Free Forum Friday April 15 Edition

We have a deal!

This week we got a deal to keep the federal government going a little while longer. And another round coming over the debt ceiling.

All that aside, we’d like to do something a little different. Some quality control, if you will. We want to know your thoughts on the 538 Refugees site itself. In particular:

  • What do you like about the site? What do you dislike? How can we improve the dialog?
  • What sorts of features would you like to see more of? What sorts of things should we be doing less of?
  • What do you think of the guest articles?
  • How do you feel about the authors participating in the discussions?
  • Anything else you’d like to tell us about how we’re doing?

And, of course, the usual FFF fare. Anything else you want to talk about?

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.

About Michael Weiss

Michael is now located at http://www.logarchism.com, along with Monotreme, filistro, and dcpetterson. Please make note of the new location.
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174 Responses to Free Forum Friday April 15 Edition

  1. filistro says:

    And the madness continues.

    Today the House votes on the “Ryan Plan.”

    Tomorrow Dem strategists and messagers across the nation begin preparing TV ads showing old people shivering in darkened rooms and dark scary voices saying “Congressman X voted to abolish Medicare and give tax breaks to millionaires…”

  2. filistro says:

    What I think about the site… I think we have the smartest, funniest, most interesting group of commenters anywhere on the Web.

    To quote my friend GROG… I love you guys!

  3. filistro says:

    Re: that Ryan vote… I see that Chuck Todd agrees with me:

    “Between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm ET, the House will vote on Paul Ryan’s budget. And because it (among other things) phases out Medicare as we know it, which Obama reinforced in his speech on Wednesday, it could end up being a harder vote for GOP members than they may realize. “This is a tough vote, and this vote is going to come back and haunt some members,” former GOP Congressman and NRCC head Tom Davis said on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” this week. In retrospect, the Dem votes on health care in 2009 and 2010 certainly impacted last year’s midterms. But Democrats, after months of debate, knew what was coming. We’re not sure that some House Republicans know what they’re in store for after today’s vote. For those Republicans in the Midwest and states with older populations, take note.”

  4. filistro says:

    Harry Reid warns House Republicans:

    “Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on tomorrow’s House vote on the Republican budget:

    “The vote you’ll cast tomorrow presents a clear choice between millionaires and the middle class. Whose side are you on?

    “It will also answer for the country this question: Are Republicans serious about reducing the deficit, or are they going to continue pretending we can do it without asking millionaires, billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share?

    “Our federal budget is like any family’s budget in that there are two columns: what we take in and what we spend. We can’t have a serious conversation about balancing the budget until Republicans stop pretending that the ledger has only one side.””

    Is there anybody here who DOESN’T think this is a breathtakingly stupid move by Republicans? Why include these tax cuts in the plan and allow the oppo this sort of sound bite for the next 18 months?

    I remain, as I said yesterday… baffled.

  5. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    One question to answer a question:

    Of families, of which you have first-hand knowledge, who have suddenly found themselves in a financial bind, and having cut back on spending where they felt necessary, how many also developed additional sources of revenue; spouse taking a job or one member taking a second job, to pay for the items that family considered important?

  6. Turrboenvy says:

    Since Republicans keep hammering on the “family budget” analogy, the Democrats should pick up on it too.

    “You can’t fix your family’s budget by quitting your job, and we can’t fix the nation’s by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.”

  7. Justsayin' says:

    I’m glad you all are here, you are doing a great job, and I really like your guest writers it keeps the conversastion interesting.
    As for the GOP vote I can only say, ” keep digging your grave, I can hardly wait to dance on it”.

  8. rgbact says:

    Love that phrase “phases out Medicare as we know it”. So much more ominous than “reforming Medicare”. Sounds like Chuck Todd can be counted on to repeat White House talking points.

  9. filistro says:

    rgb… changing Medicare to a voucher system certainly “phases out Medicare as we know it.”

  10. filistro says:

    @turboenvy… You can’t fix your family’s budget by quitting your job, and we can’t fix the nation’s by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.”

    Great, great line! I intend to borrow it… hope you don’t mind :-)

  11. filistro says:

    Justsayin’… you are one of the reasons I think we have the best commenters on the Web :-)

  12. dcpetterson says:

    What’s particularly amusing about this Ryan move is that the Republicans were trying to paint themselves as the defenders of Medicare during the HCR debate. Remember how they accused Democrats of trying to slash $500 billion from Medicare? And now here they are, killing Medicare completely.

    Of course, the Republicans will present it as “reform” and claim they are “saving” Medicare by dismantling it.

    Do note also, the proposal (supposedly) will not affect people who are currently on Medicare or will be on Medicare within the next ten years — that is, they claim the 55+ demographic will not be affected. This is a transparently cynical ploy. People in the 55+ demographic cohort vote in huge numbers, and often they vote majority Republican. The R’s will be telling them, “Don’t worry, we’ve taken care of you. You’ll be fine. It’s just your kids and grandkids who are screwed. But we know you’re all really just selfish bastards, and won’t mind knowing that your kids won’t get medical care, as long as your Medicare is okay.”

    And to the kids, they’ll say, “We’ve been warning you for years that when you’re old enough to get Medicare, it won’t be there for you. See? We’re keeping our promise. And next year, we’ll do the same thing for Social Security.”

    What a forward-looking platform to run on!

  13. drfunguy says:

    Atlas Shrugged, p. 1, the movie is out. Review snippets available.
    My favorite: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to the big screen.They should have waited longer.”
    Runner up: “nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/159963/rand-appalling-new-atlas-shrugged-movie-booed-planet

  14. filistro says:

    @Doc… who IS John Galt?

    LOL….

  15. rgbact says:

    And more from DC….”killing Medicare completetly”. Gotta love these “you’re lying about death panels!” folks now jumping in to the hysteria pool.

    I look forward to almost zero substantive debate on the Ryan plan….and tons of hysteria. As Obama showed yesterday….that is the Dem gameplan.

    I agree that the 55+ exemption is overly political. I would make it start next year and apply to everyone.

  16. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    40 years ago, a preview of Ryan’s plan today:

    Well, we saved that village from Charlie.

    Yeah, how’d you do it?

    We bombed and shelled it out of existence!

  17. mclever says:

    Max, in the families that I personally have known, the second/extra job has almost always been the approach, because they’ve usually deemed their expenditures to be “needs” that can’t really be cut more than they already are. They either get a second job, or a questionable loan…

    I’ll admit that I’ve had to have a frank talk with a sibling about cellphone plans with unlimited text and browsing (and need vs. convenience), but those sorts of things usually only make a dent at the periphery of the budget. You might be able to save a few dollars with better choices on “need” items, but you can’t completely cut the mortgage/rent, groceries, heating, water, electricity, medical bills, insurance, phone, car, etc.

    OK, some people will look at that list and say something like the car is a convenience, but for many, many Americans it’s actually a need. Count yourself lucky if you live some place that has public transportation. ‘Round here, you need a car to do anything, but you can get the $2500 used clunker instead of something brand new. Moving to somewhere with public transportation doesn’t always save, because the higher cost of rent/mortgage in a larger urban area often outweighs the cost of the clunker car, and then there’s the finding a new job problem. I’m not saying the lack of public transportation is a good thing, but rather acknowledging that many people literally can’t afford to cut a car out of their budget, because then they couldn’t get to that job that pays for the rent, groceries and other need items.

    It’s not perfectly analogous, but a similar argument could be made for certain government programs. Some people are lucky enough to be in situations where they don’t need the help, but for many, many Americans, the only thing keeping them afloat is that little extra help, whether it’s Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, or whatever. Alternate approaches like vouchers may save the government money, but they don’t actually meet the people’s needs, which hurts the government revenue in the long run. Cutting or gutting those programs are like cutting the car and groceries out of your budget. It might balance on paper, but you can’t live very long if you can’t get to your job or buy more food…

  18. dcpetterson says:

    rgbact, a plan to force people to buy private insurance rather than use today’s Medicare is, in fact, a plan to kill Medicare completely. The whole point of Medicare is that it is a publicly-run form of medical insurance. If you’re on private insurance instead, then you’re not on Medicare. QED.

  19. Mule Rider says:

    “Cutting or gutting those programs are like cutting the car and groceries out of your budget. It might balance on paper, but you can’t live very long if you can’t get to your job or buy more food…”

    The problem is, though, that too many people are trying to live above their means even with “necessities.” Yes, it’s true, things like mortgage/rent, groceries, utilities, a vehicle, insurance, phones, internet, etc. might seem like “needs” but people have all too often gotten in the habit of living in the nicest house/apt they can afford, eating/orderint out way too often and even wasting the cheaper food they buy with poor decisions, running the heat on 75-80 in the winter and the AC on 65-70 in the summer, getting a new vehicle every 2-3 years, and mindlessly getting the most expensive phone and internet plans because they have to be connected NOW and to EVERYTHING.

    I’m not asking people to do without “needs”….I’m just asking that people make much better decisions regarding those needs by living within a budget and not frittering away money trying to spoil themselves or “keep up with the Joneses.”

  20. dcpetterson says:

    @rgbact
    I agree that the 55+ exemption is overly political. I would make it start next year and apply to everyone.

    I agree with you here. Ryan is trying too hard to not lose the 55+ demographic vote for Republicans. I’d much prefer he screwed everyone, right up front, and set up a total Democratic landslide in 2012. As it is, we might have to work for it a little.

  21. Justsayin' says:

    Thanks for the compliment Fili, I appreciate it, I try to tune in daily, throw in a comment when I can, as an internet troll I am all over the place, but if I want intelligent discourse on our political, economic and cultural scene I tune in here! Keep up the good word!

  22. mclever says:

    As for my opinions about this site, I obviously love it because I’m here to read the articles and comments almost every day, even if I don’t say anything myself.

    - I think each of the main contributors offers an interesting and compelling voice, each with a uniquely valuable perspective. Some speak from the heart, some from the gut, and some from the mind. Even if all of the primary contributors lean leftward, it’s not as if there’s only one view being represented, and there’s value in that diversity.
    - I like the guest contributors, because they keep the conversation fresh. I would hope that some of our conservative regulars would consider submitting an article or two to give us all a different view. I think Mr. Universe has been very gracious about accepting guest articles, and I hope he continues to do so.
    - I like that some of the articles are educational and research-based while others are more visceral, emotional reactions to the news of the day. Most blogs are one or the other, and I like that there’s an attempt here to recognize that we are both emotional and thoughtful political animals.
    - I like that most of the discussions are relatively cordial compared to what is often found on political blogs. I appreciate the moderators’ efforts to keep it that way. Moderating a site like this is a difficult judgment call, because sometimes a spark needs to be stamped out quickly before it becomes a full blown wildfire, and that can lead to hurt feelings. From what I’ve seen, our moderators have generally deleted both sides of “heated” exchanges, so I respect that they’ve been reasonably fair.
    - I find it valuable when the authors are contributing to the discussion. Sometimes it is helpful for clarification or for expanding into elements that didn’t fit into the published piece. I can see how sometimes authors might get too invested in what they’ve nurtured to publication and can’t shut up about it, but hat hasn’t really been a problem here.

    My only complaint wouldn’t be directed at the site organizers but rather at those of us who they’ve invited into the discussion, at my fellow commenters. I sometimes wish there wasn’t so much complaining about “deflection” or “evidence” for opposing views being expressed. Yes, we would all wish that our views were well-substantiated, but sometimes we’re just voicing off-the-cuff opinions around here. Challenging one another is great, but criticisms voiced in an attacking “You never XXX” manner tend to promote defensiveness rather than discussion. Frustrating as it might be, when doubting someone else’s view, ask about it. If there’s no response, ask again. Be patient. Not all of us live at 538. Some of us have jobs, too. And if there’s no response after a while, let it go until the topic comes up again. Trust me, the rest of us can see the deflection and non-response without you having to pound on it ad infinitum. Otherwise, it tends to devolve into a “You’re bad! No, you’re worse!” spiral that doesn’t add anything substantial to the actual conversation except to prove which of you knows the most Latin debate terms…

  23. filistro says:

    A new PPP poll shows Donald Trump leading the field of potential Republican challengers by a wide margin.

    Trump garnered 26% of the vote, followed by Mike Huckabee (17%), Mitt Romney (15%), Newt Gingrich (11%), and Sarah Palin (8%.) Ron Paul earned 5%, while Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty took 4% each.

    Just like in the Clinton days, the GOP is getting all bent out of shape by hatred. Trump’s sudden surge lies entirely in the fact that he gives voice to the conservatives’ deranged loathing of Obama.

    Hatred and rage can be fun… but ultimately they always turn out to be a costly indulgence.

  24. mostlyilurk says:

    “rgbact, a plan to force people to buy private insurance rather than use today’s Medicare is, in fact, a plan to kill Medicare completely. The whole point of Medicare is that it is a publicly-run form of medical insurance. If you’re on private insurance instead, then you’re not on Medicare. QED.”

    DC, you’re exactly right. I don’t think the term “phase out” is even accurate. What Ryan has proposed and what will be voted on today is the elimination of Medicare, a single payor program, for people 55 and under. They’re not saving Medicare for these folks – they’re eliminating it – completely and entirely. It’s my understanding that he’s proposing that it be replaced with a subsidy to help seniors buy private insurance – the same private insurance that (if certain legislators have their way and are successful in repealing HCR) can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or make such coverage unaffordable, can raise premiums indiscriminately and can impose lifetime caps on benefits. If that doesn’t qualify as the elimination of Medicare, I have to wonder what would. I’m just trying to imagine my elderly relatives searching for an affordable insurance policy every year… yikes.

  25. mclever says:

    @Mule

    Regarding buying the biggest house and a new car every 2-3 years… I definitely agree with you, hence my examples of buying a new car vs. a used “clunker” and the sibling who thought unlimited web-browsing on a cellphone was a “need.” With things like cars, it’s easier to see when the “need” is crossing over into “want,” because the only functional difference between the new car and the used car is appearance. (OK, and maybe some differences in reliability, gas mileage, or newer safety features, but essentially a car is a car. As long as it gets you where you’re going and has enough seats for your passengers…) This is especially true when we’re only talking about a single family’s finances and there are clear options on the marketplace.

    The minimum necessities are harder to define with government programs, because it’s not like there’s a marketplace of options for essentially the same government vehicle just with different price tags based on appearance and brand name. Government doesn’t have marketing mark-ups, but they do have out-dated bureaucratic layers that could be streamlined and modernized. If we actually treated government “like a business” and invested in technology and process improvements, then (like a business) we’d see more efficiency improvements and get better bang for the taxpayer dollar. That’s the better approach for scaling back government rather than simply buying a cheaper model.

  26. filistro says:

    Hey Doc… a little known factoid about Ayn Rand:

    When Rand was diagnosed with lung cancer, she applied for and began receiving Social Security/Medicare, not under her writing/maiden name but under her married surname which was O’Connor.

    See Anne Heller’s well-written biography, “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.”

  27. mclever says:

    Oh, and I agree with dcpetterson and mostlyilurk regarding Ryan’s Medicare proposal. Vouchers for future retirees currently 55 or under to buy private insurance means the elimination of the single-payer plan that we know as Medicare. It’s a plan to destroy Medicare, not “save” it. Unless the vouchers came with a stipulation that private insurers couldn’t charge seniors any out-of-pocket premiums beyond the voucher limit, must accept all applicants regardless of current medical condition, and couldn’t impose any life-time limits, then the voucher proposal is a plan to eliminate Medicare and bankrupt our seniors in a generation.

    Personally, if the plan instead offered to open up Medicare to allow those currently under 55 to pay premiums to buy Medicare coverage, that would be a real health plan option for millions. Buying into Medicare as a thirty-year-old would be much better than going uninsured or paying double the premium to some private insurer with significant coverage gaps.

  28. Kylopod says:

    >Just like in the Clinton days, the GOP is getting all bent out of shape by hatred. Trump’s sudden surge lies entirely in the fact that he gives voice to the conservatives’ deranged loathing of Obama.

    But in the Clinton years, none of the deranged folks ever led the field of Republican presidential contenders in the polls. Dole was pretty consistently the front-runner; I think Powell led a few early polls, too. Buchanan did win the NH primary, but I don’t think he was ever the front-runner in the race as a whole.

  29. filistro says:

    kylopod… that’s true, but back in Clinton days, (despite their extreme loathing of the guy) there was still a sensible, pragmatic middle to the Republican party that knew how to keep the troops in line.

    Now the whole party is like “Dumb and Dumber”… only it’s “Furious and Furiouser.”

    Or maybe “Extreme and Extremer.”

  30. dcpetterson says:

    @filistro

    One of the really scary things about the PPP poll you linked is this:

    23% of these voters say they would not be willing to vote for a candidate who stated clearly that Obama was born in the U.S. 38% say they would, and a 39% plurality are not sure.

    So, at least 23% of Republicans with a candidate preference (nearly a quarter!) are not going to vote on issues — but will vote instead on the irrational birtherism nonsense. They are voting based on a paranoid denial of reality, not on a consideration of where the country is or where it’s going.

    I’d like to think this sort of delusion is confined to one side of the political spectrum, but I suspect it’s not. With any luck, contrasting insanities will cancel each other out, but I really can’t think what sort of paranoid delusion drives as many people to vote Democratic.

    I also have to wonder what will happen if an overt birther doesn’t get the nomination — if instead it goes to someone like Romney, who has firmly stated that yes indeed Obama is a US citizen and was born in Hawaii. Will the Teapers stay home, or put in a protest vote for someone else, or …. ?

  31. Turrboenvy says:

    Speaking of hatred, the xenophobes have spoken and passed the “birther bill” in Arizona.

    And as for 538refugees, I’ve followed fivethirtyeight since ’08 and loved all of your comments, but only recently discovered this site. Some of it’s over-the-top and partisan, but good commentary none-the-less.

    But the real reason I come here… is to see if today it’s good-Mule or bad-Mule. Sometimes he’s really level and makes great points. Others, he’s threating to gut people.

  32. Brian says:

    No way Trump rides this level of excitement out for the next 18 months. He’s going to peak too early. Plus, he’s got the birther angle, or the “proofer” thing, as they like to call themselves.

    As to the questions above, I’d really like to see some of our more conservative posters come up with an article or two. I basically go to this site, which is on the whole rather liberal, and then I go to Free Republic, to get the crazy angle. I don’t see too many articles from sane conservative thinking.

    Also, I don’t know how difficult it would be, but an actual forum would be awesome. Rather than the usual “article is posted, we comment on it for a bit, nothing really gets resolved, next articles comes up, we get distracted and continue there” situation.

    And more Michael Weiss! Though everyone here is awesome.

  33. filistro says:

    @DC… Will the Teapers stay home, or put in a protest vote for someone else, or ….

    I’m increasingly convinced we will see a third party candidate this cycle. I think the R’s know they can’t possibly beat Obama with any of the field they’ve got, so it’s all going to be about emotion and election optics.

    Given an establishment candidate the Teapers will seek a crazy third party type as an outlet for their hatred. OTOH, if due to the vagaries of the primary process (and the intensity of their hatred) a crazy birther DOES get the nomination, the establishment GOP will need to field somebody more mainstream as a third party candidate or risk relegating their party to minority status for decades to come.

  34. rgbact says:

    Fili-

    Newt and Dick Armey are more pragmatic than Boehner/Cantor? Contract with America? Term Limits? Whitewater? Travelgate? I think you’re romancing about good ol’ days….that didn’t really exist.

    Trump probably voted for Obama. If he’s become extremist….that pretty much sums up where the current Democratic party is.

  35. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    “Trump garnered 26% of the vote, followed by Mike Huckabee (17%), Mitt Romney (15%), Newt Gingrich (11%), and Sarah Palin (8%.) Ron Paul earned 5%, while Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty took 4% each.”

    The Clinton issue in a different context:

    From a CNN article of 5 November 2007, one year before the election, a poll had Hillary leading with 44%, Obama @ 25 and Edwards @ 14.

    So much for polls an additional 6 months out!

  36. filistro says:

    @Brian: Also, I don’t know how difficult it would be, but an actual forum would be awesome. Rather than the usual “article is posted, we comment on it for a bit, nothing really gets resolved, next articles comes up, we get distracted and continue there” situation.

    An interesting thought. It wouldn’t be that hard to put up an open thread (like this one) every day or two, so people would have place for off-topic conversations and more depth and time for specific topics. But that might take up all the oxygen and detract form the daily “issue” posts. What do you all think?

  37. filistro says:

    rgb… Trump probably voted for Obama. If he’s become extremist….that pretty much sums up where the current Democratic party is.

    Oh, c’mon. You know I love you, rgb, but that’s just silly.

    Trump hasn’t become “extremist”… he’s become AMBITIOUS.

  38. dcpetterson says:

    For a peek inside the recent budget negotiations, take a look at this:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-usa-budget-obama-idUSTRE73A5HU20110415

  39. Mule Rider says:

    “My only complaint wouldn’t be directed at the site organizers but rather at those of us who they’ve invited into the discussion, at my fellow commenters. I sometimes wish there wasn’t so much complaining about “deflection” or “evidence” for opposing views being expressed. Yes, we would all wish that our views were well-substantiated, but sometimes we’re just voicing off-the-cuff opinions around here. Challenging one another is great, but criticisms voiced in an attacking “You never XXX” manner tend to promote defensiveness rather than discussion. Frustrating as it might be, when doubting someone else’s view, ask about it. If there’s no response, ask again. Be patient. Not all of us live at 538. Some of us have jobs, too. And if there’s no response after a while, let it go until the topic comes up again. Trust me, the rest of us can see the deflection and non-response without you having to pound on it ad infinitum. Otherwise, it tends to devolve into a “You’re bad! No, you’re worse!” spiral that doesn’t add anything substantial to the actual conversation except to prove which of you knows the most Latin debate terms…”

    This is probably the most thoughtful comment that’s ever been posted at this site about this commentary itself, and I think a copy should be saved and shared regularly. Thanks so much for that, mclever….

    “But the real reason I come here… is to see if today it’s good-Mule or bad-Mule. Sometimes he’s really level and makes great points. Others, he’s threating to gut people.”

    This made my day!

    But now I’m not sure if I should put on my learned hat and share some thought-provoking ideas or go into a rage and threaten ass-whoopin’s by the dozen….

  40. filistro says:

    @Turboenvy… But the real reason I come here… is to see if today it’s good-Mule or bad-Mule.

    I’m sure Muley has a valid point when he claims that he made a significant contribution to Nate Silver’s succeess. I think lots of people logged on to “old 538″ just to see what outrageous thing Muley (and his various entertaining alter-egos) were going to say next.

    Unfortunately we’re not running a Wild West show like Nate did (we would lose many other valued contributors if we did) , and Muley knows he has to operate under certain constraints. But I actually like this New Mule even more because the contrast between his level-headed informed commentary and his occasional tantrums is even more interesting.

    There’s only one Mule, that’s for sure. :-)

  41. filistro says:

    Muley… we posted at the very same time!

    At least that should reassure all those people who suspect we are the same person… LOL…

  42. WA7th says:

    In regard to “needs” vs “wants,” and buying a new car every few years.

    For those who can’t afford a new car every few years, can barely afford the one they have, or who already rely on public transportation, the areas where a car isn’t a true “need” are shrinking rapidly.

    I have relied exclusively on public transportation for the past 11 years, not because I have to, but because it’s more convenient than trying to park a car where I live and where I work. It has been an interesting experiment, but I’m about ready to give up and buy a junker.

    With the poor state of local economies, and the fact that many of them can’t recover until a few years after the national economy recovers and the real estate market finds its legs, public transportation is taking major hits in every urban area that has a working system.

    While a car has not been a “need” for many people in urban areas in the past, it has recently become an absolute need for many people in the suburbs who have lost their bus routes to budget cuts, particularly for unemployed people looking for work in industrial areas that have also had their bus routes eliminated. These people are suddenly stranded, and so are employers who would like to hire someone.

    If those people want to move into my neighborhood to be closer to their jobs downtown, good luck to them. They will find a landlord’s market, not a renters market. They will find that rental stock is shrinking and decaying while the prices for it are rising.

    Shrinking transportation options coupled with a shrinking stock of affordable rental housing stock in urban areas equals a bursting bubble of homelessness. Permanent semi-mobile Hoovervilles have become a permanent fixture in my area over the past decade, and it only appears to be getting worse.

  43. dcpetterson says:

    By the way… why hasn’t anyone noticed …

    The Ryancare plan to replace Medicare is Romneycare. Vouchers to buy private insurance. It is what the Republicans say they don’t like about PPACA — Federal assistance to buy private insurance.

    How can Republicans support Ryancare and yet object to the PPACA? Have they no shame?

  44. shiloh says:

    Again, the Reps er teabaggers have totally misinterpreted the 2010 low turnout mid-terms. Yes it was an historic wave election for conservatives ~ congrats ~ but generically Reps defeated Dems nationwide by (5) million votes by doing what they do best ie using their $$$ advantage to frame their hate/fear/Obama is an alien er boogeyman misinformation message.

    And yes Reps have always been better at these LCD campaign tactics, just a fact as this is how they have previously won elections, especially presidential elections. But as always, newly elected Rep governors going after unions have awaken a sleepin’ giant and the Dems say thank you! :)

    ie overreach er When you find yourself in the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect! ~ Mark Twain

    Interesting, mainly because of incoherent/laughable teabagger candidates, the Reps didn’t regain control of the senate in their historic wave election as Harry Reid says thank you to Hispanics/Angle in NV. And Coons says thank you to a (41) year old virgin witch in DE :-P, and Bennet says thank you to Buck in CO. etc. etc.

    yada yada yada

    Also interesting Reagan’s Gallup job approval went as low as (35%) March 1983 and Barack Hussein Obama, a bi-racial, African/American, Communist, Marxist, Islamo-Fascist, Socialist, wealth distributer, Muslim born in Kenya who wakes up every morning hating America and Americans has never seen his job approval dip that low.

    As the Dems will tell ‘ya ie McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry you can’t defeat something w/nothing. Elections come down to choices and the power of incumbency is huge, Obama’s 2012 $$$ advantage notwithstanding.

    >

    And can someone please tell me why Reps think Christie has charisma and is gonna lead Reps to the promised land lol ~ rhetorical question.

    A non-rhetorical question:

    Define charisma …

  45. rgbact says:

    Fili-

    You called Trump “deranged”. That sounds more like “extremeist than “ambitious”. So whats the story? Are TP’s voting for him cuz they love his extreme birtherism or because they like is nonpolitician/business approach and are willing to overlook his moderate tendencies?

    Just saying, when moderate guys that were likely pro-Obama are now railing on his utter incompetence….its probably not a good overall sign for picking up the independent vote.

  46. WA7th says:

    Actually Mule and filistro are the same person, and the simultaneous posting was just a clever subterfuge.

    I dated Mulistro once. It was entertaining enough for the first few hours, but by the time she stopped arguing with herself and saw the beer tab I stuck her with, I was already back home and passed-out cold. I never heard any grief about it, so she probably forgot I was even there. Good beer, though. Ah, the good ol’ days.

  47. rgbact says:

    DC-

    I said last week….Ryancare is alot like PPACA. You can’t rail on our hypocrsy, when you are being a hypocrite too.

  48. filistro says:

    WA7th… I DO remember that date. When I saw the size of the beer tab, I vowed never to date another guy from Washington. Give me a wine-drinking California boy every time.

    And now that I’m on the topic, I was also annoyed by the tacky gold-tone ribbons you braided into my mane while I was distracted by the slam poetry competition.

    I’m just not that kind of mule.

  49. filistro says:

    rgb… I never called Trump “deranged.” I think he’s a sly fox, and playing the chumps like a cheap fiddle.

    The “We Hate Obama’s Guts” crowd that loves what Trump is saying… they’re the ones who are deranged.

  50. mostlyilurk says:

    I don’t believe that Trump is a moderate guy and/or that the true reason that he is railing on Obama is because of Obama’s “utter incompetence.”

  51. rgbact says:

    “But in the Clinton years, none of the deranged folks ever led the field of Republican presidential contenders in the polls”

    Who were you referring to there then. Has Michelle Bachmann shot up in the polls recently?

  52. dcpetterson says:

    @rgbact
    I said last week….Ryancare is alot like PPACA. You can’t rail on our hypocrsy, when you are being a hypocrite too.

    If PPACA had come out as a single-payer system like Medicare, I would be just as opposed to turning it into a voucher program. I didn’t like the individual mandate provision of PPACA, and I still don’t. But PPACA is a compromise, and I spell “compromise” with more than four letters. In any case, it’s a step in the right direction, a step toward (not away from) a single-payer system. So no hypocrisy on my part.

    Anyway, since you like Ryancare, you’re okay with PPACA, and you’re opposed to repealing it, right?

  53. GROG says:

    mclever said:

    My only complaint wouldn’t be directed at the site organizers but rather at those of us who they’ve invited into the discussion, at my fellow commenters. I sometimes wish there wasn’t so much complaining about “deflection” or “evidence” for opposing views being expressed. Yes, we would all wish that our views were well-substantiated, but sometimes we’re just voicing off-the-cuff opinions around here……

    Do you have any evidence to back that up? Or are you just deflecting? :)

  54. rgbact,

    Trump probably voted for Obama.

    What on earth makes you think that Trump voted for Obama?

    Anyway, I seriously doubt that he’s “become extremist.” The man is an expert at one thing in particular: separating people from their money, for his benefit. In politics, they call it “pandering.” I seriously doubt that he believes much of what he says, but I have no doubt that he understands the demographic whose money he wants. If saying extremist things will get him more money than saying moderate things, there is no question which way Donald Trump will go.

  55. shiloh,
    Chris Christie is charismatic in that he speaks like a regular guy who actually knows a thing or two. Kind of like a smart George W. Bush, without the inflammatory rhetoric. I don’t agree with his policy conclusions, but I can at least respect how he comes to them.

  56. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Give me a wine-drinking California boy every time.

    WHAT????

    THIS is how I find out!!! On a public blog??? I didn’t mind finding out you to be married, hell, I’ve jumped the traces a time ‘r two my ownself. But gittin’ dumped fer some slicker from the land of fruits and nuts is jest too much!

    Well, missy, you’ll ne’er see hide nor hair of the Texas Ranger outfit agin!

    Harrump!

  57. shiloh says:

    Obama’s No-Shows: 29 Million

    November 03, 2010 4:32 PM

    One way to look at yesterday’s election is to say that about 29 million Obama voters from 2008 simply didn’t show up this time around.

    Here’s how: Current estimate is that 90 million people voted. Exit poll says 45 percent were Obama voters in 2008. That’s 40.5 million voters.

    In 2008, Obama won 69.5 million votes. So about 29 million Obama voters did not show up in 2010.

    Exit poll also says 45 percent of people who voted yesterday were McCain voters in 2008, again 40.5 million. That, vs. his nearly 60 million in 2008, means about 19.5 million McCain voters did not show up.

    So Obama had nearly 10 million more no-shows.
    ~~~~~

    And speaking of god awful candidates ~ McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry ~ who was the worst lol.

    hmm, Carter almost blew a (33) pt. lead after the ’76 Dem convention. Did I mention the power of incumbency is huge, even when you were appointed v-p and president ie Ford.

    Dukakis blew a (17) pt. lead after the ’88 Dem convention and lost by (8) pts. to Bush41.

    Hypothetical ~ if they weren’t god awful who had a chance to win. Carter actually did win in ’76 barely. Gore got more votes than cheney/bush. And windsurfer John I think I’ll go goose hunting in Ohio Kerry lol. ok, Kerry gets the benefit of the doubt ;) as the swiftboaters er turdblossom deflections/distractions and his lack of response were a major part in his demise and every time his wife Teresa Heinz opened her mouth Kerry lost votes. :D Plus an incumbent wartime president has never lost re-election.

    And speaking of irrelevant polls:

    Hillary ahead of Obama nationally Dec. 2007 by (30) pts. and one month later loses to Obama by (8) pts. in the Iowa Caucus where she came in third. That’s why it behooves one to actually run an effective, staying on message campaign.

    All fame is fleeting …

  58. mclever says:

    Changing the subject…

    Here are a couple of articles I stumbled across recently:

    9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes

    and

    The One-Percenters by Roger Ebert

    Both address income inequality and taxes.

  59. shiloh says:

    MW, one man’s charisma is another man’s uncompromising bully …

    Interesting he ran against Corzine whose job approval was around 30% and yet he only won by 48.5/44.9 ~ And yes like Kerry, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say NJ is a solid Dem state, but the fact remains like Carter/Dukakis he had a bigger lead and lost it mainly because he is not likable and a terrible campaigner, just ask Meg Whitman!

    Maybe it’s just me, but not likable and charisma don’t “appear” to go together. Whereas Reagan was quite likable, didn’t vote for him but he was likable ie straight out of central casting lol.

    Christie is a one trick pony, but, but, but compared to all the other clueless Rep wannabes he may look good by default ie yes, he is not wishy/washy. Christie is very good at burning bridges, much like Scott Walker, Kasich, Rick Scott etc.

  60. Rorgg says:

    Cue thorough analysis that this discussion is proof that this site has finally gone off the bend and is now a left-wing echo chamber, forcing Mule to have to leave us all forever (and one day, we’ll be sorry!)

    in 3… 2… 1…

  61. shiloh, I really do sum the closeness of the Christie election to being in Democrat-heavy New Jersey. I suspect he’d do well in much of the midwest and west, aside from the coastal regions of California, Oregon, and Washington. But that’s moot for the time being, as it seems pretty clear that he’s not going to run until 2016.

  62. Kylopod says:

    >Who were you referring to there then.

    I was referring to Trump, of course. Now, I’m not arguing whether Trump believes what he’s been saying, and if you asked me, I’d guess that he doesn’t. What is beyond question is that he’s been saying deranged things. You’re free to psychoanalyze his motivations all you want, but I’m just sticking to the facts of the matter.

    Furthermore, at least one of the other candidates who has led in some of the polls–Mike Huckabee–has delved into crypto-birther territory, and Palin, who once led many of the polls, also has done so.

    Neither Bob Dole nor Colin Powell nor any of the other front-runners for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination at any point in the race were out floating conspiracy theories about Clinton. Those theories existed, and were quite popular on the right, but they weren’t endorsed, even tacitly, by the main contenders in the Republican presidential field. (There were a couple of certifiably weird GOP candidates, Bob Dornan and Alan Keyes, but they never came close to leading the pack.) That’s what’s changed: the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

  63. Rorgg says:

    New Jersey PVI is only D+4, it’s bordering on swing-y.

  64. Rorgg,
    So it is. Hmmm. I may have to rethink my assumptions about NJ politics.

  65. Kylopod,
    Bob Dornan…now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. He was pretty out there, wasn’t he? It does illustrate just how conservative Orange County was, in spite of touching the Pacific. And the county has only shifted further to the right since then.

  66. mclever says:

    Orange County is like a little patch of suburban Texas nestling up against Hollywood.

  67. rgbact says:

    Kylo-

    My bad- I attribututed your “deranged” quote to Fili. Clearly Trump will be unconventional, like Perot was. However, Perot did pretty well. Trump I believe has endorsed many Democrats in the past. The broader point is he clearly has an appeal with moderate voters, not just RW wackos, even though his tactics are a bit loony. If he can use a few “birther” issues to placate the crazies—he may be able to get them and moderates together for a winning ticket.

  68. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    If he can use a few “birther” issues to placate the crazies—he may be able to get them and moderates together for a winning ticket.

    rg,

    I truly doubt that Trump could get any real moderates to follow him with the birther rants in his portfolio.

  69. dcpetterson says:

    mclever, thank you for posting those links. It’s amazing that the right wing still gets to talk about tax policy.

  70. Kylopod says:

    >Perot did pretty well

    As a third-party candidate. He never ran for the GOP nomination.

    >If he can use a few “birther” issues to placate the crazies—he may be able to get them and moderates together for a winning ticket.

    The problem with that reasoning is that the two work against each other. His past support for Democrats, including a remark that the economy usually does better under Democrats, as well as his past endorsement of socially liberal positions, will greatly hurt him with the right, if he ever gets into the race. Part of his strength now is that not a lot of primary voters are paying attention at this point. Should he actually enter the race, his opponents won’t hesitate to call their attention to these heresies.

    Likewise, his support for birtherism will erode any support he might have once had among moderates. You can’t take that kind of support for granted. We learned that in 2008, when McCain, once incredibly popular among independents, lost the independent vote by double digits. That’s because his late swing to the right alienated those voters who once supported him.

  71. WA7th says:

    “But now I’m not sure if I should put on my learned hat and share some thought-provoking ideas or go into a rage and threaten ass-whoopin’s by the dozen….”

    Mule, are you implying that we don’t deserve both now, that we’re not worth the effort it would take to give us both now, or are you trying to condition us to learn to live without all our wants immediately gratified?

  72. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I have a follow-up link on Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff. It was originally written in 2005, but was recently updated.

    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

  73. filistro says:

    @rgb… If he can use a few “birther” issues to placate the crazies—he may be able to get them and moderates together for a winning ticket.

    As others have pointed out, that’s an impossible dream. The moderates and the birthers are mutually exclusive. The birthers SPIT on moderates. They do to them what the elephant is doing to the donkey on the thread below. They loathe and detest them. It doesn’t matter if it’s homemade ice cream and warm pecan pie… if a moderate likes it, the birther hates it.

    In essence, this is what ails the modern Republican party. They have two animals yoked in harness together. One is a sturdy reliable dray horse, and the other is a wildebeest with mad cow disease and a nest of burrs under its tail.

    (Private note to WA7th… if you tell anybody what happened at the end of our date, I will gut you like a fish.)

  74. filistro says:

    @shiloh… Christie is very good at burning bridges, much like Scott Walker, Kasich, Rick Scott etc.

    An excellent point. Just yesterday Christie told the press to “take a bat to” a nice little 76-year old lady in his state.

    Bubba said it’s “better to be strong and wrong than weak and right”… but it’s possible to be TOO wrong, and then strength looks a lot like bullying… and people hate feeling bullied.

    As shiloh says.. just ask Walker and Kasich how that whole toughness gig is workin’ out for them.

    Shiloh… it’s lovely to have you back :-)

  75. WA7th says:

    Since we seem to generally agree that Trump’s plan is:

    1. Be the most deranged presidential hopeful
    2. ???????
    3. Make money!!!

    Anyone care to speculate how step 2 separates his chosen demographic from their wallets?

    Obviously, politics seems to be a great way for a celebrity to get free publicity without getting arrested first, since the media seems to think we care what celebrities think about politics. I assume Trump knows that there are rules governing what he can’t do with campaign contributions, if not he can ask Christine O’Donnell, so he’s not going to directly enrich himself solely by the act of running for office. I also assume he doesn’t really believe he can win, so he has no true illusions of being the extortortionist-in-chief.
    My only guess is that he’s angling for a new TV show once “Apprentice” is done, and he doesn’t want another fake reality show, but rather he wants an ostensibly real reality show where he gets paid to be himself. Maybe he wants his own news network, or his own show on Fox News?

    Any better speculation?

  76. drfunguy says:

    Re. evidence
    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts”
    When I ask for evidence in support of some statement it is because it appears to me to be opinion masquerading as fact. Sometimes I learn from this (well, always, but not always about the topic per se).
    One of the things that attracted me to the old 538 was the data-based discussion; virtually absent from any other political discussion forum I have read. Some of that has carried over to this site and I think thats a good thing.
    I like the diversity of opinion here (would, of course, like it to be more diverse) and have no objection to opinion presented as opinion. But I am unlikely to stop challenging opinions dressed as fact and I think thats a good thing too. That is my opinion. For which I have no objective evidence.
    I have said enough.

  77. drfunguy says:

    @WA7th
    “1. Be the most deranged presidential hopeful”
    Thats quite a challenge with Bachman and Palin in the mix!

  78. Monotreme says:

    I’ve posted a new article on conservative vs liberal brain structure:

    http://bit.ly/h7Uj5F

  79. GROG says:

    The main criticism I have of this site is that has become an anti-rightwing blog rather than a leftwing blog. They are two completely different things.

    I started visiting the old 538 and then this blog to read about the other side, but rarely is there anything pro-leftwing. It’s almost all anti-rightwing.

    Recent articles in the past few days:

    The GOP’s Dangerous Sex Addiction
    Pirates Off the Starboard Bow
    Intimidation Nation
    El Problema de los Republicanos
    Donald Doubles Down

    All anti-rightwing articles.

    And even balanced articles like “In This Corner…Mitt Romney” almost immediately resort to anti-rightwing commentary.

    I understand what the political position is of this blog, which I have no problem with. It just seems there could be more pro-leftwing commentary from time to time. Otherwise, us righties spend our entire time on the defensive.

  80. Orange County is like a little patch of suburban Texas nestling up against Hollywood.

    Sort of the counterpart to Austin, which is a little patch of Silicon Valley in the ocean of conservative Texas.

  81. GROG says:

    In other news, Obama’s approval rating at all time low according to Gallup.

    (That was an amazingly anti-leftwing comment I just made.)

  82. WA7th,
    Think more in the Palin sense. Part of Step 2 is to get more people watching his TV show. That’s more money right there. The other part is to get people to donate money to the campaign. One of the great things about campaign dollars is that you can have a good chunk of your daily expenses covered by them, even while you’re making, from a TV show, money that otherwise would have gone to daily expenses. Then, once the campaign is done, you still have that TV money. And, sure, he might be able to parlay it into future TV shows, too. As someone might say: “Winning!”

    At this point, I think Palin may be looking at the same model.

  83. filistro says:

    @GROG… The main criticism I have of this site is that has become an anti-rightwing blog rather than a leftwing blog. They are two completely different things.

    When I first read this, it made sense for just a second or two and then my eyes started to go blurry and I felt the beginnings of a headache. Because… how can they be two completely different things? Isn’t being leftwing the SAME as being anti-rightwing? Becase if I wasn’t anti-rightwing, I’d be… you know… rightwing. Wouldn’t I?

    It seems to me when we post anti-rightwing articles, we’re BEING left wing. By pointing out how the rightie position is wrong, we are bolstering our own position, which is… you know…anti-rightwing. Also leftwing.

    Now, if you want PRO-rightwing articles here, we encourage you to write them. Any of you righties… submit them. If they’re good, we’ll put them up and everybody can talk about them. But don’t expect US to write them. We can’t. Because we’re… you know.

    (My head really hurts now.)

  84. GROG says:

    Fili,

    But I said a couple of times above that I think there could be more pro-leftwing commentary. I didn’t say anything about pro-rightwing commentary. I can get that anywhere.

    I think at some point one has to stand FOR something rather than always AGAINST something.

  85. filistro says:

    @GROG… I think at some point one has to stand FOR something rather than always AGAINST something.

    You mean like “pro-life” people should be carrying signs outside maternity hospitals proclaiming how terrific babies are, instead of outside women’s health clinics yelling about how bad abortion is?

    Do you think that would be effective for them in the pursuit of their goal?

  86. GROG says:

    Yes

  87. filistro says:

    You’re an idealist, GROG. If you worked in political messaging, you would get that drummed out of you fairly quickly. The sad fact is, people never even HEAR a positive message.

    Why do we see so much negative campaigning, even though everybody claims to hate it? Because IT WORKS. If you’re running for office, people don’t have much interest in hearing what’s good about you. They want to hear you dish about what’s wrong with the other guy.

    Sadly… it’s just human nature.

  88. shortchain says:

    Since the right wing, for the last 100 years, has been defined by opposition (usually unthinking) to left-wing concepts and goals like equal opportunity, regulation of mindless greed (AKA unrestricted capitalism), and social justice, GROG is merely indulging in the usual right-wing projection here.

    Hey, GROG! How is opposition to the dismantling of the social safety net and rejection of the right-wing desire to abrogate the social compact not left-wing?

    For my part, I’m left wing, and, as the right wing has puffed up its imaginary political ascendancy I have become ever more implacable in my opposition. That’s the natural response to an attack.

  89. Todd Dugdale says:

    Trump is just playing to a demographic that is known to be extremely gullible, easily outraged, and poorly educated. This demographic just so happens to dovetail with the primary audience for ‘reality’ TV.

    The Tea Party is already losing steam; the rallies aren’t well-attended, factionalism and divisiveness are creeping in, and their agenda items aren’t getting past the Senate. It takes larger doses of “the crazy” to get them riled up than it used to, and FNC just isn’t giving them their “fix”.

    So along comes Trump, saying clearly what only a few thus far have been willing to mumble, and he’s a hit. But that will only last for so long, and then they will need stronger “tea”. How far can Trump go with this act, really? Maybe he can start talking about returning to the Gold Standard, making illegals into legally-recognised slaves (they aren’t citizens, mind you), or even going ‘sovereign’. But he can’t stretch that out until 11/12 without calling for armed insurrection and mass genocide, and he can’t back down on anything without looking like a “sellout”.

    He can’t ride the birther bandwagon for very long without throwing out some fresh meat, and it’s doubtful that his “investigators” will come up with anything new (if they even really exist).
    It’s about publicity and ego, and it’s all free so far.

  90. GROG,
    I’ve tried doing pro-left articles. I see the results, because the software tracks them. Far fewer hits. You’ve seen some of the results too. Far fewer comments, no discussion.

    Now, granted, I’ve been told that my articles, while informative, are also intimidating…which brings me to ask, are people not commenting much on them because they’re intimidated? Or do I cover the topics so thoroughly that I suck all the oxygen out of the room, and there’s nothing left (or right) to say? Or is it just because it’s more fun (?) to comment on the evils-of-the-right articles? Or is it something else entirely?

  91. Mr. Universe says:

    @Funguy, PhD.

    Atlas Shrugged, p. 1, the movie is out.

    Wrote a song over a decade ago called ‘Atlas Sneezed’

    Atlas had to sneeze
    And he brought the world to its knees
    Well the Gods to say the least
    Were not Pleased

    long story short, Atlas kidnapped Athena and pulled a Bonnie and Clyde on the way to Vegas

  92. GROG says:

    @shortchain: GROG is merely indulging in the usual right-wing projection here.

    We were asked to give our thoughts on the blog. My mistake in doing so.

    Michael,

    Good questions. I guess no one is interested in commenting on things they already believe in. Maybe the purpose of the anti-rightwing rhetoric is to goad us righties into some dialogue. Because that’s much more fun than “aruging” with people you agree with.

    I for one am interested in knowing what you all believe IN. I already know what you believe against.

  93. shiloh says:

    Shiloh… it’s lovely to have you back

    Really ~ as I “try” to tread lightly …

    This of course “assumes” that I actually left of my own accord or otherwise and that I am, in fact, back. :-P

    But let the record show I never said:

    So long, adios, goodbye

    And one parting shot – piss on all of you hard-core douches at 538! You’re nothing more than mentally challenged troglodytes to me who’ll I’ll always look down down on.

    And as I leave for good (seriously, this time!!), here’s my Most Despised List:

    yada yada yada

    I might be missing someone, but that’s the group that first came to mind. Okay, good riddance!!!

    December 14, 2008
    ~~~~~

    Again, a lot of childish wasted time/energy goes into holding grudges, especially re: the internet, as life’s too short. But for those who can hold grudges a lifetime, you have to admire their tenacity! :D

    apologies to mentally challenged troglodytes …

    btw, any reference to fili’s gut you like a fish is purely coinkydink er intentional.

  94. filistro says:

    @GROG: I for one am interested in knowing what you all believe IN.

    Well, for starters:

    We believe women have the right to freely make private health decisions about their own bodies.

    We believe in a compassionate social safety net.

    We believe workers have rights, and those rights should be enforced.

    We believe nobody should be discriminated against on account of their gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

    We believe in a progressive tax code.

    We believe universal health care and an excellent education are rights, not privileges.

    Any one of those statements would elicit a lively conversation and a thousand furious comments at Free Republic. But… do you really see any of them causing much reaction around here?

  95. dcpetterson says:

    Grog, it’s an interesting thought. Perhaps I’ll write a Progressive Utopia article. I truly would be interested in conservative reactions.

    From comments I’ve seen, conservatives don’t understand progressive attitudes very well — and, to be fair, the reverse is probably also true. Perhaps it would be informative to have a few pairs of articles, from progressives and from conservatives, talking about the things they each truly value, and the kinds of societies they would like to build.

  96. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    You know, I asked you on a previous thread what you thought the goals of the right wing were. Your response was “Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets ” — meaningless talking points.

    So it’s blatant hypocrisy to complain that other people don’t tell you what their “beliefs” are.

  97. GROG says:

    OK shortchain. My intent was not to turn this into a pissing contest. I’ll let you have the last word.

  98. shiloh says:

    Now, granted, I’ve been told that my articles, while informative, are also intimidating

    Partly true in a sense lol as your posts are the devil in the detail so to speak. I would posit myself, as well as most bloggers who frequent political sites are more macro than micro. Again, political ideology having little or nothing to do w/presidential politics ie one party screws up and is replaced by the other party. It’s that basic.

    btw, never did grasp the why’s and wherefore’s of Benford’s Law although some folk, including Nate seemed fascinated w/the discussion. But Nate is also a sports enthusiast so he did/does have a few redeeming qualities. ;)

  99. rgbact says:

    DC-

    I wouldn’t bother. It’ll read like a fairy tale. Both sides. I’d rather stick with the real world issues rather than discuss utopias. Those are hard enough to pin down.

  100. GROG says:

    @DC.
    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I think your suggestion is a great idea. Let’s really get to the bottom of what each side believes in. What our idea of a utopian government is. I wish I had the time, skill, (and intellect) to write one for the conservative side.

  101. filistro says:

    @DC… I was once at a dinner party where the after-dinner conversation centered around a two-part assignment.

    1.) everybody had to think about and then describe what they considered to be the ideal society

    2.) after every person had described their ideal social, economic and political structure, they were then asked in turn to tell the group if they would personally choose to live within their own “ideal” society… if they had to occupy the bottom of its socio-economic scale.

    It was a very interesting exercise :-)

  102. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    It’s not a good metric to focus on the benefits of a society to only those in one segment of the society. Whether it is the ones at the bottom or the ones at the top, as in our current model, who have built-in advantages by hereditary or connections, it’s still not making the best of our lot on this earth. There will always be those who are unhappy with their lot. I’m pretty sure Eve wasn’t completely happy in Eden, or wouldn’t have been indefinitely, even if she didn’t have to do the washing…

    Remember the old “greatest good for the greatest number” theory of social contract?

    Then we can argue over the meaning of “good”.

  103. GROG says:

    Fili said:

    We believe women have the right to freely make private health decisions about their own bodies. We believe unborn human babies have a right to life rather than their lives be prematurely terminated.

    We believe in a compassionate social safety net. So do we.

    We believe workers have rights, and those rights should be enforced. So do we.

    We believe nobody should be discriminated against on account of their gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. So do we.

    We believe in a progressive tax code. We do not believe in a progressive tax code in which the top 1% pay 40% of federal income tax and the bottom 50% pay none.

    We believe universal health care and an excellent education are rights, not privileges. According to the constitution, rights are God given, not given by government.

  104. filistro says:

    @shortchain …. Then we can argue over the meaning of “good”

    Which takes us right down the rabbit hole into metaphysics, and “why are we here” kind of questions.

    If the purpose of mankind’s sojourn on earth is to be perfected through suffering, then the conservatives are doing God’s work by making sure the most people suffer most severely, while only a very few prosper.

    What’s more, they are selflessly providing this service at enormous personal risk and sacrifice, since we all know what the Bible says about how difficult it is for the rich man to get into heaven ;-)

  105. filistro says:

    GROG… I’ve said what I believe in. You’ve countered. Now the fight is on… so how does it make any difference to what goes on here that I’ve started the conversation by talking about what *I* believe instead of criticizing your beliefs ?

    There’s still going to be a fight.

  106. Brian says:

    Not wanting to turn this into an abortion topic, but it’s always interesting to me how both sides seem to be arguing completely different points, rather than 2 sides of the same point. Everyone wants to protect an unborn baby’s right and everyone want a woman to have control over her own body.

    The difference I’ve seen is pro-choice people don’t view an embryo/fetus at xx weeks to be an unborn baby, just a collection of cells. Pro-lifer people do, even if xx weeks is really 1 second. Arguing for the life of an unborn baby vs. mother’s right to do what she wants with her body seems pointless. Shouldn’t we be arguing where life begins instead?

    By the way, completely and grossly off topic (even for FFFs), but does anyone here had this situation occur to them? I’ve been hanging out with this girl for about a month, she’s slept at my place a bunch, we’ve gone out to dinner, but neither of us knows if we’re actually dating or not. I swear, in my short lifetime neither myself nor my friends have known a situation like it. Thoughts? (Don’t let this get too off topic, I don’t want FFF to be about my life.)

  107. filistro says:

    @Brian… I’ve been hanging out with this girl for about a month, she’s slept at my place a bunch, we’ve gone out to dinner, but neither of us knows if we’re actually dating or not.

    Trust me, dear. You’re dating :-)

  108. filistro says:

    As for when life begins, I am not a Christian but I consider the Bible a wise and enlightening book, so I’m prepared to trust what it says.

    The New Testament used the same Greek word (pneuma) to mean both “breath” and “soul.” So the writers of the Bible believed the soul enters the body when the newborn is able to draw breath.

    That would be at the point of fetal viability.. about 22 to 24 weeks.. and I would be quite prepared for abortion to be disallowed after that point. This sounds to me like a perfectly reasonable compromise, and a rational and intelligent solution to the whole painful impasse (with the added advantage of being entirely Biblical and in accordance with scriptural precepts.)

  109. shiloh says:

    If $$$ is being spent, you’re dating.

    hmm, there’s not much difference between … nevermind.

  110. dcpetterson says:

    Grog,

    We do not believe in a progressive tax code in which the top 1% pay 40% of federal income tax and the bottom 50% pay none.

    mclever linked a couple of articles today that show this is a false meme. The bottom 50% pay plenty of taxes. It is false to say they pay none. And since the top 1% own 40% of the nation, it’s not unfair to ask them to pay 40% of the taxes.

    According to the constitution, rights are God given, not given by government.

    Actually that was the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution was designed to protect those rights; though endowed by the Deist Creator, they can easily be destroyed by tyrants, and it is the role of a just government to prevent that from happening.

  111. dcpetterson says:

    Brian, I agree with filistro. You’re dating. (In my day, you’d be at the very least going steady already.) Accept it.

  112. filistro says:

    Brian… I shouldn’t be so flippant. I do remember how painful and confusing these things can be.

    The important question is… do you WANT to be dating? Does she? Would either of you be upset if the current situation was suddenly ended by the other party?

  113. GROG,

    According to the constitution, rights are God given

    Oh, really? Could you quote for me where in the Constitution it says this? I’m having trouble finding it.

  114. shortchain says:

    MW,

    Forget about where the Constitution or any other human document says that the rights we enjoy are “god-given”. Show me where this god person said so.

  115. GROG says:

    DC,

    I read Mclever’s link and it’s not a false meme. The top 1% earn about 20% of the income but pay 40% of federal income taxes. The bottom 50% pay zero federal income taxes.

    The social security and medicare taxes the bottom 50% pay are supposed to go directly back to them when they reach a certain age. They pay into it when they work and get it back when they retire. It’s basically a government mandated retirement fund. That’s why it’s capped at $106,000 (which skews the % for the rich) of income and it’s seperate from income taxes which go for a variety of other purposes.

  116. Mr. Universe says:

    @Brian

    You’re test driving. Question is, do you like the car? Gut feeling; if you have to ask, you’re still kicking the tires.

  117. GROG,

    The social security and medicare taxes the bottom 50% pay are supposed to go directly back to them when they reach a certain age. They pay into it when they work and get it back when they retire. It’s basically a government mandated retirement fund.

    That’s what most people think, anyway, but that’s not how it really works. It’s not a pension in implementation. The first people who collected paid nothing into the program. Since then, current working people pay for those who are currently collecting benefits. There’s a surplus in the program right now only because of the working population bulge of the Baby Boom. And that surplus goes away as they retire and the next generation isn’t large enough to supply them with the benefits that are due them.

    This fiscal situation demonstrates exactly why it’s not a true pension. And explains why it isn’t appropriate to use pension policies to determine the appropriate means of collection.

    Of course, we could shift it to a true pension in implementation. I’d be happy with that after the conversion, but somebody somewhere is going to be stuck paying for both the previous generation’s benefits and thier own future benefits. Who should that somebody be?

  118. dcpetterson says:

    Grog,
    The bottom 50% pay zero federal income taxes.

    Is that the only tax we should consider? Do no other taxes matter? State, local, gasoline tax, sales tax, tax on heating oil, garbage collection fees, etc., etc.?

    I understand where you’re coming from, I think. Correct me if I’m wrong — your thought is that we each should pay, individually, for the services that we each, individually, receive. We should each be responsible for ourselves, and we owe nothing to the support or assistance of anyone else. If we choose to help others, that is our right, and perhaps our moral duty; but this should not be enforced by the government. Is that a fair statement?

    I think one of the basic differences between a modern progressive viewpoint and a modern conservative viewpoint rests in the idea of what we each see as the social compact that holds us together. This should be explored further, I think.

    I truly believe that our final goals are not that far apart — at least, the goals of thoughtful and caring and humane people of all political stripes. It’s a matter of how we feel are the best ways of achieving those goals, and what we feel are the reasonable responsibilities that individuals owe to the culture in which they live. In a pluralistic society such as ours, neither you nor I will ever be entirely satisfied with the solutions that we find. There is a difference, unfortunately, between idealism and pragmatism.

    But in the end, I must feel admiration at your sympathy for the immensely wealthy. That they may may have to forgo that third private tropical island simply because a few hundred people need cancer treatment is a cruelty they should not have to suffer. (Please forgive my snarkiness — I can’t find a more charitable way to express it. I truly invite you to word it more pleasantly. :) )

  119. GROG says:

    MW,
    As usual you are correct. I was speaking more to the spirit of the programs. You pay into it your whole life and you’re supposed to get it back later which is different than an income tax.

  120. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    ” We do not believe in a progressive tax code in which the top 1% pay 40% of federal income tax and the bottom 50% pay none.”
    It’s absolutely silly to frame a tax debate and even mentioning only “income tax”.

    That’s like saying that because I live in Texas, I don’t pay taxes just because TX has no income tax.

    Truth is, when the relatively high sales tax and the property taxes here in Texas are factored in, a person with average spending habits, that bought their house 15 years ago, who lives in California (considered a high tax state) and making $60,000 or so in income will only pay about $200/year MORE in state and local taxes in California versus Texas. Even with no income tax in Texas.

  121. dcpetterson says:

    Michael,

    There’s a surplus in the program right now only because of the working population bulge of the Baby Boom. And that surplus goes away as they retire and the next generation isn’t large enough to supply them with the benefits that are due them.

    This isn’t quite true, but it’s close. Social Security was adjusted during the Reagan years, the employee and employer contributions both increased to build up a surplus for the purpose of paying for the future retirement of the Boomers. It was designed to run out of money around the year 2035 or 2040, about the time the last of the Boomers were expected to die out. At that time, Social Security was supposed to return to the pay-as-you-go principle under which it was originally designed.

    But since people are living a bit longer than expected, there isn’t quite enough in the surplus to cover the retirement of the Boomers. This can easily be corrected by raising the ceiling after which FICA taxes are no longer collected. This solution would not require raising the retirement age, nor decreasing benefits.

    But you are entirely correct, that Soc Sec was never intended as a pension fund. It was intended, solely and completely, as a way to provide income for retirees, to prevent them from living in poverty. It was intended as part of the social compact, as a way for America to care for those people who have spent a lifetime contributing to our nation. It was never thought of, nor designed, as a savings plan to return to the contributors what the individual contributors put in.

    It’s a very pro-life program. It was designed under the principle that each life in our society is valued, and should be protected — even (and especially) those lives that are already born and have been creating the wealth and substance of our nation.

  122. GROG says:

    Max,

    The federal government doesn’t collect any revenue through sales taxes or property taxes. The vast majority of what they collect is through income taxes. So why is it “silly to frame a tax debate and even mentioning only “income tax”.?

  123. dcpetterson says:

    Grog,

    I think we are coming to a basic difference in worldview.

    To a progressive, there are certain services which a government should provide to citizens. Those services should be paid for, by the people who are most able to pay for them. After all, the people most able to pay have acquired their wealth by benefiting from the things that society has to offer.

    To a conservative (and I’m guessing here, so feel free to correct me), we are each responsible for ourselves, and for no others. Individual wealth is seen as having been acquired through the efforts of the individual. Someone who is well off probably would have succeeded in any culture, and so owes nothing in particular to those less well off. Indeed, those who have less are in their situation mostly through their own failings, and should not be encouraged to continue failing, by supporting them.

    Neither of these viewpoints, perhaps, is entirely correct. Reality is more complex and subtle that either extreme would have it. Any culture must, of necessity, be a compromise between the needs and achievements of the individual, and the collective needs of the society. It is only in the give-and-take of an honest discussion that workable solutions can be found.

  124. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    GROG,

    Because of the payroll taxes and the hidden excise taxes that are paid by lower income earners are the relative equivalent of sales and property taxes.

    When you posit ONLY “federal income taxes” you are not telling the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” and are setting forth a premise that only works to your advantage in your argument.

    My other peeve is saying that SS, Medicare and Medicaid taxes are paid: half by the employee and half by the employer.

    For the employer, “their” share is STILL considered a compensation expense. As such, does anyone truly think they give a shit whether they give that money to the employee or to the government?

    ALL that money should be factored as tax on the worker. Now you are talking 15+% in “payroll” tax ON INCOME ON WAGES up to $106,000 and 3% on wages above that, in addition to whatever “income tax”.

    COUNT ALL TAXES if you(the general “you”) are going to be fair when constructing an argument on taxes paid on income.

  125. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    BTW, y’all have heard me mention several times “Born Fighting” by Sen. Jim Webb as necessary reading on the American psyche.

    For those who have access to the Smithsonian Channel, they are running two one-hour episodes by Webb.

    Don’t miss it.

  126. dcpetterson says:

    Max, you may a good point. I would add only that you should stress that FICA, Medicare, and unemployment taxes ARE ALSO Federal income taxes. And are assessed mostly on people who are not in the top 10%.

  127. filistro says:

    @DC… To a conservative (and I’m guessing here, so feel free to correct me), we are each responsible for ourselves, and for no others. Individual wealth is seen as having been acquired through the efforts of the individual.

    To me, this is where the entire ethos breaks down. Because the vast majority of wealth in the United States is held by people who did nothing at all to earn it, made no effort, took no risk. They were simply born. It is dynastic, inherited wealth, and yet conservatives fight tooth and nail to keep it from being taxed in the hands of its recipients. This seems to me in direct contradiction to their, “every man should work for himself and keep what he earns” philosophy.

    You can’t have it both ways. If those who don’t work or take risks are not entitled to share in the wealth, this should also apply to the scions of the rich.

  128. shortchain says:

    No federal sales taxes? think again.

    What about tobacco? And (shudder) on beer?

  129. What makes the discussion difficult is that FICA, Medicare, and unemployment are all accounted independently from the general fund. Because of this, there are assumptions made by most Americans about them:
    1) FICA is a pension. As already discussed today, this is false. Perhaps we should change to such a program, but who should be the “lucky” ones who get to pay for someone else as well as him/herself?
    2) Medicare is a pensionish health insurance policy. Same issue as FICA…if we want people to pay their own in a pension-like fashion, someone’s going to be stuck holding the bag for those who currently collect as well as putting aside the amount for themselves in the future. The Ryan proposal essentially says that I should be among those “lucky” ones.
    3) Unemployment insurance payouts are a form of welfare. Unlike the above two cases, this one really is an insurance policy (except for the extra buckets of money brought out in serious recessions), but is thought to not be.

  130. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I did include excise taxes to include whisky and beer (and other less important stuff) in my mention.

    I purposely left out unemployment tax. Even though it is imposed as a percent of wages paid, there is no “match” involved. I see it as a tax on the employer. Also, it can be adjusted by the state to assist in paying, in good times, for the “excesses” of the bad.

  131. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dc,

    Get you some new reading glasses. I DID say “payroll tax ON INCOME ON WAGES”.

    I swear, son. Quit denying your advancing years and stop being so vain!

  132. dcpetterson says:

    Max :)

    I wanted you to hammer home the word FEDERAL.

  133. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Ohhhhh!

    FEDERAL
    FEDERAL
    FEDERAL
    FEDERAL, BY GOSH!

    Y’all DO realize the difficulty foh a native South Carolinian, to use sech a word the same week as the start of the War of Northern Aggression (Pay no never mind to the minor indiscretion in Charleston Harbor that some mention as provocation)!

  134. dcpetterson says:

    Max, you done good.

  135. WA7th says:

    fili: We believe universal health care and an excellent education are rights, not privileges.

    GROG: According to the constitution, rights are God given, not given by government.

    dc: It’s a very pro-life program. It was designed under the principle that each life in our society is valued, and should be protected — even (and especially) those lives that are already born and have been creating the wealth and substance of our nation.

    All beautiful stuff.

    I believe that rights imply responsibilities, regardless of the right’s source. It follows that any discussion of God-given rights is somewhere between incomplete and disingenuous without discussion of the responsibilities that follow from those rights. Conveniently, the big ones listed in the Bible are right in line with those most often mentioned by the secular touchy-feelies: feed the hungry, house the homeless, comfort the incarcerated (say what?!? ), and love your enemas.

    I believe that other nations are doing a better job at meeting those responsibilities, that our own inability to truly embrace our nation’s diversity as our greatest potential strength is at the root of it, and that Ken Burns has been fucking with me subliminally since 1990.

  136. Brian says:

    2 points here,

    1- I genuinely appreciate all the advice y’all have given me. I really think of you guys as my friends, except without the inevitable blackmail my friends would lord over me until I bought a round of beers. Between you guys and the girls I spoke to tonight, I’m pretty much in a relationship. Which is a massive step for me, to an extent you don’t even realize.

    2- Paying state income tax, or even federal income tax, shouldn’t factor into Medicare or Social Security. As I understand it, (and I trust you guys to correct me if I’m wrong), those are separate taxes taken from our paychecks. The fact that I literally make a few hundred dollars over the poverty level shouldn’t effect either one of those anymore than my friends that are making 100k a year now. In 40+ years we’ll be receiving the same amount from the government, even if I’m making 300k+ like my boss.

  137. mclever says:

    I understand the point that GROG is making regarding “pro-left” vs. “anti-right” posts. If I were always on the receiving end of anti-messaging, I might get resentful, too. It’s worth considering that there are usually both positive and negative ways to frame the same point. However, Filistro is right that the negative frame resonates more with people, which is why the “anti-right” articles tend to generate more responses. I would assume that an “anti-left” article would generate similar response levels, perhaps even more given the political leanings of most visitors to this site. In politics especially, negative sells, so anyone in politics has to develop a tough skin. While the past week’s topics have been rather Republican-oriented, perhaps that’s partly because primary season is starting to heat up, and there’s very little of note on the Democratic side of that equation due to the incumbent Obama. There’s been a better mix of articles in the past.

    I also want to say that I (for one) definitely appreciate Michael’s articles, both his pro-left ones and his devilishly detailed ones. Monotreme and others have also posted interesting and well-researched articles that sometimes get seemingly little reaction. I believe that comment count shouldn’t be used as a measure of quality, because sometimes the very best posts get the fewest responses. Partly because there’s nothing to argue when a point is made so thoroughly and well, and partly because the majority liberal contributors to this site have very little to argue with the conclusions.

    Perhaps it would be worthwhile to have some posts that are more about posing questions than answering them. Sure, there is an implied “Am I right?” question at the end of each article, but maybe it would generate more discussion if a well-researched article ended with questions like, “Given this information, what should the policy goals be?” or “What do we do now?” or “What am I missing?” or something like that. Maybe that would help to draw more discussion on an otherwise “positive/neutral” thread.

    Just a thought.

  138. Mr. Universe says:

    @Brian

    Your girlfriend is welcome here too. Does she have an opinion?

  139. mclever says:

    @WA7th

    “I believe that rights imply responsibilities…”

    Absolutely.

  140. WA7th says:

    Fiscal fact #95:

    Only 35.61% of US tax returns contain itemized deductions.

    That fact alone suggests to me that the meme of the lowest 50% of the population paying no income tax is obvious baloney. Of course one would have to add a whopper like coming out ahead on social security to raise the level of the joke to ROTFLMAOable, but why bother? If someone’s going to bother questioning the premise, then the punchline is probably not gonna go over any better.

  141. WA7th says:

    My two favorite things about this site:

    The unique style of multiple moderators moderating by appearing to not moderate. That’s some clever sheepdogging.

    That, and Michael has a rare ability to consume huge amounts of information, distill it down to it’s essence, and present it in terms that anyone can understand. Normally, that would be intimidating, but somehow he manages to never condescend. If he had lived on my floor of the dorm, instead of all those damn engineers, I might have graduated on time.

  142. dcpetterson says:

    WA7th —

    Moderation? What’s that?

    The one thing that should never be overdone is moderation.

  143. maybe it would generate more discussion if a well-researched article ended with questions like, “Given this information, what should the policy goals be?” or “What do we do now?” or “What am I missing?” or something like that. Maybe that would help to draw more discussion on an otherwise “positive/neutral” thread.

    Yeah, I tried that a few months ago. Got some traction on “Health Insurance Isn’t Really Insurance At All,” but my attempts after that didn’t go anywhere. I’ll try to do more of that in the future.

    Social interaction via words on virtual paper is seriously lacking in the cues that we usually use to gauge how we’re being received.

  144. WA7th,

    If he had lived on my floor of the dorm, instead of all those damn engineers, I might have graduated on time.

    Hah! Shows what you know about me…I was one of those damn engineers, and I didn’t graduate on time. But it warms my heart to hear that you like what I do. :-)

  145. Oh, yeah…

    The unique style of multiple moderators moderating by appearing to not moderate.

    I was a bit too heavy handed in that for a while, I’m afraid. But filistro…now there’s a moderator who is so moderate in her moderation that everyone pretty much falls in line and responds with a “thank you, ma’am, may I have another” :-D

  146. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    GROG: According to the constitution, rights are God given, not given by government.

    On this, after the initial faux pas about the Constitution, GROG and I can agree.

    That being the case, as legal entities ARE government creations and they, not being of the case ” . . . that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”, there is no natural justification that created legal entities are so endowed. As government creations, their rights are COMPLETELY subject to governmental limitation.

    Thus Citizens by this logic, was wrongly decided.

    Thank you, GROG!

  147. filistro says:

    Brian… congratulations on finding yourself in a relationship!

    You are now entering a world of pain, bewilderment, frustration, insecurity, bafflement, suffering, contentment and intense happiness :-)

  148. drfunguy says:

    Mr. U
    Was that intentionally parodying the Telemacus Sneezed line from the Illuminati trilogy? Hadn’t thought of that for decades!

  149. Justsayin' says:

    Brian.. One of the measures of a man is how he treats his lady friends. Good luck to you.

    Max… I read Jim Webbs, Born Fighting over Christmas, absolutely great book and helps to figure out the our conservative mind set, it certainly explains some family members. Ha!

    WA7th… it wouldn’t have mattered who was livinig in my dorm I was never going to graduate on time. Sigh!

  150. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Justsayin’

    It also demonstrates the progressive/liberal view of the community (government) helping when necessary.

    Barn and house raisings, communal corn shuckings, were to help the individual that had lost a building due to fire perhaps and to assist when the individual alone could not. The militia was also a communal activity to aid the individual under threat.

    In our modern society, with the large populations, cities and transient nature, the progressive concepts that are the pillars of assistance, SS and medicaid/medicare, the regulatory agencies to protect the individuals from threats to life and safety, even those of financial threat are the modern day parallel.

    That in the context of a democratic republic and an economic climate that gives a reasonable chance for the individual with the skills, perseverance, and a bit of luck, to succeed.

    Modern day progressivism is definitely not anathema to the historic Scots-Irish traditions.

  151. Justsayin' says:

    Max..Sometimes it is simply how an idea is stated. When the health care bill was referred to as “obamacare” most repulicans recoiled from it. When you started pulling out pieces of it, a good many conservatives agreed that it was a good idea. When I read the book it made me sad, I felt that these people were easily manipulated, first in their own lands and then when they came here. They were always the first to become cannon foder, now they consistently vote against their best interest because of well thought out buzz words. Anyway you get the drift, definitely a good read and a good history.

  152. GROG says:

    It also demonstrates the progressive/liberal view of the community (government) helping when necessary.

    That may profoundly explain the most distinct difference between progressive/liberals and conservatives. To conservatives, government should be as limited as possible in the community. To liberals, government and community are one in the same.

  153. shiloh says:

    Govt. of the people, by the people, for the people …

    If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    The key word being “We”.

    Dems = We

    >
    >
    >

    Reps = I Me Mine w/ad nauseam (((Republican))) exceptions ie Savings and Loan crisis of the late ’80s when Bush41 had to bail out banks, mostly having to do w/the oil industry going belly up! in that notorious conservative state of Texas.

    Yes Virginia, the U.S. govt. bailed out TX! ~ Hook ‘em Horns! :-P

    ‘nuf said!

  154. Justsayin' says:

    And Grog, why shouldn’t it be? The cities that invest in schools, parks and recreation, green spaces, programs for the elderly and the poor, have the most interest from businesses who want to be there.

  155. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Sorry, GROG, but that is deceptively incomplete as a definition.

    Conservatives don’t mind government intrusion:

    When it comes to reproductive choices and a woman’s right to make a decision, along with her doctor, that affects her health and well being;

    when it comes to discrimination between informed consenting adults wishing to form a civil contract of marriage;

    when it comes to reading, and listening to, the electronic correspondence of all private citizens, in the name of the Patriot Act;

    and other examples that reflect the conservative ideology. Then it’s OK for the government to have essentially unlimited powers of intrusion.

    The difference between the two ideologies is that conservatives have, to a greater degree, the desire to restrict freedom of the individual when it suits THEIR ideological view. Liberals tend to allow individual freedoms, even when it goes against THEIR ideological view and consider the greater good of society.

    Example: The ACLU has defended Nazis and Klansmen. When was the last time the Alliance Defense or the Liberty Legal Institute defended a left leaning organization?

  156. Max,

    Conservatives don’t mind government intrusion:
    When it comes to reproductive choices and a woman’s right to make a decision, along with her doctor, that affects her health and well being

    That’s a mischaracterization. I know of no liberals who would allow a woman to “choose” to end the life of her two-year-old, even if doing so would improve her health. To those who consider a fetus a living being, abortion is no different. Given that the distinction between abortion and murder is based on the distinction between “not alive” and “alive,” you should take care when characterizing one’s opinion on abortion that differs from yours.

  157. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    MW,

    You are assuming facts which I did not introduce to come to your conclusion of a mischaracterization.

    Neither would I believe the hypothetical woman of which I mentioned would find a doctor, which I also mentioned, that would concur with your scenario. Please note the constraint.

    I also would find your assertion as the distinction between “not alive” and “alive,” to be incorrect. I don’t believe any would argue over the “life” question. I believe the central distinction for most people to be between a “human life with a soul” vs a “live but independently non-viable entity”.

    You should take care in delving into ad absurdum.

  158. dcpetterson says:

    That is an excellent pint, Max. The question is not between “alive” vs “not-alive.” We quite readily end the lives of many living things — from the plants and animals that we eat, to germs and bacteria that make us ill (even potentially), to diseased organs that are not independent lives, but are living nonetheless.

    Fetuses die all the time. Estimates vary, but a surprising percentage of embryos spontaneously abort, often without the mother even realizing she is pregnant. And as filistro recently pointed out, we intentionally destroy large numbers of in-vitro embryos.

    The question is not “life” vs “non-life.” It is “What kind of life?” Embryos and fetuses are not independently-living creatures, and are certainly not human beings. This is why abortions are not done after the end of the second trimester; at that point, we are talking about a viable living creature.

  159. Max, the fact you introduced was that the conservative view is a desire to intrude on “a woman’s right to make a decision,” which is a euphemism for abortion. The typical conservative view is that the fetus is a living human being with a soul, and therefore abortion is murder. What a doctor would say is not relevant in this case. Doctors are not known for being able to identify the existence or absence of a human soul.

    You and DC are trying to convince someone (not sure whom) that beliefs about the beginning of life are purely factual. They’re not. To hold this belief will lead you to consider those whose opinions differ from yours as uneducated yokels. That does you a far greater disservice than those with whom you differ.

  160. dcpetterson says:

    I understand your argument, Michael. But as I stated, “Embryos and fetuses are not independently-living creatures.” That is, in fact, a fact. There are actually some facts to be had here.

    Conversely, as you say, anti-choice people are convinced of their version of the “facts” and do not allow for any consideration of those who disagree. I would be happy to grant them as much respect for their view as they give for mine.

    And, to further underline the point, the opinions of anti-choicers are already written into law and into practical application, in very many ways. Federal funds may not be used — and are not used — for abortions. The PPACA may not even subsidize insurance policies that provide coverage for abortions. Abortions are severely restricted, in terms of when they may be performed, where, and by whom, both by law, and by the pressure of society. The number of abortion providers in America is absurdly small. Abortion providers live under frequent threats on their lives.

    Pro-choice advocates have more than compromised. Anti-choice advocates keep demanding more. I have no patience for their intolerance and inflexibility, and until they begin to acknowledge they do not have The Patent On Truth — until, that is, they stop trying to impose their religion upon the rest of the nation — I feel no obligation to grant them further concessions.

    Compromise is possible (in fact, as I said, compromise has already been written into Federal law). But mutual respect must be mutual. I have often heard progressives who voice your quite reasonable position — “We simply disagree, and it is important to acknowledge that we have the right to have that disagreement.” But when was the last time an anti-choice protester said such a thing? Must we make their arguments for them? Must we, in the name of political correctness, give up our right to advocate for own rights, or for our understandings of reality?

    This happens too often in our national conversation — progressives acknowledge the right of conservatives to have other viewpoints. Conservatives do not return the respect, and instead take it as a sign of weakness, an invitation to move the goalposts ever farther in their favor. Perhaps we need a new strategy.

  161. GROG says:

    DC said: “Embryos and fetuses are not independently-living creatures.”

    6 month old babies are not independently-living creatures either. Should it be acceptable to terminate theire lives if the mother so chooses?

  162. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Is that the level of honesty you really want to pursue? It was quite clear what DC meant — and what all choice advocates mean — that the embryo, at six months, cannot be removed from the woman’s body and live.

    But you can take a child from the mother at six months, and the child will be perfectly fine.

    So your “argument” here is simply idiotic.

  163. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    GROG makes a similar ad absurdum argument with his 6-month old baby argument. He purposely and with bad intent so as to skew the argument from the definition of the word “independent” in the meaning as applicable to the “pre-born” to a completely different context. By doing so he leaves the realm of reasoned discourse behind and enters the arena of the contradictory, fallacious, irrational and opinionated, that creates no ground for discussion.

    Michael, I understand where you are coming from, but you provided nothing workable. Regretfully, as GROG’s comment demonstrates, it is an ideal and even more regretfully, does not apply in the real would, particularly on this subject. Perhaps you could propose a practical, real world solution to the instant dilemma, that would satisfy the vast majority of both sides, applicable to the American democratic republic.

    To go on to say “To hold this belief will lead you to consider those whose opinions differ from yours as uneducated yokels. That does you a far greater disservice than those with whom you differ.“, is fallacious and insulting, and precludes reasoned debate in such instances. Ie: Neither side at such loggerheads would ever be able to begin a debate, because your premise precludes even the initial statement of basic positions without grossly insulting the opposition.

  164. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    BTW Michael,

    I can take your comment directly to heart, as my wonderful, beautiful, sweet Beth is as firm in her belief the human life begins at conception, as I am in the independent viability belief.

    I certainly do NOT consider her to be an uneducated yokel.

  165. drfunguy says:

    Since we are still on this topic. If conservatives want fewer abortions, why are they so often adamently opposed to sex education including information about contraception? And opposed to providing access to contraception?
    Canada has fewer restrictions on abortion than the US and yet has a lower rate of abortion, probably in part due to their agressive public health measures in this regard.

  166. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dr,

    As you will note, my comment on 4/16 @ 14:41 stated “reproductive choices and . . . ” as part of the points being made about the conservative dichotomy on governmental intrusion.

  167. Justsayin' says:

    dr funguy… its because first and foremost they are a bunch of hypocrits and second they absolutely want to control womens sex lives, because everyone knows if a woman has fun, negligent sex she will PAY!!!!!

  168. drfunguy says:

    Yes Max, I am still awaiting a thoughtful and consistent conservative response.
    Along with response my other enquiries re. the high prevalence of miscarriage among tobacco, alcohol and other drug users (and heavy exercisers) and the need to (if protecting unborn life is truely the issue) police the behavior of pregnant women to protect their fetuses.
    You can’t have it both ways, if human life worthy of legal protection begins at conception then any miscarriage should be investigated as possible manslaughter; note that roughly 30% of conceptions are not successfully carried to term for many reasons. And if you want to reduce the incidence of abortion then the most cost-effective approach is to provide ready access to contraception for the poor and the young. The inconsistency of conservatives in these regards leads me to conclude that they are more interested in social control and imposing their religious beliefs on others than they are in protecting human life.

  169. True, there are many who are opposed to contraception as well as being opposed to abortion. However, it’s easy to tell that there are far more people opposed to abortion than those opposed to contraception. To focus on those whose stance appears to be hypocritical (and, incidentally, isn’t; it’s a religious issue), is to ignore the rainbow of different opinions and positions on abortion.

    Proponents of legal abortion accomplish nothing in discussion by using phrases like “fetal tissue” in the same way that opponents of legal abortion accomplish nothing by using phrases like “baby.”

    I provided nothing “workable” because I don’t believe this is a topic that allows for compromise. Opponents of abortion consider it murder, and generally consider miscarriages to be unfortunate deaths. And, given that life is a continuum, any point in the process chosen as “the beginning of life” is inherently arbitrary.

  170. drfunguy says:

    I don’t see how, if abortion is murder, engaging in behavior that substantially increases the risk of miscarriage is not at least manslaughter. It is not just an unfortunate death, if one smokes or drinks heavily one is knowingly putting ones baby at risk, it is quite analogous to operating a vehicle while impaired.

  171. drfunguy says:

    @Grog
    “We believe nobody should be discriminated against on account of their gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. So do we.”
    So who was it that torpedoed the equal rights amendment?
    Musta been those damn liberals.
    Would you then support federal legislation to protect people from discrimination on account of sexual orientation?

  172. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    Except it’s not the position of the Catholic church or other religious fundamentalists that “life is a continuum”. They say that they believe that a bunch of cells produced as a result of two human gametes fusing together has, at that instant of chemistry, acquired a “soul” — which it did not have up until then. And, upon death, that “soul” wings its way somewhere else.

    “Life is a continuum” is just an attempt to frame the debate as a scientific one. It isn’t.

  173. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    MW,

    Then asking for your opinion:

    How do you see the abortion issue playing out over the 10 – 20 years? Both from a sociological and political view.

    For the political view, personally I see this as in the same realm as the argument over slavery 160 years ago. As you say, both sides have little or zero give. America, on the other hand, is a country founded on, and historically represents, a series of compromises. The Compact Theory, with the subcontext of slavery, brought this country to actual war with itself. Do you see similar outcomes since the is no compromise?

  174. Pingback: Banning The Burqa | 538 Refugees

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