Tuesday Night Open Mic for February 16, 2010

Tonight we have a bit of a theme in our open mic topics, at least in the ones that I am providing. Those who add other subjects don’t have to stick to any theme. The theme seems to be partisanship. Evan Bayh says it is the reason he is leaving. Robert Reich says it has been the big obstacle. The DNC is using partisan rhetoric that is ridiculous against the GOP states that accept stimulus funds. And finally, Obama is doing something that I feel is a centrist move by investing in nuclear power. In three of the four articles, we see partisanship overcome or discussed as a negative by influential figures. Are we looking at a situation where the people in positions of power are beginning to understand that the partisanship is Washington is causing the majority of Americans to lose faith in the entire system? Or are these outsiders simply a few enlightened folks who see the issues and want to deal with them. Interesting day in the news cycle, none-the-less. So on to the open mic…

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  1. USWeapon Topic #1

    Bayh’s Retirement Decision Boosts GOP Hopes for Retaking the Senate

    Only 15 months after being left for dead, the Republican Party suddenly finds itself not just with a pulse, but within reach of reclaiming the U.S. Senate.

    After Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh’s surprise announcement Monday that he will not seek re-election to a third term in November, the Cook Political Report declared the Democrat’s seat is now leaning Republican, and the Rothenberg Political Report moved the seat from narrow advantage for Democrats to a “tossup,” adding that Bayh’s decision “gives Republicans another excellent takeover opportunity.”

    The Republicans, who hold 41 seats, have a shot to grab as many as 10 that are considered vulnerable in November. If the GOP can run the table, it will strip the Democrats of their majority.

    “I’m feeing pretty bad,” Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor Doug Schoen said about Bayh’s retirement decision and its political implications.

    “I think there are eight if not nine seats in play,” Schoen said. “Evan Bayh’s retirement is a message to centrist voters that you’re not welcome in the Democratic Party. And if Democrats don’t get centrists and independents, they can’t hold the Senate and they can’t win elections.”

    Schoen said centrists in the Democratic Party are an “endangered species that could well be all but eliminated by November.”

    Read the rest of this article: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/16/bayhs-retirement-decision-boosts-gop-hopes-retaking-senate/

    Let me first say that the GOP is viewing this in the way that I expected them to. They think they can gain a seat in Indiana and that is all that matters to them. But I submit to you that they need to be very worried about Senator Bayh’s retirement. As do the folks at the DNC. Because I think Evan Bayh is the first of those politicians who have seen the future and adapted to what they have seen. And they will bury the two parties.

    How many of you caught Bayh’s explanation on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday? I have to tell you that I watched it and found myself liking the Senator from Indiana a whole lot more than I did yesterday. And I think what he has done is fire a warning shot at the two parties. He basically called out both parties, and his fellow Congress members for the games and the tactics. A couple of quotes from Bayh:

    “They’re (the American People) tired of people who focus on short term tactical political advantage rather than getting the job done.”

    “The only way that we (Democrats) can govern in this country and get results is to make common cause with the independents and the moderates. There are just not enough on the far left wing of the Demo party to constitute a majority.”

    “Some progress is better than none and the American people have been getting none for too long.”

    “There are other ways to serve society other than serving in an elective political position. Creating jobs by gowing a business, being in a college or university helping to educate our young people, perhaps a worthy charity or philanthropy, real things that will help real people in their daily lives. Perhaps on a smaller stage for sure, but tangible and real nonetheless, and that’s more than unfortunately congress has been doing here these last… some time”

    “Back in the day they used to have the saying that you campaigned for 2 years and you legislate for four. Now you campaign for 6.”

    You can watch the entire 7 minute interview here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/35419630#35419630

    Bayh has seen the writing on the wall I am sure. He was NOT retiring because he felt he couldn’t get elected. Bayh is a moderate Democrat who was very popular in Indiana. In fact, most feel that he had the re-election already locked up. It was one of the few seats that Democrats were not worried about losing. But I think that Bayh felt that the American people no longer, trust, respect, or even like the members of Congress. So he figured he could be the first to jump ship, in tune with the people.

    I also think he means what he said. Congress is broken. Many of us here have been saying so for quite a long time. But it certainly has a little more reverberation when those words come from a member of the US Senate, don’t you think? It’s too bad that he is not interested in working with a 3rd party or running from a different platform. I read a poll that said 44% of Americans no longer believe that Congress has the American people’s interests at heart. I think his message would have struck a chord with those folks and perhaps been the start of something bigger. Perhaps he is planing to enact that change in another way. What do you think?

    • I think Bayh is taking a page out of Obama’s playbook and telling the masses what he believes they are eager to hear. The man has a pile of campaign cash tucked away. Either he’s still working for the Party or he’s self serving opportunist. Either way, don’t fall for it…..

      • Cyndi,

        That could be true or it may not be. Only Evan Bayh knows for sure. I like what he had to say and I was extremely happy to hear those words come from a member of the US Senate. I guess only time will tell if he means what he says. But it is good that someone prominent enough is bringing that discussion to the forefront. We need more open dialogue about how screwed up Congress is no matter who it is that brings the subject forward. I am glad it was someone who gets attention when he says it.

        USW

    • Buck The Wala says:

      USW – I did catch that interview yesterday morning. I’ve always liked Bayh, but now even more so.

      Of course Cyndi could be right that he was just saying what he thought we wanted to hear, but Bayh always struck me as pretty straightforward and (dare I say) honest.

    • USW…I saw the interview as well….and like Cyndi…am very skeptical. Herein lies the problem….we have been so inundated and lied to by politicians of all sorts…when we do get a good one…is anyone going to trust them? I don’t think so.

      He said the right things….time will tell.

      Perhaps a Presidential run for him?

      • Ellen Spalding says:

        I have always liked what I have seen out of him. I was not really shocked by his decision to leave. I always thought he fit under Indie then Dem. The BS is getting too high in Washington that the people in the middle are getting squeezed out

        Ellen

        • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

          The idea that Bayh was somehow “in the middle” was an illusion once he hit the Senate. When he was Governor of Indiana, the economy was VERY good, which allowed him to spend a great deal while still maintaining a budget surplus (a balanced budget is required by the State Constitution in Indiana).

          Once he hit the Senate, he largely became a “yes-man” and voted the way the party leadership told him to vote. He still tried to maintain the appearance of “working with the other side” in order to appear “down the middle”, but I don’t think his voting record really supports the “down-the-middle” characterization.

          However, he seems to be a genuine and pretty honest guy for the most part, which is certainly a rarity for a politician. I certainly do believe he was being honest when he said he was quitting simply because he was fed up with the whole situation in Washington. I highly doubt that he will run in 2012 (he doesn’t want to upset the apple-cart, and he is also convinced that no matter who the Dems run in 2012, that Dem is going to get blasted by the electorate). I do think that 2016 is a pretty strong possibility for him though.

          • Peter

            As a native Hoosier living in Michigan I believe the majority of Indiana’s posperity revolves around the state’s Constitution. That and the strong work ethic taught throughout 85% of Indiana territory.

            For the most part Hoosiers tend to regulate their representatives, only allowing them to assume and maintain thier seats as long as they don’t do anything contrary to mostly conservative ideals.

            Should Bayh decide to make a run for the White House in the next election, or even the one after, he is likely to loose his home state. Hoosiers keep tight reins on their representatives, but since those reins would be cut outside of Indiana’s borders they are not likely to let the horse run.

            Couple that with the fact that the man was too weak to stand against Democratic objectives, as demonstrated by his voting record, and you get a candidate that wouldn’t make it past the primaries.

            CM

      • He said in the interview that he was absolutely certain that he was not going to run for the Presidency as an Independent or a Democrat. I can’t imagine him running for the GOP, so if he was being honest, no run for him. And he didn’t dance around the question like most do. He straight up said no.

        Of course all politicians lie. And he is entitled to change his mind even if the answer is no right now. Absolutely time will tell where he really stands, but I at least like what he is saying right now better than what the other jackasses are saying.

        USW

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      I would like to see even more of the same from more members of Congress – being from Pennsylvania I would like to see Arlen Specter get out. I think all these folks should be looking in the mirror – more often than not they should realize they need to fall on their swords.

    • USW

      A slightly different take on the Senator’s decision from Town Hall earlier in the month.

      http://townhall.com/columnists/DonaldLambro/2010/02/04/voting_record_puts_bayh_in_the_hot_seat

      Over the weekend I saw a summary of Buyh’s voting record since November. In all but one case he voted down the line with the Dem leadership on the big issues. Been looking all morning for that article and can’t find it. So the above will give you the flavor.

      How do you know when a Politician is lieing?

      • His lips are moving. 😆

        I will give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he realized he was part of the problem, not the solution.

      • I agree. I live under no illusion that he is not a Democrat through and through. Most in a party vote down party lines 80% or more of the time. So it isn’t unexpected. The unfortunate truth is that there is not a politician in Washington that does what they are supposed to do…. only vote according to the will of their constituents.

        A sad thing to have to admit.

        USW

  2. USWeapon Topic #2

    DNC Assails Republicans as Hypocritical for Accepting Stimulus Money

    Democrats have targeted Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in their effort to paint Republicans as hypocritical when it comes to stimulus money.

    The Governor’s office confirmed Monday that Virginia will receive $24 million in federal funds over the next four years to use on health care information technology.

    That money comes from funds made available to states by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    McDonnell has emerged as a rising star in the Republican party since his landslide election victory last November.

    McDonnell’s office released a statement on Monday heaping praise on the funding, “I thank U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius for approving Virginia’s application for cooperative funding…”

    However, during his campaign McDonnell said the stimulus bill would bring dangerous long term debt.

    The DNC wasted no time in jumping on the issue.

    “The spate of Republicans being exposed for seeking stimulus dollars under the radar, proves that either Republicans were just being sarcastic when they assailed the stimulus and they actually love the Recovery Act, or their objections are based on politics and not principle,” said Hari Sevugan, DNC spokeswoman.

    McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin says of the DNC, “Apparently facts are no impediment to their daily work. The Governor [McDonnell] never opposed Virginia taking stimulus money.”

    Read the rest of the article: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/16/dnc-assails-republicans-hypocritical-accepting-stimulus-money/?test=latestnews

    In yet another showing of the rank partisan rhetoric that continues to consume the two major parties in a fire that will burn them down, the DNC decides that the right approach to take is to attack those who take stimulus money and call them hypocrites.

    First, as noted, McDonnell never said that Virginia wouldn’t take stimulus money. What he said was that the stimulus bill is bad for the economy because it will cause more debt problems in the future. A statement that in my opinion is absolutely true. McDonnell’s statement was a criticism of the fiscal policy, and has no relevance on his doing what he should do as the Governor of Virginia.

    Because as the Governor of Virginia, he must realize that the citizens of Virginia are taxpaying citizens, meaning that they are PAYING for the stimulus bill. Since they are being forced to pay, they are not hypocrites for getting some of their money back. In the DNC’s world, they expect citizens who don’t like the bill to pay for it, and then get no benefit because they didn’t want the bill in the first place. If someone steals money from me, I want restitution. Since I can’t get my money back, I want them to pay me in some other form if necessary. It seems to me that would be more in line with what the Governor of Virginia decided was going to happen.

    But given the discussion in Topic #1, this is simply another example of the exact partisan bullshit that Bayh was talking about. These games simply no longer work. In fact, I think that these types of moves by the DNC or RNC will continue to backfire on them with increasing frequency and more damaging results. Regardless of what is said in frustration, the majority of Americans aren’t dumb. And I don’t believe that they are going to continue to fall for the games that are being played. The curtain is pulled back, and the wizards are exposed as weak and vulnerable liars.

    • Buck The Wala says:

      I’m a bit torn on this. On the one hand you are completely correct — regardless of their own views against the stimulus, now that the stimulus money is out there, the GOP representatives have a duty to accept that money on behalf of their constituents. This in itself is not hypocritical. However, it is extremely hypocritical of them to now be using projects funded by the stimulus for their own political gain.

      I don’t blame the Dems for calling the GOP out on this issue though – we all know that if it was the other way around the GOP would be having a field day.

      • Buck….cannot agree with all. There is no “duty” to accept anything. Our governor did not accept any stimulus money with attachments to it (ie; extended unemployment benefits) but did accept some stimulus money for highway projects. He did hear about it from Texans, tho, and actually apologized for it. Our legislature is now considering rules that would not allow a gov to accept any federal money with 2/3 majority vote of the State Legislature…except in cases of natural disaster.

        we are becoming fiercely independent all of a sudden on anything Federal. I really think we are about to see Texas openly challenge the constitutionality of several things and the first one coming up is education. We do not want to accept any more education funds that have requirements with it. We want to control our own schools…and this is a start.

        One of the reasons that Senator Hutchinson is having so much trouble here is that she is part of the old Washington establishment. She is conservative for the most part but she did earmark several millions for projects in this State. While some feel that this is what a local Senator is supposed to do….all the earmarks from all the Senators is the problem. This is backfiring on her. She claims that she did right to Texans but we actually see it as adding to the deficit.

        Interesting thoughts though.

        • Buck The Wala says:

          You’re right D13 – duty was not necessarily the right word. But what I’m getting at is that it is our elected representatives job to act in our best interests. If there is money out there for the taking, from a fund which I am paying into, then I would expect my representatives to take some of that money to be used in my community.

          • Yessir…point made and it is a good one…somewhere though, there has to be responsibility. I wonder, albeit probably impossible, what a great thing it would be it if (you have to sit down for this one) the House and the Senate actually assigned money to states on a truly as needed basis agreed upon by 2/3 majority and all done within the budget?

            No, I am not on chemical dependency this morning…I am completely sober. I sometimes have these fits of hope tho…

            🙂

        • Buck The Wala says:

          By the way, did you read the NY Times Sunday Magazine this past weekend – very interesting article on (nominally, the religiosity of the Founders and separation of church and state), but mostly focused on the Texas school board and its national influence?

          • I did not read the article but I have heard that as Texas goes..so does the rest of the US on school….hence we have had an influx of “outsiders” worming their way in to change things….we have caught on to it.

          • Buck

            I figured folks could use a link to the article.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?ref=magazine

            My summary: As the pendulum swings.

            One of the better written article on any subject I have read in a while. The author really seems to try and dig into both sides instead of brushing over one.

            Good find there Buck. The NY Times is not part of my regular reading.

            Good day to ya.
            JAC

            • Read the article. We have been aware of the religious right trying to exercise a greater amount of influence but it is minimal. We are on to it. One interesting thing…the Texas Education Agency and the text book rewritings are more geared towards strict constitution interpretation. I find this to be interesting.

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Gotta add at least the Sunday Mag to your weekly reading – often some very good featured articles on any number of topics.

      • You bet the GOP would be doing the same thing Buck. I also find myself torn on this now that I think about it a bit more (based on JAC’s comments below). But it seems to me that the right thing to do is to take the stimulus funds in any situation where the strings are not attached. The key point is that the citizens are paying for the stimulus so they should be allowed to benefit from it. From that point, it is up to the politicians making the decision to weigh the pros and cons of taking each monetary thing and make decisions accordingly.

        USW

    • USW, et al;

      “Since they are being forced to pay, they are not hypocrites for getting some of their money back”

      And therein lies the formula for our enslavement.

      While it appears logical and moral the only way WE can break the cycle is to in fact BREAK THE CYCLE.

      A big hearty Good Morning to All
      JAC

      • Exactly, therein lies the dilemma. Who is going to be the first to say, no, nada, not us, we don’t want any.

        As long as states/people say, “well I paid in, I should get some” the cycle will never stop.

      • Explain what you mean formula for enslavement. I would think that when they determine to take the money but only when there are no future strings attached that they are precluding that, but I have a feeling you meant it differently than the way that I am taking it.

        USW

      • Richmond Spitfire says:

        “The Gift”
        (A Short Story of Control by Richmond Spitfire)

        19 years ago, she left her husband, took her daughter and moved back into her parents’ home. It was hard for her to do this — she was a grown woman now and hated the thought of having losing independence. But, it was a matter of choice — a. quit her job (and join the welfare wagon) or b. regroup and move back into her parent’s home. Option A was unacceptable to her.

        She knew that she was fortunate; she had her parents to turn to during this difficult time. She knew it was going to be hard – she and her mother loved each other very much, but hadn’t exactly gotten along on “small” things as their priorities about life were completely different. These “small” things were “small” to her, but “big” to her mother (and vice versa).

        She was so grateful to be welcomed back into her family’s arms. Her plan was to pay off bills so that she could get her sea legs of independence again.

        Life started getting back on track for her. Bills were being paid off, life was becoming better. The parent’s were very supportive of her and her daughter in so many ways. The young woman tried so very hard to follow the rules & regulations of the House.

        It was spring. The mother offered a gift to her — a lightweight Red Dress Coat that would be warmer and look nicer with her work attire. She gratefully accepted the coat. It would be warmer during the spring months than the jacket she was using. The coat was very nice and was more appropriate for work. The only problem was that like every piece of clothing she ever owned, the belted waist just didn’t hit her in the right place and was very uncomfortable. She had been innovative in the past with clothing and made this coat more comfortable by removing the belt. Voila, the problem was resolved. She tried the coat on and looked in the mirror – the coat looked very nice. She was pleased!

        That first day after the “coat-giving”, she came downstairs with the coat on. As she gathered her daughter to take her to daycare, her mother stopped her and said that something was wrong with the coat. Ah, she said, where is the belt? She explained to her mother that she had removed the belt so that she could wear the coat more comfortably.

        Her mother insisted that the coat was to be worn with the belt – the mother asserted that the coat looked awful without the belt. The young woman again explained that the belt was bothersome to her, that she had removed the belt so that she could comfortably wear the coat.

        The young woman’s mother stated that she was to get the belt and reattach it back onto the coat. The mother also indicated that if she did not wear the belt, then she would not be allowed to wear the coat.

        At this point, based upon previous experience, the young woman knew the battle was lost, yet she tried one more time. She asked her mother if the coat had been “given” to her – she asked her mother if the coat was “on loan” to her. Yes – the coat is yours, no – I’m not loaning it to you. Then why, asked the young woman, do I have to wear the coat under the conditions that you are dictating if you gave it to me?

        Because, said the mother, the coat looks better with the belt.

        The young woman told her mother that the belt made the coat very uncomfortable.

        The mother once again demanded the belt be reattached.

        Frustrated and #issed off, the young woman removed the coat and handed to her mother. She walked up the stairs and got the trusty short jacket (beltless by the way). She came downstairs to gather her daughter and to leave for work.

        Her mother was still standing there with the coat and a look of surprise(and anger) stamped upon her face, stating that the young woman was so stubborn. She mentioned to the young woman that she had never cooperated, even as a child.

        The young woman told her mother that it wasn’t about the belt or the coat. It was about conditions placed upon a “gift” that were unacceptable to her. She told her mother that she would rather freeze than to submit to these “regulations”.

        *********

        Sure, this true story is actually rather silly, but I think that it truthfully depicts the adage of gifts having strings attached.

        This story is about Richmond Spitfire and “Honey” Spitfire. My Mom and I love each other very much – I love her more each day that goes by – I’ve learned to value her and laugh at her ways of trying to control me. She’s learning more each day about me – she doesn’t appreciate our differences as much as I’d like her to, but she’s come a long way. I pray that we’ll have many years ahead of us. (Believe me here…we really do have a wide array in how we think and handle things.)

        In this story, I am equating my Mother to large government. Large government doesn’t “give” anyone or any entity something without strings, conditions, stipulations or regulations attached.

        Think about it…My mother loves me very much, but she was willing to let me be “freeze” unless I bent to her will and stipulations. Government doesn’t know me at all and government sure as heck doesn’t love me – I either bend to their rules, regulations, stipulations or I don’t. I choose not to. I will live my own life as I see fit, not how it is dictated to me.

        Every so often, I’ll bring up the “Red Coat” to my Mom – she just doesn’t get it – usually her response to me is “Oh, Richmond Spitfire, if you had just cooperated more (i.e. bent to her will on silly things), things would have been so much better.” Side note here – I’m sure that I probably was a difficult child for my mother to parent; my father probably had an easier time parenting me.

        Our government really doesn’t care about the “real” problems that Americans have. All our government cares about is that their regulations, rules, standards, stipulations have been met.

        Folks – It really is a matter of CONTROL.

        For example, if Bob McDonnell decides that 500,000 Red Coats need to be purchased for Virginians who don’t have coats, he should be able to do that; but I imagine that the Federal Government has “Stimulus” rules around this, the coats will be required to have belts (even though a belt adds $10 to each coat). He might try to explain to the federal government that the extra 5 million dollars that belts cost was going to be used to purchase 200,000 cans of Baby Formula to be distributed to Women’s Shelters in Virginia. The government doesn’t see this as just plain common sense to meet the needs of Americans – they simply see it as a violation of their regulations.

        So screw their stimulus. I don’t want the enslavement of my Independence that is associated with it. Richmond Spitfire sure as heck has to pay for the stimulus, yet neither she nor her family will see any of it anyway (at least in a way that is meaningful by Richmond Spitfire’s definition).

        Best regards to all,
        RS

        • Spitfire

          My dear southern belle. As usual you have driven the spike deep and true.

          See also my response to USW below.

          Big warm hug for you today.
          Best of wishes to you and your girl.

          JAC

        • Excellent post RS. You made the point wonderfully! I still have the same issue with my family. This power struggle has been on going for 45 years! Its a battle of wills. I guess that’s why I resent Big Government like I do!

          • Richmond Spitfire says:

            Cyndi…It’s probably why I too resent big government so much! I just absolutely HATE being controlled.

            Interestingly enough, I think for the majority of women, it causes us to be more creative in how we express our anger over such things. In other words, historically, the female sex had to become more passive-agressive to display anger or disagreement because typical male anger or disagreement is “unbecoming” in a female…she’s labeled a “#itch”.

            I know that if it had been my brother, he would have told her that he wasn’t wearing the belt and that would be the end of it.

            The rules of assertiveness as they apply to men are not the same for women.

            Hope all is well with you,
            RS

            • I think you’re right again about women being creative in their anger.

              My older sister is so frustrated with me because I won’t do Facebook (or any other SN site). I don’t like being forced to sign up just to look at someone else’s page. I told her that and she said to just set up something bogus. I still refused on the grounds that I find manipulative and I don’t play that game. She went off on me in Big Sis fashion. I enjoyed it just as much as when we were kids, LOL! She hated having to babysit me when I was little because I just wouldn’t do as I was told. Somethings never change!!

              :o)

  3. USWeapon Topic #3

    A Thought on Evan Bayh and Partisan America

    Not long ago I was debating someone on television. I thought the discussion was going well until the commercial break when a producer said into my earpiece “be angrier.”

    “Why should I be angrier?” I asked him, irritated that he hadn’t appreciated the thoughtfulness of debate.

    “That’s how we get channel surfers to stop and watch the program,” the producer explained. “Eyeballs are attracted to anger.”

    At this point I lost my temper.

    The incident came back to me when I heard about Evan Bayh’s decision to leave Congress because he felt it was becoming too partisan. The real problem isn’t partisanship. Bold views and strong positions are fine. Democratic debate and deliberation can be enhanced by them.

    The problem is the intransigence and belligerence that has taken over Congress and much of the rest of the public — a profound distrust of people “on the other side,” an unwillingness to compromise, a bitterness and anger disproportionate to issues being discussed.

    Anger makes good television, but it’s fake and it teaches Americans the wrong lessons. Anger also can win elections (Senate Republicans haven’t given Obama any votes because they’ve been eyeing the 2010 midterms since he took office, hoping for a rerun of 1994), but partisan anger is just as fake, and it undermines the capacity of our democracy to do the public’s business.

    By the way, I was on CNBC this morning, and the subject of discussion was Bayh’s decision. No producer prodded me to be angrier but Larry Kudlow introduced the segment by saying that I’d be “duking it out” with Steve Moore, who writes editorials for the Wall Street Journal. And when it came for us to discuss the gridlock in Congress, Larry continuously interrupted, saying the reason for the gridlock was Obama’s lefti-leaning agenda.

    When this is almost all the public sees and hears about public issues, it’s no wonder Americans begin to think everything is an angry shouting match. Americans stop listening to each other. We retreat into small ideological bubbles and talk only with people who agree with us. We forget how much we have in common, and how important it is to get on with the task of making the nation better.

    Read the original article by Robert Reich at his website: http://robertreich.org/post/393078060/a-thought-on-evan-bayh-and-partisan-america

    I included this in its entirety. You may remember Robert Reich as I have discussed his articles before. I usually find him on the Huffington Post, but lately have been visiting his own site a little more often, as he seems to have a knack for saying the right thing. He brings a level of common sense to politics. The problem is that it is still politics. So he isn’t quite in my ballpark yet in terms of what we believe.

    But I thought that this article was well written and I liked what he had to say, especially in the last paragraph. As many of you know, I started this site with the intention that it would be a place where people of all political stripes could come together and discuss the issues with integrity and respect. So his last paragraph hits home for me. But the entire article is accurate. Anger sells and whether it sells or not, belligerence has become the primary tactic of political discourse in America. And it is, as I have often said, the key obstacle to getting people to come together and realize that both of these parties serve only themselves.

  4. USWeapon Topic #4

    Obama renews commitment to nuclear energy

    Promising “this is only the beginning,” President Barack Obama announced more than $8 billion in federal loan guarantees Tuesday for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the United States in nearly three decades.

    Obama cast his move as both economically essential and politically attractive as he sought to put more charge into his broad energy agenda. Obama called for comprehensive energy legislation that assigns a cost to the carbon pollution of fossil fuels, giving utility companies more incentive to turn to cleaner nuclear fuel.

    “On an issue that affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we can’t continue to be mired in the same old stale debates between left and right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs,” Obama said in a stop at a job training center outside Washington. “Our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. And nuclear energy is no exception.”

    and later in the article:

    “And what I hope is that this announcement underscores both our seriousness in meeting the energy challenge — and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue, but as a matter far more important than politics,” he added.

    Read the entire article at MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35421517/ns/business-oil_and_energy/

    I was happy to see this happen. As many of you have known, I am a supporter of finding cleaner and better ways of getting energy for an ever increasing population demand. After all, while I may believe that man-made global warming is complete bullshit, that doesn’t mean we can’t be better stewards of the planet. Don’t shit where you sleep, I think is the phrase. I love nature, so I would prefer to see it kept nice.

    It is hard to imagine that this would be the first nuclear power plant built in almost 30 years. I go around the country and see them here and there, and I never realized that every one I look at is that old at a minimum. Let’s be clear that I grew up in the 3 Mile Island era. That was only about an hour north of my hometown (and Ray’s hometown!). I remember the hype and the scare, although I cannot claim that I fully understood what was going on. I have always felt that nuclear energy is risky, but not so risky that it shouldn’t be done. After all, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is risky but I used to do that all the time!

    We have to find better ways to create energy. Is nuclear the whole answer? I don’t think so. But France is closer to 70% nuclear powered than the 61% Peter mentioned the other day. And they have had no issues. In the long run, I think the way to find the answer is to turn it over to the market and let the market work its magic. I think government involvement is bad in this arena simply because it strictly limits the options. Government has a tendency to attempt to analyze and then select, and everything else gets ignored. The market on its own would come up with solutions that no one has even contemplated in Washington DC. Just my opinion.

    But until that happens, until we have other options, I am all for working to make nuclear energy safer, cleaner, and more abundant. We need better solutions for sure. But until we have them we need some solutions that will bridge that gap. How does everyone else feel about the idea of expanding nuclear energy in the US. I know environmentalists hate the idea, which is almost a good enough reason to support it on its own.

    • I have an aquaintance here that came to our island because she was laid off from Yucca Mountain when Obama odered it closed. Has he stated his new plan for nuclear waste? I haven’t heard anything about the site being reopened, or another site chosen.

      • I don’t think much of anything has gotten that far yet. At least I haven’t seen it. I think at this point it is nothing more than talk and a commitment of money. But it is good to see the commitment. We will have to wait and see what the actual plan is. I know that they are also putting together a group to first make sure that the new plant will be safer and cleaner. That could mean that it is 20 years before it gets built. That is another issue with having government involved in the energy stuff. They have money (cause they can print it) but what would take the private sector 5 years to build will take the government 20.

        USW

        • The Tennessee Valley Authority had one of the most ambitious nuclear programs around in the 1970’s with major construction projects at Phipps Bend, Yellow Creek, Bellfonte, Watts Bar, Brownsville, Sequoyah Nuclear Plant and others. I don’t remember all the names of the cancelled sites but millions in tax payer money was wasted. Sequoyah, Watts Bar and Brownsville are on line (to my knowledge) at this time but the other sites were cancelled. Bellfonte was placed in moth balls but may be back under construction.

          I visited many of the cancelled sites in the mid 1980’s. The cooling towers were built and the containment domes were partly finished. TVA (the government) had many of the plants under construction for years before they cancelled many of them. The Three Mile Island incident or shortly after it brought the construction to a halt. Sequoyah was taken off line until they could verify all safety documentation was in place. The plant remained off line for a year or so before the NRC allowed them to go back on line under limited power. The red tape in nuclear construction and generation is enormous. The joke was that the reactors could be ripped out of the plant and regular boilers installed and electricity generated with all the paper work burned.

          I think many utilities are fearful of the red tape, construction costs, public perception, etc. and will be reluctant to build such plants in the future. Now with the man-made global warming hoax exposed, that removes some of the “green” save the planet desire for such plants. Coal is far cheaper to build and operate.

          Also, I may be wrong but I seem to recall that the life expectancy of most nuclear reactors was limited due to the fission process. It had something to do with the atoms or neutrons weakening the steel reactor vessel. The reactors were limited to a certain amount of time but I don’t recall how long (30 years?).

          I’m not sure that nuclear is the way to go. If it is, the market will decide and plants will be built. If the green movement hoax is exposed as the fraud that it is, then the utilities will probably build more coal plants.

    • This is something with which I can agree! Go Obama! (Never thought I’d say that) McCain touted on the campaign trail the benefits to nuclear energy and I heard Obama say something very similar the other day. It would be like taking every car in America off the road if we build 40 or so new nuclear power plants. There is still the issue of waste disposal (which the cynic in me wants to say is why he actually comes out saying what he did), but hopefully we can get through that and start getting some “energy independence.”

      In terms of safety, Three-mile Island was the closest this country ever got to a meltdown and the safety systems did exactly what they were supposed to… prevent a disaster! That incident should be evidence of the safety, not prove it is unsafe. Also, it’s been, what, 30 years since that incident! We’ve come a long way in terms of technology since then.

      • Wonder what France and the Nuke nations are doing with their waste product? Same as us, I guess….putting it in barrels and storing it in old used up salt mines around the States.

        Wonder if anyone will come up with an energy program that uses nuclear waste? Oh…I doubt that the government is that smart….but I also doubt that the private sector will be allowed.

        • D13,

          They reprocess it.

          Carter made it illegal in the USA to reprocess the fuel.

          Hence, a family of 4 using nuclear energy fro all their electricity in France creates a thumbtack size full of nuclear waste – where as in America it is a 10 gallon pail.

          • Did not know that…so there is a reprocessing of the waste and eventually when reprocessing is no longer viable, the amount of waste is negligible. Am I understanding you correctly?

            • D13,

              Absolutely correct.

              When nuclear fuel has spent ~2% of itself, it is no longer ‘hot’ enough to maintain sustained nuclear fission.

              98% of the fuel is still good.

              However, it is now contaminated with what is called the “Dirty Daughters” – the consequences of fission (Californium, Plutonium, and such)

              These are really and deadly radioactive – and as a direct correlation – high radioactivity = short life.

              So in reprocessing, these are removed and the fuel is now back up to grade and fully usable.

              However, this is how a country gets a store of plutonium – which is desired for bombs.

              Hence Carter banned reprocessing.

              Without reprocessing, you have weak radioactive Uranium (with a half life measured in millions of years) mixed with high radioactive Dirty stuff (with a half life of 10 years) to create a mess with high radioactivity with a half life of millions of years! The worse of both!

              As far as the French – the dirty daughters disappear in 10 years, they reuse the plutonium (its fine as a fuel too)

              And the only waste they actually get is a small thumbtack pile of simple lead.

              Nice huh!

              • Correction:

                When I said it was “When nuclear fuel has spent ~2% of itself, it is no longer ‘hot’ enough to maintain sustained nuclear fission.”

                It is actually the other way – it is TOO hot for fission.

                The neutrons in highly radioactive substances move too fast to be captured to cause fission.

                Neutrons have to move at a very specific rate – not too slow and not too fast.

                The dirty daughters creates too many energetic neutrons -which stop the pile.

                Small detail, but we must try to be accurate 🙂

              • Very nice…any suggestion as to why it is not done here? Other than that drivel of an idiot Carter…?

                In talking with my super brained nuclear physicist uncle, and trying to decipher into basic common layman terms, he was explaining that enriched uranium is done to approx 20%, which is enough to run power grids, all medical, etc. and that 20% enrichment is 93.25% of the way to 85% to weapons grade enrichment. This is what is a danger in storing and discarding, obviously…so if I am reading you correctly, and reading him correctly (which is a chore)any nation that is nuclear capable for power puts off enough waste that can be reprocessed..but the waste that is plutonium rich can then be processed into “dirty bomb” capability but not weapons grade until it has reached 85% pure enrichment. All this to say, that any Nation willing to sell nuclear waste is selling, albeit weakened, possible nuclear dirty bomb material. So, that would be the reason that to outsource fissionable material to responsible nations is feasible to prevent this action. Hence a supervision of nuclear waste.

                Interesting……Why would Carter, or any President, want to not use Nuclear energy if it can be reprocessed down to lead and, therefore, inert? Unless it is economic control reasons. Hmmmmm

              • The irony is that Carter was a Naval nuclear officer. He knew the science.

      • I might add that we have a nuke site at Comanche Peak about 40 miles south of Fort Worth….been there for years….have not seen three horned goats or flying pigs or glow in the dark people yet. No vegetables as large as a boat….just some transplanted liberals that were protesting nuclear energy out there…we just gave them a bag full of waste product and told them to put it in their cars for extra horsepower…funny we have not seen them back…oh well..that was how we got rid of our waste.

    • v. Holland says:

      I think nuclear energy is a great idea, but I still think we should drill for oil first or at the same time. I know people keep saying that buying foreign oil is cheaper and maybe it is but I just feel that having oil here with processing plants would be looked at by other countries as money and they would have more confidence in the dollar which would help our economy.

      • My thought is we need to stop tying things together, and let the market drive us to solutions, including a stop of subsidies.

        So nuclear power and start re-processing fuel.

        Drill for our oil, offshore especially, use shale as reserve and improve or techniques for extracting.

        Drill for natural gas! Keep it a separate issue from oil. One consequence of this may be a move to natural gas power plants.

        Coal power, with AGW debunked, today’s plants produce very little particulate pollution, so it’s still going to be the most cost effective way to make power, and its an abundant resource for the USA.

        • Sounds good to me-People just talk about fiat money and how we should have stayed on the gold standard just seems like oil or gas could be a black gold standard, so to speak.

        • The AGW lumps methane (natural gas) with all other carbon based fuels but it has the lowest carbon to hydrogen content of any of them and also burns the cleanest. The history of energy has been a steady movement from dirty, high carbon fuels to cleaner low carbon fuels: wood to coal to oil to natural gas to nuclear.

    • US…This is one of the few things that our POTUS is now saying that I can agree with. That said, a warning flag pops up when I agree with him on anything. I am wondering what the underlying adgenda is…I will keep a close eye on this to see if he is genuine for a change…seeing is believing.

    • Since President Carter shut down the U.S. reprocessing program in the 1970s, U.S. policy has been to take used power plant fuel and bury it.

      http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/05/18/18climatewire-is-the-solution-to-the-us-nuclear-waste-prob-12208.html

      LA HAGUE, France — Visiting the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility here is a bit like stepping into the script from a 1960s Star Trek show. When visitors peer through a 40-inch-thick, radiation-shielding plate of glass, they can see a ballet of industrial-strength robots.

      Old nuclear fuel assemblies — highly radioactive, elongated packages of metal rods that once energized some of France’s 58 nuclear power plants — are gripped by large mechanical arms. They are hoisted by cranes and placed on belts that move them along in the dim orange light. The machinery works to prepare the assemblies to be lowered into four giant pools.

      There they will sit, with about 13 feet of demineralized water above them, a bath to shield and cool them, for about three years. Then more machines will lift them out, chop them up and put the pieces to be dissolved in vats of nitric acid. The fissioning of the fuel in the power plant, or the splitting of uranium atoms to release energy, has created a large family of elements, called fission products. The goal of this process is to find and recycle the ones that still contain more energy — the plutonium and the uranium.

      Spent fuel rods also contain elements that have relatively little energy, but plenty of long-lasting radiation. These include americium, curium, cesium and iodine. They are sent off to be immobilized — hopefully for thousands of years — by imbedding them in glass logs. Employees here monitor and operate their robotic helpers from a bank of computers housed in lime-green metal coverings.

      Many advocates of a “nuclear renaissance” to help curb climate-changing emissions know about this facility, perched near the edge of a craggy cliff that offers spectacular views of the English Channel. It is part of France’s answer to the question pressing nuclear power plant owners in nearly every part of the world: What do you do with spent nuclear fuel?

      Spokesmen for Areva — the name of France’s majority state-owned complex of nuclear companies — regard this plant as the “crown jewel” of its technology. “Old fuel in, new fuel out. A pretty elegant solution,” said Mike McMahon, one of a number of Americans being trained at French facilities to learn the ropes so that they can bring the knowledge back to similar Areva facilities planned for the United States. The United States has the biggest nuclear power market on the planet, and Areva has laid ambitious plans to participate in its “nuclear renaissance.”

      McMahon works at the Melox facility in southeastern France, where the separated plutonium from La Hague is mixed with enriched uranium to make mixed oxide (MOX), which partially fuels 20 of France’s reactors and accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s electricity per year. Areva and the Shaw Group Inc. are building a similar plant for the U.S. Energy Department at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., to make use of excess plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

      U.S. policy: a state of perpetual indecision

      The French are making their move at a time when U.S. nuclear policy for what engineers call managing the “back end” of the nuclear fuel cycle has been locked in a state of perpetual indecision. Since President Carter shut down the U.S. reprocessing program in the 1970s, U.S. policy has been to take used power plant fuel and bury it. In 1987, Congress designated Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as the final resting place for the country’s nuclear waste, but the facility there has never opened. Now President Obama has proposed to stop federal funding for Yucca — which is strenuously opposed by Nevada politicians — while a new federal commission reviews Congress’ old policy.

      To be sure, the problems raised in dealing with the “back end” are not tidy or small, but they are being sorted out here. Areva and French government officials say the reprocessing solution reduces the volume of the highly radioactive nuclear waste by a factor of four to five by taking uranium and plutonium out of the storage equation. The wastes isolated in the glass logs will remain here until France constructs a deep geological repository — currently targeted for completion in 2025, although there are some Nevada-like protests over the chosen site.

    • And what about all those green energy jobs and plans? An interesting thought, if you pass a wind farm, with its windmills spinning, it may not be generating any power!

      http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html

      the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

      The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU’s expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.

      The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles — but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy’s California “big three” locations — Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio — considered among the world’s best wind sites.

      Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy.

      Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.

      California’s wind farms — then comprising about 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity — ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

  5. Hi USW,

    Did you get my email to D13 and forward it to him?

  6. Ray Hawkins says:

    Getting comments – another brutal day at the office. Cheers all.

    • Doncha hate it when that happens?

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @D13 – when the hell did we become such a meeting-centric culture? Good grief.

        • What, you say? Have you not had a meeting to discuss the ramifications of having a meeting?

          Same in the military…only we call them briefings.
          Have to have a briefing to discuss what we are going to say in the next briefing. Geeeeeez.

  7. Clunker Math –

    A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas a year.

    A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a year.

    So, the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce an individual’s gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

    They claim the program turned 700,000 vehicles so that’s 224 million gallons saved per year.

    That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

    5 million barrels is about 5 hours worth of US consumption.

    More importantly, 5 million barrels of oil at $70 per barrel costs about $350 million dollars.

    So, the government paid $3 billion of our tax dollars to save $350 million.

    Which means they spent $8.57 for every dollar saved.

    I’m pretty sure they’ll do a great job with health care though…

  8. USW……You gotta love this one….from Fox news…

    “The recent capture of the Taliban’s No. 2 is a big score for the Obama administration in the war on terror, but so far, the White House has said little about how Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured, where he is being held and what intelligence, if any, he is providing.”

    Big score? Where is he. You and I both know, he will not be brought back to the US. He will be left in Pakistani possession so we can get the intelligence from him there that we would not get here. Pakistan will get the intelligence. They know how. They use great methods to extract information.

    Then, Obama, will take credit for the information extracted under designs that we will not do and that he is against……

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhh………… the hypocrisy of it all. And the left will all say….See? It works.
    and they will all sing KUMBAYAH……….meanwhile, in Pakistani prison, fingers are gone, teeth and evidence are disposed of.. and the canary will sing until he is dead and the hydra will grow a new head.

  9. Another’s take on the liberal vs conservative, right vs left, scales.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-ferris/conservative-is-not-oppos_b_463726.html

    I don’t agree with some of this authors claims but I find the scale rather interesting.

    Although I have no idea how a True Progressive could be considered to hold any Traditional Liberal values.

    It is the attempt to mix these values and theories that create the awful CONTRADICTIONS of our destruction.

    • JAC-

      I’ve seen a similar diagram before, only that one had plotted various politicians/dictators along it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find it, maybe someone else will be more successful.

      Basically there’s two “left-right” axes. On one you have the modern political rhetoric with Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right, with the extreme points essentially being a form of socialism vs a form of fascism. On the other you have a measure of freedom vs statism, with the extremes amounting to anarchy vs totalitarianism. Thus why I’m always amused when you and Mathius argue over which left-right axis you’re talking about at any particular point in time, since you each seem to use different ones.

      Kent had a similar multiple-axis diagram as well I believe, though the visualization of it was pretty different.

      Your problem with seeing “True Progressive” not sharing any values of a “Traditional Liberal” is partly one of labeling – people holding either of these views to an extreme would be confined to the corner areas of the diagram without intersecting.

      My view of American politics on this diagram is a rapid oscillation between the left and right sides while sliding inevitably downward and being forced to converge eventually at the bottom point. The fact that Democrats and Republicans seem so similar today is because they’ve moved so far down the diagram that there is no longer much distance left between the two sides.

      You can also visualize the scale as a globe, with freedom on one pole and totalitarianism on the other, and the varying “forms” of government represented by a scale along a latitude line (with the closer to either pole, the shorter the latitude line, similar to above). This eliminates the “sides” of governing and represents it as more of a circular continuum.

      I prefer the diamond chart however as it’s easier to visualize the government-owned vs government-regulated diametry.

      • DK

        I think BF put it on this site a week or two back. But I couldn’t understand it.

        This fella at least explains it so it makes some sense.

        It took a while but I think Matt finally figured out the scale I was using. He missed my commentary on that back last April/May.

        I’ll give your spherical model some thought. Intrigues me. Take the diamond and think of each line as the edge of a plane (rectangular). Two planes intersecting with invinite numbers of lines connecting points on one plane to the adjacent plane.

        My use of Progressive was in an ideological meaning. It is in fact not on the graph. I was kinda fishing for playmates. A Progressive would stand towards the Totalitarian end of the one scale and progressive (as in desire to try new things) on the other.

        If you remember my discussion on this topic months ago it was how these terms have all been coopted by political hacks and as a result we can no longer converse with each other in a truly meaningful way. Hence conservatives who claim they support liberty while at the same time using govt to carryout their social goals.

        And that my friend is why I am a Radical Right Wing Liberal.

        Good to see you back in the saddle once in a while.
        Hope all has been well with you.
        JAC

  10. Judy Sabatini says:

    Hello everyone.

    I call BS on this. I don’t see where it helped to save 2 million jobs when it comes to firefighters, teachers and first responders, because, they were some of the first to be let go here in Reno, including police officers. If it really helped the taxpayers, then why are so many still out of work looking for jobs? Why are so many still losing their homes? Why are there still some places closing, if this stimulus package was so helpful?

    Hope all is doing well today.

    WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden asserted in an interview Wednesday that taxpayers have “gotten their money’s worth” out of the $787 billion stimulus program that Congress passed during the depths of the recession.

    In an interview broadcast on CBS’s “The Early Show,” Biden defended the program against accusations by Republicans critics that it hasn’t been the job-manufacturing machine the administration promised to the American people.

    He argued that money invested in both private and public-sector initiatives has saved as many as 2 million jobs, and said, “I don’t think they realize it.” Biden said the program, now a year old, was designed to be implemented in two stages, saying “we’ve only been halfway through the act.”

    Christina Romer, who heads the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a separate interview that one component of the stimulus program had worked especially well. “State fiscal relief really has kept hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and first responders on the job,” she said.

    “We have seen productivity surge,” Romer said. “And that, at one level, is a good sign out the economy. But absolutely, we’ve got to translate GDP growth into employment growth. Right now, the employment numbers look basically stable. We think we’re going to see positive job growth by spring.”

    The Obama administration has been feeling considerable political pressure of late, in part because of the stunning upset of its favored candidate in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Earlier this week, a leading Senate Democratic moderate, Indiana’s Evan Bayh, joined an increasing number of lawmakers who have announced they will be leaving Congress. This has come amid rising public anger over joblessness, high deficits and Washington partisanship.

    Asked if the administration had focused too heavily on health care changes and new energy initiatives during its first months in office, when the recession had a grip on the economy, Biden said, “We’ve had to try to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

    The vice president said “the reason why there was so much emphasis on health care wasn’t just that people who don’t have it need it, and those who have it have to keep it.” He said the aim was “to affect the long-term debt.”

    Biden told CBS anchor Harry Smith that “we’re in a situation here where if we do nothing about that cost curve — in the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up 100 percent.”

    Gesturing with his hand, he said: “Now, unless you bring that cost curve from going like this, down like this, we’re in deep trouble.”

    Biden also said the administration understands why people are angry about chronically high unemployment, which now stands at 9.7 percent of the labor force. “We get it,” he said.

    “Look, we are in good shape compared to Congress,” he said of the political pinch the administration has felt in recent weeks. “No one in Washington’s in good shape.”

    Biden said the atmosphere of high anxiety across the country “reflects the reality that Washington right now is broken.”

    “I don’t ever recall a time in my career where, to get anything done, you need a supermajority, 60 out of 100 senators,” the vice president said, referring to the Senate filibuster rule that requires at least 60 votes to advance legislation to a vote.

    “I’ve never seen it this dysfunctional,” Biden said.

    Romer was interviewed on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    • Judy:

      Thanks for the good read. Thought you might also enjoy calling BS on this USA Today article by Joe Biden on the success of stimulus:

      Assessing the Recovery Act: ‘The best is yet to come’
      By Joe Biden

      A year ago today, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law. Time and again I am asked, “How can you say that the Recovery Act has worked when the unemployment rate is so much higher today than it was when the act was signed?” It’s a fair question — and one worth answering on this anniversary day.
      First, we think the Recovery Act is working because of the progress we’ve made in slowing job loss. In the three months before the act took effect, America lost 750,000 jobs a month. In the last three months, we’ve lost about 35,000 jobs a month. That’s progress — not good enough, not where we need to be, but progress. And most economists agree that that progress is thanks in a very large part to the Recovery Act.

      Independent economists believe that, thanks to the Recovery Act, about 2 million people are on the job today who would not have work otherwise. Is that good enough in an economy that has lost more than 8 million jobs? Of course not. But it is a lot better than the alternative.

      Second, the Recovery Act is working because it is helping hard-hit families get through tough economic times. If you get a paycheck, you got a tax cut from the Recovery Act, which lowered the amount of withholding for over 95% of working Americans. If you are a senior citizen, or a veteran, you got a $250 check to help pay your bills. If you are unemployed, your benefits were extended thanks to the Recovery Act. In fact, these tax cuts and direct aid to individuals are the largest parts of the Recovery Act — more than half of all Recovery Act spending has gone to cut taxes or provide relief to seniors, veterans and the unemployed.

      Look around for results

      Third, we know that the Recovery Act is working because we can see the results all around us. Thousands of road projects are not only creating jobs — they are making for faster, safer transportation. Superfund sites are being cleaned up and commuter rail tracks are being repaired. Work is underway on water, weatherization and construction projects — creating jobs now, and making critical improvements in our nation’s infrastructure for the future.

      And yet, to me, the most exciting thing about the Recovery Act is not what we’ve done, but what lies ahead. Many Recovery Act programs that will build the groundwork for the economy of the 21st century will be implemented in the next few months. Broadband access for small and rural communities. New factories where electric cars and clean fuel cells will be made. Wind farms, solar panels — and the facilities to construct them. New health technologies and smarter electrical power grids will be creating jobs this year thanks to the Recovery Act. Truly, the best is yet to come.

      ‘A long way to go’

      We’ve gotten the act moving ahead of schedule, and most projects are coming in under budget. A tough, independent group of inspectors general is on the lookout for fraud, and we’ve killed scores of projects that don’t pass muster. Your tax dollars are being used wisely and quickly to turn the economy around.

      We’re on track to meet or beat our goal of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year. Work on road, rail, bridge, airport and other infrastructure projects will expand dramatically as warm weather returns. Projects that needed final planning in 2009 will see construction in 2010.

      Americans know this downturn isn’t over yet — we have a long way to go before we are over the economic chasm left by the Great Recession. Year Two of the Recovery Act will build on the successes of Year One, continuing to generate jobs while seeding the transformative investments needed to ensure that our economy remains the world’s strongest.

      Joe Biden is vice president of the United States.

      • Judy Sabatini says:

        Hi Kelly

        You’re right I call more BS on it. The jobs they talk about, you have to have at least some experience in, they forget to mention that part. Oh, sure, there are jobs here in Reno, but a lot of them have to do with the medical field, like RN’S, or medical techs, dental hygienist, or management where they require you to have a Bachelors degree or mechanics where you have to have at least 5 years experience, and the best one, is Bilingual in most of the jobs that are available, and if you don’t know how to speak Spanish, then you’re out of luck.

        Helping, the stimulus bill, no, I don’t see it, especially here. If I understand correctly, Nevada is one of the top 3 states for job losses and a bad economy. Making cuts where they shouldn’t be, like with the schools and universities, cutting certain programs, but yet, wanting to raise the tuition. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

        • Nevada and North Carolina both set historic highs for unemployment – in some counties, as high as 17.6% in NC.

          • Judy Sabatini says:

            We were at 13%. not sure what it is now, seems to keep changing. One day it’s at 10, then the next it’s at 9.5, then jumps back up.

            Even city and state workers are either leaving or willing to take a 2% pay cut, same for the city, and they have let go quite a bit, I don’t have the numbers though.

          • And that sure makes me feel good about living in NC!

    • What is really interesting about all this back-tracking and placating by the current administration is that we seem to be making a difference as a citizenry.

      Maybe we can turn the fishes head afterall.

      As for Biden, he is a bumbling fool. I am not being mean just factual, the guy is pretty close to being a moron. In addition he is basically a lap-dog to obama.

      BTW: Did anybody see the news conference today by the president with Joe standing right behind him? Did you notice the big thumb print in the middle of Joe’s forehead? It appears that somebody had to get joe’s attention enough times to leave a bruise. Poor Joe.

      Biden is the soul reason we cannot impeach obama, although a moron in the oval office might bode well for the country.

      Biden is a mornon and a stooge

      Sorry, I know I am rambling, but some days it is good to purge.

      Hope everyone is well

      CM

  11. Judy Sabatini says:

    Silver Lining Hard to Find for Some on Anniversary of Stimulus

    By Judson Berger

    While the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are out in force this week touting the success of the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed exactly one year ago, critics are pointing to a still-dismal jobs picture and deflating public confidence as signs that the ballyhooed benefits of the stimulus bill, as one GOP leader put it, were a “fiction” and not worth the cost.

    President Obama speaks with school coordinator Ralph Neidert as he tours a training center at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26 Headquarters in Lanham, Md., Feb. 16. (Reuters Photo)

    The United States of America owes $1.6 trillion more today than it did a year ago. The jobless rate has climbed from 8.1 percent to 9.7 percent. And the deficit has soared to record levels, with another record likely to be set this year.

    Happy anniversary.

    While the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are out in force this week touting the success of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, signed exactly one year ago, critics are pointing to a still-dismal jobs picture and deflating public confidence as signs that the ballyhooed benefits of the stimulus bill, as one GOP leader put it, were a “fiction.” And certainly not worth the cost.

    President Obama and Vice President Biden argued Wednesday that the stimulus has saved or created 2 million jobs.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called that estimate “nonsense.”
    related links

    *

    Stimulus Money Now Part of Proposed Budget Cuts Next Year
    *

    Biden: Taxpayers Got ‘Money’s Worth’ From Stimulus Bill

    “I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what that looks like. If I can’t put my fingers on it, if I can’t touch it and if I can’t get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and go to work there, then it’s not happening, and that’s the reality of a lot of people right now,” Steele told Fox News.

    While employers are shedding far fewer jobs than they were last year, the stimulus hasn’t jolted hiring in the way it was advertised — 49 states saw a net job loss in 2009, according to recent statistics. It’s also contributed to record debt and deficits — the national debt has reached nearly $12.4 trillion, while this fiscal year’s deficit is expected to hit about $1.6 trillion. At the same time, President Obama is creating a panel to study ways to bring those numbers down.

    The public is losing faith. A recent CBS News/New York Times survey showed only 6 percent of Americans believe the stimulus has created a significant number of jobs.

    But here’s the good news: The national economy as a whole is growing, a strong sign that the nation is not sliding back into recession. The jobless rate has pulled back from a high of 10.2 percent. Advocates of the stimulus argue that while unemployment is bad, the situation is better than it would have been without the stimulus — a claim that can neither be proved nor disproved — and that Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouths, railing against the package while reaping its benefits in their home states.

    “We acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe,” Obama said Wednesday. “One year later, it is largely thanks to the recovery act that a second depression is no longer a possibility.”

    Biden said Wednesday on CBS’ “The Early Show” that the package is only “halfway” done. Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that state aid, a huge part of the package, has kept hundreds of thousands of state workers on the payroll and that the next step is to “translate” the GDP growth into more jobs. She and Biden both predict job growth by spring.

    “We’ve seen a dramatic turnaround in this economy in the last year,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine told Fox News on Wednesday. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but it’s great that we were able to … stop the freefall in jobs.”

    But positive GDP growth isn’t exactly the kind of thing that outside-the-Beltway Americans are going to notice on a day-to-day basis. Home values, 401k’s, jobs and other real-world indicators are the proof many are looking for. While the stock market is back from the rock-bottom lows of early 2009, it’s far from where it was before the crisis on Wall Street.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Wednesday that the first anniversary of the stimulus is nothing to celebrate.

    “In the first year of the trillion-dollar stimulus, Americans have lost millions of jobs, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent, the deficit continues to soar and we’re inundated with stories of waste, fraud and abuse,” he said. “This was not the plan Americans asked for or the results they were promised.”

  12. Something Cyndi shared with me, hope all will enjoy.

    http://mises.org/daily/4088

    Big Business in Politics

    Mises Daily: Monday, February 08, 2010 by H. J. Haskell

    [Chapter 7, The New Deal in Old Rome]

    The political machine is familiar to Americans. While it may lead to gross abuses, experience shows that some sort of behind-the-scenes organization may be useful to the functioning of democratic institutions. Such an organization may hold diverse elements of the population together and provide continuity of policy through all the shifting personnel of official life.

    In Rome through the greater part of the existence of the Republic, the senatorial machine ran the show. The magistrates might change every year; the machine carried on. It represented the landed aristocracy.

    The big landowners had common economic interests. They had their personal ambitions and differences. They might disagree on foreign policy; on domestic affairs they stood together.

    The senatorial machine was the instrument through which they operated. It ran smoothly and efficiently in managing the unification of Italy and the expansion about the Mediterranean basin. In its great days the Roman Senate probably included a larger number of competent and experienced public men than any subsequent legislative body. Its members were reared under a stern code. They were proud, courageous, resolute, never daunted by defeat.

    But the unearned wealth that Rome drained from the provinces in the last century and a half of the Republic sapped the older virtues. The Senate gradually lost its ability to meet new situations and became rigidly reactionary. Then came Tiberius Gracchus, forerunner of the American Boss-Buster.

    To be sure, this turbulent insurgent had finally been disposed of by the ruthless machine, but the gathering forces he had represented still remained. The slums of Rome housed a mass of embittered voters. They could be handled in various ways by the senatorial organization. But another element in the population had come to the front in the second century.

    Businessmen, bankers, and traders had found great opportunities for making money in the new lands that had been added to the Empire. Often their interests differed from those of the old aristocrats. By the time of the death of the elder Gracchus it was apparent that under competent leadership the Chamber of Commerce crowd might unite with the poorer voters to take charge of the government.

    Rome set the example to modern Germany of making war profitable. It is calculated that in the half-century following the fall of Carthage, fifty million dollars in tribute and plunder drained into Rome. This sum, huge for its day, gave a great opportunity to energetic men with the acquisitive instinct.

    As the senators were barred from foreign trade by law, an important plutocracy of businessmen developed. They were impatient of the restrictions that a group of the elder statesmen, who still cherished the old-fashioned Roman ideals of honesty and fair dealing, had been able to impose upon the exploitation of the provinces.

    With the foundations of political revolt thus laid, ten years after the death of Tiberius Gracchus his brother, nine years his junior, returned from a minor office in Sardinia to Rome and crashed the gate of the ruling class. Against machine opposition he was elected tribune.

    Gaius Gracchus was a young man of thirty: vigorous, intelligent, passionate, a great natural leader. :arrow:Behind the burning words that could sway a popular audience was a cool, calculating intellect. He combined traits not often found in one man: ability as an orator and unusual administrative capacity.

    Plutarch gives an attractive picture of him after he had come into the tribunate and was immersed in its duties. His office was crowded with officials, military officers, contractors, work superintendents, scholars. A competent and just executive of immense industry, the biographer says, he was always dignified, courteous, and scrupulously honest.

    The older brother was high-minded and sincere. He believed life is organized on a purely rational basis and that men can be persuaded by argument to surrender selfish interests. On one occasion he had taken his case before a Senate that was packed against him. Apparently he was surprised that it would not listen to the voice of reason.

    Gaius Gracchus had entered public life completely disillusioned by his brother’s experience. He was driven by the same passion to correct the obvious evils that were threatening the very life of the state, supplemented by a human desire to avenge his brother’s death. But he had a flair for politics that his brother lacked. He would have been perfectly at home in the White House in the Washington of the twentieth century.

    His brother’s appeal had been to one class. Patiently Gaius set to work on a program that would appeal to all the important classes in the state. Against the senatorial machine he proposed to organize a coalition that could be fused into a real democratic party. This party he hoped to make an instrument for public service to carry out reforms that could not be obtained from the entrenched interests in the Senate.

    We can only guess at his motives. But to anyone familiar with the working of the political mind, the implications of the Gracchan policies are obvious. There were four important groups of voters who might be united against the senatorial machine. There were the small farmers who wanted access to the public domain for themselves and their children. Tiberius had made a good beginning in this direction, but his land commission in the hostile atmosphere of Rome had bogged down. There were the unemployed who lived in abject poverty. There were small shopkeepers and businessmen. Finally there were the bankers, contractors, and large commercial operators who constituted Roman Big Business.

    In the program of Gaius there were measures that appealed to each of these groups. For the farmer he revived and revamped his brother’s legislation for the allotment of land from the public domain.:arrow: For the urban poor he provided the sale of wheat by the government below the market price. For the little fellow who wanted larger business opportunities he proposed the establishment of trading centers in Italy and one in the territory of Carthage in North Africa. Allotments of land were to be made in these centers to selected colonists of good character.

    For the big businessmen he provided contracts for great warehouses for the storage of grain, for an extensive system of farm-to-market roads, and for the collection of taxes in the province of Asia, in western Asia Minor. At the same time he recognized their importance in the state by transferring to them the right to make up the juries that tried provincial governors for extortion, hitherto a prerogative of senators. There were other measures, not of an economic character, intended to curtail the power of the old senatorial machine.

    :arrow:Most of these measures may be classed as New Deal experiments. Perhaps it would be imputing to the Rome of the second century BC modern economic ideas to suggest that Gracchus intended to relieve unemployment. Nevertheless there is reason to regard the building of roads and other public works as projects designed to provide employment at government expense and to stimulate business, as well as to reflect credit upon the responsible official. Land distribution and the founding of colonies were the equivalent of the modern Resettlement Administration.

    The warehouses may be considered the instrument for carrying out the modern Ever Normal Granary idea, with an important difference. The Ever Normal Granary is intended to stabilize wheat prices at a fairly high level for the benefit of the producer. Gracchus desired to stabilize prices at a low level for the benefit of the consumer. In the ancient world transportation difficulties were responsible for famines and for wild fluctuations in wheat prices. Gracchus proposed that the government procure an adequate supply of wheat to be sold at a low and fixed price to everyone who was willing to stand in line once a month at a warehouse.

    The prevalence of local famines in antiquity had forced governments to resort to similar methods to keep their people from starving. But now Gracchus was transforming an emergency measure into a permanent system. :arrow:The wheat was sold for thirty-two cents a bushel, which was below the normal price; in the absence of Board of Trade figures we do not know how much below. Historians rather generally have guessed that thirty-two cents was about half-price. To judge from the screams of the conservatives of that day and later, this guess may be right.

    In America we have seen wheat sell as low as twenty-five cents a bushel on the farm, and as high as three dollars. In ancient Italy prices ranging from ten cents to four dollars are mentioned. Thirty years before the Gracchan Ever Normal Granary plan was adopted the normal price was apparently regarded as about sixty cents. Fifty years after this legislation the same figure is recorded. In any event, thirty-two cents represented a sharp cut.

    :arrow:The idea that the state should tax its richer citizens to take care of the unfortunate on a permanent basis was shocking to the old Roman ideas of self-reliance. An illuminating tale has come down to us that shows the attitude of the sincere conservatives of the time. Cicero tells the story in his Tusculan Disputations. A consul, Piso, had fought the proposal. After the law had been enacted Piso appeared in the throng standing in line to get the low-price grain. Gracchus saw him there and inquired about his consistency in taking advantage of a law that he had opposed.

    “I shouldn’t like it, Gracchus,” the old gentleman replied, “if the bright idea should come into your head to divide up my property among all the citizens. But if you should do it, I would be on hand to get my share.”

    The plan that Gracchus put into effect was :arrow:really the two-price system discussed by farm leaders in America. Under such a system food is sold at the market price to the bulk of consumers. Those unable to pay this price may buy at a reduction food subsidized by the government. In Rome the two-price program proved the beginning of what soon became direct relief.

    By any humane standard this grain subsidy was needed to mitigate the evils of unemployment. Presumably the unemployed were able to get occasional odd jobs and they could sponge on the rich. But undoubtedly low-price wheat was a great help.

    Gracchus was a keen businessman. He may reasonably have calculated that if the grain which the government could collect as tribute from the provinces was not enough, more could be bought when the price was low and that in the long run the cost to the treasury would be less than under the existing system. As it was, when a shortage of grain caused the cost of living to rise above a certain point, the government had to sell grain at a heavy loss till the crisis was passed.

    But a man as politically minded as Gracchus could not possibly have overlooked the political implications of the policy. It is a fair assumption that he figured, with a modern American director of relief, that “ninety per cent of these people are naturally with us.” :arrow:In starting the project he was thinking of votes as well as of human needs.

    As this is one of the most famous pieces of social legislation in antiquity, we may here summarize its development and later history. Events proved how dangerous a necessary public subsidy may become under political pressure. There was no means test. Anyone willing to stand in the bread line could take advantage of the low price. There were perhaps fifty thousand who applied at first. But the number kept increasing.

    Unfortunately, in the absence of government reports the record at times is hazy. When the senatorial machine regained control after the death of Gracchus, it dared not abolish the sale of cheap wheat, but it modified the law in the interest of economy.

    Twenty years later:arrow: a leader with large ambitions sought popularity by proposing to reduce the price to four cents a bushel. If this proposal was adopted it was soon annulled. Later as part of the budget-balancing activities of a conservative government under Sulla, who had an army at his back, the cheap wheat was withdrawn.

    This economy could not be maintained in the face of public pressure. Shortly afterwards in a period of great unrest the government restored cheap wheat and 200,000 persons appeared as purchasers. Then:arrow: a smart politician named Clodius ran for tribune on a free-wheat platform, and won.

    A decade later when Julius Caesar came to power he found :arrow:320,000 persons were on grain relief. He had plans for taking care of at least part of the unemployed through a large-scale Resettlement Administration. As dictator he no longer needed the votes of citizens on the dole.

    To promote migration of the unemployed he brought pressure on those who were unwilling to leave the exciting life of the capital, by ordering the relief rolls cut to 150,000 with a means test. Eighty thousand citizens were sent overseas. The fact that as a result of these measures some ninety thousand persons were left unprovided for and that there are no reports that any of them starved may have a certain significance. It is a fair assumption that people were going to the government for relief who might have got on without it. Such imposition has been heard of even in modern times.

    Under the Empire the rolls were maintained and finally food relief was greatly extended and made hereditary. The progress of direct relief in Rome is a conspicuous example of the menacing possibilities of pressure groups.

    As for Gracchus, his vision extended beyond Rome. He was the first really Italian statesman. A grievance was cherished by the Italian cities that had fought with Rome against Carthage and in the subsequent wars. They had not been put on a political equality with Rome by the grant of Roman citizenship. Shortly before Gracchus came into office one of the important central Italian cities had revolted against this injustice and had been destroyed.

    The tribune sensed the growing discontent which only a few years later was to lead to a civil war that cost thousands of lives. He was not satisfied with having created, at least temporarily, a democratic party. He desired to continue to make the party an agency of progress. He took the statesmanlike view and became the champion of the wronged Italian cities. Success would have averted the future bitter struggle.

    The proposals of Gracchus to extend Roman citizenship gave his eager enemies an opening. As tribune he had to stand for election every year. His opponents resorted to a political trick that is familiar today. They put up a candidate against him who promised impossible gifts of colonial land to the people and appealed to the 100 percent Roman sentiment against sharing citizenship with outsiders. The people deserted their leader and he was defeated.

    In a riot that followed, the great reformer was killed. His biographer gives a moving account of the circumstances of his death. With a sprained ankle he had escaped across the Tiber, his enemies in hot pursuit. As he limped along, those whose champion he had been encouraged him and wished him success, “as standers-by may do to those who are engaged in a race.” But nobody in that stolid throng would furnish him the horse for which he asked. In a little grove in which he finally hid he was overtaken and met his death.

    The influence of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus did not die with them. “At every turn in the paths of political life,” says the English historian A. H. J. Greenidge, “the Roman statesman was confronted by two figures whom fear or admiration raised to gigantic proportions…The youth, the brotherhood, the martyrdom of the men were the very elements that gave a softening radiance to the hard contour of their lives. The Gracchi were a stern and ever present reality; they were also a bright and gracious memory. In either character they must have lived; but the combination of both presentments had secured them an immortality which age, wisdom, experience and success have often struggled vainly to secure.”

    The younger Gracchus, as I have said, set out to challenge the authority of the senatorial machine with his coalition democratic party. For a brief time he succeeded. Appian makes the acute observation that under Gracchus,

    [P]olitical power was turned upside down. The power was in the hands of Big Business. Empty honor was left to the Senate.

    The coalition soon went to pieces. But the business leaders had learned that their group held the balance of power. They adopted the policy so successfully used in the American labor movement by Samuel Gompers.:arrow: Under Gompers, organized labor supported whichever party seemed to offer the greater inducements.

    Big Business joined the Popular party of small businessmen, farmers, and reliefers to obtain its objectives. When the Popular party swung too far to the left, the important business leaders allied themselves with the conservative senatorial machine. For a good share of the last republican century Big Business was able to exert a strong influence on the policies of the government.

    The chief policies in which the business group was interested had to do with territorial expansion and the exploitation of the conquered provinces. The conservative senators shrank from the annexation of additional territory. This presented governmental problems which they were not ready to undertake.

    :arrow:But new lands brought under Roman control gave the businessmen opportunities for profitable investments, for handling government contracts, for lending money, and for opening new markets for trade. Rome became the banking centre and clearing house of the world. Cicero boasted that not a single transaction could take place in southern Gaul without an entry in a Roman account book.

    The history of the contracts that were let for tax collections belongs to the seamy side of Roman expansion. The Republic had no permanent civil service for provincial administration. Following a common practice, it let five-year contracts to business syndicates. These paid the taxes in lump sums and the government was relieved of all trouble. But in certain provinces the syndicates would extort enough taxes in the five-year period above what was due Rome to enrich their members.

    The evil reputation of the oppressive tax collectors, the puhlicani, has come down to us from the New Testament references to “publicans and sinners.” “Wherever the publican penetrates,” wrote Livy, “there is no more justice or liberty for anyone.” With the backing of troops tax collecting frequently became organized plundering.

    These conditions were not universal. There were parts of the Empire in western Europe and northern Africa where taxes were not farmed. These were generally free from extortion and the condition of their people was much improved under Roman rule. It would be a distorted picture that presented Rome’s colonial government as everywhere oppressive. Nevertheless provincial extortion had become a glaring evil.

    In connection with provincial dealings and contracts there were many opportunities for shrewd businessmen to pick up money on the side. They could hold Asiatic grain that they had collected for taxes and sell at high winter prices. They could speculate in land that went on the market at distressed prices during unsettled times, knowing that values would advance under the Roman peace. They could lend money to cities at high rates of interest, running to 4 or 5 percent a month.

    Marcus Junius Brutus, one of those grim republicans who murdered Julius Caesar, was a man universally respected for his integrity. Yet he saw nothing out of the way in lending the city of Salamis a large sum of money at 48 percent a year and then bringing pressure on the provincial governor to use troops to collect the debt.

    It was in the judicial proceedings for trying provincial governors for extortion that one of the Gracchan laws proved an instrument of oppression, wholly contrary to the purposes of the reformer who obtained its adoption. In the time of Gracchus governors accused of extortion were tried by juries made up of senators, men of their own class and naturally sympathetic with them. To avoid this abuse, Gracchus substituted businessmen for senators.

    But an unforeseen evil developed. If an honest governor tried to protect the provincials from exactions from a tax-collecting syndicate, its stockholders could frame up charges against him and have him tried by a jury whose members might be financially interested in the syndicate that he had antagonized. The makeup of these juries became one of the important issues between the senatorial machine and the big business operators. So often do reforms produce unhappy consequences!

    How the business group intervened in politics is apparent in several incidents. There was a civil war in northern Africa in which a considerable number of representatives of Roman commercial houses were killed. The Senate was reluctant to prosecute a punitive war which might bring Rome a new province to govern. An expeditionary force was conducting a half-hearted campaign when the business crowd intervened. It stirred up the Assembly in defiance of the Senate to investigate the conduct of the war and finally to send a new general, Marius, of humble origin, to replace the dilatory aristocratic commander.

    Another incident was in connection with the depredations of pirates in the Mediterranean. Rome had been too preoccupied with other matters to police the seas, and the pirates had multiplied and become a serious menace to commerce. While the Senate finally sent forces against them, it never was particularly concerned about trade. The campaign was allowed to drift. The businessmen were outraged, and when pirate raids threatened the capital’s grain supply, public sentiment reacted against senatorial incompetence.

    The Senate’s dignity could not prevail against the soaring price of wheat. A magistrate proposed to the Assembly that Pompey, a competent middle class general, be given extraordinary powers to deal with the situation. The Senate strenuously objected to such a surrender of its authority. A tribune was found to interpose a veto and announce that the new command would be set up only over his dead body. But the magistrate who had proposed the bill now invoked the principle of the recall, which Tiberius Gracchus had used.

    As the vote proceeded and it was apparent that the obstructionist would be removed from office he withdrew his veto and the bill passed. Pompey was allowed three years for the task. But he acted with such energy that within three months the pirates had been virtually swept from the seas.

    Still another instance of business intervention in the field of government had to do with Asia Minor. This had proved a profitable field for Roman business, especially for the tax-collecting corporations. Mithridates, an able native ruler of a kingdom beyond the Roman province, had raised the cry of “Asia for the Asiatics” and invaded Roman territory. I have already referred to the sudden massacre of the unpopular Italian business men instigated by him.

    The war to expel the invader dragged along. Dividends in Asiatic stocks widely held in Rome were suspended. Finally the businessmen forced a transfer of the command from the senatorial general to Pompey, who they believed was sympathetic with their policy of expansion. They depended on him, not merely to end the war, but to find excuse for annexing additional territory to which government contracts for taxes and public works might be extended.

    The feverish business and speculative activity that had sprung up in Rome with the great era of expansion continued to enrich the few at the expense of the many. The situation would have been different if the new capital could have been used to develop industries whose production would have been distributed in wages and salaries to the benefit of the whole community. But such a use requires a degree of industrialization that was wholly lacking in ancient Italy.

    The wealth that flowed in was concentrated in a comparatively few hands. It was spent on luxuries from abroad, on maintaining large slave establishments, on big country estates, and sometimes on investments in the provinces. It created few new jobs. There was little chance for the poor man to get ahead. In spite of the primitive economic ideas of the time, these significant facts did not escape contemporary observers. One of them wrote that, “conquests enriched the wealthy and impoverished the poor.”

    Reckless speculation induced by easy money had the usual consequences. Businessmen became overextended. The panic of 86 BC, and a severe depression less than a quarter of a century later, testified to the unhealthiness of the economic situation.

    Civil war in Italy, which Gaius Gracchus had tried to prevent,:arrow: led to a slump in the value of real estate, the chief form of investment in Rome. A few years previously the government had attempted to meet extravagant expenditures by devaluing the currency. This had added to the uncertainty. As Cicero remarked, no one was able to tell what he was really worth.

    Then came the shock of extensive losses in Asia. In this emergency the government dominated by the Popular party enacted a bankruptcy law by which debts were scaled down by 75 percent. The financial stringency was relieved by spoils from the Asiatic provinces. But the lesson of the panic was soon forgotten. Within a few years the gambling spirit again permeated Italian society and wild land speculation became general.

    Looking back near the close of his life, :arrow:Cicero wrote of conditions in the year 63 BC that at no time in his recollection was the world so heavily involved in debt. “Never,” he said, “were measures for the repudiation of debts more strenuously agitated. Men of every sort and rank attempted with arms and armies to force the project through.”

    An explosion came in the famous conspiracy of Catiline in the very year to which Cicero referred. It is worth examining briefly for the light it throws on the bitterness between the oligarchy of wealth and the submerged masses that flared up under the strain of the depression.

    Catiline has come down to us from accounts written by his bitter enemies as a villain of purest ray serene, an upper class gangster, the unsuccessful leader of a dangerous conspiracy. But four years after his death the populace strewed flowers upon his tomb. He must have had redeeming qualities.

    An enigmatical fellow, this Catiline; embittered by political failure, heavily in debt, courageous, dashing, magnetic, driven by combined ambition and sympathy for the forgotten man. Our accounts of him are based chiefly on the writings of Sallust and Cicero. Sallust had been proconsular Governor of Numidia. “Thereafter he retired from public affairs and lived in great splendor, having acquired his wealth, it was said, by extortion in his province.” Cicero was Rome’s leading lawyer, with a $175,000 mansion on the Palatine and several country estates. To him the Popular party was made up of the ” scum and dregs of the town,” the “miserable starveling rabble.” In their attitude toward Catiline these men probably were no more objective than modern industrial leaders would be in discussing issues in a bitter labor controversy today.

    Vituperation was even more common and more extreme in Roman controversies than it is in modern campaigns in America. The “smearing” attacks by American politicians are not taken seriously by disinterested observers. Reading the violent language used against Catiline we are constantly reminded of gutter politics at home.

    In the light of American experience we cannot be sure of the facts in this ancient conspiracy case, especially in the prelude. Certainly we have abundant reason to discount some of the charges made. A century later accusations on a similar scale were circulated against the Emperor Tiberius. They no longer are believed.

    What has completed the damnation of Catiline in the eyes of historians is a letter he wrote to an aged aristocrat, an old friend, just before he left Rome to join the rebel farmers who had been attracted to his cause. He is determined, he says, to publish no defense of his course, but he feels he owes an explanation to a friend. He has suffered injuries and indignities. Robbed of the fruit of his exertions, he has been defeated for the honor of the consulship, which he had fairly earned. So, he adds, “I have undertaken, as is my wont, the public cause of the distressed.”

    Anyone who condemns Catiline as merely a self-seeking demagogue on the strength of this letter is unfamiliar with the political mentality. In an acquaintance with American political leaders covering many years, I do not recall a single one who did not combine personal ambition with a desire, in varying degrees, to serve the public. Indeed, without the personal motive a man does not become a successful politician.

    In the heated Bull Moose campaign of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt on one occasion frankly avowed that he would show the Republican bosses that “they can’t do this to me,” referring to the steamroller methods used to prevent his obtaining the Republican nomination for President. I knew Colonel Roosevelt fairly well, and I recognized his faults. But there is not the slightest question in my mind that desire to be of public service in the troubled years preceding the World War was dominant with him, although it was mixed with a human determination to get back at his political enemies. In his letter to his friend, Catiline merely shows himself a typical politician.

    Undoubtedly Catiline was a man of violent nature. “If a fire is lighted against me,” he is quoted by Cicero as saying, “I shall put it out, not by water, but by pulling down the roof of things.”

    That he regarded himself as the leader of the helpless masses is shown by another remark that Cicero has preserved:

    There are two bodies in the state. One is feeble with a feeble head. [Here he was referring to the oligarchy.] The other is strong but headless. While I live this strong body shall never lack a head while it deserves one.

    This boast might have come from any turbulent leader of the cause of the oppressed in recent times — from John Brown, of Osawatomie, for instance.

    A speech of Catiline to his followers, quoted by Sallust, shows the underlying bitterness among the people to which he was appealing. “Everything,” he says,

    is monopolized by a proud and insolent oligarchy; power, riches, honors are in the hands of the few, or scantily dealt out among their creatures, at their will and pleasure. To us they have left nothing but disgrace, contempt, and danger, the terror of prosecutions, and the pangs of gripping poverty…We have beggary at home, a load of debts abroad; desolation before our eyes, and not the smallest hope of relief to assuage our misery. In a word, the breath we draw is all that is left for us.

    A case may be made for Catiline on the assumption that he turned to conspiracy and violence only after he had lost hope for reform through political action, as he became convinced that he never could win a consulship.

    In his campaign for consul in the summer of 63 BC his formal program is not clear, and it is quite possible he had none. It has been suggested that he urged the stock left-wing proposal of the time — cancellation of the general indebtedness, which Cicero mentioned, called in Rome the “clean slate” policy. But this would not have reached the mass of the people. It seems more likely that he was appealing to all the discontented elements while pledging himself to nothing in particular. But if he did not declare openly for the clean slate policy, he soon was suspected of intending this and perhaps even more violent measures.

    In any event his campaign was disturbing enough to frighten businessmen and precipitate the panic of 63 B.C. The foundation for it had been laid by the speculation in land and the widespread indebtedness just mentioned. Loans were generally called and there was a flight of gold from Italy.

    The discontent from the depression had given Catiline his chance. The panic caused his defeat. It rallied all the conservatives against him. The government acted vigorously to stop the flight of gold, as the United States government acted under similar circumstances in March 1933. An embargo was put on gold exports.

    At the same time the help of Q. Considius, one of the leading financiers of Rome, was enlisted. He held a position in the financial world very like that of the first J. P. Morgan in Wall Street. His outstanding loans at this time were in the neighborhood of three-quarters of a million dollars. An announcement from him that he would extend credit at easy rates was important enough to receive a vote of thanks from the Senate. The combined action of government and financier allayed the panic.

    The parallel to what happened in the United States in the Panic of 1907 is close. Frenzied speculation had led to a severe financial strain. In October of that year when the Knickerbocker Trust Company of New York failed and the National Bank of America went down, a wave of fear swept the country. In the New York Stock Exchange there was a day of terror and nobody would lend. The interest rate shot up to 150 per cent.

    President Theodore Roosevelt sent his Secretary of the Treasury to confer with the leading New York bankers. J. Pierpont Morgan sat at the head of the table. While we have no record, we may guess that the same thing happened in the Roman Forum in 63 BC, with Considius taking charge. Under Morgan’s direction a pool of twenty-five million dollars was raised to be lent at 10 percent. Gradually the situation was worked out and the panic subsided.

    Doubtless the disappearance of Catiline contributed to the reassurance of business. Defeated in the consular election, he had planned an armed revolt. Evidence was difficult to obtain. His followers were held by a strange magnetism. A reward of ten thousand dollars offered by the government failed to produce a traitor who would betray the plot.

    But the net was closing around the conspirators. Catiline left Rome and joined a band that had rallied to his standard north of Florence. It was made up of evicted farmers and distressed ex-servicemen; some three thousand under arms. Here early in 62 BC he fell in a battle with government troops sent to quell the insurrection. So desperate were his men that not a single free Roman among them survived. “A fine man wasted,” is the verdict of a sober English historian, W. E. Heitland.

    The panic left its aftermath of trouble. Presumably in Rome as in New York there were concerns that were too heavily involved to survive. But a few months later Roman conditions were greatly relieved by large additions to the gold reserve. Pompey came home with millions in precious metals that he had expropriated in his successful campaigns in Asia. As a result of the easy money now available the situation became normal.

    Meanwhile a revolutionary change had been taking place in one arm of the government. Its significance nobody had understood, least of all its originator. It ended the Republic and brought in the Empire. The old citizen army was replaced by a semiprofessional army on a new basis.

    At the close of the second century BC, Italy was threatened with invasion from the north. Marius of North African fame was repeatedly elected consul to deal with the danger, which he did with complete success. As consul he was empowered to raise the necessary troops. He realized the difficulty of conscripting enough soldiers from the depleted farms of Italy and of whipping the raw farmers into a disciplined armed force. He called for volunteers.

    Veterans, unemployed, and unattached men flocked in, attracted by the prospect of adventure and the rewards that a liberal general might offer from successful campaigns. Thus was created a volunteer army of mercenaries who looked to their commanders rather than to the state. Thereafter until the reorganization of the army under Augustus, the government bowed to the general who could control the soldiers.

    In Rome’s situation, large armies were required for the frontiers, and no civil power could long stand against an ambitious commander of the legions. In the last years of the Republic the young Octavian, whom we know better by his later title of Augustus, insisted that the Senate authorize his election as consul while he was still under legal age. Objection was raised. But the officer who bore the commander’s message threw off his soldier’s jacket and showed the hilt of his sword. “This shall do the deed if you will not,” he exclaimed.

    The Senate temporized and then yielded when it learned that Octavian was marching on Rome with eight legions. Nearly two thousand years later another Roman government was to capitulate before another march on Rome headed by the man who was to become the Duce (Leader), as Octavian was to become the Princeps (First Citizen).

    For eighty years and more the business interests, except for short intervals, had more or less dominated the government. Under their direction Rome had been defended from fierce attacks from without, and as a result of pressure from them its boundaries had been extended. They had proved much more successful in foreign affairs than in domestic.

    Today we may recognize, as contemporaries could not, two major defects in their administration. While the capital, in spite of outbursts of savagery in the civil wars, had become increasingly a centre of civilized living, this was confined to the well-to-do. The condition of the impoverished masses had been ignored except for the providing of relief and free amusements. Doubtless, and perhaps naturally, the average Roman businessman felt that these provisions fulfilled the state’s full duty to the less fortunate.

    $18 $15

    The second defect proved speedily disastrous to the Republic. The problems involved in creating the new mercenary army were not appreciated. Even if they had been, the men in control lacked the statesmanship for their solution. With Marius and the succeeding holders of high commands, the supreme authority was passing to the master of the legions.

    Out of the conflicting ambitions of military leaders emerged a great soldier and administrator. It was the destiny of Julius Caesar to bring western Europe into the orbit of civilization and to prepare the way for the Empire. On January 11, 49 BC, when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the long history of the Republic was approaching the end.

  13. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Assuming that we have only spent 400 Billion of the 787 Billion “stimulus package”, and also assuming that it really did “create or save 2 million jobs” the cost per job to the taxpayers is $200,000.

    That seems pretty steep, don’t ya think?

    Private business can hire a new guy for 45k/year, and even when you add in taxes, benefits, training costs, and the like, it still comes out to WAY LESS than $200,000 for private business to create or save a job.

    Government efficiency at it’s finest, as usual.

    • No wonder the Chinese government is dumping US Treasuries at the rate of 10’s of billions……

  14. Richmond Spitfire says:

    States Can Take Away Some Gun Rights During an Emergency?
    News by Mark Berman
    Opposing Views (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/states-can-take-away-some-gun-rights-during-an-emergency)

    Residents of King, North Carolina were stunned earlier this month when a record snowstorm hit the southern state. But they were doubly stunned when local officials declared a snow emergency, and people lost some of their gun rights.

    According to North Carolina statute 14-288.7, when a municipality declares a state of emergency in which “public safety authorities are unable to … afford adequate protection for lives or property, it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon.”

    A report in WorldNetDaily.com says North Carolina is not the only state with such rules on the books.

    Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, for example, states that “no person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency” unless that person is defending their life or property from immediate attack.

    Bills are pending in Colorado and Georgia which would strike “firearms” from a list of items of which the governor may suspend sale, dispensing and transportation during a declared emergency.
    Gun advocates are concerned about these laws.

    “Personally, I think [North Carolina’s] law is unconstitutional to start with and stupid public policy,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of Second Amendment Foundation, told WND. “This move in North Carolina may violate that [federal law], and we may look into that. We’re looking at seeing how we can stop them from doing this in the future.

    “This is the first time I’ve seen it done for a snow emergency,” he continued. “It surprised us that they did this. There was no reason to do it, nothing to trigger it. No one was doing anything wrong.”

    The King, N.C., state of emergency was in effect for less than 24 hours over a Sunday evening, until roadways could be cleared.

    No only is our Federal Government treasonous against the “People”, localities are treasonous.

  15. WASHINGTON — Determined to have a deficit commission with or without Congress’ backing, President Obama plans to announce on Thursday that he is establishing a panel similar to — although weaker than– the one lawmakers rejected.

    Former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson would lead the panel, a senior administration official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president’s executive order creating the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform had not been announced.

    The deficit spiked to an extraordinary $1.4 trillion last year and could top that figure this year as the struggling economy puts a big dent in tax revenues. Even worse from the perspective of economists and deficit hawks, the medium-term deficit picture is for deficits to hit around $1 trillion a year for the foreseeable future.

    Obama and his economic team have said repeatedly that this is not sustainable. He told lawmakers during his State of the Union address that he would go around their vote and appoint a version of a deficit commission.”

    Ok, call me stupid…or, perhaps I am just a retired Army Colonel who knows nothing…..but

    Obama is creating a deficit commission to determine why there is a deficit that he and Congress created. Isn’t that tantamount to writing a $20 check with $10 in the bank and then asking daddy why you are short $10 bucks at the end of the day?

    Have I missed something here?

    • Move over, Ray, I am coming to chop wood for you. It seems to work off your frustrations.

    • The fact that Erskine Bowles is involved pretty much says it all. He announced last Friday he was retiring from UNC-CH, so wonder when Obama decided to form this “deficit” commission and tapped him specifically. Since Bowles can’t win a political race in NC, he’s counting on someone else’s coattails for another appointment – like he did with Clinton.

      One more banker in Washington – surprise, surprise….

      • Exactly Kelly. Living in Durham and so close to UNC I have watched him for years. Not to be trusted.

    • “Bowles is also a member of the board of directors of General Motors, Morgan Stanley, and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and serves on the North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose.”

      Eeeeeeek! Board of directors for GM and he’s heading up the “deficit” commission. Can this possibly be a conflict of interest?????

    • I wonder how many years and how many millions of dollars, if not billions, for these idiots to understand that you have a deficit when you spend more than you bring in. There conclusions will of course be recommendations on how to bring in more money. Which will be coming out of our pockets! 👿

      Peace!

      G!

      • Here’s a silver lining to that turd: soon the goose that lays the golden eggs will dead. Then something will have to give. Of course, it’ll suck, just like a good colonic cleansing 😉 This country needs an enema!

        Don’t you feel better now G-Man???
        I shouldn’t tease you, cuz that’s mean, and you’re nice. I’m just tryin’ to make you laugh cuz its that or cry isn’t it?

        • Shoot CP,

          I’d take an enema to get rid of these morons. But, yes, laughter is always welcome!

          G!

          • If only cleaning out DC were as simple as that. Hmmm….could be a new slogan for the Tea Partiers. They can have a march on DC where everyone carries a sign with a picture of The Joker and the words “This Country needs an enema, and we’re just the teabaggers to do it”.

            Can you imagine the Lamestream media’s coverage? LOL!

  16. Judy Sabatini says:

    February 17, 2010 01:29 PM EST by Elizabeth MacDonald
    Facts About Jobs and the Stimulus Program

    The Administration is quick to point out again today that it inherited this recession.

    Which is what most every president has said over the last two decades, and despite the fact that the president and vice presidents were sitting Senators in the US Congress when the housing and credit bubbles were ballooning (the vice president has been in government since the Nixon Administration).

    It’s questionable whether you can blame the economic mess on the White House.

    But has the White House delivered on its stimulus promises of lowering the unemployment rate and creating 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year, much less its promises of cutting the deficit, already growing at record levels not seen in the eight years of the Reagan or George W. Bush Administrations?

    With the expert help of Fox News analyst James Farrell, we found out the following. Did you know that since the Administration’s stimulus was enacted:

    Unemployment Has Risen

    * The unemployment rate has increased since the stimulus bill was enacted, by +1.5% to 9.7%, from 8.2% in Feb 2009.

    * The number of people who are unemployed increased by 2.1 million, from 12.71 million in February 2009 to 14.8 million in January 2010.

    * The number of states/federal districts with an unemployment rate of 10% or higher increased from Feb 7, 2009 to December 17, 2009 (latest data).

    * Payroll employment decreased by 3.3 million (132.823 million in Feb 09; 129.527 million in Jan 2010). Private payrolls are at levels not seen since 1999.

    * The construction sector lost 810,000 jobs (6,435,000 in Feb 2009/5,625,000 in Jan 2010).

    * The manufacturing sector lost 837,000 jobs (12,377,000 in Feb 2009/11,540,000 in Jan 2010).

    * Employment in the federal government (excluding the Post Office) increased by 113,200 (2.068 million in Feb 09 / 2.181 million in Jan 2010). The number of federal, state and local employees is now about twice the number in US manufacturing jobs.

    * Most jobs supported by the stimulus so far are public employees.

    Stimulus Costs Have Risen

    * The CBO raised its estimated cost of the bill from $787 billion to $862 billion – a $75 billion increase, due to more spending on things like unemployment benefits and food stamps.

    Stimulus Money Yet to Be Spent

    * About 1/3 of the stimulus has been paid out so far.

    * Only about 11% of stimulus infrastructure spending has been paid out.

    * About 58% of stimulus spending so far has gone to government and social services.

    * Nearly $130 billion went towards tax cuts, Medicaid assistance for the states, unemployment and food stamps.

    * $112 billion of 2009 stimulus spending went to balance state budgets.

    * Administering the stimulus cost $700 million in 2009

    * More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget.

    * A dozen Republicans requested stimulus funding for their districts, the Wall Street Journal reports, showing the fiscal hawks have flown the coop and adult supervision in DC is eroding.

    Administration Backs Away from Jobs “Saved”

    * The Administration has quietly backed down from its assertion that the stimulus “created or saved” 640,000 jobs, due to unreliable or fraudulent data.

    “There is a range of significant reporting and quality issues that need to be addressed” in these statistics, said a November 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office.

    *Earl Devaney, chairman of the Administration’s Recovery Board which oversees this data, testified before Congress that the 640,000 jobs saved or created “may not be the correct number.”

    Devaney has also informed the Oversight and Government Reform Committee that his department will now report jobs funded rather than created or saved on the White House’s official site counting jobs attributed to the stimulus.

    * The November 2009 GAO audit found widespread discrepancies in the reports that the government collected from local officials. These officials were charged with reporting back to the government on how the stimulus program “created or saved” jobs in their areas.

    Widespread massaging of the data was found. For example, state and local officials counted planned raises to staffers towards the jobs saved data.

    For instance, if a workforce was, say, going to get a 10% raise in salary, officials would take the total number of workers and multiply it by 10% to come up with a new jobs saved number.

    The GAO found other discrepancies:

    – 3,978 reports showed that numerous districts received no stimulus dollars, but somehow officials reported more than 50,000 jobs created or saved

    – 9,247 reports showed no full time jobs were created, but somehow did show they received $965 million in stimulus money. For example, 935 jobs at Southwest Georgia Community Action Council were reportedly saved due to the stimulus–but only 508 people work there.

    – According to Illinois state officials, some of their local education authorities “had double-counted the number of positions, attributing the positions to both state fiscal year 2009 (which ended on June 30, 2009) and fiscal year 2010 (beginning July 1, 2009), in part because the reporting period covered both of the state’s fiscal years,” the GAO found.

    – Despite the requirement that “jobs created or retained” were to be expressed as full-time employees, “data were reported inconsistently” by recipients, “with varying and often inconsistent application of what was a full-time employee,” the GAO said.

    Due to the problems with the reporting of jobs “created or saved,” the GAO recommended that the OMB make its calculation methodology less subjective, “more explicit” and ensure that recipients report on only full-time equivalent jobs.

    A December 18, 2009 memo to stimulus money recipients from the director of the OMB noted that they were scrapping the “saved or created” reporting due to the GAO concerns about the problems with this subjective figure:

    “…recipients will no longer be required to make a subjective judgment on whether jobs were created or retained as a result of the Recovery Act. Instead, recipients will more easily and objectively report on jobs funded with Recovery Act dollars. This update aligns with GAO’s recommendation to ‘[make] more explicit that ‘jobs created or retained’ are to be reported as hours worked and paid for with Recovery Act funds.’”

    Federal Government Assistance Rose

    * Since stimulus was enacted, monthly federal government expenditures on Medicaid have increased by 29% (from $17 billion in Jan 09 to $22 billion in Jan 2010).

    *The number of people receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) increased by 5.672 million – a 17.3% increase (32.556 million in Feb 09; 38.183 million in 11/09).

    *The amount federal government spends for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) each month increased by $1.404 billion – a 37.91% increase ($3.703 billion in Feb 09; $5.107 billion in 11/09).

    US Debt Has Increased

    * US public debt outstanding increased by $1.562 trillion – a 14.47% increase ($10.790 trillion on 2/17/09; $12.352 trillion on 2/12/10).

    * Since the recession began, China increased the amount of US debt it owned by $11.2 billion ($744.2 billion in 2/09; $755.4 billion in 12/09), but lately it has been decreasing its Treasury purchases to instead spend money on its own economic problems.

    * Foreign governments have increased their ownership of US debt by $453 billion – a 14% increase ($3.161 trillion in 2/09; $3.614 trillion in 12/09).

    Foreclosures

    * Foreclosure filings have increased +9%, with five million homes headed for foreclosure.

    Banks Still Failing

    * 143 banks to date have failed.

    Read more: http://emac.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/17/facts-about-jobs-and-the-stimulus-program/#ixzz0fpbWd9po

  17. Education: Too Important for a Government Monopoly

    The government-school establishment has said the same thing for decades: Education is too important to leave to the competitive market. If we really want to help our kids, we must focus more resources on the government schools.

    But despite this mantra, the focus is on something other than the kids. When The Washington Post asked George Parker, head of the Washington, D.C., teachers union, about the voucher program there, he said: “Parents are voting with their feet. … As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we’ll have teachers to represent.”

    How revealing is that?

    Since 1980, government spending on education, adjusted for inflation, has nearly doubled. But test scores have been flat for decades.

    Today we spend a stunning $11,000 a year per student — more than $200,000 per classroom. It’s not working. So when will we permit competition and choice, which works great with everything else? I’ll explore those questions on my Fox Business program tomorrow night at 8 and 11 p.m. Eastern time (and again Friday at 10 p.m.).

    The people who test students internationally told us that two factors predict a country’s educational success: Do the schools have the autonomy to experiment, and do parents have a choice?

    Parents care about their kids and want them to learn and succeed — even poor parents. Thousands line up hoping to get their kids into one of the few hundred lottery-assigned slots at Harlem Success Academy, a highly ranked charter school in New York City. Kids and parents cry when they lose.

    Yet the establishment is against choice. The union demonstrated outside Harlem Success the first day of school. And President Obama killed Washington, D.C.’s voucher program.

    This is typical of elitists, who believe that parents, especially poor ones, can’t make good choices about their kids’ education.

    Is that so? Ask James Tooley about that (http://tinyurl.com/ydgln9z). Tooley is a professor of education policy who spends most of every year in some of the poorest parts of Africa, India and China. For 10 years, he’s studied how poor kids do in “free” government schools and — hold on — private schools.
    That’s right. In the worst slums, private for-profit schools educate kids better than the government’s schools do.

    Tooley finds as many as six private schools in small villages. “The majority of (poor) schoolchildren are in private school, and these schools outperform government schools at a fraction of the teacher cost,” he says.

    Why do parents with meager resources pass up “free” government schools and sacrifice to send their children to private schools? Because, as one parent told the BBC, the private owner will do something that’s virtually impossible in America’s government schools: replace teachers who do not teach.

    As in America, the elitist establishment in those countries scoffs at the private schools and the parents who choose them. A woman who runs government schools in Nigeria calls such parents “ignoramuses.”

    But that can’t be true. Tooley tested kids in both kinds of schools, and the private-school students score better.

    To give the establishment its best shot, consider Head Start, which politicians view as sacred. The $166 billion program is 45 years old, so it’s had time to prove itself. But guess what: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently:arrow: found no difference in first-grade test results between kids who went through Head Start and similar kids who didn’t (http://tinyurl.com/ylcmb92). President Obama has repeatedly promised to “eliminate programs that don’t work,” but he wants to give Head Start a billion more dollars. The White House wouldn’t explain this contradiction to me.

    Andrew Coulson, head of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Reform, said, “If Head Start (worked), we would expect now, after 45 years of this program, for graduation rates to have gone up; we would expect the gap between the kids of high school dropouts and the kids of college graduates to have shrunk; we would expect students to be learning more. None of that is true.”

    Choice works, and government monopolies don’t. How much more evidence do we need?

    John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network.

  18. Judy Sabatini says:
  19. Judy Sabatini says:

    Obama = Failure

    By Jon Kraushar

    President Obama’s attempts at leadership so far are a study in failure. Is it any wonder that a majority of Americans thinks he doesn’t deserve a second term?

    America is at war, militarily and politically. The current situation we finds ourselves in with our commander-in-chief reminds me of a May 2007 article called “A Failure In Generalship,” in which author, Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, writes “Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war.”

    Let me repeat. Our nation is at war, militarily and politically—and that’s where passion, probability and policy are so important for the president. As commander-in-chief President Obama is our top general and he also serves as the political “general” of the Democratic Party. By Yingling’s standards, Obama’s attempts at leadership so far are a study in failure: a failure in generalship.

    Yingling, who served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm, writes, “The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.”

    More than a year into his presidency, Obama has made that error on a number of “great conflicts” involving national and economic security. The toll it is taking is reflected in a new CNN poll in which 52 percent of Americans say the president doesn’t deserve reelection in 2012.
    Near the end of January, a Rasmussen poll reported that only “thirty-eight percent of voters say the United States and its allies are winning the war on terror. Numbers that bleak haven’t been recorded in consecutive surveys since the middle of 2007.” A new military offensive in Afghanistan could improve that assessment, but what is especially galling the public is how the Obama administration is treating captured terrorists. In a Quinnipiac University poll, “American voters say 59-35 percent that 9/11 terrorism suspects should be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts.” After the arrest of the “Christmas Day bomber”—who was read his Miranda rights, assigned a lawyer, and then stopped talking—fifty-eight percent of American voters in a Rasmussen poll said waterboarding and other torture techniques should be used on the suspect to get information: another rebuke to what Obama supports.

    A recent Gallup poll found that, “sixty percent of Americans say President Barack Obama has not spent enough time on economic problems.” But putting that in perspective, a Rasmussen poll a few weeks ago determined that “fifty-eight percent of voters also believed the government has too much influence over the economy.” A scant nine percent believed that Obama’s proposed three-year freeze on discretionary government spending “would reduce the deficit a lot.” And fifty-eight percent “opposed the president’s health care reform bill in Congress.”

    Yingling continues, “To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means.”

    Once again, so far Obama is a study in failure: a failure in generalship. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll stated that, “only 35 percent [of Americans] say they’re confident the president has the right set of goals and policies, and 54 percent believe he has accomplished ‘very little’ or ‘only some’ of his first-year office goals.” A Marist College survey of registered voters has Obama at forty-four percent job approval, the lowest of his presidency.

    Yingling writes that, “However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers.”

    This is Obama’s challenge today. He is aggressively selling his supposedly new policy prescriptions to win the wars for economic recovery and against terrorism. But most of them resemble policies he came into office peddling, and the American people are not buying them.

    Obama has three years left in his term and the political and military wars he is fighting will change considerably in their outcomes and scope. Will he discover new ways to build alliances, outflank enemies and achieve victories?

    One day it’s down for Obama when moderate Democratic Senator Evan Bayh says he won’t run for reelection, and the next day it’s up for Obama when the Taliban’s top military commander is reported captured in Pakistan.

    Whether the president can improve on his current record of failure will depend on three variables that we should closely watch: passion, probability and policy.

    Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at http://www.jonkraushar.net.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      Only 6% of the population actually believes that the stimulus bill has created or saved any jobs whatsoever. Contrast that with a poll back in 2002 where 7% of those surveyed thought that Elvis was still alive somewhere….

      🙂

  20. Judy Sabatini says:

    Bill Withers Lean On Me

  21. Judy Sabatini says:

    Green Day Good Riddence I hope You Have The Time Of Your Life

  22. Check it out. I don’t think it’ll gain legs. If it does, the
    government will come down on it like a ton of bricks…

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/02/17/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry
    6217403.shtml

  23. Scattered Internet here in the third world…

    Hope my lefty allies are holding down the fort for me.

    Just wanted to mention that – honest to god – there is a real pirate ship in the bay. They tell me it’s operating as a theme restaurant, but I know my friends at SUFA have tracked me down.

    Shame about bayh.. Always liked him..

    Best to all,
    Mathius

    • I’d stay away from those pirate ships….it is probably a rum runner. You feel fine in the early evening when you head out to sea, but during the trip you amazingly become a good singer, best friends with everyone and feel like crap the next morning.

      Dang those pirates!

  24. Judy Sabatini says:

    Hi USW

    I noticed you took off Latrine One off you blog sites, and I was just wondering why. Doesn’t matter to me if it was my cousin or not, just curious.

    Thanks

    Judy

    P.S. Hope all is going well in the USW household.

    • That is weird Judy. Because I didn’t mean to take it off. I must have done something wrong when I added one the other night. Can you re-send me the link and I will fix it back again?

      USW

      • Judy Sabatini says:

        Hi USW

        As far as I know, this is it. I didn’t have it in my book marks, all I did, was to type in Latrine One, and this is the link I got. I don’t talk to Mike that much anymore since I haven’t worked there since Oct.

        Hope you’re doing well.

        Judy

        http://latrineone.com/

  25. Something that popped into the e-mail box today. I have not taken the time to check for accuracy! 🙂

  26. Saw this crawling on Fox last night and had to check it out. Just posting for comments….

    South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state.

    As the Palmetto Scoop first reported, Pitts, a Republican, introduced legislation this month banning “the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin” in South Carolina.

    In an interview, Pitts told Hotsheet that he believes that “if the federal government continues to spend money at the rate it’s spending money, and if it continues to print money at the rate it’s printing money, our economic system is going to collapse.”

    “The Germans felt their system wouldn’t collapse, but it took a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread in the 1930s,” he said. “The Soviet Union didn’t think their system would collapse, but it did. Ours is capable of collapsing also.”

    The lawmaker believes that a shift to an economy based on gold and silver coins would give the state a “base of currency” should that collapse come. As one expert told the Scoop, however, his bill would likely be ruled unconstitutional because it “violates a perfectly legal and Constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that federal reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private.”

    In addition, since gold and silver regularly fluctuate in value, they could not easily function as stable currency.

    But Pitts maintains that his state is better off with something he can hold in his hand and barter with as opposed to federal currency, which he described to the Scoop as “paper with ink on it.” He says he resents what he considers the federal government’s intrusions on states’ rights.

    Though he did not offer a timeframe, Pitts told Hotsheet that he anticipates a nationwide economic collapse “if our federal government continues the course it’s been traveling under the previous administration and this administration.”

  27. v. Holland says:

    Funny, where my son works there was a 5% across the board cut in salaries awhile back-The unions really need a reality check.

    February 16, 2010 03:46 PM EST by John Stossel
    What Union Leaders Really Think

    Today’s NY Post reveals a moment of honesty from a NY union official.

    Albany Police Officers Union President Chris Mesley says that, regardless of the faltering economy, a no-raise new contract is unacceptable.

    And to hell with the public.

    “I’m not running a popularity contest here,” Mesley said. “If I’m the bad guy to the average citizen . . . and their taxes have go up to cover my raise, I’m very sorry about that, but I have to look out for myself and my membership.”

    Mesley added: “As the president of the local, I will not accept ‘zeroes.’ If that means . . . ticking off some taxpayers, then so be it.”

    In the real world, when bubbles pop and markets contract, everyone has to take a haircut. In the world of politicians and unions, political muscle wins, regardless of economic circumstance.

    Other unions are just as bad. When mayor Bloomberg proposed to increase teacher salaries by “just” 2 percent last month, the UFT responded, “The Mayor’s proposal is simply unacceptable… The UFT will continue – as we have always done – to work to protect the schools of New York City.”

    But the teacher’s union recently turned down $700 million in federal funding for NY schools teachers because the extra money would have been paid based on performance.

    The NY Daily News reports:

    “[T]he union submitted a document stating, “Test score data cannot be used for teacher evaluation or individual compensation.” [Union president] Mulgrew also demanded extra arbitration for teachers found ineffective under a new grading system.”

    In other words: whatever you do, don’t change our insane work rules, and don’t make it possible to get rid of ineffective teachers.

    On my FBN show Thursday, I’ll cover more of the failings of the government education monopoly.

    Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/16/what-union-leaders-really-think/?action=late-new#ixzz0ftQlTzgr

  28. From Fox News this morning: Despite calls for bipartisanship — most notably in an unceremonious retirement announcement by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow amendments to a jobs bill he substituted last week in place of a popular measure that had won across-the-aisle support.

    A spokesman to the leader told Fox News on Wednesday that Reid will allow tax provisions in subsequent legislation passed after his $15 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, which Reid swapped in to replace an $85 billion bill crafted by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

    Reid jettisoned the Baucus-Grassley bill in a surprise move that provoked bipartisan head-scratching and even a bit of outrage. Disdain for the process by which Reid offered his replacement measure put the leader on the defensive, and Reid was forced to call the Senate’s newest Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and others to try and win votes for his pared down, incremental bill.

    But Republicans are at a loss about why the majority leader bailed on the first bill, and they’re unlikely to be pacified by efforts to reach out on his measure.

    “I just don’t get it,” a senior Senate GOP leadership aide told Fox News. “Reid is literally snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory here.”

    D13 muses: Obama has a chance to make a good mark, here, and decry this move by Reid. He dumps a bipartisan bill for his own PARTISAN bill with backing from Boxer saying that they will include other parts in later bills. Ok, Mr. President, time to step up and call Reid on this one and demand a Bi Partisan bill and use the veto threat to do it. Get some guts, Mr Obama.

  29. Here is some more cheery news from Fox

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/18/study-states-trillion-pension-gap/?test=latestnews

    States are short over 1 trillion in meeting retirement plan obligations.

    We are so screwed.

    Top O’ the Mornin to All
    JAC

    • Like Social Security, most pension plans are underfunded, whether they are public or private. Public plans are worse for the reasons in the article but private plans can’t be far behind.

      Pensions are a thing of the past. Companies may offer defined contribution plans in the future, if that, but there will never be defined benefit plans ever again. These legacy costs killed the automotive industry, steel industry, airlines, and other established businesses. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which took over the airline pension plans and steel pension plans (plus others) is way underfunded.

      This collapse cannot be stopped.

      • Bird

        I wonder how many Americans realize that many of the big pension funds have been placed under Federal Obligation?

        Yes folks, we are ALL going to pay for the promises made by those funds, whether federal, state or private.

        What happened with your Texas job interiview?

        • FEderal Obligation???? When did that happen? Now I know why my boyfriend is convinced he’ll get his money and thinks Utopia is just around the corner. Sheesh. I sure missed out on the feed trough, didn’t I? No wonder he supports Big Government.

          • Cyndi P

            Start reading here. Dig around on this site and you’ll get some idea.

            http://www.pbgc.gov/about/operation.html

            Then try google for voluntary employee health benefits trusts???? Special trusts established to handle life and health insurance. UAW transfered all to one of these, allowing GM, Chrysler and Ford to move their health benefits obligations to the trust. Which is run by the …………… BANK.

            Now who guarnatees the trust?…………Bank. Who guarantees the bank?……..FED Govt.

        • JAC:

          I go to Texas next week for an on site interview. I hope I get a job offer. I like where I live but the job is needed and we know we have to get out of MI. The unemployment is 25% in the county where I live and it will only get worse. We are already living with depression level unemployment.

          Hope all is well with you.

          • Bird

            I forgot to post last week that I saw a job open in Montana Govt. In Helena I think.

            I recall it was at least somewhat related to your experience.

            You might want to check out the MT.gov sites for job openings. Also check out the Universities as they have openinigs in these types of jobs from time to time.

            If you gotta leave Michigan you might as well live where its beautiful. Hell, your already acclimated to winter. LOL

            Things have suddenly become a little, how should we say, challenging. Next few months are going to be very interesting.

            Keep yer powder dry.
            JAC

            • JAC:

              Thanks for the job tip. I just applied for the position but I am probably considered over qualified. It never hurts to apply and see what happens.

              Live free or die.

              Birdman

  30. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/stiglitz-washington-should-stop-worrying-u.s.-has-%22no-problem%22-paying-off-its-debts-425337.html?tickers=tlt,tbt,uup,spy,dia,%5Egspc,%5Edji

    In the tradition of recently completely stupid, idiotic, and even fraudulent Nobel Prize winners, I give you one who may be the stupidest of them all!

    The US Government gets absolutely ZERO ROI (Return of Investment) from the money that it spends, no matter what it is spent on. The idea that it would somehow be possible for the government to somehow get 6% ROI on government spending is so completely ludicrous that I don’t think this guy ever left a college campus in his life. He may possibly even have been good friends with Timothy Leary… or is that Ram Das…

  31. USW

    Responding to your comments from above.

    USWeapon said
    February 18, 2010 at 1:14 am
    Explain what you mean formula for enslavement. I would think that when they determine to take the money but only when there are no future strings attached that they are precluding that, but I have a feeling you meant it differently than the way that I am taking it.

    RESPONSE

    First of all, there is no such thing as Federal money with NO strings attached. What the Governors rejected was mandatory changes in State programs that committed them to future financial obligations at the state level.

    The Formula for Enslavement is quite simple. As long as the People believe they should recover their fair share then they “empower” the politicians to provide more thus driving the need to recover more “share”. It is an ever increasing demand for more. The acceptance of Federal funds creates “expectations” among the people for certain services or conditions. Thus assuring the political nightmare of cutting those “benefits”. Yet another “string” not seen by most of us.

    Furthermore, all money taken now is borrowed against the future. This is the biggest “string” of all. It obligates ALL of US born in the future to pay that debt. Our future generations are born into debt and thus servitude. It ties us to the Federal trough for eternity. In this respect accepting Federal funds while deficit spending is IMMORAL in my opinion. Because it is a taking of freedom from generations not yet born.

    We are always talking about how to change the system. Voting is the primary point of discussion. But the fact is that if WE stopped taking the money and other “protections” the Politicians would have no power.

    While the Federal Govt can take our freedoms by imposing its regulatory laws upon us it is primarily through the Funding mechanism that it controls State and thus local behavior, and more importantly ties each of us to the “benevolence” of the Federal monarch in perpetuity. It is the mechanism of our complete servitude.

    The irony is that WE hold the key to our own shackles in our hand. Yet we do not use it. Instead we hold out the other hand for more “fair share”.

    When we stop taking the money the Politicians have no basis for making promises to get us more money. They will be powerless over us because then we can evaluate them against what they TAKE from us rather than what they GIVE us.

    • Buck The Wala says:

      JAC,

      Trying to follow along here to better understand your views.

      You say: “But the fact is that if WE stopped taking the money and other ‘protections’ the Politicians would have no power.”

      I take it that for your plan to work it would require the vast majority of Americans to give up their personal benefits, let alone for states, cities, townships, etc. to give up federal benefits as well. What do you recommend doing to achieve this? Are you willing to give up any benefits due you or your family?

      • Buck

        Yes, it requires each of us to take a stand.

        Yes, our family takes no federal or state money that we have control over.

        Not sure what you mean by “benefits due you or your family”. But I have a son who qualifies for Medicaid services. We don’t take those services and refuse to do the paperwork so his school can access the Medicaid funds.

        You use the term “benefits” repeatedly. Are you lumping paychecks with welfare payments?

        To achieve this we have to explain to the American people what the hell is REALLY happening with the economy and their future. Many are already waking up but still blame the politicians. They simply need to realize it is THEM.

        If this effort is combined with voting for the proper people it can cause significant change. This starts at the local level, where elected officials can stop applying for the money.

        If this paradigm shift does not occur then no major lasting change will result, and our experiment with Individual Freedom and Liberty will be doomed to the ash heap of history.

        Hope you are well today, my young lawyer friend.
        JAC

        • Buck The Wala says:

          Gotta give you a lot of credit here for following through. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who may agree with you in theory but won’t give up their own Medicaid or Social Security.

          Of course I’m all for Medicaid and Social Security – do changes need to be made? Clearly. But in theory as you know I believe the government should be providing a safety net – how big that safety net should be (and how big it has become) is a different issue.

          I’m doing well. Been utterly swamped at work the past few days. Can’t stand holiday weekends – just means more work the rest of the week.

          Hope you’re doing well!

          • Buck

            Thanks.

            The problems with “safety nets” is that they are based on arbitray determinations of need first. And in reality, there is no end to need.

            If we as a people want such programs we need to change our way of looking at them. First determine what we can afford without hurting our economic health. What ever that number is determines the size of the net. Now just figure out who gets caught by it.

            Social Security and Medicaid are doomed to failure as currently constructed. They depend on a population that increases at an increasing rate. Or, a large die off of beneficiaries. Aside from the fact they create the setting for the very problem I discussed above.

            If our economy was trully healthy and free to grow to its potential, how many trully needy people do you think there would be? Assume that everyone could keep 90% of all the money they made. Couldn’t Charity take care of the trully needy, just like it did in the past? Wouldn’t most folks be able to save enough for retirement? Especially if inflation is eating away at their future income.

            Connections, Buck, think about all the connections. Don’t just think Safety Nets, think about the entire package and how it all relates. Fed monetary policy is destroying your retirement. When we start to understand these connections We the People might actually be empowered to reclaim our freedom.

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Well, I agree with you to a point — the programs as is are unsustainable. They need to be reviewed and re-engineered to a point. They need to be redirected to best serve those who most need it.

              • Buck

                But with that approach, WHO decides “best serve” and “who most need it”?

                Before you address re-engineering of these programs you must first tackle the entire Federal Debt Load problem, and then the annual deficit problem.

            • I do think people are catching on and willing to give up when they realize these “gifts” aren’t really what we think they are.

              Here in Wisconsin, Rep. Dave Obey, was a major author of the original stimulus and a big earmark guy. That’s his claim to fame, he brings it home to his constituents. His (upcoming election) opponent has done a great job of educating the people that these gifts haven’t been without strings. The Ben Nelson deal was a big eye opener for many, realizing they too have been on the receiving end of these, and if they don’t like it for Nebraska, they shouldn’t like it for themselves.

    • Richmond Spitfire says:

      Dearest JAC,

      You are so correct.

      Alot of Americans look to the Government Body as a benevolent parent that only have their best interests in mind. Accepting “gifts” from the government does nothing but create a thinking process that is detrimental to most able-bodied americans. Mommy and Daddy will take care of me — BUT…I have to follow their rules. It creates nothing but a citizenry of immature children that will never move out of Home Sweet Home.

      Right before Christmas, I was standing in line at Walmart. There was a young lady in front of us attempting to make her purchases. She was very obviously pregnant. She had a Goth appearance, so I knew she was of the type that was a non-conformist.

      She was attempting to make her purchases with either WIC or FDA Food Stamp funds.

      Nothing that she was purchasing really #issed me off as her purchases were foods like cheese, milk, eggs, etc.

      What #issed me off what the fact that she couldn’t buy (with her gov’t funds) what she was attempting to because of the packaging or the type or the size. For example, the cheese she was purchasing was pre-shredded (Walmart Brand). She was only allowed to purchase a “Block” of cheese. The milk she was attempting to purchase was 2% milk….she was only allowed to purchase 4% milk. I can’t remember the other issues related to her attempted purchases.

      It was ridiculous how much she was being controlled by her benevolent parent. I remind you that she wasn’t attempting to buy beer or potato chips. She was attempting to purchase a small amount of healthy foods. She seemed rather embarrassed by the whole thing (as I know I would too).

      Accepting Government assistance is the first step towards Indentured Servitude (if you are hopeful) or Slavery (if you’ve given up).

      JAC…you are correct…if we don’t “Accept” their gifts, the BIG government as we know it today will collapse. Our GOVERNMENT is so big, so large because its primary purpose is to administer the “gift”-giving process and to enforce the rules and regulations surrounding this process.

      My Mom ALWAYS told me that “Nothing is for Free”…She sure was right! Strings come in many shapes and sizes…They can be very obvious (as thick as a rope) or not so obvious (as gossamer as a spider’s web).

      Only you as an individual can determine/evaluate IF the risk of losing your own liberties is valuable enough to make you comfortable for another day, week, month or year.

      Buck brings up a valid point. I DO NOT see the vast majority of American people giving up on that Cow’s easily available teat. By nature, people head in droves towards the “easy” way…

      Big hugs to you!

      RS

      • HI RS,

        This reminds me of my sister’s mortgage. Apparently she received ‘help from Obama’ on her delinquent mortgage. My mom says the interest rate has been reduced to 2% for ten years. Of course the whole familiy thinks Obama has done something great for my sister (except me. I don’t trust the lying #$%^@!). I told my mom that there is no free lunch and that I’d like to read the small print on the mortgage. The subject was changed, so I don’t have any idea what the strings are, though I’m sure they exist.

  32. SUFA

    Apparently to the Progressive Leftists even volunteering is an evil blight brought on by non other than…….

    Check out the comments to a NYTimes piece on retirees volunteering in parks in order to travel and live in places they otherwise couldn’t. And by the way, these volunteer programs got kick started under Carter and Reagan. We called them “camp ground hosts”.

    http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/us/18campers.html

    • Richmond Spitfire says:

      Unbelievable JAC. We need to have a SUFA Pacifer Drive to shove into their mouths…maybe that will quiet their whining for a little bit.

      • Commenter #20

        “Our national and state parks have been understaffed and underfunded for decades, and while it’s great that older folks are stepping in to fill important roles, it is another example of how volunteerism and philanthropy are undermining the purpose of government – to provide services for the common good in an organized, coherent, even-handed manner. So on the one hand, glad that the many talents of older Americans are being put to use, but on the other, one more way the government is “out-sourcing” important work that should be its responsibility.”

        What the hell is wrong with these people?

        • Kathy

          I know.

          I wonder just how badly we are outnumbered by these types.

          Just when I think there is hope these folks start talking and all I can do is hold my head to keep it from exploding.

          Hang in there Kathy, and keep smiling cause it is obviously all just a joke. LOL
          JAC

      • My dear Spitfire

        Perhaps we could send them little cubes of govt cheese to go with there whine????

  33. This certainly doesn’t fit the NY Times stereotype as a left wing paper.

    An insider view of the Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/opinion/18dadkhah.html

    Is that the roar of a pirate I hear in the distance?

    LOL
    JAC

    • I want to hear from our resident Colonel……

    • The guy is trapped in his insanity.

      If his war-battle theory was correct, the US won the war nearly 10 years ago. The enemy has been overwhelmingly defeated in the field.

      He is still stuck there.

      The enemy’s army may have been vanquished, but ‘we’ are losing the war.

      He is primarily a 2nd Generation warrior – maximize firepower on target.

      He is fighting a 4th Generation war – de-legitimization of the State.

      Thus, he is no different the French fighting WW2 with WW1 tactics. Thus, he will lose.

  34. Some headlines…

    Doom, doom, doom

    Jobless claims rise; wholesale inflation surges

    Another economic report shows that the pace of growth starting to slow

    Buy!, refinance!
    Rates on 30-year home loans dip

    Average 30-year fixed mortgage now at 4.93 percent

    Doom, Doom, Doom
    When the cheap store is losing sales, the expensive guys are dead</I.

    Wal-Mart reports holiday sales slump

    Giant retailer posts decline at existing stores, sees challenging quarter

  35. Buck,

    As a champion of Government Health Care and Government Social Services – here is your reality.

    Stare at the following table, which gives population projections for the elderly in the United States, in millions.

    Age Group 2007 2020 2030
    65-74 19.3 32.3 38.8
    75 + 18.6 22.5 33.3

    Reality bites. You have no hope.

    • Buck The Wala says:

      Which is exactly why I have advocated all along for a review of these programs. In their current form, especially given these numbers, the programs are completely unsustainable in the long term. That’s not an argument to eradicate these programs though; it is an argument to review and redirect their focus.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Buck,

        Reviewing and redirecting their focus does nothing to eliminate the numbers problem that BF outlined above.

        EVERYONE who hits 65 is going to DEMAND their social security and their medicare. After all, these people have paid into these programs THEIR ENTIRE WORKING LIVES. It is natural that they are going to EXPECT something back.

        These programs are untouchable. If a Republican ever talks about “reforming” social security and/or medicare, the Republican simply gets blasted by every Democrat in existence, including the entirety of the MSM. If a Democrat ever had the brass to suggest any sort of reforms to social security and/or medicare, he would be promply excommunicated, and then taken out back and shot.

        So, tell me again how we are going to re-direct and re-focus these programs?

        • Buck The Wala says:

          Its not just the Dems — during the health care debates the Repubs were very quick to take on the torch of protecting people’s medicare and social security benefits for their own advantage. Both parties are guilty of this.

          I don’t pretend to know exactly how to resolve the problems facing these programs. All I know is that it is essential that these programs are reviewed and redirected. Will people be upset? Of course, which is why this should be done carefully.

          Don’t just suspend benefits – those currently on should keep receiving. Don’t just suspend benefits for those who will be eligible in the next 5-10 years either — they have (in some cases rightfully) come to expect these benefits as they get ready to retire and determine their finances. Start to extend the age at which benefits are received for those currently under 55, lets say. Start to reduce automatic benefits. Come up with a more need-based formula and slowly switch over. Take a long hard look at inefficiencies in the system and work to eliminate or reduce them. Etc. etc. etc.

          • Buck

            Sounds like you are proposing something similar to GW Bush’s strategy.

            But remember what the D’s did to him when he tried to address the issue?

            Aside from that.

            I don’t see how your tweeking resolves an existing 60+ trillion dollar obligation for which the money has been spent.

            So how do you propose reducing Medical Costs? That is part of the key to addressing the medicare and medicaid issues you know.

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Bush was right in that these programs needed to be adjusted; he was wrong in how he approached it – though to be fair I would need to take a closer look at his exact proposals.

              Both parties have routinely used ‘defending medicare’ for political gain. The Dems lambasted Bush and the Repubs for even discussing it. Then, the Repubs lambasted the Dems for discussing it in relation to health care reform. Its a sick cycle.

              As for reducing medical costs, that is extremely important. Part of it is eliminating inefficiencies where possible. Part of it is reducing the cost of insurance. Part of it is increasing preventative care. Lots of little things to be done!

      • Buck,

        Your sentiment is frustrating.

        You see the numbers – and the impossibility of system to sustain them.

        You stand in awe of such numbers, but hold up your honored hand and proclaim “a miracle shalt be done!”

        … and then muddle along as if said miracle will occur.

        You point to totally inconsequential elimination of ‘inefficiencies’ with no understanding of what constitutes an inefficiency!

        An economic inefficiency can only be determined by an economic measure – that is, price.

        But your plan and system destroys pricing as a measure. Socialized (anything) replaces economic pricing with political pricing.

        Without any measure of economic price, economic efficiency (and that is what we are talking about to be able to sustain economically said services) is… (wait for it…)

        IMPOSSIBLE

        • Buck The Wala says:

          BF, as I said — the system as it CURRENTLY stands is unsustainable. Does that mean that it is impossible to revise the system to be sustainable? Of course not.

          Will eliminating inefficiencies resolve all problems? No, I’ve never argued that. But eliminating inefficiencies will surely save some money that can be better spent.

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            Buck,

            When the government already has a 1.3 TRILLION dollar deficit, eliminating waste, fraud, and inefficiency CANNOT save money that would be better SPENT elsewhere.

            The deficit is 1.3 Trillion, which means WE HAVE ALREADY SPENT 1.3 trillion MORE THAN WE HAD AVAILABLE.

            So, if you cut waste, fraud, and inefficiency by 100 Billion, all you have done is made it so you have only spent 1.2 trillion more than you had, rather than 1.3 trillion.

            It doesn’t acutually result in any extra “spending money”.

            However, a $100 billion reduction of the deficit would be better than nothing anyway. Unfortunately, the usual government response (regardless of party affiliation) is exactly what you said, “LOOK! WE SAVED $100 BILLION, LET’S GO SPEND IT SOMEWHERE ELSE!”

          • Buck

            Could you define “sustainable” as you see it?

            Please address the income and expense part of that definition.

            Then could you explain how the supply/demand functions are to be controlled in a sustainable system?

          • Buck

            And then I will leave you alone for awhile. It seems you are holding the fort on your own today and I don’t want to be accused of piling on.

            LOL 🙂

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Holding down the fort at work today. Holding down the fort here as well. What a day!

              Sustainable to me in the context of medicaid, medicare, social security, etc. is an influx of money equal to or greater than the outflow of money. These programs need to be self-funded, or at least set on a path to become self-funded. Obviously this is not going to happen overnight.

              This is why we need a current review of the program and how to best achieve sustainability, along with regular reassessments.

              • Buck

                Self-funding

                I am not sure what economic training you have received.

                A self-funding model must be predicated on this fact – any good or service artificially priced below its cost will be consumed into exhaustion.

                If your model does not come to grips with this economic fact, you are providing nothing but a further economic disaster.

          • Buck,

            You misunderstand.

            The current situationwhere those that do not pay get the goods – is unsustainable.

            If you wish to change this system, it will mean those that pay get the goods and those that do not pay will not get the goods.

            To pretend that any system other than the latter is sustainable is fantasy, sitting a bit further away then the Easter Bunny.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      It is even worse than you depict here BF.

      Don’t forget, the unproductive are paid to reproduce, while the productive have to have two or three jobs between them to make ends meet, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time or desire to have children.

      As a result, the young in aggregate are becoming less and less productive, which will only burden “the system” from both ends.

      It worked sorta ok when there were tons of productive younger people supporting a smaller number of old people. It ain’t gonna work at all when you have a smaller number of largely UN-productive young people trying to support a bevy of older folks….

      • The solution is to have less old folks. Now you know, the people who don’t have a problem with abortion probably won’t have a problem with old people dying off in large numbers. The least offensive way to do it is thru denial of medical care. I suppose that’s why the D’s and R’s will push through Obama(couldn’t)Care(less). They could never come out and say that we have too many old people. They’ll just quietly ensure that the geezers die off not so slowly. Its much more doable than getting large numbers of procutive young people to support the old ones, isn’t it?

        • Buck The Wala says:

          Come on Cyndi – that’s a bit harsh don’t you think?

          I am all for a woman’s right to choose, but I don’t go around advocating for killing off the elderly – completely different situations.

          Its not a straight-out denial of medical care to the elderly, but there are certain procedures that are not worth providing to certain people based on age and other factors — not sure why this is such a contentious issue though, as insurance companies routinely deny care to people. You call the government out on the fear of ‘rationing health care’ and ‘death panels’ and the like, but do you similarly call out the insurance companies for these actions?

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            Buck,

            Please provide examples of insurance companies currently denying care to the elderly due to high cost and low chance of success.

            As far as I know, they approve all such procedures unless the procedures are deemed “experimental”. (Although I could be wrong, which is why I want to see what you have).

            If you have links to evidence of insurance companies denying care in such a way, I would be very interested to see the actual evidence.

          • Buck,

            You’ve just provided an outstanding demonstration of what I speak. See how insideous that kind of thinking is? You said it yourself: “Its not a straight-out denial of medical care to the elderly, but there are certain procedures that are not worth providing to certain people based on age and other factors”. Hmmm, I wonder what those ‘age and other factors’ will be?

            Where did I defend what the insurance companies? I simply point out the obvious solution. You jumped to the reflexive Left wing response. Where did I mention ‘rationing of health care’ and ‘death panels’? I didn’t, you did. And yet you provide exactly the justification required to implement the solution.

            If you have some time, you should starting reading up on global human population control. Did you know that Big Green has determined Gaia’s human carrying capacity to 500 million humans? I’m sure you’ll agree that it has merit. They’re even now, working on a solution as to what should be done with those 6+ BILLION surplus humans.

            • Cyndi P

              Where did you get the estimate of 500 million carrying capacity?

              Stuff I saw had numbers more like 1 to 1.5 billion.

              Thx
              JAC

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                I believe that the 500 million number is from “The Population Bomb” back in the 1968. I believe that you will find the author of that is still very active in government today!

              • I don’t recall. It was an article from the UK, I think. I’m at work now and can’t be googling strange sites. (I’ve already had my PC picked up IT Security once. I got a virus.) I posted the link for the article here at the time. It may have been there or not. It shouldn’t be too hard to find as these advocates are quite proud of their work.

              • Here’s the 500 milion number

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Cyndi,

              You don’t have to mention ‘death panels’ outright. I can read between the lines. You come out very strongly against government health care, largely because you erroneously believe it will result in killing off the elderly.

              Perhaps I went too far when I asked if you also speak out as strongly against insurance companies for their actions as you are right, you never defended the companies in that posting. But regardless you didn’t answer my question – do you support insurance companies for their routine denials of coverage and claims?

              For Peter as well: Here is a link to an article pointing out some of the instances where companies have denied coverage or claims. I don’t believe any highlighted here are due to age as a factor. But lets be honest with each other – medical experts routinely agree that some procedures due to cost, probability of success, pain, etc. are not recommended for certain people given age or some other illness or other reason. This is a case by case decision that should be made by the doctor and the patient, not by an insurance company and not by the government.

              • Buck

                Da link man, da link!

              • Buck,

                I haven’t researched the insurance companies reasons for denial. I will take my chances with them. At least I can sue. You can’t sue the government.

                Don’t read between the lines. It just confuses you. 😉

                Why is it erroneous to believe the goverment won’t kill off the elderly when the goverment supports killing off the unborn? What’s the difference?

              • Buck The Wala says:

                Taking your chances with the insurance companies isn’t the best bet – its typically in the fine lines of the contract (which by the way is always subject to change).

                There are horror stories of people paying premiums for years and then when they actually need to make a claim they get dropped because of some innocent error on their initial application form for coverage.

                Not to mention the skyrocketing costs of insurance premiums.

                And there’s a huge difference between a valid medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy and actively promoting the killing of someone due to their age or any other factor.

              • Nope. I’ll still take my chances with the insurance companies. I’ll never trust this govermnet. They have lied to me too many times for me to think for a second they have my best interst in mind. Hey if you think so, then by all means, throw yourself on government’s mercy, but leave me out of it.

                Who says killing off the elderly will be ‘actively promoted’? They’ll just make some excuse that people will go along with, and that’ will be that. You’re pretty business like with abortion, so I figure you’d be the same with denial of care to elderly people if the correct excuse is provided. You’ve already mentioned that there are ‘factors’ that should play into not treating the elderly. You’re already there and you don’t even see it.

              • Buck The Wala says:

                I’m not ‘already there’ when it comes to denial of care for the elderly. I don’t see how you could disagree with what I said about it — it is a case by case decision that is best left to the patient and doctor.

              • I’d be very curious to know what insurance company you are dealing with then.

                Every one of them! And credit card companies and banks too!

                All the same thing. Of course the guy who writes the contracts will always write them for his favor! Indeed, I would say I’ve would be hard pressed to find any contract that I have not signed as a boiler plate.

                And come on, an innocent mistake on your part in completing a convulted application entitles the company to hold onto your past years worth of premiums and deny you coverage?

                Read lesson #1.

                Often in such agreements there are these wholesale blank ‘outs’ by the company and throat-choking nooses applied on the customer.

                Simply write in your own outs and nooses. Get them to qualify their outs – such as why a nose bleed when you were 3 years old qualifies as a precondition against a brain tumor.

                You can write in those things – such as “any condition not recognized in my last full medical exam cannot be used to forfeit coverage”

                How is that not egregious and horrendous? There is a huge difference between outright lying to get a better rate (which should result in a denial of coverage) as opposed to a completely benign and innocent mistake.

                Please prove the difference.

                One claim of ‘innocent mistake’ is another of claim of ‘fraud’.

                I’m surprised a court hasn’t thrown this practice out by now based on its unconscionability.

                They won’t.

                If you sign something stupid, the court will not protect you.

                You are asking the court to be a mind reader – able to tell what the difference between the same shade of white – where one side you claim it was a mistake and the other fraud.

                The court sees you present to things of precisely the same shade. All it has is your word – and that is not enough.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Not sure what market you are in but that is a bit surprising. I have tried to change terms before with health insurance companies and told point blank they would not accept any changes. I wound up purchasing the policy anyway, but only because the only other affordable option had even worse terms and a similar unwillingness to budge.

              • Buck-

                Sounds like there’s a good opportunity to start up a consumer-friendly health insurance company in your area then. 😉

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Not sure what the current market is like – now on employer-based coverage.

                Yet another option that results in little choice!

              • Buck The Wala says:
              • Here is a poached comment on the link provided by Buck.

                It speaks volumes to the problem we face. Namely to get people to understand REALITY.

                “man I’m glad I’m under my wife’s coverage she’s from Europe but we live in the US , I’m American but we use hers since it’s 100 times better than the US coverage. We pay at the beginning of the year 1800.00 for the entire year ! 100 coverage & no bills after we had our 2nd son. I broke my arm no bill, after birth care including a nurse that comes 3 times a week no bill. So yup I don’t mind if our taxes ( hers she works for the EU based here ) just knowing that little extra we kick out in taxes will cover everything with no rejection or bill after we see the dr for anything. I remember when I got on her plan & the agent said “Look if we have the know how to transplant you a new brain it would not cost you a cent” amazing how the rest of the world get it & we, some don’t in the US”

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            Buck,

            I am aware that if you hit the annual maximum or the lifetime maximum for your policy you can be denied care; however, that makes perfect sense, since you knew what these maximums were when you signed up for the insurance. What I do want to see is evidence of elderly people being denied care BY PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES (not medicaid or medicare which are not private) even though these elderly people have not hit an annual or lifetime maximum set forth within their policy.

          • Buck

            Certainly you must see the difference.

            I have a contract with my insurance company. It can try to deny but I can take them to court and make them pay up.

            Now what recourse do I have with the govt if it pays the bills? NONE my friend.

            You younguns keep conflating government with the private sector. Its not your fault. My generation helped create the confusion. That is why I feel compelled to try and straighten it out.

            • Buck The Wala says:

              You may have a contract JAC, but have you ever read it in its entirety? Even the small print?

              These contracts are written by the insurance companies to protect the insurance companies. Plenty of loopholes and exit doors!

              • Richmond Spitfire says:

                Buck,

                I’ve never signed a contract with the IRS, so, how is it that I’m required to pay taxes?

                And…even though I haven’t signed a contract, they have the ability to punish me for something that I’ve never agreed to do.

                At least with my Health Insurance, I have entered a contract with them…a gun was not held to my head.

                RS

              • Buck,

                Oh ma Gawd!

                Now you are using the excuse of “Gee, I sign any document under my nose therefore I get a mulligan!”

                It is an agreement.

                If you sign it, you agree to it.

                If you are too stupid not to read it, whose fault is that?

                If you don’t like it, you can change it too! Gasp! Betcha you never thought of that!!

                And YES, I do READ THE SMALL PRINT and the whole agreement if I am obligating myself to pay money for something.

                And so should you.

              • Buck The Wala says:

                You’re missing the point here BF — you CANNOT jsut change it if you wish. These are unilateral terms. Its not a contract to purchase a car or home that is being mutually agreed to.

                You don’t like the terms, walk. That’s your right. But where are you going to walk to? Maybe you fortunately live in a market where there are dozens of competing companies and you can get the terms you most like. And if you live in one of the many places where this is only the single company? What then?

                Of course you should read and understand all the terms. But that doesn’t magically give you the power to change those terms. And, based on locality, it can easily be accept these terms or forego insurance altogether. Not exactly a choice.

              • Buck,

                A truely FREE MARKET system would do much to alleviate the problem of little choice…..

              • Buck The Wala says:

                Or make matters even worse…it can go both ways.

              • Buck,

                The free market system cannot make it worse – that is impossible.

                It either provides a solution to the satisfaction of the consumer or it does not exist

              • Buck

                You keep asking and I keep telling. Your going to think I am one strange dude.

                YES I have read it, all of it. Yes, more than once. Go through it each year in entirety, twice, before renewing.

                Even called my Docs this year ahead of surgery to make sure everyone was covered under my policy and to find out how much “out of pocket” I would have.

                I know what you are saying but I maintain the problem is not the companies but an uneducated public. They don’t even read what they sign for crying out loud. If they don’t understand then they just need to ask for explanation in plain language. Or, get a different policy.

                Besides Buck, I think Health Insurance is a ripoff for the majority of folks anyway. Problem is who’s going to pay for the sick people if the rest of us drop our insurance? And therein lies the real reason for govt. intervention. Forced participation to increase the pool.

                But eventually even the larger pool doesn’t work, because it doesn’t address the real problem. An imbalance between supply and demand.

              • Buck The Wala says:

                You’re right – part of it is a largley uneducated public when it comes to these situations. Everyone should read and understand what they’re signing.

                Unfortunately when it comes to insurance that isn’t enough. If all insurance companies have the same loopholes, what do you do? If you live in a market where there is only the one choice, or one affordable choice, then what do you do?

                I often think its a ripoff myself – I’m healthy, my wife’s healthy, we don’t need to be paying all this money each year for our annual checkup which we can get for $100 or so out of pocket. But then think what if something major happens? With the cost of medical care in this country you could easily go bankrupt or near bankrupt given one instant. Also, without insurance, if you do find yourself extremely ill and facing years of treatment, you can’t even hope to get insurance because of your preexisting condition. These thoughts serve to pushe me back into paying that annual premium.

              • You have just laid out the argument for a health savings account instead of insurance.:lol:

              • Buck The Wala says:

                Yes and No — HSAs are great for some people, but they have their disadvantages as well. They are not a solution to all the problems.

  36. Re: Pilot flies plane into Austin, Tx building.

    Fox News .com has this guy’s manifesto posted. Interesting reading. The guy obviously has more trouble than what’s in his letter.

    The main problem was his lifelong fight with the promises of big government.

    I’d say about 535 DC piliticians should take notice.

  37. Buck,

    There are horror stories of people paying premiums for years and then when they actually need to make a claim they get dropped because of some innocent error on their initial application form for coverage.

    I believe you are a lawyer or involved in law, right?

    When a law suit is brought forth, where one party fails to abide by the agreement – do you really believe the excuse of “oh THAT part! Gee, I didn’t think they’d notice I LIED on my agreement!” would carry argument weight with a judge???

    Not to mention the skyrocketing costs of insurance premiums.

    Comes from those that abuse insurance by pretending it is a bank account.

    • Buck The Wala says:

      Typical blame the victim attitude here.

      As I posted above, reading and understanding the terms is a MUST, but that doesn’t give you the power to change those terms or even shop around for a different policy depending on where you live. These loopholes are egregious and, in my mind, completely unconscionable.

  38. Did anyone catch Rubio’s speech at CPAC today? You can find it in three parts on YouTube if interested. He had some very good moments!

    • Caught a brief clip on foxnation.com. This guy is a kid! Oh my! But his message is good and I love his sense of humor. I believe he’s leading Crist??? Anyone from FL on to give us an update?

  39. Buck

    You’re missing the point here BF — you CANNOT jsut change it if you wish. These are unilateral terms. Its not a contract to purchase a car or home that is being mutually agreed to.

    You missing my point.

    I can change it if I want to. True, they do not have to agree.

    So be it.

    But I do not sign it anyway!

    To pretend you are forced into signing something that you do not agree with is foolish

    You don’t like the terms, walk. That’s your right. But where are you going to walk to?

    SOMEWHERE ELSE!

    That is what happens in a free market – you don’t like these guys, you go to these guys or do it yourself

    Maybe you fortunately live in a market where there are dozens of competing companies and you can get the terms you most like. And if you live in one of the many places where this is only the single company? What then?

    Your example simply does not exist except by government force.

    You complain you do not have adequate competition – and then go right about support government’s efforts in destroying competition.

    Of course you should read and understand all the terms. But that doesn’t magically give you the power to change those terms.

    IT SURE DOES

    If they can write it, I can change it. Rules of all contracts …. just because I write it doesn’t mean you have to sign it.

    And, based on locality, it can easily be accept these terms or forego insurance altogether. Not exactly a choice

    Your definition of choice is terribly flawed, thus you offer contradictions.

    • Buck The Wala says:

      Ah BF my friend, you know exactly what I mean and yet you change the meaning around to suit your ends here — of course you can change the terms by writing whatever you want in their place (regardless of whether or not the insurance company will accept your changes), but we both know that is not what I meant. You have little to no bargaining power with insurance companies. This is a fact.

      Know what you’re signing. This is vitally important. Understand what your signing. Even more important. But at the end of the day you are virtually powerless.

      Take this example — you read your contract and notice that any errors in completing your application form will result in a denial of coverage. You accept that and sign away, completing your application honestly and thoroughly. Ten years later you come down with a serious illness and submit your claim. Now, the insurance company reviews your initial application and finds a slight error (completely innocent on your part) and proceeds to deny you coverage. What is your recourse? You’ve paid 10 years of premiums. You’ve abided by the contract. But so has the insurance company – after all, you knew any errors would result in a denial of coverage. This is a horrendous practice. At a hearing CEOs and other executives of insurance companies were asked point blank if they would stop this practice; their answer – NO.

      • Buck,

        Ah BF my friend, you know exactly what I mean and yet you change the meaning around to suit your ends here — of course you can change the terms by writing whatever you want in their place (regardless of whether or not the insurance company will accept your changes), but we both know that is not what I meant. You have little to no bargaining power with insurance companies. This is a fact.

        No, sir! It is NOT A FACT!

        You have as much power as they do.

        They want your money – or else they wouldn’t be paying men hundreds of thousands of dollars every day to go hunt people like you down to sell something.

        You probably have not actively tested this. I have. The agreements I have with my insurance companies are given to me boiler-plate. They get back their document with big red and yellow strikes through it and large sections of rewrites and additions.

        They grimace, for sure and grumble, no doubt. They do not like to work for their money.

        But you know what? They take it back to their ‘boys’ and I get another document. And then they get another document with yellow and red strikes, passages rewritten and new additions.

        They frown and complain – you bet. But now they know they’d better get it right this time.

        And finally, we hash out an mutual agreement SHOCK!

        …or we walk away. Now they HATE that…they just spent a few dozen hours of their lawyers going over the document, costing them thousands of ‘virtual’ lawyer dollars for NO DEAL.

        Guess what, they rarely walk away unless you’ve been unreasonable.

        Now, if more people did this, insurance companies would dramatically change their MO – and prepare documents that are more reasonable for the people.

        But as long as people listen to Buck’s Law of Disproportionate Negotiation Power – this will not happen.

        Now, the insurance company reviews your initial application and finds a slight error (completely innocent on your part) and proceeds to deny you coverage. What is your recourse? You’ve paid 10 years of premiums. You’ve abided by the contract.

        No, you have not. You BELIEVE you have, but in FACT you have not.

        But so has the insurance company – after all, you knew any errors would result in a denial of coverage. This is a horrendous practice.At a hearing CEOs and other executives of insurance companies were asked point blank if they would stop this practice; their answer – NO

        My Gawd, Man! What are you expecting????

        “Yes, sir – if anyone makes an error in their disclosures (ie: LIES) – we will ignore that and continue giving them money”

        You crazy?!??!

        If they did that – do you not believe EVERYONE would start to lie??

        Lesson: Prepare the form CAREFULLY. The consequences of error are high!

        Think of the lesson of a parachute. Bad time to figure you made an “innocent” error whilst falling @ 200mph.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          I’d be very curious to know what insurance company you are dealing with then.

          And come on, an innocent mistake on your part in completing a convulted application entitles the company to hold onto your past years worth of premiums and deny you coverage? How is that not egregious and horrendous? There is a huge difference between outright lying to get a better rate (which should result in a denial of coverage) as opposed to a completely benign and innocent mistake. I’m surprised a court hasn’t thrown this practice out by now based on its unconscionability.

          • Buck

            Point of order. The payments you made were for the coverage you got.

            Your problem is they now wish to “unilateraly” end coverage once you have a claim. Your issue is now, not what was.

            Those premiums had nothing to do with future committments. This is not life insurance.

            • Buck the Wala says:

              Yes and no. You can cancel your health insurance at any time – stop paying and end coverage. But health insurance still ‘works’ based on past payments (without past payments, insurance companies could not pay future claims) – there’s an expectation (reasonable in my mind) that if you continue to pay your premiums you will continue to be covered. To find yourself thrown off after paying premiums for years, and willing to continue to pay premiums for continued coverage, is not part of the bargain.

  40. Down here Buck,

    It probably won’t make matters worse. If people would TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for themselves, and learn to read and understand what they are signing, then they wouldn’t have half they problems the do.

    When government gets involved in the market, things really get screwed up. For example: Obama’s stimulus package, or TARP. The funny thing is, governemnt interference is what cauased the problem to begin with (Community Reinvestment Act). Its very similar to government intervention is health insurance. Government isn’t the solution. Its the problem.

  41. from FOX

    Pilot Crashes Plane Into Texas Building Over IRS Woes

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    A small plane crashed into an Austin, Texas, building that houses IRS offices.

    Feb. 18: A small plane crashed into an Austin, Texas, building that houses IRS offices.

    A pilot furious with the Internal Revenue Service crashed his small plane Thursday into an office building in Austin, Texas, that houses federal tax employees, setting off a raging fire.

    Officials are investigating whether the pilot, identified by authorities as Joseph Andrew Stack, a 53-year-old software engineer who lived in Texas, crashed the plane intentionally. Stack was confirmed dead.

    An Internal Revenue Service office is located inside the building. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford said the agency is trying to account for all of its workers.

    IRS Agent William Winnie said he was on the third floor of the building when he saw a light-colored, single engine plane coming towards the building.

    “It looked like it was coming right in my window,” Winnie said, according to the Web site.

    Winnie said the plane veered down and smashed into the lower floors. “I didn’t lose my footing, but it was enough to knock people who were sitting to the floor.”

    Stack posted a suicide note to a social media Web site, ranting against the IRS, officials confirmed.

    “If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?'” the note read. “The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time…

    “Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer…

    “I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well,” the note, dated Thursday, reads.

  42. Judy Sabatini says:

    Hey all

    I would like to chime in here about the insurance thing. As most of you know, my mother lives with us, but her insurance is in Calif, and it cannot be transferred up here. Strictly Calif. based for what I understand. A few months ago, while I was still working at the lab, she fell, sort of passed out, we called the ambulance, they took her to the hospital for tests, but found nothing wrong, thank goodness. The only way her insurance covered that, was to tell them she was just visiting, other wise if they knew she was living here, they would not cover it. They do not know he lives with us, they think she is only visiting here, but they will cover emergencies only, and that’s for 6 months.

    Because of her age 88, and because of her emphysema, we can not get a new policy for her up here. WHY? Pre-existing condition and even if we could find something here for her, she would have to pay an arm and a leg for coverage. For what I understand, what the insurance doesn’t cover, medicare covers the rest. So when ever she needs to see her doctor, she has to go Calif, not unless it’s an emergency, then her insurance covers it.

  43. Hi Ya’ll! 🙂

    Been reading alot. Reshearching an unusual subject to gain some solid insight on it, as well a tying in several other known events to it. Some of you may have seen this, but I thought I’d post it to get some input. This video of Bush 1 is really strange. Look at the eyes closely.

    If this is fake or just a optical illusion, it just give me the heebee jeebies!

    G!

    • Bottom Line says:

      This is a better video because he slows it down.

      His argument isn’t very scientific and leaves room for too many possibilities. He uses weak induction and no deduction to check it, …no scientific method.

      The video quality sucks

      The reflections can vary depending on the angles of the light relative to his eyes and the position of his head.

      It could have easily been the reflection of something being moved by the camera crew.

      He claims that the sound is coming through Bush’s personal microphone and not any other. Really? How the hell does he know? Was he there? From what I know, there are usually several microphones set up in such a production. It sounds like something in the background to me.

      He claims that Bush was looking in the monitor. Again…Really? How does he know? Was he there?

      Check out where he slows it down. Watch closely and you can see that the reflection happens just slightly before the click. Whatever it was was likely seen in the reflection of his eye before it was heard.

      My guess is that it’s a reflection of something shiny being dropped by the camera crew.

      Lizard my ass.

  44. To Black Flag!

    Bernanke Unleashed a Monster

    Today, Bernanke timidly raised the Fed discount rate by 0.25%.

    In our opinion, it’s too late. The damage is done. When the Fed lowered interest rates to record lows an inflation monster was unleashed.

    Reining it in will be nearly impossible.

    Any input?

    G!

    • G-Man,

      Let’s evaluate.

      The banks are not lending money they can borrow @ 0.5%. They are holding back, not lending a drop.

      To prevent this “exuberant” lending, the FED has increased the rate to 0.75%.

      Gee, makes about as much sense as selling snow to Alaska in winter.

      It is a facade – a pointless gesture.

  45. Buck,

    I get it now! It’s like when a 42 year old pregnant woman goes to her doctor and he tells her that her pregnancy is high risk; that the baby will probably have some disability and little or no quality of life! That she should consider terminating the pregnancy because it would be better for everyone involved. She then decides to terminate the pregnancy but that’s no problem because its between her and her doctor, right?

    So how is that different from a government paid and regulated doctor telling the old guy that the treatment he needs will be very hard on him and that he doesn’t have many years left to live anyway because he’s old, that it’ll be hard on the family, and he’s already lived his life and should just accept his fate; that it would be better for everyone if he’d just take the pain pill until the end. I do believe your President said something similar, did he not?

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Taking your examples:

      1) The woman decides to terminate based on the doctor’s advice OR the woman decides not to terminate.

      2) The elderly man decides not to proceed with the treatment OR he decides to undergo the procedure.

      Between the patient and doctor does not mean the doctor decides. The patient ultimately makes the decision.

      Not sure what quote by Obama you’re referring to…

      • The Obama quote is in reference to a town hall meeting where he answered a question about a 105 year old woman getting a pacemaker. He didn’t have his telepromter ready with an answer, so he muddled about as best he could and blathered on about maybe a blue or red pill would have been better. Anyway…..

        What if the patient is like you when it comes to health insurance and feels like he doesn’t have a chioce? YOU have a choice in insurance yet you accept the terms placed before you, much like the old geezer accepts what the govermnet paid and regulated doctor tells him. I’m stunned that you still don’t understand the potential for abuse. But that’s okay. You sign up for the ‘free’ health care, and hope for the best, just keep the government out of mine.

        • To Jane Strom–maybe it’s better to take a pill

          • Judy Sabatini says:

            Hey Anita

            That video and it’s start and stop action was frustrating, but getting through it, all I can say is, what an a$$. Sure, let’s give all the old people a red and blue pill and that will make them all better, SURE.

            My mom takes Advair, guess she should get off of it, she’s going to die from emphysema anyway. That’s what it sounds like to me in what he’s saying. Why bother trying to help the elderly live a little longer if possible, huh.

            • yep. Like JAC said earlier- you have to just hold your head so it won’t explode 😦

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                I’ve come to the conclusion that people are getting dumber by the day, and it’s only a matter of time before I do explode.

                If an elderly person has a shot of living an extra 4 or 5 years, then what the hell is to O if they do or not. Sounds to me like he wants them all to die off now, that way they won’t have get their social security checks or use medicare.

                I just get so damn angry with way some people think anymore, I sometimes just can’t think straight.

              • Hopefully this is the year of many changes. I have faith we’ll get through it.

              • Judy Sabatini says:

                It’s got to be some really big changes for it to work.

          • Thanks for the assist Anita. Can’t do YouTube from here….

        • Buck the Wala says:

          Its not that I don’t understand or appreciate the potential for abuse. I guess I’m just not as cynical as you. 🙂

          You say I have a choice in health insurance – I say not really. Right now its either take my employer-based coverage or pay substantially more for individual-based coverage. Or forego insurance altogether and possibly go bankrupt should something major suddenly happen.

          • Buck the Wala says:

            By the way, Mrs. Wala just pointed out that insurance companies will routinely refuse to pay for certain procedures for the elderly (on a case to case basis, given the patients general health). Prime examples = knee replacements, hip replacements, pacemakers, transplants, etc.

            Food for thought.

            Been a very interesting day – have a g’nite all!

            • Judy Sabatini says:

              Yep, let them all die off, then they won’t have to do anything for them. Then they can save all that money they won’t have to pay out.

              Then what good is insurance if you’re not allowed to use it for what you need it for. If the insurance companies are going to pick and choose who gets what, then why even bother to have it and pay for it when you do need it?

              I agree with what JAC said earlier, they’re a rip off. Trying to get them to do anything for you , is like trying to get blood out of a turnip, and I’m sure they’ve tried that already.

            • I’d like to point that insurance compaies also do pay out for alot procedures. Your point?

              Keep government out of my healthcare….you sign up for it.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                My point is that insurance companies do make medical decisions based on age.

                Sure the company can’t stop you from getting a treatment, but for the vast majority of people their refusal to pay amounts to the same thing.

              • Buck,

                OF COURSE THEY DO!

                They also make pricing and conditions based on your sex, lifestyle, past history, hobbies and activities…

                oh, those EVIL guys! They want to know THEIR RISK!…tsk, tsk, — they should give money away for free for anything!!

                (sigh)

              • Buck The Wala says:

                BF – This was in answer to an earlier post asking me to provide some evidence that insurance companies do deny claims based on a patient’s age. I’m not surprised they do in the least.

                Insurance companies are not evil – they are a for-profit enterprise formed with the motive of maximizing profits. I do find this to be a problem though and the reason why the free market system WILL NOT magically resolve all of the problems we currently have.

          • You’re not as cynical as me because you’re not as old as me. I’m probably old enough to be your mother 🙂 ….now, I’m gonna tell you what I told my daughter countless times: You may not like your choices but you STILL have a choice.

            Meaning that, you make the best of the situation at hand. Is the current system broken? Hell yeah! But throwing the whole thing on a trash heap and going with government isn’t an improvement. Waaay back when govt. was smaller, health insurance worked. It worked well. It wasn’t perfect but it was good. Then govt got involved and we have reached the current point. If you get rid of govt. interference, I asssure you things will improve.

          • Buck,

            You have few choices because of legislation.

            Strange to me, you want more legislation to completely eliminate all choice.

  46. Judy Sabatini says:

    Government does not belong in the insurance business, whether it be, car, health, business or other wise. They definitely do not belong in the medical profession either. I’m tired of this government, or any government for that matter dictating on what anybody does with their lives, or what insurance they’re going to get or not going to get, or what kind of medical procedure they are going to get or can have or can’t have. Enough already.

    I’m tired of all the BS they’re saying about all the jobs they saved or have created. Where are they at anyway? I haven’t seen any. And Reid, I say, lets shoot him out of a cannon and see how far he goes, and where he lands, leave him there. He has done absolutely nothing for the people of Nevada, nothing.

    As Reagan once said. “Government isn’t the solution to the problem, government is the problem ” I guess this government just doesn’t get it. This country has gone down hill ever since Obama and his gluttons have taken over.

    Sorry for the tirade, but I have had enough and I’m getting angrier by the day anymore.

    With that done and said, I will say good night to all and have a pleasant day tomorrow.

    Judy

    • No need to apologize. I think many feel the same you. I do.

      Good thing you don’t know how to fly a plane! 😉

  47. Buck, you’re a good guy.

    However, you appear to have a massive contradiction stuck in your head.

    You – by some bizarre reasoning that has been nailed into your brain – a company, for its own self-indulgent need to earn money – solves a problem for humans. We know this, because people trade their money for that service. If it DIDN’T solve their problem, people would not trade.

    That process somehow get’s perverted in your reasoning to be a problem. That is, solving people’s problem is the problem.

    The next muddle you have is believing there are solutions that do not create more problems. Every solution creates consequences and those consequences need other solutions. This is the human condition.

    However, your proposal – using politics – as a solution for economics will fail. It cannot succeed. I don’t know how I can say it any different – but I do see you are completely immune to this fact.

    I feel like Galileo preaching to Church about what circles what….

    By using politics to solve some apparent problem of the free market can only make the problem worse.

    And you even agree! You raise issue after issue of your experience with the system that is completely mired in politics – and your solution is….more politics!

    • Buck The Wala says:

      People trade their money for that service because they have little other option.

      Yes, insurance companies pay out a tremendous amount of claims. I’ve never argued otherwise. But people don’t purchase insurance solely because they believe that insurance solves all of their problems. They purchase it because overall it is better than the alternative – no insurance.

      • Buck,

        Exactly!

        Further political machinations into the industry can only make insurance less effective and more expensive. It cannot be otherwise.

        • Buck The Wala says:

          Oh but it can be otherwise…

          • Buck,

            There you go ago again, believing the Earth is the center of the Universe

            Please provide your economic theory from which you base your belief that a political decisions overruling economic means provides a better economic outcome.

            • Buck The Wala says:

              Here’s where you err — it is not solely a question of economics. Of course political regulations can bring down the cost of premiums. There is no question in my mind whether or not this is true.

              You seem to believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the current cost is the actual value solely because that is what we are paying. This is not the case. I know removing inefficiencies will not resolve all problems so just bear with me on this — but if we were to root out inefficiences and waste wouldn’t the cost come down?

              In health care we can calculate the percentage of each premium dollar that goes towards the payment of actual health benefits — the medical loss ratio. Obama’s plan sought to place a cap on this percentage at 85%, meaning that 85 cents of each dollar must go towards health benefits. By forcing companies to reach this percentage (politics) we would be at least partially reducing the amount spent on inefficiences and waste as companies look for ways to hit this number (economics).

  48. Buck,

    You make precisely the same error Socialist/Statist always make.

    You hold in your left hand a desire to politically accomplish some goal (no statement on its worth or good/bad judgment).

    This political goal requires the controlled consumption of a good or service – I mention controlled because that is what politics does – control something by force. But again, no judgment good or bad.

    The consumption is controlled in a way that it is given to those that do not earn it.

    This good must be TAKEN from those that did earn it – this group must be prohibited – again by force – from consuming what they earned.

    Any good that is given to those that do not earn it – that is, at a cost lower than its value will face an ever increasing and never ceasing demand

    To fulfill this political goal requires you to increase your seizure of goods from those that produce them.

    You are thus faced with this eventuality.

    The demands from those that receive without earning incessantly increase – you need to take more and more larger amount from those that produce – and there comes a point where those that produce lose so much that they begin active resistance to your taking.

    Now you have a huge political problem.

    You cannot withdraw your largess from the first group, nor contain their demands or they will riot.

    You cannot take any more from the producers – you have exhausted them – and demanding more from them will cause them to riot.

    Now, you are assured of a riot.

    Know the follwing as a fact, Buck.

    You cannot provide an economic good more effectively to the marketplace by distorting the economicsyou will always fail if you try.

    In the end, you will have collapsed that market financially and destroyed yourself politically.

    You will have no money, no economy and riots in the street. I assume this is completely opposite the goal you started out with.

    You seem to believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the current cost is the actual value solely because that is what we are paying.

    Economic Lesson #42:
    The cost of a good and the determination of value of the good are not linked.

    If the value is higher than cost, the producer will sell his product.

    If the value is less than cost, the producer will withhold his product.

    But you do not determine your value based on my cost. YOU determine your value on what that good or service provides to YOU!

    Further, you cannot ‘root out’ waste while undermining the price of a good.

    The market place reviews its costs to value based on the price set by the supplier. If that cost is too high, the consumer will not buy.

    The supplier has two choices: to work at reducing his costs below the commercial value or close his doors.

    But in your political manipulated marketplace you have destroyed the pricing mechanism. It is artificially set lower than the value of the good – and you are subsidizing the provider for the difference. The provider holds no motivation for correction other than your threat – a threat you cannot quantify economically as you have removed that from the evaluation by your political action

    Am I making sense to you? I’m throwing out a lot of economic and monetary theory at you.

    I know you believe you have a political motive – and you have judged it for yourself to be “good”.

    My argument to you has nothing to do with your judgment.

    My argument is this:

    You have a goal.
    Your offer a plan.
    Your plan achieves precisely opposite your goal.

    Therefore, my argument is this:
    If your plan contradicts goal, either your plan is wholly wrong or your goal is wholly wrong.

    Which is it?

    • Excellent explaination, Black Flag. If he doesn’t ‘get it’ this time, he never will. Thanks for enlgihtening at least one person: me!

      🙂

      • Buck The Wala says:

        Cyndi, I’m thinking the same thing! If BF doesn’t get it by now, he never will!

        • Buck The Wala says:

          Been extremely interesting today BF – I’ll have a beer for you tonight! Enjoy the weekend…

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