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May 06, 2011

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Doctors describe his condition as "stable."

Since this is nominally an open thread, I figure this is as good a place as any to get this off my chest:

This past weekend, in between the British royal wedding and the bin Laden take-out, I had dinner with an old friend of mine. We were suite-mates at MIT, last millennium. He is a mechanical engineer, too, but there our similarity ends. He lives in Texas, is a Life Member of the NRA, is a born-again Christian, and used to be a dedicated Republican but now considers himself a Tea Partier. We still get along famously, however, and I always look forward to his annual visit to Boston.

Naturally, part of our multi-hour conversation touched on politics -- specifically his frothing rage over the high-handedness of Obama and the Democrats, who passed a health-care bill without debate and without even letting the Republicans read it first. As I tried to explain to him how ludicrous that storyline is, it transpired that he seriously believes "Obamacare" contains a "public option"!

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, the conversation meandered toward common ground. My friend laid out, in forceful tones, exactly what health care reform SHOULD have looked like, and WOULD have looked like if he, as a proud Tea Partier, had his way:
1) Any private company should be free to sell any health insurance policy it likes, so long as the coverage meets certain minimum standards;
2) Health insurance companies should NOT be free to turn customers away because of pre-existing conditions;
3) Everybody should be required to buy at least the minimum-coverage policy, but everybody should be free to buy better coverage if he wants to;
4) Anybody who does not buy health insurance should pay a tax penalty.
I told him, in equally forceful tones, that he was describing the "Romneycare" we have had in MA for several years, and of which "Obamacare" is the spitten image. I don't think he believed me.

Now, I assure you: my friend is a smart and capable guy. You might think that his problem is mere ignorance, curable by knowledge. But he is not remotely a recluse with no access to facts: he has at least eight e-mail accounts, some of them directly linked to his Blackberry; he travels a lot on business; he reads the Wall Street Journal; he belongs to a number of professional societies. Lack of access to facts is NOT his problem.

And yet here he was, dead sure that "Obamacare" has the public option in it, and dead ignorant of how closely "Obamacare" conforms to his idea of the proper, sensible, honest health insurance reform that the Tea Party would bring about if only it could triumph over those corrupt Democrats and those useless Republicans in Washington.

We shot some pool in Kendall Square after dinner, then had a nightcap in Harvard Square, and parted good friends as always. But I am left in despair by the crushing realization that reality no longer means anything in American politics.

My friend laid out, in forceful tones, exactly what health care reform SHOULD have looked like, and WOULD have looked like if he, as a proud Tea Partier, had his way

Oy.

Pardon me while I go beat my head against a wall for a little while.

The recent killing of Bin Laden provides an interesting contrast between President Obama and his critics in the Republican party.

During the last two years, while the CIA was working at Obama’s behest to capture Bi Laden, what was the Republican party working on?

1. Opposing health care reform. They had no realistic proposals of their own to put forward. They are had no legitimate basis for opposing the Affordable Health Care Act, which was based on Republican Mitt Romney’s healthcare policy for Massachusetts. The Republican opposition to the AHC was based primarily on lies. There were no death panels, the AHC creates jobs, and it isn’t a socialist proposal.

2. Promoting voter suppression laws. Laws which intended to make it harder for elderly people, students, people who do to have cars, and the disabled to vote are under consideration in Republican-dominated states across the US.

3. Attacking the economic security of state employees. In Wisconsin the Republican controlled legislature created a budget deficit and is now using the deficit as an excuse to end collective bargaining. Similar efforts to end collective bargaining or to strip state employees of health benefits are underway in Republican controlled Ohio and Michigan.

4. Blaming the national budget deficit, which is primarily the responsibility of the Republicans in Congress, on everyone but themselves. The Bush administration inherited a very nearly balanced budget from the Clinton administration. During the six years in which Republicans had a majority in Congress they passed tax cuts for the rich while borrowing money to fund two wars. Anyone who can do third grade arithmetic can figure out what that will do to the budget deficit. When Obama took office he inherited a budget deficit of early 1.3 trillion dollars created by the Republican policy of cutting taxes for the rich while hemorrhaging money for the two wars. Now Republicans are proclaiming that the deficit (their deficit) is the most terrible thing ever to happen to this nation and are using their deficit as a excuse to attack the economic stability of the middle class. The budget which passed the Republican controlled House would gut Medicaid, slash funding for infrastructure and education, but includes another tax cut for the rich!

5. Trying to change Medicare into a underfunded voucher system that will leave all Americans except the rich with little or no protection from medical expenses their old age.

There's more: the Republican decision to redefine rape, that attacks on disabled people and children through the effort to defund Medicaid, and the decision to keep the subsidies for big oil which they think we can afford even though they think we can't afford medical care for kids.

Quite a contrast! While Obama was going after Bin Laden, Republicans were attacking their own neighbors and fellow citizens.


That friend from Texas has been massively propagandized, of course. Only Big Lies could keep all the wings and generations of the GOP together.

In fact, the Tea Party membership and leadership's record, both now and before, back to when they loved Reagan, was both huge government and disinterest in paying for it. I bet your friend'd have a very different opinion if he realized that.

Those same Big Lies also now threaten our fiscal future. We Dems need a massive counterpropaganda campaign for paying attention to facts and reality on many issues from econ 101 to the fact that embryos are regularly lost in regular pregnancy as well as abortion.

I'm just going to throw this out there as this is an open thread, in hopes people more well-versed than me can comment.

Has anyone else been struck by the way in which the various views about the bin Laden action, generally defending its legality, expressed by scholar-supporters of international law (IHL/IHRL) have been halting, unsatisfactory, and even contradictory? You just have to read OpinioJuris.org, making sure to follow the link there to Mary Ellen O'Connell's longer explication at ForeignPolicy.com to see what I mean. This intellectual community seems not to have it's story straight at this point, though by all means it is a complicated question, and there isn't any particular reason to expect that they would. It's still interesting to observe.

Would be interested in any informed commentary (read: speculative ruminations) from anyone similarly intrigued by the discussions currently going on in these circles.

...should say, I don't meant that they are fully unsatisfactory, especially individually, and not internally contradictory -- only when compared to each other. There are various good, internally coherent analyses out there. It's just that on the way to arriving a common bottom line, they make factual judgment (Is there a state of war in Pakistan?) and adopt analytical assumptions (...Therefore, was this an act of war or a law-enforcement action? ...Among others) that are significantly at odds with each other, leaving the impression of a lack of agreement on the relevant body of law among some of the more preeminent (American) analysts of these type of question.

Mike D,
I'm not surprised at all, because our notions of citizenship and the role of the state are still completely unsettled. Bin Laden operated outside of a nation state framework, which is why folks have had to hearken back to notions of pirates and buccaneers.

Or rather, seemed settled until an actor like Bin Laden appeared. The questions of statelessness and how one qualifies to be part of a national polity, are ones that have been faced by various over the past couple of centuries, but those people have never really had the ability to do what Bin Laden did.

lj:

I agree. the only problem is that this is a problem that international alwyers can contend with only for so long before the fundamental solidity of the doctrine they want to uphold becomes more the question than the novelty of the situations the world presents them with. We're fifteen years into the period during which the U.S. has been trying to assassinate UBL now. And again, the problem is not that there aren't good arguments about why doing so is legal - it's just that those who do want to both uphold IHL etc. and defend that legality seems as a groups still not to have their story straight. In domestic law analysis, that's totally fine - there are actual authorities around to settle the question. But in the anarchy of IR, law comes down largely to what scholars can agree represents whatever law arises from the willing concessions of stte and other actors. In that environment, it would seem to me that coordinating accounts of these kinds of legalities would take on more importance. So I find it interesting that they don't seem to have done so. On the other hand, I may simply be reading more disagreement into these articles than is really there.

"Now Republicans are proclaiming that the deficit (their deficit) is the most terrible thing ever to happen to this nation and are using their deficit as a excuse to attack the economic stability of the middle class. The budget which passed the Republican controlled House would gut Medicaid, slash funding for infrastructure and education, but includes another tax cut for the rich!"

Thank you, Laura. Some would say that the Grover Norquist agenda is just going according to plan.

Lack of access to facts is NOT his problem.

What this reminds me of is that on the subject of climate change, Republicans are more likely to reject the scientific consensus if they expose themselves to more information. Either all the scientists studying the subject really are wrong and only Republican pundits and politicians have a true picture of atmospheric physics, or... something else is going on.

The varying views on the legality of the bin Laden action remind me of the somewhat shifting story line of exactly what happened during that action.

Now I have a friend (an otherwise relatively sensible man, outside the occasional conspiracy theory) who seriously doubts everything about the accounts available. His reason? The fact that the story, or at least some of the details, has shifted several times over the past week.

Personally, I find it easier to accept that kind of account than I would if every detail from every source over time was identical. Reality is characterized by partial information, and by differing perspectives from different people. If every account was identical, then I would be thinking fabrication. But a slowly emerging picture of what happened? Sounds like every event where I was close enough to fact check details.

Which raises the question, in my mind: what level of initial consistency is too much, and what is too little, for credibility?

Mike, I'm not really sure about that, UBL is (one can hope) sui generis and he was able to exploit a particular set of circumstances (Muslim discontent, Afghanistani or more particularly, the Mahsud tribal customs, backing of one of the wealthiest _Saudi_ families, which adds another layer of opacity and unaccountability) that made his existence extremely problematic, but not something that makes it necessary to recast the whole framework of international law, as threadbare and tattered as it may seem.

There are any number of people who raise or have raised these questions, but most of them are relatively harmless or relatively powerless, or can be made an example of, so the system putters along without needing to be overhauled. Some various examples, chosen off the top of my head (and they are a wide ranging crew because they each indicate particular problems with the fabric of IR, so this isn't to claim that there is one unifying condition) include Ronnie Biggs, Adolf Eichmann, Alberto Fujimori, John Demjanjuk, as well as groups of people, such as the Cossacks repatriated to the USSR after WWII, Koreans residing in and repatriating from Japan after WWII, various native American tribes, Gastarbeiter, and any number of other groups. All of these folks are, in one way or another, a challenge to the fabric of IR. At least that is my take.

I think it is also complicated by the fact that the Bush administration didn't seem to have any concern with consistency, and was more interested in flexing its power, and I think you see the situation that you have now.

"I think it is also complicated by the fact that the Bush administration didn't seem to have any concern with consistency, and was more interested in flexing its power..."


Change "Bush administration" to "the US government" and I think this would still be correct.


Jon:

In fact, the Tea Party membership and leadership's record, both now and before, back to when they loved Reagan, was both huge government and disinterest in paying for it.

I think the best, though not perfect, measure of 'size of government' is spending as percent of GDP.

Federal spending as percent of GDP rose in the first years of the Reagan administration, then peaked and declined. It was lower at the end of Reagan's second term than when he took office.

This indicator continued to fall under the next two administrations. (Bush the elder and Clinton.) It went down in every year of the Clinton administration, including the two in which Democrats controlled Congress.

Federal spending as percent of GDP began to rise as soon as the next Bush became president, and by the end of his administration was at about the same level as at the end of the Reagan administration. Under Obama it has continued to rise, and is now setting a post-WW2 record.

David,

Federal spending as a percentage of GDP has trended upward throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

See http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html>This chart for example.

This ratio also increases during recessions, as your narrative above aptly demonstrates.


@Bobbyp

Some of us think it would be desirable for that trend to flatten out somewhere below 100%.

Would a dictatorship that spends 10% of its nation's GDP amount to a "smaller government" than a democracy that spends 20% of GDP?

What's "government spending", anyway? The US government is an insurance company with a side business in military operations. When an insurance company pays out on a claim, is that "insurance company spending"?

These may seem like snarky questions, but they are actually sincere attempts to nail down a couple of definitions.

--TP

A, now rather traditional, meme is that government is a protection racket and that to be expected to be pro-government is like the thief expecting you to thank him for giving parts of the loot to a charity you might benefit from. It's always surprising that those who publically love this meme often also love to employ the thug/thief for their own purposes (esp. if they own the charity and its purpose is to benfit exclusively themselves).
As far as dictatorships go, they often start more efficient than democracies but tend to decay even faster in that regard, i.e. corruption sneaks in and spreads until the 'overhead' goes far beyond the healthy.
Brilliant dictators tend to have incompetent successors (I forgot who said that but I think the saying is pre-20th century).


@Tony P.

'Yes' to both.

Some of us think it would be desirable for that trend to flatten out somewhere below 100%.

A truly stunning riposte. All my arguments asserting the inevitability of socialism now lay in ruins.

'It's always surprising that those who publically love this meme often also love to employ the thug/thief for their own purposes (esp. if they own the charity and its purpose is to benfit exclusively themselves).'

Surprising it is not and the remainder of the sentence is misleading, at best. In the recent economic crash in the U.S., the real estate sector had enjoyed a very long-term experience with the 'protection racket', as described, with the principal thugs being the government and the financial industry working together. Now that all the real estate assets are in the tank, and the government (the bigger thug) has taken possession of the de-valued assets, the thugs continue to work cooperatively to insure that only a select few can enter and participate in the marketplace of transactions designed to move these assets back into private ownership. HUD and other government agency owners of real estate and banks are making a few asset managers, retained to manage the disposal of REO, rich, and in so doing are frequently accepting less than market values for properties because of the corruption of those same benefactors of the bigger thug's favoritism. While this is going on, many long-term, honest and hard-working, real estate professionals are shut out of the market by this failure of the 'government of the people' to act equitably and responsibly in the disposition of real estate that should not be owned by the government in the first place.

Republicans are more likely to reject the scientific consensus if they expose themselves to more information.

Is that the consensus opinion? And is the advice, as a result, that Republicans actively avoid information so as to be more in line with the mainstream?

Not really serious questions, in case that wasn't dead obvious.

GOB - that wouldn't surprise me, though, do you have a link or two laying that all out? For example, the real estate assets that the government has taken possession all and the relevant asset managers being made rich? I would happily read them.

Hartmut:

'A, now rather traditional, meme is that government is a protection racket and that to be expected to be pro-government is like the thief expecting you to thank him for giving parts of the loot to a charity you might benefit from. It's always surprising that those who publically love this meme often also love to employ the thug/thief for their own purposes (esp. if they own the charity and its purpose is to benfit exclusively themselves).'

In Utah, the Republican dominated state legislature recently refused to extend unemployment benefits, and a Federal dollar contribution, which is consistent with the offered meme.

I suggest this has a lot to do with differing approaches to supporting livelihood between those who prefer to be self-employed (lean Republican) and those who choose to labor on behalf of others (lean Democrat). The former would like the government to get out of the way and the latter seem to be always looking for some intervention between the government and their employer to protect them from their own choices. These are the ones involved in the thuggery. Certainly, when the thug is powerful enough, those who oppose will often be enmeshed in its processes.

Ugh:

'GOB - that wouldn't surprise me, though, do you have a link or two laying that all out?'

I don't. I have some connection to the real estate sector and I reach these conclusions from specific information to which I have access. Information that I have indicates, for example, that certain real estate brokers, with the right connections to get on the approved lists, can acquire, with little effort, large numbers of listings, far in excess of the number that any one licensed professional could reasonably service. When this happens in a given geographic area, large numbers of other well-qualified real estate professionals are effectively excluded from the process. The result is, as often lamented in postings here, that a few insiders are making extraordinary sums on these transactions while others have seen their ability to earn a living substantially reduced by their exclusion, since, in markets where the RE market has been hard hit, these transactions types predominate.

I suggest this has a lot to do with differing approaches to supporting livelihood between those who prefer to be self-employed (lean Republican) and those who choose to labor on behalf of others (lean Democrat). The former would like the government to get out of the way and the latter seem to be always looking for some intervention between the government and their employer to protect them from their own choices.

Right. "Protect them from their own choices." 'Cause we all know that our economy (and indeed, society) is set up to allow for every person on the planet to be self-employed, that it would indeed be possible for everyone to do so, and none of those self-employed people need to have employees. Or something.

If those choices you so blithely disparage are something requiring protection from, then at least some of the gloriously self-employed folk you're fetishizing are exploiting their fellow citizens for personal gain. That's not rugged self-reliance, that's callous predation.

those who choose to labor on behalf of others (lean Democrat)

I'm a teacher, so the whole point is to labor on behalf of others, so I guess I'm busted. As are the doctors, therapists, any number of other professions. Busted all. Unless we are willing to get our requisite pound of flesh. I guess this is why doctors make more than teachers.

'I'm a teacher, so the whole point is to labor on behalf of others, so I guess I'm busted.'

I worked as an employee of various organizations for over 40 years, half in the private sector, half in the public sector. All the time in the private sector was at-will employment. I started at minimum wage and ended in the top 1% of salaried employees in the nation. What I mean by 'on behalf of others' is to have a 'boss' who supervises or directs your work and many or most aspects of the work process. I chose what field of endeavor to labor in and found an employer to meet that requirement, so I guess I was busted with all the rest who cannot run their own show. My expectations were obviously too meager though, since I only thought the employment 'agreement' was good as long as both parties were satisfied. I was never fired, laid off, or otherwise released, but I chose to make moves when I was no longer satisfied. Today, there seems to be no end to where expectations can go, including some who think when their chosen employment no longer exists where they live, they can draw unemployment benefits for some indeterminate period. Utah offered 26 weeks of benefits, followed by 47 weeks of Federal benefits when the state declined to extend if further.

Maybe what should happen, if we are to have such a system of benefits at all, is that employees should negotiate with their employers to pay higher unemployment compensation payments to the government so that when that employee becomes unemployed the benefits will run longer.

I think the whole notion self-employed/working-for-the-man correlating with political leanings is a bit silly. For one thing, there are many fields where being self-employed doesn't really work. My wife used to design power systems for telecom satellites. You can't really do that as a one-person self-employed firm. You can't even do that as a 5-person small company. It just doesn't work like that.

There was a time when Americans could conceive of aspriations larger than running a dry cleaning business.

'I think the whole notion self-employed/working-for-the-man correlating with political leanings is a bit silly.'

I get what you are saying here and concede that you may be correct. One thing though, many highly competent technical types cease working-for-the-man and become consultants in the area of their technical expertise. This changes the boundaries of where they can go, what they can do, as well as compensation.

In Republican Utah where they decided to stop umemployment, did they also decide to charge market value for grazing rights on public land? Are the taxpayers still maintaining at our expense access routes on pulbic land for the subsidized exploiutatio of pulbic owed resources
on behalf of loggers, miners and ranchers? Are our tax dollars still being used to kill our wildlife on our public land to reduce losses for "self-employed" ranchers who have been parasites on the public for generations?

Conservative philosophy is really just "Social Darwinism for thee but not for me."

What I mean by 'on behalf of others' is to have a 'boss' who supervises or directs your work and many or most aspects of the work process.

You know, if you equate the two above, we might have an outline of the problem. This is not to write some passionate defense of teaching, or fire fighting or policing, just to point out that you may want to think about what 'on behalf of others' means for a society that has so many points of mutual inter-dependence.

Yes, I can imagine the discussion in Utah: Republicans who have been parasites on federal dollars for generations arguing that other people should just have to sell their houses, pack up and move if they lose a job since it's just their own fault for not employing themselves like those real American Republican ranchers and loggers who are so indepedent and self-supporting!

" Republicans who have been parasites on federal dollars for generations arguing that other people should just have to sell their houses, pack up and move if they lose a job since it's just their own fault for not employing themselves...."

So, Laura, when you are unemployed and there are likely no jobs where you live, should you just live indeterminately on unemployment? I am just curious what the ultimate outcome of this thought process is, those freeloading ranchers aside. Isn't there some point where packing up and moving to where there is a job the right answer?

One thing though, many highly competent technical types cease working-for-the-man and become consultants in the area of their technical expertise.

This seems in tension with your earlier comment that what I mean by 'on behalf of others' is to have a 'boss' who supervises or directs your work and many or most aspects of the work process. Most every consultant is supervised by a boss who directs their work; if you're hiring consultants and not supervising them, then you're just lighting money on fire in my experience.

'Most every consultant is supervised by a boss who directs their work; if you're hiring consultants and not supervising them, then you're just lighting money on fire in my experience.'

We are probably in semantics-land here. What I was attempting to describe is where there is a one-off need for some expertise that a given employer may not even be capable of supervising except insuring the delivery of the agreed upon product, more often than not done on a contractual basis rather than through direct employment. I agree with you where the consultant is hired like an employee and supervised as such, a consultant in name only, more like a temporary employee.

I suggest this has a lot to do with differing approaches to supporting livelihood between those who prefer to be self-employed (lean Republican) and those who choose to labor on behalf of others (lean Democrat).

The words "prefer" and "choose" are doing so much heavy lifting here it's a wonder you haven't torn a quad.

I would suggest that there is one really significant difference between those who "choose" to be self-employed and those who choose work for a company or other organization. To make it self-employed, you absolutely must have one characteristic -- regardless of what you are doing. You have to be a salesman, and a good one.

Now salesmanship is not something that everybody is good at. Starting with those of us who are seriously introverted. Which means that, unless you are both an extrovert and a good salesman (definitely a minority even of extroverts), you are not going to prosper on your own. It doesn't really matter how good you are at whatever you are doing, even if you are one of the top 1% of your field, if you don't get out and hustle for contracts, you aren't going to get much work.

The words "prefer" and "choose" are doing so much heavy lifting here it's a wonder you haven't torn a quad.

I think what we have here is a collision of incompatible viewpoints. One viewpoint has that one's life is more or less a series of choices, and dealing with the consequences thereof, and another viewpoint has one's life subject to just whatever circumstances occur.

I don't think either point of view is necessarily "right", in any general sense. But one is definitely more appealing than the other, for me. Certainly there are people whose circumstances are more of a powerful influence than others (e.g. someone who has muscular dystrophy); I am definitely not diminishing their struggle.

'To make it self-employed, you absolutely must have one characteristic -- regardless of what you are doing. You have to be a salesman, and a good one.'

This is a valid point, but I think communication more than salesmanship. Communication is a skill that can be developed and improved through effort. Self-employment also includes partnership arrangements that allow for a division of labor based on skill sets. Many successful businesses have started this way.

I think what we have here is a collision of incompatible viewpoints. One viewpoint has that one's life is more or less a series of choices, and dealing with the consequences thereof, and another viewpoint has one's life subject to just whatever circumstances occur.

My goodness, if we can get some more binaries up in here, we can start an astronomy club.

I always thought of the self-employed as being, primarily, more risk-tolerant than those who choose to be employed by others, speaking very generally. And most of the sellers I meet work for someone else.

To go all-out with the anecdota, I have a neighbor with his own auto-body shop, which is pretty successful by all appearances. The dude barely makes eye contact and doesn't seem very interested in conversation.

It was your point that The words "prefer" and "choose" are doing so much heavy lifting here, Phil. I don't think I was the first to try and erase the middle.

Well, maybe you weren't trying to erase the middle. Maybe you were trying to lighten up the end that imagine they have choices in life, or just have some extremely delicate quads. Or some in-between place.

I was pointing out that recategorizing "these two things" into "these two other things" doesn't really get us any closer to understanding people. YMMV, obviously, if you've already got people sorted into "this group" and "this other group."

Point taken, Phil.

Marty, How long should the Republicans of Utah be willing to support the unemployed? How about as long as they expect the taxpayers of the nation to support them. How about as long as the politicias of their party support welfare for the corporatios that fund their party?

I object to people who claim to have a ideology but refuse to accept responsibility for the consequeces of the application of their ideology to others, refuse to apply it to themselves and refuse to modifiy it whe it doesn't work in the real world.

That's really the heart of my objection to the political activities of people who call themselves coservatives and/or vote for Republicans..

Tony P.'s story about his healthcare discussion w/his friend is both depressing and unsurprising. It's been this way for a while, hasn't it? When Democratic policies are described in a poll (w/o saying "the Dems want to do this") they tend to poll much better than if you ask someone "do you support the D's policy on X?"

Though I have to say I'm amused at a self-identified Tea Partier being pro-mandate. That's something that, in my experience, was latched onto very early as THE WORST THING EVER (despite being a Republican idea from the 90s).

"How about as long as they expect the taxpayers of the nation to support them. How about as long as the politicias of their party support welfare for the corporatios that fund their party?"

This is an apples and oranges comparison with lots of complexities, some where I agree with you, others where I probably don't. Corporations fund both parties, ideology hasn't impacted the rationale behind many of the things you seem to object to across decades of different Congresses controlled by both parties.

It's kind of like talking about oil company subsidies, which don't exist. There are tax laws that apply to oil companies that provide them with some advantages, most of which apply to other companies also. In fact, it's hard to take them away from "big" oil without just specifying "big" oil as not getting them, because you really don't want to take them away from everyone. As the Congress starts "getting rid of the big oil subsidies" it is worth paying attention to what exactly they are actually doing.

Liberal democrats have ceded a large measure of party policy control over land and natural resources to the extreme environmentalists who, with the help of the displaced communists, have no qualms about shutting down the economic capacity of the U.S. and keeping us in our current state or worse.

President Obama continues to mouth platitudes trying to create an impression that the administration has eased its direction toward favoring and subsidizing non-economic green energy while allowing, even encouraging, actions such as Salazar's holiday announcement of a new wild lands policy (order 3310) that has the potential to stop any constructive use of federal land.

It is my sincere hope that the current strains created by high costs of energy will continue through the next eighteen months so that the American electorate can wake up and see these shut down efforts for what they are.

"displaced communists"

Did someone remove them from under your bed while you weren't looking?

I worry about John Birchers with spastic colons speaking from high places.

Incidentally, what do we call fine entrepreneurs and small businesspeople of all political persuasions put out of business by Walmart and Target across the country?

The selfunemployed.

Yokay, back to lurking.

I'd love to see a front-page post heavily-laden with facts (displaced or otherwise) about U.S. domestic hydrocarbon energy use and production (including on public lands) compared to hydrocarbon importation by the U.S. and use and production around the world.

Also, estimated recoverable reserves on a worldwide basis.

"displaced communists"

Well, they were until Obama was elected.

Salazar's holiday announcement of a new wild lands policy (order 3310) that has the potential to stop any constructive use of federal land.

You say potatoe, I say potahtoe. Maybe you meant some word other than "constructive" there.

Liberal democrats have ceded a large measure of party policy control over land and natural resources to the extreme environmentalists who, with the help of the displaced communists, have no qualms about shutting down the economic capacity of the U.S. and keeping us in our current state or worse.

How strange it is that "extreme environmentalists" and "displaced communists" are begging and pleading for market pricing of CO2. Not so long ago, this policy was thought of as a conservative notion but now I guess it was a notion invented by Karl Marx himself.

Well, they were until Obama was elected.

Can you please list some of these displaced communists?

Extreme Environmentalists = anyone who is interested in environmental protection. At all.

Just like any liberal is part of the "Hard Left" or a "Communist."

You say potatoe, I say potahtoe.

From the Dan Quayle School of Spelling.

That's "Skool of Speling" to you, HSH!

Jack Kennedy never misspelled "potato."

So, since we're in open thread here and Tony P. gave us a tale of the misinformed, I'd like to let everyone know about the 500 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken formation that we're sitting on the US. The "extreme environmentalists" (aka "tree huggers") are preventing us from tapping into a reserve that outsizes those of the entire Middle East. If everyone knew about this, they'd go NUTS!

That's the gist of the e-mail my dad circulated a few days ago, of the type that is absurd on its face and that it takes all of about a minute to debunk. What makes people think that mind-blowing, game-changing information comes by way of e-mail, while the world's subject-matter experts either remain in the dark or are attempting to maintain a worldwide conspiracy to keep the information a secret (so we don't all go NUTS!)?

More specifically, how many times do I have to show my father that these e-mails are BS before he generalizes the lesson and becomes more skeptical?

'More specifically, how many times do I have to show my father that these e-mails are BS before he generalizes the lesson and becomes more skeptical?'

HSH:

More importantly, if we have presumably insignificant reserves, or so little that it won't make a difference in production, why don't we go ahead and drill for it and dispense with this argument once and for all.

Sorry Ugh, I think the correct spelling is 'Skul' for that one.

HSH:

Do the emails contain the words "Stansberry Research?

Google his SEC fraud record.

Long-time liar in the penny-stock investment business. Also locked into the end-of-the-U.S.-as-we-know-it-under-Obama grift.

Also in on the hate-the-government grift.

Most of his claims regarding the Bakken Field have been obliterated by, you know, petroleum geologists.

Yeah, the Bakken is pretty good oil-shale territory and drilling proceeds there full-bore, despite the evil Ob(s)ama. The proven recoverable reserves might give us a year or two supply of oil, if I remember correctly.

Stansberry claims 100 years, replacing all imported oil.

Stansberry's SEC fraud conviction, which funnily enough, given his destroy the government creds, was for lying about his connections to ..... government.

His Bakken claims also depend on quoting the hated government, U.S. Geological Survey, out of context. Since debunked by said U.S. Geological Survey.

Advertises at Redstate. Saw his ad right there underneath one of Moe Lane's screeds on some daft micro-point about liberal hypocrisy of one kind and another.

Funny that. Middling liar pointing out motes while being financed by even bigger liars.

Stansberry's what we call self-employed, falling over all the way Right. When one penny scam bites the dust, he quickly displaces himself to another.

He works for himself, alright.

Now quit bothering me.

Stansberry, yes.

GOB, see Count's comment for the drilling status. There's some oil there, like under 3 years' of consumption, some portion of which will never be recovered. But production there has helped US production overall, which means that the e-mail was false on two counts (at least): that there was 500 billion barrels and that evil environmentalists were preventing drilling.

Here's my preferred domestic fossil fuel production policy: let's use their's up first, hence, the more obstacles to domestic drilling, etc., the better.

HSH, you might also point out to GOB that we'd have to go all communist and stuff in order to make the oil under the US belong to "us". I get the feeling he doesn't quite get the idea that when (B)ritish (P)etroleum manages to extract oil in the US (instead of spilling it) then BP is happy to sell it to China. Same goes for Exxon. Only way GOB gets to "consume" that "American" oil is if he outbids the Chinese for it.

I'd mention all that to GOB myself, but I've had enough frustration for a while.

--TP

The Dems have won their major objectives: high unemployment, high gas prices, high out of wedlock birth rates (that Dan Quayle is just sooo stupid), high government spending, high government debt, high inflation (just in food prices alone).

What's not to like? We will soon get high speed railroads!

'HSH, you might also point out to GOB that we'd have to go all communist and stuff in order to make the oil under the US belong to "us". I get the feeling he doesn't quite get the idea that when (B)ritish (P)etroleum manages to extract oil in the US (instead of spilling it) then BP is happy to sell it to China. Same goes for Exxon. Only way GOB gets to "consume" that "American" oil is if he outbids the Chinese for it.

I'd mention all that to GOB myself, but I've had enough frustration for a while.'

This is all pretty much irrelevant since the objective is jobs, not domestic oil for domestic consumption. On the other hand, if we pursue available natural gas reserves (also requiring drilling), and converted much of our domestic needs to that resource, we would reduce our dependence on imports and provide needed jobs. None of the administration's green initiatives will do either at great cost to taxpayers.

None of the administration's green initiatives will do either at great cost to taxpayers.

I don't think this is true; a cap and trade regime should incentivize natural gas production quite nicely.

GOB, can you please supply us with a list of the not so displaced communists?

'I don't think this is true; a cap and trade regime should incentivize natural gas production quite nicely.'

A cap and trade regime was passed by one house in the last 2-year administration. The current administration could not pass such if their lives depended on it. Some of those Commies lost their seats for that vote and we'll get more of them next time.

Natural Gas development and use needs no incentives other than get the government out of the way.

If I'm not mistaken, only 25% of our energy use depends on natural gas. Further conversion will depend on ever higher oil prices, but wait, you don't want that.

"If we converted" sounds commie to me. Especially the "we" part, kemosabe.

How many commies does it take to convert a muscle car to natural gas?

And to Dave: high unemployment=offshoring jobs to China, India etc, among other problems, high gas prices=increased energy use by China and India (oil prices reached $140/barrel under the previous Republican regime); high-out-of-wedlock birth rates=maybe our daughters our getting knocked up by Chinese entrepreneurs but good luck securing birth control from Planned Chinesehood; high government debt=when did that start?; inflation in food prices=see aforementioned demand from China, India, other emerging economies along with drought in major economies.

You guys wanted capitalism in those countries. Nothing wrong with that except for the incessant, truly annoying whining and obliviousness about the fact that their demand is outbidding your desire for cheap resources.

Am I the only one that feels that the "story" of Bin Laden's death was merely a "trump" card, to be used in a time of need? What better way to distract the American people of the seriousness of what's going on domestically.

I think the bigger story on TV should be about the fact that 1 in 7 people are on food stamps. That's how bad things truly are.

GOB, I'm going to ask you for the third time: who are these communists? What are their names and what evidence do you have that they are communists?

Natural Gas development and use needs no incentives other than get the government out of the way.

Natural Gas development that doesn't pollute major sources of drinking water or turn kitchen faucets into Bunsen burners is another story. I mean, GOB, you aren't suggesting completely uncontrolled fracking at the whim of drillers, are you? If so, why? If not, why not? (Maybe you're a commmie, too.)

Just guessing, Turbulence, that this might be part of what GOB is talking about.

If a person lives in the intermountain West or the dry areas of Washigon and Oregon sooner or later they will be exposed to the self aggranidizing mythology of the "independent, self-reliant" rural citizen who lives, uslaly quite directly, on federal tax dollars and the esploitation of resources belonging to all of us. It is part of the mythology to bitch endlessly about extremist enviros who are interfering with the free eterprisze of these parasites. Never mind that the so-called idependent folks are operatig o resources they don't own, subsidized by other people's taxes--if they don't want to abide by pullic intersest regulations maybe they should get thehell of pullic land. But wait--they can't! Or they would be out of a job! How come that isn't OK? SUrvival of the fittest for people employed in Salt Lake City, endless goverment support for people who run their cows, sheep, logging equipment or mining operation on public land.

The lie of the enviomentalist extremist locking up public land is just another example of Republican demonizing. My use of the term "parasite" is deliberate as a couter-demonization, of course. I don't mind aqctually supporting miners, ranchers, and loggers. I just despise the selfishess and dishonesty that is too frequently a major component of their political outlook. I think all federal subsidies and access to federal lands should be contingent upon the recepient issuing a public statement ackowleding the help they are recieving and ackowledging the federal government's resposiblity to regulate their use of public resources in the public's interest. I don't mind uspprt my fellow Americas. I just do't like the lying and hypocrasy that is essential to the Republican point of view in red states of the West.

Oy, Stansberry. My mother gets those emails and has sent them on to me, including the oil one.

I have told her, repeatedly, that Stansberry is an obvious charlatan and pointed out the SEC fraud thing. Lalalalala...

Step 1: receive wingnut email forward from mom, full of obvious lies, exaggerations and, of course, Obama/Dem bashing.

Step 2: send reply rebutting the nuttery, completely with quotes and links.

Step 3: no response. None whatsoever. No defense of the absurd email, no thanks for the info, nothing.

Step 4: receive another nutty email.

Rinse, Repeat.

On the upside, she swears she's never given them a cent of her money to invest. So in the end it's really about her lapping up some tasty Obama/Dem bashing. Hey, we all have our hobbies...

This is all pretty much irrelevant since the objective is jobs, not domestic oil for domestic consumption. On the other hand, if we pursue available natural gas reserves (also requiring drilling), and converted much of our domestic needs to that resource, we would reduce our dependence on imports and provide needed jobs. None of the administration's green initiatives will do either at great cost to taxpayers.

GOB, if the point is jobs, why not employ people to build mass transit (and repair existing mass transit infrastructure) that would also vastly reduce our dependency on foreign oil?

mass transit (and repair existing mass transit infrastructure) that would also vastly reduce our dependency on foreign oil

I'd want to see how the numbers fall out on that one. Mass transit that people choose to use, and that services a regardable section of the populace to the point where it has palpable effect on oil consumption...I'd want to see the analysis.

Because those would be gummint jobs, which, as we all know, are not real jobs. Plus, such projects smack of central planning. The displaced communists are ready and waiting to do that planning, the better to destroy America, precious...

;)

I kid, but only a little.

That doesn't work, though, because it doesn't advance the more-important unstated objective of smashing the rampant and widespread American Eco-Communist movement, while drilling for oil and selling it to the highest bidder is pure capitalistic goodness.

Think before you ask these silly questions, Julian! I mean, seriously, which is more important: increasing energy independence (and thus increasing national security), or crushing teh crypto-commies (and thus increasing the purity of our essence)?

"That doesn't work, though, because it doesn't advance the more-important unstated objective of smashing the rampant and widespread American Eco-Communist movement,"

Or, maybe, it just doesn't work. The latest good decision by a Republican, even if it is Rick Scott,is passing on high spped rail between Tampa and Orlando. A foolish premise if ever there was one.

There is almost no centralized business district in either city, no adequate public transportation to be used once you reach your destination at either end, no real expectation that ridership would pay for ongoing upkeep and management, so the total value of the initial investment is lost very quickly in paying for the albatross that would be left behind. But, but, but, we would have had high speed rail.

Just one of the marvelous nuggets of knowledge I picked up on that Pajamas Media post and thread Slart referenced:

"Jews are generally smarter than we are simply because over the centuries of pogroms and discrimination the surviving Jews became smarter – you see, the stupid ones were eliminated."

Along with the usual "Hitler was a piker compared to Mao" argument, which I'm never quite sure is supposed to educate me about Mao, as if I didn't know, or somehow persuade me that Hitler, like Avis, just should have tried harder.

You gots the history of the Jews, the Catholics, the Mexicans, the blacks, the Commies, the Nazis, the unions, the foreskinfathers, Obama's parentage, Anne Frank's low test scores despite the homeschooling, the end days Rapture, etc all in one handy, easy to read thread, with a parting shot about how one might get in the pants of the hottie sporting the Commie sign, which I think was from the rapture fan.

But, by far, the best new item I picked up was the story of Marlon Brando, Liz Taylor, and Michael Jackson renting a car the day after 9-11 and fleeing New York City for the cross-country road-trip to the West Coast.

Now that is a road movie idea sure to outdraw "Atlas Shrugged", the musical.

Brando: I coulda bin a contenda.

Taylor: (drunkenly) You were neva good enough, you has-been. (Or some such line from "The Taming of the Shrew")

Jackson: Hoo!

No advice on converting the remaining 75% of domestic energy consumption to natural gas, including all automobiles, but .....
plenty of methane venting.

Slarti, as usual, makes a fair point and I double any of us dispute that a cost/benefit analysis should be applied to any project (the FL rail project Marty mentions may, in fact, have been a bad idea. I don't know). Mass transit makes a lot of sense in certain places, and not much sense at all in others. Indeed it may be that mass transit, alone, would have very little impact on our energy dependence.

Unless I'm mistaken, the preferred liberal policy approach at this time is to have the market come up with solutions that make sense, after having provided the market with the right incentives (by, for instance, internalizing the current externalities of various things like burning coal, gasoline, etc). The devil is undoubtably in the details and I too would worry about special interest rent-seeking and regulatory capture. But then I also worry about pollution, global warming, and the possibility of future oil shocks. What's a reasonable fella to do?

Stupid typos. Doubt, not double.

GOB, I'm going to ask you for the third time: who are these communists? What are their names and what evidence do you have that they are communists?'

Individual names are not important to these participants, only their affiliation to the larger group. The use of the term 'communist' is symbolic of the devotion of the members of the set to the political objectives emanating from the group. The groups are known by the policies they support (largely oriented to the extinguishing of the concept of the individual) and individual names for participants are meaningless since there are no distinguishing characteristics among members.

@GOB:

Whether or not names are important to the participants, they are important to us, and hopefully to you. Cf. The Big Lebowski. Even though the nihilists did not believe in anything, it was possible to point them out.

So can you?

It's always an eye-opener to realize that someone with whom you interact, however casually, is a crazy person. Like, literally.

Individual names are not important to these participants, only their affiliation to the larger group. The use of the term 'communist' is symbolic of the devotion of the members of the set to the political objectives emanating from the group. The groups are known by the policies they support (largely oriented to the extinguishing of the concept of the individual) and individual names for participants are meaningless since there are no distinguishing characteristics among members.

Wow. Just wow.

This reads like a parody of leftist academic post-modern literary theory analysis. Or the rantings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I really have no idea what to do with this.

Or, what Phil said.

No, Bennett, that's three down and seven guesses to go for the $50 jackpot.

Orson Bean, stop trying to remove your blindfold. Do you have a question for our mystery guest and a guess to his or her identity?

Bean: Do you exchange bodily fracking fluids with your fellow travelers?

Mystery Guest: Ummm ..... when necessary, but not in the light of day.

John Daly: Yes or no answers, please.

Mystery Guest: Yes

Bean: Are you T. Boone Pickens?

Guest: No

John Daly: Four down, six to go. Dorothy Kilgallen, your question, please.

The use of the term 'communist' is symbolic of the devotion of the members of the set to the political objectives emanating from the group.

And my use of the term "teabagger" is symbolic in exactly the same way. Individual names are not important, as GOB says. No need to offend particular individuals. You can disparage the shoe without specifying who it fits.

And if somebody pipes up to complain that the shoe fits him, that's his problem.

--TP

Evidence that the producers among us have Gone Galt™ in the face of unnamed and unnamable formerly displaced communists now walking (stalking!) the halls of power!

•The Top 400's average AGI fell 21.5%, to $270.5m (down from $344.8m in 2007)

But alas, even the most limber of the Atlas Shruggers are no match for those who sip at the cup of Mao:

•The Top 400's average tax rate increased 8.2%, to 18.11% (up from 16.62% in 2007).

As a wise, goldenrod, mindless philosopher* once said: We're doomed!

*C3PO, in case you're wondering.

You'll be malfunctioning within a day!

'•The Top 400's average AGI fell 21.5%, to $270.5m (down from $344.8m in 2007)'

'•The Top 400's average tax rate increased 8.2%, to 18.11% (up from 16.62% in 2007).'

Let's see. Is this the right direction? The 'rich' are getting less as a percentage of total income and they are paying a higher percentage of that income in taxes. Doctor Obama's prescription must be working for the long described malady.


Alright, folks. You must admit things have been pretty tame around here of late, considering the biggest bust up was the discussion on whether to ban Countme-In or not.

Rinse, Repeat.

Posted by: Rob in CT | May 11, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Rob, we may be cousins.

Income tax year .... 2008.

Says so right at the top of the chart in Ugh's link.

Doctor Obama was but a gleam in the still-as-yet-unnamed Commies' eyes at that point.

Hadn't yet been sworn-in but the swearing at was just getting started.

Osama bin Laden now dead and tax increases since 2008 to pay for the mission are still as difficult to name as the mystery Commie meat bringing down the country.

The Chinese essentially financed bin Laden's death. Are Navy Seals self-employed and how do they lean as the Chinese finance their military pensions and benefits?

By now, Ronald Reagan would have raised taxes --- twice at least --- to help bring down the deficit.

But that was before the "com" in compromise became synonymous with the "com" in commie.

Obama. Osama. Obama. Osama. Obamasamalamabingbang.

We all live in Frank Luntz's world now.

A tongueless, mute Luntz is a dream of mine, so the rest of us can go back to speaking an honest language.

Frank, in your own words, tell me the list of adjectives to describe liberals again.

Aauunnnnnnnggggg!

I'm sorry, I can't hear you, Frank. What did he say, Grover?

See ya'll maybe in the summer.

@Julian:
Whether or not names are important to the participants, they are important to us, and hopefully to you.

There you go again. Ya nut. This is utterly ridiculous. Didn't you read how the individuals he's discussing don't care about their individual identities? We must respect their unique philosophical and cultural outlook! Next thing you'll be saying that we must identify anonymous serial killers, despite the fact that anonymity is part of the core of their self-image!!!!!!!!

That's just crazy talk; don't even lead us down that slippery slope. We must all support GOB's steadfast refusal to offend these society-dismantling communists by identifying them, no matter what cost his principled stand against hurting their feelings will have on all of us!

HSH - nah, man. We're brothers, man! No, that's not it... we're COMRADES!

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