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January 20, 2010

Comments

God, I hate to be first on this particular thread....

For anyone who hasn't read it, Obama and the dems have caved already. I can't express how appalled I am. I wish I were surprised...

Maybe it's time to give Senator Obama a call.

The only good news about this is that you posted.

The bad news...feh, I think there's a comment limit. Suffice it to say, unless the 11 dimensional chess move was to show how $#@*'d the whole system is, it failed.

And if it was, what's the next move?

I'll briefly come out of retirement to say that I'm absolutely stupefied by the reporting of public opinion on healthcare. The media reports the poll results as if people don't want reform at all, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

It's true that people don't seem to want *this* bill (although I'd be willing to bet that those without insurance are underrepresented in the polls). But there are a lot of reasons to be against this particular bill, and many of them come from a progressive rather than a conservative standpoint.

No idea why this point is not being made more often.

Nice to hear frorm you Publius, hope you are well. I hope now that HCR can be done in a way that covers more people and doesn't bankrupt the country. But we'll see. This whole dead for 15 years thing is a choice not an immutable law.

I think that's another error Democrats make that Republicans make much less. Democrats don't understand that public opinion is fluid and can change post-action.

Sometimes you read polls to tell you what you do. But sometimes you just act, knowing that the polls will eventually bend your way. See, e.g., Medicare

I'm really pissed off

thanks Marty -- I appreciate that.

I do, though, disagree on the merits. I think it's dead for a long time. The GOP has no interest. The Dems will run scared of it for years. I look forward to the next round of debates in 2030

Marty: Seriously, do you think the Republicans will bring up health care reform now that they have a 41-59 majority in the Senate? And the idiots who are caving ALREADY, the day after, without even trying, you think they'll bring it up again, when the Republicans will be gloating about killing it and branding them even more socialist?

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once again. Anybody want to help take over the Green party?

I think we will have scaled back HCR in 4 months with 70-75 votes in the Senate. No one here might like it, but I suspect it will be an affordable step in the right direction.

I know you should have a life and all, but dang I miss you and Hilzoy right now....

Off to call Charlie Wilson.

If we're still talking about HCR in 4 months and not jobs and the economy, we'll be just as screwed in November as we will be if we don't pass this.

This is the biggest bit of political cowardice I've seen in my lifetime, and I thought I'd seen a lot. If this fails, and it looks like it will, I'm done with politics for a long long time, and I can guarantee you I'm not alone. The democrats will be the minority party for a generation, which is long enough for the republicans to leave us only with a smoking crater.

From now I'm looking out for myself and my family and no one else. There's no point getting invested in improving the country if one party's uninterested in helping and the other is terrified of helping.

I'm done.

Just FYI, "Shane Metzger"'s name links to an Encyclopedia Dramatica page full of mutilated bodies. Besides the general trollishness and offensiveness of his post in response here and over in Lindsay's.

I'm voting straight Republican in 2010.

Not me. I vowed after Bush's reign that I would never again vote to send a Republican to Washington.

Where that leaves me now is depressing, but I'm sticking to it.

But separate from all that: publius, it's nice to hear a word from you. Drop in more often. :)

Marty: How do you figure? The Republicans are going to take the election in MA to mean their plan of saying no to everything and attacking health care reform with made-up stuff is working, and dig in even further. The Democrats are sure looking like the only thing they're learning from this is "Run away! Run away!" Who's going to promote a "smaller" health care reform? Who's going to support it? How will it be "smaller" and still do any good?

What kinds of things do you think it would involve, and who would promote it and support it? Because if the Democrats chicken out now, I don't see any way your prediction happens.

Just last night I was thinking, I sure miss publius right now.

Thanks all -- certainly miss blogging, but it was hard to balance. eric is doing yeoman's work, imho.

but this has just annoyed me to no end. I was actually hopeful that the house would go ahead and act last night. but it seems like mass panic has hit today. and barney frank... i love the guy, but good lord.

Nate, Simply because i odn't believe that the Republicans don't want to effectively govern. They just don't want to be the cause of all problems and solution to none, which is how they have been painted up until now. If the President REALLY sits down and establishes bipartisan HCR priorities and passes those then everyone gets credit. All things are possible when no one cares who gets the credit, or conversely, when everyone gets it.

The bigger challenge now is whether the Democrats (or progressives) can live with sharing the credit for moving HCR forwaard.

Truth be told, as much fun as it would be to blame FDL, or Nelson or Lieberman for this mess, really dem leadership is at fault here - if that can pass a corporate giveaway bill that is to the right of what President Romney would have proposed when they have 58 seats in the senate and the largest house majority in a decade. Well then they are not ever going to accomplish much else.

The hard part of health care, in the era of the automatic filibuster, is setting up the initial institutional framework. After that framework is in place, everything else becomes much easier.

But I don't see how this "reform" sets up any significant institutional framework for further reform. It does provide some better access to healthcare for some Americans, so it may be worth passing, despite its idiotic funding mecanisms. But the fight for real reform was lost long ago.

Unfortunately, the Senate structured their bill in a way that simply ignored the desire of organized labor and the House Progressive Caucus. And whatever you think of organized labor and the Progressive Caucus, they're as much a "political reality" as Sens. Nelson and Lieberman (and more of a political reality than the permanent filibuster). So the bill cannot pass the House.

All that being said, I sympathize with your feelings and agree with Josh Marshall that not passing anything (which is exactly what's going to happen) will be politically suicidal for the Democrats.

If it's any comfort, their apparent lack of concern for the unemployment rate and the economic condition of most Americans would probably have doomed them, anyway.

Marty:

Nate, Simply because i odn't believe that the Republicans don't want to effectively govern. They just don't want to be the cause of all problems and solution to none, which is how they have been painted up until now. If the President REALLY sits down and establishes bipartisan HCR priorities and passes those then everyone gets credit. All things are possible when no one cares who gets the credit, or conversely, when everyone gets it.

The bigger challenge now is whether the Democrats (or progressives) can live with sharing the credit for moving HCR forwaard.

Not to sound rude, Marty, but... Seriously, what planet are you on? When have the Republicans given any sign of wanting to work on health care reform? During the years they had the Presidency and both houses of Congress, what did they do about health care reform? Nothing.

What makes you think they have any desire to reform health care, or govern? Seriously, because their actions and public statements show the exact opposite. Obama started with an already compromised health care reform effort, tried to get suggestions from Republicans, changed many many things due to Republican demands, the frickin Senate took six months in a committee made up specifically of Republicans and Blue Dogs, leaving out any liberals and the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, and came up with the even-more compromised current bill. Which... still failed to get any Republican support.

What makes you think Republicans want to work on health care reform at all? What makes you think they want to do anything other than make stuff up and say no and try and defeat Democrats and Obama, no matter what that means for the country? They're being run by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers.

I hope congressmen recognize that if the current bill or something very much like it doesn't pass soon, nothing will pass before the election. There isn't remotely enough time to jump through the Finance committee hoops again to get a new bill to the Senate floor that Snowe (or whoever) would vote for. I don't see Reid rejiggering what already came out of committee again; there'd have to be something fundamentally new in the bill to win a new vote.

The message out of the White House should be, "We already passed health reform. The House and the Senate just need to work out their differences." There was a big failure on the Obama admin's part to project an aura of inevitably around the bill after it passed both houses.

Don't worry, folks. Nancy Pelosi will save the whole thing by bringing in the Pres for a joint jawboning session in which they get just enough Aye votes to pass the Senate version through the House. Then they'll wipe out all sin and establish eternal peace on earth.

And Barney Frank, whom I've long admired for being so gutsy - Barney Frank! - is one of the first rats off a ship that doesn't have to sink. He's going hand in hand with Jim Webb, one of my two senators. How the hell do you write your senator and tell him to stand fast when he's already bailed out?

Come back, Publius. All is forgiven.

I could see the Republicans make real, serious moves for the kind of health care reform we really need in this country. You know, serious, honest, market-based solutions like selling insurance across state line.

I could see hordes of Democrats swarming to vote it up.

I could see Beloved Leader signing it while proclaiming it to be a historic step towards HCR.

I could see me sitting out an election or two.

Marty --- name 10 Republican Senators who could conceivably flip on a small bill that would contain the following provisions:

Medicaid expansion to 150% poverty line
Closing the donut hole in Medicare Part D
A shotgun approach to cost containment pilot studies
No exclusions from private individual market insurance for pre-existing conditions and some decent regulation on price-differentials for pre-existing conditions.

No exchanges, no Medicare cost control board, no anti-trust changes, nothing concerning subsidies for affordability, no mandates. And any new costs will be added to the national credit card as there is no way a GOP-er will ever vote to increase taxes for any reason.

Name 10 Republicans who will vote for that (in either chamber)

You won't find them. The insurance industry will scream bloody murder on not being able to cherry pick without jacking up rates to astronomical levels. That is a deal killer right there.

while i can't see voting R for anything, i nthese days of teabagger idiots and torture fetishists, i'll happily sit home if my choice is between an R and another fncking blue dog.

the Dem Party is worthless. utterly worthless. top to bottom.

as of today, i don't think i have any more faith in Obama. i haven't ever had any for the Senate. and the House is looking like it wants to become irrelevant.

great post publius.

I wonder how many Jews voted for Hitler in the early 1930s because they were fed up with ineffective German leadership and the bad economy?

True, they did get healthcare via free train trips for a good delousing at those clinics in Poland because Hitler wanted what was best for Germany.

Because Hitler wanted bi-partisanship. He was ready to deal.

It was just that Kaiser Obama and the German Bundt or whatever they called themselves at the time didn't govern effectively.

That hurt Hitler's feelings and the Jews felt badly for him and were mad at Kaiser Obama for not trying hard enough to convince poor Adolph to go along with his program.

It all worked out.

I have it on solid background that Rush Limbaugh was so mad the Republicans in 2008 that he voted for Obama. So did Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich, and Erick Cracker Erickson.

Obama started with an already compromised health care reform effort, tried to get suggestions from Republicans, changed many many things due to Republican demands, the frickin Senate took six months in a committee made up specifically of Republicans and Blue Dogs, leaving out any liberals and the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, and came up with the even-more compromised current bill. Which... still failed to get any Republican support.

None of these concessions happened due trying to create a bipartisan bill. That is a fiction created to try and cover the manuevering within the Democratic party. Between the late seating of Franken and last night there was no reason to give the Republicans anything, and the Democrats didn't. Any other story is fiction. It might actually be good for HCR to have to try to get a few republican votes, the Democrats won't be so internally empowered.

Hey, Publius, good to have you back. Sorry I can't join the chorus. Among the problems that developed with HCR are these:

1. The Louisiana Purchase.
2. The Nebraska-buy out.
3. The Cadillac tax.
4. Exempting unions from the Cadillac tax.
5. The absolute lack of transparency.
6. The constant deal-making, ebbing and flowing to get something, anything.
7. The lack of believability that HCR would be budget-neutral.

Obama promised transparency and line-by-line budget review. He promised no new taxes on people making less than 250/200K a year and he promised that 'your existing health care would not be affected'. He is the opposite of transparency, he signed a stimulus package that still looks like pork to most people with hardly a glance, that was formulated in secret and never meaningfully debated. Neither the House nor the Senate versions of HCR were meaningfully and publicly debated. The Cadillac tax absolutely breaches his promises about not taxing and leaving existing plans in place. With all of these promises that turned out to be wrong, why should the American public believe the promise of budget neutrality? Because the federal government's track record on cost containment is so good?

The banking crisis--not Obama's fault--adds billions to the deficit. Slowing down on spending seems prudent to many, but not the committed left. The process was a mess. It was ugly and got uglier as it went along. When Massachusetts returns a Republican who campaigned expressly against HCR, you should know you have a problem.

Then there was the HCR itself--mandatory with a noncompliance penalty. What an interesting "right" HCR is: the only "right" in US law that citizens are penalized for not exercising.

The problem with upending the status quo is that people start looking at what they have and asking whether they want to trust their future to people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. The people, at least in Massachusetts, don't seem to want to.

Slowing down on spending seems prudent to many, but not the committed left

Wouldn't that be Hoover economics. And that sounds prudent to many? What about Keynes?

What an interesting "right" HCR is: the only "right" in US law that citizens are penalized for not exercising.

that strawman never had a chance.

McKinney - no one is arguing it's perfect. I agree with a lot of those complaints. But it's still worth passing b/c of the enormous benefits, and hte ability to create future improvement.

On other fronts, I don't understand the utter lack of leadership on the Hill today. It's chaos -- no one is in charge. Obama is AWOL -- it's inexcusable. This wasn't exactly an unexpected result

Disgusted, all the way through

Great to see your byline, publius.

Re: "I'll go one further. If the House Democrats let this die, I'm voting straight Republican in 2010."

As cleek said, I find it difficult to push the level next to a name with an "R" on it for anything, although I have twice, for a local Register of Wills race (and I knew the guy was a class act, having played baseball with him after high school in a summer league) and, more recently, in 2008 (Mr. Obama's coat tails did not carry me even then) for my local state representative, Mike Ramone, whose florist shop I used to frequent in the days I had pocket money and whose retiring predecessor's endorsement carried weight since she did a solid job -- and it's been a vote I've been pleased with, having exchanged emails with Rep. Ramone on a handful of occasions (I was impressed with how quickly he responded to my request for more Children At Play signs in our development, where it often seems like the Indy 500, as the local rep cut through more red tape than I thought existed for that type of thing).

So, there are exceptions.

And maybe 2010 will indeed be the election I forsake my Democratic loyalty and cross party lines on a major seat -- although it certainly won't be for Mike Castle over Beau Biden.

I suspect rather than voting straight Democratic -- or giving my vote to the Dark Side -- more third party candidates (this is a great time for Populist appeal, and I'm not talking about the Tea Baggers, although, clearly, they are having an impact on a national level) will emerge than usual and I will be sure to check them out and give strong consideration.

I guess the point is, for the first time in almost 30 years of voting, my vote is up for grabs now that I plan to turn in my voter card and register Independent.

For now -- but November will be here before you know it -- that's the best I can do to send a message to the weak-kneed Democrats and our weak-kneed president.

Just as publius and others are fed up with the Democrats' reading of Tuesday's result as a confirmation that the polls are right and most Americans no longer want Obamacare -- and now even the likes of Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner are cutting and running -- I agree with fledermaus that these idiots don't realize that most Americans still want HCR, just not the bloated form of its proposed current state, which, as I have felt for many months, would die under its own weight.

Perhaps they will grow a set, tweak the bill and streamline the damn thing.

Mr. President, I suggest this time you do not ask for any input from Olympia Snowe or Charles Grassley -- you may want to leave Max Baucus, among others, out of the picture as well.

Health care, it would seem, is the final straw, albeit in different layers, for many diehard Dems here.

For me, it occurred over the holidays when my third attempt to modify my mortage loan under the Great Obama's laughable and disgraceful HAMP was turned down by Wells Fargo, one of the many banks that have profited wildly during the president's first term while millions upon millions have lost their jobs, their homes, their wages.

Eight long months of engaging Wells Fargo with President Obama's epic fail of a foreclosure solution has literally hit home and told me all I need to know about the man's inability to exact good governance and stick up for the working class.


How ironic the Obama White House is a mess today, the first anniversary of his historic inauguration when the president took office with tremendous goodwill and politcal capital.

Hope and Change has been replaced by Reality -- and it sure bites -- doesn't it? -- Mr. Obama.

You will be getting your foreclosure soon enough.

Obama is probably the unhappiest man in the room right now, Pub. (And just how fncking bad of a candidate do you have to be in order to blow a 30-point lead?)

I'm waiting until the SotU address next week. Obama is better off keeping his powder dry until then.

P.S. Here's hoping Howard Dean and, more so, Ed Rendell -- two experienced hands at governing and creating jobs, and not the type to give out blowjobs to Wall Street while cutting off Main Street at the knees -- challenge the Great Obama once the dust from the 2010 November midterm rubble begins to settle.

Will we hear from Von, too? Seriously, it's time to take another run at Wyden-Bennett. The Ds get universal coverage and subsidies for the poor. The poor get real health insurance instead of "I'm sorry, but we're not accepting new Medicaid patients." The Rs get a scenario where single payer is taken off the table for a long time (and the Netherlands and Switzerland seem to get along fine without single payer). I get community rating and health insurance separated from employment.

I think we will have scaled back HCR in 4 months with 70-75 votes in the Senate.

Scaled back to what? What's left to throw out?

And can you point to any time since, say, Nixon, that the Republican party has taken the initiative on making health care more broadly available or affordable to the folks who live in the US?

Bonus points for anything during Bush 43, but frankly anything at all would be of interest.

no one is arguing it's perfect. I agree with a lot of those complaints. But it's still worth passing b/c of the enormous benefits, and hte ability to create future improvement.

And therein lies the problem: for many who have insurance and don't want to be worse off than they currently are, the imperative to pass "something, anything, by any means necessary" doesn't seem all that compelling. Moreover, the 'by any means possible' seems to be part and parcel of so many other unseemly aspects of the process that many outside the hard left fail to see the urgency of more corner cutting.

Nice to see a publius post and this is roughly what I said a few months ago (under different circumstances): if the Democrats can't pass a healthcare bill they deserve to lose this year.

That doesn't mean I'm thrilled by the prospect of more Republicans. It just means that a party that is that unresponsive to its constituents should not be re-elected regardless of accomplishment. (It's not like Republicans in the House/Senate will be passing very much that Obama doesn't want passed anyway.)

The Democrats appear to have completely lost their minds over the past year. I have no real insight into why that is, I find it almost incomprehensible, but I can't find another way to describe it.

Not being a citizen I wouldn't be voting anyway. But if obtaining political power does you no good, I don't see why anyone should bother to support the Democrats as opposed to spending their time and money on other endeavors.

Had I wanted this health care "reform" — subsidy to private insurers, mandatory purchase of private insurance, and tax on insurance benefits — I would have supported John McCain.

The Senate bill, as it stands, is probably — but not certainly — better than the status quo.

It's likely that the lowest-cost insurance plans will be extraordinarily bad — covering almost nothing. I guess we'll see in 2014.

With luck, I'm wrong and whatever they pass will work great, but I can't bring myself to muster any enthusiasm for it or the Democratic party. They've used a commanding majority to turn out the most meager of accomplishments (bailouts without accountability, an insufficient stimulus, a plan to move the Guantanamo Bay prison by a few thousand miles, and anemic health care reform).

They still have a commanding majority and look like they're about to collapse completely.

Jacob: I don't know how long you've lived in the U.S., but I may be able to offer some insights into the operation of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party is a center-right corporatist party that believes it is entitled to the votes of ethnic minorities and the left. (Not that all Democratic Party politicians fall on the center-right. There are several liberal Democratic Senators and a form a sizable minority of Democrats in the House.)

For an example of how Democratic Party partisans insist that the left owes the Democrats their vote, see the aftermath of the 2000 election, re: Ralph Nader. Looking at the evidence, Gore's choice of running mate (Joe Lieberman), failure to distinguish his policy positions, and poor legal strategy in the recount (he should have asked for a statewide recount) were larger factors.

The aberration was Barack Obama's somewhat-liberal rhetoric during the primaries and general election. That was somewhat novel and managed to deceive some (myself included).

It's not true that political power has done the Democrats no good. Next year the insurance, banking, and pharmaceutical industries will send a larger share of their political contributions to Democrats than to Republicans. A more cynical observer would conclude that they are the Democrats' real constituents.

11 years in the US - long enough to agree with your picture of the Democrats, by and large, and I agree with the significance of the 2000 election. Not long enough to have ever seen them with sufficient majorities to govern, though.

When I say they have lost their mind, it's not that I expected them to be anything other than corporatist in general. It's that I expected them to understand that the majorities obtained in 2008 came with the expectation of some accomplishments. Which they seem to be entirely oblivious to, to be just as happy facing decimation in the 2010 elections as they were in 2008. I cannot understand it.

elm,

Let's reserve some scorn for the electorate. After all, politicians do not use corporate campaign contributions to buy themselves whores and yachts, by and large. They use the money to buy votes from an electorate that can be swayed to vote for practically anything if you throw enough TV ads at it.

--TP

None of these concessions happened due trying to create a bipartisan bill. That is a fiction created to try and cover the manuevering within the Democratic party. Between the late seating of Franken and last night there was no reason to give the Republicans anything, and the Democrats didn't. Any other story is fiction.

I take it that the name "Olympia Snowe" is unknown to you. Or, at least, that she is a Republican.
I mean, now it is apparent to everyone that she was negotiating in bad faith, but that certainly wasn't clear at the time. At least, it wasn't clear to Harry Reid.

"It's that I expected them to understand that the majorities obtained in 2008 came with the expectation of some accomplishments."

I believe the word entropy might apply here. The government still works, witness the $700B bailout passed in less than a week - and it was even voted down once in the house at the time. But if HCR fails, you can't try again for 15 years. That's what the rules say.

you'll find that government around here has a lot of those rules.

"I take it that the name "Olympia Snowe" is unknown to you. Or, at least, that she is a Republican"

Funny though, they didn't give her anything after all that. They just decided that being able to claim it was bipartisan wasn't worth actually giving up anything.

McKinney/elm: Amen.

CWu: At least Harry Reid will soon be out on his ass, too. What an embarrassment.

Funny though, they didn't give her anything after all that. They just decided that being able to claim it was bipartisan wasn't worth actually giving up anything.

Or that she was asking too much. I wonder how you cannot see that your thinking is perpetually one-sided in these sorts of matters. Whatever negotiations went on behind closed doors, you're just certain that it's the Dems who weren't reasonable.

And you've shot you're earlier statement in the foot. First there was no reason to give the Republicans anything, but now you've suddenly found the reason that was constantly in the news for the past 10 months (ie being able to claim it was bipartisan).

Really Carlton, those two things are in conflict? In anyone's reality? So they really , really wanted that one Republican but it was just too expensive? Or were they trying to cover the base they find open today, 60th base? And I am the one looking at it from only one perspective?

'I think we will have scaled back HCR in 4 months with 70-75 votes in the Senate. No one here might like it, but I suspect it will be an affordable step in the right direction.'

I agree with Marty. The Republicans have exerted a lot of effort complaining -rightly, I think- that the Democrats kept them pretty much shut out of the deliberations (if I can use that term loosely) and that they, the GOP, had a few proposals of their own that would mitigate several of the health care problem areas. Unless something like what Marty describes happens, I will be disappointed and Republican leadership should be ashamed.


the GOP, had a few proposals of their own that would mitigate several of the health care problem areas

no, they didn't.

they had a bunch of nonsense put together so that they could say they had proposals. what they actually had was nothing, or worse.

'Let's reserve some scorn for the electorate. After all, politicians do not use corporate campaign contributions to buy themselves whores and yachts, by and large. They use the money to buy votes from an electorate that can be swayed to vote for practically anything if you throw enough TV ads at it.

--TP'

And this is the result we get from our 'outstanding' public education approach that goes to such great lengths to inform our emerging youth of what is important. Or perhaps indoctrinate fits better than inform.

And this is the result we get from our 'outstanding' public education approach ..."

GOB, are you advocating for a private "education approach", or what?

Actually, I can't be sure whether you're scoffing with me at our publicly-educated electorate, or scoffing at my comment about our publicly-educated electorate. So I'm not sure of whom you're saying that "indoctrinate fits better".

--TP

TP, it's hardly surprising to find a conservative who hates public education. Destroying public education is the standard conservative position.

KC, that explains why they recently voted for more conservative content in public school texbooks in Texas:)

--TP

'GOB, are you advocating for a private "education approach", or what?'

Oh, I think public education can be very successful, but as a local community function. Washington can pretty well screw-up anything or, at the very least, make sure it's not cost effective.

And public education can also be utterly abysmal as a local community function due to inequity of funding and resources. If we had enough political will, real federal public education could do wonders to overcome that, but in the land of the free and home of the IGMFU, that's not gonna happen, ever.

NV: If we had enough political will, real federal public education could do wonders to overcome that, but in the land of the free and home of the IGMFU, that's not gonna happen, ever.

Absolutely. Equal access for all to excellent education regardless of parental status and family income is one of the biggest markers and creators of a mobile society, where children can and do achieve more and get more than their parents did. Which is of course why right-wingers are invariably against it - and unfortunately, the US has swung between a right-wing and a raving right-wing federal government for decades. Which in turn explains the rigidity of your class system and the existence of an aristocratic class who regard themselves as above the law.

Jesurgislac,

It's not just that they regard themselves as above the law; it appears that they also regard themselves as the law.

I'll list some basics and let you folks tell me what you find hateful.

1. A government entity can set minimum educational academic requirements and standards.

2. A government entity can collect taxes to fund education for all.

3. Every eligible student will be provided funding from the taxes collected.

4. Those responsible for the students' care and well-being may use the funding to choose where the student is educated.

Washington can pretty well screw-up anything

And there is the great divide.

To be honest, I'm pretty close to saying f**k it all.

Let every state run their own schools, manage their own public health programs, inspect their own food and drugs, sort out their own industrial policy if they want one, manage their own agricultural policy.

The feds will manage international relations, run the military, and print money.

I live in MA. We'll continue to have our weird, inbred political process, we'll continue to have our pretty good quality of life, and we'll have a lot more money because we won't be sending it to freaking Alabama and Missouri.

Lots of other places, which shall remain nameless, will basically decline into sh*tholes. Crap schools, crap roads, sketchy water quality, people dying of freaking measles and TB.

So be it.

I'm tired of arguing about stupid sh*t like whether the federal government should "have a role" in education, healthcare, industrial policy, or any of the other 1,000,000 things that are going to bite us in the @ss, and hard, in the next few years.

It's a big and changing world. Even in a friendly world, we're going to have a lot of competition, and our competitors are not going to be folks who play. And the world is not that uniformly friendly.

Every decision we make about stuff like this effects our quality of life, and that of our children and grandchildren.

You think the folks in DC can't find a clue with both hands and a flashlight? I can assure you that some of the bright lights in our local and state governments will make them look like freaking geniuses.

I feel comfortable saying this because I've seen how "local standards and folkways" have played out in this nation during my lifetime, which was among the more progressive periods in the nation's history.

Devolve all of this stuff to the states and local governments. Folks where I live will come out ahead. The rest of you are on your own.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand
"

I appreciate your sentiments, Russell, though I don't agree. I am also very encouraged by this week's voter behavior in MA. I cite Washington insider lack of a clue about what was going on in that special election to illustrate that those people are not necessarily the brightest stars in the firmament.

I'm glad you like where you reside. I split time between Utah, Arizona, and Virginia. There are different aspects I like and dislike about each and the differences are not insignificant, but that, to me, is a positive. I really like the ability to choose where I hang out based on local customs and lifestyle and I don't think what works for New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and the like is OK for the rest of the country.

'It's a big and changing world. Even in a friendly world, we're going to have a lot of competition, and our competitors are not going to be folks who play. And the world is not that uniformly friendly.'

This is true and I believe sustaining individual choice within our nation is a strength that will serve our society well into this future. Our nation has always had a strong conservative streak and yet I suspect few would suggest that we have been an impediment to progress in the world.

As near as I can see, the Republicans have offered 3 contributions to health care: No way!, Slow Down!, and a handout for malpractice insurers.

Since the first two are obviously political tactics, I'll expound on the third just briefly. According to the CBO, Orrin Hatch's proposed medical malpractice reform would cut medical expenditures by 0.5% (that's one half of one percent).

That proposal makes no distinction between baby and bathwater and is, in effect, a transfer from malpractice plaintiffs to malpractice defendants and their insurers.

(Please note that I don't oppose changes to medical malpractice law — the duelling-experts process is the most expensive and least reliable possible way to introduce standards of care — I do oppose thoughtless changes that leave the major problems intact.)

[i]New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and the like [/i]

Those three places are no more alike than Cleveland and Indianapolis and Philadelphia are, or Salt Lake City and Richmond and Phoenix, or any other three places you want to pick.

"The rest of the country" is not some big undifferentiated mass that all resembles each other yet somehow differs in some significant way from "New York, Chicago and San Francisco," and if someone with whom you disagree politically referred to it that way you'd almost certainly take umbrage.

I'll take just about anyone you can pick in Washington over those dim bulbs you have in law enforcement in Maricopa County, though.

I'm not talking about "local customs and lifestyle".

I'm talking about whether significant, structural problems that exist at national scope are going to be addressed at that scope.

This:

Those responsible for the students' care and well-being may use the funding to choose where the student is educated.

will result in some kids doing very, very well, and some kinds thinking that the world is 6,000 years old and Jesus rode into Bethlehem on a dinosaur.

Russell,

Now you sound as if you support the idea that the youth belong to the state or, at a minimum, that the state is the arbiter of the truth.

Should we just turn the children over to the state when they arrive?
If not, how do we determine what responsibilities fall on the parents versus the state?

Phil,

Why do you always sound as if your view of 'a reasonable person' is only the person who agrees with your viewpoint?

The sheriff of Maricopa County continues to be popular with his constituents because they support enforcing laws that are in place.
Recent surveys show that he would defeat leading democrats in a race for governor. The mayor of Phoenix, who opposes the sheriff, recently abandoned his efforts to override term limits and seek re-election because he is not popular enough to succeed in that effort.

I guess your view of law enforcement in Maricopa County exhibits a portion of the same arrogance that afflicted the democrats recently in Massachusetts.

Why do you always sound as if your view of 'a reasonable person' is only the person who agrees with your viewpoint?

Where did I use the words "a reasonable person?" And are you going to respond to the idea that New York, Chicago and San Francisco are as unalike as Virginia, Utah and Arizona, or just get pissy?

I guess your view of law enforcement in Maricopa County exhibits a portion of the same arrogance that afflicted the democrats recently in Massachusetts.

Well, no, it's a reaction to this and this and this, among other things. If you think it's OK for sherriff's deputies to browse through a defense attorney's documents behind hear back, then steal items from her folders, I'm not sure what to say.

I mean, are you proud of a sheriff who claims he didn't even read his own book, and says he doesn't really know that much about the 4th Amendment? (You know, the one prohibiting illegal searches and seizures? Something conservatives are usually kinda concerned about?)

GOB: This is true and I believe sustaining individual choice within our nation is a strength that will serve our society well into this future.

And yet, you don't appear to care for the idea that individuals should have the individual choice of getting a excellent education regardless of where they live or who their parents are... since your argument for enforcing local standards is merely an argument that the poorest individuals should have no choice but to accept the low-quality education that is all their locale can afford to provide for them.

the state is the arbiter of the truth.

There's your problem right there, GOB. You have posited that the truth needs an 'arbiter'. I remember when conservatives used to complain about moral relativism; what about factual relativism? Modern American conservatives have developed a very big problem distinguishing between fact and opinion. It's why Marty, and other thoughtful people, can insist on things which are just factually unfounded (I'm thinking of his plea for 'bipartisanship' vis a vis HCR).

It is postmodernism no less crazy and dangerous than anything David Horowitz complains about in terms of leftists on campuses (ie Foucault, et. al.).

There is no need for an 'arbiter of truth' if people of differing opinions can have enough good faith to agree about basic facts. The 'conservative' project has been to consistently not agree about basic facts, no matter how obvious. That is not the end of just a political culture of consensus - it's destructive of the culture overall. I understand that the basic impulse is just a tactic for short term political gain, but its implications are a lot bigger.

"To be honest, I'm pretty close to saying f**k it all."

I'm pretty much there today, especially after reading today's opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. We're pretty much done for.

Democrat: Will you support HCR?
Republican: Not this version.
Democrat: What would it take to get your support?
Republican: Take out the public option.
Democrat: OK, it's gone.
Republican: Nah. Still won't support it.
Democrat: Wht would it take to get your support?
Republican: No federal funding for abortions.
Democrat: OK, done.
Republican: Nah. Still won't support it.
Democrat: OK, what do you propose?
Republican: Take out everything and put in tort reform and interstate competition.
Democrat: But that doesn't get us to universal coverage.
Republican: WHY WON'T YOU WORK WITH ME IN A BIPARTISAN FASHION, YOU TYRANT?

There is more to the broad tableau of individual liberty than just choice. There must also be individual responsibility and self-reliance. Individuals doing things for themselves and taking responsibility for their own lives is part of the natural order of things. I have no expectation of reaching perfection in these matters. To understand my position, just recognize that I value the trip (the process) more than the destination (the result). Many who think as I do don't really quarrel with the desired result set forth by progressive but rather with the damage done to peoples' liberty in the process.

Shorter question for GOB:

Was the world created 6000 years ago, or is the earth 5 billion years old? Your implicit answer is that they're both true (which also means neither is true, and nothing is true). That's not 'liberty' - that's insanity.

There must also be individual responsibility and self-reliance.

Absolutely! A five-year-old kid who lives in a neighborhood where there are no decent public schools and whose parents can't afford/don't care enough to get her into a decent school regardless, ought to show individual responsibility and self-reliance and kill her parents for the insurance, so that she can afford to become an emancipated minor and go to a decent private school.

Individuals doing things for themselves and taking responsibility for their own lives is part of the natural order of things.

What kind of "individual responsibility and self-reliance" are you seriously trying to advocate little kids should show in order to get a decent education in an area where "local rule" has ensured none of the public schools will provide one?

Seriously. GOB. Tell me. A little kid is supposed to reform the local school - "doing things for herself" in order to get a good education? Because if the national or federal government decided to ensure that all schools should provide all children everywhere with a good education, that would damage that little kid's "liberty"?

What the hell kind of "liberty" and "individual self-reliance" are you demanding for grade-school kids?

Try not to go all stupid on me now. I don't know how we survived to this point without heaven on earth.

I mean, are you proud of a sheriff who claims he didn't even read his own book, and says he doesn't really know that much about the 4th Amendment? (You know, the one prohibiting illegal searches and seizures? Something conservatives are usually kinda concerned about?)

No they're not, the ones in Maricopa County at least, who don't mind paying out millions in taxpayer money (fiscal conservatives all, who hate wasteful government expenditures!!) as a result of lawsuits against Arpaio. Hey, they can talk about how tough they all are. It's worth it.

Voting GOP will be the wrong approach. The Republicans are still batsh-t crazy and don't deserve your support either.

This is the time for a third party.

Go Whig. >:-)

http://www.modernwhig.org/

Well, I'm with Janiem. I vowed on August 31,2005 to never vote for another Republican and I'm not turning back now. I'd rather have a do-nothing Dem congress than an Rep congress that will actively destroy what's left of this country. In some instances, the do-nothings are better anyway.
And really Publius, you live in Texas so voting for the Republican just means this time you'll be voting for the winning side. It's not as if there's much chance that Texas is voting Dem anyway.

I don't know how we survived to this point without heaven on earth.

We survived a long time practicing subsistence agriculture with implements of wood and bone. Doesn't mean it's a good idea to go back to that.

Now you sound as if you support the idea that the youth belong to the state or, at a minimum, that the state is the arbiter of the truth.

I made a reply to this, but it appears to have gone missing.

Clearly, it is my belief that all children should be surrendered to the state at birth.

Equally clearly, there is not an ounce of daylight to be found between the idea that the state should control every aspect of our lives, and the idea that a government has an interest in making sure its citizens can read, write, and add.

All snark aside, you can include me among those who think that believing that, frex, humans and dinosaurs coexisted on the earth should disqualify you from teaching science to kids.

Not because the "state is the arbiter of truth", and not because I'm a liberal coastal elitist and am therefore hostile to religion.

But because the methods and motivations that lead people to concluding that dinosaurs and people lived together like the Flintstones *have nothing to do with science*.

The "young earth hypothesis" has its origins in folks like the Bishop of Ussher and the Venerable Bede (and, somewhat alarmingly, Isaac Newton) sitting down and adding up all of the "begats". The tidy sum that resulted was, obviously, the age of the earth.

That is not science.

Have it your way, dude, and in 20 years we will all be cleaning floors and bagging trash in shiny office buildings owned and occupied by South Asians.

And we will be sending our kids to China to work as au pairs.

There's nothing wrong with South Asians, or Chinese. They're hardworking, ambitious people with a healthy respect for education.

We should be like them. We should not assume that the world is our oyster just because we're Americans.

It's not.

If we want success, we will have to earn it. And Bible Science class is not going to get us there.

Neither is the social dead weight loss of 15% of the population having no freaking health insurance whatsoever. And Scott Brown and the Republicans in the Congress are not going to make that any better.

Not because their ideas are "not going to get a hearing". But because the actual Republican plans for health care reform *will not reduce the number of people who are uninsured*. They will not.

You and I are old enough that a second-rate US will not hurt us all that much. Our kids and grand-kids are going to be the ones who suffer.

But because the methods and motivations that lead people to concluding that dinosaurs and people lived together like the Flintstones *have nothing to do with science*.

I completely agree.

The Bible doesn't even set all matters of theology out in a straightforward way; to think that it might be the last word in matters of science is...well, just try building the Ark from the Bible with no other information. Tell me how the Bible explains the geologic column, using the Flood as root cause, or speculating how Satan might have arranged things that way just to screw with us. North Dakota has a column of sedimentary rock nearly three miles thick, a lot of which is fine silts that require a lot of time and still water in which to precipitate and form sedimentary rock.

Conditions that didn't occur during the Flood, note.

Buried under much of that rock (8000 feet deep) is limestone constructed largely of dead crinoid skeletons. Limestone over 2000 feet thick, composed of dead animal skeletons, on a region of land that was dry prior to the Flood, and dry after. 'splain that.

We're not even going to scratch the surface of how Noah got all those dinosaurs into the Ark, or how the kangaroos and koalas and Komodo dragons all got back home.

It's fine and all to maintain the Bible is true, every word of it, provided you keep in mind the possibility that maybe it doesn't mean what you think it means. Some people thought Moses parted the Red Sea, and thought that was the case because the Bible told them so. Even after it turned out that the Bible didn't really say that.

So: Christians should consider the Bible to be a guide to religion, and not a guide to science. IMHO, of course. I think this stretches my faith's literal interpretation of the Bible perhaps past its breaking point, but I don't get into this debate in church much. It's not generally very productive.

I think the comment about taking another look at Wyden-Bennett is apt. I can't figure out why the Dems keep trying to bite off more than they can chew.

Or why many continue to support something of dubious value to the citizenry. The true cost is hidden. SGR is continually put on hold, hiding the cost of medicare. The chicanery involving SGR to manipulate CBO estimates is the antithesis of the transparency that Obama promised. I've never been convinced that more public involvment will bend the cost curve in the right direction and I have no reason to believe so now with the current bill.

If we weren't going to be stuck with it, I'd almost like the bill to be passd so all can see its utter stupidity a few years down the road.


Thullen:
Because Hitler wanted bi-partisanship. He was ready to deal.
Hitler is a little mad Brown won. And he comments on HCR. Just for fun. Dare you to make your own subtitles.

Wyden-Bennett? Destroy the current insurance setup, and take away the insurance everyone has now, when the Republican's most effective lies were DEATH PANELS WILL KILL YOUR GRANDMA AND TAKE YOUR INSURANCE? Seriously?

Who exactly will promote that, and vote for it, if the current bill dies? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

Yeah, didn't think so.

We should be like them. We should not assume that the world is our oyster just because we're Americans.

I blame Econ 101. Seriously. You could do nothing better for this country than to stop teaching people introductory economics, a process that turns thinking people with basic common sense into glibertarian morons who think that the Free Market Fairy ensures perpetual American dominance in all matters. It's a fairy story. It sweeps under the rug the fact that the affluent, middle class, mass-consumer society of 20th century America & Europe was the product of bitterly-fought battles over income distribution; that the compromise that emerged in the 30s and 40s - market capitalism with widely distributed gains and a relatively shallow income-inequality gradient - was the secret sauce that powered everything you see around you. And that the abandonment of that compromise - for which I blame the short memories, poor attention spans, and "I've got mine" selfishness of the public just as much as corporate propaganda - has resulted in enormous relative decline in economic power.

State socialism doesn't work. But guess what? Laissez-faire doesn't work either. I was hopeful that that lesson, learned the hard way in the 1930s, didn't need a refresher done the hard way. But maybe it does. Frankly if the choice is between lemon-socialism-for-banks & long-term economic stagnation, or the brutal shock to the system that a banking collapse would have brought about, followed by a deep re-evaluation of national priorities, I'm starting to think we would have been better off - long-term - with the latter. If I sound like a liquidationist, it's not that I think it's anywhere near the best option - just that it might be less-worse than the road we've taken.

GOB: Try not to go all stupid on me now.

Hey, you're one claiming that five year olds just entering grade school should show their individualism and self-reliance by "doing it for themselves".

And you have the freakin' nerve to say "don't go stupid"? Please.

"Wyden-Bennett? Destroy the current insurance setup, and take away the insurance everyone has now, when the Republican's most effective lies were DEATH PANELS WILL KILL YOUR GRANDMA AND TAKE YOUR INSURANCE?"

Wyden-Bennett doesn't touch Medicare, so the death panel lie is harder to sell.

Just my opinion, but I think the Republicans would have been well served by pushing Wyden-Bennett as their alternative to "Obamacare". A large majority of US voters say that the current insurance scheme is broken. Personal choice. Broader choice than your employer offers you. Effectively puts caps on employers' expenses for health insurance (or at least slows the growth of those expenses). If the Medicaid and S-CHIP pieces are structured properly, lets the states get their spending for those programs under control.

Of course, the Republicans don't consult me on political strategy.

Michael Cain: I think the Republicans feel their current strategy of socialism and screaming no is working out well for them. I don't expect it to change.

"Just my opinion, but I think the Republicans would have been well served by pushing Wyden-Bennett as their alternative to "Obamacare"."

To which I should have added that yes, it's more difficult to push now that the Democrats' bill appears to have failed. Still, I'd advise them to go for it; they have few opportunities to steal one of the Democrats' issues, and they can almost certainly pick up enough conservative D votes to pass it. And I think passing it would leave them in a better place in November than they would otherwise be.

Wyden-Bennett doesn't touch Medicare, so the death panel lie is harder to sell.

Sweet Jeebus. If there's one phrase in American politics that needs to be put to rest for all eternity, it's "The Republicans will never be able to demagogue this one!"

2. A government entity can collect taxes to fund education for all.

3. Every eligible student will be provided funding from the taxes collected.

4. Those responsible for the students' care and well-being may use the funding to choose where the student is educated.

My first concern would be that "government entity" is wholly undefined. You mean a federal entity? State? Local? Municipal?

My second concern would be your inclusion of the word "eligible". I can't know what you mean by it, but I find it deeply disturbing for reasons I likely need not state.

My third concern would be that this would likely exacerbate rather than alleviate educational disparities. Even assuming a federal entity who gathered and distributed funds in a nationally uniform manner, I strongly suspect we'd see education taxes and disbursements reduced to a minimum, so poor students would only be able to afford underfunded public schools, while students who had the initiative and personal responsibility to work hard enough to be born into affluent families would attend far better schools who charged more than the federal education stipend.

So, yeah. Plenty to not get behind there.

Ten minutes after a universal school voucher system passed we would have Republicans yelling about how it is a new welfare entitlement for those damn lazy blacks, and twenty minutes later universal free schooling would be one of those things we used to have but mysteriously don't anymore.

Everybody both in favor of it and against it knows this to be true, so it's not really very useful or interesting to keep bringing it up as if nobody has ever really thought about it.

There is more to the broad tableau of individual liberty than just choice. There must also be individual responsibility and self-reliance. Individuals doing things for themselves and taking responsibility for their own lives is part of the natural order of things.

Wow, GOB, just... wow. I never took you for an anarcho-primitivist. Get rid of mass society so individuals (or perhaps family bands) can do things for themselves? Take responsibility for one's own life by getting rid of nanny-state institutions like the police and military? Abolish advanced industrial and financial institutions to ensure that things proceed according to the natural order of things, so people will be responsible for their own lives?

Oh, wait, no, that's not what you mean. You don't mean actual self-reliance, you just mean preventing the government from helping reduce inequity of opportunity. You don't mean the government not taking away individual responsibility, you just mean the government only taking away individual responsibility in manners consistent with your politics. You don't mean accepting the natural order of things (since after all, humans are social animals, not individualists), you just mean IGMFU.

Jacob Davies: Everybody both in favor of it and against it knows this to be true, so it's not really very useful or interesting to keep bringing it up as if nobody has ever really thought about it.

I was born in a country with one of the oldest free, publicly-funded, education systems in the world: Scotland had universal literacy (and working-class boys going to university) (and four universities for a country a tenth the size of England, at a time when England had two) by the 18th century.

If the government values education for all and the will is there to tax the rich* in order to educate everyone, to their level of capacity rather than to their parents wealth, then you can have a country alive with high-achieving scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, writers, etc, who may have been born in a farm cottage or to factory workers, but who used their individual responsibility and self-reliance to get ahead once provided with the best education their country could offer them.

*Schools in Scotland were funded initially (pre income tax) by a straightforward land tax on the wealthiest local landowner.

But unspoken issue in this regard in the US is that the US has never had a government which so values education for all. Right-wing and racist governments have always valued keeping a large proportion of the population uneducated and unable to rise beyond their parents, and for that, you absolutely need to make sure that education and access to education is deeply unequal.

The US is the kind of country where the son of a President can overcome barriers such as a reading disorder, drug addiction, alcoholism, desertion from the military in time of war, inability to organise a p!ss-up in a brewery, with nothing but his family wealth, his family influence with wealthy and with politically powerful friends and allies, and someday become President in turn.

I wonder how many Jews voted for Hitler in the early 1930s because they were fed up with ineffective German leadership and the bad economy?

John Thullen may think that this is a joke but many Jews did vote for Hitler for those very reasons. Many of them also believed that Hitler's anti-semitism was just a shtick to get the votes of the teabaggers of their day. The Nazis also collected many votes form the Polish minority in the Eastern parts of Germany where whole election campaigns were done in Polish. The GOP for some years has debates about how to do the same with the Spanish speaking US citizens in the South without enraging the xenophobic base in other parts of the country.

Jacob,

Despite others protests we do have a government funded education system where every child has the opportunity to receive reasonable education K-12. This is where personal reponsibility comes in, they do have to go, and, in more schools than we would hope, they sometimes have to work really hard tp get the education because of the caustic environment. But it can be done. There are lots of storys of successful people from the worst of our schools. We should keep focusing on making that less hard and focus less on the myth that our society or "right wingers" want it to stay that way. In the end that is just the hammer liberals use when anyone stands up and says we spend plenty on education. Let's figure out how to spend it smarter.

"To be honest, I'm pretty close to saying f**k it all.

"Let every state run their own schools, manage their own public health programs, inspect their own food and drugs, sort out their own industrial policy if they want one, manage their own agricultural policy.

"The feds will manage international relations, run the military, and print money.

"I live in MA. We'll continue to have our weird, inbred political process, we'll continue to have our pretty good quality of life, and we'll have a lot more money because we won't be sending it to freaking Alabama and Missouri.

"Lots of other places, which shall remain nameless, will basically decline into sh*tholes. Crap schools, crap roads, sketchy water quality, people dying of freaking measles and TB."

Granted, russell, you are making these comments out of a certain frustration and, in some measure, I agree with you; hence, we both seem to be leaning less left every day.

I used to identify myself as a liberal Democratic with pride and confidence.

No more.

I see I am becoming more and more populist and much more comfortable now aligning myself with that most enigmatic of voting blocs, Independents, who swayed the last presidential election and Tuesday's Democratic debacle in Massachusetts.

Hardly comfortable with Republican politics, most of which I find revolting, and their leaders -- tools like Orin Hatch, Charles Grassley and Mitch McConnell, fools like GWB and Sarah Rogue -- I must be getting old and curmudgeon-like or something because I am finding many of our Democratic leaders to be tools and fools as well; so why not make these fu-kers earn my vote and demand they show average working-class Americans like myself with the same respect and deference that they show the rich, privileged and elite.

"To be honest, I'm pretty close to saying f**k it all.

"Let every state run their own schools, manage their own public health programs, inspect their own food and drugs, sort out their own industrial policy if they want one, manage their own agricultural policy.

"The feds will manage international relations, run the military, and print money.

"I live in MA. We'll continue to have our weird, inbred political process, we'll continue to have our pretty good quality of life, and we'll have a lot more money because we won't be sending it to freaking Alabama and Missouri.

"Lots of other places, which shall remain nameless, will basically decline into sh*tholes. Crap schools, crap roads, sketchy water quality, people dying of freaking measles and TB."

Granted, russell, you are making these comments out of a certain frustration and, in some measure, I agree with you; hence, we both seem to be leaning less left every day.

I used to identify myself as a liberal Democrat with pride and confidence.

No more.

I see I am becoming more and more populist and much more comfortable now aligning myself with that most enigmatic of voting blocs, Independents, who swayed the last presidential election and Tuesday's Democratic debacle in Massachusetts.

Hardly comfortable with Republican politics, most of which I find revolting, and their leaders -- tools like Orin Hatch, Charles Grassley and Mitch McConnell, fools like GWB and Sarah Rogue -- I must be getting old and curmudgeon-like or something because I am finding many of our Democratic leaders to be tools and fools as well; so why not make these f--ks earn my vote and demand they show average working-class Americans like myself with the same respect and deference that they show the rich, privileged and elite.

P.S. Good to see a 100-comment domestic-oriented thread here. Thank you, publius.

Before I went off on a characteristic tangent, I actually meant to make different point regarding the portion of russell's comment that I highlighted.

Like he, I am satisfied with my local and state government. Tiny Newark, Delaware, is a college town, filled with lots of trees, a lively Main Street and features an excellent state park -- and my son goes to one of the highest-rated charter schools in the country.

On the other hand, I am glad I do not live in nearby Philadelphia.

The crime rate is high. The infrastructure is crumbling, its bridges are rated as some of the most in need of improving and updating in the country. It took days and days for the 2 feet of snow dumped by the pre-Christmas storm to be cleared from the neighborhood streets (in Philly, if you want to be a popular mayor, step one: make sure you clear the damn snow).

But my wife and I like to visit. After letting our membership to the Philadelphia Museum of Art -- where "Rocky" did his famed and triumphant jog up all those steps -- I renewed it for her Christmas gift this year, knowing how much it means to her to visit throughout the year (after all, she grew up a stone's throw from the Hermitage in Russia). We also like to visit the colorful and thriving Russian neighborhoods and grocery in Northeast Philly, and South Philly's famed Italian Market. And the Reading Terminal market. And the Philadelphia Zoo, one of the oldest in the country. I love the Philadelphia sports teams, especially the Eagles and Phillies. Danny loves the Franklin Institute. Olga's Mom always gets a kick out of visiting the Liberty Bell when she visits and enjoys Olde City. I like the U.S. Constitution Center, which was a pet project of Ed Rendell's.

So we'd like Philadelphia to be safe and clean and thriving and, apparently, for that to be the case, federal money, well spent, is essential.

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