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October 09, 2003

LESSONS IN CIVILITY....Remember that David Brooks column in the New York Times a few weeks ago suggesting that all the Bush haters ought to calm down a bit? Sure, conservatives were kinda rough on Clinton, but haven't we all learned a lesson from that?

At the time, several people suggested that his column was aimed directly at fellow Times columnist and prototypical angry liberal Paul Krugman, but I didn't buy it. It seemed like everyone was reading a little too much into his words.

Well, it looks like I was wrong, because Krugman himself certainly seems to think it was a shot across the bow. He replies today, and you don't have to dig very far below the surface to see that, reduced to words of one syllable, he's telling Brooks to go fuck himself.

The Times sandbox is getting a little testy.

Posted by Kevin Drum at October 9, 2003 09:52 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I don't know if it's the full text or has been edited, but the Brooks column is available on the International Herald Tribune website at http://www.iht.com/articles/111884.html.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald at October 9, 2003 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand, Kevin - if Brooks' column was not aimed at Krugman and people like him, who WAS it aimed at?

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 9, 2003 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman nailed it.

Who do you think wins a war of words between Krugman and Brooks?

Posted by: shrill and proud at October 9, 2003 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Himself" has two syllables.

Posted by: PK at October 9, 2003 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

David: people *like* him, sure. I just wasn't convinced it was aimed directly at Krugman himself.

But like I said, it looks like I was wrong.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at October 9, 2003 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Go Krugman! Saw him speak in LA on Tuesday. He was in fine form. Said something very similar to this column to a questioner who was wondering if he was giving people ammo to marginalize him because he was venturing outside of his economic realm. He said a lot of what's in that column, plus that if others in the mainstream press had been addressing the issues (i.e. Plame) then he wouldn't feel the need to. But since he is the occupant of such a valuable piece of journalistic real estate, and others aren't addressing the lies the way they should be addressed, he feels the responsibility to do so until that changes.

Posted by: Hollywood Liberal at October 9, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Ed. I changed the link.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at October 9, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

God, I love Krugman. When the hell is he going to win a Pulitzer? (There was a rumor, noted on Brad DeLong's blog, that Krugman was going to win the Nobel Prize for Economics this year -- totally unrelated to his column, of course -- but no such luck.)

I e-mailed Brooks after his column came out, saying that Krugman and the rest of us who criticize Bush aren't just mindless haters, as he would have it. We have a lot of reasons (I laid out a half dozen or so). No response.

Posted by: Frederick at October 9, 2003 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent piece, it's about time someone said it.

Posted by: Zonker at October 9, 2003 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman was much too polite - and his editorial was too short.

Posted by: Rick B at October 9, 2003 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

One of Krugman's best columns, while of David Brooks at the Times, one can only say so far that he does appear to be marginally better (and considerably more sane) than Safire.

Posted by: howard at October 9, 2003 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

If only McCarthy's victims had been more polite, it would have been better for America. And Nixon couldn't believe how impolite his investigators were--actually discovering the criminal truth was so, so rude.

1. Plantation owners (and their foremen) tended to get real concerned about manners when the field negroes started looking them in the eye and stopped saying "Sir".

2. Con-men always count on the decency and credulity of the suckers.

Kudos for Krugman.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 9, 2003 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Geeze I thought the NYT fights consisted of teacups at ten paces. Who knew?

Posted by: spc67 at October 10, 2003 01:32 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks was clearly after Chait, whom he quotes: "I hate Pres. Bush ... the way he walks ... talks"; though also any 'new warrior who scans the web for confirmation of the president's villainy' (hooray for my side). PK's prolly such a new warrior, now.

And new warrior Krugman is prolly wrong, very very wrong, about Iraq and the US Army. But there is no way, and can be no way, to really test it. And if the main Nov 2004 issue is the situation in Iraq, Bush will prolly win.

Of course, that means Bush needs much MORE money to really be fast about rebuilding, before the elections, so he can get Iraq credit, and win. Yes, he'll make Iraq a showcase "democracy", no matter what the cost, in order to get re-elected.

Krugman didn't need to mention Iraq, and shouldn't have. Not because he's prolly not right (just my opinion), but because if he IS right, now, what should Bush do about it, NOW? If Krugman can't or won't say (let Iraq rot for lack of cash???), it just keeps fueling the idiotarian idea that Iraq was better off under Saddam. THAT idea is a certain loser in 2004 in the US.

That the US would have been better off w/o paying the cost of Iraq liberation; that idea might be a winner. But huge deficit spending, making the US rosier in the short term, is the Rep response -- that PK should jump on.

Posted by: Tom Grey at October 10, 2003 02:04 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks is basically wrong, but I thought that mea culpa buried at the end of the piece was a little moving.
Besides, while I agree that Bush-hating is far more empirically valid and policy-based than Clinton-hating was (do you ever see the right criticize any of the Clenis' policies these days?), I think there is some truth to Brooks' idea that we've moved from culture wars to personality wars. We spend a lot of time complaining that O'Reilly is misstating his awards, and not enough time attacking him for his moronic positions. Yes, the other side is way worse (that Krugman article is genius), and they started it. But Brooks has a point too.

I'm very willing to be convinced that Brooks is completely wrong that both sides have stopped arguing about issues. But why is he wrong?

Posted by: sym at October 10, 2003 02:22 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the explantion is that most Dems are not that left-wing on the issues, and are just willing to support pragmatic solutions to the nation's problems. When they see Bush's very ideological (read: faith-based) policies, they get angry. So while arguing for the general truth of leftie causes does not appeal to them, arguing that Bush is insane does.

Posted by: sym at October 10, 2003 02:28 AM | PERMALINK

new warrior Krugman

What's this mean? You're aiming Brooks' popgun at Krugman. Why do you believe that economist, professor and author Paul Krugman is one of Brooks' "new warriors"?

Bush needs much MORE money to really be fast about rebuilding, before the elections, so he can get Iraq credit

You seem to be arguing that getting a lot taxpayer money and spending it really fast in Iraq is a political winner for the GOP. So, violating several conservative principles (a phrase one can still use without irony, though how much longer?) is going to get Bush a second term. Spending bunches of money on nation-building Saddam's former country, while withholding it on infrastructure needs at home, is going to win the day for the Republicans. Do you talk to Rove personally about this brilliant plan? If so, do us a favor. Tell him that the other side is quaking in our boots at this prospect.

Yes, he'll make Iraq a showcase "democracy"

Those scare quotes just kinda speak for themselves.

keeps fueling the idiotarian idea that Iraq was better off under Saddam. THAT idea is a certain loser in 2004 in the US.

Like I said, if you talk this stuff over with Bush's strategists, please convince them that the American people are going to decide the 2004 election on the issue of how nice our public monies are making life for people in Iraq.

Posted by: Demetrios at October 10, 2003 04:16 AM | PERMALINK

The best line in Krugman's column today was: "For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years. "

I'm going to tape that to my refrigerator.

Don't forget to call/write your Congressional Rep everyday and press him/her about Rush Holt's HR2239 - Voter Act

Posted by: Get HR2239 Passed NOW at October 10, 2003 04:50 AM | PERMALINK

Ther's a similarly good response at the back of this week's "Time". The one with the Plame story on the cover.

Posted by: karmachameleon at October 10, 2003 04:52 AM | PERMALINK

I think Krugman gets it exactly right when he says that sometimes you can't tell the truth in a polite way. As a corollary I'd say that sometimes trying to be polite actually leads to a form of dishonesty, which is the problem I often have with the NYT editorial page (not with its signed opinion writers). Well-meaning people can have passionate disagreements about policy and sometimes those debates can get ugly, but even that's okay so long as people stick to attacking positions and avoid ad hominem attacks. But if one side clearly isn't well-meaning, it's a disservice to the public to pretend that they are.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at October 10, 2003 05:30 AM | PERMALINK

Because most of Clinton's policies were remarkably popular, most attacks on him were personal and impolite. When Liberals attack Bush's unpopular policies, Conservatives want to convince us that they're just doing the same thing. The great thing about Krugman's article is that is almost entirely about Bush, the president, more than about Bush the man.

Posted by: MDtoMN at October 10, 2003 05:31 AM | PERMALINK

MDtoMN makes an excellent point. What was there to attack during the Clinton administration? The rising stock market? The vibrant job market and low unemployment rate? The budget suprlus? Decreasing poverty, welfare and births to unwed mothers? Sharply falling crime rates?

There was only the evil Bill and Hillary Clinton themselves to attack and, boy, did the Republicans go for it. A $70 million investigation into a $30 thousand land deal from 1978? People like Brooks have no shame.

Posted by: Pug at October 10, 2003 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman makes far more devastating points using factual examples than Brooks does. But then, economists by training are quite familiar with facts and the real world, while Brooks seems to be little more than a professional pundit who made his rep by writing cute social critiques. Anyway, I vastly prefer Krugman's honest anger over Brooks' supercilious politness.

Posted by: David W. at October 10, 2003 06:01 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm. I'm not sure that no previous administration has so lionized a president - what about Teddy Roosevelt? - but basically I agree, as usual, and it's nice to see the Christiane Amanpour slander, which outraged me, get some mainstream attention.
Krugman doesn't get the US Army either right or wrong. He quotes an expert. Maybe the expert is wrong. And the Nobel rumor on DeLong's blog suggests that Krugman remains shortlisted, which is hardly news.

Posted by: John Isbell at October 10, 2003 07:06 AM | PERMALINK

>> "What was there to attack during the Clinton administration?"

Well it's hard to attack his policies when he was signing just about everything the Republican congress wanted. 7 of the 10 tenets of the Contract with America. Welfare reform. etc, etc.

As for surpluses - those didn't come about until after the balanced budget was passed. And he fought the timeline (6, 8, even 10 years after the balanced budget was signed), but was dragged kicking and screaming into the budget that balanced it in a couple of years.

But you're right about one thing. A lot of conservatives didn't scream about (most of) his policies. But did have huge issues with his personal character. So that's what we carped about.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 07:28 AM | PERMALINK

See, it's only rude to say horrible things about the president if they're true.

Making shit up is just good clean fun.

Posted by: julia at October 10, 2003 07:32 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for making the point, Black Oak. Say, where are all those brilliant Republican policies now? Republicans control all three branches of the federal government. And yet, I think polls are showing that a majority of Americans believe the country's headed in the wrong direction. How about some of that GOP genius now that you don't have to drag the president "kicking and screaming" in the right direction?

Posted by: Demetrios at October 10, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

At base, Brooks argument amounts to the claim that anger and outrage are signs of irrationality and reason unto itself to dismiss the complaints of those so aggrieved.

As such, the argument is itself outrageous. In fact, it does nothing but encourage even further contemptible behavior by, in this case, the WH: the more the WH lies, the more transparent those lies, the more reckless its behavior, the more hypocritical its justifications, the angrier its critics become, and, by Brooks' perverse logic, therefore the more irrelevant and marginal their protests.

Brooks phony plea for civility does little more than provide a cover for the ugliest of behaviors by the powers that be -- the more pernicious the speech and act, the more Brooks' logic would support it.

Posted by: frankly0 at October 10, 2003 07:35 AM | PERMALINK

The essential problem with Brooks' article is that he refuses to recognize that people have valid complaints about the Bush administration, and even that the Richard Mellon Scaifes and Reverend Moons of the world DID have substantive differences with the Clinton White House (gays in the military, role of UN in American foreign policy, social spending, etc.). In fact, I would argue that the anger evidenced in the "mostly terrible books" Brooks mentions is the product of deep disagreement on issues.

But people have realized that in today's media climate, it's ad hominem attacks, not substantive critiques, that actually move voters. Policy is difficult and confusing, even for experts. People are overwhelmed with contradictory evidence, so they throw up their hands and say "who knows? maybe allowing power plants to upgrade without installing pollution controls is better for the environment." And the stenographers in the media, frankly, do not offer much help. So what's a voter to do? You depend on your judgment of the president's character--"is Bush the kind of man who would lie to me?" If you think not, you tend to take him at his word. That's why the personal attacks are necessary.

With respect to Krugman, I think he is not concerned about cultural issues such as abortion, so I think there is some disconnect between Brooks' use of the term "culture wars" and Krugman's critiques of the Bush Administration. I think Krugman is mostly if not entirely concerned with economic and foreign policy.

Posted by: praktike at October 10, 2003 07:36 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure what yo mean by "wrong direction". That's so vague that it could take the thread anywhere.

If you're looking for me to disagree, you'll be waiting a long time. The current batch of Republicans in Congress are spending like drunken Democrats. I remain hopeful that they get their heads out of their collective ass and stop it.

But question for you: If this is such a dirty shame - why aren't the Democrats fighting it? All they've done is made room for the current batch of Republicans at a trough that they built and have never left.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 07:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Not sure what yo mean by "wrong direction". That's so vague that it could take the thread anywhere. " - Black Oak

Wasn't there a quote to the effect that: It's hard to get someone to understand an argument when his livelihood depends on his not understanding it ? Substitute "wordview" for "livelihood", and you have much of what you hear from Rad Repubs these days. Please!! How can you pretend any longer that yours is the party of sober restraint. You're not exactly fighting Ken Kesey or Abbie Hoffman anymore. Much of the "left" these days used to be known as the center.

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 07:54 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak:

It doesn't really matter much what the Democrats are fighting, now does it? The fact is the Republicans control both houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. They are in charge.

That question is weak. You can't try to pin the blame on the Democrats anymore (pin the tail on the donkey?). "It's Congress' deficit" doesn't cut it anymore. Whatever is happening now is because of Republican policy, not those wretched old Democrats.

Posted by: Pug at October 10, 2003 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

boonie,
>> "Please!! How can you pretend any longer that yours is the party of sober restraint."

I don't. Like I said above, they are spending like drunk Democrats right now. Pisses me off to end. Do I think the answer lies in the Democratic Party? No way. They certainly didn't provide much of a loyal opposition in the last budget debate. They have never shown restraint on overall spending. They may disagree on what to spend the money on, but they won't lift a finger to stop/reduce the spending.

>> "Much of the "left" these days used to be known as the center."

And much of the "right" can say the same thing. My Father (life long Democrat) has said to me that the current Democratic party is run by the extremeists. He's in the same boat as me - but on the opposite side. He can't see a viable alternative either.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

Pug,
Agree completely (see response to boonie). I just don't see the Democrats offering anything better. Nothing in their track record indicates restraint on anything except maybe national security.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 08:06 AM | PERMALINK

black oak:

remember when clinton balanced the budget?

Posted by: praktike at October 10, 2003 08:10 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman was here in L.A. ? When? Where? Sorry I missed it. The man keeps me sane.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 08:13 AM | PERMALINK

praktike,
You mean when he was dragged, kicking and screaming, by the "Newt(*gasp*) led Republicans into signing it. Yeah, I remember. Your point is?

The Pres always get's credit and blame for the budget, but Congress alway actually controls the purse strings.

Oh for those days of fiscal responsibility......

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

A simple litmus test for telling whether or not someone is blinded by partisanship is whether or not they can come up with one policy of a politician on the other side of the fence that they can agree with.

I consider myself an independent. I can acknowledge both the good and bad decisions Clinton made while in office, and recognize his strengths and weaknesses. Same with Bush. I despise his stances on faith-based initiatives, missile defense, and tax cuts, but strongly both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Maybe I simply don't read enough Krugman, but all I've ever heard out of his mouth is a steady stream of bile against Bush...never a single acknowledgement of anything good he's done.

It sounds like Brooks is calling for a semblance of balance and rationality to the criticism, rather than sheer hatred and partisan sniping. And as you say, it sounds like Krugman basically tells him to fuck off.

What a well-reasoned, fair-minded thinker he is.

Posted by: Derek James at October 10, 2003 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak:

I can't argue with that. The Dems did show some restraint when Clinton was in office as the deficit dropped in '93 and '94, then became a surplus after the Repubs took over in '95.

The point that the Democrats pretty much continue to try and win elections by promising to spend money on different constituencies is a fair point. Moderation is not a strong suit of either party.

Posted by: Pug at October 10, 2003 08:20 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds like Brooks is calling for a semblance of balance and rationality to the criticism, rather than sheer hatred and partisan sniping.

Fair enough. The question, though, is where the hell was Brooks with his reasonableness between 1992 and 1998. It's similar to conservative calls now to change the recall law in California. Phony as hell.

Posted by: Pug at October 10, 2003 08:23 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak,

Let me urge your father to reconsider. What was Clinton, if not the most centrist Democrat in a long time ? What about those "extremists" who voted for the Iraq resolution ? The DLC still has pretty strong influence, Howard Dean notwithstanding. If we accept (for the sake of argument only) the current levels of federal spending, who would you consider to be more responsible: those who say we should pay for it now, or those who would have our children pay for it ? If you choose "neither", I don't really see that you have a dog in this fight, and I will remain mystified as to why you stepped in to defend a party you say is insupportable.

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak--
Unless your father lives in the South and was a yellow dog democrat (which my family was), I don't see how he can say that the Democratic party of today is more "extreme" (particularily on fiscal issues) than the democrats of twenty or thirty years ago.
Listen, everybody knows that the Republicans today are the more ideologically-energized, experimental party--they even advertise themselves as such. Rove is all about pushing the envelope, as he will be the first to admit.

Posted by: kokblok at October 10, 2003 08:51 AM | PERMALINK

boonie,
My father won't leave the Democratic party. He's too old and hard-wired at this point. The fact that he's disillisioned says a lot.

The fact is, as I see it, We have very few true leaders. Denny Hasert is a better administrator than he is a leader of the house. Newt may have been polarizing, but he led. Nancy Palosi polarizes but doesn't lead anybody anywhere. She's great at grabbing sound bites though. Ted Kennedy? Tom Daschle? Dick Gephardt? Only Tom Delay is any kind of Firebrand. And look at the reaction you get when you bring his name up.

I'm all for paying for it now. Pay for everything now. Run the Government like any well oiled business would.
Both sides are failing, severly, by not acting on the looming Social Security crisis (just to name the 800 pound gorilla at the dinner table). Everyone is afraid to take action, so the train happily chugs toward the washed out bridge. To top it off, Bush comes out with a plan to give the same seniors free drugs. AAAGGGHHH! And some Democrats appose it cause it doesn't go far enough! double AAAGGGHHH!!

Then again, so has Dean. Only he has a magic wand that going to allow him to do it while increasing other spending and balancing the budget. Yeah, that'll work.

So I look at what the Democrats have stood for and done over the last 30 years or so to make a comparison. To see if I can trust them to something more than pander to the masses to get votes. (looks, looks) Nope. new program, after new program. Some new all together. Others designed to fix the ills of other programs - so we get dual programs running parallel to each other. Yeaaaa!

And prok, pork, pork for both sides. We're on the slipperly slope to socialism. It's still a long way away though. I think the Republicans will stave it off longer than the Democrats will, so I'll side with them until something better, that has an actual chance to influence the country, comes along.

Whew. That was long, but somehow I feel better.

Thanks.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 08:52 AM | PERMALINK

kokblok (that's an awful name),
He's a life long Minnesotan. I think it has more to do with the shrillness of the Democratic party than anything else. It's his perception though, not mine.

I'm the black sheep of the family. The only Republican don'tcha know.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 08:57 AM | PERMALINK

They have never shown restraint on overall spending. They may disagree on what to spend the money on, but they won't lift a finger to stop/ reduce the spending.

If you feel this way about the Democratic party, then perhaps you should look at Howard Dean. Several times over, he has advocated balancing the budget as the number one priority, and his record is impecable. As governor of Vermont, he was able to take a defecit (given to him by the governor before him) and turn it into a balanced budget for eleven years running. That is fiscal responsibility. Yes, he wants a healthcare plan for the nation, but he would not implement that without balancing the budget at the same time. Check out the link and look up his record for yourself.

Posted by: Jesse in SD at October 10, 2003 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oack--
Thank you for sharing your views. However, I think you are severely misinformed.

America has 0% chance of sliding into Socialism. You know where we ARE rapidly headed toward? Aristocratic Feudalism/pseudo capitalism. If you believe in Capitalism, the Democratic party is the party for you. The Republican Party does not, in any way, support Capitalist principles--just cronyism.

Members of the ultra-right Federalist Society (John Ashcroft & Ted Olson (Solicitor General), among many others, are members) believe the Antitrust laws SHOULD BE ABOLISHED.

That is crazy talk. Price-fixing, bid-rigging--that's okay??? Hell no. Antitrust laws protect the free market, but Republicans are not interested in a free market--they want a rigged market. They want no-bid contracts handed out to Halliburton. They want subsidies for their pet industries (oil, logging, drugs, insurance (which scandalously had antitrust immunity)). They want the airwaves given away to a few corporations (and in return they'll give loads of campaign cash).

The Democrats, meanwhile, believe in strong antitrust enforcement, believe in a fair, open market (at least more than these Bushies do). The free market rewards merit; bush has never merited anything more than a chaper 11 filing (see the 3 or 4 businesses he ran into the ground).

Many of these social programs you hate are necessary to a proper free market--say, Head Start. It's not really a proper, meritocratic system if all the children of the poor (and hey, let's face it, maybe the parents are somehow at fault for being poor, but that 5 year old ain't) attend schools while starving. You can't learn when you're hungry, and they'll never be able to compete with the rich surburan kids, and WE ALL will be at a disadvantage for the lack of competition. Competition drives innovation, creates wealth. Programs like Americorps (a clinton creation, to which Bush gives lip service while cutting) do similar things. So would a Dean-style system of health insurance.

Sure, these programs are somewhat redistributive. But they are certainly not socialist. They are simply trying to avoid an entrenched Aristocratic/Feudalist society where one's chances for success are almost entirely determined by the accident of birth. It's hardly Socialism to want to feed poor kids a decent breakfast so they can compete with their wealthy suburban counterparts.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 09:09 AM | PERMALINK

Jesse,
I don't blame the current President(or any past President or presidential candidate), or give him credit for anything fiscally. Those that do do are just attacking the CEO when it's the Directors and Supervisors who are actually setting the budget and spending the money.

The checkbook and the budget are kept in Congress. Dean may be for all that. But go find any presidential candidate that says it's not for keeping a balanced budget. You won't because you can't. It's political suicide to say different.

The fiscal conservatives that brought us the contract with America have gone one of two ways:
1) They aren't in Congress anymore.
2) They dove into the soothing pool of reelection politics and no longer care about keeping spending in check.

But again, I don't think there's a Democrat in congress that's actually willing to reduce spending, or at least reduce growth.

Screw them all.

Boy, I'm rather bitter today.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

PS I work for the Antitrust Division.

The contrast between Bush and Clinton appointees is stunning.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak,

You have in fact correctly identified the 800 pound gorilla, but I'm curious as to how you think that problem should be solved. My favored solution would involve means-testing, incrementally raising the retirement age, and rolling back the blockbuster tax-cuts. Similar solution for medicare, along with some regulation on insurance companies.

I do not wonder that both sides are quaking in their boots when considering (to me) obvious solution. Dems know that the broad support for these programs is because there is no income discrimination. Imagine the reaction from the right if that were to change. Imagine the equally terrible downside for the Repubs: raising taxes, the ultimate bete noir.

The problem I have is that I believe current Republicans are making an already tough situation much worse, and that the situation 10-12 years from now will be ripe for true demagoguery from both sides (e.g. Charles Coughlin or Huey Long). Also, any fair-minded fiscal conservative would take a look at the TRULY GIGANTIC military budget and ask if this is the best way to deploy our resources against terrorism (as opposed to WWIII). Why does the military always seem to get a free pass, while social programs are presumed a priori to be inefficient ?

As far as Dem "pandering" goes, what do you suppose promising tax cuts at every turn with no reference to spending cuts is ? What were steel tariffs ? Farm subsidies ? Enron energy plan ? How is this better than the mild welfare state dems propose and that you call "socialism".

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

"A simple litmus test for telling whether or not someone is blinded by partisanship is whether or not they can come up with one policy of a politician on the other side of the fence that they can agree with."

Krugman has responded to this litmus test in a convincing fashion (On Being Partisan):

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/partisan.html

"Does the ideal of ?nonpartisanship? mean that I should have mixed my critiques of Bush policies with praise, or with attacks on the hapless, ineffectual Democrats, just for the sake of perceived balance? Given what I knew to be the truth, would that even have been ethical?"

And those of us who, unlike Derek James, quite justifiably think that the Iraq invasion was the worst foreign policy blunder of the last 30 years have even more difficulty than Derek coming up with any significant policies on which we agree with the Administration.

There may be relatively minor positions with which many of us may agree with the Administration, but I fail to see how the failure to acknowledge these sufficiently in the face of much more consequential domestic and foreign policy failings brands us as "blinded partisans." Why is this attitude necessarily seen as partisanship rather than the result of profound and fundamental policy disagreements?


I think a much more solid litmus test of partisanship is policy consistency. For example, I suspect Krugman would agree with much of the free trade rhetoric of the Administration. However, this is another area where rhetoric has been undermined by actions: steel tariffs, record agricultural subsidies and the failing Doha round of international trade talks. Even for a strong advocate of freer international trade like Krugman, the Bush record pales before that of the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Posted by: Derek James at October 10, 2003 09:23 AM | PERMALINK

The following post was by me in response to Derek James' post, and was not by Derek James. Not quite sure how that happened. Sorry for the error.

"A simple litmus test for telling whether or not someone is blinded by partisanship is whether or not they can come up with one policy of a politician on the other side of the fence that they can agree with."

Krugman has responded to this litmus test in a convincing fashion (On Being Partisan):

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/partisan.html

"Does the ideal of ?nonpartisanship? mean that I should have mixed my critiques of Bush policies with praise, or with attacks on the hapless, ineffectual Democrats, just for the sake of perceived balance? Given what I knew to be the truth, would that even have been ethical?"

And those of us who, unlike Derek James, quite justifiably think that the Iraq invasion was the worst foreign policy blunder of the last 30 years have even more difficulty than Derek coming up with any significant policies on which we agree with the Administration.

There may be relatively minor positions on which many of us may agree with the Administration, but I fail to see how the failure to acknowledge these sufficiently in the face of much more consequential domestic and foreign policy failings brands us as "blinded partisans." Why is this attitude necessarily seen as partisanship rather than the result of profound and fundamental policy disagreements?


I think a much more solid litmus test of partisanship is policy consistency. For example, I suspect Krugman would agree with much of the free trade rhetoric of the Administration. However, this is another area where rhetoric has been undermined by actions: steel tariffs, record agricultural subsidies and the failing Doha round of international trade talks. Even for a strong advocate of freer international trade like Krugman, the Bush record pales before that of the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Posted by: Ben Brackley at October 10, 2003 09:28 AM | PERMALINK

It's hardly Socialism to want to feed poor kids a decent breakfast so they can compete with their wealthy suburban counterparts.

TolucaJim: Oh yes, it is socialism. ;-) It's one of the main reasons why I count myself a socialist - I think every child should have a fair start in life. Saying it's not Socialism is kind of like a woman who says "I'm not a feminist. Of course I believe women should have equal pay for equal work, and - " (and so on down the list). Feminism and socialism both have horrible reputations which they have not earned: at base, however, both are simply for human equality.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at October 10, 2003 09:31 AM | PERMALINK

You missed the fact that Dean has an eleven year record of keeping a budget balanced. Of course all of them say it, but Howard Dean has done it. We're not talking about any old guy, We're talking about a man who came from money, refused to live off his parents' wealth, put himself through college twice, and best of all he has shown that all of his experiences have taught him to be very good with money. There is no other candidate (incumbent included) that has half the experience and training in fiscal responsibility as Howard Dean. I'm sorry, but if you can't see this, then you're not looking at the facts.

Posted by: Jesse in SD at October 10, 2003 09:32 AM | PERMALINK

TolucaJim
I am feeling much more maudlin today for some reason. But I've spent most of my moring here at Calpundit. Hope that's not linked.

I have to disagree with you though. I know you're not suprised.

>> "The Democrats, meanwhile, believe in strong antitrust enforcement, believe in a fair, open market (at least more than these Bushies do)."

I don't believe that. Maybe for the specific topic of antitrust stuf it's true, but I personally experience OSHA when I was in the manufacturing industry. You could NEVER satiscy them, and when you started to get close, they would move the goal post. It was the most frustrating things I've ever experienced. I firmly believe the same goes for Enviromentalism too. I absolutly love the outdoors. I live in Wisconsin. I fish and hunt all the time. The last thing I want is to have that ruined. But I see the enviromental laws restrict far more that protect.

Next.
>> "Many of these social programs you hate are necessary to a proper free market--say, Head Start. It's not really a proper, meritocratic system if all the children of the poor (and hey, let's face it, maybe the parents are somehow at fault for being poor, but that 5 year old ain't) attend schools while starving."

I don't hate Head Start. I question why it has to be a Federal program, when each state's needs will differ. But let me give you a personal anecdote. I'd label myself in the lower middle-class category. Terrible thing to do because I live a very rich life. Two blocks from lives a friend of mine. He's a lawyer (currently staying at home-so no income from him) and his wife is in high-tech and pulls down pretty good ching. He put his son in Head Start? They aren't poor. The kids don't go to school hungry. He did it because he was free. He and his wife are liberal beyond belief. I consider them both good friends.

It bothers the Hell out of me that he is taking advantage of a program that was not designed for him.

As for the country becoming an Aristocracy. Could very well be true. Maybe it's going toward a combination of the two. Neither one makes me happy. But an aggresive progressive tax structure is inherently designed to keep me from accumulating wealth. It's on par with keeping eht vast majority the same. I don't like it, but it's what the democrats believe in.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 09:36 AM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac,

It is not Socialism. Socialism refers to a commonly owned means of production.

I'm talking about equality of opportunity (or at least something approaching it, rather than a tragedy of unequal opportunity we see now). I just want those poor kids to have an equal chance to compete, in a capitalist system, with their wealthier suburban counterparts; I don't think we should start nationalising major industries.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 09:38 AM | PERMALINK

"You mean when he was dragged, kicking and screaming, by the "Newt(*gasp*) led Republicans into signing it."

Was he kicking and screaming or holding out for the best possible deal he could make and hold on to his base. Sounds like good leadership to me.

Posted by: Jon at October 10, 2003 09:41 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe this grey lady spat explains Bob Herbert lately joining Dowd and Krugman on the side of the angels. Yesterday, Friedman just about screwed himself into the ground by running in little circles defending the indefensible premises he has been getting away with. Game On!

Posted by: Chris at October 10, 2003 09:43 AM | PERMALINK

Preview, Preview.
The post about Head Start should read "He did it (put kid in program) because "IT" was free"

And Jesse,

I do see it(all that Dean has done for himself). It's just that the budget and spending are controlled by the Congress in D.C. Dean can have the greatest plan in the world and it won't mean squat if Congress wants to vote itself another Highway dedicated to former Klan Member Robert Byrd.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 09:44 AM | PERMALINK

A-goddamn-Men, Paul Krugman! You just sold another copy of your book today, bub. I've been kicking Oxy-Cons in the balls for 25 years and I'm just getting started. Hey Arnold, step up, you prick, because you're next.

Posted by: zridling at October 10, 2003 09:46 AM | PERMALINK

Real quickly Black Oak (I need to go eat lunch and get a hair cut):

To one of your points (about Head Start):
"I don't hate Head Start. I question why it has to be a Federal program, when each state's needs will differ."

Economies of scale. Efficiency. So, maybe each state's needs differ--simple formulas can distribute the money differently (say, the income to qualify for it is differnet in NYC than Omaha, NE). Do we want to have the same basic bureacracy replicated 50 times over? Why not do the administrative work centrally.

As for your neighbor, well, that's small time money. The money Bushco is shuttling toward Halliburton, or toward the energy companies (letting them off for gouging California, or offering to build all their infrastructure in Alaska) is HUGE.

Think about it; you have a choice between folks who will throw oceans of money to ULTRAMEGABIG business (and by doing so will far more severely restrict your potential for upward mobility), or folks who want a program that DOES help a lot of poor kids compete and move upward, but maybe is taken advantage of a little here, a little there.

And I don't understand how this progressive taxation is hampering your upward mobility--explain that one to me. If you're being taxed heavily, it means you're already in good shape. Under a flat tax, or an income-only tax (as Grover Norquist and Co seem to want, eliminating taxation on unearned income--dividends, capital gains, estate, etc) your, say, 35k is being taxed at, say, 17%; meanwhile, Mr Big Firm Laywer has his 150k salary also taxed at 17% (and his investments are NOT taxed (in Grover's wetdream world). You're falling further and further behind.

In democratic land, your 35k is still taxed at 17%. Mr Lawyer has his 150k taxed at 35%, and his investments are taxed (you're catching up)--and part of those taxes are being dedicated toward programs like Head Start--so that young poor kids might not be hungry and might some day become bigshot lawyers/doctors whatever themselves.

In republican flat/income only tax world, Mr Lawyer keeps moving away from you, and the poor kids go to school hungry and end up dropping out, dealing drugs or pumping gas/making change/etc.

Which is better?
(sorry that was longer than i intended--thanks tho for your discussion; it's nice to have reasoned debate with a principled opponent).

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

The Vermont budget is controlled by the state congress, too. Dean earned the reputation of being a pit fighter when it came to his fiscal policies. He passed almost all of his budgets through a very hostile congress (in Vermont), and still managed to get his way every time. That's how to get a budget.

I'm not telling you to get rid of your skepticiam. On the contrary, I believe skepticism - especially in politics - is a very good thing. I'm just saying that there comes a time when the facts really do tell the story. You brought up some very good concerns, but fact is now pointing to Howard Dean as the guy who can fix this problem. Regardless of how you feel, I hope Dean makes it into office and gives you reason to be pleasantly surprised. The first may not be guaranteed, but the second (if the first happens) absolutely is.

Posted by: Jesse in SD at October 10, 2003 09:58 AM | PERMALINK

I think that David Brooks is a Wormtougue for the right wingers. He uses smooth words to impugn the integrity of liberals (like Krugman & Franken), but, I suspect, he is a frothing religious-political fanatic when back in the safe towers of Isengard.

Posted by: Cliff at October 10, 2003 09:59 AM | PERMALINK

"But an aggresive progressive tax structure is inherently designed to keep me from accumulating wealth." - Black Oak

No, Black Oak, it's not designed that way; that's just a fringe benefit ;)

Seriously, The current tax regime (and by current, I mean: even before the Bush tax-cuts phase in)is less agressively progressive than it was under Eisenhower, and could go a good ways before it again reached that height. My point is that this was all fairly uncontroversial at one time, and furthermore, I don't notice that all millioniares became proles during that time period. You can, of course argue: "my money is mine and taxation is theft": a possibly valid point, but anarchy (the ultimate low-tax regime) seems to be a non-starter politically. Even a flat tax would take more money from you than your hypothetical poorer neighbor, which leaves us with consumption (regessive) taxes, which take proportionally ( righties: seize this word for purposes of argument) more from poorer people than from richer people. I have nothing against the rich or capitalism. Why would I want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I would jjust like them to aknowledge that not everyone has the requisite luck/talent/brains to be rich, or in some cases even make a decent living. Is it always and in every case their fault that the end up on the short end of the stick ? What would be wrong with helping these folks ? What would be wrong with helping these folks. To argue that you would inevitably end up helping some people who don't need or deserve it is no argument at all. The only argument is, will the inefficiencies be so great that we cannot help at all ? I believe this to be manifestly untrue. We already are doing this to some extent, and for reasons tangentially referred to in my last post, i think we can (with some willpower) make the system a little less prone to "free riders".

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

A simple litmus test for telling whether or not someone is blinded by partisanship is whether or not they can come up with one policy of a politician on the other side of the fence that they can agree with.

That's your test, pal, and allow me to point out, Mr. Oh-So-Independent, that you are officially the arbiter of nothing.

You're playing a little trick intellectually petty people like to play: setting up goal-posts and criteria no one asked for, criteria you yourself happen to meet qute nicely, and then pre-judging everyone, dividing everyone into the "as wonderfully fair and objective as I" and "sad, partisan rabble" camps.

Bra-freaking-vo, dude.

You're so wonderfully fair-minded.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is the best part of Krugman's argument:

"Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character ? his "honor and integrity" ? so central to its political strategy. Nor has any previous administration been so determined to portray the president as a hero, going so far as to pose him in line with the heads on Mount Rushmore, or arrange that landing on the aircraft carrier. Surely, then, Mr. Bush's critics have the right to point out that the life story of the man inside the flight suit isn't particularly heroic ? that he has never taken a risk or made a sacrifice for the sake of his country, and that his business career is a story of murky deals and insider privilege."

If the President's supporters can call him "honest", "courageous", "straight-shooter" then it is hypocritical to say that his opponents can't call him "liar", "stupid', "chicken shit".

Posted by: MikeR at October 10, 2003 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

TolucaJim,
You said:
>> "Economies of scale. Efficiency. So, maybe each state's needs differ--simple formulas can distribute the money differently (say, the income to qualify for it is differnet in NYC than Omaha, NE). Do we want to have the same basic bureacracy replicated 50 times over? Why not do the administrative work centrally."

So much here I disagree with. First, every state already has a state Head Start Bureacracy. As soon as it was a Federal program, the states opened a bureacracy and hired people to administer it to the state. So the economies of scale just went up not down.

Why do the states have to send in money to the Federal Government in the first place. So the government can "redistribute" it to the states as needed? BTW, that money just went into the General fund, so there's no way you can be assured that it's going to go back into the Head Start program anymore. Could end up as another Robert Byrd Highway in VA. Why is it that the Federal Government knows more about educating kids than the states and local municipalities do?

As for taxes. It's just that taxes in general bug the hell out of me. All taxes do. Does that mean they should all be abolished? No. But every time I fill up my car and see that .49 cents, or about 30%, of the cost of a gallon goes to the government - it pisses me off.

Fed/state/local Income Tax? Social Security tax? Property tax? Lump them all together and I can't mass wealth as fast as I want because I'm giving to people who want to "do good" with it. Some "good" that I don't completely agree with.

I personally don't care about the guy making 150K per year. Good for him. Wish him the best. I'm not living his life, I'm living mine. I've seen a lot of people like him absolutly have no wealth at all. A big house, nice cars, 5 credit cards and lots of toys though.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

"You mean when he was dragged, kicking and screaming, by the "Newt(*gasp*) led Republicans into signing it."

I would argue that Robert Rubin, Lloyd Bentsen, and consultations with Greenspan that made the case w/ Clinton. The Republicans certainly helped--and you're right, the Democrats in Congress were against it.

"But every time I fill up my car and see that .49 cents, or about 30%, of the cost of a gallon goes to the government - it pisses me off."

OK. But please don't use any of our highways.

Posted by: praktike at October 10, 2003 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Black Oak:

"As for taxes. It's just that taxes in general bug the hell out of me. All taxes do. Does that mean they should all be abolished? No. But every time I fill up my car and see that .49 cents, or about 30%, of the cost of a gallon goes to the government - it pisses me off."

Why does it piss you off? If there weren't any roads to drive on, your car wouldn't be of much use.

Posted by: MikeR at October 10, 2003 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

I just wanted to point out that in countries that are actually socialist, or I should say, "socialist", rich people still exist, and people are still able to get rich.

Anyone, anyone who really believes progressive taxation keeps people from getting rich, or that taxation is the only thing keeping them from being rich, is a fool.

It's absolutely asinine. Absolutely ridiculous. Through the whole of our history we've gone from veritable plutocracy to mildly "socialist"; from no income tax to 90%, and there has always been wealthy people, there has always been business, there has always been people getting rich.

Some "conservatives" today seem to think "rich" is the natural state of being for anyone who "works hard and smart". It always seems like they truly believe the only reason they aren't rich is because of federal taxation. The logic in their head must go something like this: This is America, land of opportunity, and anyone who works hard can make it. I'm working hard but I'm not rich yet, and every month I lose more and more money to taxes. If I had that money I'd be able to [invest, expand, whatever] and make more money and make it (become rich). Therefore, the only reason I'm not rich is because of the government.

It's infantile and laughable. Really, anyone who thinks like that (if indeed anyone here does) ought to be mocked until the end of days, because it's that stupid.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I would just like them to aknowledge that not everyone has the requisite luck/talent/brains to be rich, or in some cases even make a decent living.

This is, of course, the core difference between Republicans and Democrats.

It takes a six-figure salary to be able to pay one's way in this world (health insurance, retirement savings, rainy-day savings, perhaps elder care for your parents), etc.

(unless one lives in rural BFE, of course).

Black Oak, this "do gooder" mentality is called the "social contract", where it is acknowledged that the days of Rugged Individualism ended when the last workable land was parcelled out by the Homestead Act, and that wage competition should not prevent someone who has found a niche in the system to be guaranteed a decent livelihood.

The system can work if the total wealth the system creates is gently redistributed from great surplus to great need.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Damn! That's the problem. I just need to hunker deep into the backwoods. Sell my car, disconnect from the power grid and live off the land. Then I won't have to pay taxes and all will be fine. Pteh!

Of course the roads need to be maintained.

But do you really think that all the tax money from the gas taxes goes directly to the roads and the highway safety programs? Please tell me you're not that niave. It goes to the general fund.
Oh, and because it does. I can smile the happy smile when I'm riding on the Robert C. Byrd inter-spaghetti beltway and scenic road in Virginia. Damn again! I live in Wisconsin. Guess I'll just have to suck that one up.

Because I think the gas taxes are too high and not managed properly, I get lambasted about not driving on the roads? Come on.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter where the gas taxes go, Oak, if they don't fully cover the capitalization and maintenance costs , ie if general fund monies are diverted to cover these costs, which is usually the case.

Gas taxes are a user fee, and as such make good policy sense in penalizing uneconomic use.

Attacking the taxes and not the spending is just a cop-out.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

OK, I'll just move on to mocking "Black Oak" personally:

Lump them all together and I can't mass wealth as fast as I want because I'm giving to people who want to "do good" with it. Some "good" that I don't completely agree with.

You can't mass wealth as fast as you want, eh?

Well move to Afghanistan, dude. There's no government there, it ought to be utopia to you.

What's that? They don't have a working infrastructure, legal system, police forces, national defense, enforcement of contracts, a literate population, adequate health care, protection of property, person, and process? They don't have any roads I can drive on? Any network of air routes or trains or anything to move people, product and services? They don't have TV, phone lines, or broadband? No labor guidelines, no protection of the national water supplies or land? Men with guns do what they want??

You've got no clue. Taxes are the price we pay to live in a cooperative society. To live in a country that maintains the institutions and infrastructure necessary to protect your rights as an individual with individual wants and needs.

Why the hell do you think our economy dwarfs everyone else's? Why do you think this is indeed the "land of opportunity"?

There's nothing special about Americans or "the American spirit". We don't neccessarily work harder and smarter and faster than everyone else.

This nation has provided the context, via the federal government- its programs and institutions- necessary for individuals to be able to be able to succeed in their endevors beyond imagining given they're able to pull it off, via blind luck or anything else.

This government, pretty much since inception, has existed for little other reason than to provide all the conditions neccessary for individual human achievement. Only in the last 50 years has the state made any effort to preserve the integrity of the country as a whole against over-consumption and blind opportunism. The product of individual goals achievements turning to outright, naked greed are disparity of wealth, poverty and the abuse of the environment.

Oh-so mildly has this country tried to contain rape and pillage and just plain people and places getting broken down through things like national parks, the EPA, Social Security, Medicare/cade, and public schooling, and you fucking "conservatives" bitch and moan every moment of every day about all the wealth you can't accumulate because of the big, evil government, boo-hoo.

Pulling gas pisses you off? You make me sick.

Pal, you get on your fucking hands and knees and thank god you weren't born somewhere that doesn't collect taxes in a progressive manner, from the old Soviet Union to blissful paradises like Afghanistan. You thank the imaginary diety above you don't live in a country that doesn't bother to try to protect either the individual or the common good.

Everything you've got you've got generations of taxpayers to thank, you ungrateful nitwit.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Tim,
You're funny. Please loosen the rope around your neck a bit. It's cutting off too much blood to your head.

It's made you incoherent, as your last post clearly bares out.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

and the troll weasels away...

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

No I'm still here. BTW, define Troll. Is it just someone who disagrees with you. Or is it someone who can't actually debate and so just flings inane lines about in a fit of rage?

Answer that and then look at Tim's post. Who's trolling who here?

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

some scattershot stuff:
Head start-Another advantage of Head Start and similar federal programs is that they bypass locally entrenched power and funding structures. This has been portrayed by the right as a disadvantage because people rarely examine the assumption that state politics are somehow less open to influence and ideology than national ones. I don't think that this is true, or at least not as true as the "states' rights" and "starve the federal government" folks think it is. In my observation & experience there's an incredible amount of cronyism and influence peddling in state legislatures adn appointments. The Federal nature of Head Start and the other "war on Poverty" programs was originally necessary because of opposition by Southern politicians (Democrats mainly) to an initiative that was aimed primarily at helping African Americans. There's a book called "The Promised Land" by Nicholas Lemann that includes a fascinating and detailed account of how these programs mutated from original proposals into policy.

and Tim-the "i'm not rich because of taxes" argument is indeed laughable, but it's also of longstanding historical currency. Look at the American Revolution. The very simplified account of it that most of us get in elementary school lays a good basis for this appeal. Alabama, the state that i just moved from, is facing a huge fiscal crisis. Income is taxed beginning at $4600 a year, sales tax runs 8-9% depending on the county, and there are no state property taxes. It's gotten so bad there that the conservative republican governor introduced a bill to make the tax structure more progressive, and to keep the state from wholesale closing of schools and prisons. Of course it was voted down by many folks who aren't even making enough money to pay federal income tax. this is one of the classic American Stories-the mass of people vote against their economic interests.

also-there's an interesting & short piece on Dean that i read in the latest New Yorker. while many folks in the DLC and in the republican party have tagged him as "Dukakis 2" or "Mcgovernish" his record is actuallyb alot more moderate and centrist than that. His rhetorical style 8is what's making that tag stick, not his record.

Posted by: Eric at October 10, 2003 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

See ya, ya intellectual dwarf.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Krugman was responding specifically to Brooks. Brooks was merely voicing what so many conservative commentators have been saying for months: "tsk, tsk, why so angry?" Well, today Krugman tells why.

I had a bit of commentary on it at my blog. I expect the righties to go balistic.

Posted by: Emma at October 10, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

To Krugman, that is, not my commentary.

Posted by: Emma at October 10, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Tolucajim,

I just want to address one of your points, namely the nature of the conservative attack on the antitrust laws. There are three completely different kinds of antitrust laws, and I'm afraid you've mushed them together:

1)Laws against price fixing. I am not aware of any conservative who is arguing that the laws against price fixing ought to be repealed. Everyone agrees that price fixing (or agreements to restrict output or allocate territories, which are all variations on the same theme) cost consumers money and should be illegal.

2) Laws against monopoly. It is not and has never been illegal in this country to have a monopoly. The law permits companies to become monopolies through "lawful" means (such as Microsoft did by more successfully marketing its DOS than the other DOSs available at that time and subsequently by developing Windows to fend off Apple) but not by "unlawful" means (such as Microsoft allegedly did in refusing to sell Windows to PC makers unless they refused to do business with Microsoft competitors). Many thoughtful antitrust lawyers and economists argue that the laws against monopoly make no economic sense - that their primary effect is to protect competitors against vigorous competition and hence cost consumers money. The contrary view - well, there is no contrary economic view, but sometimes people argue that as a political matter, companies shouldn't be allowed to grow to monopoly power (although as I said above, just having a monopoly has never been illegal ).

3) Anti-price discrimination laws. The law contains all kinds of restrictions on manufacturers selling their products at different prices to different wholesalers and retailers. The only purpose of these laws is to protect small businesses, and it is widely agreed that they cost consumers money. Many conservatives and liberals have called for their repeal over the years but without success.

I hope that I have clarified things for you.

Posted by: douglevene at October 10, 2003 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Eric,

Yeah, Alabama is a sad, sad case. It's what you can expect, though, from one of the most poorly educated states in the nation.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Tim,

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Nothing makes my day more than to be looked down upon as an "unwashed ignant", by the self-appointed intellectual.

Who, BTW, didn't actually make a single point. Other than showing everyone "I'm good at ranting and railing against someone - particularly those stooopid conservatives".

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Doug--

I said I WORK FOR the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.

I know what the antitrust laws are, what they prohobit, and what they don't (and your summary isn't very good, sorry).

As for conservative attacks on antitrust laws, actually, some crazy conservatives (ie Federalist Society ones, as in the society to which John Ashcroft and Ted Olson, the govt's two highest & powerful lawyers, belong) do. THe Federalist Society had a gathering in Washington DC last winter; the Post reported about it. A law prof from U Texas Austin gave a speech about abolishing ALL the antitrust laws (ie Sherman and Clayton act). So YES, some conversatives DO advocate eliminating the illegality of price-fixing.

as for what antitrust does, you left out perhaps
the most important/visible activity--regulating mergers. Monopoly is not illegal, but market power used to anticompetitive ends, is. And allowing mega-merger after mega-merger permits firms to gain a MASSIVE amount of market power--which is what the DOJ is currently allowing, unfortunately. And once they have that market power, consumers and competitors get screwed.

Nice try tho.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I thought Tim's arguments were very well stated.

I'd rather live in a high-tax high-value society than the libertarian dystopia that Oak seems to expound.

I agree that taxes are "too high". I'm sure we can cut $200B out of spending if we look, and perhaps rationalize our current hodge-podge of social programs like health insurance administration.

Adopting Canada's single-payer system could probably close the federal budget gap, even with Bush's 2001 tax cuts in place, right there.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and Tim, Your entire rant was inspired by my comment that I don't like to pay taxes. I assume you do, so I'm sure you send in extra every year.

But I really liked this gem:
>>"Why the hell do you think our economy dwarfs everyone else's? Why do you think this is indeed the "land of opportunity"?

Well it certainly ain't do to taxes. The fact that you do is so funny I fell out of my chair.

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

is not an argument.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Tolucajim,

You are quite right about mergers. The law prohibits merging to a monopoly. Actually, it has been interpreted to prohibit mergers where the resulting firm will not have a monopoly, but will have substantial market power. I'm not sure that fine distinctions about where to draw the line on how much market power is too much rise to the level of threats to the Republic as you seem to think. Overall, if you are an antitrust lawyer, you'd have to agree that we are in a better world than we were when the Supremes were handing down cases like US Shoe.

I hadn't heard that a U. Tex. prof called for abolishing Section 1 along with Section 2 of the Sherman Act. I'm not sure that you can generalize from what one law professor says - unless, did Olson and Ashcroft agree? That would be news, indeed.

Posted by: douglevene at October 10, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oak,

It's your failure to see any point, or any coherency in my rant that makes you a dwarf. You've got problems with taxes that are about as well thought out as an infant's problems with the bogey-man. You've got a lot of bitch points but all in all it seems like you just don't understand what taxation does or is to a society.


Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Troy,
I don't live in some dystopia. I realize that taxes are required. You said:

>>"agree that taxes are "too high". I'm sure we can cut $200B out of spending if we look, and perhaps rationalize our current hodge-podge of social programs like health insurance administration."

I totally agree. Hell, freezing (not cutting) MOST spending at current levels could wonders. I'd even bet that there's more that 200B to eliminate. Where the point of diminishing returns lies - well I don't know that.
Me lamenting about paying a gas tax is a far cry from wanting to eliminate it - and all other taxes for that matter.

Our government is the mother of all bad fiscal managers.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

One usenet poster has this classic line wrt libertarianism:

"All the liberty you can afford, and not one drop more."

Can't really improve upon that.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Our government is the mother of all bad fiscal managers

The "We" in "We The People" are our government. If it goes bad it is our fault, not the politician's.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Doug,
You're right that "fine distinctions about where to draw the line on how much market power is too much" probably don not "rise to the level of threats to the Republic as [I] seem to think."
Sure, but my original post way up was how this was just indicative of the GOP's general whoring to big business--soft on antitrust, big on fat contracts to cronies, softies on accounting standards, big on certain subsidies (energy, logging, etc).

As for progress from the days of BROWN Shoe v US, sure, that is good and I agree that a market share of 2.5% should not stop a merger. That said, I think we've swung too far.

As for the U Tex prof, trust me. I wish the WashingtonPost still had their articles searchable for free, but they have an archive section now for a fee. But it was last December, and he didn't quibble section 1 v section 2, he said repeal ALL the antitrust laws--and he received a standing ovation from his Federalist Society compatriots. I don't know if Johnny or Ted clapped with them, but they're still members. His views didn't seem to upset them much...(I mean, that position is just ABSURD!! There's no way I could continue to be a member after that, much less, as Ashcroft is doing, heavily recruit yet more Federalist Society members into the DOJ...)

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tim,
I understand most of what you wrote. I just said you sound incoherent because the post is so full of invective.

>>"You've got no clue. Taxes are the price we pay to live in a cooperative society"

Yes I do. I know we have to pay taxes. It's the amount and the kind of taxes I have issues with. Particularly when our government wastes so much. Your leaping here because I'm a conservative. Have fun.

>>"There's nothing special about Americans or "the American spirit". We don't neccessarily work harder and smarter and faster than everyone else."

We sure as Hell do. We are number one in the world exactly because we do work harder, smarter and faster than everyone else. That statement is out and out false.

>>"This nation has provided the context, via the federal government- its programs and institutions- necessary for individuals to be able to be able to succeed in their endevors beyond imagining given they're able to pull it off, via blind luck or anything else."

200 hundred years ago this was much more true than today. But the federal Government does nothing to make you or I successful. The absence of the Feds meddling does that. Taxes are just another way for the Government to help control us "ignants".

Have a nice day!

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

>>"The "We" in "We The People" are our government. If it goes bad it is our fault, not the politician's."

Very true. Now if there was some easy way to force those that we elect to actually manage the government in a fiscally responsible way, we might start to see some progress.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I'd actually be interested in hearing the answer to this question:

But I really liked this gem:
>>"Why the hell do you think our economy dwarfs everyone else's? Why do you think this is indeed the "land of opportunity"?

Well it certainly ain't do to taxes. The fact that you do is so funny I fell out of my chair.

If it's not due to the institutions, the protections, the infrastructure and the environments created by government, which of course means created by taxes, then what is it?


Oh, and no, I don't like to pay taxes, but I don't really mind either, because I know what taxes pay for. And yes, as a matter of fact I do pay extra taxes. Here in CA lottery proceeds go to pay for public schooling, it's essentially a voluntary tax. I buy a couple dollar's worth every week, knowing full well I'll never win, precisely because I want to give more to education.

Sure, it's an idiot tax too, for all those people who spend $100's month on tickets because it represents the only hope they have in their lives, but for me it's giving to schools. The game just makes it fun! Weeeeee!

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

But the federal Government does nothing to make you or I successful.

All my points, proven so eloquently.

Thanks.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Brackley quotes Krugman:

Does the ideal of ?nonpartisanship? mean that I should have mixed my critiques of Bush policies with praise, or with attacks on the hapless, ineffectual Democrats, just for the sake of perceived balance? Given what I knew to be the truth, would that even have been ethical?

He starts out with a faulty premise. "Nonpartisanship" is not necessarily an ideal to strive for. I don't honestly expect anyone to be nonpartisan. There's absolutely nothing wrong with strongly identifying with the core ideals of a particular political party and voicing and acting in accordance to those beliefs.

However, there is something wrong with being so entrenched in political tribalism that you are hardly able to view a political opponent as a human being, but primarily as a caricature of everything you stand against (which is how Bush has increasingly been portrayed).

Look, I didn't vote for the man in 2000 (not as if my vote would have counted in Texas, what with the idiotic Electoral College system), and as I stated earlier, I disagree with many of his policies. And even if I didn't support his foreign policy post-9/11, I hope I would retain the objectivity to keep from entirely demonizing the man. I happen to believe he is less complex, but more single-minded than his predecessor, but that brings strength to certain aspects of leadership as well as weaknesses.

So no, the dialogue of a liberal partisan strongly opposed to most of Bush's policies doesn't need to mix in false praise or groundless attacks against their own ranks. But one-sided criticism often amounts to preaching to the choir (the people who sling shit at Clinton without acknowledging that politicians of both parties are often equally guilty of similar offenses are just as bad).

And as an example of the inability to acknowledge good policy, I'd point to the $15 billion AIDS package for Africa. Virtually every liberal I read or heard either avoided the subject or found something sniping to say about it (perhaps suggesting that Bush was cynically courting the black vote, or complaining about the allocation schedule). If you're so goddamn cynical that you can't even acknowledge that such a policy, despite the actual payout schedule, might actually alleviate suffering and do some real good in the world...well, yes, I have few qualms about calling you out as a mindless partisan shill.

Posted by: Derek James at October 10, 2003 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Black Oak,

The only thing I would say is look at how much the Republicans are spending now. And look at who it is going to. And who do you think will pay for it? Not Ken Lay.

Taxes on gas are high, but then again they usually pay pretty directly for highways and patrolling thereof. In your own state. That you obviously are using. What is the Republican alternative...a highly competitive system of privately financed toll highways? Sure. Use the roads less, you'll pay less taxes.

Byrd having been in the Klan 60 years ago ain't cool. But Republicans have a problem with race now--today. You may not be a racist, but don't delude yourself: if Byrd was still in the Klan, which party would he vote for? You know the answer. And that is the electoral company you are keeping.

The one thing I'm sure we can agree on is the need for strict anti-corruption enforcement. Your wealthier neighbor using Head Start annoys you to no end? That seems like a rule isn't being enforced properly there, although all the facts may not be known. But is the solution abolishing Head Start? Better to put that money towards welfare for multinationals and campaign donors instead? No, the solution is enforcing the rules.

And who enforces the rules better, Dems or Pugs? We know the answer here in California. See we had around 8 billion dollars bilked through a criminal conspiracy and fraud (soak the liberals, not the rich, I guess). You can see for yourself what Sheriff Bush has done about it--which is just blatant corruption in my book. The Republican law-and-order BS shows it's true colors: they won't prosecute massive white-collar criminals--because laws are only for little people. Hopefully of color. Rush still hasn't been arrested, how shocking. Just remember, your ass would already be in jail.

Referring to "drunken Democrats" is also ironic considering Bush and Cheney both have convictions for DUI. And now their drunken asses are careening us down the fiscal highway. Better buckle that seatbelt while you preach about the sins of Democrats.

But I hear you when you say you don't trust Democrats. They're not perfect or pure. Taxation is definitely confiscation to some extent. What's sad is that somehow you trust the Republicans more. It's rude, but I'll say it anyways--you're a sucker who's believing con-men. Either that or you're the con-man looking for suckers.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tim writes:

That's your test, pal, and allow me to point out, Mr. Oh-So-Independent, that you are officially the arbiter of nothing.

Well yeah, you're right.

Would you now possibly like to point out why it's not a decent standard by which to judge someone's political objectivity (which Ben actually tried to do), or are you only capable of condescending sarcasm?

You're playing a little trick intellectually petty people like to play: setting up goal-posts and criteria no one asked for, criteria you yourself happen to meet qute nicely, and then pre-judging everyone, dividing everyone into the "as wonderfully fair and objective as I" and "sad, partisan rabble" camps.

No, no one asked for my criteria. But then, no one asked for your vile lip, either. And yet you offered it.

I think my general point still stands reasonably well. Neither party is credibly able to throw stones without at least partially acknowledging that the sins of their own are often the same. And as pointed out in the AIDS package example above, there most likely have been at least a few policy initiatives or decisions that, if initiated by a politician of your own party, you probably would have praised. This is, of course, textbook hypocrisy, and yes, blind partisanship.

Posted by: Derek James at October 10, 2003 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I can't speak for the other Tim, but my line on the "Bush" AIDS package goes like this: I'll believe it when I see it. Show me the money because talk is damn cheap. Furthermore, I want to be damn sure it isn't a great Roveian kickback to all the "faith-based" organizations in of the GOP.

Meet that standard--that it isn't a bait and switch lie and it isn't corruption rewarding his political base--and he gets my praise. I doubt you can.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Tim B.

I don't "trust" Republicans more. I just look at how they've acted over the last 30 years and How the Democrats have - and I see a lesser evil in the Republicans. Maybe "trust" is the best word. But I don't actually trust any politician.

Obviously most here will disagree. That's fine by me. I like Kevin's blog for the most part. He is much more grounded in reality than say DU and that ilk. And I'm not so close-minded as to think that others don't have a good idea. That's why I visit.

As for the deficit this year. I don't blame Bush. The only thing he could have done was veto the budget and send it back saying give me one that balances. I'd have loved that - but the Democrats would have used it as a springboard for things like - "he's shutting down the government". That's the political side of it.
He didn't veto it though. But Gore wouldn't have either - had he been elected. Congress is at fault here. And all I can do there is vote for my congressman. Which I do.

As for my neighbor using Head Start. He's my friend. His kids play with mine. We eat dinner at each other's houses. Yeah, I could call him on it, but we are diametrically opposed politically - so we keep the conversations neutral. I mentioned it once, he jokingly said it was "free", and I didn't think it was worth losing the friendship over.
It might be oversite on the part of the program administer. But the fact that it can happen two blocks from my house, to a friend of mine, tells me it's happening all over the nation. And yes (trolls) I know that's a leap, but you won't convince otherwise so don't jump on that as a debate point.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

The checkbook and the budget are kept in Congress. Dean may be for all that. But go find any presidential candidate that says it's not for keeping a balanced budget. You won't because you can't. It's political suicide to say different.

Heh, as a Vermont resident, I can tell you one thing: Out of the 10 candidates for president, Howard Dean has the most experience in forcing Democrats to accept balanced budgets. In 1990, Vermont was being crushed by debt. Dean annoyed quite a few Democrats by cutting spending. Today, we have have a budget surplus and a good credit rating.

I won't pretend Vermont is in perfect shape--it's a tiny New England state with a lot of cows--but the nation could do worse than Dean if it wants to bring a smidgen of reality to the budget.

Posted by: EK at October 10, 2003 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

Derek,

I was more rude than I needed to be but it's ridiculous to make up some rule, with yourself as the prime example, simply to call someone a name. Not praising Bush doesn't make Krugman, or anyone, anything. It's the substance of his arguments that show him to be a reasonable, measured man.


and Oak,

Still waiting to hear what it is that makes us so great if it's not the institutions, etc., paid for by taxes?

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Now if there was some easy way to force those that we elect to actually manage the government in a fiscally responsible way, we might start to see some progress."

Maybe you could start by voting for a Democrat?

Anyway, back to Krugman. I found Krugman shrill at the beginning of the year; now I just find him sensible. Have I changed, or has he?

Posted by: Andrew Boucher at October 10, 2003 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oakster:

I'll say you are more open-minded and less "slash-and-burn" than many who post here from both sides, but I still have this question: who are you defending ? The fiscal conservatives of yore you say are gone or corrupted ? What, then, is the modern Republican party but a bunch of free-spending hypocrites? These are the people you trust more than the democrats ? At least (if one accepts your premise re: democratic habits) we are honest and upfront. Truer words were never spoken than by Fritz Mondale in '84: "I'll raise your taxes and tell ya' about it. He's gonna raise your taxes and not tell ya' about it!" What is this giant tax cut but a tax raise on our kids?

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Tim,
Capitalism, Freedom and Ingenuity makes us great.

Go read Bill Wittle's "TRINITY" Essay at http://www.ejectejecteject.com. It's long. I doubt you will. But he says it a lot better than I ever could. That's my answer.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Alabama is a sad, sad case. It's what you can expect, though, from one of the most poorly educated states in the nation.--Tim

Right, and given the voting down of Riley's tax initiative, it's destined to stay that way. what's really interesting to me about this tho is that Riley, very much conservative and very much republican, deeply aligned in fact with the religious right, pushed for the tax increase on the grounds that the current tax structure was immoral and unchristian. Also ironically, and sadly, part of the reason it went down is that the black churches wouldn't get behind him, due to his party affiliation (and a political snub where his inauguration parade bumped an MLK day parade) and therefore didn't work in the interests of many of their parishioners. it has the makings o' grand tragedy, i tell ya!


Posted by: Eric at October 10, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, but there are some real questions here.

1. You believe this massive spending is legit and inevitable. Okay, fine, don't blame Bush. But who should be paying for this spending and how?

2. The racism issue is real and deserves a response. The problem ain't about Byrd.

3. Understood I guess on the HeadStart thing. I don't know if his kid is eligible or not because I don't know him or the rules. But regardless, me as a taxpayer, I'm not that concerned if a kid is getting too much early instruction. My infinitesimal fraction of a penny that he may be bilking: okay. If that's the kind and scale of corruption that offends your principles--okay. Frankly I wish every parent in America (and the whole damn ignorant-ass masses of the world) would bilk the system that way.

4. Limbaugh just admitted to being an addict. Let's see how many conservatives call for jailtime for this hardened criminal. My new governor is clearly a sexual harasser and frankly should be facing a judge. Republicans have a real problem in the application of law to their own kind.

The GOP is sort of like country music. Some of the old stuff is great and full of heart. But God the new stuff is the worst, manipulative, soulless shit on earth.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

boonie,
Who am I defending? HA! That's the problem. I'm in a quandry. I think the Republicans have abandoned any fiscal responsibility in an attempt to co-opt all the centrists/moderates - Ensuring Bush's reelection. Politically, it makes sense. But it has pissed off a lot of fiscal conservatives - including me and most of my friends.

Hell, I don't have an answer. I don't see voting Democrat is going do anything to reduce spending. Do you really think Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Gephardt or Tom Daschle are going to become penny pinchers all of a sudden? I don't. So I don't have a solution. I'll just keep harping on spending/taxes etc. There will have to be a push again to stop spending like a terminal ill person with no family or heirs.

The Social Security trainwreck is looming. Unfortunately, it's going to hit right about the time I turn 65.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

"But the federal Government does nothing to make you or I successful."

Maybe they didn't do anything to help make you successful Black Oak, but they sure helped me. They paid for my college education (ROTC scholarship), thus permitting me to get the best education in the world (at MIT). Without a program like this, high end colleges are only available to rich kids. My lower middle class (at best) background would never have allowed me to attend an elite university without help.

Maybe in your jaded world you can deny to yourself that the federal government has ever done anything to help you, but to believe this is true of everyone else as well is complete idiocy.

Posted by: MikeR at October 10, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Capitalism, Freedom and Ingenuity makes us great.

If you think that's an answer you're clinically insane. That's a slogan, Oak, there's no substance to it whatsoever.

That's really pathetic. Surely you know the difference between an explanation and a soundbite?


Erik-

If Consevative Christians were actually Christian, that is they embodied the ideals Jesus yapped on about, they'd be clamoring for just the sort of things they tried to pass in Alabama.

There's nothing Christian about those sorts of people.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

Eric,

A similar situation occured in Tennessee, where I live. Gov. Don Sundquist (R) got through his first term OK and, unconstrained by the need to get re-elected, tried a Nixon-to-China (this phrase is used so much we need an acronym) on the state's tax structure by lobbying for an income tax. The backlash was immediate and enormous, and he had alienated enough people in the democratic-controlled legislature that he was left to twist in the wind. The whole fiasco didn't do anyone any good: Republicans didn't pick up any power in the statehouse, and the current Democratic governor is hamstrung by campaign promises made during the whole affair. Result: Tennessee has the highest sales taxes in the country, and we will still have to revisit this issue in a couple of years, because sales taxes are relatively "inelastic" compared to population growth and healthcare costs. Also, our schools still suck, and college tuitions were raised across the board.

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tim B,

1) I don't want anybody to pay for it. I want the numbskull in Congress to get their head out of their ass and stop the spending party.

2) Racism. I'll get flamed for this - fine. I don't think racism is as rampant as everyone says. I just don't see it. I spent 9 years in the Army. The most diverse organization in the nation. I cannot and will not look at someone and judge them by their race. I think most don't either. You don't. There isn't a Democrat that says they do. Any idiot that does should be beaten to a pulp. I no more align myself by my race than say the NAACP or those that support MECHa. That's a cheap shot I know.

3) We'll agree to disagree. although we're probably closer than each of us thinks.

4) Limbaugh?? Where did this come from? Anyway, where is is written that all Republicans are against addiction? I no more want him to serve jail time than I did Brett Farve when he went into rehab for Vicoden addiction. Same goes for anybody else. Now, had Farve been selling Vicoden to others to support his habit. I'd turn the lock. BTW, huge Packer fan here.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

Derek, Africans sufferign from AIDS are NOT going to get $15 billion. That's a classic example of bait and switch. Bush announces an allocation for spending that won't take place.

And you know it.

Meanwhile on another "angry" note --

Why is Tommy Chong going to jail for nine months for selling bongs (not pot, just bongs) while
a certain lying sack of shit racist broadcaster is still waddling around a free man?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oak,

We'll just have to agree to disagree about the Pack :-)

Posted by: boonie at October 10, 2003 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

Tim,
I said go read the essay at the website, dumbass. Please don't waste my time anymore. You have a closed mind.

MikeR,

Excellent point. The statement is over broad. It's hard to stay on point when your debating 10 people over the internet. You obviously must be pretty smart. Did you get the ROTC scholarship after you got accepted to MIT? I ask only because you couldn't have gotten accepted to MIT unless you were smart enough. The ROTC scholarship was a way to pay for the education, but you must have gotten into MIT on your own merits. I may be leaping here as I don't know the specifics of your situation. Your point is well taken though. I was in ROTC too BTW.

And again, I'm not anti-government. It has a role in all our lives. I just want it limited more than most here.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

1. Okay, but the bill has arrived. And more are on the way, believe it.

2. Not saying you are racist. Saying the political party you vote for is. Were you ever stationed in the South?

3. Okay.

4. This is still unfolding and RL hasn't fully told his side of the story yet. But there are literally hundreds of thousands of people now or formally behind bars for illegal possession--largely the results of get-tough Republican ideas about law enforcement priorities. You don't see the hypocrisy at work here? And let's not talk about the money involved in imprisoning non-violent offenders. That's where some money could be saved overnight.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 02:27 PM | PERMALINK

"I no more want him to serve jail time than I did Brett Farve when he went into rehab for Vicoden addiction."

Vicotin = Legal Heroin

No exceptions for Republicans! TOSS 'EM IN THE HOLE!!!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

Black Oak,

My admission came first. The scholarship took longer and may have been even more difficult to quialify for.

Posted by: MikeR at October 10, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tim B.

I was stationed in the south. North Carolina and Lousiana. Iowa is south to me BTW. Northern boy, born and bred here. Racism exists. Just not to the level some believe - IMO. It is also a two sided coin that I've seen at work. That side of the coin is never shown though and is denied by too many.

I think a lot of people think all Republicans march in Lock step. We don't. I'm pro-abortion for christ sake. Just not nearly as "Pro" as most on the left.
The Drug thing is messy. The drug laws are too hard in many cases. I'm not going to disagree just to debate. I don't think addiction is criminal. And no one "caught" he-who-shall-not-be-named with the drugs on his possesion. Yeah it's a fine line. Sue me. The guy who had a dime bag or some coke and is in jail because of mandatory sentancing may or may not have deserved it. Each case will be different. If you want me to agree that some of the mandatory drug laws are harsh - OK.

gotta go grocery shopping. It's been mostly fun. Have a great weekend.

Posted by: Black Oak at October 10, 2003 02:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oak,

I asked you to explain it, dumbass.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, back off on Black Oak; at least he's not a troll. He's making arguments and not reciting dittohead talking points; we won't win any converts by insulting them.

Keep visiting the site Black Oak; Kevin does a great job, and hopefully someday your views will change. Just keep an open mind, and know that many of us on this side will be keeping an open mind as well.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

But I did check out a bit of that crap you pointed to. The guy thinks wealth is created out of thin air. He thinks a million dollars going to a scriptwriter increases the GDP.

Through human ingenuity, value is added. Wealth is created from thin air.

He's a fucking idiot. Money is fungible and finite, it does not come out of thin air, it moves. It moves around the whole planet. It makes East Asia a powerhouse in the world's markets for a few years until the money managers pull their money out and make it a poverty-striken jungle with too many factories.

Seriously, dumbass, I asked you to explain what made America so great and you point me to some jackasses' "America is a magical land where money comes out of thin air!" bullshit commencement speech for FuckWad-U.

If you're really that dumb there's no point in trying to get you to answer. Read one book, just one book on the nature of international finance and global markets and come back and try tell me money is created out of thin air.

If you're spending your time crafting your thoughts on the nature of taxation, government, spending and economies by reading shit like that then it's most certain you know jack shit and all my criticisms are spot-on.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

Toluca-

Sorry, I have lost my patience behind the couch and can't find it.

Posted by: Tim at October 10, 2003 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Each case will be different."

Yep. If you're rich,white, Repubican and well-connected you may not even get charged.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Tim,

I can relate to the anger, bro. You sound like you're ready to stomp some Pugs. I have days like that.

I wish this was a more target-rich environment for you though. B-Oak sounds more like a moderate who hates taxes to me. Not stupid, but not a policy wonk either. Doubt you'll find the kind of debate you're looking for here--things usually don't get sharp unless Tacitus shows up. Which is a shame because your posts are sharp as hell.

Anyways, I'd say chill a little. Rage usually doesn't change minds so much.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Rage usually doesn't change minds so much"

So fucking what? "Mind-changing" is not the issue. Only Power.

Ann Coulter, bless her dark little heart, is quite clear about this -- while Black Oak prefers to obfuscate.

She says Liberals should be killed. Fine. Then this is war.

Oscar Wilde said it best in the last line of Salome.

a fortiori, I should like to take this opportunity to extend the same sentiment to everyone who supports the Frat-Boy-Coward's adminsitration.

And I say that with love.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

David, you say:
"Mind-changing" is not the issue. Only Power.

Well, this is (still, for now) a democracy, and votes=power.

O0 showed an election can come down to 500 some votes. If we can stay civil to folks like Black Oak--who seem bright and well-intentioned--and point out to them the ways in which Bush is trashing any and everything good and decent in conservatism (and america), we can pick up those 500 votes and turn things around.

I understand what you're saying about this being war tho--and I think it's time we Liberals generally regained our voice and SHOUT about the cronyism, wrongs and destructive behavior of Bushco and pull no punches. Fight fire with fire.

But Black Oak is not Ann Coulter. Black Oak is listening to us and offering his point of view (Ann Coulter would scream at us, call us traitors, trot our ridiculous lies to "prove it" and not listen to a word we said in a response). He therefore deserves different, and better, treatment.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 04:04 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed that it is war and a struggle for power, not a manners competition. Just saying direct the ammo at the right target--the hardcore idiots who should be mercilessly humiliated in public. LGF or Free Republic seem like good venues. I'd love to see Tim go at 'em.

Toluca(Lake?)Jim--Christ you must be having a great 3 years so far. Anti-trust is one of the major battlegrounds of course and you must have a front-row seat. Good luck, and I hope you're taking notes on where the bodies are buried.

Posted by: Tim B. at October 10, 2003 04:24 PM | PERMALINK

Black Oak, before you say much more about Professor Krugman, you probably ought to read his book.

It's right there, in black and white. His allegiance is not to the Democrats (whom he also takes to the woodshed on a few issues, most notably around free markets, which he is real big on), but to the principles of economic health. And since he's one of the world's experts on international financial crises, he's not just guessing when he talks about where Bush's policies are leading us. He's got the numbers to back it up.

He documents the fact that, for the last century, Democratic administrations and Congresses have been far more successful at balancing budgets, reducing deficits, and cutting spending than the Republicans. You can cork off all you want about tax-and-spend-Democrats, but Krugman drives a stake through the heart of that one, and it ain't gonna rise no more. It is *SIMPLY NOT TRUE.*

He also discusses the Social Security crisis, which Clinton addressed head-on, and actually all but solved. Over the heads of the Republicans in Congress, he set us up to dodge that bullet completely. The gains of the 90s boom were salted away for just this purpose. It was one less thing we were going to have to worry about...

...until Bush took office, looked at that big fat pot, and said, "Ooo! More for me and my rich friends!" It was all gone to tax cuts in two years flat.

In ten years, we'll be feeling the results of that -- but most of us won't remember to blame Bush for the fact that we can't meet the Boomers' SS needs. Or that it the whole disaster was totally unnecessary.

Thus quoth Krugman. If anybody deserves to grace his mantlepiece with both a Nobel and Pulitzer, it's him.

Posted by: Mrs. Robinson at October 10, 2003 04:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's unfortunate that Tim was impolite enough that Black Oak found something else to focus on instead of the substance of what he said.

Well move to Afghanistan, dude. There's no government there, it ought to be utopia to you.

What's that? They don't have a working infrastructure, legal system, police forces, national defense, enforcement of contracts, a literate population, adequate health care, protection of property, person, and process? They don't have any roads I can drive on? Any network of air routes or trains or anything to move people, product and services? They don't have TV, phone lines, or broadband? No labor guidelines, no protection of the national water supplies or land? Men with guns do what they want??

I'm going to add a paragraph from Joe Conason:

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances.

Posted by: eyelessgame at October 10, 2003 04:43 PM | PERMALINK

It was all gone to tax cuts in two years flat.

Not entirely accurate:

FY91 deficit: 431B
FY92 deficit: 399B
FY93 deficit: 346B
...
FY00 deficit: 17B
FY01 deficit: 133B
FY02 deficit: 420B
FY03 deficit: 554B

The tax cuts are only responsible for about half the current deficit (103B from 2001 and an additional 110B from 2003).

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't liberals and conservatives just hash this shit out?

Working together we ought to produce wonderful public policy... isn't this all just a difference of opinion?

Hell, if Schwarzie does what he claims he'll do I'd gladly go Republican, if it results in the wingnuts losing their position of leverage.

Posted by: Troy at October 10, 2003 05:04 PM | PERMALINK

Strange isn't it, Paul Krugman feels that civility towards his opponents in the White House is unwarranted and would be an example of dishonesty. However he branded Andrew Sullivan "too vile to read" when he presented factual evidence of Krugman's lying, dissimulation and hypocrisy. I guess Krugman is right about there being double standards.

Posted by: RF at October 10, 2003 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

RF--that's a good one! Very funny!

Andrew Sullivan is an absolute and utter joke. His factual errors, rhetorical sleights of hand and basic dishonesty are abominable.

Last I checked he doesn't have a degree in Economics either.

Sullivan is clearly insane--how else could he support a President who declares this past week National Protection of Marriage Week (or something stupid like that)...when this week is the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death. Ya think that was a coinky-dink? I don't. He's winking and sending a message to all those hateful chriso-fascists that he, too, hates dem gays.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 05:47 PM | PERMALINK

For whoever asked about my name--it actually goes back to Pulp Fiction (when Travolta accidently shots that kid in the car, Sam Jackson drives them to his friend Jimmy in Toluca Lake in 818).

I grew up in Nebraska, and I'm now in DC.

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 05:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Sullivan is clearly insane"

Nope. It's Toxoplasmosis

"Well, this is (still, for now) a democracy, and votes=power."

And since votes are something to be purchased, "democracy" is a myth.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

David, that's absurd. Take off your tin-foil hat.

Sure, pumping money into campaigns, negative ads, and such can powerfully INFLUENCE elections, but votes are not purchased.

Btw, don't drink the water; there's this wicked thing in it that makes you WACKY (i think it's fluoride).

Posted by: TolucaJim at October 10, 2003 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

So "getting thr money out of politics" with the McCain-Feingold act was a complete waste of time?

Do you have any other suggestions?

Meanwhile on another front, I offer this Compassionate Blog entry re. Rush:

Toss the Fat Fuck in the Slammer and Throw Away the Key !

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 10, 2003 07:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Social Security trainwreck is looming. Unfortunately, it's going to hit right about the time I turn 65.

That's right, Oak. That's the whole point of being a Republican, isn't it? Everything is right on track.

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