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Debt as legislation lubrication [updated]

Deep in my story today on the debt is a passage about pain-averse political culture, something I've written about on the A-blog a few times:

Fiscal calamities in the past have been solved or moderated. But often the politicians who tried to fix the problem were booted from office. When President George H.W. Bush broke his no-new-taxes pledge in 1990, he torpedoed his reelection chance. Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993, and the Democrats quickly lost control of Congress. Clinton left office with the nation showing a budget surplus, but that vanished with the George W. Bush tax cuts, two wars and a new entitlement program, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, that Congress and the White House decided didn't need to be paid for.

Fiscal discipline means pain in a political culture that has shown itself to be pain-averse.

The culture also seeks to reward constituencies. Hence the GOP cuts taxes for its tax-loathing base, and the Democrats push for spending programs and expanded entitlements. The debt has soared in lockstep with the growing polarization of Washington. Someone might try to cobble together a model on this: Does the debt track, in any way, an increase in partisan votes? The explanation might be that debt is a way of papering over the different agendas of the two parties.

What happens, practically speaking, is that compromises in contentious bills tend to be expensive. Thus a tax cut is thrown as a sop to the GOP and a more liberal spending provision is offered the Democrats. Debt is the salve on the wound of rancorous politics. It fixes everything! Until the bill comes due.

Although everyone deplores the debt and agrees that the trendlines are awful, there's no one out there marching against deficit spending (the tea partiers march against government, period). The Bush tax cuts at the beginning of this decade probably drained a couple of trillion dollars out of the Treasury (the matter is debatable like everything else). The wars were never paid for. Prescription drugs were added to Medicare without any means of paying for that, either. Deficit hawk Kent Conrad told me he wanted that new entitlement to be paid for, but when he lost that battle, he voted for it anyway.

--

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See also this Post story on Obama's economic speech. Key question: Should unspent TARP funds go to deficit reduction or a jobs bill? You make the call.


--

Obama says that's a false choice. Excerpt of his speech today:

There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. But this is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment so that our deficits will start coming down. At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and on our shores.

One of the central goals of this administration is restoring fiscal responsibility. Even as we have had to spend our way out of this recession in the near term, we have begun to make the hard choices necessary to get our country on a more stable fiscal footing in the long run. Despite what some have claimed, the cost of the Recovery Act is only a very small part of our current budget imbalance. In reality, the deficit had been building dramatically over the previous eight years. Folks passed tax cuts and expensive entitlement programs without paying for any of it - even as health care costs kept rising, year after year. As a result, the deficit had reached $1.3 trillion when we walked into the White House. And I'd note: these budget busting tax cuts and spending programs were approved by many of the same people who are now waxing political about fiscal responsibility while opposing our efforts to reduce deficits by getting health care costs under control. It's a sight to see.

The fact is, we have refused to go along with business as usual; we're taking responsibility for every dollar we spend. We've done what some said was impossible: preventing wasteful spending on outdated weapons systems that even the Pentagon said it didn't want. We've combed the budget, cutting waste and excess wherever we could. I'm still committed to halving the deficit we inherited by the end of my first term. And I made clear from day one that I would not sign a health insurance reform bill if it raised the deficit by one dime - and neither the House nor Senate bill does. We have begun to not only change policies but also to change the culture in Washington.

In the end, the economic crisis of the past year was not just the result of weaknesses in our economy. It was also the result of weaknesses in our political system. For decades, too many in Washington put off hard decisions. For decades, we've watched as efforts to solve tough problems have fallen prey to the bitterness of partisanship, to the prosaic concerns of politics, to ever-quickening news cycles, and to endless campaigns focused on scoring points instead of meeting our common challenges.

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Woman taken by ambulance from Tiger's home in Orlando -- reportedly a middle-aged woman, which has given the talking heads on TV this morning the opportunity to speculate wildly about the hardship of scandal on mothers. I hope everyone's OK there -- this is getting very sad. Elin Nordegren reportedly has bought a house on a remote island off the coast of Sweden, perhaps because there was no vacancy at the North Pole.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 8, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
 
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Comments

Rt - is right. Economics may be the dismal science but it is short hand -- replete with sleight of hand -- for how people relate to one another in groups.

I go on record advocating for regionalized steady-state economies. For us, for others, for the planet, indeed, for survival.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 8, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Bread and circuses.

That is my cryptic ST:TOS remark for the day.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel. Good explanation of how the debt grew in the recent past. But can anyone explain how some people believe that the stimulus bill added to the debt, but that the tax cuts and war expenses did not? In my simple mind, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar. What's going on is like a husband and wife deciding that, rather than compromise, they will buy *both* the new golf clubs for him and the Coach bag for her. All on the credit card, of course.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 8, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I think this is a very profound observation. I don't know if there is enough quantifiable historical data to back up this theory, but it certainly makes sense. The only way out that I see, outside of electing and supporting a better class of Congressmen, is to somehow make the long-term pain of debt more salient in the near term. I'm not exactly sure what this mechanism might be, but to be effective it would have to be sufficiently heinous to motivate all Americans equally.

Maybe for each extra billion added to the national debt we would all have to do a set of wind sprints.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

My view is that the so-called "deficit hawks" really only propose tax cuts, on the theory that the cuts will eventually "starve" the government into fiscal responsibility. This means that they don't have to propose any specific program cuts themselves, thereby saving their own pet pork projects. You know the old saying: "Don't cut me, don't cut you, cut the man behind that tree."

Posted by: ebtnut | December 8, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I believe it was Dick Cheney that once said, "deficits don't matter". Right?

Posted by: ebtnut | December 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Ebtnut, surely you mean the man behind the curtain, which means we can cut the Oz-Wizard guy from Kansas, right? The original Balloon Man.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 8, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

ebtnut,

The 'starve the beast' theory would work if the beast were subject to normal dietary rules, but deficits are pretty hardy creatures capable of going long distances without feeding. They are the proverbial horses designed by committee.

Cheney also said that conservation was a personal virtue not worthy of legislative action.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom,

Substitute 'computer' for 'golf clubs' and you have struck upon the Jkt family budget meeting transcript. I have been deficit spending for three decades now. I find the gummint method of financing inspirational. And even better, probate laws prevent the debt being passed onto my kids, at least I hope so because I Am Not A Tax Lawyer.

I'm still counting on the upcoming round of hyperinflation to wipe out my debt like so many Weimar Republic billion mark notes.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope that it isn't Barbro Holmberg who is on advanced life support at a hospital in Ocoee, Fla., this morning. The Swedish publication Afonbladet has pictures of this Swedish Laplander mother--not with this link below, however.

Given Holmberg's position in the Swedish government, certainly it is her Swedish daughter who should migrate to the very recently acquired Faglaro Mansion on a remote island near Stockholm (very recently acquired by Holmberg's twin daughters), and her son-in-law who should be placed in an asylum.

http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article6255787.ab

Think I should address a comment to Eugene Robinson about the difference between "immersion journalism" a la Barbara Ehrenreich and Gloria Steinem and his ivory-tower op-edding? Pretty ridiculous effort from Robinson this morning.

Posted by: laloomis | December 8, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"A free nation deep in debt: the financial roots of democracy" by James MacDonald does an elaborate historic analysis to show that democracies, from the start (like the early US) were different from the old monarchies in that they borrowed from their citizens. Communists and other totalitarians didn't borrow, either. As bad as the US deficit and debt situations seem today, I suppose we can be encouraged that democracies haven't tended to collapse due to debt. On second thought, do I need to check Latin American history? Weimar Republic?

Anyway, Joel wrote an articulate story.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 8, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

But why should a beast be starved? Especially if you want that beast to do an honest day's work, or otherwise provide a service?

You only starve a beast if you want to kill it, but don't have the balls to do it cleanly and humanely; it is the coward's way out. And if you go around killing beasts just out of meanness and disregard for others, out of pure selfishness, greed and xenophobia (and disregard for the beasts themselves), what does that make you?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

sd made a very good point in the last boodle about the feds carrying the states. Why was the stimulus ineffective? (if indeed it was) Because it wasn't used to do anything new, it was used to continue the same old same old at the state level-and in some states not even at that level.

Those who would be inclined to support T-Paw, as an alternative to Sarah or any other Rep., beware. He likes to balance the state budget by cutting taxes and slashing payments to cities and school districts-thus forcing them to raise taxes. He is on the verge of closing a 2 billion deficit by cutting about 100 million in state Local Government Aid (LGA) payments to cities. Never mind that this still leaves a pretty wide gap. LGA was part of the "Minnesota Miracle" which put most of the tax collection and spending authority in the hands of the state in an effort to equalize services-like schools-so Minnesotans weren't at the mercy of pitiful tax bases in one area (like our fair city on an Indian reservation and surrounded by National Forest)while their neighbors lived high on the hog. Setting aside the merits of this redistribution of wealth, it has been the law of the land for more than a generation now and we count on the revenue.
We reviewed our 2010 budget at the city council meeting last night and if the governor does not release our December LGA payment (about $10,000) we will not be able to replace the part time employee who died last month. I suppose we can be thankful we don't have to lay anyone off.

I don't know how large a deficit, or debt, the country can handle. But I do know this, no party or individual pol is without sin. We started talking about dissolving Our Fair City last night-great for those who don't carry insurance on their property, or feel they don't need to because their mortgage is paid off, because our Fire Dept. would fold and the new insurance premiums would make our double digit property tax increases look like small change.

I am at my wits end, and will probably blow all $355 I cleared in the mayor's position this year on espresso and wine (the check is burning a hole in my wallet as I type).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Where is it written that the stimulus was ineffective?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Frosti -- your comments expose the *real* reality for 99.99999% of *real* Americans (and other residents here), as opposed to, say "fake reality" which is so often discussed in the MSM and tabloids.

Again, it's difficult to underestimate the utter stupidity of the American people and those who (please pardon the expression) "are elected to serve them" -- yep, serve 'em up on a platter.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Mudge: The Repubs keep touting this mantra for partisan reasons. Their pitch is to the folks is that, "Right, you don't feel better right now, so the whole stimulus thing was a failure." They won't talk about most of the professional economists who say that without the stimulus we would be a LOT worse off. They won't admit that jobs are the last thing to get better during a recovery, and that right now the jobs situation seems to be getting better a bit faster than most experts thought. Then I hear them griping up on the Hill becuase the President won't listen to any of their ideas on health care. Um, keeping the status quo is not an idea, nor is it good policy. The GOPer's have never been interested in honest debate or negotiation on the issue, only in wrecking the administration's agenda.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 8, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Frosti, for that blast of reality from the front lines of government service delivery.

What sacred cow do we want to take out? Farm subsidies? Medicare? Defense? National parks? Even Republicans have priorities they don't want to see cut.

The Bush tax cuts still make me angry, almost as angry as I was at the stupidity of going into Iraq.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

mudge,
You are right. A starved beast is pretty useless unless you intend to sell the dead carcass to your cronies in the glue business.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

G'day, all. To catch up a bit:

I live in the central time zone, so the BPH would be a bit of a drive. I am grateful for the invite. I hope all attendees, whether in physical form or in spirit, have a great time.

Back in the stone age, I had dreams of being a famous economist. But the need for money intervened, so I went and got an MBA instead. This proved to be a wise move on my part, as over the years I have become very skeptical about virtually all economic theories.

I would put you all "within an eye-blink of a coma" (thank you Mr. A, this has become one of my new favorite lines) if I were to drone on about my economic philosophy. Let's just say I think most economists start from misguided premises in building their theories, the result being a vast mansion of cards.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I understand what the GOP is saying about the stimulus, ebt. But if one simply rejects their premise as being false, then there is nothing to argue with them about. It is especially pointless to get into details if the initial starting point is wrong.

In a way, it is also pointless to debate them anyhow. Their is clearly a failed philosophy (economic and otherwise). To argue with them or to refute them at this point is simply to give them power, and to accept their arguments as possibly legitimate enough to be worthy of debate.

The thing to do is simply to STOP talking about whatever jetsam the GOP throws up. If one starts discussing in what manner the stimulus failed or "should" have been altered or should have been done "right," then yuo've already lost your position.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Spot on, slyness. I still am bewildered regarding the reasons why Congress did not insist that the costs of the war waged in Iraq count in the deficit calculaton. The numbers of dollars in the contemporary world of federal budgets, deficits, and more generally the world of finance, are the wow for the day. Ironically, there doesn't seem to be much evidence of reform on WS, and the buzz is beginning to get louder on the subject of another dramatic bubble bursting in our national and the global real estate market. IIRC, last week experienced a financial meltdown like we did, and it barely registered on the front page.

Posted by: -jack- | December 8, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Great teaser, MsJS. You know stuff, but you're not gonna tell us, for our own good. Now I'm all curious! Please, drone on a little. What are the misguided premises?

Posted by: -bia- | December 8, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

jack,
Part of keeping the Iraq War off-budget was because it was going to be so short and we were going to finance it by skimming oil revenue from the newly re-industrialized oil industry courtesy of Haliburton. The wildest cost estimates proved to be at least one and maybe two orders of magnitude too low.

Part of this hubris was brought on by the tidy profit we turned in Gulf War I by using contributions from gulf states and other countries that gave cash in lieu of troops and weapons. The same fiscal model less the other countries and a grateful wealthy liberated population proved to be less successful this time around.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

bia,
I Am Not An Economist but my guesses for misguided premises would be Rational Consumers and Perfectly Transparent Markets.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, yello, now I remember. The old oil profits will pay for the war trick. Feh.

The idea of using TARP funds to fund some sort of jobs program seems to be getting some traction:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/08/us/politics/AP-US-Obama-Jobs.html

Posted by: -jack- | December 8, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I suspect many of you already know a lot of this, bia. That's why it would sound boring.

Bottom line, economics relies heavily on what you believe to be true. It also relies heavily on what you believe may be iffy, but you are sure you can convince others of its validity and thus it becomes a sort of truth in that you believe that others believe in it.

The debt issue is one such example.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Interesting analysis, MsJS. In that case, perhaps economics should be called "the dismal science," but instead "the dismal neurosis." Which I've often thought. I've been watching Wall Street ever since I was once the business desk copy clerk at the Philly Inquirer in 1967 (and what an awfully dull job THAT was, compared to others). And ever since then I've always thought most economics and business deals were basically crazy as hell. Look at the floor of the stock exchange: a bunch of maniacs sreaming at each other. That's how our stock exchanges operate? That's simply crazy, prima facie. The Dow rises or falls a hundred points on a single "rumor," not even a fact but the possible anticipation of the hint of a perhaps of a maybe that something could happen? More insane behavior. And those who aren't lunatics are craven crooks. This is how the "free market" operates. Those who shouldn't be in jail should be getting their morning meds from Nurse Ratchet before proceeding to finger-painting therapy and playing cards with Martini and Charley Cheswick.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I want to state for the record that I have never played a round with Tiger OR his wife.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 8, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

See, Mudge, I told y'all you knew all this already.

We're constantly making bets based on either what we believe or what we believe others believe.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The 1993 tax raising budget bill was a partisan vote. I don't think partisan votes really track this. I suspect that votes that pass with the bare minimum margin are going to be those that are most associated with decreases in debt and that the partisan vs. bipartisan composition of that winning coalition is less important.

The problem is that with the filibuster becoming a de-facto minimum vote threshold, the amount of logrolling needed has gone up considerably.

That said, these are all falsifiable premises. I may see if I can run these numbers over the weekend. Good research question.

Posted by: greg_sanders | December 8, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

frosti,
I'm familiar with the "don't need a fire department" attitude. In Florida, it tends to go with the notion that each house can have its own well for drinking water, plus its own septic tank.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 8, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Greg, thanks for crunching the numbers on this!

Sorry, folks, about the formatting glitch earlier.

I have added some of Obama's speech to the kit.

Jack, fyi, I think the cost of the wars WAS factored into the deficit. It just wasn't part of the regular budget -- the wars were paid with supplemental bills. The logic behind this was not that the wars were hidden costs but that they didn't want the costs to inflate the Defense budget and become permanent that way -- in other words, it would be easier to not spend $160 billion a year or whatever if that simply meant no more supplementals (vs. cutting the Pentagon budget directly). But someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Posted by: joelache | December 8, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mudge and MsJS, it's like we were cloned and separated at birth (well, Mudge and I more, because we were born only 4 days apart (or something like that) and you seem much younger than we old f@rts).

I never took an actual academic course in economics, but, rather lived it. I've always looked at all this as indeed a house of cards. Maybe 15 or so years ago I took what was called a "Mini-MBA" course put on through the Smithsonian at the Dept. of Agriculture and with instructors from Geo. Mason Univ. Sch. of Bus. It was, IIRC, an 8-week course, two hours once/week in the dead of winter. The course was a cursory review of many different aspects of running a business -- all the way from basic operations to marketing, etc. I found the assumptions that were made were unusually silly most of the time, and as I tend to be a *very* careful (and mostly cranky) consumer, I was the one in the audience shaking her head and suppressing cynical laughter.

There is a huge disconnect between how businesses *should* be run and how they are *actually* run. I'm also not a fan of nosebleed level salaries and parachutes for upper management -- it creates a conflict of interest on so many levels, even onions don't have that many layers. And it's no wonder that the preponderance of CEOs are psychopaths and control freaks.

This is a time of huge anxiety, whether you're trying to keep your job or you're trying to get business. I see it in my own practice, and I've just finished an article I hope to see published. And then wait until someone reads it and calls me or emails me to check out the legal services I can offer.

*tapping foot on leg with the "good" knee in impatience and anticipation*

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

And in non-fire-department hot stove news:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/12/nats_sign_free_agent_ivan_rodr.html

Hmmmmmm...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

In addition to which, ftb, you and I both only have one good knee (each), and we're both of Swedish extraction. In fact, we really could be...

Sis!!!!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I really *was* a twin. True.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good afternoon, friends. Wall Street, a legal form of gambling. A crap shoot, where a whisper can become the difference between riches or threads. The Holy Grail for many and the altar of their sacrifices. The hiccup for the masses.

Eugene Robinson this morning on Tiger. I, like Robinson, am tired of hearing about Tiger and the women he cheated with. Robinson's premise that Tiger's choice of cheating partners show him to be a tad light in the character department only provides the punch to the fact that he committed adultery, plain and simple. Now to unravel the partners involved in that as having even more impact on the fact, is in my opinion, reaching. I do agree with Robinson about the control aspect of it all. I thought about Cloris Leachman's line in the movie, "The Women", where she tells the young woman, telling a man a woman only wants him for his money, not good, he doesn't want to hear that nor does he believe it. My question is, how does one face people after all the stuff that has been on television night after night, after night? And what about the children, the family?

I'm still on the mend, taking medications daily. The pain has eased some. Everyone ready for Christmas? I love the Christmas lights and the decorations.

Just wanted to stop in and say hello. We're still hanging in there. My dad is still with me. My aunt picked him up this morning. I don't know where they're off to. May God bless and keep you during this holiday season, and all the families of the world.

Mudge, Yoki, Martooni, Scotty, Lindaloo, and all the gang, have a great day.

Slyness, I watched the Panther's game Sunday, and boy, was it good. It was like watching another team.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 8, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

see - i brought up raul julia yest and then last nite i found out that "Nine" is being made into a movie... the boodle DOES make things happen!!

mo

Posted by: mortii | December 8, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that excerpt from Obama's speech was excellent. Once again I am amazed at the ability of this president to articulate core truths, and not just regurgitate conventional talking points. The man gets it. Now, whether or not the system will allow him to fully succeed is a different story.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra!!! *HUGSSSS* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

See what I mean, Scottynuke?

The Nats believe their young catcher will do great things for them. But they aren’t 100 percent certain in that belief, so they bought a two-year insurance policy in the form of I-Rod. And they bought it in the belief that I-Rod’s body will hold up should he be called upon to play regularly.

Thank you Mr. A for the excerpt. The sentence I like best is: “At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and on our shores.”

Note the word “confidence” is used twice. When used in this way it says to me that the President is trying very hard to get you to believe a particular belief. That belief, in part, says the money he wants to spend is a sound investment in our economic future and not pork.

The GOP will likely have a differing opinion, and the fun begins again.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"What about the family; what about the children" is the one question the gossip mongers can't answer, it would throw their self-righteous posturing into the revealing light that exposes the viciousness of their motives. Well said, Cassandra.

People should remember that $10 trillion dollars is not very much in our inflated debased currency. It's more than it sounds like. Wonder what the deficit would look like plotted in trillions of loaves of bread?

My own view is on the Krugman-Obama scale. So far Obama has done most things very right in my view. Except putting certain people in jail. As I see it, a lot of banks were using their own investments as collateral to back up those very same investments. Around the corner and back, so to speak. Which used to not happen (as much ;)) under the old rules.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Ten extra-large is only about $30,000 per American. Chump change, I say.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I see that the Redskins are gonna try a new foot as kicker.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/redskinsinsider/jason-reid/redskins-dump-suisham-sign-gan.html?hpid=news-col-blog

Posted by: bobsewell | December 8, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Right you are, MsJS. Already McCain and McConnell have lambasted the proposed jobs program proposal, even though it includes a capital gains tax cut for small businesses, one of the mantras of the GOP. And Obama proposes to take some of the unused TARP money and pay down some of the deficit. If Arbusto had proposed this, the GOPer's would be falling all over themselves in praise to the president. Yes, the fun does indeed begin.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

So to balance the budget we need an extra three grand per man, woman, and child per year. More to actually pay off the principle. It sounds like a lot, but if you progressively ratchet it so that one 'rich guy' pays 10k to cover him and two poor people and one 'really, really rich guy' pays 100k to cover him and 32 really poor people, it can be done. It just takes will.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I just know my family doesn't have the extra ten grand laying around, so make sure there are enough RRRRGs to make it to me.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't think George is going to be willing to shell out the money, yello.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, to let you down gently, Mudge, I am really *not* of Swedish extraction. At all. Russian and Eastern European. Dat's it!

But that being said, and as I've stated before, wherever I hang my hat is "home" and so I am part of wherever I've been and wherever I'm going to be. A polyglot, if you will. And proud of it, too!

Still luv me, Bro?

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, sure, still luv yuns...but where did all that Swedomania come from?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Quoting, well... a lot of people:

"I've got a bad feeling about this."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/08/AR2009120802319.html

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

There's still Bill and Warren.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

When I read that headline about creating an online tool, I thought they were talking about Matt Drudge.

*rimshot*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

This new tool seems like a repackaging. There's too much of that going on these days. Google News will already give you all-Tiger, all-the-time if that's what you want. Put a new skin on it, announce its newness, and stand back. Look for my new hot-as-a-pistol hip website called Twee, in which you are limited to three characters.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, so good to hear from you, and glad to know you're on the mend! I hope you find a good place for your dad soon.

I'm ready to phase out agricultural subsidies and I'm on record saying that I will take less than my "due" for Social Security. Raising taxes on capital gains strikes me as a meritorious idea, too. Anybody else got ideas?

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

And it may already have taken affect. There's a story linked on the front page that says, "Ohio executes inmate with 1-drug lethal injection" and when I clicked on it, it took me here: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/lethal-injection-ohio-perform-execution-single-drug/story?id=9277599*hpid=moreheadlines

which is an ABC news page, which is "unavailable." So what it means is that stories now posted on the WaPo home page cannot be accessed, at least by me.

That story also says, "R.B. Brenner, deputy editor of The Post's new Universal Desk, which oversees its print and Web operations, says... "The idea is that users, news consumers, are interested in experiencing news in different ways..."

Um, no, I'm not, R.B. First, I don't want to "experience" any damn thing, all I wangt to do is read it. I especially don't want to "experience" fires, floods, famines, rape, torture, murder, or anything having to do with Michelle Bachmann. Even if I did "experience" them before (which mostly I haven't), I think I'd rather continue in the old way (by reading them), rather than in some new way, say, being there and being burnt, drowned, raped, shot, starved or sprinkle-ponied. I was pretty happy with the old way, actually.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

And I am so laughing at this: http://www.slate.com/id/2237672?nav=wp

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's an interesting Slate article, Mudge. Someone else sent me the story about Miky, the German Shepherd who understood Hebrew (so many riffs could be made of that!) -- if he could speak it at all, it had more of a German (or perhaps Yiddish) accent. . .

Okay, I'll tell you my Swedophile origins, if you tell me how someone with your last name is a J. But let's do that 'splainin' off-Boodle, shall we?

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Howdy, Cassandra! It is always good when you can drop by. You're so right (as usual) about the damage caused by all this pointless speculation and revelation of Tiger Woods's private life.

Joel, thanks for the Obama excerpt. I'm really pleased that he's doing some truthtelling and calling out the hypocrites.

DaveotC: "I'm familiar with the "don't need a fire department" attitude. In Florida, it tends to go with the notion that each house can have its own well for drinking water, plus its own septic tank." Are those people nuts? I've got a well and septice tank and I'm eternally grateful for our fine fire department. Just having a water source doesn't mean you can put out a fire.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: So many thanks for posting the Slate article.

I'm on record as being unimpressed w/ the NYT and its columnists. The Slate piece is yet another reason I rarely visit their website.

Scottynuke: I am far from technologically proficient, but I've had a bot on my computer for 5 years that more or less does the same thing. It is, as Jumper1 says, a repackaging.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

In the real world, folks who have wells and live far from fire stations tend to spend more on house insurance, but nobody ever talks about that, except for us nerds in the fire service. And a few insurance types who have insight into the whole risk management thing.

I'm gonna have to think through efficiency versus effectiveness for funding federal services, but I'm quite sure I don't want Wall Street business/finance types running the country.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

It may be just a wee bit too late for that, slyness. Sorta like the horse-has-left-the-barn moment.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

We have our own well and septic tank. Being on 10 acres and 3 miles on the other side of the mountain from town makes municipal services out of the question.
It was 12 F here this morning and no water at the house. The bulb in the thermostat controlled lamp in the pump house burned out so the sand filter froze solid. A new bulb and a half hour use of a hair dryer we have been packing around for years when no one ever dryies their hair got us back in operation.
We have a pretty good volunteer fire department, nine stations scattered around several hundred square miles. They save most of the foundations. But they did a really good job of preventing wide fires from spreading into houses this year and even a fire started in the brush on the edge of the highway just below our place six years ago.

Posted by: bh72 | December 8, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The job count calculation as a result of the stimulus bill is very complicated. This article reviews how a stimulus package to extend a municipal water line to school in Petaluma was counted as only one half job created yet there are ten guys actually on the job plus the overhead of the construction company plus the manufacture of the pipe.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20091206/ARTICLES/912069962
The article also goes on to cite other ridiculous errors in the reporting of the jobs created like jobs created in congressional districts that don't exist.

Posted by: bh72 | December 8, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, I just ordered some DVDs for myself for the holidays. One of them is Julie & Julia and the other is the set of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I love the books and read them to cleanse the palate between other more substantial books. Looking forward to being enthralled (or not, as the case may be).

Posted by: -ftb- | December 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I know, I know. But I want to think it through so I can argue intelligently with my brother the Republican who has a worldview alien to me. Last year this time, we had furious email exchanges about federal services. Republican dogma, from a person whose undergraduate education was fully funded by the Veterans Administration! I was astounded.

He has lived in upstate South Carolina for the past fifteen years. I blame the Republican views on that. He wasn't like that when he lived in NC.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

In truth, if terms such as "jobs created" or "jobs saved" are not defined in something more tangible such as man-hours or man-years then it invites squishy definitions prone to political explication. Much like pointing the Hubble at max resolution in any particular direction for one second as opposed to pointing it at that direction for a month: the net results are not identical.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

There is a $300 surcharge on my house insurance bill because there is no hydrants in my street (even though I see one from my kitchen...). We do have a pro fire service but the insurance company still isn't impressed with the 90 000 litres of water we have in the pool.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

On Obama tackling the unemployment rate (and, as a side note, why does Firefox tell me 'Obama' is spelled wrong?):

Could, possibly, getting the illegals out of the construction and farming business help?

Posted by: cbalefan | December 8, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Is the hydrant within a thousand feet of the house, SD? That's the standard around here. Mine is across the street, as close as it could be without being in my yard. I'm cool with that.

Even though the city has a fully functional water and sewer system, local fire engines still carry hard suction hose, for those rare occasions when drop tanks and water shuttle operations are necessary. I only remember one fire where water had to be shuttled in, in my three decades with the department. Mr. T thought of another time, when he and I had this conversation recently.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I just keep plenty of spare tanks of hydrogen and oxygen around the house, and make water as I need it.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 8, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

It would only help if you wanted to landscape my property and pick my lettuce, cbalefan for $4 an hour. Otherwise probably not.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 8, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I have noticed that around here when you want to dig without expensive safety concerns, and the walls cave in and kill the workmen, if it is Mexican labor the gringo populace doesn't squawk as much. Although I squawked.

In China the apple pickers get maybe $2.oo per day. So if we imported a few million Chinese, we could pay them maybe $3 a day. Then claim that it was okay because "nobody else wanted to do the job."

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

$4.00/hr closer to indentured servant wages - obscene.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 8, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A,
I've looked at some news reports from earlier in the decade, and it appears you are correct in saying the cost of the wars was factored into the deficit. That's one of the reasons the deficit estimates were so often revised during that time.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: I could save you some money. Just pay me $2 an hour and I'll tell you how great your property looks without landscaping. First hour is free.

Posted by: MsJS | December 8, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Also around here, the developers who in my view committed the most egregious violations in using illegal labor, cutting corners, anything for a buck - donated very heavily to Republican political movements. I snooped the required donation reports which you can always find online if you dig enough.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

But I wanted to comment on this, yet another study of the future of print news:
http://www.mediabistro.com/baynewser/bay_area_newspapers/five_questions_with_mcsweeneys_publisher_about_dave_eggers_newspaper_project_145238.asp

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

First chance I've had to boodle today, but I don't think anyone clearly answered Mudge's question from 10:01 AM.

"And if you go around killing beasts just out of meanness and disregard for others, out of pure selfishness, greed and xenophobia (and disregard for the beasts themselves), what does that make you?"

Easy answer: Republican.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 8, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

It's funny you linked to the new Dave Eggers effort, Jumper. I recently reread part of his first novel, the Heartbreaking Work of An Incredibly Swelled Head, and it hasn't aged well. I remember being somewhat impressed by it when it first came out. That may be because I had young children at the time and the very idea of orphanhood was enough to set off a massive hormone reaction. I wouldn't risk any money I had hopes of seeing again on his new venture. Course, I never risk any money on anything. FDIC guarantees suit me just fine.

Posted by: Wheezy1 | December 8, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh my Rhubarb jam from Canada!

Oh DMD, this jar rattled around in TBG's car and I carried it around in my school papers backpack for three days. I just found this piquant present.

Just call me Rhubarbian...a thousand thanks DMD.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 8, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Hello Boodle! Gov. Pawlenty released a statement this afternoon saying he would not make any further cuts to payments to cities scheduled to go out on the 26th of this month. He explained the decision saying "cities did not have enough time to make adjustments." Ya think, Tim? Whew, we get to limp along for another six months.

bh72-our volunteer fire department saves a lot of foundations too. We cover 255 square miles of sparsely populated forest-not a single fire hydrant, or city water system, in the service area.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Arg! I wanted to read Eugene Robinson's column. No way! No no no no no!

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

A

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

My White Whine of the day- google chrome's "paste and go" is no substitute for linkification in firefox, but chrome is so speedy.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

How many firefighters in the department, Frosti? Do they provide EMS services also?

Thank God for volunteer firefighters. They provide fire protection to more than half of the US, and three out of every four firefighters in this country are volunteers. It is an incredible commitment.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. Wetness from the sky... AGAIN. And this time it sounds all clicky and icy against the windows. Ugh.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 8, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

frosty - go here:

http://www.clickonf5.org/google/google-chrome-bookmarklets-chrome-add-ons-are-here-gmail-this-twitter-now-adblock-socialize-and-many-more/747

And drag the "linkify" to your Chrome bookmark. When you click on it everything will linkify. However, you need to do it everytime you refresh or navigate aware. Note that this bookmarklet shows up many places, but not all of them work.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Fun aside, I'm going to speak up for fairness here. I work on civic and public policy stuff with quite a few Republicans, as well as independents, Democrats, and folks of many stripes (neither tiger nor zebra). I can vouch for the fact that not all Republicans act from meanness, disregard for others, selfishness, greed or xenophobia. In fact, I'd venture to say most don't, just as most Democrats don't - and these days, those "independent" types are just as or more likely to exhibit those characteristics. Now, if you're talking social conservatives, or some fiscal conservatives, who tend to the reactionary side, that's true - but many of those folks are no longer Republican, or in name only. Yep, Rhinos lean far right as well as center left.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Okapi, maybe.

Newt. Striped newt.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

But they still identify and vote Republican, Imom... AND they are the so-called "base" the elected Republicans pander to.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 8, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I whine because it works.
RD-you wonderful enabler you. Thanks.

Slyness-we have 32 active firefighters. Though we haven't had a full ambulance for about 10 years we do have 4 people with extra training who respond to medical calls because the nearest ambulance service is 27 miles away. Most years the dept. responds to more medical calls (typically overdoses, diabetes complications, and suicide attempts with the occasional car accident thrown in) than fire calls. Fire calls tend to be summer grass fires in danger of becoming forest fires and winter fires that put families on the street in the cold.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

*secretly copying Frosti's "white whine" to steal for future use*

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 8, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

White whine? Not tonight. I prefer Sangiovese now, in winter and with the chill.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 8, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Uh...

WTOP reports an attempted shooting today at a NVCC campus, and there's nothing on the WaPo homepage?

And for some reason WaPo thinks S. Palin's musings on Copenhagen are worthwhile?

I'm no Fenty fan, but it really seems like WTOP exhibits some overblown interest regarding the mayor's travels. He was apparently in Miami when Abe Polin was buried, and WTOP has a "source" saying Fenty was at the Wizards/Heat game, so they badgered him on tape about it. *raised unibrow & shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Good that you have that many folks, and EMS training in the department, Frosti. In the department I retired from, fully two-thirds of the emergency calls are medical in nature. The number of fires has been declining, both in absolute numbers and in rate, for a number of years, but will never approach zero.

Mr. T has been helping a friend with an international conference on personal protective equipment this week. Today he came home with a ball cap from Queensland, Australia and a t-shirt and ball cap from Paris. It takes very little to make firefighters happy.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Here's the link to the NVCC story

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/08/AR2009120803950.html

Hits a little close to home. Frostson and Foster Frostson both took classes at the Woodbridge Campus.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad the link bookmarklet worked Frosty! I use chrome because it is fast and works well on my little netbook.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

So glad you liked it CP, saw it and immediately thought of you.

After backboodling beginning to see the beauty in the fire hydrant that sits on my front lawn, even more the fire station a few blocks away.

Tonight I did my best goldilocks impersonation, while attempting to put together our new chairs for the island we realized a) we were not doing it corectly - no surprise there b) they were not the ones we thought we purchased. So began a a marathon sprint to find new chairs we liked, could afford and we would have for our party this Friday. At one point we almost gave up but our last attempt was back at the original store and we discovered chairs we had previously considered would be perfect and were comfortable and in stock!

Posted by: dmd3 | December 8, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Next, Sarah Palin will analyze the search for the Higgs.

Posted by: joelache | December 8, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

She can see quarks from her porch after all.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

ftb-Kathryn and Mollie really brought it tonight. Last week my money was totally on Ellenore. For the guys, Jakob all the way.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Joel, that's something I will read, for nothing else but the unintentional humor.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

JA, what is SP is the One, come to lead us out of the matrix? Could she be the elusive Higgs? This could explain dark matter in a whole new light.

Posted by: km2bar | December 8, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Sarah Palin editorial on climate change:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/08/AR2009120803402.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

She has parroted the current denier talking point:

///But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes.///

Over the weekend my ultra-conservative dad was trying to make this exact same point. They no longer deny climate change, they just insist that it isn't man-made.

I also want to know what entitles Alaska's former "governor" to use scare quotes around "experts."

O'Reilly tirades about the War On Christmas. This was a salvo in the War On Science.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Slate had an amusing contest recently, the challenge was to write in Palinesque style.
I like the runner up. It sounds like her.
""The minute I was on that stage in Florida with all those lights in my eyes and the smell of Alaska still on my fingertips and my family, too, all around out there, I was where I dreamed of all those years on the basketball court and in Alaskas's God given beauty which we must cherish and use as God gave it us to use and in honor of the troops, also."
http://www.slate.com/id/2237261/.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The thousand feet hydrant rule rings a bell slyness, I'll investigate that. The hose would have to go through the neighbour's backyard and over the fence but the distance is well within a 1000 ft.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

"Sarah Palin editorial on Climate Change" just that title alone is wrong on so many levels.

Was busy rushing around tonight - thought the references to Sarah were a joke.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 8, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

sd-that runner up would have had my vote for first place, if first hadn't included Todd's eyes being as blue as the stripes in the flag.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

OMG, sd.

That PalinProse makes Bulwer-Lytton winners sound like Dostoevsky.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Because we can't get enough of Bobby Z singing Christmas carols:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcXW0Se4HMs&feature=player_embedded

Warning: Do not watch if you are subject to photosensitive epilepsy.

Also, if you open multiple windows of it, it sounds like he is singing in rounds.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh the pretty snow has started to fall. It's -8C/17F right now and by the same time tomorrow it's supposed to be 1C/34F with 20-30cm/8-12in. of snow on the ground. Mrs. D can't wait to go country skiing next weekend, she is so excited she can't barely sleep.
Me, I'm looking forward at 2-3 hours of snowblowing.
I should have bought fresh gas for the snow-throwing machine.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

To take the taste of Sarah Palin out of your mouth, here is some beautiful writing by a Nobel laureate:

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2009/muller-lecture_en.html

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

sd,
We have the dreaded wintery mix going on. I am predicting a two hour school delay and that my driveway will be a curling rink in the morning.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Currently waiting the "storm", winds are picking up, it will snow then rain then get cooler again. I predict traffic chaos and much moaning and groaning.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 8, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Yello, dmd,
it snows already and the whole thing is supposed to end in wintery mix. Oh joy. A hard crust on top of soft snow. The Liquid Cat will entertain suicidal thoughts but the Very Large and Ancient puppies will be happy. They love snow as much as the spineless feline loaths it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC loathes, right?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Watching The Daily Show, Huckabee has gained a bit of that weight back.

Read the SP editorial; I have no comment that is printable.

Glad I planned a day of baking for tomorrow as the weather will be snow/slush/rain. Having the oven on will take the chill off.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 8, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Computer problems and a busy day combined for a limited-Boodling day for the Kid here.

Hey, they called for rain turing to ice after midnight here, and instead we've had about an inch and a half of snow over the past two hours, and it's still coming down. Hmm. I wonder if the local meteorologist ever worked on Wall St?

Sadly, I have too many reasons to head into the office to even consider the idea of a Snow Day.

Have a great evening, all.

Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Herta Müller, the most famous German minority writer of Romania. The story was good.

I'm sure the translators are discussing her romanian-tainted german to death. Witch no.1, on her third year in Translation, is constantly picking apart the French contamination of my English and the English contamination of my français. They know everything at that stage, do they?
She's even worst with her mother. Luckily I have a thick skin, some wit and a capability for silence.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

The death of copyeditors, part 63:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/02/AR2009120201455.html

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Busy day, what with fire protection, Cassandra, Palinclimate, and so much more.

I'm beginning to feel better about squandering money on the Financial Times. I have no use for their coverage of bling, but they otherwise seem reasonably committed to providing their subscribers with useful information rather than entertainment.

In the surfing world, The Eddie Aikau big-wave contest on Oahu was a marvel. Florida's own Kelly Slater, came in second, an impressive performance. Astonishingly, Clyde Aikau, the 60-year-old younger brother of the late Eddie, participated. So did Michael Ho, Titus Kinimaka, and Keone Downing from the same era, all in their 50s.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 9, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

But Bob Dylan singing Christmas classics is nowhere as weird as Orrin Hatch writing a Hanukkah song.

http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/music/21886/eight-days-of-hanukkah-video/

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

DotC,
Talking surfing while the rest of us are freezing is just cruel.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

We're even below freezing in the northwest. I hate when it's this cold. Saw the 50-foot waves in Hawaii on the news. That's more like it!

yellojkt, I just got done watching Freaks and Geeks. It is pretty good - definitely got better as it went along - I love the last episode (except why were there no leaves on the trees when it was supposed to be summer?). I had only watched a couple of the early episodes when it was on the air.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 9, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Freaks and Geeks is great. Perhaps I will re-watch it to tide my over until April when Glee returns.

Last episode of the year tonight, fellow gleeks.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

In high school in the early 80s I was pretty much 50% Lindsay and 50% Sam. My wife (who was there, so she should know) wants to know how the writers got all my stories. She's convinced the show got canceled because the target demographic (me) was just too narrow.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 6:53 AM | Report abuse

G'morning, all. Wind and rain here, but weather radar shows that the band of rain will be through the area soon. I'm glad I didn't have to go out in it; Mr. T left when it was raining and blowing the hardest. No walk this morning, I'll have to ride the exercycle!

Busy day ahead. Ladies from our Bible study are coming to lunch, so I have to make a big pot of vegetable soup. We are celebrating the finish of I Chronicles last week. Now I understand why we read children the stories from Samuel and Kings rather than Chronicles. War, war, war, it's all about war. Which makes it amazingly contemporary, come to think about it.

Posted by: slyness | December 9, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

That Old Testament stuff is not fit for children. It makes prime time television look tame.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Slushy start to the day here, my area is not too bad tiny amount of snow which will probably be gone as the rain keeps falling and the temp continues to rise. As long as the expected temp dip doesn't happen too quickly this evening we should be good.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 9, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

You are so right, Yello. Scary, scary stuff in the Old Testament.

Posted by: slyness | December 9, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeesh, whadda morning. *wringing out the 'ol overcoat*

I was just surprised it took WaPo so long to get something posted about the NVCC shooting, seemed rather obvious for "breaking news." *shrug*

And Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN's baseball coverage... *SIGH*

*off-to-find-a-warm-breakfast Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 9, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin, or whoever wrote this, first argues that there is no consensus on if the planet is getting warmer, and then specifically cites the impact of warming on Alaska. But if the warming trends are just faked, then what is causing these effects?

And if the answer is "natural cycles" then what does the East-Anglia work even have to do with it since that work doesn't really address questions of causation.

Sarah says absolutely nothing about CO2 chemistry or the correlation of heating trends with increased industrial activity.

So we are left with a sloppy faux argument that highlights nothing but her alleged heroism for speaking out against all those smarty-pants sciency tree-hugger types.

You betcha.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 9, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Why does the WaPo give an audience to her drivel? I hope they just think too much of their audience and assume everyone will see it's drivel. But I fear they just think too much of their audience.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 9, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

What did we decide? A 'rage' of paparazzi?

http://www.marriedtothesea.com/120909/no-daguerrotypes.gif

Posted by: -TBG- | December 9, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm so glad to see that you stopped by. It was a blessing that I sorely needed. You and your family are in my prayers.


Ah yes, the old testament. Blood and guts and getting even. Very contemporary.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 9, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

A pox of paparazzi? A plague?

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 9, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Gawker weighs in on the PalinLies:

http://gawker.com/5422290/sarah-palins-washington-post-op+ed-debunked

Since when are deliberate falsehoods allowed to pass muster under the guise of opinion?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Since when raw page view numbers became important, I guess...

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 9, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm.

"Ansel Adams `Moonrise' print sold for $360K in NYC

The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 7:34 PM

NEW YORK -- A 1948 print of Ansel Adams' iconic photograph "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" has sold for $360,000 at an auction in New York City.

Swann Auction Galleries said the rare print was bought Tuesday by a U.S. collector who wanted to remain anonymous.

Its pre-sale estimate was $350,000 to $450,000.

Made in a range of subtle grays, the signed print shows a nighttime moon over a cloud-fringed mountain range with a graveyard in the foreground.
--------------

Question. Here's the famous pix: http://www.afterimagegallery.com/featureadams.htm

Would you say the pix is striking for its "subtle grays" -- or for its rather striking near-black and near-white sharply contrasting shades? Seems to me it isn't the grays that are subtle or interesting but the high-contrast aspects, no?

(Always loved this pix, of course. But glad I wasn't there at the auction with $370,000 in my pocket.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 9, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Let the Palinstorm begin...

Posted by: Raysmom | December 9, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Thomas Freeman's op-ed is more than effective in rebutting Mrs. Palin's position regarding climate change and public policy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/opinion/09friedman.html

Posted by: -jack- | December 9, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

See, Sarah has to move quickly. I am told that her following and their money are soon parted. Time is of the essence.

Posted by: steveboyington | December 9, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

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