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September 27, 2010

Comments

As with TARP, I now wish the auto bailout had not occurred.

Another million or so unemployed auto workers along with whatever number of unemployed parts suppliers would have been fertile ground for the anti-American Tea Party to swell its angry ranks and add to the howling sh*tstorm of stupidity whirling around us with probably armed, pissed-off auto workers angry that the black man in the White House was going to attempt a gummint takeover of their Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and pension guarantees.

You can convince stupid anyone of stupid anything in 1932 Germany.

The only thing we're lacking is the moustache and the funny walk.

Give it time.

""some companies doing better than others" is not the same thing as "a company doing poorly [to the point of failure]," so long as we're being pedantic. I'm not aware of any business model which requires competitors to go bankrupt if they don't lead the market."

Huh? I'm pretty sure that every understanding of competitive markets that I've been exposed to allows for the idea that some competitors will end up bankrupt either through their own incompetence, through their inability to keep up, or some combination of those two.

"Ironically, however, GM is doing much better post-bailout than pre. In other words, the Gummit helped. Big time."

Anyone can do much better if they shed a huge portion of their debt through bankruptcy. And the major fear of the GM bankruptcy was that debtor in possession financing wouldn't be available. A proper remedy for that could have easily been that the government provided that financing or the backing for it--which would have been a much less disruptive method. But we're getting deeply afield in the discussion I suppose.

"Wow, Seb, could that be as dramatically unfair as pointing to one example of a government-aided company not recording enormous levels of profit?

My response was in kind, equally unfair to illustrate a point."

Sorry I don't really see what you're responding to even now where that makes sense, but I guess if that is what you were doing, great.

Late to the party, but I'll try to catch up.

McK, I disagree that earmarks are inevitably wasted money. I can see an objection to earmarks as a process for distributing funds, but the money itself often goes to useful stuff.

The Robert C Byrd highway / bridge / library / water fountain does carry cars / ford rivers / lend books and dispense drinking water.

I agree that the new 1099 requirement in the HCR is going to be a PITA for a lot of people. Tax enforcement, which is what it is, is generally a PITA, because people do their best to avoid paying.

Everybody wants that free ride.

I'm open to finding other ways of raising revenue, which place less of a burden on productive efforts.

In the meantime, HCR will also expand coverage to a lot of people who don't currently have it. Which is the Democratic agenda for HCR, as opposed to the Republican agenda, which was to cut cost. The D's had the votes, so at least for now it looks like we're trying it their way.

I can't comment on the banking regs because I can't find any documentation on what they are or who is imposing them. If you can provide a source, I'll appreciate it.

To my eye, a moratorium on deep water drilling post-Gulf-spill is nothing more than simple sanity. Yes, there was a financial impact, but the ground reality was that we were drilling deeper than was safe given current technology.

Yes, that sucked, but I'm not sure that can be blamed on an "ineffective government response. The freaking well blew up, and nobody knew how to fix it. Not just the feds, nobody.

Regarding the relative growth in the federal workforce, I suspect that has as much to do with the tanking of the private employment picture as with anything else.

Maybe we could just fire a bunch of government folks to keep the ratio even, but I'm not sure what problem that would actually solve.

My overall point here is not that government is perfect, or even that efficient. It's that government has grown because *the scope of what government has been required to do has grown*, and that in turn has been driven by the increasing scale and complexity of, basically, modern post-industrial human life.

In the vast majority of cases, we don't grow our own food, we don't make our own clothes, we don't build our own houses, we don't pump our own water out of our own well. We don't learn our professions by finding somebody who already does them and following them around for a while.

And we don't because we can't. It's no longer really feasible, and won't be unless we make lots and lots of other changes to our social organization.

Government is larger in size and scope because the complexity of life is larger.

Conservative calls for "smaller government" utterly fail to address that.

Sorry I don't really see what you're responding to even now where that makes sense, but I guess if that is what you were doing, great.

Seb, read GOB's comment that Ford is doing better than GM, in which he implied that Ford is doing better than GM because GM is no run by the government/influenced by the government.

It was a foolish statement. I responded by showing how deficient the reasoning was by inverting the public/private players.

Anyone can do much better if they shed a huge portion of their debt through bankruptcy. And the major fear of the GM bankruptcy was that debtor in possession financing wouldn't be available.

Yes, which made GOB's comment particularly inane.

I could have a decent conversation with you on the best course for the government to aid industry - if needed, and on a limited basis.

But in doing so, I must first move past comments like GOB's which are of little actual value and are conducive to responses in kind.

Jeez, could we just once have a conversation where "government is good at some things" doesn't draw the response "oh, so you think government is the bestest at everything?"

No. No, you can't. Having read and commented on this site for a couple of years now, I have concluded that this is, in fact, impossible.

Every OW thread about tax rates will inevitably (and rapidly) devolve into endless discussions around the question "Who the hell came up with this whole "taxation" thing, anyway? What gives you liberals the right to take MY MONEY?!?"

Similarly, any discussion of the proper role of government will devolve into a debate over the proposition "Government* is incapable of doing anything but pissing your money away for absolutely no reason." All of it liberally (heh) seasoned with the suggestion that "liberals" just love government for its own sake, or because they love telling people what to do, or something.

That's what you get. There are lots of interesting topics that get bandied about in interesting ways on OW, but taxes and government are not among them.

*Obvious disclaimer: this is that peculiarly American definition of "government" that excludes the military, the defense industry, and law enforcement.

Also:

Ford's doing better than Gummint Motors because it's a better run company. It was before the bailout, and still probably is.

That's why GM, and not Ford, is "Gummint Motors" in the first place.

Seb, yes, our economy allows for poorly run companies going out of business. In the context in which the auto bailout occurred, we decided to intervene so that GM did not go out of business. We did so because, net/net, we figured the cost of intervening was less than the cost of not intervening.

Lots of folks disagreed with that analysis, and disagree with it still. You win some and you lose some. We'll see how it turns out.

In the meantime, a lot of folks who would be unemployed still have their jobs. And, we'll probably get paid back. So, IMVHO, it's kind of a win.

If you want an interesting discussion of government power I have a post on Obama claiming the right to assassinate citizens without the possibility of any review anywhere.

"now run by..."

If you want an interesting discussion of government power I have a post on Obama claiming the right to assassinate citizens without the possibility of any review anywhere.

I read it, and you're not going to get any argument from me.

Me: I'm not aware of any business model which requires competitors to go bankrupt if they don't lead the market."

Sebastian: I'm pretty sure that every understanding of competitive markets that I've been exposed to allows for the idea that some competitors will end up bankrupt

And, going further, "requires" is not the same as "allows for."

You're free to move goalposts all afternoon if you'd like, but I'm turning 41 in two months and tire fairly easily.

'If you want an interesting discussion of government power I have a post on Obama claiming the right to assassinate citizens without the possibility of any review anywhere.'

Does not bigger beget more power? And power corrupts. Not much difference between the politicians and the business moguls, political power for one, money for the other.

Russell, this is fundamental to the usual position of the Right in this country regarding the size and range of power exercised by Washington. For me, personally, 'big' has an inherent 'badness' about it.

I am not anti-government and I am not anti-tax. I understand that we no longer live in a primitive world and that there are many societal interdependencies that all individuals face. But this does not make the individual disappear. My starting premise is that all freedom, liberty, sovereignty, or whatever word one wants to use, starts with the individual.

I find it practically impossible to think politically in group terms. It just has no meaning to me.

The result is that I would like the federal government to be big enough to govern those things that lower levels of government cannot govern. So my momentum will always be toward decentralization and opposed to consolidation. Functionality, as posited by Bernard Yomtov on another thread, means little to me if the governance has moved to an unnecessary level. To some, functionality is just another word for 'do what works' and often will trample on individual rights 'in the process' and process is an important aspect of living life, and something that has always been important to Americans.

BTW, is Obama delivering 'functionality' in the actions described in Seb's post where the trampling on individual rights is almost unanimously rejected here?

What amazes me is the willingness of the Left to give greater political power to Washington when witnessing the behaviors, not defined by party, described in the post by Sebastian.

Cool -- small government, no taxes, no masturbation, keep assassination, no Sharia Law and now, ladies and gentleman ... stoning:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/9/29/906308/-OOPS!-Graysons-opponent-tied-to-Biblical-Stoning-movement


Never mind .. these folks don't participate in the conversation at OBWI.

They're too busy running for the highest offices in the land.

Russell, this is fundamental to the usual position rhetoric of the Right in this country regarding the size and range of power exercised by Washington.

Fixed.

The Right in this country has never shown the slightest inclination to shrink the size or reduce the power of government when they've had the opportunity to do so. Certainly not in my lifetime, anyway, and I've been around since LBJ.

BTW, is Obama delivering 'functionality' in the actions described in Seb's post where the trampling on individual rights is almost unanimously rejected here?

That's an easy one: No.

But I must admit that "As government gets bigger it inevitably gets more likely to commit things like torture and assassinations" is an intriguing proposition. Preposterous, but intriguing.

'Never mind .. these folks don't participate in the conversation at OBWI.

They're too busy running for the highest offices in the land.'


I hope that anyone here who gives credence to Countme?'s commentary will go to DailyKos and then listen to Fred Thompson's interview of Dan Webster and to Anderson Cooper's news report condemning Grayson's ad trying to portray Webster as a religious extremist. Webster is well regarded in his district and has a substantial lead on Grayson in polls recently conducted. Grayson, who I understand has financial resources available to him, is getting desperate and is the extremist resorting to lies (again).

Thank you, Countme?, you sent me to Webster's website to make a contribution.

McK, I've spent almost 30 years working for banks, mostly collecting loans from companies that get in trouble. There is no regulation that has been recently imposed limiting banks to advancing only against A/R under 60 days old.
As so many changes that occur in a down cycle, advancing against A/R under 60 days old is called a good underwriting practice. I can give you a lot of examples of managements telling me how their past due A/R is really quite good if I would only give them more money today.They would gladly have paid me Tuesday except I shut them down.
Also part of good underwriting is looking at the individual A/R, dilution, returns and any other factor that can mitigate delinquency. But regulation? No, you and the friends who told you that are telling whiner stories.
Aw shucks, if it weren't for them Democrats, my bank would give me free money! You know what? Most of those banks died in 2008 (since 1985 about 7,000 banks have vanished)and they won't be back for a while, so you better get collecting from your deadbeats.

"You're free to move goalposts all afternoon if you'd like, but I'm turning 41 in two months and tire fairly easily."

Honestly I have no idea why you insist that I moved goalposts. Whose argument turns on the difference between 'require' and 'allow' in this context?

Instead of attacking my honesty every single time you write to me, you could just go away. In fact that would be very pleasant.

What amazes me is the willingness of the Left to give greater political power to Washington when witnessing the behaviors, not defined by party, described in the post by Sebastian.

But GOB, the Left does not want to give greater political power to Washington to do those things. There are differences.

Ironically, or not, the Right DOES want to give Washington those particular political powers.

Phil: It would help if you kept it more civil, with less accusations and questions regarding Seb's honesty.

Please.

I hope that anyone here who gives credence to Countme?'s commentary will go to DailyKos and then listen to Fred Thompson's interview of Dan Webster and to Anderson Cooper's news report condemning Grayson's ad trying to portray Webster as a religious extremist.

What part of that DailyKos post do you think is untruthful? Do you have evidence to disprove anything it says?

Webster is well regarded in his district

Possibly true, utterly irrelevant.

and has a substantial lead on Grayson in polls recently conducted.

Ditto.

As for listening to Fred Thompson's interview, I'm confident he gave Webster a no-holds-barred grilling, intrepid journalist that he is, but I'll pass, thanks.

I believe this is true:

' the Left does not want to give greater political power to Washington to do those things.'

and this is untrue:

the Right DOES want to give Washington those particular political powers

and neither is relevant because,sooner or later, as more power accrues to the central authority, the abuse will emerge, regardless of professed political views.

This is what I believe.

Honestly I have no idea why you insist that I moved goalposts.

Because you changed the word "require" to "allow," when they're two utterly different concepts.

Whose argument turns on the difference between 'require' and 'allow' in this context?

Beats the hell out of me. You're the one who decided to run interference for GOB's inanity.

Instead of attacking my honesty every single time you write to me, you could just go away. In fact that would be very pleasant.

Uh, Eric, can we get a ruling on this, please? Isn't this a little out of line for a front pager? (AGAIN?!)

You know what? Actually, I'm not going to go through this with this jacktard again, and I'm certainly not going to take it to the kitty and get ignored again, so go ahead and ban me, Eric. Screw Sebastian Holsclaw sideways, and f**k Obsidian Wings both for keeping such a mendacious idiot as a front-pager for so long and for letting him personally attack commenters with impunity while clutching his pearls and falling to the fainting sofa anytime anyone dares to suggest he's anything but pure.

See y'all in the funny pages.

[A few characters asterisked out so as to pass various filters, but the rest of the tantrum left for posterity, and so we have something to point to that represents a blatant, willful posting rules violation. - Ed (Slart)]

This:

What amazes me is the willingness of the Left to give greater political power to Washington when witnessing the behaviors, not defined by party, described in the post by Sebastian.

and this:

...sooner or later, as more power accrues to the central authority, the abuse will emerge, regardless of professed political views.

seem awfully fuzzy to me. There is power, and there are powers. It's not as though, say, the health care reform made it any more likely that the president would attempt to claim the power of assassination.

I wouldn't advocate any increase in the types of powers that are at all related to the circumvention of the criminal process in dealing with accused or suspected wrong-doers. And what that has to do with potential jobs guarantees, government-provided health care, education funding or the like, all of which can be said to expand government or government power, I honestly don't know. It makes no effing sense to me to connect these things.

So where does that leave us, GOB? Are you vaguely connecting what seem to me to be unconnected things, or are you making some other point that isn't apparent?

'So where does that leave us, GOB? Are you vaguely connecting what seem to me to be unconnected things, or are you making some other point that isn't apparent?'

My theory is that the more the federal government provides job guarantees or actual jobs, health care, education funding and other spending and services for the 'general welfare', the greater the number of adherents it will gain and the more those adherents will begin to look the other way when the federal government begins encroaching on human rights.

Bush did it, now Obama proposes moves in that direction. I hear the strong objections coming from everyone commenting on Sebastian's post, but what happens when those objecting can no longer carry the day?

I don't like big, because big means power, and power does everything possible to increase itself, whether government, business, or extremely wealthy individuals.

Again, what really puzzles me is that the liberals here seem to understand that when talking about private wealth, but not when talking about political power.

My theory is that the more the federal government provides job guarantees or actual jobs, health care, education funding and other spending and services for the 'general welfare', the greater the number of adherents it will gain and the more those adherents will begin to look the other way when the federal government begins encroaching on human rights.

This explains why Scandinavian countries have become such human rights hellholes...

'This explains why Scandinavian countries have become such human rights hellholes...'

I prefer to cite Venezuela. Very similar to the arguments going on here.

GOB, I'm going to ask again: What part of that DailyKos post do you think is untruthful? Do you have evidence to disprove anything it says?

You suggested that nobody should give "credence" to that post, without saying why. Are you going to back that up, or just let it hang there?

I prefer to cite Venezuela.

Yes, I'm sure you do.

Very similar to the arguments going on here.

How so? What's the similarity? What makes Venezuela a better comparison than, say, Sweden?

For that matter, who here is making "arguments" that call to mind the situation in Venezuela, and in what way? Has anybody here has cited Hugo Chavez as a model for good governance? Please point me to it, because I missed it.

'Yes, I'm sure you do.'

This has a certain cryptic quality. My statements will remain that way for you, unless, of course, you can figure what they mean all by yourself.

GOB, logically if you have one counterexample, it should suggest that your thesis is flawed. Saying that you prefer to cite Venezuela defeats the purpose of logical argumentation unless you are ready to explain why Scandinavian health care, job guarantees, etc are not the same as Venzuelan instances of the same.

"WHY ARE YOU HERE?

To make friends and to enlighten."

Somewhere, Bill Buckley's ghost is weeping....

'Somewhere, Bill Buckley's ghost is weeping....'

Yeah, and I was watching the night he got all he could stand of Gore Vidal.

But he and John Kenneth Galbraith could have a civilized martini together.

Now, of course, we learn that the first thing Hitler imposed was health care for all, which meant lice removal, perhaps a little trip to the country on publicly funded railway transport, and a good shower at the end of the trip, otherwise called Obamacare.

William F. Buckley was in the end a gentleman.

He held some reprehensible views, in my opinion, but I hope to shout that if he rose from the crypt this moment, he would spit the salt his mouth was sewn shut with in the faces of the of the current crop of no-nothing ignoramus vermin the anti-American Republican Party has vomited up for election.

But you never know with zombies.

Sometimes you need to nuke from space and abandon the planet.

Gore Vidal? More current cultural points might be better, but I don't think it would help you much.

This has a certain cryptic quality. My statements will remain that way for you, unless, of course, you can figure what they mean all by yourself.

So, my questions will remain unanswered. Apparently you don't feel the need to bring anything to the table besides breezy, evidence-free assertions and innuendo ("Very similar to the arguments going on here."). Good to know.

William F. Buckley was in the end a gentleman.

IMHO, he was nothing of the sort. This was a man who seriously proposed in the pages of the New York Times that HIV-positive "buggerers" (his word -- how deliciously erudite!) be forcibly tattooed on the buttocks by that small, limited, circumscribed government that all liberty-loving people on the Right in this country yearn for.

He was a bigoted thug with a carefully crafted schtick.

the money itself often goes to useful stuff

ISTR that Trent Lott (yes, I'm aware that he's a Republican) once earmarked money for a Navy project that the Navy did not want, and asked to have killed.

That's the kind of thing that I don't appreciate too much.

In general, my objection to earmarks is that it tends to put money-spending decisions in the hands of individuals with a lot of clout in Congress, so that some states get to build lovely things as the expense of other states.

Why can't the states fund these things, if they're needed and wanted?

Uncle Kvetch:

Begin nuking.

Oh, here it is:

$460,000,000 added by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) for an Amphibious Assault Ship. In a move that is quickly becoming a tradition in Washington (the third time in four years), Sen. Lott secured funding for this ship without a Pentagon or House request. Sen. Lott’s fondness for building ships may stem from the fact that the shipyard where it will be built (Ingall’s Shipyard) is literally within view of his backyard in Pascagoula.
See y'all in the funny pages.

Or not. Get the hell off my lawn.

Feel free to write to the kitty expressing contrition, or to just stay away. Anger and contemptuousness are simply not winning any arguments for you, and really never have. If you can't abide by the rules for commenting, don't comment. It really is just that simple.

GOB: I don't like big, because big means power, and power does everything possible to increase itself, whether government, business, or extremely wealthy individuals.

There are major problems with "big", so we certainly share that concern; however, "power" is not the biggest or most damaging of those problems: issues of SCALE are critical to the growth of government that alarms so many on the 'Right' - just as they have enabled the growth of today's corporations (alarming as they are to those on the 'Left'), and are sadly resistant to the usual political 'fixes'. Yet matters of scale have also enabled the destruction of genuinely small businesses (and small communities), the systematic corruption of government at every level, yet there's been no outcry from the 'Right' *except* about size (and, of course, ZOMG!SOSHULZZUM!!!1)

So here's a question, if you think you have an answer: if "big" is the problem, why is it we only hear about big *government* from the 'Right'?

GOB: Again, what really puzzles me is that the liberals here seem to understand that when talking about private wealth, but not when talking about political power.

And it puzzles ME mightily that 'conservatives' here & elsewhere (all over, really) seem to understand this when talking about the corrosive influence of government, but go suddenly blind to the BIG WEALTH that pays for and staffs the campaigns, pays for the attack ads, writes the legislation, spins the corruption, shifts the blame from private to public and in all other ways makes sure that they get what they pay the politicians for: unfettered access to legislators, to judges, to natural resources, to kick-backs from the public treasuries.

So my next question to you GOB (and I don't mean to pick on you - anyone with a real answer is welcome to play) is: why do you love feudalism so much that you're unwilling to recognize how wealth creates power - and owns those who wield that power on their behalf?

oh, come on, Slarti - if you're gonna land on Phil for getting frustrated w/ Sebastian's weasel-dance, then at least ask Seb to answer a bloody question straightforwardly. And call HIM on it when he won't.

Every now & then. Just for practice.

Sebastian's behavior is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a violation of posting rules. Not as far as I can see.

Outside of posting rules adherence, my inclination to ban folks or even admonish them for what they do or don't do is pretty low.

That's the kind of thing that I don't appreciate too much.

The operative word in my comment being "often".

Lots of earmarks are boondoggles. Boondoggles grow, like mushrooms in poo, wherever large sums of money are to be had.

Public sector, private sector, same/same.

Net/net, I think that this is right on the money:

In general, my objection to earmarks is that it tends to put money-spending decisions in the hands of individuals with a lot of clout in Congress, so that some states get to build lovely things as the expense of other states.

Just to briefly re-emphasize my overall point here:

I'm not claiming that government is perfect, or even always good. I'm not claiming that big government is preferable to small government.

I'm saying big government is *necessary*.

What we need government to do has grown, a lot, since we started this whole experiment, and conservatives calling for "smaller government" almost uniformly fail to explain how *the things that government does now will get done* in their brave new world.

Which strikes me as some combination of naive and sentimentally nostalgic.

Or, their explanation is "the market will do it", which strikes me as not merely naive but Candidean. Or, perhaps, the voice of Mr. Fox addressing the hens.

In short, I don't believe them, because they're not accounting for reality. Whether they're being naive, or whether they're selling my @ss down the river, I have no idea, because I'm not a mind-reader.

But long story short, I don't find them credible.

GoodOleBoy:

Since you're in the giving vein this election season, I'd send Carl Paladino his payment soon, if I were you.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/09/paladino-fights-reporter-ill-take-you-out-buddy-video.php?ref=fpa

Have a good weekend!

GOB, you said this:

and this is untrue:

the Right DOES want to give Washington those particular political powers

Can you point to the significant swathes of Republican or Conservative leaders that want to deny the government's right to torture, indefinitely detain without trial, repeal the Patriot Act, outlaw warrantless wiretapping? etc.

I can think of one: Ron Paul. Full stop.

So how was my claim untrue?

Again, what really puzzles me is that the liberals here seem to understand that when talking about private wealth, but not when talking about political power.

Of course we understand it when talking about political power. That's why liberals like James Madison southgt to build in checks on political power in the founding documents (and subsequent interp) have done by creating an independent judiciary.

Read James Madison. He was all about the need to diversify power so as to protect against corruption.

Liberals very much want an active and powerful judiciary to check government excesses in terms of civil liberties.

However, Republicans appoint judges like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito that steadily peel back civil liberties, and increase the scope of the state secrets doctrine/national security state/unitary executive.

The Republican retort is often about the government's reach in terms of providing services, such as health care and social security.

I see less potential for tyranny there, then in the govt being able to assassinate, torture and indefinitely detain.

I think McK has a point on the A/R business. I see enough to know that lots of people aren't paying in sixty days right now. This includes even big companies that don't seem to be any sort of credit risk. They just like to slow- walk and there's not much you can do.

You can't afford to lose the business, and trying to put late-payment penalties on the bill gets you an angry customer who probably won't pay the penalty anyway.

What I suspect is that this rule is a sort of blunderbuss effort to keep banks from over-extending credit lines - throwing good money after bad.

I would like to know more about it, though, since I'd expect there to be some flexibility based on the examiner's judgment. Maybe not.

Anyway, McK, if you have some old invoices to GE or Microsoft that nobody will lend against get a hold of me.

As I recall it GE was notorious for paying at 60 days. Just as Bernard writes, a small contractor dealing with a large company has no leverage against this.

Of course, it's incumbent upon the contractor to keep on top of receivables. I have learned this the hard way. I have experience with law firms that take many months to pay.

I think Phil's leaving is a damn shame, whether he violated the posting rules in doing so or not.

oh, come on, Slarti - if you're gonna land on Phil for getting frustrated w/ Sebastian's weasel-dance, then at least ask Seb to answer a bloody question straightforwardly.

Experience has taught me (and a number of other regular commenters here) that what you're going to get out of Sebastian isn't a good faith argument, but rather endless (and I do mean endless) diversionary tactics, hair-splitting, goalpost-shifting, and compulsive contrarianism, with some good ol' fashioned hippie-punching thrown in for good measure. Always politely expressed and well within the bounds of the posting rules, of course.

I know this sounds harsh but I don't mean it entirely as a slam. My understanding is that Sebastian is a lawyer; based on what I've seen here, he's probably a damn good one.

My solution has been to no longer attempt to engage Sebastian in discussion, and it seems to work fine for all involved. It's too bad that Phil didn't want to go that route, but I fully understand where he's coming from.

UK,

Banning is a last resort, and nothing is permanent.

But Phil really stepped over the line there, and has repeatedly sparred with Seb in ways that violated the rules.

As you say, if it's impossible to dialogue with someone without violating the rules, cease the dialogue.

"Banning is a last resort, and nothing is permanent."

As I've said before, my own preference has always been for a completely transparent banning policy, with absolutely fixed, objective, and public terms.

I don't care about numbers, and am fine with changing the specifics, but my preference would be for fixed and defined terms, along the lines of:
1st offense = warning
2nd offense = 3 day ban
3rd offense = 3 week ban
4th offense = 3 month ban
5th offense = 3 year ban

I'm a great believer in justice being as transparent, open, consistent, non-subjective, and as equal for all as possible.

I'm not a fan of people having to make inquiries to have to find out when their ban is over: it should be absolutely clear, in my opinion, or it's subjective and unjust.

Given that past bans were not given out with fixed terms, previously banned people could apply for amnesty. DaveC, for instance, could ask for amnesty, rather than thinking he's sneaking in and out and not being noticed and then able to press the point that the management has been inconsistent.

Others?

DaveC, for instance, could ask for amnesty, rather than thinking he's sneaking in and out and not being noticed

Yeah, but what'd be the fun of that? :)

I think Phil's leaving is a damn shame, whether he violated the posting rules in doing so or not.

Agree.

Experience has taught me (and a number of other regular commenters here) that what you're going to get out of Sebastian isn't a good faith argument, but rather endless (and I do mean endless) diversionary tactics, hair-splitting, goalpost-shifting, and compulsive contrarianism, with some good ol' fashioned hippie-punching thrown in for good measure. Always politely expressed and well within the bounds of the posting rules, of course.

I've been trying to avoid that conclusion for some time now, but he's been a little breitbartian in this thread: baiting Phil the way he did, I reluctantly conclude that this was the desired outcome.

Strikes me as an exceptionally low bar to set for the front-page posters - especially since so very few *need* it that low - and unnecessarily rough on commentors of quality.

btw, I object strenuously to the ever growing common insult of using the word "gummint" to insuate it is the opinion of stupid people. It is cheap and in poor taste.

baiting Phil the way he did.

Examples, please

btw, I object strenuously to the ever growing common insult of using the word "gummint" to insuate it is the opinion of stupid people. It is cheap and in poor taste.

I don't think that was the intent, Marty. I believe russell is alluding to traditional "yo mama" jokes. Like:

Yo mama so tall she tripped over the Empire State building and bumped her head on the moon.

Yo mama so short she can sit on the edge of dime and swing her feet.

Yo mama so fat her shadow weighs a hundred pounds.

Y'all so white, you blind people when you move.

Gary,

I think there should be some sort of penalty imposed for pearl-clutching, as well as for giving offense.

Maybe also for technical things like turning the whole damn page into bolded italics. That's kind of annoying to the general community.

If there are Seven Words You Can't Use In Comments because some mindless computer somewhere will turn the whole site off for some people, well ... I guess we have to comply with that. I'm not sure how you'd publish the list, in pursuit of transparency or objectivity, though. Seems like a universal solvent problem.

But when it comes to "ad hominem attacks" or "personal insults" or "incivility", I do not think objectivity is possible.

I have said it before and I'll say it again: there are 4 people currently commenting here to whom I could possibly offer a "personal" insult, because I have met them in person. For better or worse, everybody else is just text to me. Informative, provocative, amusing, heartwarming, or offensive as the text may be, it's all I know of the "person". To disparage, ridicule, or denounce the text in even the mildest way is already as "personal" as I can get. Or as IMpersonal; take your pick.

BTW, if some text-generating entity behind my computer screen is offended by the snark implicit in general references to "the gummint", all I can say is that I, the text-generating entity typing this comment, also frequently refer to "us libruls". In using either term, it's not ME who's asserting (or complaining!) that any particular shoe fits any particular foot.

--TP

I use "gummint" to insinuate that many smart people talk funny.

I was puzzled for several minutes, Tony P., as to why you were addressing me in discussing the Posting Rules, and correctly pointing out that interpretation of them is necessarily subjective.

Then I realized you were at least partially responding to my comment about ObWi's Banning Policy.

Although both these things are listed separately on the upper left of every page, and were invented and posted years apart, and are completely distinct, they're obviously tied together, and since you're the second person to respond today to my having asserted the virtues of having an objectively clear banning policy by noting that we have a subjectively interpretable set of posting rules, it's clear that it's perfectly easy to conflate one with the other, but they still remain, in fact, two entirely separate policies and posts.

(The Banning Policy, in fact, wasn't posted until January 26, 2005, over a year after December 1st, 2003's Posting Rules.)

These Posting Rules require subjective judgment:

Be reasonably civil.

[no profanity]

Don't disrupt or destroy meaningful conversation for its own sake.

Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake.

However, having set terms of length for bans, or not, is simply a matter of deciding to do so, or not.

But if no one else cares, I certainly have no intention of agitating about the issue of clarity and consistency in the banning policy.

I object strenuously to the ever growing common insult of using the word "gummint" to insuate it is the opinion of stupid people.

Not only is it in the spirit of 'Yo Mama' jokes, but it also happens to be an accepted way to type the word 'government' as pronounced by Saint Reagan - and so rather appropriate to the post. Listen to a Reagan campaign speech, Marty - that's how he said it (and he said it a LOT) I first read 'gubmmit' in a history book.

I don't think it has a thing to do with stupid people. I think Reagan was foolish, but he certainly wasn't stupid.

I think there should be some sort of penalty imposed for pearl-clutching, as well as for giving offense.

If we're voting, I vote for penalties for use of extraordinarily threadbare cliche, viz. "pearl-clutching".

Seriously: if we're penalizing behaviors you don't like, ObWi would dry up for lack of commentors. So we stick with penalizing overtly offensive behaviors: literally, those behaviors that are attacks on other people.

If (yet unspecified) pearl-clutching offends you so much, there are other blogs to go to where you can blow your stack at any and all slights, real or imaginary. ObWi isn't one of those blogs, and will not be one of those blogs and still have me participating.

Ironic, this pearl-clutching about the pearl-clutching.

I don't speak for any of the front-pagers; just for me. Just to be clear about that.

Please, cut this out. This blog is, believe it or not, highly ineffective as a tool for analyzing and rectifying character flaws in other people, and all of the style point-making is unbearably tedious to some of us, not to mention being a distraction to the discussion at hand. Some people are actually interested in the discussion of the topic, as opposed to the discussion of how the discussion of the topic is going.

You want to beat up on Sebastian, there's always hocb. Knock yourself out.

I disagree that earmarks are inevitably wasted money. I can see an objection to earmarks as a process for distributing funds, but the money itself often goes to useful stuff.

Fair point. There are people and blogs who track gov't waste, but let's stipulate that all earmarks go to things that are functional. Let's further stipulate that all gov't spending is on functional things: new visitor's centers, educational guidelines, and on and on. The problem, we are out of freaking money. Out. We are deeply in debt and the time has come to tighten belts. Bigger gov't is more expensive gov't. You can't have one without the other.

why do you love feudalism so much that you're unwilling to recognize how wealth creates power - and owns those who wield that power on their behalf?

No loaded question here, but it sort of underscores the faultline. Russell's premise is that because we are such a big country--300 million--we need a big, central government. Chmood's premise is that the wealthy control the gov't and instead we need gov't to control the wealthy. Russell is partly right, we are a large country. Where he is wrong and GOB is right is that large gov't is very hard to undo and once it gets its hands on something, forcing it to let go is virtually impossible. And, it is damned expensive and getting more so every day.

The Chmood position is partly right and partly wrong. There are special interests, large ones, that work on both ends of the political spectrum. It isn't just the wealthy, it's a bunch of others as well. The voters have the final say, and as Russell points out often, some things just kinda suck. Special interest groups are one of those sucky things.

State gov't, OTOH, is responsive to a much smaller group of people and can tax and spend, or not, as much of people's money as they are willing to tolerate. Russell's premise is that we simply have no alternative to bigger and bigger gov't. We do. We have 50 alternatives. Each of the 50 is free to be as liberal or conservative as they please, as determined by the voters.

There is no endless cornucopia of money to fund new spending and increase the size of gov't. We are out and it's time to start paying back what we owe--taxes will have to go up to do that, but the left will never cap spending and reduce debt, so the tax increases will just slow the rate of new debt, postponing the inevitable reckoning which will fall hardest on those least able to absorb the hit. Gov't must have money to grow. Not the same amount as last year, but more. Every year, forever.

The right is now claiming it will cap spending. From what the polls say, it looks like they'll get their chance. No breath holding here.

I think Phil's leaving is a damn shame, whether he violated the posting rules in doing so or not.

I agree. I also agree that Phil and some others personalize their disagreements with Seb and other non-progressives in ways that are inconsistent with the goal of civil discourse that makes this site unusually pleasant. It is vanishingly rare for one progressive here to take another to task for making a bad faith or bigoted argument, i.e. for one to charge another with bad faith. Yet, it is standard practice for some to respond to any non-progressive position as some blend of bad faith, trolling, straw or--my personal favorite--failing to address the substance of the progressive argument (as if calling someone a troll or accusing them of bad faith or throwing up the straw man retort is an on-topic, substantive response). It is also common for many here--Eric, Russell, HSH, Hogan, etc.--to stand up against this practice. Yet, it persists and it only runs in pretty much one direction.

Competing ideologies can and do make for lively debate and discussion. One can seldom debate rationally with an ideologue.

McT, when you approach a conversation with the stated goal of wanting to 'enlighten' the other party, you are claiming implicitly that when the other side disagrees with you and refuses to acknowledge your correctness, there has to be something else going on. Perhaps the asymmetry that you see is because the people you lump together as one homogenous blob in the can of 'progressives' don't have the standing to 'enlighten' others, but do have the standing to defend their own point of view. This makes for a much less confrontational back and forth.

To make friends and to enlighten.

LJ, rarely, but apparently on this occasion, I am too subtle. I am here because I enjoy many of the people here, almost all of whom I disagree with. The 'enlighten' part was self-parody.

Sure and self parody is probably the best kind of parody of all. But you have to be careful because humor has a certain truth all its own. I'm trying to imagine any of the folks I think you are lumping together as progressives would ever say that. Since you don't identify them as individuals, I can't really tell, but the ones who I am thinking of, I really can't imagine them going with that. But I can think of any number of times this sort of point has been made when we talk about constitutional interpretation and it has not been made by those folks.

Again, sorry with the blog-by psycho-analysis, and I hasten to add that I appreciate you participating here, and am sure that I would not have the stamina to do so were the tables turned.

Again, sorry with the blog-by psycho-analysis

No problem. Like I said, it is unusual for me to be too subtle. I tend the other direction.

and I hasten to add that I appreciate you participating here, and am sure that I would not have the stamina to do so were the tables turned.

Thanks. I came here to engage. I've made friends here, friends I hope to meet in person someday. And learned a lot. My friends all think I'm a liberal now. I am not kidding. My wife too.

The problem, we are out of freaking money. Out. We are deeply in debt and the time has come to tighten belts. Bigger gov't is more expensive gov't. You can't have one without the other.

I don't disagree, obviously, but we also need more revenue. Americans are paying a lower effective rate of taxation than at any time since the Truman administration.

That is not realistic.

Also not realistic: spending as much as the rest of the world, combined, on the military.

Talk about growth in spending!

That is where most of the savings would come from. And it is not "the left" that refuses to cap that spending.

Non-military discretionary spending is a very, very small part of the budget.

The right is now claiming it will cap spending. From what the polls say, it looks like they'll get their chance. No breath holding here.

But you can't just "cap spending." What, are you going to stop paying soldiers? doctors at the VA? providing VA benefits? Social Security? Medicare? SChip? Federal employee salaries?

What the GOP has refused to do is actully name one ACTUAL spending cut.

"Cap" and "Freeze" are great buzzwords, but they mean absolutely nothing in the real world since you can't actually cap everything - nor would the GOP agree to cap the Pentagon's budget, or war spending, or foreign aid to Israel, or,etc.

I also agree that Phil and some others personalize their disagreements with Seb and other non-progressives in ways that are inconsistent with the goal of civil discourse that makes this site unusually pleasant.

You are definitely right about this. I'll try to be more vigilant.

Also, what LJ said about stamina. You got a hard head man ;)

But you can't just "cap spending." What, are you going to stop paying soldiers? doctors at the VA? providing VA benefits? Social Security? Medicare? SChip? Federal employee salaries?

Yes, Eric, you can cap spending. You can spend next year what you spent this year. You can do that two or three years running, and you will have surplus revenues that will allow for debt reduction. I've said many times, cap spending and then raise taxes on the 250K and above crowd for debt reduction only. It will not be pleasant, but something has to be done. A pissant tax hike isn't going to do diddly. A big tax hike has more downside than up.

On defense spending--end the wars or, at a minimum, explain what the hell we are trying to accomplish. Demand that the Republicans define "victory" in Afghanistan. Good luck on getting that answer.

As for the rest of defense spending, when are you going to do your opum magnus on threat analysis and force restructuring? It's one thing to cut spending, it's another to do so in a way that leaves the country able to respond when the occasion arises, as it inevitably will.

What the GOP has refused to do is actully name one ACTUAL spending cut.

Yeah, there's a shocker. I am a generic conservative, not a Republican. Last week, in a forlorn gesture, I gave Bill White a grand.

You got a hard head man

Thick, too. And old. And gray.

As for the rest of defense spending, when are you going to do your opum magnus on threat analysis and force restructuring? It's one thing to cut spending, it's another to do so in a way that leaves the country able to respond when the occasion arises, as it inevitably will.

I know. It looms. But, interestingly, this is why a cap in other areas is problematic as well: the "freeze" or "cap" has to actually be more targeted than that in order to protect the nation's vital interests that aren't defense.

Same phenomenon explains why blunt instrument is not suitable.

Slarti: "baiting Phil the way he did." Examples, please.

Will do. Give me a day or 2, though: allergy season has finally landed!

You can spend next year what you spent this year.

That's mathematically true. In practical terms, it means that over time you buy less of everything whose price has gone up, which is pretty much everything. (If they freeze my salary this year but raise my share of the health insurance premium, they haven't really "frozen" my salary; they've cut it.) So then the question is, of what are you going to buy less?

Oh. Good; I'd thought you'd forgotten.

I mean: good that you haven't forgotten, not good that allergy season is here.

Claritin is what we give our youngest, on days where she's having trouble.

So then the question is, of what are you going to buy less?

Generally, less of everything over time, in the aggregate. We don't have the money to do more every year. In McKinney's Perfect World, we might eliminate some programs and juice Medicaire, or some parts of it. Or bump SS for some folks at the lower end. Do means testing and other things to mitigate the impact and, over time, as debt is reduced and debt service becomes less and less a part of the budget, there is modest room for increases. But, in that same Perfect World, the permanent trend would be toward limiting entitlements, not expanding them.

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