regulations, interpretations, interpretations of interpretations, commentaries on the commentaries over thousands of years of scholarly readings.
    BUT, in fact, the incentive is always to spend less and save more and externalize the difference.
    So yes, pages and pages. Detail after detail. In a highly reactive rather than proactive system in which the regulations are inspired by real harms and a whole lot of industry insider input.
    As Aristotle sez, there is no need for justice between friends. (Nicomachean Ethics somewhere). But, sadly, employers and employees are not friends, so justice they need. Very very explicit statements of justice, for there is no equitable sense either.
    Oh, and Boehner would seem to be arguing for something like no regulations.
    But since you seem to approve of some regulations, can you state a generalized case for when regulation is good and when it is overmuch or, I guess, can you state the difference between ridiculous and non-ridiculous regulation?
    And then apply it not to “thousands of pages” but to specific items in the bills you complain about. Explain why it’s ridiculous (or non) and what the alternatives are.
    Remember, much of the HCR was drawn up by health economists and industry people and lawyers. So why is there something about e-records, standardization, and even BMI?
    Like, why would anyone care about BMI as a concept. It’s not like there’s any kind of health consequence for the increase in this number over the population!

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  31. nadine says:

    “Re violating the law —
    Ok, I give up. Violating the law has absolutely nothing to do with regulations, now, does it.”
    Say what? the regulations ARE the law — the real law, which Federal bureaucrats get to make up at leisure after the bill is passed.
    Questions, you keep dragging up some past non-ridiculous regulation, as if that legitimated they tens of thousands of pages of ridiculous, unnecessary, burdensome, job-killing NEW regulations that will come into force with these massive new bills that were passed with NOBODY having read them.
    Nobody is arguing that there should be NO government regulations. That’s another straw man.

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  32. questions says:

    Re violating the law —
    Ok, I give up. Violating the law has absolutely nothing to do with regulations, now, does it.
    So, like, when the centralized planners of our fascistic communistic nazi-istic governmentastic overlords TOLD us that we could not put leaded gasoline in our cars and FORCED all the oil companies/refineries to stop making leaded gas and then the poor poor refiners had to find some other way to increase octane ratings and reduce engine knocking and runon, that wasn’t really regulation at all?
    Or did the lead removal add time to people’s lives and IQ points to their brains?
    It’s a mystery how the world works. Leaded gas violates the law and unleaded gas has nothing to do with regulations.
    Did I miss something?
    By the way, thanks for approving of the reading of Plato, Kotz. Plato is underrated around here!
    Nadine, first, doesn’t your doctor already have e-records? Second, the quick version is a friend of mine needed an extra MRI because of the intersection of 2 hospitals and incompetent tech personnel. Getting this stuff standardized will make diagnosis and transfer easier, will cut down on repeated tests and will make the billing systems easier. Less re-billing will result.
    Let’s face it, if you’re dying, you will want centralized records.
    The one interesting unintended consequence I’ve seen written up so far is that when records are typed, people have more faith in them, so mistakes are a little more likely to be missed if they are typed in incorrectly in the first place. But I’m guessing that this is a smaller issue than all the repeat tests, missed allergies, crossed doses, and deaths from not having records accessible at all.
    The panic about privacy is probably less worthwhile than you think. After all, paper records get dumpstered and found all the time. Doctors gossip about patients all the time. Insurance companies’ records are computerized and can be hacked into. There is no really safe place to be. You can avoid seeking medical care, though, I guess. Otherwise, indeed there will be people who know about you.
    (Paul, I will read the long post in a while….)

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  33. nadine says:

    Did you know that the 2009 Stimulus bill mandates government adoption of electronic health records by 2014? No? Me neither.
    This is the unprecedented nature of this runaway government: pass bills that are thousands of pages long, stuffed with giveaways to favored groups and Federal power grabs that wouldn’t last for a second under public scrutiny — but buried in thousands of pages of impenetrable legalese, no one will read them, no one will report on them, no one will know they are there — until too late. Stimulus, Budget, Obamacare, Financial Reform: they all are stuffed full of clauses that have NOTHING to do with the purported purpose of the bill, or that are mere stubs for federal bureacrats to fill in and enlarge as they please.
    For example, the Feds are going to make our doctors put our private medical info on a centralized health record, or else:
    “(CNSNews.com)

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  34. drew says:

    “If I open a factory that spews toxic crap that thousands of
    people are exposed to and each of those people loses a few
    months of their lives because I don’t bother investing in
    smokestack scrubbers, then I’ve managed to externalize my
    costs, burden others, make cheaper widgets, and make lots of
    money. My factory is a success, the people who die sooner, well,
    who cares.”
    This isn’t how the world works, though it makes for a fine
    cartoon. The factory in question is violating the law. The
    company would be destroyed — nuked — by criminal and civil
    litigation. I’m not sure what your additional layer of regulatory
    knob-polishing is meant to achieve, given that criminal and civil
    law already addresses your concern.
    “So the government does not tell us how much new window
    screens should cost. BUT, they might tell us that window screens
    have to be non-toxic, or of a certain strength, or have their
    mesh size appear on a label.”
    While this appears to be ridiculous — paying civil servants to
    decide for me what sort of porch screen I am allowed to buy at
    the Wal-Mart, because I’m such a moron I can’t decide for myself
    — it *is* how the world works. In the EU. I suggest that you
    make this a key platform plank in Obama’s re-election
    campaign. You can then turn to the screen manufacturers and
    raise buckets of campaign cash, because they will know they
    need to rent the politicians in order to stay in business. You can
    ally this plank with other brilliant moments in regulation: the
    mini-flush toilets, the toxic compact fluorescent bulbs, the
    requirement that every car ever sold in this country have a lever
    to allow mafia targets to escape the trunk of a car. Maybe, if this
    is the sort of think Obama gets busy promoting, his numbers will
    rise and he won’t be trailing Romney, Gingrich, Palin, and
    Huckabee in nominal face-offs. Because Americans are scared.
    They are scared that no one will tell them how to flush a toilet or
    screen a porch.

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  35. nadine says:

    From Forbes. There is no reform in the Finance “Reform” bill, just an almighty power grab by the Feds, whose true extent won’t even be known until the new regulatory bodies in the bill write their regulations, which they have a wide, wide latitude to do: “Far from streamlining regulations, mandating greater transparency, and reducing uncertainty, Dodd-Frank provides government bureaucrats with unrestricted hunting licenses.”
    Financial Reform, R.I.P.
    James S. Henry and Laurence J. Kotlikoff
    The Dodd-Frank bill does nothing to deal with Wall Street’s central problem: systemic non-disclosure.
    So long Glass-Steagall. Hello Dodd-Frank–the most comprehensive rewrite of financial rules since 1933. This 2,319-page colossus–10 times the length of Glass-Steagall–took 1.5 years to produce and will cost $30 billion and many more years to implement. Will all this time and treasure make Wall Street safe for Main Street?
    No.
    Dodd-Frank is a full-employment act for regulators that addresses everything but the root causes of the financial collapse. It serves up a dog’s breakfast covering proprietary trading, consumer financial protection, derivatives trading, executive pay, credit card fees, whistle-blowers, minority inclusion and Congolese minerals. Dodd-Frank also mandates 68 new studies of carbon markets, Chinese drywalls, and person-to-person lending, and many other irrelevancies.
    Root Causes
    None of this deals with the central problem–Wall Street’s ability to hide behind claims of proprietary information to facilitate the production and sale of trillions of dollars in securities whose true values are almost impossible for outsiders to determine.
    rest at http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/15/dodd-frank-failure-regulation-opinions-contributors-james-henry-laurence-kotlikoff-wall-street.html?boxes=opinionschannellighttop

    Reply

  36. kotzabasis says:

    Questions in what kind of Tju-Tju land are you an inhabitant of? How could you have been so elementally fatuous and unimaginative not to have seen that your “externalities” all carry an enormous legal liability which if they were ever perpetrated by any company they would ferry the latter over the Styx to damned insolvency? What Schumpetarian entrepreneur who as master chess player of the free market would have made such a stupid move that would consign his company with mathematical precision to bankruptsy?
    You, a reader of Plato and philosophy should be ashamed for purveying such a shoddy intellectual product as you did in your above post.

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    questions, the role of Fannie and Freddie in buying the subprime mortgages and shoring up the subprime market with their implicit Treasury guarantee was huge. It made people trust the subprime market and run into the market. Fannie and Freddie’s buying made the market too profitable to ignore.
    It was a goldmine. And it produced a gold rush by private lenders. It also pumped an extra trillion dollars into the housing market and produced an unprecedented housing bubble.
    What it wasn’t, was a free market.
    So saying “it wasn’t JUST the CRA” doesn’t pass the smell test. No it wasn’t JUST the CRA. But the CRA and Fannie and Freddie got the ball rolling. After that, many mouths blew up the bubble. But bubbles need a good cover story and track record of past success — without the CRA and Fannie and Freddie, it couldn’t have happened the same way.

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    in the beginning of March 2007, before the financial
    meltdown, I stumbled upon the article “Rocking the subprime
    house of cards” by a (to me) completely unknown writer called
    Julian Delasantellis at Asia Times Online.
    My English isn’t good enough to talk too much about these
    issues at TWN, but his article actually confirmed and
    reinforced my suspicions that we should expect a huge crisis,
    and he explained some of the core issues and connections
    before most other analysts were aware of the looming crisis,
    and long before the actual collapse. I am forever grateful for
    his article. Delasantellis died, at the age of 53, some weeks
    ago. I’ll paste a long excerpt of that article (published March 6
    2007) in honor of one of the few analysts (still relatively
    unknown) who explained much of the essential stuff (the
    unknown unknown issue) to me as a reader before it all
    exploded, and made me able to explain some of the core
    issues to friends and family members when the whole mess
    eventually collapsed:
    “….. In the US, real-estate lending sure is different today.
    There are a lot more lenders these days; banks are in
    competition for the mortgage market with what are called
    “mortgage brokers”. These do not occupy the august
    moneychanger temples of the past; you might find them at
    the end of a strip mall next to the Dairy Queen; in rural areas,
    you see them in little structures cut out of the forests on the
    side of two-lane country roads.
    The mortgage lenders are different because the mortgage
    market is different. There are no more George Baileys who
    make and hold mortgages to maturity. Instead, these days,
    virtually all US home mortgages are packaged and bundled
    together to become what are called “collateralized mortgage
    obligations”, or “mortgage-backed securities”. The bank or
    other mortgage originator that constructs these packages
    sells them to investors, who use them very much as
    investment bonds. Thus your monthly mortgage payment,
    instead of going to the bank that you write the check to, now
    “passes through” as a dividend payment to the investor who
    bought the package of mortgages that contains yours. Since
    the mortgage business now involves far less of a lifetime
    commitment between borrower and lender, the way is open
    for all these new storefront mortgage enterprises, for all they
    exist to do is to sell the mortgages they write into what is
    called the “secondary” market.
    What the investor in these bundled mortgages gets are
    interest rates, dividend payments, in between one and two
    points richer than those available on US Treasury securities of
    the same maturity. For all its faults, this system (along with
    preferential tax treatment for real estate) has given the US, at
    70%, the highest rate of owner-occupied housing on Earth,
    and it is a system that many nations, including the formerly
    communist economies of the Eastern Bloc, have moved to
    adopt over the past 25 years.
    But, done to excess, everything good becomes bad. Thus the
    chain of events that led to last week’s stock-market falls.
    The one- or two-point spread of these instruments over
    Treasury yields represents what highly creditworthy mortgage
    borrowers pay for their loans. What interest rate do you pay
    for your mortgage if your credit status, your credit “score”,
    isn’t quite up to par?
    Like if you’ve had so many cars taken back by the banks you
    know the birthdays of the repo man’s kids. Or if it has been
    so long since you made a payment on your store charge cards
    that they slam the security gates shut when they see you.
    In the old days it would be easy to calculate what mortgage
    interest rate these borrowers would pay – zero. These
    borrowers would not get mortgages; they would forever be
    renters. Then the mortgage industry had a neat idea.
    Instead of denying these less than fully creditworthy
    borrowers mortgages, let’s give them loans, only at a much
    higher interest rate. Instead of having them pay 1 or 2
    percentage points over US Treasuries, they’ll pay 3 or 4. We
    can then bundle, or “securitize”, these mortgages into high-
    yield bonds. (Some bond investors became addicted to the
    double-digit bond yields in the early 1980s, and over the past
    two decades have again and again proved themselves more
    than willing to “reach for yield”, to take on significant extra
    risk to get another fix.) Sure, there might be more defaults on
    these mortgages than you’d see from high-quality borrowers,
    but the higher interest rates would more than make up for a
    few defaults and repossessions here and there, and besides,
    as long as real-estate values continued the meteoric rise of
    the early and middle part of this decade, the subprime
    borrowers could soon use the new extra equity in their
    home’s values to refinance into more prudent borrowing
    arrangements.
    Thus all the ingredients were in place for the real-estate
    frenzy that gripped the US, and much of the rest of the
    capitalist world, over the past few years. With the tremendous
    new demand from this cadre of buyers now able to get the
    housing finance once denied them, and with new supply a
    lengthy process, there was suddenly a significant imbalance
    between demand and supply in the US housing market. Other
    mortgage finance innovations, such as low initial “teaser”
    rates, interest-only mortgages, or the spread of floating
    rates, allowed more and more people to move into properties
    they couldn’t really afford.
    When prices took off, this attracted more buyers, more
    demand in the market, and the price-appreciation cycle
    became selfreinforced. Soon, people were paying close to $1
    million for one-bedroom condos in San Diego or Miami
    Beach, and they were happy to do so; they thought they were
    getting a bargain. By 2005 and 2006, between 25% and 33%
    of all newly written US mortgages were subprime, but this was
    thought to be okay. The borrowers had their homes (or they
    thought they did), the investors had their high-yield
    securitized mortgage bonds, and incumbent politicians could
    point to the healthy home-ownership numbers as proof that
    the mighty American dream still rang strong and true.
    Just about the time that soaring real-estate prices were
    replacing celebrity sex as the central obsession in the US
    psyche, something funny happened. Price rises slowed or
    stopped; in some of the hottest markets, home prices actually
    began to decline. Between June 2004 and June 2006, the US
    Federal Reserve raised short-term loan rates 17 times.
    Starting at 1.25%, the Fed eventually drove them up to today’s
    5.25%.
    Floating rate mortgages had their rates tied to these Fed
    rates. For those mortgage borrowers who only got into their
    homes by being able to handle a floating rate payment that
    started with the low payment implied by a 1.25% Fed rate, this
    meant a big mortgage-payment increase. These borrowers
    could barely qualify for loans and then handle the payments
    calculated with the low rates; when the mortgage payments
    were recalculated to reflect the higher rates (were “reset” in
    mortgage jargon), they would be unable to pay the mortgage.
    The rise in mortgage interest rates, along with the fact that in
    the areas where the price appreciations had been the craziest,
    prospective buyers soon realized that everybody in the
    household up to and including the family pet would have to
    work two or three jobs to generate enough income to afford
    the payments inherent in the $700,000 selling price of a two-
    bedroom rambler, finally broke the back of US housing’s wild
    ride.
    The warning flags have been flying for months, but with every
    five-point rise in the Dow index being wildly celebrated as
    another glorious new record, another gushing multiple
    orgasm in the fabulous orgy of US market capitalism, the US
    media ignored the story that it should have told in favor of
    the one it wanted to tell.”
    The whole article is here:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/IC06Dj01.ht
    ml

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    “Posted by questions, Jul 16 2010, 7:51AM – Link
    Here is a nice clear statement of the mortgage stuff I’ve
    been arguing for quite some time with you…..
    ” WASHINGTON

    Reply

  40. JohnH says:

    Interesting that no one picked up on my defending capitalism against today’s crony capitalism…
    Or does everyone agree that today’s shared monopolies have made American capitalism go the way of the dinosaur?

    Reply

  41. questions says:

    Regarding market failure — if I open a bakery, and I’m a lousy baker, I go out of business quickly. I lose some money, my 1 or 2 employees lose their jobs. The market works.
    If I open a factory that spews toxic crap that thousands of people are exposed to and each of those people loses a few months of their lives because I don’t bother investing in smokestack scrubbers, then I’ve managed to externalize my costs, burden others, make cheaper widgets, and make lots of money. My factory is a success, the people who die sooner, well, who cares.
    One of the issues underlying the need for regulation is this second story. When I externalize costs, part of my profit is derived from unwilling participants. There’s nothing “free” in this situation for them. But I get something for free!
    Now let’s complicate it a bit. Let’s say that I have a conscience, but I also have market share and shareholders and pricing issues. I really want to put those scrubbers in, but they are so damned expensive that were I to do so, I would be at a competitive disadvantage compared to my fellow factory owners if they did not also put in the scrubbers. Now if my scrubbers would reduce the pollution by, say 1/3, and that in turn would grant a few extra months of life to a number of people, I should really do it. And my fellow factory owners would be thrilled if I did. They could keep their smokestacks as they are, benefit from the somewhat better reputation of the industry as there is less overall pollution, and they never deal with the cost of the installation of the scrubbers.
    No way in hell am I going to lose market share because I have to jack up my prices, no way can I guarantee that they would follow me were I to go first, so no way am I going to install the scrubbers.
    No scrubbers are installed, the pollution flows, the residents of the area die younger.
    Externalities — ain’t they grand!
    (This is drawn from the Cassidy book.)
    Externalities are a market failure. Externalities require regulation.
    Pollution is a huge externality. Cutting back on it requires regulation. It’s in everyone’s best interest to have less pollution, but it’s in no one’s interest to pay for it. Non-excludable public goods are never provided for by the market. It takes a government to regulate a people.
    The problems of assurance, externalities, asymmetries of information, the irrationalities of thought that lead us to hate loss more than love the same gain, to treat dollar amounts as real instead of relative, to feel confidence or not — all of this and more requires some amount of regulation.
    (Again, material is drawn from Cassidy and Akerlof.)
    The real battle shouldn’t be between regulation and deregulation, but rather where and when to regulate, how much local information is so crucial that regulation simply cannot work. We know that pricing generally works better as a local issue because local information regarding prices stems from so many sources that no central authority could possibly contain it all. So the government does not tell us how much new window screens should cost. BUT, they might tell us that window screens have to be non-toxic, or of a certain strength, or have their mesh size appear on a label. There’s room for regulation that doesn’t set a price and doesn’t interfere with what markets do well. In fact, the regulation can augment what the markets do well by providing assurance so that all players abide by the same set of rules and no one cheats.
    (Again, Cassidy and Akerlof, along with whatever else I’ve been reading lately are floating around the background here.)

    Reply

  42. questions says:

    Here is a nice clear statement of the mortgage stuff I’ve been arguing for quite some time with you…..
    The links at the bottom are automatically generated from the copy/paste function.
    ” WASHINGTON

    Reply

  43. kotzabasis says:

    As drew correctly states none of the classical liberal economists, Smith, Mises, Hayek, and I would add in this brilliant constellation Mill, Bawerk, and Schumpeter, ever argued that the free market was perfect and

    Reply

  44. Carroll says:

    Posted by JohnH, Jul 15 2010, 4:10PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Absolutely right.

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    Posted by JohnH, Jul 15 2010, 4:10PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Absolutely right.

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    No questions, the subprime market would not have existed without Fannie and Freddie buying the subprime mortgages, no questions asked, when everybody knew Fannie and Freddie had implicit (now explicit) Treasury backing, so they could not fail. Otherwise, the banks wouldn’t have made the loans in the first place, because in an ordinary working market, BANKS DON’T MAKE LOANS THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS WON’T BE PAID BACK. But government insisted the banks make them, and government facilitated an entire market of loans that everybody knew wouldn’t be paid back.
    The rest, as they say, was commentary: the securitization of the loans into various derivatives, the misrating of the derivatives based on no-longer-relevant past performance, the assumption by those who should have known better that housing prices never fail, the extra little cleverness of insuring the securities with Credit Default Swaps, etc etc.

    Reply

  47. questions says:

    The subprime bubble would not have existed without the derivatives market. It was the upward vacuuming pressure that caused the lower down behavior to be enabled.
    At a lower level, the fact is that the secondary market is wonderful. It frees up capital for reinvestment, it spreads risk, it’s a wonderful insurance policy.
    UNTIL the big players ran out of qualified borrowers and raced to the bottom of the barrel. NINJA, anyone?? That’s not CRA — most of the lenders that dove headlong into the subprime pool were not CRA approved lenders anyway.
    The problem seems to be a combination of too much pooled money desperate for higher returns, too much leveraging allowed, too many quants with too much self-confidence thinking that they had, umm, HEDGED their risks such that there were no risks, only a lot of money to be made, too much reselling of the loans such that NO ONE had an incentive to do proper credit checks, interests rates set too low (thanks Big Al!!), and a few other issues like too few good schools such that desperate people paid way too much to get seats in those few school districts, too much of a fantasy of pushing both home ownership and crazy house flipping.
    AND THEN WE LEARN that the most rational thing to do in a bubble is jump in head first. Otherwise you lose your job. And the bubble keeps going up until it bursts, so if you time it right, you’ll be okay anyway. That’s the incentive system.
    So please don’t chalk it up to Fannie and Freddie. They were late in on the game, the secondary market service they provide is actually quite helpful when it’s not bubbling, and there were a lot of other issues going on at the same time.
    This stuff is really complex, and the more one reads, the more one appreciates the fact that Fox does not do its viewers much service in explaining the complexities such that its listeners and viewers are well-positioned to figure out what to do next.
    When the losers (BP, say) can destroy a significant chunk of the food chain and much of an ocean, well, they need to be regulated. When AIG is positioned to be THE insurer to most of the world’s economy and doesn’t have assets sufficient for potential losses, well, welcome regulators!

    Reply

  48. questions says:

    Remember how the left used to say, “And the Soviets were never really communist, so their failure proves nothing”?? Well, you’re making the same argument.
    Next, “centralized planning” — say what?? Centralized planning is more like: The tomato truck will be at your farm on Wednesday August 4th to pick up your tomatoes and take them to market. And then the tomatoes are ripe on July 30th instead, but there’s no truck til the 4th. So the tomatoes rot. THAT’s centralized planning. Telling the Wonder Bread Company that they can’t use lead in their packaging or in the bread come to think of it — that’s not central planning, that’s just common sense.
    Anyway, you’re speaking in such generalities that anything goes….
    We need regulation to deal with the following:
    Communication problems
    Coordination problems
    the resultant prisoners dilemmas that keep very beneficial things from happening — like clean air and clean water
    Non-excludable public goods need regulation because they won’t be provided for otherwise.
    Basic health and safety when hidden information or informational asymmetries are the rule and not the exception.
    Basic social equity — getting rid of racial exclusion must be done via regulation. The south showed that the social pressure to exclude is stronger than the market pressure to provide a service.
    The insidiousness of: rent to own services, check cashing services, fronting your tax return services, lousy food availability in some neighborhoods — all of these suggest that the needed services are provided only at horrific cost to the most desperate. Not a good market solution at all. Regulation can be brought to bear on consumer financial products, consumer goods, and the general credit market so that the allocation of REASONABLE credit is not usurious, ruinous, destructive of generations of wealth-building in low income families.
    Education needs regulation so that it is provided evenly and fairly.
    Professional certification needs regulation. The asymmetry of information on professional qualifications is enormous.
    Fire codes, product standards, industrial compatibility standards, utility standards — all better with regulation. You could be electrocuted, gassed, exploded or the like without these kinds of regulations.
    In short, there is a lot of room for regulation all over the place to deal with some structural problems we have because we cannot trust, cannot verify, end up stuck in the wrong cell of a prisoners dilemma. Regulation puts us in a better place.
    Argue against it if you want. Move to Somalia where there’s little in the way of an effective government. Become a pirate! THAT’S a way to avoid the government’s taking all your shit from you!
    As Tom Lehrer has sung so well, don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air!

    Reply

  49. nadine says:

    questions, listen to what drew is saying.
    Conservatives do not believe the market is perfect; just that it works better than centralized planning. Moreover, we haven’t had anything that resembled a free market for decades, so 2008 does not prove a thing about the failures of a free market. That was the bursting of an artificially skewed market with several government-blown bubbles in it, specifically the credit bubble and the whole subprime mortgage bubble, which would never even have existed without government insistence and funding.
    The current administration, in their love of using every crisis as another excuse to grab more untrammeled power for the federal government, has just written a blank check to a bunch of federal regulators who haven’t even been hired yet at a brand new agency. The regulators get to write the rules any way they like, pick winners and losers, bail out the winners and summarily CLOSE the losers. It’s Liberty Hall for the regulators. They can get into the middle of anything. Who do you think bankers will be paying more attention to, the regulators or their customers, hm? Take a wild guess.
    The big banks love this crony capitalism because they know how to game the system to keep the small fry out. That’s why crony capitalism and socialism go hand in hand, as actually practiced.

    Reply

  50. Don Bacon says:

    It’s easy to say that Americans are morons but difficult to prove. But it’s easy to prove that they aren’t morons — check the polls.
    RCP ave.
    the mandatory medical insurance bill?
    Americans opposed — 50%
    Obama Job approval?
    Americans disapprove — 47%
    Congress Job Approval?
    Americans disapprove — 71%
    Direction of Country?
    Wrong track — 63%
    Pew (% favorable)
    Dept of Educ 40%
    FDA 58%
    SSA 49%
    EPA 57%
    NASA 61%
    CDC 67%
    Defense Dept 67%
    Postal Svc 83%
    Justice 51%
    VA 57%
    FBI 67%
    CIA 52%
    IRS 47%
    –all declining
    Pew again
    gov’t runs programs inefficiently 50%
    etc.
    Americans look pretty savvy to me. They are in fact not the perpetrators but the victims of two look-alike parties who, along with their media and government facilitators, have made it virtually impossible for any other parties to participate in elections. So it isn’t that Americans don’t know better, they do. It’s that they don’t have a reasonable choice.
    I was in Ireland during an election not long ago. There were about a dozen parties running, wide open, and interesting as hell. All kinds of viewpoints, labor, greens, socialists, you name it. Lots of media attention, and lots of debates in the pubs (with the telly running) where I had often repaired (for research purposes). People voted their conscience and the election was decided with a proportional representation scheme.
    That’s the way life should be, not with these sham elections we have. Give the people a choice and you’ll see just how un-moronic they can be, given half a chance. But it won’t happen.
    Quite a deal these pols have, with their gerrymandered districts and their 95% re-election rates. They won’t give it up.
    As for Americans — I like ’em. (Mexicans, Irish and Chinese aren’t bad either.)

    Reply

  51. Carroll says:

    Posted by Dan Kervick, Jul 14 2010, 8:39PM – Link
    “When are people finally going to start voting in mass for anybody but the “lesser” of the two evils?”
    Sure, maybe we should vote for one of those other great independent geniuses out there?
    Politicians can and should be blamed for the troubles they cause. But the main problem with America is Americans. We’re basically too dumb to govern ourselves, and thus our democracy is failing and our social and cultural fabric is unraveling.
    We have two moron parties, and most Americans self-identify with one of them. And while it would be nice to think that the unaffiliated voters eschew a major party because they are two keen-witted and independent-minded to fall in with the big two, the fact is that most independents probably stick to the middle because they are confused, timid, dithery and even more politically illiterate than the affiliated voters
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I have to disagree that independents are all ‘timid, dithery and politically illiterate.’
    Since I am an ‘unaffiliated” voter I would say that they are mainly made up of people who have the wherewithall to recongize the idioticy of both the parties and the corrupted political system we have now.
    In the past I have been a registered republican, and then a registered democrat and finally just plain unaffiliated. But in all my guises I voted across lines for the best man, as far as I could determine that, and not because he/she was a candidate of one of the parties.
    “Middle of the road’ people believe in ‘balance’. Not letting one side or ideology get so far out of whack that it ruins the economy or the country.
    And in my observation ‘party members” are party members because they do want to tip the balance to “their wants”. So of course they vote for the party that promises to give them all that….unlike monkeys they apparantly don’t learn from experience.
    Neither your average middle class dem liberal or your average conserative or a teabagger has any conception, nor do they ever think about the down side for the entire population and country. Neither ever think, guess they can’t think I suppose, that if they get their own little personal wish list fulfilled ….will it end up being determintal to the country as whole and ‘ultimately’ adversely affect them?
    Show me a party or group not made up of morons or ideological fanatics and already proven corrupt politicans and I’ll join…until then forget about it.
    I’ll just keep looking for some uncommon common sense individual who might actually clean up Washington. Know one?

    Reply

  52. JohnH says:

    Conservatives can’t accept the concept of market failure because it implies the need for government regulation and intervention, something that impinges on freedom of action for conservatives’ wealthy and powerful underwriters.
    The history of conservative “thinking” is the history of finding pretty theories to justify unfettered greed. Anything that impinges on that falls of deaf ears.

    Reply

  53. Drew says:

    “Ummm, he says the concept of market failure is inherent in all
    sorts of economic thinking. Then he wonders why conservatives
    don’t pick up on the same fact. Kinda like Mr. Greenspan.”
    Why doesn’t he wonder why conservatives aren’t jet airplanes?
    Why aren’t conservatives Mack trucks? Why aren’t conservatives
    something that they are not? Why do conservative economists
    believe something that they don’t believe?
    The idea that conservatives “don’t pick up on the same fact” of
    market imperfection is a premise that falls (and fails) on its face.
    If one constructs a thesis on a premise that is invalid on initial
    inspection (by, say, a 10 year-old with access to wikipedia), it
    kinda makes the whole enterprise useless to anyone interested
    in critical thinking.
    I understand the political value of his book (we still have people
    asserting a ‘multiplier effect’ in deficit, government spending,
    even though Baro blew that idea up 35 years ago), but as history
    or economics it will vanish without a trace.

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    Ummm, he says the concept of market failure is inherent in all sorts of economic thinking. Then he wonders why conservatives don’t pick up on the same fact. Kinda like Mr. Greenspan.
    Who isn’t merely old, tired, and frightened. Maybe he’s beginning to rethink the free market/Randian nonsense that seems to stem more from ressentiment and some weird notion of the deserving nature of some and the sponge-like nature of others rather than the structural problems with markets.
    Regarding the comment, I gave the link to the original, and I believe it’s from a video interview. So when they air it, you’ll find the whole thing.
    Greenspan has been slowly backing away from some of the Randian stuff lately. He does it in measured ways as he is most certainly not a liberal, but he might be less of a Randian than he used to be.
    Oh, and you sort of contradict yourself — he’s old and frightened, but he always speaks in paragraphs, so despite the age and fear, he probably is well-spoken and misquoted. Which is it? Terrified old man with “one foot over the threshold” as is said of Cephalus, or ALAN GREENSPAN, PARAGRAPH-WHISPERER?
    As I’ve noted here many times, I’m not an economist, but I’ve been reading some non-math based texts lately. Try Animal Spirits by Akerlof as well. Maybe you’ll like him better since he’s an actual economist instead of an econ/journalist
    You are, perhaps, an economist?
    Here’s a review of the Cassidy book from an actual economist, by the way….
    http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/hedging-america?page=0,0

    Reply

  55. drew says:

    My take is that Greenspan is tired, 84 years old, and frightened, and
    that he has never spoken in less than paragraphs. I would be
    interested in the rest of the quoted comment.
    The concept of market failure is inherent in even Smith, so any
    purported analysis of classical liberal economics that asserts that a
    Mies or Hayek would assert the perfection of perfectly free markets
    is, a priori, silly. The guy should write a blog, where the standards
    of inquiry are lower. (!!!) This book will disappear.

    Reply

  56. questions says:

    If I recall correctly, the basic notion Cassidy pushes is that economists of all sorts note market failures as an issue, but that somehow the lesson doesn’t quite hit the textbook market, or hits it so far in the back of the book that it isn’t covered during class, or isn’t really listened to much at all. At any rate, even though market failure is well documented throughout the history of economic thinking, so goes Cassidy’s story, it has largely been ignored by conservative doctrine of late. So we end up with a mantra of deregulation and things will take care of themselves, when in fact nothing takes care of itself.
    Cassidy’s reading of the housing market seems to confirm much of what I’ve come across elsewhere, so I’m not so sure your easy dismissal of his take on things is so believable, drew.
    Besides, what do YOU make of Greenspan’s change of heart?

    Reply

  57. JohnH says:

    Nadine would do well to read a couple books by John Kenneth Galbraith, too. He was one of the few economists to get out of the trees to see the forest, its structure, and how a few big trees always crowd out the rest.
    The end game of capitalism–the survival of the fittest–is always the same. One company ends up crowding out the rest. Initially, this company is the most efficient, but over time it becomes bloated and inefficient simply because it lacks competition. Equally bad, monopolies set prices higher than free markets and they limit services and restrict innovation.
    This is exactly what is happening in America today. But because anti-trust legislation is nominally on the books, we have shared monopolies, handfuls of companies that behave like monopolies.
    Many developed countries, like Mexico and Egypt, have pitiful rates of development, largely because of the monopolistic structure of most industries. This will happen here, too, sooner than we expect.
    The only solution–there simply is no other–is for government to independently regulate competition and assure a level, competitive playing field. Despite the strident complaints about government by corporate America, government regulators have become arms of the industries they regulate. This is because they fund the political system.
    Until corporate money is almost entirely removed from politics, the economy is fated to continue its slide to bloated inefficiency, outsized profits and corporate staffs, and supersized CEO competition. Whatever is left over may be returned to shareholders, but that’s not certain, given corporate America’s distaste for dividends.

    Reply

  58. drew says:

    I have read the book, though it certainly didn’t take two or three
    days. It’s funny because Bill Walsh’s, Finding the Winning Edge,
    is much denser, smarter and lasting in impact.
    Cassidy falsely asserts that Smith’s theory stipulates that free
    markets always generate an optimal outcome. It’s pretty easy to
    blow up the book from there, since if he’s wrong about that,
    nothing else really makes any sense, and why would we trust it.
    His is an especially dumb critique because he blames the ‘free
    market’, ‘ deregulated’ environment of the banking industry, but
    calls the bail-outs anything but the action of a free market.
    Usually, polemicists, if not academics, attempt some veneer of
    intellectual consistency in their arguments.
    Incidentally, AIG’s CDOs were cash-flow positive and always
    stayed that way. The run on AIG was regulator-derived, ratings-
    agency triggered, and had nothing to do with cash or hard
    capital or the other supposed concerns of financial regulators.
    But fortunately, the Fed and FDIC stepped in to repay folks like
    SG and Goldman at 100% of par on trades they knew carried
    significant risk, at time of execution. It was a grotesque
    corruption of the public trust to repay these banks at par for
    trades they willingly undertook with their own capital. In so
    doing they were handed their risk-premium-juiced coupons,
    and repaid their principal as though it were insured (it was, by
    you and me, but we didn’t know it at the time).

    Reply

  59. questions says:

    The MAN, Alan Greenspan:
    ” Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose endorsement of George W. Bush

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    Nadine,
    Take 2 or 3 days to read John Cassidy’s book How Markets Fail.
    There is so much you seem to have wrong about pricing, assymetries of information, irrationality in the market, what Cassidy calls “rational irrationality.”
    The central problem is that though markets often are good at distributing goods via price, they are not always good at it. There are structural failures that need to be dealt with through collective labor, or regulation.
    There is so much more going on in the housing bubble than Fannie and Freddie, and since the Tea Party sympathizers I know all say exactly the same things you say, I will assume that you get the same “news”, that it’s just laughable to read this from you.
    Do a book report on Cassidy the way I did on Pape and W&M. Read, quote, explain, and if you see where Cassidy has gone oh so wrong, debunk.
    Maybe you’ll convince someone that there’s no such thing as market failure, or that government failures are far worse than market failures, or that BP would have been much less serious a disaster w/o any regulations at all as the incentives not to take risk would have been much stronger w/o regulation…or whatever it is you think.
    Should we all be able to print our own currency? Or do you think that a single currency is a good market regulation?
    Should there be FDIC protection, or is that also a bad thing? It’s double edged for sure. Are there any regulations you like?
    Are you into feudalism? Serfdom is fine for the haves, not so great for the have-nots. But it’s kind of unregulated.
    What do you think of the rent-to-own business? Should there be usury laws of any sort? Is loan sharking fine by you?
    Do you have any disclosure preferences? Should interests rates be prominently displayed? Who should bear risk? Should realtors work for buyers, for sellers, should they be forced to disclose whom they work for?
    Is there any scope of regulation you think is a good idea? I’m genuinely curious. Get specific!

    Reply

  61. drew says:

    John, crony capitalism is the servant, and manifestation, of
    corrupted government, and you are right. Lately we’ve seen it
    accelerate, as super-legal interventions and controls are slapped
    on free-standing corporations and their citizen-owners — not
    by their owners, but by elected and appointed officials with no
    statutory standing to do so.
    I disagree, however, that the United States is “going broke.” The
    United States Government, and approximately 30 states are
    broke. They’re broke on any accounting basis required of any
    GAAP-based accounting regulatory regime. Broke, broke, broke.
    Busted.
    But the United States is not broke. I am not broke. I do not work
    32 hours a week, like the bozos in Greece burning tires in the
    street because they can’t retire on full pay at 52, or whatever
    fantasy to which they feel contractually obligated. Greece is
    broke because they don’t have a culture of productivity; we yet
    do. That is because I am not a serf, beholden to people like
    Obama or McCain who have never had jobs. I did not appoint
    Berwick to manage the largest federal budget tranche without
    prior democratic procedural review, as constitutionally required.
    I think these people have lost their way, if they ever had one
    (clearly, Obama has not had one because he’s never done
    anything to prepare for his current job except write about
    himself and then get selected by the Chicago machine to be their
    next Senator, a job he practiced for 140 days before moving on
    to the pursuit of the next job). So they’ll get wiped out in
    November. By what, I’m not sure. But the half-life of a
    destructive politician who doesn’t make, produce, create is
    shrinking, not lengthening. That’s a good thing.

    Reply

  62. Dan Kervick says:

    “If there is no difference in economic culture and outcome, if they’re all of a piece, then, great!”
    Both you and Nadine have great difficulty in reading Drew. Nowhere do I suggest all economies are equally good at creating wealth, only that that all do create *some* wealth. Nadine was suggesting, it seemed, that only capitalist forms of investment create wealth, whereas all government-organized investment is productively barren. And that is just flat-out false.
    All of the world’s most advanced economies are mixed economies – even ours. We can debate the optimal mix. But it is foolish to suggest that there are only two polarly opposed ways of economic life – the capitalist and the socialist forms – with nothing in the middle. I personally think the US economy could be more productive overall, as well as achieve a better life for the vast majority of its citizens, if it moved leftward, and engaged in *more* strategic economic planning and publicly organized investment than it already does, engaged in *more* regulation of workplace and compensation rules than it already does, and built *more* social service systems than it already has.

    Reply

  63. drew says:

    Since Obama has bent over backwards to involve and collaborate
    with his loyal opposition, in the manner that LBJ had the Civil
    Rights Act of 1965 drafted in Everitt Dirksen’s office, under
    Dirksen’s direction, could someone just help me out? Which
    Obama signature bill was discussed in advance with, and written
    in, Mitch McConnell’s office?
    It slips my mind. I know that he has been working the phones
    overtime attempting to find common ground with his opposing
    party, so obviously he would take a page from LBJ’s book and
    ensure that he won the support of his opponents through
    respectful collaboration.
    What’s funny is that I can’t think of one. But there must be
    many. Otherwise why would the MSM call them the party of No?
    It’s not like it’s Chicago or anything and the majority party just
    road-grades its opposition, even when there is majority
    opposition as well within the general population. Because that
    would be foolish, because voters are not. Maybe they’re slow on
    the uptake, but not foolish.

    Reply

  64. JohnH says:

    “Europe is going broke.” So is the United States. So, Nadine, do you propose drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or “defense” spending? It’s pretty much that simply–unless you want to tax large corporations and the wealthy.
    As for the “free market.” What a load of BS. Most of America’s large corporations operate in quasi monopolistic markets. In each market, one of the companies serves as the price setter. And it’s why you pay more than a dollar for a Coke whose cost to produce is probably about 5 cents.
    As for America’s free labor market, that explains CEO pay, doesn’t it? They have a terrible year, badly miss forecasts and expectations, and get whopping bonuses. It’s what happens when they’re allowed to have captive boards. The free market has absolutely nothing to do with it.
    I expect Nadine will object to my analysis, which only means that she’s a defender of entrenched, powerful interests, while I’m a defender of free markets. Who’s the capitalist now?
    If you truly believe in capitalism, you have to enforce anti-trust laws, bust the oligopolies, and end the stranglehold of corporate money on government regulation. Only a free, fair, refereed game will insure a fair game that can restore competition and capitalism. And that’s what I firmly support, not this crony capitalism that is a disgrace to everything capitalist.
    (and marcus called me a socialist! What a hoot!)

    Reply

  65. drew says:

    Dan, Europe wouldn’t exist in the form that makes it the lovely
    open air museum for us to visit — it would have been overrun
    twice in the past 70 years — absent the materiel, logistics,
    manufacturing and innovation superiority, and capacity to
    sacrifice lives for freedom, that describe the American economic
    and political system. At least, the American system that was in
    place at that time.
    Europe’s currency will dissolve in 18 months. D-I-S-S-O-L-V-
    E. What’s so great about a political-economy on a going-out-
    of-business curve? Long Europe? Buy 5-year Euro notes. Bet
    on Big Europe.
    “Every advanced (and even rudimentary) economy in the world
    creates wealth, even though they all have struck a different
    balance between capitalist and socialist elements.”
    This is a meaningless statement, aside from being stupid.
    Zimbabwe has a “rudimentary” economy. Have they struck “a
    different balance” or have they destroyed the country and many if
    not most of the lives obligated to live there? Personally, I would
    vote for an economic system that produces the optimal mix of
    value and social reward, not some ‘hey, they’re all the same until
    you get out to the margin’ nostrum. If there is no difference in
    economic culture and outcome, if they’re all of a piece, then,
    great! We’re off to Greece for a life on the beaches, and while
    there, we’ll invest our retirement funds in soon-to-default Greek
    bonds, and then, when no one will pay our bills for us? We’ll just
    march downtown and demand money from a government that
    has none.
    This is loopy stuff. If you need more money, what with the
    mortgage, the vacations overseas, the computer, the hours spent
    on TWN.com, go make it for yourself. Be a producer.

    Reply

  66. Dan Kervick says:

    “It is decided primarily by the going market price, which may be left alone, but more often is artificially increased with government taxes and regulations.”
    You seem to assume that the resultant of this multitude of private decisions is the most economically efficient solution for the economy as a whole, nadine. But the utter collapse of the free market in financial products into uneconomic madness has shown this faith in the emergent rationality of laissez faire systems to be a delusion.
    And people are not just inputs and means in our economy. They are also the ends for which the economy exists. So even if the economy were functioning to achieve the greatest possible output from the available labor input, that does not lead to the conclusion that the resulting economic arrangement is the one in which the majority of those laboring people would thrive best, and choose among all available alternatives.
    I believe we are smart enough to incorporate some deliberate design into our economic systems, and make them work to produce the social outcomes we desire. We don’t just have to leave everything up to the independent, self-interested choices of individual free economic agents. And even if each economic agent is ideally rational as an individual, there is abundant empirical and theoretical evidence to show that the resultant of individually rational decisions in a group is not necessarily the most economically optimal outcome for the whole group. Prisoner’s dilemma situations, among other things, show that it is possible to have a collection of economic decisions in which, although each agent’s individual decision was the best he could do, *given* the decisions of each of the others, there is nevertheless an alternative collection of decisions in which all or most of the agents do better.
    The introduction of some planning and governmental organization can help avoid the sub-optimal outcomes produced by laissez faire activity. This is really just common sense. Those of us who work for companies know that the company uses *planning* to get the economic outcome it desires. Companies don’t just tell their employees to act of their own as free economic agents, and then hope that what shakes out is the outcome the company is seeking. Now a country is a much more complicated enterprise than a single company. But that just means that the country’s use of planning must be cautious and judicious – not nonexistent.
    “You just don’t understand that the genius of the market system is that it doesn’t just redistribute wealth, it CREATES wealth.”
    Don’t presume to lecture me on what I do and don’t understand, Nadine. Every advanced (and even rudimentary) economy in the world creates wealth, even though they all have struck a different balance between capitalist and socialist elements. Wealth is created by re-directing capital from places where it exists in abundance but can do little good to places where it is needed but has the potential to be productive. The decentralized free market for capital does a decent, though crude and rationally limited, job in allocating capital to places where it can be more productive. But the insertion of human intelligence and government at higher levels of strategic economic planning can improve the allocation, and achieve vital and highly productive social investments that cannot be achieved through the limited ken and capacity of isolated and decentralized local agents.
    In the 40’s, the United States organized its capital in an amazingly effective and energetic way to win a global war, and doubled its economic output in the process. Interestingly, that spectacular performance occurred as a result of economic decision making that was more planned that at any time in our history. The benefits of that period of strategic economic planning lasted for two generations.
    The laissez faire economy of the 20’s, on the other hand, was less productive – and it also crashed, destroying most of the wealth it had created.

    Reply

  67. nadine says:

    “The difference is the philosophy of governing between the two parties. As a minority party, the Democrats did obstruct Bush at times, but for the most part, apporached the situation in good faith, the Republicans have never done so”
    I had hopes for you until this, Michael. The difference was less in the nature of the minority party than in the nature of the bills.
    No Child Left Behind was a centrist bill that could get bipartisan support. It wasn’t a far-right Republican proposal to shut down the Education Department. If it had been, it would have gotten no Democratic support.
    Obama has not proposed any centrist bills. They have all been as far left as he could get past his own caucus.

    Reply

  68. nadine says:

    All the European economies are in trouble. Those not yet in crisis are being dragged down by the demands of the others who are already broke.

    Reply

  69. nadine says:

    Dan, you may think you only want to modify the capitalist system. But what you want to do to it will destroy it. You just don’t understand that the genius of the market system is that it doesn’t just redistribute wealth, it CREATES wealth. Not understanding wealth creation, you will destroy the conditions that permit it to happen.

    Reply

  70. Dan Kervick says:

    Some European countries are in trouble, but others are quite sound.

    Reply

  71. nadine says:

    “It is distributed by human beings, who make decisions every day about how much of their firm’s income, which comes to them from the productive labors of all of their employees, should be distributed back to those employees as salaries and wages, and in which relative amounts. The main criterion employed is the self-interest of the people who make the distribution decisions” (Dan Kervick)
    NO NO NO! The main criterion before anyone buys anything, whether it’s you buying bread at the supermarket or an employer buying labor in in the labor market, is how much it costs, which neither you nor the employer get to arbitrarily decide. It is decided primarily by the going market price, which may be left alone, but more often is artificially increased with government taxes and regulations.
    Beyond that, you look for a bargain in your self-interest. You do, the employer does, the employee does, everybody does. Millions and millions of people making their own autonomous decisions based on what THEY think is their self-interest — THEY, not YOU, not some government bureaucrat — are what make the market. Nobody knows better than you what is good for you. No central planner has enough information to decide well. He can only wreck.

    Reply

  72. nadine says:

    “I just got back from a week in Europe, and noticed that most of those people had jobs, freedom and benefits as well. ”
    Dan, Europe is going broke. They don’t have enough workers to pay the pensioners. They don’t have enough kids to make new workers. Greece is broke already, the other PIGS will follow soon, the Germans are balking at paying the tab. The Euro will collapse.
    Living la dolce vita on somebody else’s credit card is a very attractive lifestyle — but it doesn’t last. What comes after is not pretty.
    It’s just incredible to me that you are citing the European model as a model of excellence at this point in time. You really have to be numerically illiterate to do that.

    Reply

  73. Dan Kervick says:

    “So the government should step in a redistribute the wealth away from those who earned it to give it to you?”
    You have a tendentious definition of “earned” Nadine. Wealth isn’t distributed in our society by the “invisible hand” or the magical efficiency genie. It is distributed by human beings, who make decisions every day about how much of their firm’s income, which comes to them from the productive labors of all of their employees, should be distributed back to those employees as salaries and wages, and in which relative amounts.
    The main criterion employed is the self-interest of the people who make the distribution decisions. They will keep as much for themselves as they can possibly get away with. The level of rationality attending the entire system is comparable to the rationality characterizing the out-of-control Ponzi scheme that we used to think of so fondly as our “financial system”.
    It is a sharks vs. suckers system whose reputed mystical efficiency is a great, big whopping myth and lie.
    Of course, in our P.T. Barnum society, many people do think that they have “earned” the fruits of whatever scams and flim-flams they can succeed in pulling off.

    Reply

  74. Dan Kervick says:

    “dan kervick, you have your mortgage, job, freedom, not by a state of nature, but as benefits of the system you want to destroy.”
    Not destroy. Just modify.
    I just got back from a week in Europe, and noticed that most of those people had jobs, freedom and benefits as well. We can do better here. We’re pouring money down the drain – or rather, into the very deep pockets of people who don’t need as much of it as they have, and who don’t make their capital as socially productive as it could be.

    Reply

  75. Michael says:

    I feel like I need to remind the author that though George W. Bush may have acted like he had a mandate from the people, his legislative record shows that he clearly didn’t. His 2nd term was a complete failure by every measurment; he failed to pass immigration reform because he couldn’t marshal his own party, and he failed at social security reform.
    During his first-term he was able to pass his tax-cuts, because he sold the public on the stimulative effect of the proposal and played to a base instinct in people to “want their money” when there was a government surplus. However, he achieved this with Democratic support. Bush also passed No Child Left Behind, because Ted Kennedy and other Democrats negotiated with him in good faith. Without the Dems, Bush achieves nothing. The difference is the philosophy of governing between the two parties. As a minority party, the Democrats did obstruct Bush at times, but for the most part, apporached the situation in good faith, the Republicans have never done so. Bush also was able to ride the coat tails of 9/11 to accomplish some of the more
    sinister “achievements” of his administration. Without 9/11 he would’ve been a one term president.
    President Obama has now achieved 3 historic things in just a year and a half. The largest economic stimulus, a historic health care bill, and the biggest financial reform bill since the Depression. The voters will go against him because they are constantly spoon-fed a narrative by the media on the left and the right. The right says he’s socialist, and the left says he’s weak in a self-defeating obsession that will return the Dems to the minority. I truly believe that the Dems and, Liberals in general, would rather be in the minority so they can reclaim the moral high ground and they can go back to simply criticizing Republicans instead of having to accept the limits of government in a system where no one gets everything they want. I say this as a loyal Democrat.
    There is so much Obama-trashing going on, that no one stops to think. Oh well, history will vindicate him, just like it will George HW Bush, because he was a class act and a decent president, too.
    Obama and his allies in Congress have successfully pushed broad legislation dealing with some of the most controversial topics in American politics. Sure, the bills are blown full of holes, but that is always the case in Congress. Obama is a good president and a good man.

    Reply

  76. nadine says:

    dan kervick, you have your mortgage, job, freedom, not by a state of nature, but as benefits of the system you want to destroy.
    Free markets are not perfect, but they are destroyed not by themselves but by the socialist two-step: 1) regulate and warp them to the point they no longer work, then 2) cry see! free markets don’t work, government must take them over. We have seen this in full force in the financial market reform: where select favored companies get bailed out, while others are subject to arbitrary government closure. Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie, whose government-inspired credit bubble created the crisis in the first place, go unreformed.

    Reply

  77. nadine says:

    “I do know that I would have a lot more freedom if I had a lot more money, along with shorter hours and more vacation time. And I believe I could have more of all three if the government would do something to take more wealth and more of the product of Americans’ ever-increasing productivity away from those who have a wasteful overabundance of it,” (Dan Kervick)
    So the government should step in a redistribute the wealth away from those who earned it to give it to you? Making them have a lot LESS freedom.
    They didn’t just win the lotto, this “too rich” folks. They created the wealth by hard work and risk-taking, wealth-creation which will stop happening if they aren’t allowed to keep the fruit of their labor. He’s not going to risk what he has and work 80 hours a week for 10 or 20 years to enrich YOU or some government drone. He will sit back and do the minimum, game the system to get the government to pay HIM instead of YOU, or take his capitalistic efforts to the black market.
    This is why socialism redistributes poverty, not wealth.

    Reply

  78. Dan Kervick says:

    Drew:
    a. I don’t share your philosophical preconceptions about property and private property. I see nothing morally objectionable about the public taking from people a share of what has been distributed to them by private markets, especially when the amount that has been distributed to them is far in excess of what they would have been able to earn on their own if they were not embedded in an economy constructed for them by their fellow-citizens, working both individually and collectively, through private and public means.
    But it would be better, in my view, to enact policies and marketplace rules that lead to better and more egalitarian initial distributions, rather than allow the market to continue with the wildly inegalitarian distributions it does now, and then take some of the money back to be redistributed.
    b. Your faith in the supreme efficiency of private markets is touching, but discredited by historical events. And your implicit suggestion that we must choose between either a system that allows capital to flow purely in response to private and decentralized decision-making or a system that puts all such decisions in the hands of a managerial elite represents a false dichotomy. The United States economy needs more planning, more public investment and more thoughtful income distribution policies. It doesn’t need a fully planned economy or a Chinese-style system.
    Every advanced economy in the world is a mixed economy. I just think we need a better mix, with a shift in a more publicly oriented, leftward direction.

    Reply

  79. Don Bacon says:

    “Socialism is an economic and political theory based on public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources.” –wiki
    As opposed to private ownership and management ruled by market forces.

    Reply

  80. ... says:

    can someone tell me what is socialist about bailing out the banks or giving bp a pass? what is socialist about that? it sounds like a complete sell out to the banks and corporations, which are very much the same and it has nothing to do with being ”social”…
    americans use the word socialist like it is something to clobber others over the head with, even if it is disconnected from reality..

    Reply

  81. JohnH says:

    “If only Obama wasn’t so scared of all those Republican boneheads…”
    The way to counter Republican boneheads is to have a clear agenda, clearly explain it to the American people, get their support, and have the public apply pressure.
    Obama, the man with the golden tongue, would have none of that.
    And Democrats wonder why they’re tanking?

    Reply

  82. drew says:

    “I do know that I would have a lot more freedom if I had a lot
    more money, along with shorter hours and more vacation time.
    And I believe I could have more of all three if the government
    would do something to take more wealth and more of the
    product of Americans’ ever-increasing productivity away from
    those who have a wasteful overabundance of it, and give it to me
    and people like me. Unfortunately, there seems little chance that
    either the Reaganite Democratic Party or the even more ultra-
    laissez faire Republican Party will do anything like this.”
    Obviously, those of us who believe in economic liberty believe
    that you are free to make more money if you want to, or work
    less, or not borrow money for a house, all of which is allied with
    the meaning of “… the pursuit of happiness”, and that, given
    your concerns, you should consider doing so. Moreover, if one’s
    objective is freedom but one advocates the selective
    objectification and denial of freedom to various social elements,
    based on their economic success, one has just disproven that
    same commitment to freedom.
    The arguments against your point of view are two-fold: moral
    and economic:
    a. moral: organizing populations to relieve non-members of
    their personal property confuses theft with virtue;
    b. economic: societies that allow capital to flow to its most
    efficient application always outperform, by any social index,
    those that follow the Berwickian model of suppressing
    “individual autonomy” and redirecting capital according to
    political aims of a different kind of elite. That is, unless you’re
    Tom Friedman and you admire efficiency of the Chinese State,
    prone to such social innovations as locking their rural-to-city
    immigrants into suburbs, and patrolling them at night, and
    throwing Christians into concentration camps and torturing them
    to death.

    Reply

  83. Drew says:

    You know, fellas, the other thing that I’ve noticed about this
    election cycle, that is new, is that people in the center and right are
    no longer moved by inflammatory or personally-directed insults.
    They have figured out that they’ve probably already won the
    argument, once the name-calling, the ad hominem screeds, and
    the disfiguring sarcasm appears. So they move on to the next
    argument.
    It really is true, for example, that “racist” really doesn’t mean
    anything in practice anymore. Intemperate overuse will do that to a
    word. The NAACP overreaches and damages its franchise. This too
    will play out in the election.

    Reply

  84. drew says:

    Sorry.
    … Then we have the brilliant strategy of suing the American people
    in the Arizona case.
    All of these things are not initiatives, but long-fuse bombs, and
    they are cumulative in their impact on the electorate.

    Reply

  85. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hillary???? Hillary who??? Aren’t you paying attention??? In TWN Town, Hillary doesn’t exist.
    Notice how she has removed herself from the ISR/PAL thing??? The icing on the cake is an Israeli diplomat declaring her “irrelevent”. My bet??? Its a collaborative effort to distance her from the “anti-Israel” aura being painted around Obama. Its been fairly obvious from the onset that she wasn’t on board with Obama towards taking any sort of “hardline” with Israel, and it wouldn’t suprise me in the least if she was actually working AGAINST Obama on this issue behind closed doors. She is one cut-throat calculating witch, and if she has to backstab her way into the Oval Office, is there anyone reading this that doubts she will do it?
    With the complete and utter dearth of commentary or opinion on this blog about Hillary Clinton, one has to logically raise the question….
    What sort of communication and collaboration is occurring between Clinton’s people and the NAF, and to what end????
    Interesting too seeing someone bugling for the right sniveling about lost freedoms. Been to a “Free Speech Zone” lately, Drew???

    Reply

  86. Dan Kervick says:

    “He’s taking some people’s money and freedom and bolstering the accounts of others.”
    Tell me about all of the wonderful freedom you have lost recently, Drew.
    Personally, I have a mortgage, family, car payments and 9 to 5:30 job – so I have substantially less freedom than I had when I was, say, 22 or 23. On the other hand, these are all impingements on my freedom that I voluntarily accumulated and accepted, and I can’t think of anything the government has done, under either party, that has had a significant impact on my freedom one way or another. Fluctuations in my taxes over the years, for all the hot air vented about them, have seemed modest and relatively insignificant. Actually, Obama gave me a middle class tax cut, and I received a healthy correction to my tax return from the IRS this year: they spotted an error in my favor and sent me some money.
    I do know that I would have a lot more freedom if I had a lot more money, along with shorter hours and more vacation time. And I believe I could have more of all three if the government would do something to take more wealth and more of the product of Americans’ ever-increasing productivity away from those who have a wasteful overabundance of it, and give it to me and people like me. Unfortunately, there seems little chance that either the Reaganite Democratic Party or the even more ultra-laissez faire Republican Party will do anything like this.
    If only Obama wasn’t so scared of all those Republican boneheads, and could manage to be the aggressive redistributor you fear, but which doesn’t actually exist. If Obama actually did have a few little socialist bones in his body – instead of worshipping at the temple of Harvard-Chicago neoliberal orthodoxy – he wouldn’t be half bad.
    I think that for most Americans, the greatest inhibitors of freedom are the masters we work for. If only we peons could figure out how to build a more powerful, assertive and capable national government, and use it as a leveling machine to assert popular sovereignty over the corporate warlords who currently run our society, to slash the runaway income gap, to establish more favorable rules for the road in the workplace, and to claw back a sizable portion of the wealth that has been exploited from us over the years.

    Reply

  87. drew says:

    I actually think the election will go worse for the Dems than
    currently discussed: I think that there is such cognitive
    dissonance on the part of the commentariat (Obama could not
    have been elected without them, because had they actually
    reported on his past and past associations he would not have
    earned the independent vote) that they cannot possibly confront
    yet the ruin that he has created of his landslide.
    And secondly, in a racially-gerrymandered country, b.s. like
    calling out the NAACP to call small-government enthusiasts
    ‘racists’ is really, really stupid. Once you leave a college campus
    or a coffee house, white guilt no longer exists. And the college
    kids and wingnuts aren’t so turned on anymore, as well.
    One must remember that the Left created this racially
    gerrymandered electoral map. Now, with Obama retaining the
    support of 90% of the black vote, but the Left having relegated
    that vote to two-party insignificance by segregating it in ‘safe’
    districts, and having lost support from every other demographic,
    the volatility in voting patterns is far, far higher than it ought to
    be.
    Then we have the brilliant strategy of suing the American people

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  88. drew says:

    I think Obama has operated as though it doesn’t matter what the
    margins were: the larger game for him is not democratic
    leadership and the construction of a better compact, but a socio-
    political transformation that is too important to entrust to the
    citizens to manage, approve, support. And he’s been very
    consistent and very transparent about it.
    This is why 55% of the country now matter-of-factly describes
    him as a socialist, and 13% of the country considers the stimulus
    to have had zero positive impact on their lives; the people, while
    slower than I wish they were, have figured the guy out. He’s
    taking some people’s money and freedom and bolstering the
    accounts of others. The only thing cynical about this is his use of
    vaporous, insubstantial, hope-and-change-and-love-and-
    post-partisan language to bait the voters. It worked, now it
    doesn’t, we move on.
    Personally, I’m only mad at my educated friends who voted for
    him, who, if on the right, express surprise that he hates
    enterprise and covets their money and considers them mere
    objects to be managed in a larger scheme too complicated for
    their modest brains; or, if they are on the left, that this guy
    wouldn’t try to out-macho Bush in Afghanistan and on
    Guantanamo, no matter that he doesn’t know Okinawa from the
    Somme. (As a war CIC he reminds me of people trying to play
    fantasy football. They may not be able to throw a football 10
    yards (and if Obama throws a football the way he throws a
    baseball, this is highly likely) but they know better than Belichick
    who to draft and play.)
    Anyway, at least the administration has dampened the partisan
    flames by launching the NAACP at the Tea Party, the former
    certainly knowing racism when it sees it, even if, well, you can’t
    see it, exactly. They just know it’s out there. Great strategy:
    white guilt them into voting Democrat.
    Meanwhile, an administration governing by the thinnest of
    margins does not appoint Berwick to manage a budget larger
    than the Pentagon’s via recess, and not expect it to blow-up in
    their faces as Berwick’s quotations scroll across the screen all fall
    in any race where the incumbent voted for Obama-care. My
    favorite might be:
    “Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training
    understanding the values of standardization and the risks of too
    great an emphasis on individual autonomy.”
    That’s right. We’ve got to do something about “individual
    autonomy”, and fast.
    Obama is disconnected from reality. He’s a guest of Amateur
    Hour. He read about the presidency, and, needing material for
    his third autobiography, assumed the position. The Democratic
    Caucus has begun the process of screwing his feet to the floor. I
    would expect Hillary to announce in the spring.

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  89. questions says:

    Fishgrease speaks again:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/7/15/884436/-Fishgrease:-Booming-Feynmans-Ghost
    And on the perspicacity of the American Public:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/7/13/884103/-Poll:-People-want-government-spending-cut,-but-
    Wherein we learn that spending cuts are the way to go to deal with deficits and debt, but the main thing to cut is FOREIGN AID which is thought to be a massive part of the budget problems we have!!!! It’s so nice, how well informed we are, how well we take to facts as they are reported!

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  90. nadine says:

    The White House is promising the restive Congressional Dems that they will campaign hard for them. From Politico:
    “The White House is pushing back against complaints from House Democrats that President Barack Obama is undermining their prospects for 2010, distributing a memo authored by a senior administration official detailing what the White House is doing to preserve control of Congress.
    Highlighted in the document, and detailed in an attached spreadsheet, are all the campaign appearances top members of the administration from the president on down have made for congressional Democrats.”
    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39738.html#ixzz0tjroeHzp
    To which I can only add: Please do. Campaign a lot. Concentrate on the swing states.
    Yesterday’s PPP poll asked if an Obama endorsement would make the respondent more or less likely to vote for that person. The answer? Less likely, by 20 point margin. (btw, Obama and Sarah Palin got about the same results on this question).

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  91. nadine says:

    “Who caved more in the majority party, Obama or congressional Dems?”
    That’s actually not an easy question to answer, as much of the time Obama gave the impression that he wanted a health care bill badly but he didn’t care much what was in it. But I’d say Pelosi and her very liberal committee chairs got much of what they wanted; if it isn’t single-payer right away, it’s designed to get their by regulating the private insurers right out of business.
    I’m sure the bludgeoned and arm-twisted centrist Democrats feel like they did more than their share of caving, and for what? A bill and a President that are electoral poison in their home districts.

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  92. Don Bacon says:

    Who caved more in the majority party, Obama or congressional Dems? This debate among losers should be quite interesting to watch, except for the abandoned people in the Democratic base who have nowhere else to go.

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  93. nadine says:

    Well, duh, Don Bacon, Obama certainly tried the take-no-prisoners approach. His compromises on health care were all to buy off big business, like the deals with pharma and AARP. He didn’t spend any time at all talking to Republicans. All the bribing and arm-twisting was done with fellow Democrats.
    Unfortunately, Obama was entirely unable to convince the American people, only 20% of whom are liberals, to follow the program. He talked for a solid year about health care reform, and at the end Obamacare was less popular than at the beginning.
    Now the White House seems to be saying, “Well, at least if we lose the House, we can run against the do-nothing Congress in 2012”. Gee, I can’t think why “tensions between House Democrats and the White House have been simmering for months”, can you?

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  94. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    Tensions between House Democrats and the White House have been simmering for months, with Pelosi and her chief lieutenants fretting that Obama isn

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  95. Dan Kervick says:

    “Democrats got elected on a mandate of change.”
    JohnH, you are misinformed. Weren’t you listening during the election? Obama ran on his famous slogans of “Despair” and “No we can’t”. I remember will.i.am signing “No We Can’t” as clear as if it were yesterday.

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  96. JohnH says:

    I’m not in the mood to cut Obama any slack, either. If Democrats lose this Fall, it will be their own damn fault.
    Democrats got elected on a mandate of change. But what little change has occurred has been done largely in secret. Obama chose to ignore his bully pulpit from the moment he was sworn in. Democrats never consulted with nor asked for the support of “we the people” in their legislative agenda, nor did they bother to explain whatever mischief they were able to pass. It was all Chicago style politics–behind closed doors.
    As every two years, they now have to make their case to we the people. And since we the people have been ignored and stiffed for two years, I don’t expect a whole lot of Democrats will be in the mood to show up at the polls. But Republicans will take out their populist rage, only to find that their party is planning to make things worse, much worse than during the Bush years. The rich and powerful couldn’t be happier: they’re fixing to eliminate ALL taxes on themselves, capital gains, estate, the whole enchilada. So Social Security taxes will have to pick up the tab for Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and whatever other folly that rich powerful interests deem suit their fancy. As for the elderly, sick and needy, they can just die. The rich and powerful have wars to fight.

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  97. nadine says:

    “Since then, after nominally and reluctantly “taking charge” in response to public incredulity and outcry, the government has conspired with BP to limit scientific and public access to information, and to inhibit freedom of the press.” (Dan Kervick)
    Gotta stop the pictures. Pretend it’s not there! This is what incompetent administrations do — they lie louder.
    Look, Dan, I know you think that big corporations live to kill their customers, but the reality is we won’t know how much of this accident was negligence and how much was an accident until the post-mortem investigation is done. In the meantime, it’s BPs job to cap the well and the Feds’ job to clean up the spill. Both have been doing lousy.
    A more competent president would have called in world experts in deep sea drilling so he wouldn’t have to rely on BP’s expertise, but Obama didn’t do that so he is hostage to BP’s success. A normal president would have waved the Jones act to bring in skimmers; Obama still has done that only by ones and twos, 70 days in.
    If Bush had behaved like this, the press would have been calling for his impeachment after about 10 days. They are still treating Obama with kid gloves.

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  98. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m in no mood to cut Obama any slack, David. Frankly, I think he should be impeached for dereliction of duty in response to the Gulf oil gusher.
    Yes, BP drilled the well which spilled the oil. But BP has just done what every evil and soulless mega-giant corporation does. It schemes, scams, exploits and wrecks whatever violence it has to against man or nature in order to amass whatever sums of profit it can get away with.
    It is the job of the federal government to protect the country from this kind of rape and pillage. We have passed laws giving the government these authorities and powers. The oil spill occurred well over a year into Obama’s term, on Obama’s watch. And HIS government failed manifestly and grossly to exercise the kind of oversight and protective stewardship of our nation’s environment and resources that is mandated by law. Then after the initial failure, the the President spent about a month hiding from view, and suggesting through his mouthpieces that the vital environmental and resource interests of the nation had been contracted out to BP, and that protecting the people, prosperity and resources of the United States were really none of Washington’s business. BP was in charge. Since then, after nominally and reluctantly “taking charge” in response to public incredulity and outcry, the government has conspired with BP to limit scientific and public access to information, and to inhibit freedom of the press.
    The result is one of the greatest disasters ever to befall the nation. And yet so far, this government has not been held accountable for its catastrophic failure.
    Obama is still getting away with environmental murder and way-too-late quarter measures because of a bizarre bipartisan confluence of political stupidity and corruption. Republicans think the national government should barely do anything at all, and so they certainly don’t want it getting in the way of the BPs of the world, or throwing up any roadblocks to the blasphemously large profits extracted from the untrammeled exploitation of the natural world. They don’t blame Obama for crappy government in this matter, because they believe the only good government is crappy government.
    And of course Democrats are willing to apologize and excuse any criminal misdeeds of their own side, no matter how enormous. So Obama has skated through the greatest environmental fuck-up in the nation’s history – our own Chernobyl.
    If he had any dignity and accountability, he would resign. As it is, we should fire him.

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  99. nadine says:

    “Specifically, as far as I can see it sets a floor on care, but not a ceiling. There’s nothing to prevent people with the money from going to the Mayo clinic every year if they want.”
    Not only does it not prevent, it insures that the best doctors will take cash-only and see the rich. But those of us who need insurance will all become the equivalent of today’s Medicaid patients.

    Reply

  100. nadine says:

    “Has the the evil dictator Obama forbid you from pouring forth your uncensored thoughts onto blog pages on a daily basis?” (Dan Kervick) Not yet, but his Supreme Court nominee has argued in the Supreme Court that FEC bureaucrats have the right to ban books. She also thinks the Congress can pass laws to tell us what vegetables to eat. This does not inspire confidence about what he will do in the future.
    “Did he tell you what job you have to take?”
    No, but he’ll be telling the doctors what job they have to take once his new system makes the physicial shortage goes critical. If you’ll notice, he’s already using the nationalized student loan program to preference those who work for the public sector over the private sector. And don’t tell me it’s because the public sector earns less — it earns more!
    “Did he lock your family up in a gulag?” No, I think he’s interested in a soft despotism, the kind where people vote themselves a nanny state. They love to encourage dependency on government on one hand, then they wonder why unemployment is so high.
    “Is he preventing you from voting?” Who knows what will happen? Eric Holder has already declared that voter intimidation is not a crime he will prosecute if the criminals are black. Maybe he will send the New Black Panthers out to depress Republican turnout. Desperate times require desperate measures.

    Reply

  101. larry birnbaum says:

    “spineless sack of shit”
    This yold imagines himself to be Bugs Bunny; but of course he’s actually Daffy Duck.

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  102. larry birnbaum says:

    Nadine, between our previous financially and ethically unsustainable system, and Britain’s NHS, there is a huge gap. The system we’ve just adopted looks nothing like Britain’s. It isn’t even single-payer, let alone a nationalized provider. Specifically, as far as I can see it sets a floor on care, but not a ceiling. There’s nothing to prevent people with the money from going to the Mayo clinic every year if they want.

    Reply

  103. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I do think Obama the work-together compromiser has to morph into Obama the guy who was elected to get needed things done, even if it means serious knocking of heads together”
    You gotta be shittin’ me.
    You haven’t been paying attention these last two years????
    The odds of this spineless sack of shit miraculously morphing into the President Of Your Dreams is on a par with the odds of Dick Cheney taking up marathon running.
    When’s he gonna hit the phone booth and change into his cape, David???

    Reply

  104. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Congratulations Dan. I always had faith that you’d eventually get a firm grasp on reality.
    Whats a “cynic” these days????
    A realist with a sense of humor.

    Reply

  105. David says:

    You are correct, Dan, about We the People and about the noise machine and the 2d media feeding frenzy of the week. I disagree about the administration, however. Try to imagine governing in this reality. And try to imagine pushing the needed $1 trillion additional stimulus that the current debacle calls for, or reducing the $1 trillion/year actual military costs, or modestly raising taxes on the people for whom the system is working, and who can therefore afford to pay those taxes for the good of the country, and without significant sacrifice on their parts. If you can imagine those things, you can imagine us not making the 1937 mistake again. And if you can imagine Republicans cooperating instead of obstructing, you can imagine the government actually solving problems. Obama has allocated $2 billion to two solar companies to build the largest solar facility in the world. Should be $20 billion, but 2 is likely all he can lay his hands on. And if you can imagine unemployment benefits continuing, which are a boost to the economy,instead of Republicans blocking extension, you can imagine an America that makes at least a bit of sense.
    Anger needs to be very carefully and very accurately aimed.
    I do think Obama the work-together compromiser has to morph into Obama the guy who was elected to get needed things done, even if it means serious knocking of heads together. It is time for him to channel LBJ. Cajole, but also hurt people when you must, just make sure you do it to people who deserve to be hurt and you do it only to forward the actual well being of the civil body politic, not some imagined ideological notion of our well being. Obama did have a mandate. He needs an LBJ-type as senate majority leader. Not sure who that would be.

    Reply

  106. Dan Kervick says:

    The latest chapter in the annals of absurdity:
    We are now at the point were the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank – director of those noted scourges of inflation, haters of deficits and corner-men of the banking elite – has had to remind a DEMOCRATIC president and his brainless lackeys in the White House that maybe they should stop being such a bunch of Hoovers, and should worry a little bit less about the deficit while worrying a little bit more about all of that hideous unemployment and the nation’s faltering economic performance.
    Of course, last week We The People were telling Washington that the biggest problem, by far, was the deficit. This week the ever-wise We are saying the problem is jobs again. We are also telling Washington to cut our taxes, but keep all our wars and unemployment benefits going.
    For an administration given as it is to tacking whichever way the wind is blowing, the shifts must make for confusing readjustments. Good thing they are spineless, or else the rapid changes in direction would be breaking their backs.

    Reply

  107. nadine says:

    Larry, like most socialist schemes, universal health care sounds like heaven in theory, but turns into hell in practice.
    First it blows up the national budget (much smaller attempts in the US have already blown up the budgets in Tennessee, Maine and Massachussets), then it runs around “saving money” by delaying, rationing and denying care.
    That’s what it has to do. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s what Obama’s new Medicare director, Donald Berwick, thinks it ought to do.
    If a woman gets diagnosed with breast cancer, her chances of dying within five years are 88% higher in the UK than in America. That’s the kind of detail that stays strictly in the fine print when they sell universal health care. They prefer that everybody thinks they have “free” care until they get sick and discover it’s a nine month wait to see the specialist, by which time the cancer is inoperable.
    No, thank you. Repeal Obamacare!

    Reply

  108. David says:

    Well said, Steve. I do see some merit in questions’ post. I see no merit in the old George Wallace saw that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. It is simply not true, and requires ignore reams of history. An argument that Democrats have made some terrible mistakes related to US military policy has merit, but it was Democrats who tried to take US foreign/military policy in a new direction during and after Viet Nam. They also tried to take us in a new direction regarding the environment. The cosequences: ridicule, villification, and the election of Ronald Reagan. One can correctly observe that Democrats too easily lose their nerve and their resolve. On cannot correctly observe that there is no meaningful difference between the two parties. It is also silly to argue that we should simply get rid of all Democrats and Republicans and replace them with some mythical creatures who will come from I know not where and do I know not what, but there sure as hell isn’t any reservoir of non-partisans out there poised or prepared to “save the nation.” There are a bunch of Tea Partiers who are so deluded that they thing they fill the bill, as if ignorance, denial of reality, and reactionary extremism were somehow virtues, and Ayn Rand was and Glenn Beck is a fount of wisdom.

    Reply

  109. nadine says:

    Jamming down = party line vote secured with massive strong-arming and bribery (cf. Ben Nelson). In the case of Bart Stupak, they literally destroyed the man’s career. It’s rather sad. He couldn’t stand the pressure and caved.
    “These procedures have been used by both parties at various times”
    Reconciliation had been used for budgets and tax laws. That’s how Bush used them. There was no precedent for massive social legislation being passed by reconciliation. Medicare and the The Great Society weren’t passed by reconciliation.
    (As a side note: when a new administration develops a pattern of bending or breaking rules and laws in an unprecedented fashion, but keeps denying that they are doing anything different from their opponents, this is a bad sign and a strong indicator of immoderation and lawlessness.)
    “Rasmussen’s polls have a lot of partisan favoring (read Nate Silver if you’ve forgotten this fact)”
    I do read Nate Silver and he gave Rasmussen very creditable ratings, almost as good as Gallup:
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/06/pollster-ratings-v40-results.html
    ‘”socialist” is such an ill-defined buzzword that it doesn’t really matter what people think about it.”
    No it’s not, but do keep telling yourself that.
    “They might, many of them, hear a description of Medicare, decide it’s socialist, and be beyond enraged if anyone cut their Medicare bennies.”
    This has to be one the most juvenile of the Dem talking points. Can you not comprehend the difference between destroying a program you and I have been FORCED to pay into for all our working lives, and creating a new entitlement program, whose creation will rob us of the Medicare benefits we already paid for and were promised?

    Reply

  110. ... says:

    “Nancy Pelosi has a point. Perception matters”
    unfortunately for the people of the usa, perception is made out to be everything, with substance counting for next to nothing… the corporate media are very good at keeping it just that way too… nancy pelosi is either incapable of rising above this level of discourse, or worse, knowingly dupes the citizens she works for regularly.. it is probably a bit of both in her case, but it says how little difference there is in either major party in the usa at present… i agree with dan k – moronocracy is a good word to use to describe it all… canada is not as bad, but with harper trying very hard to be just like the idiot past president bush, he is doing a great disservice to canucks as well…
    leadership from the political class at this point in history sucks…

    Reply

  111. larry birnbaum says:

    A “realist” perspective on politics arrives at The Washington Note. I await Clemons’s recognition that the very same dynamics apply to foreign relations as well. Have our adversaries “smelled weakness, indecision, and inchoateness?” I’m afraid so — and even more afraid that the costs to the United States, our interests, our values, and our allies will be significantly higher than Republican victories in the November elections.
    PS I disagree with my friend Nadine however regarding the President’s domestic policies, apparently. I’m thrilled that we finally have universal health insurance in America, and happy to give President Obama the credit for this significant victory; happy that the stimulus passed, and only wish it had been even more; believe the financial crisis clearly demonstrates the need for increased regulation; and will be pleased to see Bush’s incredibly irresponsible tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire next year.

    Reply

  112. Dan Kervick says:

    “Thank you for this succinct explanation of modern liberalism, aka dictatorship.”
    And thank you for your own illustration of the intellectual wages of Republican moronocracy, which has reduced its adherents to such a slug-like level of intelligence that they can no longer tell the difference between living under an unimaginatively run-of-the-mill liberal democratic government and a dictator.
    Has the the evil dictator Obama forbid you from pouring forth your uncensored thoughts onto blog pages on a daily basis? Did he tell you what job you have to take? Did he lock your family up in a gulag? Is he preventing you from voting?

    Reply

  113. questions says:

    nadine,
    please explain “jamming down”. Seriously.
    The rules in the House and Senate are laid down, the rules were obeyed. Procedure was followed as it always has been. There is a Parliamentarian to guarantee that.
    What in heaven’s name is “jamming down”????? Strong arming?
    Reconciliation is a legitimate procedure. It is used under fairly specific circumstances. It was okayed by the parliamentarian. Almost everyone in Congress is a lawyer. The staffers are lawyers. There are lawyers everywhere, except on Fox News, it would appear.
    These procedures have been used by both parties at various times. Whenever Congress has a procedure, it always has an anti-procedure to deal with moving legislation when the procedure gets in the way. The filibuster’s supermajority requirement gets in the way, so reconciliation is there to make up for it.
    Google “Bush, Repbulican, use of reconciliation” and see what shows up.
    Your talking points are talking!
    Rasmussen’s polls have a lot of partisan favoring (read Nate Silver if you’ve forgotten this fact), and “socialist” is such an ill-defined buzzword that it doesn’t really matter what people think about it. Who knows if all those people even thought through what they meant. They might, many of them, hear a description of Medicare, decide it’s socialist, and be beyond enraged if anyone cut their Medicare bennies.
    The “too dumb” meme, I agree with you up to a point. I think that there’s a lot that people are pretty unsophisticated about regarding economics, consequences of policy, causation and correlation, and the like. But once we know where those unsophisticated moments pop up, maybe there’s a chance of addressing them intelligently. On the other hand, I did post a link to that piece that discusses how super ideologically committed people give in to the confirmation bias routinely and don’t therefore think about facts….

    Reply

  114. nadine says:

    “But the main problem with America is Americans. We’re basically too dumb to govern ourselves, and thus our democracy is failing and our social and cultural fabric is unraveling.”
    Thank you for this succinct explanation of modern liberalism, aka dictatorship.

    Reply

  115. nadine says:

    “President Barack Obama won an overwhelming mandate in my view — the largest Democratic Party win since LBJ. But through his Presidency, Obama has operated as if he had the slimmest of margins.” (Steve Clemons)
    What?! What are you smoking, Steve, and can I please have some?
    Stimulus? $4 Trillion 2009 Budget? Obmacare? Financial “Reform”? all negotiated SOLELY within the Demcratic Caucus, jammed down by one-party strong-arming and reconciliation? If this is Obama’s timidity, what would confidence have looked like? Martial law? Obama has not passed ONE bipartisan bill (apart from matters dealing with Afghanistan). Only the opposition has been bipartisan.
    Obama has been governing as if Liberals were a majority, promising, “Okay, you dumb Americans may hate Obamacare now, but you’ll like it once it’s passed.” Well, guess what? It’s been four months since it passed, and Americans hate it worse now then they did before. A clear majority want to repeal it.
    Obama’s problem is not timidity but ideological rigidity, abetted by a growing credibility problem, since Obama seems so incapable of stating the truth, that everybody begins to wonder if he knows the truth from a lie. “If you like your health plan you can keep it.” “Costs will go go down.” “There will be no rationing.” No, no, and no — and people are starting to realize it. Now he’s appointed a Medicare head who thinks that the NHS’ NICE rationing board is the model to copy.
    According to Rasmussen, 55% of likely voters think the word “socialist” fits Obama “well” or “very well”. Some of the smart folks on your panel, like Mort Zuckerman, have buyer’s remorse for having supported such a left-wing anti-business candidate.

    Reply

  116. Dan Kervick says:

    “When are people finally going to start voting in mass for anybody but the “lesser” of the two evils?”
    Sure, maybe we should vote for one of those other great independent geniuses out there?
    Politicians can and should be blamed for the troubles they cause. But the main problem with America is Americans. We’re basically too dumb to govern ourselves, and thus our democracy is failing and our social and cultural fabric is unraveling.
    We have two moron parties, and most Americans self-identify with one of them. And while it would be nice to think that the unaffiliated voters eschew a major party because they are two keen-witted and independent-minded to fall in with the big two, the fact is that most independents probably stick to the middle because they are confused, timid, dithery and even more politically illiterate than the affiliated voters.

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  117. JohnH says:

    When are people finally going to start voting in mass for anybody but the “lesser” of the two evils?
    The difference between Democrats and Republicans is simple. Republicans do whatever their wealthy underwriters want and don’t give a damn about what “we the people” think. Democrats think about how to spin the message, then do whatever their wealthy underwriters want.

    Reply

  118. questions says:

    My take is “good dem/bad dem” reverse psychology, panic the base.
    If you spend any time on the left end of the universe you find endless complaint that nothing is good enough, that Obama is a sell out, that there’s no point in anything anymore. Couple that with that line whoever it was came up with (Kathleen Parker??) that Obama is the first woman president (the way Bill Clinton was the first Black president), add to that all the people who figured they’d give it a try… and you end up with deep dissatisfaction because none of these complainers seems to understand the nature of the political process.
    So, brilliantly, in my opinion, we are reminded that everything we disliked about Bush could happen all over again if the Repubs take the House. We’ll get gridlock, no legislation at all as opposed to compromises with the other side. If you think this is ugly right now, Gibbs reminds us, just you wait.
    This is the beginning of GOTV, and it’s precisely what we need.
    Pelosi, on the other hand, is tasked with reminding us that SHE has actually done a whole lot of stuff, and where the dems fall down is in the Senate, which from the House’s perspective is, well, the Senate, nudge nudge, wink wink. Whaddya expect from THEM.
    I think it’s a good push, not an admission of failure.
    Of course, I’ve been wrong before….
    But let’s face it, on the local end, so many of the Repubs look so damned awful. I don’t see how some of these people can win.
    But I’ve been wrong before!

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