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September 07, 2017

Comments

Well said, GFNC.

GftNC,

To the extent I am guilty of being more tolerant of McManus than of Marty/McKinney, which I don't think I am, but anyway, I have a different explanation.

I see Trump and the Republican Party as genuine threats. They alarm me, and anyone supporting them, or even being a never-Trump Republican, is contributing to the risk, IMO.

McManus does not alarm me. This is not because I am more sympathetic in any way to his ideas about how the world should run. Given a choice between living in McManusWorld or Marty/McKinneyWorld I would unhesitatingly choose the latter.

McManus does not alarm me because I don't see his thinking being making any progress towards being put into practice.

I'm concerned about the real and immediate threat.

byomtov: interesting and understandable. Do you include wj in your "anyone supporting them, or even being a never-Trump Republican, is contributing to the risk", by the way? I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that before the election wj, maybe McKinney and maybe Marty too said they no longer even identify as Republican.

GftNC, I would offer this to your excellent comment. I could construct a list of expected outcomes from your clearly noble and egalitarian intended policies (institutional poverty, chronic localized unemployment, racist outcomes generally, economic stagnation, oligopoly based on status rather than wealth) that I could use to define lefties as having little regard for the people.

That's the list you have constructed, correct or incorrect, to define the right. The rights focus is on creating the opportunity for everyone to be safe and secure, physically and economically while providing a true safety net. These are better in the long run for people than the left's point solutions that patch the underlying wound. The right cares just as much about helping people, we just believe in a more permanent and broad based solution. Enabling almost everyone to provide for themselves.

I walk the line between the two often, but I know incredibly smart and caring people who believe in each approach.

The most difficult discussion on both sides is when they claim the other sides approach has been proven unworkable, as if any of them have ever been perfectly implemented. Including Bobs.

It seems unarguable to me that liberals, soft lefties/progressives of the sort who mainly people ObWi are more sympathetic to hard-left opinion than to hard- (or even not so hard-) right-wing opinion.

I suspect that, for me personally, it's a matter of background and experience. After spending 8 years at Berkeley in the late 60s / early 70s, I've heard so much far-left lunacy that it tends to just bounce off.** Call it a personal spam filter, if you will. With the far right (which neither Marty nor McKinney are), I just don't have the calluses.

Also, what byomtov said at 11:35 above.


** I do realize that, for a lot of those spouting it (NOT necessarily for McManus) it was more about teenage rebellion than genuine belief. But that doesn't reduce how much of it I've heard.

GfnTC,

The reason I include n-T's is that I believe much of Trumpism is mainstream Republicanism, and has been around for a while. That would include, for example, climate change denialism and willful ignorance of science, tax policies whose purpose is to cut entitlements and hand over the savings to the wealthy, (see pretty much any Paul Ryan budget proposal), disregard for environmental concerns, anti-immigrant hysteria, suppression of minority voting, etc. I would not be happy if Ted Cruz were President.

As for Marty, wj, and McKinney, if they are no longer Republicans, and reject the worst parts of GOP policy, good for them.

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that before the election wj, maybe McKinney and maybe Marty too said they no longer even identify as Republican.

Oh I still identify as a Republican. Even though the last Republican Presidential candidate I was able to vote for was Bob Dole. (Which, it occurs to me, is rather a long time ago by now.)

But I'm still registered as a Republican, as I have been for over half a century now. (Although, with California's open-primary system, that only matters for Presidential primaries.) And I still vote for non-radical Republicans at other levels -- e.g. my state Assemblywoman.

Actually, other things being vaguely equal, I will go out of my way to support Republicans who are not nut cases. It's part of my (quite possibly futile) effort to reclaim my party.

wj,

but, but, but....you have a Republican president who is instituting Republican

Regards.

boy....did I ever mess that one up!

climate change denialism and willful ignorance of science, tax policies whose purpose is to cut entitlements and hand over the savings to the wealthy, (see pretty much any Paul Ryan budget proposal), disregard for environmental concerns, anti-immigrant hysteria, suppression of minority voting

Clearly, all of this appals me too, and I agree, it seems to be fairly mainstream Republican thought these days, certainly among most Republican voters, and among all Tea-Party, Trumpista or other Johnny-come-latelies. wj, it looks to me (from afar, admittedly) as if you identify as the supporter of a party which no longer exists.

The rights focus is on creating the opportunity for everyone to be safe and secure, physically and economically while providing a true safety net. These are better in the long run for people than the left's point solutions that patch the underlying wound. The right cares just as much about helping people, we just believe in a more permanent and broad based solution. Enabling almost everyone to provide for themselves.

Marty, I don't know what to say to you, except that I believe you are a person of goodwill who actually believes this.

With age I have lost what (considerable) ability I had in my youth for abstract thought, so bob mcmanus’s contributions frequently seem now to me like impenetrable thickets of words which, to the rare extent they have common currency, have been wrenched incomprehensibly far from their original meanings.

I see some of bob's comments the same way, though I've never attributed it to my age. Maybe it is. I still find them interesting, even when I don't have the motivation to try to understand them. Have you ever come across this site:

http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

Posts are generated by what's described here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism_Generator

(the Doc did once give him a hard time for referring to them as vermin, russell, she was right that that type of invective has preceded many genocides, but you are right that the Count is unlikely to spawn any)

I very clearly remember this, too.

Bobby, the picture that I have in my head is of the Party of Lincoln that I grew up with. I won't argue with the thesis that today it has become, to an appalling extent, more like the party of Jefferson Davis and Ayn Rand. But a) not entirely, b) not everywhere, and c) not, I pray, irretrievably.

I think the nation needs a center-right party which is capable of being a "party of government". At the moment, we manifestly do not have one. I think that, however remote the prospect may be, retaking the GOP for that role is far more likely to succeed than trying to create a new party. That last may be changing, as the current harakiri** continues.

** Yes, lj, I do know that the preferred gloss is seppuku (切腹). I used the less elegant term deliberately.

Instead, we should talk not about the moral worth of individuals but about the moral worth of particular social arrangements.

This. Thank you.

The rights focus is on creating the opportunity for everyone to be safe and secure, physically and economically while providing a true safety net

I hear this all the time, but I never see it.

So, I don't believe it.

Not talking about you, Marty, I'm talking about the right.

Deeds, not words.

I very clearly remember this, too.

I remember it, too, it's just not what she was calling him out for in this thread.

If I could wave a magic wand and confine the Count's spleen to the use of the word "vermin", I'd call it a victory and knock off for the rest of the day.

I think the nation needs a center-right party which is capable of being a "party of government".

Well, that would all depend on what you mean by "center-right", does it not?

Why not a "center left"(more or less current Dems) party and a "left" (Social Democratic) party?

They might even be able to conduct civil discussions on their policy disagreements (har, har, har....berniebros vs. clintonistas which see).

:)

I leave anarcho-socialism (my preference) for the far distant future....if we ever get there.

Why not a "center left"(more or less current Dems) party and a "left" (Social Democratic) party?

Because, regardless of where you think the center ought to be, it is where it is. Having both parties on the same side of the actual center of the electorate's views leaves an awful lot of people feeling like they have nowhere to go.

They might, for a while, go to the center-left (vs. left) party, which I can understand you considering a good thing. But before long they are, as we have seen, probably going to decide that some far right party is closer to what they want than the left party, when it comes time to boot out the center-left party.

Or they might go for some populist (or pseudo-populist) like Trump....

Long comment from Russell (back at 10:28 PM yesterday) rescued from the Spam folder. Go back and read it if you are interested.

What Russell waves.

I'll take my spleen in to the same doctor who irrigated my gall bladder to get rid of all of the gall I once possessed and see what can be done about this.

There will be a period of silent convalescence. I'm going to place my typing fingers in oven mitts for an interlude.

"she was right that that type of invective has preceded many genocides"

Yes, she was. In which case, the deceptively and comparatively politely phrased RNC policy platforms and the cute imagistic use of the language (Second Amendment solutions, drowned babies in bathtubs, etc.; now I'm told it's called a more permanent and broad-based solution, perhaps final for many) and the very near but not quite violent rhetoric of any vast number of right-wing radical organizations the Republican Party milks support and money from have lulled us into complacency regarding the genocidal consequences of permitting those policies to have their way.

There's not a single curse word (never have so many words been strung end-to-end to spell out Fuck You) or threat of violence in "Atlas Shrugged" that I recall, (God of course, particularly in the Old Testament, is not so disciplined, nor were the Founding Fathers in their screeds), but permitting its message to be put into practice would kill billions, just as Stalin tried.

Getting rid of Medicare, for example, (Yomtov started a list above) as the right wing dreams of accomplishing and have said so innumerable times, is a literal threat of genocide to millions, including Rand herself, had she lived, who got herself enrolled, a hypocrisy I applaud, and ain't it nice she didn't have to have her gutter mouth washed out with soap, despite its couching in republican conservative screed after screed in the banal terms of a train scheduling accountant in 1942 Germany.

Anyway, I like everyone here. Rump, of course, loves all of us.

I take nothing personally except requests for personal favors, which I do my best to honor.

Just to respond to a couple of comments that GftNC made in her comment that referenced, and was in part directed toward, me:

I agree that bob mcm makes it harder by enthusiastically agreeing that millions must die to bring about his wished for outcome, but I choose to put this in the same rhetorical basket as the Count’s frequent, if unfortunate, calls for GOPicide (the Doc did once give him a hard time for referring to them as vermin, russell, she was right that that type of invective has preceded many genocides, but you are right that the Count is unlikely to spawn any).

I don't think that bob and the Count are remotely comparable in their rhetoric. It's fairly clear that bob admires historical figures who practiced mass murder. I agree that Communism's goals are theoretically benevolent, and fascism's are repugnant, but once you actually throw in the historical record (as bob does), communism becomes a lot less attractive. bob doesn't even talk about a theoretical endgame of equality - it's just about perpetual struggle. To say that adherents of that kind of philosophy aren't dangerous, I point you to the last election where the Bern it Down faction is perhaps as responsible for Trump as the Trumpists.

but your holier-than-thou shtick made it harder to defend you when you were turning against everyone here who disagreed with you, or criticised HRC or the Dems, in the slightest.

Holier than thou? Turning against? I merely pointed out when people's rhetoric was, perhaps unintentionally, supporting the other side. When people were helping out the Trump faction by stating the exact words that Mike Pence uttered, or giving them talking points with gratuitous Clinton insults, distrusting Obama's statements about Russia (which were based on intelligence agency findings) in favor of the pathological liar Trump's version of things, or repeating "white working class economic anxiety" arguments while ignoring the demonstrable fact of true economic gains that have been made under Democrats - I objected to those statements and narratives because they were incorrect, not to mention extremely unhelpful to achieving goals that many people here supposedly share. Your attempt to be "fair" ignores the truth in my objections to what people were saying.

If, for example, Marty has always made clear his contempt for Trump and his never-Trump status, what purpose does it serve to call Trump his presidential candidate of choice?

Marty has not always made that contempt clear.
You project that clarity out of "fairness".
People knew full-well that voting for someone besides Clinton would have diminished her chances of winning, therefore enhanced Trump. Since the election, Marty has defended Trump adamantly. He is de facto a Trump supporter.

The article that you quoted is interesting, and thank you for it. I think that for many people here, myself included, believe that some redistribution of wealth is a worthy societal goal. The author of the article seems to believe in a moral imperative to achieve perfect material equality, by eliminating personal wealth of people who have too much. I am comfortable with the idea of eliminating poverty. I don't care if some people are wealthier than others, or buy fancier clothes, houses, or bread. I don't see a nonviolent way to get to perfect material equality, and believe that money is an incentive for some productive work. That said, taxing the wealthy, especially inherited and other kinds of unearned wealth, and spending it on the common good, including solid safety nets - that hurts no one and has been shown to work well.

Marty has not always made that contempt clear.

You are wrong, sapient. Alas, I don't have NV's skill in using LMGTFY, but perhaps someone else can call some of it up. But in any case, I remember with great clarity Marty's frequent scornful comments about Trump, and his repeated assurance that under no circumstances would he vote for him. But perhaps you are referring to Marty's statements since the inauguration? This is the only possible interpretation which would not be a complete misrepresentation...

while i don't doubt that Marty dislikes Trump personally, i know i can count on Marty to defend Trump against the lefties here. for 18 months or so (pre-election, certainly), with few exceptions, he's dutifully manned the ramparts in defense of Trump whenever the lefties attacked.

As far as I can tell, McK's participation here has evolved to one of waiting until he can find something to reinforce his beliefs that all of lefties are hypocrites and generally full of sh*t, and then trolling us all with that.

Well, I suppose I could go to right wing sites and call out lefty hypocrisy, but that would be hanging out in the bubble, which I don't do.

One reason the few of us righties come here is to do exactly as you say, call out the left on something. Where else would we go? Or, is it that the left gets a pass, or just doesn't want to be bothered being asked to defend its position? I'm fine if these are the answers. Of course, whining about the right's unwillingness to reflect and to respond to lefty complaints of hypocrisy would be, well, hypocritical.

For example, the Atlantic is running an excellent three part series on Obama's upending of due process on college campuses and the institutionalized havoc it has caused. It's worth a read and it's useful insight into why people like me don't want to give the keys to the kingdom to people like Obama--they overreach like crazy.

Right-wing political thought, on the other hand, especially on the medium-far right, is avowedly for the rich (give them tax breaks and it might trickle down), management (erode workers’ rights – it’ll be for the good of industry in the long run). Not to mention its racism (unarmed blacks getting shot? Almost certainly deserved it, including the disproportionate number of blacks in jail), sexism (birth control not covered by insurance) etc etc.

I've seen this formulation before. Who on the right actually says, "cut taxes for the wealthy, screw the workers and black people too and no birth control either." Now, it might be that from a lefty's perspective, the foregoing would be the impact of conservative policies, but saying that is what conservatives want is like me saying that all liberals want is to control every aspect of our economic lives, create a huge dependency of people who need the left in power to send them welfare checks in exchange for their vote, to give into every left wing dictator anywhere in the world and have our thoughts and speech dictated by academic intersectionalists.

I agree that lefties almost always mean well. I often disagree that their ideas of what is good for people is actually good at all. But, I don't doubt the intent to benefit others.

Some number, seemingly the farther left on the spectrum one moves, have issues with wealth and capitalism. Private enterprise, however, is demonstrably far superior to any other form of economy. If you mix in an effective, balanced rule of law, a constitution much like the one we have and a lot what else we take for granted, the fact that there are clear winners and clear losers with a whole bunch of others somewhere in the middle, is actually about as good as it's going to get in post-industrial country of 330 million people.

If some of the 1% want to drive stupid Land Rovers, so what? My wife and I spend a lot of money on golf. A lot. We pay a lot of taxes too. I get pissy when the conversational subtext of a statement is class envy.

And GFTNC, conservatives have no issue with insurance covering BC--that's an unfair spin on the argument. Conservative don't believe gov't should force employers of conscience to pay-directly or indirectly--for something that violates conscience.

While I think there are some on the far end of the progressive left who see climate change and control of academia, inter alia, as a means of advancing a very lefty way of life, I don't think most everyday libs feel that way at all.

FWIW--and it's probably worth very little--I'm indifferent to how much money people have if it was made honestly. I don't think the plight of workers is all that awful and, with some exceptions, I don't see were unions--as they have devolved over time--add much value. I favor a moderately regulated free market with progressive taxes capped at 40-45% and a non-confiscatory estate tax that kicks in at the greater of 8-10M or 4M times the number of beneficiaries. I favor maximum individual liberty, personal, economic, religious, what have you. Free speech means every kind of speech, hate speech, ugly speech, racist speech, all of it. Fight back with better words and better ideas. I think welfare is a mixed benefit, with too much of it creating generational dependency, among many other ills.

The progressive regulatory bent really gets up my nose--it is far too intrusive: how college kids have sex, who qualifies to use the women's restroom (anyone who claims to be a woman, even if they are clearly, outwardly a man--that's exactly the undemocratic guidance Obama's folks came out with) and what constitutes sexual assault (read the Atlantic, seriously). All of this highly problematic and this mindset knows no limits. It always needs a new demon to exorcise, so there will be no end to new regulatory initiatives to alleviate this or that new social ill. It is extremely undemocratic, usually contrary to due process, usually just not very smart and often quite authoritarian.

I'm just glad Obama's folks didn't try to tell all of us how to screw. Just imagine: sex rules for 200 million plus adults. Just what a free country needs.

Changing subjects: Sapient is undoubtedly very passionate. She is also, in many ways, a moderate--a militant moderate, if you will. I like her.

Sapient: I'm agnostic on DACA because it's a subset of the larger immigration picture. I'd take DACA and DARPA and anyone else with a five year look back, if going forward, everyone agreed to limit immigration per the actual laws--no more amnesty, ever.

No other country in the world has open borders. Not even Canada, it turns out.

Finally, Russell, there are several reasons for my limited and seemingly more snarky forays. First, I'm really busy all the time and when I do jump in, I have about 20 times the comments to respond to than does the typical commenter here because I'm in the minority. So, it's a real time commitment that often throws me off track on other stuff. Second, for some time, and especially since the election, ObWi is not as issue-oriented and thinky, with the give and take of earlier days, and a lot more emotional--and not in a good way. Third, when I am moved to jump in, it's when free time and a discrete issue of lefty deficiency converge.

Oh, and for the record: Trump still sucks, I didn't vote for him, I'm not a Republican and haven't been since the early 2000's; I wouldn't pour raw sewage on Ted Cruz if he was on fire.

None of that makes lefties right.

Sapient is undoubtedly very passionate. She is also, in many ways, a moderate--a militant moderate, if you will. I like her.

As it happens, I agree with this.

Thanks both of you for your kind words. Warmly reciprocated.

As to DACA, McKinney, I would like to see a more lenient immigration policy all the way round. Of course, DACA kids had nothing to do with determining their own status in the United States. They know this country as their home - like other young people that we know, all of their friends are here. Anyone who's been approved has gone through rigorous background checks. They believe in our country in the same way, or even more, than our own chilcren.

I find it very affirming that people want to come here so badly from all over the world. Some of the most gifted students want to come to our universities. The American dream is something that people still believe in, and I'm so proud of that.

But the DACA kids are just our neighbors' kids. I've met many of them, and I always leave smiling and committed to doing what I can for them. Their presence is uplifting. I feel that way when I'm around young people - I remember that things are possible.

I hope more than anything right now that we don't let them down.

Well, a lot of interesting comments. I do appreciate all of you being here, including McT and Marty, believe it or not.

I got here because I felt I had no one to discuss the sort of things we discuss and I felt my English was deteriorating. I assume (and hope!) that everyone is here because they want to be, not because they have to be.

McManus is 'embraced' more than Marty because it is much easier to reply to Marty when he makes a two sentence snarky remark than when Bob makes a 4 paragraph comment. McT, if you see the point of that observation, you might want to consider why you selected the word 'embraced'. Just because one person says something here and no one responds does not mean that everyone agrees with it.

I, and I think almost everyone else here, is well aware of the fact that McT and Marty end up on the bottom of pile ups. What I wish they would realize (and maybe they do realize and they are just lashing out in frustration) is that this is what happens when you are a minority in a place. You have to adjust to the majority, they don't adjust to you. They can try, but they will never be able to. It sucks, I know, but that's life.

Speaking for myself, Marty ends up on the target of my ire more because of his style, as opposed the McT's of a Philadelphia lawyer, though McT has the annoying tendency to say something like the comment above that, while I disagree with, doesn't really piss me off.

Until he adds the last sentence.

It's worth a read and it's useful insight into why people like me don't want to give the keys to the kingdom to people like Obama--they overreach like crazy.

Perhaps my memory is failing me. But my recollection is that Obama tried working with the Republicans in Congress. And was rejected out of hand -- no matter what he suggested, they were automatically against it. So, when he thought something needed to be addressed, he took the path that was available.

Would we have gotten something better if he and the Republicans had negotiated a compromise solution? I certainly think so. But you can't negotiate a compromise with someone who refuses to even consider anything you suggest.

It resulted in a number of cases of "executive overreach." But I don't think that was his preferred approach to doing things. So much as the one he was stuck with.

I'm just glad Obama's folks didn't try to tell all of us how to screw.

Obama's folks?

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/johnwright/michigan_senate_passes_bill_saying_sodomy_is_a_felony

None of that makes lefties right.

We are never right, but generally speaking, correct.

Now to tackle Bob's comments. In an earlier comment, he said

Outrageous, but let "I" represent all the oppressed for just a moment.

Sure, we can do that for a blog comment, but in real life, a single representative of the oppressed never pops up. Depending on where you stand, that's a feature of the capitalist system, not a bug.

The idea that we were all moving towards some sort of ideal state (waves at Francis Fukuyama) has slowly given way to the idea that we have all these identities, and I feel that this is a reaction to the all the melting pot/maybe you won't become one of us, but your children will notions that still float around. As a defense against that, identity becomes an individual armor against the world. Modern society, which is nothing if not adaptive, is now based on fracturing people into niches where they can be managed. For some, exploited. Subaru sells cars to lesbians.

That's why the excerpt Bob posted is off. To requote
Deconstruction has proven useful for women contesting patriarchal
norms, for gays in confronting a straight world, for people of color dealing with the conceptual and discursive legacy of racism, and for postcolonial men and women resisting ethnocentric forms of cultural imperialism. But it has had less success in either reconstructing a politics of the subaltern or even subjecting his or her experiences and traditions to internal critique.

Identity came about because people needed groups to combat particular trends in society. Modern society evolved and tried to manage those groups. It wasn't the fault of identity that it couldn't deal with a moving target. But now,

Subjectivity turns into a self-referential category, identity into a purely existential concern, once the objective moment of the force-field is deconstructed. Without shared principles and interests, demands for support from other subaltern groups rest little more than guilt. Poststructuralists leave individuals floating amid the fragments without any conceptual apparatus for making sense of their humanity.

Identity was co-opted, it's no one's 'fault', it's how the world has turned. I watched with awe and amazement how Obama, by mere virtue of his election, became non-black. I read Coates piece and Josh Marshall's reaction, and Marshall observes

But I could not read it without thinking there are a lot of voices – hardly little heard or without megaphones – he’s simply not hearing.

I thought that Marshall had missed the point. Insofar as anyone is hearing even a large portion of the voices, Coates piece is addressing how the ideas of white disenfranchisement are what we have to deal with rather than acknowledge the toxic legacy of racism. Bob suggested much earlier a Marxist notion that it was all economics, a bit like the woman who supposedly told Bertrand Russell 'it's turtles all the way down'. Good economic times paper over these cracks, Coates is saying, and dealing with the economy is dealing with the symptom, not the disease. I'm slowly coming around to that kind of thinking, especially after reading stories like this, via a former frontpager here
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/us/ferguson-watson-brown.html?smid=fb-share

Anyway, that is my feeble attempt to address McManus' points, lest McT think I am 'embracing' his call.

My embrace of McM's points consists entirely of TL;DR.

Sometimes McTx and Count also, too. Brevity, people.

I'm an equal opportunity ignorer.

i'd hate for anyone to think i embrace Marxist anything.

might as well accuse me of embracing Druid resurrection methods.

I've seen this formulation before. Who on the right actually says, "cut taxes for the wealthy, screw the workers and black people too and no birth control either." ...

Try reading the comments on the (quite mainstream and well written) Marginal Revolution economics blog, for instance.
I's say around half of those commenting. The casual racism is at times breathtaking.

saying that is what conservatives want is like me saying that all liberals want is to control every aspect of our economic lives, create a huge dependency of people who need the left in power to send them welfare checks in exchange for their vote, to give into every left wing dictator anywhere in the world and have our thoughts and speech dictated by academic intersectionalists.

You know McKinney, it's the weirdest thing, but that seems pretty close to what you have sometimes said, and certainly is word-for-word what many other voices on "the right" have said, and keep saying. If you're comfortable castigating us as "the left" for things we have never agreed with (no-platforming, safe spaces etc etc), why can't we do the same?

Conservative don't believe gov't should force employers of conscience to pay-directly or indirectly--for something that violates conscience.

I assume you're comfortable with Christian Scientist businesses refusing to pay for any medical insurance at all, and Jehovah's Witness businesses refusing to pay for anything which needs a blood transfusion? Actually, I don't know if any businesses in the States have to offer medical insurance, and if not presumably that's how they'd get round it, but surely there are other "matters of conscience" that you wouldn't be so happy to make exceptions for? I'm rushing out, so don't have time to search for the ridiculous prohibitions in various world religions, but I think you get my drift?

Conservative don't believe gov't should force employers of conscience to pay-directly or indirectly--for something that violates conscience...

This is possibly an excellent argument (amongst many others) for health insurance being provided by the state ?

"gov't should force employers of conscience to pay-directly or indirectly..."

What about "taxpayers of conscience" who (for example) happen to be pacifists - do they merit similar consideration, or are their consciences less important ?

As for birth control, some congressbeings are on the record for wishing to make it illegal again*, at least the chemical variants (condoms seem OK with some of them, others dotch that particular question). I even remember some hot dispute about bringing it up already or waiting until after abortion has been made illegal. In other words some anti abortion activists see birth control as step two and just debate tactics about how and when to pursue it.

On the state level we have guys like Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli who tried to make oral and anal sex forbidden by law (iirc in some states it is but the (quite old) laws are not enforced anymore).

But yeah, the liberal agenda is to make marriage illegal (except for perverts) and to turn all kids gay in public school. And we promote vaccination of girls to instigate them to a life of promiscuity, recreational abortion and general unwholesomeness.

*Santorum being the most prominent but not the only one.('One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.')

Mr. Watson said the city’s dogged prosecution had sunk his family into poverty after he lost his security clearance and was fired from his cybersecurity job, which paid more than $100,000 a year....

When the criminal justice system can crush a prosperous member of the middle class over a not wearing a seatbelt in a parked car - and the case still be unresolved five years later - there is something going on that I don't see can be explained away by anything other than institutionalised racial animus.

I'm just glad Obama's folks didn't try to tell all of us how to screw. Just imagine: sex rules for 200 million plus adults. Just what a free country needs....

There is a party, a significant number of whose 'members' wish to do precisely that. It isn't the lefties...

I, and I think almost everyone else here, is well aware of the fact that McT and Marty end up on the bottom of pile ups....

Quite.
One of the reasons I haven't posted much the last couple of days is that the temperature seemed to have raised a bit too much for reasoned discussion... and then I got sucked back in.

Apologies, McT, if you feel overly piled on.

Thanks for the Marshall link lj.

Part of my Marxism involves umm historical memory. I can't read Du Bois or Angela Davis with an attitude of total contempt and disgust at their beliefs. But I have better reasons.

Also, that say Deval Patrick can both be stopped for driving while black and be a VP of Bain Capital needs to be explained. However you see that, this is a social contradiction that I don't feel is entirely explained by systemic racism.

Or why Jesse Jackson had a different kind of success in the 80s running for Pres compared to Obama, with slightly different but overlapping constituencies. That's only twenty years, and essential human nature doesn't change that fast. Capitalism can and does.

I read a lot of sociology and social theory, just finished a translated article on the history of Yoshiwara, Shimabara, Shinmachi(?), and most recent academics are educated in some derivative of critical theory.

For the record: 50% of what I read is about Japan, 25% about visual culture and social media, maybe 5-10% "relief" books (history of Trans-Siberian RR, biography of Van Morrison), maybe another 5-10% politics which will tell you how much direct "Theory I read

But this is the next paragraph in the cinema book I'm reading, if you thought the Bronner paragraphs were abstruse.

"Up to this point, I have suggested that the dimensionality of the close-up is neither small nor large. Its importance lies beyond the conventions of these relative dimensions. The close-up does not simply magnify the details of an interiority, nor does it merely define a fragment cut from its milieu. Fetishism my well end up contemplating finished works or practico-inert objects situated in a fixed frame of reference, but the analysis of the processes that mobilize these phantom objectivities can neither begin nor end at this point. I suggest that the significance of the close-up lies somewhere between the small and the large, between the inside and its exterior, and on the margins between these polarities or states of being. The faciality of the close-up defines a space of transformation."

I just can't read fiction anymore. Too abstract.

Although ultra-lefties tend to be as conservative about sex as conservatives are. Remember: "we have no sex in the USSR" (1986)

Orwell was not so far off about the attitude in Stalinist dictatorships.
In the former GDR condoms were not illegal but difficult to get since they were made for export not home consumption.
A teacher of mine once sent an anatomy atlas to colleagues in the GDR and got it returned by state authority because "pörnography* is forbidden in the DGR". Reminds me of religious parents that tear certain pages out of their kids' biology textbooks after failing to have the topic banned in the first place.

*misspelled to fool potential filters

As to why fiction is abstract, well way too long, but to abstract is to remove from context, especially history and social being.
The close-up has to be analyzed historically (most old paintings are full or half body portraits, cepting Rembrandt), so why do we rely on it to convey emotion now. What changed. And most fiction is extended closeups and interiorities, a removal of the individual from context. Psychological novel.

Last one

Last night's movie was umm sp Kaurismaki's Ariel 1988. The unluckiest sub-proletarians finding love and hope. Loved it. Second Finnish movie seen, I think.

Compare to Game of Thrones. Where the hell are the freakin farmers? Is life and politics about the important pretty people scheming and exchanging witticisms? Will Dany help the downtrodden? Why do we like this shite?

i appreciate mck's thoughtful post at 5:02. lots in there, more than i'm able to address point by point right now.

suffice it to say, i'm not a conservative.

...is like me saying that all liberals want is to control every aspect of our economic lives

The Count was pretty explicit about not nationalizing the shoe industry.

and what constitutes sexual assault (read the Atlantic, seriously)

and, for balance, be sure to read this article about how the author of that Atlantic series might be playing a little loose with her presentation of facts, and how she is definitely and deliberately pushing a very specific agenda.

the Jezebel piece is long but it seems well-researched and reasoned.

Conservative don't believe gov't should force employers of conscience to pay-directly or indirectly--for something that violates conscience...

This is possibly an excellent argument (amongst many others) for health insurance being provided by the state ?

But Nigel, that would just be the government forcing employers of conscience to pay (via taxes) for something that violates conscience. Which, in fact, I have seen served up as an argument against state health insurance.

Which, in fact, I have seen served up as an argument against state health insurance anything.

So it's okay with these conservatives when conscientious objectors refuse to pay taxes to support war?

Janie, ROTFLOL

Breaking news in the Washington Post: Middle-class income hit highest level on record in 2016, Census Bureau reports.


"The Census said the uptick in earnings occurred because so many people found full-time jobs — or better-paying jobs — last year.

"America's poverty rate also fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit.
The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act."

Obama's presidency. Sigh.

Obama's presidency. Sigh.

Oh Christ. I don't even have to go to weird sites. Moderate hell.

Loomis at LGM today

I don't filter sapient cause I need to see the bullshit. Shouldn't engage. Shouldn't engage.

I don't know if anyone else is hearing these, but we are still getting hammered with commercials featuring the line "during the on-going economic downturn".

I don't recall if it is for tax lawyers or people offering to get you out from under your credit cared debt -- I'm the sort of person advertisers HATE. But apparently they think there is a significant audience who is convinced that the economy is still in the toilet. Even though it has been growing, not in a downturn, for a record number of quarters.

Let me also say that I am highly offended by offers to get people out of their debts to the IRS for pennies on the dollar. Damnit, I pay my taxes every year; why should they get rewarded for failing to pay theirs???

Shouldn't engage. Shouldn't engage.

can you engage enough to tell us what Loomis' complaints about the way the unemployment rate is measured has to do with sapient's link about middle-class income?

apparently they think there is a significant audience who is convinced that the economy is still in the toilet.

well, ya can't Make America Great Again unless it's in trouble somehow, now can ya?

But it doesn't have to be economic trouble. See some of the comments following
https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2017/09/taking-cake

Let me also say that I am highly offended by offers to get people out of their debts to the IRS for pennies on the dollar. Damnit, I pay my taxes every year; why should they get rewarded for failing to pay theirs???

The stories I hear on the radio all involve businesses. You can't put a business in jail. Assuming it's been set up properly, you generally can't hit up the individuals for the business taxes. And if the settlement is too big, the business goes belly up and the government gets nothing. The goal, as I understand most of the special rules, is to get the business back in the system and paying taxes going forward.

sapient's link about middle-class income?

Think the long-term unemployed and discouraged workers and the incarcerated are included in those figures for median income?

And exactly what did Obama have to do with it? Signing bills written by Congress?

Black wealth 2006-2014, black wealth compared to white wealth same period. Never coming back. Never.

And that is something Obama can take credit and payoffs for: bank bailout including retaining mortgages and tranches at face value, sucky stimulus package, turn to austerity (who lost the gov't jobs? blacks and women), little relief to states, vicious and cruel pretense at mortgage relief, extending most of the bush tax cuts, college debt (majority black). On and on.

The 1% housing booms ain't the problem, it is upper middle class who compete and drive up housing prices just above lower middle class blacks hopes.

if only there was a way to harness the awesome power of the goalpost movers.

I am highly offended by offers to get people out of their debts to the IRS for pennies on the dollar. Damnit, I pay my taxes every year; why should they get rewarded for failing to pay theirs???

Because they can't possibly pay theirs? What the lawyers advertise and what they deliver may differ substantially - shocking, I know.

Anyway, I know of one case where an individual was able to get out from under for pennies on the dollar. Without going into great detail, let me just say that the arrangements were no cause for celebration by my friend. Anecdotal, I know, but remember that the IRS is interested in getting what it can, not in being obstinate about a legally correct, but uncollectible amount.

I'll add that the agents handle a lot of cases and try to resolve them as best they can while the agency is likely seriously understaffed. I've seen numbers, sorry, only vaguely recalled, about collections/agent that suggest that beefing up the staff would be hugely profitable to the Treasury.

Of course, there are (ahem) politicians who want to cut the staff, rather than increase it. These same politicians often style themselves as deeply concerned about the government's finances, much as those who want to cut Medicaid often call themselves pro-life.

And exactly what did Obama have to do with it?

the stimulus package he got wasn't everything it could have been, but it helped.

he derailed the GOP's frequent attempts to cause a default.

basically, he did what any President should do: don't break it.

And that is something Obama can take credit and payoffs for: bank bailout

maybe in your world, the massive chaos and subsequent suffering caused by the collapse of the financial sector would be a good thing, eventually. most everybody else disagrees.

Never coming back. Never.

prove it

I just can't read fiction anymore. Too abstract

Dammit, for a brief shining moment I thought this was an (excellent) joke.

The stories I hear on the radio all involve businesses. You can't put a business in jail. Assuming it's been set up properly, you generally can't hit up the individuals for the business taxes.

The ads I am hearing are explicitly targeting individuals, not businesses.

the stimulus package he got wasn't everything it could have been, but it helped.

Depends on what "everything it could have been" means.

If it means "less than ideal," then you are correct.

If it means "less than he could have gotten out of Congress," then maybe not.

Now I personally think he used poor tactics, by not asking for a better package than what he thought he could get. Then, to the degree it was inadequate it would have been the GOP's fault. But it is also possible that he was motivated by a sense of urgency to get something as soon as possible.

basically, he did what any President should do: don't break it.

I thought Presidents were supposed to make things better. You set a very low bar.

And It is not true; the Obama administration made things better for a lot of people: the rich and Republicans.

I am highly offended by offers to get people out of their debts to the IRS for pennies on the dollar. Damnit, I pay my taxes every year; why should they get rewarded for failing to pay theirs???

Should I feel guilty when my neighbor gets mugged because I didn't give the mugger, when he mugged me, the benjamin in my shoe? :)

And exactly what did Obama have to do with it?

There is also the not-so-small matter of General Motors.

Bob, has there ever, in the history of the nation, been an administration which you think made things better?** Just trying to get a feel for where your standard lies.

** Alternatively, has there been an administration in any other country which did so? How are their people doing now? And why did they lose (they must have lost it, right?) the wonderfulness that they had?

The ads I am hearing are explicitly targeting individuals, not businesses.

Hmmm. The only person I ever knew who was in a situation like that as an individual hadn't filed a tax return for several years. When she did, the amount of actual tax she hadn't paid was quite small. The billed amount for penalties and interest for not filing for all those years ran to an impressively large sum (tens of thousands). IIRC, the IRS forgave the penalties and interest during a temporary amnesty period, but she paid the small unpaid taxes.

One year I was a day late filing the forms for the small LLC my wife and I have due to a Post Office error. Zero tax owed. The IRS's first position was that we owed a few hundred dollars: one month's penalty, times two people, plus some minimum amount of interest. I got it straightened out and owed nothing, but damn! The penalties and interest would have piled up at a frightening rate.

How do you feel about people who paid their taxes through withholding but failed to file the paperwork? Nick 'em for thousands of dollars?

I thought Presidents were supposed to make things better. You set a very low bar.

they are.

as i'm sure you'll agree, history is full of Presidents who fuck things up.

I have far less of an issue with someone who paid the taxes, but fell short on the paperwork. It's the folks who just didn't pay, spent the money instead, and now get off without paying the tax (and interest).

Penalties are a separate discussion. As you say, they can be draconian for relatively minor oversights.

And it's possible to find yourself in a mess (I speak from first hand experience) if you are part (minority) owner of a business (S corp or LLC) which routinely doesn't get its books done and tax documents (K-1s) out until the end of the late filing period. Not so much because that means you end up filing late as because it means that you have no clue how much nominal income you had and should pay estimated taxes on. By the time you know, the interest (and penalties) can run pretty high.

just wait till the effects of the credit info breach hit the IRS.

you can cancel a credit card, or get a new CC number. getting the IRS off your back? hah.

Dean Baker on job numbers.

So it's okay with these conservatives when conscientious objectors refuse to pay taxes to support war?

Some of those people have gone to jail. Willingly. To support the point they are making, and to fulfill the dictates of their conscience.

Don't know too many right winger "people of conscience" who have taken on years or decades of jail time to stay true to their convictions.

One thing I'll say for lefty/liberal/progressive people of conscience, they will take it to the mat.

This brings me to a though about McManus' comment about intransigence.

I am in pretty damned close to complete agreement that it's the intransigence of folks who are getting shafted that makes things change.

Our points of difference are, I think, about how intransigence is expressed, effectively, in this country, historically.

With rare exceptions, violence has not been useful. It's mostly being willing to put yourself on the receiving end of a punch that makes things change.

I'm talking about here, obviously if your oppressor is Hitler, taking a beating or a jail term is not going to change things.

But in our history, it's usually the way big things happen. Eventually.

Bob, has there ever, in the history of the nation, been an administration which you think made things better?

Oh, the usual:Lincoln, FDR, LBJ. Early Congresses under Nixon were pretty good. Truman was a terribly mixed bag, but Empire got rolling strong. Clinton raised taxes early, and then sold out to Wall Street.

But it always a matter of: Good for whom and at what price?

The model is early FDR: spit on Hoover's deal, raised taxes on everybody and spent it, purt near nationalized the banks*, inflated like a madman. The devaluation help lighten a ton of debt. (Fucked Japan so horribly helped foster the war, also France if I remember)

* For a while most banks had a young lefty outside asshole on site auditing everything. More jobs for liberals.

Overseas? Post war Britain and France, etc. Japan had hopes until they got in the way of Empire. Scandinavia (?) had good moments.

USSR to late 20s, and honestly, considering what they were facing, all of capitalism with Hitler as the spearpoint, surviving was an achievement, at great costs.

I also have some affection for the pan-Arabist era: Nassar, Saddam, Qaddafi. Standards of living rose very well for ordinary people, even improvements and opportunities for women, and resistance to Empire was still conceivable.

It's the folks who just didn't pay, spent the money instead, and now get off without paying the tax (and interest).

Yeah, I'm much less forgiving about people who just didn't pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. Of course, I'm trying to figure out how they could manage that without a business of some sort that that income is running through. I should go ask my friend -- the one who says, "If you're not getting audited every few years, you're not trying hard enough."

I'm trying to figure out how they could manage that without a business of some sort that that income is running through

I'd guess some combination of self-employment/contracting and investment income. That is, stuff that doesn't get automatic withholding from the payer.

Even if they own the business, which employs them (writing off their income as a business expense) -- and so is liable to other IRS penalties for not doing the withholding....

I'd guess some combination of self-employment/contracting and investment income. That is, stuff that doesn't get automatic withholding from the payer.

I was a self-employed contractor for years. Easy as pie not to bother to pay your quarterly estimated taxes.

My clients were businesses that filed 1099s, but I always paid my taxes so I don't know what would happen if the IRS got 1099s but no 1040 from the contractor.

I would guess it's even easier to evade paying if your clients are private citizens who don't file 1099s. Not casting aspersions, but let's say for the sake of illustration the person who mows or plows for you, or does some plumbing or carpentry.

we owed tens of thousands last year. this was due to taking money out of an inherited IRA for the purpose of installing solar panels. the state would have given us a tax credit for installing the solar panels which would have completely offset the taxes on the IRA money. but then our builder cashed that check and went bankrupt without installing solar anything. so, we were stuck without the money, but with the taxes due.

i guess we could have refused to pay... ? that would be fun, i'm sure.

but then our builder cashed that check and went bankrupt without installing solar anything. so, we were stuck without the money, but with the taxes due.

That effin' blows.

That effin' blows.

Man, does it ever.

So sorry cleek.

I've seen you talk about this chez vous, cleek, and I just haven't known what to say. It's truly awful, and I too am so sorry, FWIW (not much of course).

thanks all.

just wanted to mention one way to owe a lot in taxes. i suppose it's not a common way.

I would guess it's even easier to evade paying if your clients are private citizens who don't file 1099s. Not casting aspersions, but let's say for the sake of illustration the person who mows or plows for you, or does some plumbing or carpentry.

The US has the smallest shadow economy, 5.4% of GDP, of most countries. Some countries' shadow economies are over 30%.

The Countries With The Largest Shadow Economies

CharlesWT: The US has the smallest shadow economy, 5.4% of GDP, of most countries. Some countries' shadow economies are over 30%.

I saw Ireland's in operation when I used to go there a lot.

I was alluding to it not so much to make a claim about the general phenomenon as to address how easy it is to not pay taxes if you don't want to, riffing off the exchange between Michael Cain and wj.

It's sort of like the poor person's substitute for having an army of tax lawyers.

*****

CharlesWT: I can't look at the Forbes link because I use an adblocker and I'm not interested enough to whitelist Forbes. But I went looking for state-level data because I'm willing to bet that my (poor, heavily rural) state of Maine has one of the larger ones by % among the 50 states.

Lo and behold the first thing I came upon says that the state with the smallest shadow economy is Delaware at 7.28% of GDP, and the largest is Mississippi at 9.54%. How that squares with an overall US shadow economy of 5.4% I have no idea.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics, probably. ;-)

By dropping the charges now, Ferguson Prosecuting Attorney Lee Clayton Goodman lends credibility to Watson's case against Boyd and the city, which accuses them of violating his rights under the Fourth, First, and 14th amendments. The New York Times says Goodman "declined to discuss the matter."
After 5 Years, Ferguson Drops Bogus Charges That Cost Navy Veteran His Job: Fred Watson, who was mentioned in a DOJ report on abuses by Ferguson police, says he was arrested and prosecuted for no good reason.

cleek,

next time, some options: (1.)ask the contractor to bond the work; or (2.) joint check the supplier; or (3.) No pay until it is on site and installed AND still joint check; (4.) and hold 10% retainage on all progress billings.

I've had sleazy subs invoice for work by their tier subs then go broke and then have to pay the tier sub again.

We had a steel fabricator who delivered the first big load of structural steel, and closed his doors the minute he cashed our check. Then we had to pay the steel wholesaler, too. :(

Learned the hard way....as usual!

Oh, the usual:Lincoln, FDR, LBJ.

I see bob's bark, like mine, may be worse than his bite.

Read Caro's biography of LBJ. Good stuff....but loooooooooooooooooonnnnnnng.

I see bob's bark, like mine, may be worse than his bite.

Somewhat comforting!

As to Caro's biography, I need to schedule my reading time better. Probably will be more likely in a few months.

Referring back to the Mao discussion.... China is planning to invest $30bn in Haiti - whose GDP iis $8bn.
https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Work-Begins-Soon-to-Bring-Haiti-into-Silk-Road-After-China-Invests-US30-billion-to-Develop-Infrastructure-20170901-0003.html

Looks to be a pretty decent chance of transforming one of the world's more impoverished societies for the better...

For all the criticisms one can make of Chinese society (& indeed the way they manage their foreign aid/investment), they do seem to have adopted a role more or less abandoned by the US government.
It's not that the US isn't still a massive aid donor in absolute terms - more that it appears to have lost the ambition which China is clearly developing.

funny climate change sideshow act:

scientists look at the 3% of climate studies papers that claim climate change is not man-made, try to reproduce their results and ... they find that every single paper has a flaw in methodology, assumptions or data.

---

bobbyp. yeah, learning the hard way.

we were foolishly trusting the contractor when he said he needed up-front payment on some things. we figured that was just the way some parts of the process worked. and we were assisted in this mistake by the fact that our bank's inspector kept signing-off on everything. we assumed that if the bank was OK with how the project was going that it must be OK. why would they keep giving us checks if the builder was so far off from standard practice. but, no. and when we asked them how they could have missed what was going on, they just gave us hand-waving.

next time will be very different.

What sort of contractor were you using, cleek? Was he more or less a one-man show and not one of the known solar companies?

If I do solar, which I probably will soon, I almost have no choice but to use one of the bigger companies, because I'm not really in a position to buy the system. I'm pretty much stuck with leasing, even though I know it's the less financially advantageous option in the long run.

the builder was 'just a guy', yeah. he was 'DBA', but it was really just him and a couple of employees (which he screwed over by not paying their withholding taxes for a year).

the solar contractor was a local firm, still around. but they were never actually involved with our house. the builder basically lied about having them ready to do the work. he never talked to them about our house at all.

What an a$$hole

we were also going to do geothermal H/AC, since NC was offering tax credits for both. we'd have been almost cost-free on utilities.

thanks to the big brains in the NC GOP, those tax credits are gone.

Step 1 is definitely work with the solar company directly. More control, and you don't have to pay the middle man.

We did solar back in the early 2000, and have been delighted with it. It paid for itself in a handful of years.

A couple of thoughts:

- You might want to look at sizing your system for zero net cost rather than zero net usage. Depending on your usage pattern (and whether your utility charges/pays a higher rate for peak times, it might be a smaller and cheaper system.

- On the other hand, you may find that your usage grows over time. Ours certainly did. (Mostly a matter of acquiring more computers. Although global warming resulting in running the A/C more also contributed.) The technology is evolving so fast that just adding a couple more panels may not be a viable option by the time you find you need it.

- Harden your system. The one significant problem we had was from squirrels chewing on the wiring (on a second story roof!). There's a lot to be said for having all the wiring, even if it looks like heavy cables, in steel pipes.

just him and a couple of employees (which he screwed over by not paying their withholding taxes for a year).

Unless I am mistaken, which could easily be, that's on the contractor and not the employees who had taxes withheld. And it's bad.

Just because it's an Open Thread, check out xkcd's delightful takedown of the new iPhone. https://xkcd.com/1889/

I was particularly taken with the "High thread count CPU" feature.

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