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April 27, 2009

Comments

Wouldn't you know it, you title a post 'Weekend Snark', and you should know an opportunity like this would come around.

Republicans are afraid to oppose the stimulus package, but they have no idea what stimulus is. They're still repeating Eisenhower's old balanced budget / deficit hawk / "wasteful spending" slogans -- the same ones they kept in the closet during the Reagan and Bush administration.

Collins, of course, along with Snowe and Specter, is one of the three least imbecile of the 41 Republican Senators.

The bipartisan-nonpartisan attempt at reasonableness has always been silly. These are stupid crazies we're talking about.

Can we get some customarily required 'cites' for John Emerson's allegations regarding the mental conditions of certain Republican Senators and in what way this distinguishes them from the remaining members of that august body?

Does Susan Collins' press conference statement differ materially from those of Barney Frank and his committee cohorts regarding the financial safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shortly before their collapse? Were their statements and obvious mental derangement similarly treated here?

I don't understand the point, Publius. Pretty much everything can have a negative effect on the economy, including, e.g., terrorist attacks, avian flu, swine flu, flu flu, etc. oes that mean that the "stimulus package" -- which was originally sold as filled-to-the-brim with middle class benefits and "shovel ready" infrastructure projects -- is the right place to decide what should be spent and how?

Collins' comments seem spot on: Look, this is an important issue. We should spend money on it. But why spend the money in a stimulus package that no one really read all the way through .... that's a recipe for, among other things, misspending this money: spending money on swine flu in ways that are not effective, and getting less bang for the taxpayer's buck.

I'm with von on this one. Yeah, flu preparedness, cybersecurity, and suchlike things are important. Important enough that they should be considered by themselves.

The tendancy to put everything into One Giant Bill is one of the major weaknesses of our current system.

The idea of economic stimulus is to create economic activity through government spending. Money spent on pandemic preparedness enters the economy and stimulates it. Why is it out of place in a stimulus package?

In fact, "Eisenhower's old balanced budget / deficit hawk / 'wasteful spending' slogans" run pretty deep in both major parties (though as Jamie Galbraith points out, ironically more Republicans have the good sense not to take them particularly seriously). Even President Obama has felt the need to promise balanced budgets in the future.

FDR's single biggest mistake in handling the Great Depression was trying to balance the budget in 1937. By worrying at all about balanced budgets, we're facing this crisis with one hand tied behind our backs.

The idea of economic stimulus is to create economic activity through government spending. Money spent on pandemic preparedness enters the economy and stimulates it. Why is it out of place in a stimulus package?

Is pandemic preparedness the most cost-effective way of stimulating the economy?

See, the problem that I have with just heaping unlike spending programs together in a great, undifferentiated mass is there's far too much potential for extravagant vote-buying and lobbyist-reimbursement to slip through unread and unexamined.

Stuff like this is what the dreams of Trent Lott, Ted Stevens and John Murtha are made of. Of course, some of them are no longer serving, but there are plenty of willing replacements ready to step in and shoulder the burden.

Can we get some customarily required 'cites' for John Emerson's allegations regarding the mental conditions of certain Republican Senators and in what way this distinguishes them from the remaining members of that august body?

No. Read the goddamn newspapers, for Christ's sake.

Obsidian Wings has been sucking up to you idiots for far too long. Honest conservatives and sane Republicans are scarce as unicorns. The Obsidian Wings project has been a total waste of time and effort from the beginning. Hopefully they'll figure that out someday.

Liberals should have been dialoguing with the left (including left libertarians) all along, not with Republicans and conservatives. Bush, Gingrich, DeLay, Limbaugh, Beck, Murdoch, Scaife, Dobson the Rev. Moon, and the others have destroyed the Republican Party and American conservativism for a generation, as far as being a source of intelligent discussion of anything goes. You can only bend over backwards so much.

The Republicans still might regain power in two or four years, but if they do, lord save us. "President Palin" doesn't sound good to me. Neither does "President Huckabee". Romney at least has the advantage of being an empty suit, but when that's what you start hoping for it's a sign of extreme desperation.

Stimulus spending is budget-busting spending, period. (Something that didn't bother the Republicans at all two years ago). Fiscal hawks just need to shut the f*ck up and crawl back into their holes. There are various ways you can distribute stimulus spending, and some are better than others, but the brain-dead Republicans have no idea what the good ways and the bad ones are. They're just preprogrammed slogan mills trying to make Rush happy.

If anyone thinks there is a chance for reasonable discourse with that last, then go for it.

John Emerson, please read the posting rules, and after you're done, please refrain from violating them.

Thanks.

I almost never come here, because the whole bipartisan / non-partisan premise of this site is silly. But it might be good for you people to get a little input every once in awhile from the external world outside the Obsidian Wings protected environement.

Thanks for your input, John.

Is pandemic preparedness the most cost-effective way of stimulating the economy?

maybe not, but it's a way.

i bet it'd be pretty tough to get consensus on the "most cost-effective way".

This is patently a liberal conspiracy reaching to the highest levels.

McCain says the economy is sound...the very same day Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy and the DOW nosedives.

Jindal pokes at volcano monitoring...BAM, a volcano erupts.

Collins balks at spending on pandemic flu prep...see, there's a pattern forming here.

Let's hope no high profile Republicans start whining about the money we spend observing the Yellowstone caldera or something equally catastrophic.

Yeah John - have to agree. You may disagree, but we want to people to keep it civil here.

Come on, guys. Just tell me to go f*ck myself. Make me happy.

Seems to me that a stimulus package is actually the ideal opportunity to put some investment into contingency planning schemes, such as pandemic preparation and volcano monitoring, that very frequently get neglected in favour of more immediate demands during regular budgeting. Katrina is the clear lesson here.

I have no problem with the budget hawk, anti-stimulus philosophy, it's a debate well worth having. However, I simply cannot respect the mindless demagoguery practiced by republicans lately on this issue, whereby they repeatedly single out arbitrary budget items for ridicule. All too often these are important scientific projects. Why does presidential candidate John McCain obsess over ridiculing a relatively inexpensive study of bears? Why ridicule volcano monitoring, or public health infrastructure?

Related to this is the McCain-Palin poop-flinging assault on academics like Rashid Khalidi, or Harold Koh. Anybody involved in any sort of specialty field in the United States ought to live in fear of the day when Republicans decide to lampoon their entire profession in order to score cheap points with an ignorant mob.

maybe not, but it's a way

Asked differently: is it in the top, say, 20% of most effective ways to stimulate?

Pick another percentage if 20 is too restrictive.

Come on, guys. Just tell me to go fuck myself. Make me happy.

Get the fnck off this website you moronic brownshirt fnck.

How's that?

I seem to recall that we used to, at one point in time, attract a higher grade of troll.

Maybe that's just me waxing nostalgic in my old age, though.

Thank you, Ugh, you're a decent sort and I feel good now. So now I'm leaving forever.

Bynringman, that's what the Republican Party is. There's nothing else there.

Slartibartfast, I know that you're a finer class of person, and I'm sure my 7:37 and 9:15 comments are not high grade enough for your refined taste, but pretty much every word of them is true. This particular dog-and-pony-show is long past its sell-by date.

Come on, guys. Just tell me to go fuck myself. Make me happy.

Posted by: John Emerson

Hi, John. While I agree with what you say pretty near 100% (cf Crooked Timber, Economists View, Angry Bear etc - good work), ya can't say things in that tone here. Sorry.

Asked differently: is it in the top, say, 20% of most effective ways to stimulate?

Probably. It covers a contingency that would affect (in theory) the entire country. And enabling it gives benefits above and beyond what it was meant to cover--public health and readiness is helpful (even without considering the sad shape American public health measures are in).

But that may not be the best question to ask, given that stimulus should cover broad sectors of the economy. Comparatively speaking you should also look at targets of stimulus as well as numbers.

Is pandemic preparedness the most cost-effective way of stimulating the economy?

The economic consequences of pandemic during a major economic downturn are greater than the consequences of a similar pandemic during good economic times. The way an economy works through a downturn is by stimulating lots of economic activity but almost all economic activity is seriously impeded by pandemics. People watching CNN get freaked out and are thus less likely to travel (which is a great way to spend money). Employers might temporarily shut down some workplaces to avoid the risk of contagion. People's confidence in general takes a huge nosedive as the constant media assault continually reminds them of their own mortality, which in turn makes them more economically conservative and thus less likely to invest and start new businesses and take reasonable risks.

To the extent that the government can catch pandemics through early monitoring and nip them in bud with quarantine, that can greatly reduce the economic hit. Consumer and business confidence is a nonlinear matter.

To put it another way: it is always a good idea to avoid getting infected. However, once you develop a disease that severely compromises your immune system, it makes sense to spend a lot more money and time avoiding infection than you otherwise would have.

See, the problem that I have with just heaping unlike spending programs together in a great, undifferentiated mass is there's far too much potential for extravagant vote-buying and lobbyist-reimbursement to slip through unread and unexamined.

This sort of analysis sounds good in theory, but I'm not sure it holds up to scrutiny. Extravagant vote-buying and lobbyist-reimbursement often slip into bills that are widely read and thoroughly examined. This sort of corruption emerges because powerful people benefit, and powerful people can get their way whether or not anyone can see what they're doing. Consider this: Jack Murtha is widely alleged to be corrupt, but his corruption has been in no way deterred by lots of people carefully scrutinizing his bills and committee work.

If you want a heuristic that predicts when corruption is likely, I'd suggest that programs that benefit large or powerful interests rather than programs that are highly visible.

In addition, I'm not sure it makes sense to expect Congress to closely scrutinize something highly technical like pandemic preparedness. I'd be surprised if Congress had the necessary level of expertise to really frisk a program like that, so I'm not sure what benefit would accrue by subjecting it to more congressional scrutiny. I mean, we've got no problem with ignorant congressman rushing to vote for war without learning the facts, so why do we only have to delay public health issues?

Let's ask again, this time stipulating the bottom 20%. I think it might be a little easier to find a few examples :-)

Military spending, specifically, spending on weapons systems that we don't need and will probably never use. Infrastructure projects like the 'bridge to nowhere' whose utility is, um 'marginal' to all but a very few. Any sort of subsidy where the ratio of people to spending is very, very small, say on the order of one to a million.

Extravagant vote-buying and lobbyist-reimbursement often slip into bills that are widely read and thoroughly examined.

Good point.

My disagreements with what substance existed in John Emerson's comments are ones of intensity, not kind--in other words, I'm largely in agreement that the majority of self-identifying Republicans these days are delusional, their elected officials in dire need of padded rooms, and that constructive dialogue with people utterly divorced from reality is impossible. And when it comes to torture enthusiasts, I'm 100% on board with his agenda of telling them where to head in. The part of the country that cheers on torture is dead to me.

But tone matters, and if in the process of dismissing the crazies in the Republican Party you repulse the people who might actually listen to you, we all lose.

Finally, as has been said many times, the posting rules exist, insofar as they apply to profanity, because a number of ObWi denizens blog from work or school where there are content filters. Your comments in this thread have ensured that people with said content filter cannot read this post, or may find themselves blocked from ObWi altogether.

Something to think about.

Look, Americans voted President Collins into office knowing she would be making all the decisions of national importance. If you have a problem, talk to them.

I seem to recall that we used to, at one point in time, attract a higher grade of troll.

As I recall, this blog humored DaveC for years, so the bar can't ever have been very high to start with.

Well, we could have had Senator Kennedy of New York and then we would get a different take, ya know.

"I almost never come here"

Which means you have no idea that the site has, overall, been about 93% left/liberal for years now, John.

Which make your lectures, like most lectures based on nearly complete ignorance -- as if ObWi of the last two/three years was the ObWi of five years ago -- look extremely silly.

I can name the current regular individual conservative/libertarian commenters here are on the fingers of one hand: "GoodOleBoy," "d'd'd'dave," "Brett Bellmore," von, Sebastian.

Oh, and Slart is vaguely conservative, and OCSteve. Fingers of two hands.

vaguely. Ouch.

Since I was addressed: there's no reason to have a debate about Collins' inane, dishonest, kneejerk Eisenhower crankout. There's no there there, any more than there was in the teaparties. Ridicule and dismissal are the appropriate response.

But debating Collins's ducktalk was what ended up happening. (That, and debating my troll). Views of shape of the earth differ.

It's just hothouse special needs civility. No need for it.

It's just hothouse special needs civility. No need for it.

Except for the aforementioned rules, which are enforced at the discretion of the blog owners.

See, it's not your call. Even a dimwit conservative like me can understand that.

"Since I was addressed: there's no reason to have a debate about Collins"

Yeah, you got pushback from two of the seven possible engagees. (GoodOleBoy is a pure knee-jerk know-nothing, and d'd'd'dave is mostly a troll.)

Like all threads here, there's some enthusiastic agreement from the 95% of leftists or liberals, and a lot of people enjoy the exercise of arguing with or denouncing the handful of rightists.

If you actually bothered to read any of the threads here in the last three years, you'd know this.

The main posters are Hilzoy, Eric Martin, and publius. Once in a great while Von or Sebastian posts.

This is a left/liberal site, John, and you just haven't noticed the huge change in recent years, and are acting, ludicrously, as if Moe Lane was still around, because, apparently, you had a hard-on to come rant about your long-time need to denounce civility towards anything vaguely rightwing.

That's all very nice, but it ends up looking really ridiculous here and now. Sorry.

It's never smart to comment about something you know nothing about, including a place you've known nothing about for years and years.

I've read John Emerson comments approvingly for years, but sometimes he just doesn't seem to grasp that different forums have different customs, and that you can't communicate or debate effectively if you don't respect the customs of the forum.

For example, much as I'd like to sometimes, I'm not allowed to use the "f-word" when arguing a point of law to a judge.

Similarly here, people who I respect (who couldn't respect Hilzoy?) have asked us not to use coarse language, citing, for example, the need to keep the site accessible for those who read it at work. Since it's their site, and since they have a basis for their request that does not amount to simple lefty-bashing, I try to honor it, and John should too.

We were having a serious debate about what Collins said. Looks like the old ObWi to me.

But if I'm as wrong as you say, I guess I should stop avoiding the place. But I promised to leave forever. A tragic dilemma indeed.

Pandemic preparedness probably doesn't fit within the most immediately stimulative categories of spending, but it sure as heck is economically important when a looming pandemic arises. Mexico is now facing significant reduction in tourism related spending, along with diminished domestic economic activity (people who have to stay inside don't go shopping much). When Toronto was hit with the SARS epidemic its economic activity contracted significantly. Indeed, there are probably not many things that are more economically destructive than a pandemic.

And of course, we all know that had the Republicans not opposed funding as part of the stimulus, they would have opposed it as part of whatever other package it made it into because, basically, they have opposed everything and anything put forward by Democrats thus far (with the possible exception of Red state friendly farm subsidies).

@ rea 1:19pm
For example, much as I'd like to sometimes, I'm not allowed to use the "f-word" when arguing a point of law to a judge.

Not even with an asterisk in the middle?

No wonder most trials are so boring.
=================
I'm agnostic on the question of offensive language, but as has been said, its the mod's board, they can do what they want.

In my workplace, its definitely not unheard of. On the other hand, corporate email blocks "The Onion." Go figure.

There is a whole lot of political space to the left of publius and hilzoy, although not necessarily represented in the most popular political blogs.

I could find no better word to describe publius's preceding post on gay marriage than "conservative" in the sense of re-affirming a principle by justifying an exception to that principle. I for one, don't define "conservative" as "what Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh approve" and think the word "reactionary" is way underutilized.

Now on a scale of reactionary-conservative-progressive-radical-bob mcmanus, I would put hilzoy & publius somewhere in the right-middle between conservative & progressive.

I can defend this at length if desired, tho I may not be the answer to slart's nostalgia.
It's by no means only Marxian, deontological or Kantian ethics has been under pressure from the intuitionists, consquentialists, and more recently new value ethicists, all from left-of-center, for at least a century. Sedgwick. Moore. It can only be called conservative.

Now I must determine why Gary references me the way he does. I am neither anti-immigration nor anti-Catholic. But I am religious, honor our US Constitution, and believe in personal responsibility so I must surely qualify as ignorant.

GoodOleBoy is a pure knee-jerk know-nothing

um? posting rules?

besides, he was exactly right about this.

Oh, I forgot mckinneytexas, another conservative.

What about ThirdGorchBro?

Hey, any thread that brings out bob m, I'm for it.

I've got to say that I found John Emerson's perspective a refreshingly bracing one. The obiwi conceit--that its a place where thoughtful conservatives and thoughtful liberals/progressives can come together and discuss things is, in fact, long past its sell by date. I come and read here primarily for the liberal posters and the discussions,which, pace the very polite but utterly moronic ddddave et al can be good discussions. But I rigorously avoid the remaining conservatives, like von etc... and pretty much try to ignore the conservatives in the comments threads. Not that they aren't nice guys. They are. But their perspective, such as it is, has been proven morally bankrupt in the real world. And their avatars and leaders in the real world? morally and economically bankrupt, to boot.

I've never been able to stand the conceit, and it is a conceit, that the "posting rules" were to do other than discourage passionate discussion. For some time I'd remind myself never to comment here at all because every discussion would end up as a meta discussion of civility which, *since we have that *&^% discussion every day elsewhere on the internet* we all firmly grasp as utterly banal and simply authoritarian. I refer you all to this thing of beauty by Roy over at alicublog

http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2007_02_25_archive.html#907492959805953177

(Warning, NSFW especially if rolling on the floor in an agony of laughter is frowned on there.)

This ought to remind us all that the perennial cry that someone was "uncivil" coexisted, in this country, with a descent into civil madness that included routine cries of "traitor" and "fifth columnist" and "watch what you say" in the mass media as well as, as we now know thanks to some uncivil libertarians, outright torture of the polite leaderships political enemies.

I'm all for politeness in general, and I'm especially for it if it gets you to a great conversation. But for the last eight years we know, and have known, that politeness was just the way the ruling class squelched dissent from the hoi polloi. Twas ever thus.

aimai

politeness was just the way the ruling class squelched dissent from the hoi polloi

You're talking about hilzoy, here? Which of us ruling-class elites is squelching your dissent, again?

Something else that is being lost in this discussion of stimulus/budget is that *its all fungible* and its all money. The difference between "things that should have been in one category" and "things that should be in another" is fictitious. What we do have in front of us is a situation in which we have eight years of gutting and underspending on key categories of national preparedness. Obama had a chance to make up some of these deficiencies in an important and relatively quick way and it was, in fact, important to do so because we were racing against the clock. Frankly, at this point, I think I'd like to see presidents get their cabinet picks simply approved and then *impeached* for cause if they don't do a good job. With an intransigent minority like the republicans determined to hamstring the administration *because they don't have anything else to offer* we have to grasp that we simply don't have the luxury of being punctilious about privilige anymore. The republican party is like the recently demoted captain of a ship--drunk and incompetent he has run the ship aground and left the passengers and the new captain to try to bail it, back it off the rocks, and patch the holes. Meanwhile he's staggering around vomiting and demanding that people still stop work and salute him and thank him for ordering the brass railwork on their credit card. I'm fed up. Susan Collins didn't delete the pandemic money from the stimulus on some kind of principle--she deleted it because she was a) grandstanding and b) thinks that the only real work in this country is construction work and c) she doesn't know what the stimulus was designed to do and doesn't care, either, because its not a republican theme. Its not necessary to take these people as seriously as they take themselves. In fact, its fatal to take them more seriously than I would the arguments of my cat.

What aimai said.

John Emerson is correct that original ObWi conceit is pretty played out (if it ever had any life in it to begin with). But that's not why most of us come here at this point. So Gary Farber is right about John having a rather outdated understanding of what this blog is about.

As for "civility" I am also in agreement with aimai. Unlike its original left-right conceit, this blog's commenting rules are alive and well and those who post here respect them. That does make for more pleasant discussions, especially when disagreements break out. However, it is also worth remembering the dissent-suppressing role that demands for civility have tended to play, especially in the recent past.

slarti,
uh. Not talking about obiwi at all--talking about the fact that in any society the norms of the upper class are imagined to be "polite" (that's the polite in polite society) while the norms of lower class people are understood to be "rude." That's definitional. When those norms are imported into an online community they will function the same way, especially when one community is literally in power and the other is out of power. You will see, if you haven't already, that as the right wing sinks slowly into political irrelevance the tendency of its online avatars to curse and rage is going to go up--far far up--while it is the sucessful center/left that will start demanding politeness and moderation and calm in expression. That's just the way it goes. No need to arrogate to yourself the role of protector of Hilzoy. No one was attacking her.

aimai

No need to arrogate to yourself the role of protector of Hilzoy.

I'm not. Hilzoy can protect herself quite a lot better than I ever could, in any event.

I'm just trying to winnow out what you were trying to say in the context of the posting rules, and I'm still damned if I understand the connection.

Unless you were speaking of civility in general, and as a completely separate thing from civility in these here blog comments.

"You will see, if you haven't already, that as the right wing sinks slowly into political irrelevance the tendency of its online avatars to curse and rage is going to go up--far far up--while it is the sucessful center/left that will start demanding politeness and moderation and calm in expression."

Fascinating in the context this thread and John Emerson. Are you calling him right wing just because he curses and rages? He might want to disagree with you on that...

Maybe we should have a few dozen Open Thread!s in a row just to let the cursing, raging rightwingers blow off some steam.

"What about ThirdGorchBro?"

He only appears during blue moons.

(with the possible exception of Red state friendly farm subsidies)

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago when several Republicans were denouncing termination of the F-22 program on "jobs" grounds? To be fair, some Democrats did that too. The difference is that Republicans usually pretend not to grasp the connection between "spending" and "jobs".

Republicans also fail to (or pretend not to) grasp the meaning of "defense". The nation is a people, not just a territory. Spending money on pandemic flu precautions is "defense" to exactly the same extent as building awsome fighter jets is. Now, suppose that the stimulus proposal had included $870 million for 3 or 4 extra F-22s. Can anyone picture Susan Collins saying "deal with it later" in that case? Can we picture any Republican except maybe Ron Paul arguing that that $870 million "doesn't belong in a stimulus bill"?

Civility would be easier if Republicans were not so transparently, offensively disingenuous.

--TP

@Aimai:

I've never been able to stand the conceit, and it is a conceit, that the "posting rules" were to do other than discourage passionate discussion. For some time I'd remind myself never to comment here at all because every discussion would end up as a meta discussion of civility which, *since we have that *&^% discussion every day elsewhere on the internet* we all firmly grasp as utterly banal and simply authoritarian.

To continue the meta-digression, I'll make the slightly-uncivil drive-by comment that your comments hither and thither over the years lend me very little reason to find your opinion of civility compelling. I've frankly seen you specifically, as well as your peers in this regard, use incivility as a distraction and/or lazy shorthand by which to dismiss and marginalize those you don't agree with while discouraging anything resembling dialogue with them. Honestly, I tend to skip your comments (though in principle I'd rather not) wherever I run across them because you mix well-written and often quite reasonable points with superfluously self-righteous posturing.

The fact that such comments as you defend and oft produce are unconstrained by any need to treat those you disagree with as possibly merely holding opinions that you do not rather than being evil, disingenuous, hypocritical, or stupid by turns makes comments of the style you here advocate distinctly unconducive to dialogue. While this might make for "passionate discussion", such discussions tend to be serial monologues. I'll pass, and I'm exceedingly pleased that there are spaces online that reject said model.

Susan Collins is a tool, as is every single member of the Republican Senate and House delegations. Their posturing is no more and no less a determination to keep the government from functioning now that they no longer control it. The side-effects of this on the economy, and on a potential pandemic, are to them irrelevant (particularly since, as is always the case, neither they nor anyone they care about will suffer any of the side-effects.)

The sooner we reduce the number of Republicans in Congress to less than 25%, the better off we and the country will be. The sooner the Republican Party ceases to exist altogether, the better off everyone will be.

However, that being said, it should also be noted that flu pandemic preparations, preventions, and so on seem to be moving along okay. Most of the vital work in getting information correlated and published, resources to where they're needed, etc., is (I think) done at the career scientist/epidemiologist level, rather than at the appointed manager level.

Good luck with that de-Republicanization project, CaseyL.

Thanks, Slarti.

I always hope for a more intelligent, humane, and honest nation; and I always hope people figure out how to get there on their own, by observing the world and using good ol' objective analysis.

Doesn't always work that way, I know. People aren't awfully good at objective analysis.

But I can hope.


I'm with von on this one. Yeah, flu preparedness, cybersecurity, and suchlike things are important. Important enough that they should be considered by themselves.

And yet, somehow, as Barbara notes, reasonable moderates such as Senator Collins never get around to championing such separate bills. Nor are they any more likely to make it past congressional Republicans and their enablers, who have decided to double down on opposition to everything. Seriously, when conservative apologists in these comment threads repeatedly type variations of, "Well, you didn't try to kick Lucy's football in the correct way," a few of us who reside outside the Realm of Platonic Ideals begin to get a little irritated. Though as someone who had multiple comments deleted for violating the comment rules in regards to von, it's true that there are constructive and not-so-constructive ways to express that irritation. Perhaps Mr. Emerson had an especially bad weekend listening to those who enabled budget-busting Republicans at every opportunity pontificate about fiscal rectitude.

Meanwhile, as RNC members demand that the Democratic Party be renamed the "Democrat Socialist Party," as Republican politicians throw around terms like "secession" and "socialists," and as I learn from conservative-promoted rallies that our current president is a communist fascist, I just want to add to the denunciation of John Emerson and Aimai for their overheated attributions of bad faith to their political opponents.

As I pointed out over here, currently:

[...] 21 percent of those surveyed said they identify as Republicans, the fewest to do so in a Post-ABC poll in more than 25 years.

On the posting rules, I'll have to say that I was a convert. When I first joined, I was skeptical of the idea -- for many of the reasons people say. And I didn't regulate anything at Legal Fiction (though the blog wasn't nearly as big).

But, I've come to see the wisdom in them -- and I think they play a big role in making the comment threads as useful and informative as I think they are.

Yes, we always need to be careful not to curb dissent -- but I think we're pretty good about not doing that. The goal, as I see it, is to create a good environment for discussion and exchange -- and some forced respectfulness helps that process.

I tend to lose sight of this until I read comments on a bigger blog and it's so nasty that there's just no welcoming of debate.

so that's why I'm a convert to the posting rules. fwiw

The sooner we reduce the number of Republicans in Congress to less than 25%, the better off we and the country will be. The sooner the Republican Party ceases to exist altogether, the better off everyone will be.

I don't understand this at all. The problem with various congressional Republicans is not that they, as individuals, are horribly broken human beings. The problem is that they represent millions of voters and millions of dollars from particular interest groups that have really problematic ideas about governance. If you magically made all Republicans in Congress retire, you'd end up with a replacement cohort pretty similar to the retiring one: they would be people who had to satisfy the same constituents and who had to run in the same primaries against the same Club For Growth anti-tax-jihadist candidates.

The problem is not individuals. The problem is institutions and institutional structures. Our crummy constitution systematically disenfranchises Dem voters.

21 percent of those surveyed said they identify as Republicans, the fewest to do so in a Post-ABC poll in more than 25 years.

My goodness, they're not doing much better than the flat-earthers. :(

"Pandemic preparedness probably doesn't fit within the most immediately stimulative categories of spending, but it sure as heck is economically important when a looming pandemic arises."

A pandemic would cripple tourism and the airline business, two industries that are already hurting.

In my business, I lose count of the number of hands I shake every day. Anyone else getting a strange feeling shaking hands today or am I alone?

Like Gary says, Turbulence, I'm slow. Help me out here. I can see that we have at least one stout advocate of one party government and when you said you didn't understand it at all, i thought we would get a reasonable analysis of benefits of competing political views. How does our crummy constitution manage to disenfranchise the wrong voters?

The problem is that they represent millions of voters and millions of dollars from particular interest groups that have really problematic ideas about governance.

Well, yes and no. Gerrymandering helped, remember: there are a lot more GOP members of Congress than there is a percentage of the pop. that supports the GOP.

We will no more be able to totally get rid of the GOP as a Party than we'll ever be totally rid of the xenophobia, bigotry, sadism, and plutocratic parasitism that motivates its base. But we can certainly hope for, and work towards, marginalizing them to the point that they're about as relevant politically as, oh, the Bull Moose Party.

ETA: What rea said. It's already happening, and with luck will continue to happen. The day there are actually only as many GOPers in office as there are voters who self-identify as GOP (i.e., 21% of Congress) will be a very happy day.

George Bush is a national joke. Dick Cheney is evil personified. What self-respecting American wouldn't flee a party whose leaders trampled on the Constitution and presided over the death of the middle class?

I can see that we have at least one stout advocate of one party government

We do? I didn't read Catsy's comment as suggesting that she or he preferred that only Democrats should have any role in government. I read their comment as suggesting that the screwed up party apparatus and members of the Republican party should be replaced with something else, such as a new conservative party.

and when you said you didn't understand it at all, i thought we would get a reasonable analysis of benefits of competing political views. How does our crummy constitution manage to disenfranchise the wrong voters?

There are two quick and easy answers to this question: (1) the Senate, and (2) the electoral college. Both institutions systematically transfer power from Dem voters to Republican voters. They both represent massive deviations from the principle of "one-man-one-vote", and, as is often the case with these deviations, they lower the quality of our democracy. I mean really now, when was the last time you looked at the house of representatives and thought to yourself, "self, you know what would make the house so much better? if representatives had longer terms and larger constituencies and were thus LESS accountable to voters!" That's exactly what we have in the Senate.

How does our crummy constitution manage to disenfranchise the wrong voters?

Senate seats were intentionally malapportioned in the Constitution. The effects have become more severe over time, as the difference between the populations of large and small states has increased.

Voters from rural states contributing insignificantly to the American economy and polity have affiliated with a reactionary party pandering to their basest fears.

Such voters repeatedly reelect third-generation moron politicians, making the Senate as rotten with bloated aristocrats as any rotten borough in Victorian England.

there are a lot more GOP members of Congress than there is a percentage of the pop. that supports the GOP

Interesting. You know, that's actually true of Democrats, as well, only to a lesser extent.

% of Americans who self-identify as Republican: 21
% of Congress that are Republican: 41
% of Americans who self-identify as Democrat: 35
% of Congress that are Democrats: 59

It ain't all Ds and Rs. It just seems that way, sometimes.

It's already happening, and with luck will continue to happen. The day there are actually only as many GOPers in office as there are voters who self-identify as GOP (i.e., 21% of Congress) will be a very happy day.

See, I just don't think this stuff is really relevant. People tell pollsters that they don't like republicans. BFD. That just means that Republican primary voters are even more conservative and right-wing than the median voter. Then when the general election comes around, lots and lots of those people who earlier insisted that Republicans were horrible will come around and reliably vote Republican because that's just what they do. Lots of people hated the Republican party in november of 2008 but McCain still garnered 47% of the vote, right?

I'm really skeptical of the idea that the 21% approval numbers tell us anything meaningful at all. Voting is not a rational process and people do not evaluate political choices primarily by rational evaluation.


Voters from rural states contributing insignificantly to the American economy and polity have affiliated with a reactionary party pandering to their basest fears.

I really don't think it helps to talk about whether or not people contribute "significantly" to the economy. Citizens are entitled to a vote. Period. Doesn't matter what they contribute. Doesn't matter where they live or how often they bathe.

Such voters repeatedly reelect third-generation moron politicians, making the Senate as rotten with bloated aristocrats as any rotten borough in Victorian England.

Maybe this true (you provide no evidence), but I doubt it. In any event, it is irrelevant. Even if people from Wyoming consistently elected the best Senators ever, it would still be wrong to give them such a larger voice in government than people in California.

What about BoB? What happened to him?

"What about BoB? What happened to him?"

He was banned for too many violations of the posting rules.

To respond to Slartibartfast's point, which was expressed fairly concern trollishly:

Is pandemic preparedness the most cost-effective way of stimulating the economy?...Stuff like this is what the dreams of Trent Lott, Ted Stevens and John Murtha are made of.

David Obey assembled and wrote the stimulus bill. Obey is not just a passionate and intelligent progressive from a moderate district, but given his position as House Appropriations Chair, he's a relatively clean, good-government politician.

When he put the bill together, his office basically fielded suggestions from the rest of Congress for unfunded programs that would be quick to implement.

Pandemic preparedness came up, because, I'm assuming, it had languished in previous budget battles. That section of the bill probably already existed in draft form from previous budget cycles, so it's not like Big Pharma was going to be writing the bill anew or slipping in massive giveaways.

Objecting to an important risk-management program only the government can provide because you don't like the way it was brought to the floor is as stupid as it sounds, and Collins deserves everything she's going to get for this.


I really don't think it helps to talk about whether or not people contribute "significantly" to the economy. Citizens are entitled to a vote. Period.

Yes, all citizens are equal, democracy, blah blah blah. Except it's not true.

Some are more equal than others. When electing Senators, residents of Wyoming are approximately 100x more individually powerful than Californians.

If we're going to be undemocratic, we should at least favor the states that represent the real American economy and culture.

But I'd be quite satisfied with one man, one vote. Too bad we don't have it.

Gary, your omniscience is impressive.

Boy, this isn't going to age well

Could be worse. She could have called it one of those “little porky things” like someone else did.

File this under “things I never thought I’d say” – but the best response to this meme is over at dKos (via H/A).


So the funding is there. Possibly a real issue is that 19 key HHS posts remain unfilled? Secretary and FDA await confirmation but CDC hasn’t even been named yet…

I just want everyone to know that I'm using the HELL out of my backspace key, today.

Better screenshot that, OCSteve. It might not last long.

"If we're going to be undemocratic, we should at least favor the states that represent the real American economy and culture."

We are not entirely democratic. That's the whole point of the American system of government: we have three separate branches of government, and two houses of Congress, and a binding Constitution, with guaranteed rights, and fifty states (plus territories) precisely to be not completely democratic.

Complete democracy is mob rule.

It's fair to argue over whether the U.S. should have a federal system or not, but noting that we don't live in a pure democracy is neither a revelation, or a self-obvious flaw.

I think there's considerable value in federalism, myself, which should be balanced against the reasonable complaints of Senate disproportionate representation. States have different interests and circumstances. One law for all in all cases has many injustices of its own.

Voters from rural states contributing insignificantly to the American economy and polity have affiliated with a reactionary party pandering to their basest fears.
I was just looking at some of this recently, because of an issue that came up in an ObWi thread about "tiny states" and I was wondering what happened if you ranked states by population or by GDP, or by GDP per capita.

turns out, there's about a two-fold difference in GDP-per-capita (if you exclude the anomolous District Of Columbia). If you also take off Delaware (it's a tiny state and home to a lot of big corporations seeking to escape responsibilities imposed by other states), you get a fairly normal distribution - most states are within a single standard deviation of the national average of ~35k, with the outliers mostly falling in regions: around one standard deviation high (the northeast) or low (mostly rural, mountainous, and/or southern).

The biggest correlate that leaps out in my politics-infested brain might be the 2008 election (and I'd be especially interested in seeing a county-by-county correlation): if you further exclude Alaska (it has few people and a lot of oil), the top 12 (of 48 remaining) states all went Obama (and 15 of the top 16), and the bottom 8 states went McCain (and 11 of the bottom 13). Somewhat similar results are seen if you look at the states for Senate representation (with Byrd, Lincoln, and Pryor preventing a really striking correlation).

Better screenshot that, OCSteve. It might not last long.

I'll bet you a beer that this post will not be significantly changed. AFAIK, dkos does not have a record of disappearing posts like that, so your expectation is just nutty projection. Just because redstate can't tolerate dissent does not mean that dkos cannot tolerate dissent.


Could be worse. She could have called it one of those “little porky things” like someone else did.

You know, on the list of reasons I have for hating Chuck Schumer, this is at the bottom.

File this under “things I never thought I’d say” – but the best response to this meme is over at dKos (via H/A).

I don't think the dkos post makes Collins look particularly good. I mean, since this was the tail end of the much larger project, what was the point in postponing approval for this chunk of cash? She ended up voting for it a month later, so there was no substantiative objection. She voted for the same project in a war funding bill, so clearly her concerns about which bucket of money were complete BS. As far as I know, she didn't call any hearings or participate in any debate about it. Looks like she accomplished exactly two things by pushing to keep it out of the stimulus: helped delay money that was going to get spent anyway while also getting some good press.

I think legislators that pointlessly delay government projects for no reason other than their need to create fake "accomplishments" to justify themselves are bad legislators. Does anyone disagree?

edit: Byrd, Lincoln, Pryor, and Rockefeller. Very forgettable, that Rockefeller, or maybe it was just wishful thinking (not that he's worse than Lincoln, he's just more powerful).

Thanks for your well-expressed defense of the pandemic spending in the stimulus bill, theo.

And to all: these days, it's one person, one vote, mmmkay? Thanks.

AFAIK, dkos does not have a record of disappearing posts like that, so your expectation is just nutty projection.

Why, thank you. "nutty projection". How thoughtful of you.

Oh, great, I suppose now we're making up for days and days when the tags for italics didn't work at all. ;)

Oops, wait a minute, there were italics everywhere a moment ago, and now there are italics nowhere again. Okay, I'll clam up and get back to work.

I don't speak italics. I'll fix it in a sec.

There was a famously-deleted dKos diary, Turbulence. It may be an army of one; I have no idea.

Slarti, have you read your own link? The author yanked his own diary from DKos and from his own personal blog, of his own volition. Diarists have always had the power to delete the diaries they write, and it's highly misleading to confuse that with diaries being deleted by admins or in some other way being disappeared for violating community prejudices.

Indeed, because diaries (unlike comment threads) could not be troll-rated by readers (whether for genuine offensiveness or merely transgressing the community's prejudices), there were various traditions at DKos, at least back in the early-ish days when I read there more often, such as spamming the comments of such "Troll Diaries" with recipes or Lolcats, and of course adding "Troll Diary" to the diary's tags (a change that does not affect the diary's visibility or availability).

P.S. It seems that a simple "kill italics" tag isn't fixing the problem and my HTML-fu is not strong.

I did miss that, WT.

Retracted, then. I don't know that anyone's post has ever been deleted without them having done it themselves.

Uh...italics has been killed. Maybe it's your browser.

Again, a single [/i] only works if the miscreant (sorry, Nell) has neglected to close; it doesn't work at all if the closure was intended but accidentally executed as another [i]. In that case, you'd need two close-italics flags.

But because this is typepad, two italics-closures might not work.

you can close italics here with : </p> </i> . the /p is mandatory.

this is relatively new, and is related to some HTML changes typepad made a few months back.

Gary,

It is nice to have someone speak up to explain the American system of government to those who actually think that absolute democracy spanning the entire United States would give any result other than mob rule.

The founders certainly knew this and, even with the many flaws of the times in terms of representation, wrote our constitution in the spirit of federalism. As I recall, there was significant debate regarding federal government versus national government and the federal form prevailed. One major component was changed during the first major progressive movement period when the 17th amendment to the constitution was approved.

Since it is clear that you know and understand these things and why they exists, it makes me wonder how and where those who have these notions of absolute democracy learn them.

Rather than continually expressing their dismay that there is not an exact one-person, one-vote system in place for the nation, why not learn that there is a provision in the constitution for amending it and work to do that.

Slarti:

there are a lot more GOP members of Congress than there is a percentage of the pop. that supports the GOP
Interesting.
You know, that's actually true of Democrats, as well, only to a lesser extent.

% of Americans who self-identify as Republican: 21
% of Congress that are Republican: 41
% of Americans who self-identify as Democrat: 35
% of Congress that are Democrats: 59

It ain't all Ds and Rs. It just seems that way, sometimes.

I think you'd need to show 100% overlap between "percentage of the pop. that supports the GOP" as CaseyL said; and "% of Americans who self-identify as Republican." They aren't the same thing. I would say I support the Democratic Party, but I would not identify myself as "a Democrat," for a variety of reasons which I'd be happy to elaborate on if asked.

Let's review the situation. Susan Collins and Karl Rove pushed removing the 800mil (or so)from the stimulus bill to save taxpayers money as opposed to using the stimulus money to shore up the possibility of a flu outbreak which would slow down the economic recovery (and end up costing even more).

Susan Collins made this move to gain a political advantage.

Looks like Susan Collins screwed up royally on both points.

I think you'd need to show 100% overlap between "percentage of the pop. that supports the GOP" as CaseyL said; and "% of Americans who self-identify as Republican." They aren't the same thing. I would say I support the Democratic Party, but I would not identify myself as "a Democrat," for a variety of reasons which I'd be happy to elaborate on if asked.

Fine. If CaseyL's claim wasn't based on the poll numbers, I'm absolutely interested in what it was based on.

BTW, off-topic: The FOX network has given word that they will not air Obama's 100 days press conference on Wednesday. They're going to air the regularly-scheduled episode of "Lie to Me"* instead. Did any of the nets ever refuse to air a GWB press conference or presidential address?

*Oh, the irony.

The close-p close-i sequence has never worked when I've tried it. JFTR.

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