Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Deficit blues

By Joel Achenbach

Earlier this year, I typed up a piece on the national debt. The problem, I said, was not that the country lacks resources to deal with the debt problem. It lacks the political will:

Under any likely scenario, the federal debt will continue to balloon in the years to come. The Congressional Budget Office expects it to reach $20 trillion over the next decade -- and that assumes no new recessions, no new wars and no new financial crises. In the doomsday scenario, foreign investors get spooked and demand higher interest rates to continue bankrolling American profligacy. As rates shoot up, the United States has to borrow more and more simply to pay the interest on its debt, and soon the economy is in a downward spiral.

Of course, at least in theory, this problem can be fixed. Unlike a real Ponzi scheme, which collapses when no new suckers offer money that can be used to pay off earlier investors, the government can restore fiscal sanity whenever our leaders decide to do so.

But that premise is what has people like [Pimco founder Bill Gross] worried. In addition to running a budget deficit, Washington for years has had a massive deficit of political will.

Over the past decade, lawmakers have avoided the kind of unpopular decisions -- tax increases, spending cuts or some combination -- needed to keep the debt under control. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified recently that, for investors, the underlying problem with the debt isn't economic. "At some point, the markets will make a judgment about, really, not our economic capacity but our political ability, our political will, to achieve longer-term sustainability," he said.

So you saw what happened yesterday. Bowles and Simpson produced a set of bold recommendations that would end the fiscal problem in America. They were run out of town on a rail. Their own children won't talk to them now. They now hate each other and hate themselves. This topic is toxic.

The basic problem is that the country has gotten itself into a very fine mess in which it very much wants more stuff, more benefits, more tanks and fighter planes, more medical care, etc., than it is willing to pay for. The solution is to spend less or raise taxes, but powerful constituencies violently oppose one or the other option. If the fiscal problem was relatively modest you might be able to tinker with it here and there, but as the Bowles-Simpson plan shows, any real, serious solution involves stuff that even fiscally minded people like me get anxious about. Cut my home mortgage interest deduction? I live for that! That's my favorite moment of the year, getting that tax break!

And although in theory I'm in favor of pushing back the retirement age of Social Security, I can't help but feel that I'm precisely riding the Wave Of Misfortune, and that everything will be timed, framed and calibrated in such a way that I, personally, get hosed in the extreme.

The Bad Timing Generation. Tail end of the Boomers. Hosed.

Still, something has to be done. Otherwise there's a generational justice problem. A healthy society cannot mortgage its own future. There are states that already have done that, selling off assets and leasing them back, in order to square the books in the short term. Just watch as the real fiscal hole of the states begins to reveal itself. Won't be pretty.

But even talking about this issue is hard. Look at how Paul Krugman dismisses with a wave of his pen the panel chairmen, who he views as "unserious people." Kevin Drum has a far more substantive response, though he's linking to a CBO document from 2008, predating the financial crisis and associated fiscal calamity. (And, if I'm not mistaken, CBO when calculating future scenarios still, by law, is required to imagine the Bush tax cuts expiring across the board, which ain't gonna happen).

By Joel Achenbach  | November 11, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Oil spill: The banality of catastrophe [updated]
Next: Redskins worse than Staten Island Stapletons!


Perhaps appropriately on Veteran's Day, let me open the comments by noting how ESPN is doing a great twist on "honoring the troops" -- they've shipped two anchors and an entire production team out to Germany for a show with the troops over there. They're doing the full ESPN graphics treatment in covering a "Warrior Challenge" between several units. I'm on the verge of freaking out seeing them talking about my 'ol stomping grounds of Grafenwoher, Vilseck, Ansbach and Nuernburg...

*saluting ESPN and all the troops they're honoring* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I haven't studied the proposals yet, and maybe it's because I'm old and not rich enough to worry about taxes - but I thought it sounds fairly reasonable. I know progressives are up in arms about it already.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

A happy Veteran's Day to all, and thanks to all veterans - men, women, conscripted, volunteer, auxiliary - for your service.

I hope the catfood commission report sparks serious discussion and consideration. I know, I'm a fool and a dreamer. Somehow, someday, we as a country need to have this discussion.

As I've mentioned before, my response to people who complain about their taxes or government spending has changed. Now, I suggest I'm perfectly happy with them paying less taxes, or receiving less benefit, but they are required to name the program, service or benefit they'll cut or give up. It has to be something they use. This works at all levels of government. The discussion at the federal level is particularly interesting here in Oklahoma. Like most red states, we are predominantly rural and poor, and thus get back far more in benefits from the feds than we pay.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

NYT's opinionater Tim Egan gets under my skin--in a good way. I think of the closing of a recent op-ed of Egan's titled "John Robert's America":

"As ugly as 2010 has been, the next election cycle, for president in 2012, will bring us a John Roberts’s America that will make this year look like a town hall meeting from a Rockwell painting."

Of course, I know this famous Rockwell painting, and the three others that comprise his Freedom series--like I know my own skin. Two are of the four paintings are "freedom to" paintings [speech, religion], the other two are "freedom from" paintings [want, fear].

Little did I know the backstory of these paintings, information that I Googled shortly after I read Egan's Robert's op-ed for the first time. I didn't realize that the paintings caused Rockwell to lose 15 pounds and that the paintings were based on a speech President Franklin Roosevelt delivered in January 1941.

O.K., I admit that our local half-priced book chain is having a heck of a sale this week and I was able to get another of my favorite historian's [David Hackett Fischer] book, "Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas" for a song!

Little did I know that Roosevelt's speech is based on even older ideas, as told in Fischer's short chapter titled "Fig Trees and Freedom Birds," pp. 90-93.

Fischer writes about the mass migration of Germans in the eighteenth century, and includes this nugget of information:

"Other German immigrants were more secular in their purposes. Some spoke of Freiheit von, liberty from oppression. Others sought Freiheit zu, freedom to realize their own goals. More than a few wished to be be what they called vogelfrei, free as a bird."

Fischer concludes this short chapter by comparing German ideas of freedom with British ideas of freedom. He writes:

British Americans thought of the world as fundamentaly free. They wished to preserve ancestral rights and fought the Revolution to keep what they had. Immigrants from central Europe thought of the world as fundamentally unfree and came to America in search of freedom that had been denied to most people in Europe. In that respect, they were like most other non-English speaking immigrants. This attitude appeared in a Pennsylvania German broadside on May 19, 1766, in celebration of the Stamp Act's repeal. It showed a sun shining through heavy images of clouds on America and Freiheit:

Die sonne dringet durch, das Land wird fruchbarlich,
Das Licht bestrahet [sic] den Sarg, die Freiheit richt sich auf.

The sun breaks through, the earth becomes fruitful
The light strikes the coffin, freedom arises.

I think of Rockwell's Freedom painting of parents tucking their children safely into bed at night, watching them slumber--the hope of freedom from fear. A meaningful Veteran's Day to all!

Posted by: laloomis | November 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think that eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction would be a brilliant idea, except for reality, that pesky trouble-maker. In reality, the market for real estate has completely adapted to the existence of the deduction.

I recall conversations with the realtor back when we were buying the first ScienceFortress, in which I was introduced to the deduction and made aware of its mighty power to enable one to buy a house that is nominally outside one's means -- meaning that the house's price actually was in excess of what it would have to be in an honest market without the quirk of the deduction. Knock out the deduction all at once and you instantly make any number of home owners upside-down on their mortgage, as the resale price of the home drops like a stone. A stone with rocket motors, in a power-dive.

The only way you can eliminate the deduction without massive financial devastation is to grandfather it for current home-owners and to phase it out only gradually for new buyers, so that home price inflation is moderated rather than reversed (again). I'm not at all sure how to handle a refinance in those circumstances, whether you keep the grandfathered exception (a privilege denied to new borrowers) or lose it (and see your house's value plummet on appraisal).

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I remember a question posed by Jack Cafferty this past week on Wolf Blitzer's CNN program, to the tune of...Should California [the leader among 32 other states, according the LATimes article below] be able to borrow $40M daily from the feds to pay unemployment insurance benefits? (Solutions offered at end of article--essentially, cut benefits or raise revenues)

Belt-tightening is such a foreign concept to Americans that it's bound to be painful. Anyone catch the interview with Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, member of the deficit reduction commission, on GMA this morning?

Posted by: laloomis | November 11, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

And even if you eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction, I should think that the main value would be with regard to social justice and the simplification of the tax code. Except for a brief windfall, it wouldn't raise any revenue, because it would eliminate what one might call "elective" home-buying. By removing the unfairness in how renters are treated, it would make it more popular to rent, until the home market readjusted to the lowered prices. If you avoid the discontinuity in the market by phasing-in the deduction-free era, then you won't even get a windfall.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I think that there are only three possible control mechanisms available to fix this problem:

(1) Tax the same dollars more. That means taxing rich people more, because they are holding onto the majority of the dollars. Rich people hold money, middle class and poor people spend it, because the cost of a middle class lifestyle is so much less than the income of the super-rich that they, effectively, spend no money. So long as they are taxed lightly, they simply accumulate more and more of society's output. Contrary to what the Republicans say, there must be some optimum non-zero taxation rate for rich people: I agree that making rich people poor does not make me (all that much) richer, but letting them get all the wealth does nothing to help me. We tried that system, several hundred years ago. It's why we now have capitalism, because landed aristocracy and feudalism did not promote growth. It is clear that there is some optimum taxation level, and it is clear that we are far short of that level.

(2) Reduce government spending. Unfortunately, appealing though this sounds, I can see no way for it to be effective. Government spending does not, for the most part, go into a black hole or disappear forever: it goes to pay salaries or buy services (which also means paying salaries). Eliminating government spending means eliminating jobs. No alternative. Which means those same people either need to get a job elsewhere, or they become permanently jobless. We are in the middle of that experience, and we don't like it, so it hardly seems helpful to make it worse.

(3) Eliminate the "deadwood." The only way to make society "efficient" is to get rid of the drags on productivity and non-viable expenditures of wealth, expenditures that do not have an immediate productive turn-around. This is the way we run our businesses, and there are plenty of people who think we should run a nation similarly. There is a problem, of course. When a business eliminates its useless expenditures -- personnel who do not supply a return on salary that is more valuable than the cost of employment -- they can rely on someone else to take on that support. A country can't do that, unless it can compel emigration or reduce the excess population... by some other means.

Am I missing something? It seems to me that this is all we have to work with. #2 is logically indefensible. #3 is morally and legally indefensible (although laws can be changed...). That leaves option #1 as the only viable alternative: pay more taxes. Especially, rich people have to pay more taxes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Is that mortgage deduction still applicable to second homes, boats, RV's, vacation homes? Perhaps that is a place to start, applicable only on one primary residence and with a capped amount?

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Being on the lower side of middle class, and living within my means, the mortgage deduction never did much for me. I haven't claimed it for years because the standard deduction is more than my itemized deduction. It had zero effect on my house-buying decision. It does apply to second homes (unless they're rented out) - but not boats, etc, AFAIK. There used to be an interest deduction, but that was done away with decades ago. At this point, I'm all for simplifying the tax code. The super-wealthy probably don't pay anyway - they pay accountants to figure out how not to pay taxes.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

This is the problem when you have a government that requires a complete consensus to get something done. Any situation with clear winners and losers is going to inevitably lead to gridlock. This means that the only realistic political solution is to find a way to spread the pain around uniformly. And this is very, very hard to do.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

They are talking about removing the mortgage interest deductions on mortgages greater then $500,000 and for mortgages for second homes. Thing is, that would also hit people that owned rental properties.

ScienceTim, you hit the nail on the head. The entire U.S. housing market is valued on the assumption that the deduction exists. Even with the more limited scenario of removing the deduction for only large mortgages or non-resident properties, removing the deduction will drive down home values.

The likely response would be for many homeowners to give up and mail their keys back to their mortgage holder. I'm guessing the banks will lobby heavily to keep mortgage interest deductions as they currently are.

Posted by: hokie92 | November 11, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

And for a more cheerful topic - Adrian Higgins on poppies:

I love the Shirley poppies, but haven't grown them for years. I have Oriental poppies and California poppies. I keep the deep red/gold ones, the pale yellows and the pinks. I wish CqP were here to describe the color of the dusky pink that fades to pale yellow.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

SS is a true ponzi scheme however.

when started 14 payers per recipient
today: 4 payers per recipient
2040: 1 payer per recipient

We would need a population of (i haven't done the math in a while) around 2 billion by 2040 to make it remotely possible.... they would all have to be earning the current average salary and be paying taxes.

Posted by: docwhocuts | November 11, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I could do without the mortgage tax deduction. I think the undue emphasis on home ownership is part of what got us into the current economic mess. Not only does home ownership create a huge financial vulnerability, it also makes it harder to move - which is sometimes what people need to do to pursue better jobs.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think a swell thing for public-minded historians and economists to do is to set up a checklist of economic and social traits throughout history and use it to evaluate modern economic proposals. Match each modern economic proposal or proposed system with its closest historical antecedent to find the matching social system and the outcome of that situation within 30 years (an arbitrary time limit, but roughly one reproductive generation). If that situation was doomed to immediate disaster or was already in the throes of terrific social evil, then please justify why the same thing won't happen this time -- something better than proof-by-shouting and more logical than repeating "nuh-uh." Social quirks like ritual human sacrifice should be excluded, but not systematic xenophobia. Assume that the Black Death and similar horrific plagues were a cause of social upheaval and change, more than being an effect of it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

But didn't the deduction allow people to purchase more home than they could afford and result in part in them giving up their keys and walking away? Not to mention over inflated housing prices.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

You may now take out your blue-books and begin.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"Bowles and Simpson produced a set of bold recommendations that would end the fiscal problem in America"

Apparently you haven't read their plan. It is far too modest. Restoring our fiscal house by 2037 isn't "bold" it's "cowardly"

Posted by: maurban | November 11, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

We have to keep in mind the loss of the mortgage interest deduction would in no small way be offset by a lower overall tax rate. I wonder who on the Boodle (or at least closely related to a Boodler) is in a position to examine the effects of a gradual phaseout of the mortgage interest deduction? Hmmmmm...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

It is good to see a comprehensive plan that at least identifies most of the components. A public acknowledging that revenues and military spending have a relationship to deficits is a major improvement. Borrow and Spend Republicans are the problem.

We will need to get much more out of the Military Industrial Complex and the Medical Rackets. This can be done, but we should expect to see Defense Contractors, Pharmaceutical companies, Health Insurance companies, the AMA etc. spend many billions of dollars on the 2012 elections. This is probably a good time to invest in media companies.

Posted by: Provincial | November 11, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Pennsylvania's state government seems to have done a fair amount of its business in German well into the 19th century.

A couple of years ago, I got a bit of a lecture on how badly Pennsylvania's history has been neglected. Massachusetts and Virginia (and New York City) seem to get all the attention.

I get the impression that Benjamin Franklin was not happy about German immigration to Pennsylvania (they didn't fit in), but I don't know how he rated Germans against convicts that were being shipped from Britain. He offered to send rattlesnakes back as repayment.

Krugman's comments are of some use. I think he previously pointed out that the US has severe disparities in disability and longevity along income/social lines. Brings to mind high school English class poetry, Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory" who is "imperially slim". A lot of the people I see shopping in Walmart don't look like they'll reach 67, much less 70.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I can agree with capping mortgage interest deduction and eliminating it for second homes. Another poster said that would impact people with rental properties, but I am not sure they can get mortgage deductions. It's a commercial property if they are renting it out, so they can take depreciation.

It can't be eliminated entirely because the ripple effect would be gigantic, especially in the new homes sector. Forestry, construction trades, a host of manufacturing sectors would all take a tremendous hit.

And it isn't the deduction that allowed people to buy more home than they could afford. It was mortgage brokers submitting falsified apps and telling their dimwitted customers, "Don't worry. Home values will go up FOREVER."

Posted by: jhpurdy | November 11, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I am on record as being willing to forego up to half of my Social Security payment, for which I will be elegible in 2015. Fortunately for me, my income as a retiree comes from a defined benefit pension and the fund is in decent (not great) shape. So many don't have the luxury of such a pension.

That said, I'm for letting the Bush tax cuts expire and stay expired. Gotta start somewhere. And I like Ivansmom's proposal about cutting services to people that they use.

Sometime in the next two generations, the world population will start to fall, naturally. It's already occuring in some places (Japan, Europe). Then all bets are off.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that for a "Christian Nation" very few ever talk about cutting spending for America's addiction to endless war in the middle east.

Posted by: areyousaying | November 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If people could not buy homes without the deduction could you not say they could only afford the home because of it. People would still be able to afford homes without the mortgage deduction - just smaller, more affordable homes, industry would be hit, yes, but it has also been propped up artificially for some time.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The conservative GOP has a SERIOUS problem. What can they do after selling the American people on tax cuts for the past 30 years. Anyone with a brain cell had to know that you could not cut taxes, expand programs and start two (2) WARS without creating an enormous problem. And yet the American people (at least the tools and fools that voted conservative) bought it. So, here we are at a $14 trillion debt (about65% of which is on Reagan, Bush and Bush). Can a conservative Congress do the right thing and increase taxes? NO, they lack the courage!!

Posted by: Freethotlib | November 11, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse


Front Page Alert.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Or, we gain income by other means. Like taxing the rich, like being in an actual position to LEND money to other countries at interest and gain returns on that. We could begin charging businesses more for off-seas oil drilling, so forth.

Alaska has no income tax because of all the revenue they get. We do need more revenue, and yes, that means some people will pay more.

Personally, I prefer paying more in taxes than in fees. Income tax is only once a year, or once a quarter for corporations. Excessive sales tax tends to penalize actual trade, and favors people not spending money, which will cause deflation.

But I wanted a veteran's day blog, not a tax blog.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I hate having tax.
They bite, they itch, and I bleed--
Never mind, that's ticks.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news from the Borowitz report:

Somali Pirates Refuse to Board Carnival Cruise Ships

Cite ‘Unsafe Working Conditions’

MOGADISHU (The Borowitz Report) – In yet another public relations setback for the beleaguered cruise ship company, Somali pirates today said they would no longer board Carnival Cruise ships, citing “unsafe working conditions.”

“If Carnival thinks that it’s going to be business as usual between them and the Somali pirates, they need to have their heads examined,” said Somali pirate spokesman Sugule. “We Somali pirates may be bold, but we’re not crazy.”

The pirate said that the recent fire that crippled the giant cruise ship Carnival Splendor “has sent a shiver through the pirate community.”

“We Somali pirates face enough risks without dealing with decks bursting into flames,” he said. “And don’t get me started on the nonfunctioning toilets.”

When asked if the Somali pirates might attempt to board Carnival ships in the future, he responded, “I am telling me hearties that if they were thinking of pillaging a Carnival ship of its booty over the holidays, they should make alternative plans.”

Carol Foyler, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruises, said that the company “would be working overtime to win back the pirates’ trust.”

In the meantime, Ms. Foyler said, Carnival would be unveiling a new slogan in the weeks to come: “Come for the fun, stay for the raging inferno.”

This has been a special report. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Boodling.

Although I got a real beaut coming in a minute. And it ain't a joke.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"But didn't the deduction allow people to purchase more home than they could afford and result in part in them giving up their keys and walking away? Not to mention over inflated housing prices."

It's part of calculating how much one "can afford", but it hasn't gone away. It raises the overall price level and affects the buy-vs-rent decision, but doesn't cause bubbles.


Posted by: Jim19 | November 11, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

People who make most of their income from capital gains pay less in taxes as a percentage of their income than I do. The bottom line is that the very poor pay less tax as a percentage of their income than me. The very rich that make most of their money off investment and capital gain pay less tax as a percentage of their income than I do. I have been taken hook line and sinker by the government because I actually have the gall to earn my income.

Posted by: TJMAN | November 11, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Those heartless poor people, going off and spending nearly 100% of their income on basic needs like food and shelter when they should be paying taxes. What jerks!

TJMAN, I am with you on how it is an injustice that the very wealthy do not pay as large a percentage of income in taxes as the middle class. After all, if their tax burden were to increase by a large factor, they would still be stupendously wealthy, and the budget would be much better balanced. Where we part company is on your implication that the poor choose to be poor either because they prefer the light tax burden, or because they are lazy and shiftless, as the cliché goes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are coming after SS, mortage interest, and Medicaid. Meanwhile every state, county, city, and even federal tax dollars are being sucked up by the overcompensated and lavish pension and cadillac healthcare plans govt union thugs.
Of course this report leaves out cutting those massive expenditures, a token 10% is not enough. Democrats don't care about people who have paid into SS and Medicare all their lives and have more than funded their share of SS and Medicaid.
And of course the Democrats will go after mortage interest. The Dems brought about the financial collapse of the housing industry, so now they want to finish it off.
I am thankful the Dems lost, now we can have some hope for a change that sanity is back in the House at least. Nearly every state has repudiated the Dem liberal policies, except a few where the elections are more than corrupt and fraud is the norm.

Posted by: rickshawjim | November 11, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

*stop tickling me, rickshawjim!*

Laughing and snorting at the mindless poster. . . . Let's sic a Bernese Mountain Doggie on 'im!

*headin' to the Bunker*

Posted by: ftb3 | November 11, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

"The Dems brought about the financial collapse of the housing industry, so now they want to finish it off."

Quite possibly the single most ignorant statement ever posted on the Internet, a medium rife with psychopathic delusions.

Oh, sorry. Maybe I was a bit harsh.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, somehow the Borowitz report had escaped my notice until you mentioned it a few weeks ago. A good find that now appears in my inbox whenever it's update. So, thanks for that!

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 11, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd mentioned before that phasing out the mortgage deduction over 40-50 years (2-2.5% per year) seems like it would be pretty easy to swallow. Since the interest is front-loaded onto payments in the beginning of the term of the loan, the great majority of the interest on all existing loans would still be deductible, and the effect on market prices would be spread out over decades. Since the most dramatic effect on prices would be at the upper end of the market, I'm not too concerned about forcing those people onto the street. I expect they'll manage.

The putative reason for the deduction is to encourage home ownership among relatively low-income buyers. Other forms of tax credits & grants could help out that end of the market.


In the last 'boodle, yellojkt pointed out that the FICA structure taxes couples who both earn near the limit more heavily than couples consisting of one high-income partner and one very low-income partner. Which is true as far as it goes.

But does Social Security pay benefits based on relationship status? If not (if benefits are individually calculated with no regard to number or type of dependents), then it would seem that two people paying maximum contributions would receive more in benefits eventually.

That is, of course, a separate discussion from whether high-income folks get a good return from their investment in Social Security. Probably not, but we gotta squeeze somebody.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

But I promised you a rather bizarre story, so here it is (although it contains graphic psychosis, it doesn't quite match rickshawjim):

'The planet won't be destroyed by global warming because God promised Noah,' says politician bidding to chair U.S. energy committee

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:31 PM on 10th November 2010

A Republican congressman hoping to chair the powerful House Energy Committee refers to the Bible and God on the issue of global warming.

Representative John Shimkus insists we shouldn't concerned about the planet being destroyed because God promised Noah it wouldn't happen again after the great flood.

Speaking before a House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing in March, 2009, Shimkus quoted Chapter 8, Verse 22 of the Book of Genesis.

He said: 'As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.'

The Illinois Republican continued: 'I believe that is the infallible word of God, and that's the way it is going to be for his creation.

'The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.

He added: 'Today we have about 388 parts per million [of carbon]in the atmosphere. I think in the age of dinosaurs, when we had the most flora and fauna, we were probably at 4,000 parts per million. There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet — not too much carbon. And the cost of a cap-and-trade on the poor is now being discovered.'

The Republican is a vocal opponent to President Obama's American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 - the so-called 'cap-and-trade' Bill, aimed at limiting carbon emissions.

The Bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but has yet to pass the Senate.

Yes, richshaw, you're right. Now we can have some hope for a change [now] that sanity is back in the House at least.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Off topic again, but this is clearly something Boodlers (and Joel) should appreciate:

(I'm on holiday today, hence the prolific daytime Boodling. Apologies.)

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I know this point has been made, but I think it important to keep in mind.

The idea behind the commission wasn't to figure out how to reduce the debt, it was supposed to figure out how to do so in a way that both parties could live with.

Given that they can't even get all the people in this commission to agree, I think they pretty much failed. As a result we have yet another list of ideas that might work but no political path forward for implementing them.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I've been found out! For YEARS I've been trying to bring about the "financial collapse of the housing industry," but I've always been thwarted by those pesky bank auditors, federal regulators, class-action attorneys, and alert consumers!

At last, I found a scheme to CRUSH the housing industry by ELIMINATING THE MORTGAGE DEDUCTION!!

My plan was brilliant. Brilliant! And it would have worked, if it hadn't been for those meddling right-wing bloggers. Fie on them.

I'll destroy the housing industry yet! You just wait and see. ALL OF YOU will be force to live in PROJECTS or in SECRET CAMPS. Bwah hahahahahahahaha!



Posted by: jp1954 | November 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Damn, you're right, Mudge. Borowitz couldn't have come up with something as good as your 4:39. This is why I don't read fiction; political reality is quite strange enough for me.

Posted by: -pj- | November 11, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course if God judged that the world would end by Global Warming that might throw a wrench into Shimkus' theory. God did put a limit on his statement "as long as the earth endures", don't see how this guarantees anything by the way.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The average well-educated civil servant at a government facility that I know well (as opposed to skilled and semi-skilled labor, clerical workers, etc, in a variety of other government jobs) costs about $0.25M per year. That is not salary, that is salary+medical+overhead+all other benefits. Last I heard, government employs about 2 million people. Making the unrealistic assumption that all those people cost about the same amount of money as a highly-educated highly skilled knowledge worker with 9-12 years of higher education and 20 years of work experience, you find a Federal annual manpower budget of about $500B. But what about those lazy retired guys who took 40 years of sub-industry wages in exchange for lavish pensions? Let's include them, too! Current life expectancy is about 76. Let's be bold and call it 80. Assuming folks retire at 65, they can expect an average of 15 more years. If they work for 40 years (rough guess) then retire for 15 years before dying in palatial splendor, there should be about 15/40 X 2 million = 0.75 million retirees. Even with a great pension plan and medical, these guys don't draw a full salary, so let's guess they cost 1/2 what a non-retiree costs. Contrary to rickshawjim's perhaps-fevered imagination, they do not get an open-ended government-pays-for-everything health plan. It's just plain old insurance like everybody else. The only thing special is that the government has good bargaining leverage, but there is no government mandate that government employees get some kind of super-secret super-excellent health care. Anyway, estimate a total budget of $594B for employed and retired government workers.

The 2011 Federal budget from the President is about $3800B, with a deficit of $1267B. If we follow rickshawjim's distaste for "govt union thugs" and simply cut off salary and benefits and pension for every single Federal civil servant, present and former -- cut them off today, with no pension or other payment -- it would take care of 46.9% of the deficit. Of course, if we did that, I guess that would take care of the rest of the budget, as there would be no one to administer the remaining 84.4% of the budget's expenditures. Assuming that even rickshawjim is not quite that draconian (and I may be assuming too much), we will need to keep a few of those Federal civil servants to keep writing checks and to do all that oversight that is required in the process of rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse. So, what is the rest of all that money being spent on? Goods. Services. Procurement. Contractors who do the actual work, in the much-praised "private sector" that is supposed to be motivated to be hyper-efficient and profit-driven. Social security checks. Medicare and Medicaid. Guns and bullets. Of course, we won't need as many guns and bullets, since we also will have to fire the entire military. So, I guess that part of it will work out.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Remember the war tax? The one adopted in October of 2001? That everybody would support? Oh, that's right, there wasn't any.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

If the Gubmit gonna raise my taxes, I better get a free pony. I pay enough taxes, cause I said so. Fine, you cut those freeloaders and immagraters and union jacks and such. I don't need none a them. But I want a pony. That's fair.



Posted by: jp1954 | November 11, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Cowtown, have you considered the possibility that the Democrats are all in the pay of the notoriously cunning tent and pop-top-trailer industry, to say nothing of their allies, the evil and dastardly canvas, polyester, rip-stop nylon, zipper and aluminum tubing cartel?

Also, if anyone has their Cliff Notes handy, I'd like to review the global warming section that says it will "destroy the planet." I must have been out the day that was covered. My understanding was the planet was still going to be here, remain fairly round, it would just be different on the surface. A little warmer, oceans deeper, no ice caps, and no Florida. Did I miss something? I'm pretty sure the word "destrouction" didn't come up. But then again, I tend to doze off in class, so I allow for the possibility I missed that discussion. I hope it won't be on the final exam.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

So . . . what is this "budget" thing I keep hearing about? It's starting to sound somewhat important.

I just hope the House of Representatives is on the case.

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 11, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Sure get all technical Mudge!, Come on the guy is just trying to get on the Energy committee, not like he would need actual facts would he? :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans were wrong to call for the imposition of a Worldwide Nazi Reawakening. Wrong, I say!

See? Irony is broken. It doesn't work like it's supposed to.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Obama lied almost a year ago at West Point that he was bringing our troops home in the summer of 2011. The generals are saying now we are there until at least 2014.

Before we make any cuts at all, we need to cut funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and bring all our troops home.

Then we need to cut the Bush prescription medicine Medicare program. That is a huge boondoggle.

Then, we need to emasculate the Federal Reserve. We need to send Bernanake to the funny farm.

Posted by: alance | November 11, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

First off... ftb! thanks for the nice words a couple of boodles back!

Earlier today, I was in the midst of some serious work thought and I took a break and read the kit from Joel and had to basically disagree. i was about three or four pages in before reality kicked in and I just "shelved it" ... I may post it later. It was very jeuvenile ... not really, but it was emotional.

I did want to take today to point out something that has hung with me for a while....

When I was 6 or 7, my father took us on a large tour of France ... It was summer. It seemed every other day, he would drag me up a church steeple.

I was mentioning this to a Smithsonian historian last month and she said< "OH my god, you should get to a recorded historian on that. We worked out that my father's obsession with church steeples could and probably had to do with his role in WWII in intelligence with the US Army. He must have spent a LOT of time trying to figure out where people where. So when we went around the Normandy region, everything came back to my dad ...

from church steeples.

My mother, who was a nurse during the war, did say to my dad that it may not be a good idea for you to take Mickey up the steeple every freakin day. It stuck with me. ... more than my name.

For the record, often, when you go up a church steeple, you are on the outside. I think that it was one of those trips up the outside, walking on what may be like the little footings of a telephone pole that I, as a young lad, thought that the view really wasn't worth the total terror of the moment.

For Joel, I have calmed down now. I totally forgive you for your ridiculous remarks to do with delaying SS benefits at 65. I may not even post my response. Probably... not. Let's just say that I was p... irritated.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I would be very happy to fax you a pony, Cow Town, but the federal agency I work for doesn't have jurisdiction over any transporation-related modes that drop big balls of poop in the road and/or whiny.

However, if it did, I'm certain it would have beautifully punctuated reports and brochures.

Also, saddles would have seat belts and turn signals, and we would periodically recall Clydesdales for hairy hoof defects. There are a lot of trade-offs in life, yanno?


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my god, I hit enter and I see Joel's thread again. What is the deficit BLUES? How about the blues for all the poor folks who haven't caught a break for about 7 years?

Joel, poor folks buy the paper, too.

Today, I found out that two folks lost their businesses.

Today, I was told by an ex-spouse of a suffering individual, that it was his birthday. I guess that it was for me to say happy birthday.

People are all screwed up these days.

I caution not to use your own life as a barometer of real life in America. I so much appreciate your experience in your posts, but don't assume that you are the norm. (and I say that knowing full well that you know that you are a very talented and lucky individual)

At the same time, Joel, thanks for being a friend not only to me, but everyone on the boodle.

This life is really harsh.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 11, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

*faxing a "there, there" to Weed, along with some bubble wrap to play with*

Interesting story about the steeples, Weed. Sorta reminds me of an experience I had outside of Brussels many years ago. Friends were taking me to a dinner party with their friends just outside of Waterloo. It had already rained (which is one of the main activities in Belgium, apparently), the sun had come out and we were driving through some magnificent woods. It occurred to me that the reason the trees were so tall and so mellifluous (if one might say that about a forest) was that they were being fertilized by all the fallen soldiers of WWI and WWII. It humbled me and gave me a vision I'll not soon forget.

My brain has officially exploded, my eyes are tired and I've got tons of work to do. Time's up for today, however. Time to nuke some veggies for dinner.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 11, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Everything BUT raising the tax rate on the rich.

Posted by: fresno500 | November 11, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

My obligatory Veterans' Day thought before I backboodle: Both my father and grandfather were veterans, World War II and Vietnam respectively vice versa. At one time I thought you had to have seen combat to truly count as a veteran. Now I realize that all those who have served and kept us out of wars are every bit as valuable as those who fought the ones we were in.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm still working on trying to figure out how a statement Obama made in 2009 (presumably in good faith) about an event he hoped would take place in 2011 becomes a "lie" because it is contradicted in 2010 by some general somewhere who thinks/hopes/requests/wants it to be delayed until 2014 (with no guarantee Obama will agree and/or do what the general says, because he's only the president).

But I confess I've had half a glass of gewurtztraminer, so I am not responsible for my thought processes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse


If you get a pony, does that mean I get 40 acres? Because I'd like mine to be some waterfront property in Arizona.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The other day I was aghast that Joe Barton, the representative who apologized to BP during Gulf spill hearings was trying to take control of the House Energy Committee. I had no idea he was far from the least palatable candidate for that position. You truly cannot out crazy Republicans on the right. I fear will be hearing more from Shimkus than we care too.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I think your Smithsonian historian is onto something, rt.

Happy Veterans Day to all of our veterans, including my dad, who enlisted in the Army a few months before Pearl Harbor because he thought we would get in the war anyway and didn't want to wait to get drafted. A salute to you all!

Posted by: -pj- | November 11, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

A new policy will be made pubic soon during an upcoming conference of NATO countries in Lisbon.

The decision comes after we realized that conditions in the war-ravaged were unlikely to allow a speedy withdrawal.

The developments also come as Taliban militants were making inroads in different parts of Afghanistan.

According to the report, the Pentagon has also decided not to announce specific dates for handing the security responsibility of several Afghan provinces to local officials.

The Obama administration hopes to introduce a new timeline that calls for the withdrawal of US - led forces from Afghanistan by 2014. We are not going to fully transition to the Afghans by July 2011. Right now, we think we can start in 2011 and fully transition sometime in 2014.

The Pentagon has publicly announced its intention for an extended stay in Iraq as well. Gates said that the Pentagon was ready to keep American forces in Iraq beyond 2011, should the Baghdad government request it.

We're ready to have that discussion if and when they want to raise it with us, Gates said.

Posted by: alance | November 11, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Steven Wright has a pony:

Posted by: -pj- | November 11, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Social security benefits are astoundingly complicated. A retired spouse is usually entitled to either the benefits due them based on their own work record or 50% of their spouse's benefits. This is in addition to the higher paid spouse being able to draw their full benefits.

So in my hypothetical example from yesterday, the breadwinner/homemaker couple draw a combined 150% of the maximum SS benefit while the dual incomer couple each collect their own benefit which might or might not combine to top the other couple who have paid much less into the system.

The logic here is that not having worked outside the home should not impoverish a person in their retirement. Divorced spouses are also eligible to draw SS based on their ex's work record provided they have not remarried. This is why there are so many immoral cohabitating couples in Sin, I mean Sun, City.

Like I said, the rules are byzantine and confusing, so anybody who actually knows what they are talking about is welcome to correct me on any inaccuracy.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

*faxing bubble wrap to Mudge, too*

Posted by: ftb3 | November 11, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Whenever people of faith make a scientific prediction because of religious dogma, they are taking a risk. If one claims that dogma forbids something, and it actually happens, there are only three logical possibilities.

The first is that the dogma is wrong. The second is that the person applied the dogma incorrectly. The third is that the dogma only appeared to be scientifically violated for mysterious unknown reasons.

The first possibility is called a "crisis of faith" and is usually overcome by accepting one of the latter two possibilities. And while this may be a great way to preserve faith in the dogma, both of the latter possibilities *negate* the original predictive power of the dogma.

So unless a fundamentalist Christian is going to allow a scientific fact to invalidate the Bible, they have no business making scientific predictions based on it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

RD_P, how about Bernese Mountain dogmas? Would that work? Or maybe a Golden Retriever dogma? Or a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dogma? I do like Tollies. Although they all may be entirely too intelligent and discerning for what you're talking about.


Posted by: ftb3 | November 11, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, ftb. That will keep me busy for hours.

Okay, alance, but where is the "lie" part of it? I'm not seeing the lie.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I watched some of the news this evening while at a meeting, and saw a commercial were a man from China teaching students talked about the failure of empires, adding that China owns US debt, so now they work for us. The young people laughed. I did not like that commercial one bit.

I know China owns our debt, but isn't there an equalizer for the US? I mean don't these folks need something we got?

And as for the recommendations made by Bowles and those committee members, yes, they are bold and seem to concentrate on the backs of poor people. Perhaps I missed the part where they include the rest of society?

Can someone explain all this to me in rather simple terms or is that possible? And what does it mean for the man on the street when the Federal Reserve dumps all this money in the economy? Is this good or bad for the economy?

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 11, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Scratching head...and so on-Kit for the last Kit...

Today (see Google News), a number of news outlets are reporting this story (editing mistake made by White House about oil industry experts endorsing the six-month drilling moratorium--when in fact, they did not), when the story was covered June 8 by the Houston Chronicle (link below)

The Houston Chronicle story quotes Houston petroleum engineer Ken Arnold, while today's reporting contains statements made by Ford Brett, managing director of Petroskills, Inc. Were people not paying attention last June?

Why is the Department of Interior so slow in correcting its error?

Posted by: laloomis | November 11, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Dino de Laurentis...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

So it goes. Poor guy never worked again after The Flintstones was canceled.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

My karma ran over your dogma.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - What the Government has done is print about 600 billion dollars and use this new money to buy its own bonds from banks. It has, essentially, lent itself money.

The net result is that there is a lot more money in the economy, which means that banks now have a lot more cash to lend to businesses and individuals. This is supposed to be get the economy going, and is sometimes called "pump priming."

The danger of this is that banks might still not lend this money out and the desired economic improvement will not happen.

Also, whenever too much new money is created, there is the risk of inflation.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

My eye-opener for today was in the waiting room of my dentist. The Fox News Channel was on, and I watched as I waited for about 20 minutes.

I like to get a feel for the audience by the commercials they run. There were 3 commercials urging people to buy gold, 3 by law firms seeking new mesothelioma plaintiffs, 2 by a firm that will help people who are tax cheats negotiate with the IRS and 2 by a conservative PAC urging people to sign a petition to repeal ObamaCare and send it to their newly elected representatives.

I wish I was kidding.

It was almost A Clockwork Orange.

I haven't had cable for 15 years or so. I am unaccustomed to such stuff. I guess this is the way we have moved as a nation.


More on topic, I am generally for eliminating deductions and tax havens and tax carve-outs and for more honest standard brackets. The deductions and carve-outs usually are written as favors and only hurt normal taxpaying people.

Posted by: baldinho | November 11, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. To change the subject briefly, I direct you to this link:

Somehow it fits into tonight's ramblings.

(My pastor linked to it, gotta love a preacher with a sense of humor!)

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

When mortgage interest is no longer tax deductible, we'll have to find new things to borrow against. I would so take this deal.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

baldhino... judging from the shows on our Tivo that have been recorded during the day, I think ALL channels show those commercials during the work day.

Apparently they think the unemployed are all over that cr@p.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

slyness, thanks for the link, needed that - parent - teacher interview tonight.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

The target demographic of daytime television commercials has been the unemployed and mothers of newborns for quite some time. The fear of watching daytime TV prevents me from ever calling in sick.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Steve Martin was one of the presenters at the Tina Fey tribute on Tuesday. My was gloating that my travel schedule prevented me from stalking her. Maybe next time she is in town.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

SCC: My wife was gloating...

Tina Fey was calling security.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

This nation cannot recover while we ignore what was wrongfully taken and by whom.

CDO's were a huge fraud, that no one prosecuted.

Bailouts towards a trillion, taxpayer funded that got re-distributed to incompetent bank management, are laughable, but for the staggering loss of government funds.

I doubt the American people are in a mood to play the distraction game again and follow propagandist projections about minimal entitlement payments earned over a lifetime of work, while at four trillion dollar war in Iraq that principally benefited forward contracts for multi-national oil companies goes unpaid for.

Let the oil companies pay for the Iraq war that made possible their contracts to pump trillions in oil out of that country on into the future---and the US budget will balance itself.

Posted by: inojk | November 11, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Ken Levine's tribute to Dave Niehaus (Seattle baseball announcer):

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The Daily Beast is taking in Newsweek. Paul Farhi at Post Now already has a pick-the-name poll.

Since editor Tina Brown once commanded the New Yorker, I suppose her successor, David Remnick, might

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

[...Remnick might] have some ideas about names.

I like Weekly Beast. Or how about Scoop for the daily website?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Today, Science (the magazine) has the physics of how cats lap water and (express publication) an elaborate study on how literacy affects brain organization. Being able to read is a Big Deal for your brain, whether you learned during childhood or as an adult.

They suspect that reading, like other forms of expertise, comes at a price, perhaps less ability to recognize faces (they're working on that).

If I remember correctly, playing musical instruments changes the brain. Could music and reading compete for the same brain cells?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new loan that has a more favorable interest rate and terms that you can afford to manage. The new loan is secured on the same property as your current loan. I refinanced and saving $451 every month! search online for "123 Mortgage Refinance" they got me a 3.11% rate

Posted by: jamestyler12 | November 12, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, whaddayaknow! The spambot at 2:14 is on-kit!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 12, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

"Otherwise there's a generational justice problem."

The most notable achievement of the current administration is hosing the young for more dollars to pay for their infirm but still too young for Medicare elders.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 12, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

"The Bad Timing Generation. Tail end of the Boomers."

That's kinda catchy. It just needs to be shortened a little.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Weak Beast?

Posted by: baldinho | November 12, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Thanks so much, RD, for answering my question in language I can understand!

I understand that prior administrations have taken money from the Social Security Administration, and never replaced that money. Is this true? And if true, why not?

During the time that I was working, the amounts taken from my earnings were increased to meet expectations today, what happened to that increase?

Anyone that pays bills knows the bottom line is that one has to have the money to cover those bills, and if not,something is going lacking. Now I've paid Peter, and hedged with Paul doing my lifetime justifying that behavior because of my children and other things, but at some point those things catch up with you, and one gets tired of dodging these collectors.

I'm still paying bills that I incurred doing the time my children were small! And being a single parent, I owed everybody, and still do. Now it's medical bills, and the like.

Just saying all this to say that our mentality allows us to keep doing the things we do. We want what we see, and refuse to wait. And it's a pattern. Not a good one at that. And like so many things in this country, we refuse to have an adult conversation about our finances and the impact certain "do not go there" questions would have on that conversation. Our children and grandchildren will pay the price. And that's heartbreaking. I'm just as guilty as the rest.*sigh*

As for the money being channeled in the economy, this would be a great benefit if, as RD says, the money was used for that purpose, but doesn't that depend on the mood of the country? How can I say this? Don't we have to have a "can do" spirit, not down in the dumps, "oh, nothing works" thing? Don't we have to be ready to conquer, to wage war on this enemy, and be determined to beat it down? As that Chinese commercial said, own it? Be the head, not the tail?

I don't know why this bothers me so, but it does! I think because no matter what this country's faults are, my perception of America is that we are a can do people, not a whinning bunch of whatever. We kick butt and take names! And excuse the language, but I don't know any other way to put it!

I guess you can tell I've had a headache for two days now.

Have a great day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Have we ever had a spambot be on kit? This must be some kind of a record.

Morning, all. Nice cool day in the Carolinas. Hi Cassandra, I hope you're warm this morning!

Ham biscuits, warm baked apples, and appropriate hot and cold beverages on the ready room table, enjoy, folks.

Posted by: slyness | November 12, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I have a question: if you are involved in an incident in which quick thinking, good reflexes, and dumb luck conspire to narrowly but completely avoid what could have been a serious or even life-threatening collision, what is the protocol? Should I be on the phone to the police right now?

Also: assuming I do not spend the day with the police, I'll be heading down to visit HopefulMonster today and spread the good words of astronomy and space science to the public. I still have to pack and so forth, so there's still time to advise me on the traffic-accident thing.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 12, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse


I do believe I have killed the boodle. And early in the morning. I have my door open already. Good breakfast!

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad you're ok, Science Tim. Don't know the answer to that question. God is good.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Tim! I'm glad you're okay, what a relief! Yeah, call the police if you want to. Did you get a license number? That will make it easier....

The boodle always manages to resurrect itself, Cassandra. I wouldn't worry about it.

Posted by: slyness | November 12, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

SciTim, glad you're OK!!! :-O

I can only assume it was another party who forced you into avoiding the collision. If this event is more than a half-hour or so old, and you lack license plate or other identifying info for the other party, there's not much the police can do, AFAIK.

It was quite the sparkling clear and brisk morning for the Dawn Patrol, although the whole tableau would have been better appreciated from within a warm conveyance as opposed to standing out on the tarmac awaiting the conveyance's arrival... *shrug*

*ya-gotta-love-these-one-day-work-weeks-particularly-when-they're-TFSMIF Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Yeah *Tim, if the thought occurs to you 'should I call the police' the answer is yes, call the non-emergency number. (I assume you have some relevant details to give them.) If the near-miss (Geo Carlin, near-hit?) involved a commercial vehicle and was that driver's fault, I'd call the company as well.

You're good? The old ticker skip just one beat, or two? Kick back, have some chamomile, find something to laugh about.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 12, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

If there is no harm to you or damage to your vehicle, I would just forget it and go on. But that's me.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Yeah YJ, I can see that, but what with it being rush hour and all, if it was wreckless driving on the other guy's part, isn't there a better than normal chance that a mile or two down the road he did cause an accident? A wreckless driving report of an earlier incident would matter.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 12, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

*can't... stop... fingers...*

I always strive for wreckless driving.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Yeah thanks S'nuke. Must go back to full-strength coffee.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 12, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

De nada, LiT. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

It was my car, so I have the number pretty well, and an idiot under-age pedestrian who jumped into the street, quite literally right in front of me. Of course, it nearly turned into a vehicle collision, since my swerve took em towards the line of nearly-stopped oncoming traffic. Any vehicular collisions would have been low-speed, glancing, and easily survivable. The pedestrian, had I not swerved and stomped the brakes, would not have gotten off so lucky.

Anyway, I have typed up a report, which I am mailing to the high school in front of which this happened. The pedestrian was walking away from the school, which indicates she was a middle schooler on her way to her bus stop.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 12, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I said "took em", which makes it sound like I was dragging a pedestrian, but I meant "took me".

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 12, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Anybody else think that the dude serving up napkins to the president under Krauthammer's headline on the Opinions page looks just like Obama's twin brother? Maybe this guy actually IS a Muslim. Or at least a Hindu. Maybe Obama's doppelganger is a Sikh.

Posted by: GomerGross | November 12, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

One of those hot towels would be lovely right now Gomer.

For Frosti who celebrates her birthday today, an overload of bears, this site is seriously affecting my work productivity today.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 12, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all.

ScienceTim, under those facts (that's lawyer talk) there's no point in informing the police. There's nothing they can do either prospectively or retroactively. Telling them "Hey, I didn't hit a kid in front of the school today" will only focus their attention on you. It is a good idea to let the school know, so they can make an announcement on traffic safety and walking near the building. Middle-school kids are by nature clueless and need these reminders.

Nicely said, Cassandra.

DaveOTC, if reading and music compete for the same brain cells, then I am living proof that humans must have millions of redundant cells we never use. I appear to have ability in both reading and musical pursuits. Of course, it is possible that this combination has taken up all my available brain cells. That would explain my math deficit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 12, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

For frosti,

A whole bunch of bear pictures:


Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday to Frostbitten! May there be many bears!

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 12, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Frosti!!!

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

♭Dave, th♬e notion that rea♬ding and music compete f♪♪or the sa♬e brain cells is jus♮t crazy.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I think Frosti's birthday is tomorrow, which I knew but typed today, I can do neither math or music - but that is evident isn't it! :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | November 12, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

It's also Kurt Vonnegut's birthday. How serendipitous!

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I read your 10:27 and almost drove off a clef.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 12, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

This could be treble.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Kurt's birthday was yesterday, so I'm off a day as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Ya gotta look sharp, byoolin.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm feelin' flat, actually...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This day seems to be buiding to a crescendo.

Posted by: Moose13 | November 12, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It was my own fault, Mudge. Usually I just do what the staff tells me, but one should know how to conduct oneself.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 12, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, as you often do, you’ve asked a devilishly difficult question this morning. I’ll try to answer it.

First, the thing is called the “Social Security Trust Fund” (SSTF) but it really isn’t that at all. Normally a trust fund is a kind of escrow account: you put money into it, and somebody (the trust fund manager) administers it, but the money basically stays in the account. It is usually invested, and presumably increases, although some investments might not be good, and so it might lose some. But the idea is that basically, most of the money stays there. Now, usually a trust fund has a purpose. For instance, one might put one million dollars into a trust fund for one’s children or grandchildren, for instance. After your death, the manager of the trust fund would be responsible for doling out some of that money to pay for your grandkids education, as necessary. So yes, that million dollars would diminish as it gets (properly) spent on its goal: your grandkids college educations, say.

Other trust funds may have an expiration date. You have a 5-yr-old neive and you want to leave the child $500,000 in your will. Giving that money to a child is absurd, and perhaps the child’s parents aren’t responsible. So you put the money in a trust fund which says that when the child turns 21, or 25, or 30, or whatever you decide, all the money is given to the child (now an adult) to do with whatever he/she wishes, and the trust fund ceases to exist when the money is handed over.
Now, the SSTF has the words “trust fund” in it, which leads people to believe it operates like those other kinds of trust funds, i.e., they think it is this big pot of money ($2.6 trillion, as it happens) sitting in a vault or a Ft. Knox or something. The SSTF is where your money goes when you pay your Social Security taxes – into the bank vault. The “trust fund” is simply an accounting device (or “trick” when you want to disparage it), a name for a specific “pocket” of money to be taken in and then paid back out to retirees.

Only there is no bank vault, never was, and never will be. The term “trust fund” is something of a misnomer, and about at this point is when politics start to intervene and things start to get predictably strange and controversial, especially when you now have a bunch of extreme rightwing Conservative and libertarian tax nihilists polluting the language and concepts to their own nefarious ends and twisted, greedy theories.

There is not now and never was any such “bank vault” where all that Social Security money you and paid in was sitting. The money was “logged in” to the SSTF and then passed directly through to the general U.S. Treasury to be used to run the government fight wars, build bridges to nowhere in Alaska, and all the other stuff the government does. Meanwhile, the govt. acknowledges receipt of your SS money, and in effect puts an IOU into the SSTF for the money it has passed on to the treasury.


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse


And this IOU says that when you retire, the govt. will pay you your SS and your Medicare, etc., from this trust fund. You paid in, so you get to take it out later when you need it (i.e., your retirement).

So, enter the rightwing demagogues and greed theorists. Since the govt. has “taken” the money from the SSTF and used it to build hospitals and pay for wars and all the other stuff, the Right can now say the govt. has “borrowed” or worse, “looted” this money, and that it “should,” if it was ethical, “pay it back.”

This construct is false on many fronts. It envisions some sort of vault where actual cash money, whether paper or gold or whatever, should be “repaid.”

First off, it would actually be pretty silly for the govt to receive all our SS payments and put that money into an actual “vault” whether real or metaphorical, and then do nothing with it except pay out retirement claims. For decades, there was more money “in” that imaginary account than was being paid out, and it would have been foolish to have left that balance in there, doing nothing. In theory, the money “could” have been invested (which of course all the Conserv/rightwing/Wall Street types would have liked, since they get to do the investing and using). But instead it was simple taken into the treasury and used to pay salaries, create Food Stamps, pay for Head Start programs, feed people, try to cure diseases, build mass transit, study insect behavior, monitor volcanoes, and so forth. “Wasted,” in other words.

Meanwhile, more and more people were retiring and/or getting sick and using Medicare/Medicade funds, and then prescription coverage came along (courtesy of George Bush, one might add), and the SSTF was paying out more than it was taking in. So this created what “appears” to be a debt or a deficit, which now amounts to about $2.6 trillion, on paper. But the govt. has said that, in effect, it has put an IOU for $2.6 trillion in the trust fund, and because it has taken your SS payments and built roads and paid the salaries of air traffic controllers with it, it promises it will still fund your retirement, just like it said it would.

And for half a century or so, this system has chugged right along, more or less, without too much criticism or too much public outcry.

Then in the last decade or so, along with and part of the rise of the Greedy Right, this system has suddenly gotten politicized. Oh, yes, it has always had its critics, from Day One, but they were a tiny minority and no one paid them much attention, because they were cranks and crackpots. And for decades politicians have seen that the system appears to be unsustainable in the long run, because of the big bulge in the system created by us Baby Boomers. Yes, Cassandra, this whole mess is now all your fault, and mine, because now we are about to retire.


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse


We have gotten old, and infirm, and we need pills and someone to wipe the gruel from our chins as we sit in our wheelchairs in the Florida rooms of run-down nursing homes. Trouble is, there were a s---load of us, and we are a drain on the system, and the young thirty-somethings and the filthy rich don’t want to pay for us. And you get a dillweed like edbryonadams saying things like “The most notable achievement of the current administration is hosing the young for more dollars to pay for their infirm but still too young for Medicare elders.”

So, yes, Cassandra, you and I and Obama are “hosing the young” and our beloved future generations of precious children so that we may rock our lives away fighting cancer and heart disease, because we lack to simple decency to just go out and die quietly in our 50s and sixties like younger generations did, without all this expensive help we’re getting by stealing it from poor edbyronadams’ wallet.

So you have these true-blue teary-eyed Patriots who love their country soooooooo much (except for half the people in it, i.e., Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, liberals, gays, socialists, atheists, agnostics, mormons, peaceniks, feminazis, tree-huggers, ACLU lawyers, Democrats, progressives, liberals, commie-pinkos, and tax-and-spenders, who are ruining the entire place from sea to shining sea).

And so, yes, you will hear people claim that the SSTF has been “looted,” that the money should somehow be “paid back,” and all that verbiage.

And yes, there is indeed a real problem, and yes, it ought to be fixed…except that no one knows how, but there are a boatload of theories, most of them crap, but even if there was one pretty good one in that pile, no one could find and we’d never get a healthy majority of people to agree on it, nor get our politicians to implement it.

Now, regarding that big, steaming, fragrant pile of ideas how to fix things, we may dismiss two-thirds or three-quarters of them out-of-hand, because they all come from right-of-center, and usually somewhat far-right-of-center, and the entirety of that side is utterly dominated and fixated on a core set of beliefs which include no taxes, no welfare, no helping the poor and the sick and the indigent, pretty much total indifference to human suffering, and a desire to maximize their own position in life, and to hell with anybody else. And so far, all their monetary theories – which they pride themselves as being specialist in – have helped mightily to put us in the ditch in the first place. What saves them from being utter scoundrels is that the Baby Boom, the existence of which is the major stressor on the system, wasn’t their fault. They didn’t cause it, and so it isn’t their problem; they just want it to go away.


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

There are some articles on the Washington Post homepage about Christmas creep, but I wnat to address weekend creep.

Last weekend, the San Antonio Express-News advertised that it is moving the Friday Weekender section to Thursdays, without mentioning the rate increase. The date the Weekender switch goes into effect is Thursday, Nov. 18.

Apparently, people need an extra day to plan their weekend play-and-shop-and dining, which now includes all of Friday, and not the old-fashioned weekend's start, which traditionally has been 5 p.m. when the "work" week ends.

Up until now, weekend subscription rates have been for delivery on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. As of Nov. 18, weekend subscription rates will be for four days of delivery. (Very tricky--the trick being played on the consumer)

I called the Express-News yesterday and spoke with a woman, not in Customer Service (who did not sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer), who informed me, I hope correctly, that the weekly increase will be but 50 cents per week. She said that the newspaper will put the price increase in print sometime soon. I hope.

I asked if it might be possible to cancel Saturday delivery--since the Saturday paper is a weak effort, and she said no. My druthers would be to decrease delivery even more, thanks to the E-N's change, to only Thursdays and Sundays. The other option is to cancel the whole enchilada, and just read the paper online and go to national retailers' sites online. How empty the recycling bin would be then!

Did you catch the news on the WaPo homepage that the U.S. Postal Service will, in all likelihood, be bankrupt in 2011? Billions less of personal mail delivered last year, IIRC. When will this federal agency make the needed cuts to sustain itself, or will it go the way of the whip and buggy?

Posted by: laloomis | November 12, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse


In the remaining third or quarter, we have everybody and all the ideas left-of-center. This side is highly idealistic and people-oriented, which is to say, the bleeding-heart liberals. Since this side has never cared much about money, and basically only wants to help people, its grasp of economics is tenuous at best. And of course, we’re quite willing to “hose the young” to do it.

Back in the 1950s to maybe 1970, the GOP used to have a reasonably sane (and large) corps of people who were pretty good at handling monetary questions. They were reasonable, pragmatic, clear-eyed, willing to compromise, more pro-business than pro-labor of course, but not too overwhelmingly fanatical about it, and one could work with them. That breed was the overwhelming core of the GOP…but they’re all dead now (a few are still alive, hiding in caves, but they only come out at night and wearing beards and disguises). But the result is that what's left of the GOP has been "eating out" on this reputation for frugal integrity and wisdom for 40 years, and undeservedly so. Yes, once they kinda knew what they were doing, and they were reasonable and pragmatic. This current gang of hooligans masquerading as the GOP has been operating under the cover and color of that old GOP. It is, if not a lie, then at least a decption and also a self-delusion. But the notion that these people, by virtue of their love of Wall Street and making money, are both good at it and also sane, has died in the last decade or so.

So we have a large and substantial economic problem that no one can fix or will fix.

The bad joke is, we now have a political culture and a gridlock inwhich nothing can be fixed, and it doesn't matter if one wants to cite the economy, the deficit, global warming, domestic or foreign terrorism, the NFL draft, you name it. The problem isn't that these things can't be fixed; it is that no one can do it. If your car breaks down on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, can you fix it? No. So you're screwed. It isn't that the car can't be fixed; it's just there's no one around who can do it, for whatever reason. Same with the SSTF and the economy in general. Yes, it can be fixed...there's just no one around who can do it.

So yes, we're screwed.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Nice summary, Mudge. Some people may quibble with some of your "right" or GOP characterizations, but your explanation is simple and well put.

I am always bemused by the people who want to do away with Social Security. After all, that's what privatizing is - giving everyone the chance to save on their own for retirement and old age. I think the phenomenon is so popular now because, after decades of Social Security and Medicare, we've forgotten what happened in the past when people "privatized" their own safety net. They died. In poverty. Often painfully, and usually much younger than people do now. Frequently they'd bankrupt the entire family first.

Now, there are some people who genuinely don't believe that government should provide a social safety net for the elderly, poor, or ill. I respect that. I don't agree with it, but I respect it. I don't believe that all the people recommending the dissolution of social security agree with that philosophy of government. I suspect they just haven't thought it through, or don't have that historical background to evaluate the potential consequences. Maybe they missed that day in history class.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 12, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

One of the most persistent and pernicious things that conservatives say about low income workers is that they "pay no taxes." This may be true as it relates to income taxes, but is absolutely false as it pertains to FICA. Low income workers pay SS tax on 100% of their income, as opposed to the wealthy, whose contributions are stopped after the first $106,800.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 12, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The Earned Income Credit is a program where the federal income tax refund can exceed the amount of tax owed, offsetting or even exceeding the amount of FICA and Medicare paid.

For example, a single parent earning $20,000 a year (about ten bucks an hour) with two children is entitled to an EIC of $4260, compared to the $1530 of FICA/Medicare paid by the employee resulting in a net effective tax rate of -13.65%. You can invent your own scenario here:

Please note that I do NOT advocate being poor as a way to avoid taxes, but some people do not pay any taxes. Nor do I think they should, but it does stick in the craw of some who resent the lucky ducks who don't make a living wage.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge, great answer.

So it pretty much boils downs to the rich and the poor as most things do in this country. Yet haven't the rich seen an increase in their wealth in the past couple of years as opposed to the poor getting poorer and adding new numbers?

I often wonder where people that accumulate so much wealth think they're going to live if things ever take a turn for the worse. And when I say worse, I mean rebellion. When the people most affected by these circumstances actually get fed up. Do they have space ships, and is there a place in space they can actually live with their wealth?

Saddam was under a house with his, and it didn't do him much good.

Can we imagine the horror of old age if there wasn't a Social Security Administration? Old people would be laying in the streets like run-over animals. I just don't see children caring for their elderly parents. Even now, many take the check and treat the parents badly, and we're not talking a whole lot of money here.

Perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic, but I see ugliness a lot, and I'm sure that impacts my thinking, but I'm not making this stuff up. Not good, folks, not good, but can always be worse.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge, great answer.

So it pretty much boils downs to the rich and the poor as most things do in this country. Yet haven't the rich seen an increase in their wealth in the past couple of years as opposed to the poor getting poorer and adding new numbers?

I often wonder where people that accumulate so much wealth think they're going to live if things ever take a turn for the worse. And when I say worse, I mean rebellion. When the people most affected by these circumstances actually get fed up. Do they have space ships, and is there a place in space they can actually live with their wealth?

Saddam was under a house with his, and it didn't do him much good.

Can we imagine the horror of old age if there wasn't a Social Security Administration? Old people would be laying in the streets like run-over animals. I just don't see children caring for their elderly parents. Even now, many take the check and treat the parents badly, and we're not talking a whole lot of money here.

Perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic, but I see ugliness a lot, and I'm sure that impacts my thinking, but I'm not making this stuff up. Not good, folks, not good, but can always be worse.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

This just in.

From the Washington Post today.

Pr. Geo's Jack Johnson taken into custody
By Ruben Castaneda


Law enforcement agents took Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson from his home in handcuffs shortly before 1 p.m. Johnson, wearing a camel suit and white shirt, did not address reporters questions.

Hey, someone tell him Halloween's over. No more Joe Camel till next year.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | November 12, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Let's remember that the Earned Income Tax Credit was an element of Welfare Reform. It was pushed by conservative economists as an alternative to giving income (in the form of welfare) to poor people by incentivizing getting a job. It was, in other words, part of the quid pro quo with Democrats that enabled passage of Welfare Reform. And now some conservatives with feeble memories want to strip that away as well.

Posted by: jp1954 | November 12, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

rickoshea (*Grover waves*), perhaps Ruben mean a "carmel-colored suit," or maybe he misheard "Kamal"...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Anyone care to hazard a guess on when we'll hear about the GOP fatwa on Stockman due to this?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Life without Social Security is unimaginable simply because so many people fare so poorly even with it. As a safety net, it is getting increasingly tattered.

As for pre-emptively rebutting anybody disputing the validity of my hypothetical example above, that family of three is technically above the 2009 Federal Poverty Threshold of $18,310 and aren't even legally 'poor.'

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"Can we imagine the horror of old age if there wasn't a Social Security Administration?"

Actually, Cassandra, a lot of us can imagine exactly that, if we are knowledgable about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 30s. The Right Wing complains bitterly about the "Welfare State" and all that, but they also claim (accurately) that all this got started by the Roosevelt administration, those rotten liberal Democrats.

Which is quite true. But the thing is, the people of that generation deliberately created the roots of that Welfare State precisely because they saw what happened to an American society that had no Social Security program, no safety nets, no minimum wage, no medicare, no jobs programs. Those people saw with their own eyes, firsthand, people selling pencils out of a tin cup in the street to make a living. They saw soup kitchens. The saw millions of people in the midwest driven out of the Dust Bowl. So what they did was create Social Security and some other systems that later included Medicare and Medicaid and all those safety nets we have now.

So it helped tremendously to those people that they saw two kinds of national disasters with their own eyes. (And even then there were people who fought against creation of that welfare state every step of the way.)

So the short answer is yes, those people of the 1930s and 1940s and 1950s could indeed imagine a country without a Social Security system, because they had lived in one. And then they fixed it.

Some Repubs/Conservs may say that yes, that was all well and good back in the 1930s, but the problem is that the "Granny State" (not my choice of words) grew until it got too big and out of control. And whther it is "too big" or not (relative to all the problems it attempts to solve today: poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc., problems which have always existed and existed independent of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl anyway), who has the money to pay for it?

And to answer your other question about the very rich, over the past three decades, the top 1% of the country's income has increased while the rest of the country has decreased, to the point now where the top 1% receive 24% of the entire nation's income. This is the worst disparity since ... guess what year? 1929, the year of the Great Depression.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Cow Town,

I doubt they have a feeble memory as much as they are playing a long game.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Before we totally depart from the kit, I'm hopeful that the catfood commission has some chance of pushing folk toward making the hard decisions that must be.

But, I don't understand the continued use of tax brackets. And I'm not advocating a flat tax. But I think the tax rate should be a smooth continuous function to eliminate the game playing at those thresholds. Just as a modest proposal how about:

Tax Rate (in %) = 0.025 * sqrt(income (in $K) - $20K)

That's probably not it, it gets a bit excessive for upper incomes. But you get the idea.

Posted by: HeadFool1 | November 12, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it usually take two people to wear a camel suit?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 12, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

By your formula, nobody could make more that $16 million dollars because above that they would owe more in taxes than they make. The 50% rate would kick in right around $4 mill. I know a lot of people who would be fine with that, but I doubt many are members of congress.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, imaginary tax rates at <20K... probably needs to be some chunk of a sigmoid instead...

Posted by: HeadFool1 | November 12, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"chunk of a sigmoid"

Aren't their creams for that, HeadFool?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Well Cassandra, I see euthanasia as the rebellion that will combat the ugliness of seeing our elderly suffering and dying in the streets. Or, this is my fear anyway. Logically speaking, if we can deny health benefits to all those old, unproductive farts laying around in nursing homes at an huge cost to the hardworking tax payers of America and encourage them to eliminate their suffering by ending it all with dignity, we can effectively save billions. We can wrap the idea of euthanasia up with PC speech with slogans like, "nobody should have to suffer", "dignity for all", and of course "the freedom to choose". Everybody likes choices, especially when it comes to personal decisions that govern our health and our life. Give America what she wants!

Of course, granting the citizens the right to take their own life is going to be a hard sell to all those right-winged, pro-life, religious wing-nuts that have a habit of pushing their personal morality on others, but, as in the case of abortion, this can be overcome through politics that adhere to sheer logic and reason.

I mean, give the aging, or what the heck, everybody that wants it, access to euthanasia and poof! the problem of watching people die in the streets as well as the huge cost of providing Americans with the SS safety net could literally disappear overnight. Sounds like a plan. Why not?

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 12, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

bobs, your 1:34 was correct!

Posted by: nellie4 | November 12, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Chunky's Cream of Sigmoid fer lunch?

Posted by: HeadFool1 | November 12, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

mudge -- have you noticed the front page in the last few minutes? I think 19 questions is a new record in non-writing news stories.

Posted by: nellie4 | November 12, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The new version of Franklin Roosevelt seems to be a book titled "New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America".

I don't doubt that Roosevelt improvised policy, sometimes at great expense. There were some pretty horrible mistakes. Even some small ones were bad, like trying to build a sea-level canal across Florida (it would have destroyed the state's most important aquifer). But it was a period of enormous investment, both private (companies like GM) and public. A small example would be the Pennsylvania State College, which was transformed into a university with serious science and engineering programs. The main campus is still defined by its well-built, handsome Depression buildings, just like other public universities around the country.

In 1941, the German government seems to have sized up the US as a failing state, maybe not doing as well as Argentina.

On music vs. reading and the brain, I'm a musical illiterate. I'm aware that trained musicians hear (not to mention do) things that are inaccessible to me. If brains gain expertise in one area do so at the expense of others (as suggested for reading vs. face recognition), I suspect someone has tried to explore how musical training might be at the expense of something else.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Hey, I wonder what were in those humps (funny looking shoulder pads, IMO) on Johnson's suit? Maybe what the FBI were looking for in the toilets at his house and the PG County offices?

I always thought Camel suits look better on ladies -- they have the toes for it.

(Mudge & yello, that was for you)

Back to the Kit, for a minute - when Nixon put the whole country on fiat money way back when (and the rest of the world went along with it), money - especially large amounts of it - has become even more of an abstraction than the notion of work or objects in return for precious materials and that there's a value equation there.

Commodity money requires a lot of cooperation, IMO. Someone acts in bad faith, and there's trouble afoot.



Posted by: -bc- | November 12, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Whacky, euthanasia won't sell to religious conservatives. Leaving people to die on the sidewalk outside the emergency room doesn't seem to go over, either--there was an uproar in Chicago a few years ago when someone died that way.

There's plenty of subtle ways to assert that the unworthy poor and slackers should not make demands on hardworking Americans. A libertarian approach of "no right to health care" can be combined with allowing private charities to provide medical care on their own dime, without government subsidy.

During famines (or more correctly, food crises), the starving die quietly, mostly out of sight. Those deprived of medical care will scarcely be noticed.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

UNESCO Science Report. Science magazine says its reports on individual countries ar gems (US dropping fast, S. Korea rising meteorically).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I lost my piano lessons real fast when I learned to type. Dunno if that counts.

"Wreckless Driver Has Near Miss." Ought to be a headline somewhere.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 12, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

19 question heads? Yikes, nellie4, that does sound like a record to me.

But to answer your question, no, I haven't seen the WaPo front page. After due consideration, I decided last week that I've about had it with most of the WaPo, and have given it up. The top half of the page is pretty much worthless -- political stuff I can't stand, and opinion columns that mostly offend me. An increasing proportion of the actual "hard news" stories aren't staff-written-- they come from Reuters, AP, or wherever, and I don't need WaPo to access them. But mainly it was the political reportage and the opinion columns that did it for me (and I'm still mourning the loss of Book World, which I used to read religiously, cover-to-cover, every week, me and four other people.) And I pretty much hate the format, I really hate all the egregious errors and mistakes, I dislike the intense concentration on celebrity stuff. In short, except for Joel's blog, and columns by Robinson and Dionne, there's not a damn thing in the paper I'm interested in any more.

So I stopped. I now have the NYT as my home page, and get my news from there.

I would have written Marcus Brauchli one of those long, angry, "Please-cancel-my-subscription-forthwith!" letters/e-mails...but having been in the newspaper bidness most of my life, I know exactly what happens to those kind of letters and what happens to them. (And anyway, I canceled my dead-tree Sunday-only subscription back when Book World was euthanized.)

So: Marcus has killed the WaPo for me. A lifetime love affair lies in ruins at my feet. Cause of the divorce: alienation of affection, plus ireeconcilable differences. I thought about throwing in loss of consortium (look it up), but there was never much of it to begin with, so that loss is pretty negligible. But when the fire has died down and the spark has gone out, it's over.

So no more rants about stupid headlines and incompetent copy-editing (at least from the WaPo; the rest of the world is rife with possibility). And who knows? Tho' I am sceptical, perhaps there is a venue out there somewhere I may rekindle that old spark with, a little slap and tickle, a little consortium, who knows. Maybe love will blossom again elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I still have custody of the children. Thank goodness, I don't have to pay support to WaPo.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

We need to update Kurt Vonnegut's notion of purple-roofed Ethical Suicidal Parlors since there are so few Howard Johnson's left for the complimentary final meal. Perhaps Cheesecake Factory or Cold Stone Creamery.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, this is worth your time, by Ted Koppel.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I took a typing class in high school because it was thought to be a valuable skill for college kids (go figure). I had great difficulty getting a C. Big problem (finally mostly resolved) was handedness-D vs K, that sort of thing.

On the other hand, I kind of irritated the IT people at work by preferring to mouse left-handed, while mousing right-handed at home.

I've seen a suggestion that while keyboard demands that the hands be able to work independently, while wind or string instruments demand the opposite--perfect cooperation. So a violinist is likely to make a terrible pianist (there's exceptions of course).

I like Ignatius, Meyerson, and Pearlstein.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again, Mudge.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

My only high school typing class memory consists of the time when the girl sitting opposite my typewriter had her blouse pop open during a three-minute timed test. She gamely waited until the end of the test before rebuttoning her top. The vision of her bra is seared into my mind. When you are fifteen these things stick with you.

The skills I acquired during that class are on display daily here, such as they are.

I have absolutely no musical aptitude whatsoever. I would love to learn how to play piano/keyboards but that would take a much deeper midlife crisis than any I have encountered to date.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

dmd -- that was a good article by Koppel. Those days are indeed over.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 12, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yello, buy a keyboard and take a course in piano at adult ed -- if it still can be found around the Baltimore area.

Had a friend who hauled a piano around to all their many military bases in a 30 year career and THEN took lessons. She did learn to play and really enjoyed it. And wished she'd taken lessons sooner ---

Posted by: nellie4 | November 12, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I like to mouse left-handed. It feels like someone else is doing it.

Posted by: GomerGross | November 12, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I did see that Ted Koppel piece, dmd, thanks. Yes, it was terrific...and everything I've been railing about for years, being one of those old-school-trained mastodons. I've been ranting for years that opinion isn't "news" -- that the reason it has gotten ascendancy is because it is much cheaper to produce. You don't need fact-checkers, you don't have to be careful, you don't have to be accurate, you don't have to be right (meaning correct). Everything I was painstakingly taught to do -- down the drain.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 12, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I've been badly out of touch with Wyoming. A botanist who I'd known and greatly respected was killed by a grizzly bear in June, age 70. Found that out via a story on the bears in today's Los Angeles Times.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I have not had time to read the details of the catfood commission. I see Paul Krugman hates it so bad he is for abolishing it.

It must be pretty good then, or at least so-so.

Krugman has become the ultimate left-of-center crybaby. I am sure he is very smart and I am certain he knows more than I do when it comes to many things.

Every Op-Ed he has done in the last two years says the same thing: government must intercede more heavily and balloon the deficit even more in the short term. He never even contemplates anything past the next couple of years. He does not address lowering the deficit. He is a poster boy for people who have gotten us where we are now.

Posted by: baldinho | November 12, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Baldinho, it was Krugman and people like him who are responsible for our dilemma(s)? I would have never thought. But someone's political position seems to be a more a matter of geography than anything else: In Europe he surely would be right in the center. Which is why I found myself on the far left after I moved here, although I turned more conservative as I aged. Oh well, it still is a free country.

On a lighter note, I wish we had the problems of the Italians. Pole dancers are better than being gay? It is so astounding that I had to laugh.

Posted by: gmbka | November 12, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

My issue with Krugman is that he ignores a major problem: the structural deficits we have. His solutions to the economic downturn all involve making the deficit worse short-term. He rarely addresses the long-term problems he does nothing to fix or the added debt he would run up short term. If he mentions the added debt, his terse answer is "well, it just has to be done".

THAT is what allows him to be on the poster with the leaders of our country from both parties. That is what they all say.

Taxes have to be cut... or else it will be terrible. Programs have to be added... or else it will be terrible.

There is nobody with honesty and courage regarding our deficits left in the country willing to lead. To be honest, if anyone was willing to lead, few Americans would even consider following him or her. The catfood commission and the reaction to what they mention proves that.

Posted by: baldinho | November 12, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Krugman is pretty much on record as calling for a return to Reagan era tax rates, which I guess makes him a radical destructive type of irresponsible idiot.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 12, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Krugman figures that a stagnant economy will make it difficult to cut deficits, much less reduce the national debt, so it's best to kick-start the economy with stimulus then enjoy a larger revenue stream.

Not being an economist, I can't tell whether he's right, but Fed chairman Bernanke is an expert on the Great Depression and is doing his best to administer smelling salts.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

People don't want to pay for what they are getting, I agree. You should have heard the response when the grass in our parks was not mowed because lower taxes were all the rave, and this is the small scale. I personally don't mind paying taxes, I know I am getting services and I appreciate them. Not being an economist either, I think I understand that a low economy has to be stimulated by the state, even if the state is out of money because we have overspent in the good times and therefore there is no nest-egg available now. So we'll have to pay. But since the system seems to favor those who are better off, as Mudge pointed out, it seems obvious to me that they have to pay more since they benefited more in the past. Quite frankly, when we got an additional social security cheque some time ago which was handed out to stimulate the economy, we shrugged and put it in the bank. Not that we are rich, but we have enough for our needs. This demonstrates that the government should give money to people who will actually spend it because they do have needs.This handing out money should be done with a pointed hose and not a watering can to be effective.

I have read a lot of Krugman, and I did not find much fault. I have not read anything about him as being a Reagon man, but he may have been because I remember having read that he had a change of heart. I was not here during the Reagon years, so I don't know.

Posted by: gmbka | November 12, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Just kind of skimming the Krugman blog I get the impression that the real fear is falling into a deflationary Japan-style lost decade of zero-growth. That would be pretty tragic since all these balance-the-budget plans rely on some pretty rosy scenarios.

The problem with the Social Security Trust Fund is that the money into the system has gone to a) paying current retirees and b) financing the general fund with the surplus just as mudge described earlier. Eventually the demands on the payouts overwhelm the funding mechanism. The paradigm box we are stuck in is that there is some sort of reluctance to admit that social security funds are going to have to eventually come out of the general fund. Instead we (meaning everybody but us) are trying to find ways to cheat people out of the promises that have been made in order to keep all these bizarre little pots of money separate.

There is no need to 'save' or 'cut' social security. It just needs another funding source not reliant on payroll taxes. Money is fungible. If it goes into the gummint and it comes back from the gummint, it does really matter how it got there.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I still like Al Gore's "lock box" for Social Security. And I don't understand why FICA taxes stop at around $100K.

Here's Jason Linkins' rebuttal to a WaPO oped which I refuse to read:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 12, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

And this is for Jumper:

Posted by: gmbka | November 12, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Yup. Caddell and Schoen are professional strawmen. Here they are accusing Obama of always playing the race card:

Strawman isn't quite the right word. They aren't really turncoats or quislings either. We need a word meaning false proponents of a policy whose only purpose is to undercut it.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Yello, "it does really matter how it got there". Did you mean to say "it doesn't"? This would make sense to me.

Posted by: gmbka | November 12, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

My Tea Party neighbor noticed that the local park's grass was looking ratty. This evening, he was back to carrying on about Obamacare bankrupting the country.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 12, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

You're right it doesn't matter. Which is why I rail against the sham distinction between FICA and income tax. You need to add the two together (and include the employer contribution) to realize that the very wealthy (working definitions- Wealthy: anybody making twice as much as you; Very wealthy: anybody making ten times as much as you) are getting a much better deal on the marginal rate. We have bent the very concept of progressive taxation into a bow.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, that must be hard to have neighbors like that. We are so fortunate, our street is solidly Democratic, mostly Jewish, mostly academic and with a wide range of ethnicity. There are quibbles once in a while, but the important thing is shared values. But I must admit, that sometimes this unaminity is a little bit frightening.

I skimmed seasea's article and I can understand why she did not want to read it.

Posted by: gmbka | November 12, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

this is too fine to pass up. bromberg and kaukonen, dark hollow. fwiw, in a. reckon the key is a function of voicing.

Posted by: -jack- | November 13, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: -jack- | November 13, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

true religion

Posted by: -jack- | November 13, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: -jack- | November 13, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I have some errands to run this morning for our missionary anniversary tomorrow and I want to attend a funeral. The funeral: I met this man in the store about three months ago. He was in distress, having an asthma attack. I tried to help him, wanted to call 911, but he said no. He was on his way to the hospital for breathing treatments. Stopped at the store for lunch, could hardly breath. I did tell a friend that knew his mother. Sad.

Thanks RD, Mudge, Yello, and all that contributed answers to my questions. I have a better understanding of some things, but it's complicated, and I'm sure answers to the bigger questions, such as solutions for this mess are even harder.

Slyness, it is cold this morning, very cold. Hope your weekend is good. CMS got a real mess there. It does look as if they closed schools that serve minorities, but that could be just me?

Have a terrific weekend, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

I had an epiphany. The EIC is a federal subsidy of the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage would increase the tax base and end yet another well-disguised form of corporate welfare.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I hope that guy does alright.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I have some errands to run this morning for our missionary anniversary tomorrow and I want to attend a funeral. The funeral: I met this man in the store about three months ago. He was in distress, having an asthma attack. I tried to help him, wanted to call 911, but he said no. He was on his way to the hospital for breathing treatments. Stopped at the store for lunch, could hardly breath. I did tell a friend that knew his mother. Sad.

Thanks RD, Mudge, Yello, and all that contributed answers to my questions. I have a better understanding of some things, but it's complicated, and I'm sure answers to the bigger questions, such as solutions for this mess are even harder.

Slyness, it is cold this morning, very cold. Hope your weekend is good. CMS got a real mess there. It does look as if they closed schools that serve minorities, but that could be just me?

Have a terrific weekend, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. I agree Mudge; it's sad to see the WaPo's front page sporting a "Another Hybird" headline. The Hybird will replace the Firebird? They clearly put a wreckfull typist like myself in charge of the non-copy editing.

This Social Security thing is a bit of a red herring. The demographics of the USA is pretty sound. There was a baby boom, of course, but the baby bust is nothing like the drop experienced in France, Japan, Italy Germany and even Canada. The Latinos and good ol' Chistian nation kept the birth rate pretty normal. The system may need some tweaking but nothing like forcing bricklayers, store clerks and short order cooks to stay on their feet 8 hours a day until they are 70 years old. But of it will not move any 88 years old senator seeking another 6 years mandate, I'm quite certain.

Another busy day yesterday as I felled two Colorado spruces that have seen better days. I kept the tops to make Christmas trees. So we'll have a blue outside C-tree!
A couple of linden trees and much pruning is scheduled for today. It's mostly work with the arborist chainsaw so I can rest my cramping right hand. The big saw is murder on the hands and wrists.

I smell a boeuf carotte in my immediate future. I love fall cooking.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 13, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

And for you Pink fans, this one is just a little NSFW:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

It's always nice to see RoundKitty properly appreciating the morning, insensate in her perch, soaking up the rising sun and ignoring the finches at the feeder.

I, on the other hand, soak up CFL rays whilst preparing for yet another busy Saturday, today featuring the ever-popular vehicle emissions test.



*finger-twirlies-and-other-expressions-of-unbridled-emotion Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 13, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I suspect I will be outdoors much of the day. They say it may be 65F with no wind. That means family trips to playgrounds or Audubon centers to soak in those rays. I also have lots of leaves that require raking.

Hope everyone has a good day and weekend.

Posted by: baldinho | November 13, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The beef stew is simmering. It's time to walk the Big Lump of Stupid.
Manitoba gets qood press in the NYT. There is a factual error however; MB is Haute Minnesota. That is Saskatchewan that is Haute North Dakota.

SK and ND are both booming. The mixture of resources, energy and grain in their economies make them success story these years. They did not have the real estate boom either, and that helps.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 13, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

That was a good article Shriek, perhaps a the writer was seeing with "rose coloured glasses" somewhat, but I may be tainted from reading the comments on too many articles up here.

Love this line, made me giggle, "That American complaint — “Why do I have to press 1 for English?” — baffles a country with a minister of multiculturalism."

I am one Canadian that is thrilled with the changing demographics, our history pre-60's towards immigration was an embarrassment and quite racist.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 13, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

And so it goes in Prince George's:

They DID finally fix that "camel" reference to "camel-colored," although why Johnson's clothing had ANY relevance is a mystery to me. Castaneda auditioning to replace Givhan, perhaps?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 13, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse


"walk the Big Lump of Stupid". LOL, what in the world would that be?

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I was having fun imagining Jack Johnson & his wife (accompanied by Jimmy Durante, natch) quietly wandering away from the brouhaha in their camel costume.

"Camel? What camel?"

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm back from the beach Cassandra. Pretty quiet place to walk the Very Large Puppy with No Brains on this cool November morning. The river is very wide at this location, so much that it's called Lac du Chat (Cat's lake). It was a dark mirror on this windless morning.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 13, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I confess to a bit of trickery. "Reagan era rates" could also mean when the top rate dropped to a mere 50%.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 13, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Jumper: I am likely unfair when I lump Krugman with the likes of Grover Norquist. Why I think they can be lumped is that both of them have a solution that means nobody from their base takes any hit.

Krugman would just raise taxes, mostly on the wealthy. Norquist would just cut spending, mostly on the poor and elderly.

Neither plan is remotely realistic. That I am certain. The fix, if there is one, will not have one group take the whole hit.

Posted by: baldinho | November 13, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

LiT, if you're around, I just e-mailed you the answer to your kayak repair question.

baldinho, I think you're wrong about Norquist. You say he "would just cut spending." If the "just" part was true he wouldn't be so bad. But he's an extreme "kill the beast" anti-government type, and he wants to slash or eliminate taxes AND major pieces of the government.

I think it is inaccurate to lump Krugman with Norquist as simply opposites. You may not like Krugman, and that's fine. But Norquist isn't simply Krugman's opposite; Norquist is a red-fanged, saber-toothed nutcase fanatic who is dangerous. Krugman just has a column and runs his mouth. But Norquist is an activist, he has an organization, and he's out there running loose and doing great harm.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 13, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I've tried to do my part. I didn't use any government-provided stimulus checks (thereby not adding to the deficit), but I've spent nearly every penny I've earned in the past few years (thereby keeping hard-working Americans employed) with the exception of my contributions to a retirement plan (thereby reducing the future need for other taxpayers to support me in my fast-approaching dotage).

I've still not used any of the work-provided health insurance benefits to which I've been entitled for several years now (thereby helping curb the insane spiral of costs in a system where nobody appears to believe that they have any personal incentive to control costs), but I've spent actual cash money (after comparing costs and reputations) on such health care as I've needed (thereby encouraging competition for my dollars among care providers). [You should all be doing this whenever you can do so. If that's not obvious to you, then what we have is what we'll get & deserve.]

I've cut unnecessary spending in several of my areas of responsibility at work, thereby affecting & encouraging the productivity of the American workplace. But I've also been responsible for increased spending in some areas (when it seemed rational), thereby helping to keep the economy chugging along.

Since my income falls well (very well!) below FICA cut-off points, I've got no vested interest in how that system is finagled at the upper end. As pointed out quite ably by others here, it's a total fiction to imagine that Social Security is anything other than a welfare benefit funded like every other welfare benefit. [Taxes, that is. Not "premiums", or "contributions", or whatever other truth-hiding is currently in vogue.] All the garment-rending & tooth-gnashing won't change the fact that over time higher-income folks (retired or not) are gonna be squeezed harder to help pay for it. That's a bummer, but the fact that people who have more personal savings tend to be able to retire more comfortably than those who depend upon government programs can't really be a great surprise to most folks.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

curmudgeon, I certainly agree with more of Krugman's plan than Norquist. I also agree that Norquist is a full-on dope.

I will stick to my assertion that Krugman and Norquist have an equal chance of getting their dream plans enacted.

Both have recently breathed fire at the thought that any plan other than their plan is the one to pick. That is arguing from true conviction, I guess. Nobody in politics is willing to step on the toes of the true believers. The results are obvious. Spending is never cut. Taxes are never raised.

Posted by: baldinho | November 13, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I would say too that Krugman is an economics scholar - a deep thinker about economic systems, a Nobel prize winner. Norquist is a political activist, as Mudge said - and according to Wikipedia, one of the architects of the Bush tax cuts, which put us on the road to the soaring deficits we have now.

Jason Linkins (obviously I heart him) uses this chart often:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 13, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Seasea, for that chart. I sent out the link to many friends.

Posted by: gmbka | November 13, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I guess I do wonder about the ethical & economic implications of some of my retirement fund investments. About twenty-five percent of my recent allocations have gone to international investments, with a lot of it going to South America. (Brazil & Chile have been good to me.)

While I suppose it's nice for the U.S. economy that the profits earned by the sweat of the brows of my Southern American brethren & sistren are accruing to me, to be spent here, I should probably feel bad about helping myself to dozens & dozens of dollars that could have stayed down South, right? On the other hand, if I wasn't helping to fund the capital that creates their jobs, they'd either not have the jobs at all, or would be working for lower wages, thereby harming their economies, so my choice to invest there rather than here is somewhat altruistic.

It's a riddle, wrapped inside a slice of bacon, covered with cheese, I tell ya. Tasty, but not especially healthful.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

gmbka - I'm going to hope that the distribution of that chart is merely an exercise in preaching to the converted, and that you don't actually have many friends who are unaware that military expenditures and tax cuts have been budget-busting.

If they don't already know this, then I doubt they'll believe you no matter how much accurate information you send their way.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

And here's another column from the Huffington Post on Social Security. It breaks down the funding in a way that was understandable to me, and makes the point that Social Security funding is separate from the deficit (ie, Social Security is not ading to the deficit). That point gets lost in all the hand-wringing about the deficit, I think.

As does the fact that the deficit run-up started in the Bush years. Cannot emphasize the facts enough these days, with the Republican Big Lie machine in operation.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 13, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Since Social Security is legally prohibited from ever spending more than it has collected in taxes, it cannot under the law contribute to the deficit."


The President is legally prohibited from declaring war without the cooperation of the Congress. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug "with no accepted medical value in treatment." Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Nevertheless, war-like actions occur without much Congressional input, marijuana is widely available from licensed businesses, Congress quite regularly gets involved in all manner of religious, speech, press, assembly, and grievance-addressing issues.

I wouldn't want to hang any hat which was important to me upon a peg that requires the eternal inviolability of a Social Security lock-box for its structural soundness. Taxes is taxes, and budgets is budgets, highfalutin Social Security Act pronouncements notwithstanding.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Bob S

Thanks for making my day(I live on Social Security Disablilty, and giving me that extra kick that I so desperately need. And I'm sure the folks that retirement income of yours is keeping in those nickel and dime jobs are thankful for that too. We all want to bow at your shoes, and just thank the Creator for people like you. Perhaps in the next life I can choose not to be deaf, I'm sure that will cut into this huge deficit if it's still around by then.

I hope all that works out for you.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Love that chart, seasea. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to keep it close at hand to use at appropriate times.

Afternoon, all. We got up to no connectivity this morning. By the time it came back, we were on our way to find a Christmas tree. Great place, great trees, run by a couple who retired from Charlotte. She is a graduate of my alma mater and we know a lot of the same people. Then on to do some Christmas shopping, we only came home so Mr. T can watch the Carolina football game.

Yes, quite a mess with CMS, Cassandra. I'm glad I have the luxury of not needing to pay close attention. It makes sense to close schools instead of laying off teachers. I will admit I don't know the rationale for the particular schools that were picked.

Delightful weather. Cool this morning, but then we had to take off the jackets. Currently the temperature on our porch is 62.

Posted by: slyness | November 13, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

cmyth4u - Since you don't do tongue-in-cheek humor too often, and I know you to be a pretty sharp lady, I'll assume that you are being intentionally mean-spirited, and (for some suicidal reason) wish to encourage short-sighted actions by those who can best afford to help this country out of a tight spot.

Since you are not among those who can afford to forgo the benefits which I wholeheartedly believe we should (and should want to) provide for our citizens, I find it freakishly bizarre that you disagree with my contention that those of us who CAN afford not to raid the cookie jar should refrain from doing so.

I earnestly hope that you have kept this "get everything you can while the gettin's good" attitude out of the life lessons that you're passing on to the young people in your life. Neither they nor you are well-served by it.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I have absolutely nothing of value to add to a discussion of economics or taxes so I'll just throw in an "Mmmm . . . bacon" for Bob's 2:24.

Carry on, folks. Godspeed!

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 13, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

cmyth4u - While my personal income has nothing to do with the broader points I was making about not wringing the government sponge dry, I can assure you that I ain't rolling in dough. When I spend my own money rather than taking advantage of government grants or insurance disbursements, it requires budgeting and parting with savings that I'd have liked to spend elsewhere. But participating in an irrational taxpayer-funded Ponzi scheme (when you can afford to stay out) is short-sighted and immoral. Just because the suckers aren't complaining yet doesn't give you any right to screw them over.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

You are right, Bob-S, they all, like me, know somehow when the deficit spiralled. But it is nice to be able to show it in detail.

Beautiful weather here lead to me raking leaves, cleaning up the plants that need to spend the winter in the house and removing all that summer stuff from the garage so that the car will fit in if the need arises. Now I am bushed.

Posted by: gmbka | November 13, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Bob S

Oh, was that tongue in cheek humor? Excuse me, I didn't get it. Which is usually the case. I encourage young people to be the best they can be, and never tell them to depend on someone else to provide their living or anything else. I work hard to help them with their studies because I realize that is their ticket out of the abject poverty that they live in and their parents before them. Yet I'm always mindful of those that will not pick up on these lessons for whatever reason.

And being mindful means that whatever their station in life they are still human, and God's creation, and that I have to love them, regardless. I want them to have a good life, and that good life means they will have the tools to make a good life, and not have to go to a soup kitchen or wait for a government hand-out to be mocked and made to feel less than human.

As I said at the end of the last comment, I do hope that all works all for you. And that your life is everything you want it to be and that when you get old, all your "i's" and "t's" will be crossed and everything will be coming up daisies. No problems. But just in case, that's not the case, I'm still wishing you the best, whatever your circumstances, and whatever that curve is life throws. I've found it can be nasty at times.

And please forgive my mean-spiritedness, I've just come from the funeral of a young man, much younger than me, that didn't dodge that nasty curve life threw him. A mother burying a son. And I took it personal. Perhaps you will do better.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Bob S

I wrote a long comment but somehow the comment monster ate it, probably for the best. Short version: I never encourage the students I work with to depend on anyone to provide their living or anything else. I encourage them to be the best they can be.

Good for you in preparing for your old age.

I've just returned from the funeral of a person younger than me, and it hurts. Another mother burying a son. I took it personal. No reason to chew you up, but what you said hit me the wrong way. Please excuse me. Perhaps it's best I not make comments while still full.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

My reference to "dozens & dozens of dollars" was approximately accurate. I'm in no danger whatsoever of a comfortable retirement, and will need every dollar that Social Security can spare for me.

I'm just not a big fan of working every single angle to suck every spare dollar out of every program within reach to help myself if I don't actually need it at the moment. The "tragedy of the commons" is a real and constant danger for everybody, all the time, in every walk of life. Don't be evil.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Well there you have both, Bob S. Again, please accept my apologies. Just tired, and sad.


I hope the communities affected and CMS can work out their differences for everyone's sake, especially the children. These things impact them the hardest.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

One of the many reasons I'm not looking forward to travel this Thanksgiving:

Flying these days usually isn't much fun but I do it often enough that I know the rules and generally don't let things get my blood pressure up. I've learned through experience just to let the system exhaust itself. The worst part about traveling over the holidays isn't that there are so many more people (though that is a treat) but that so many of them are not used to flying or the airport madhouse.

I suspect this will be especially excruciating this year with the new security scanners and pat down procedures in place. The whole TSA security theater is often so ridiculous I can hardly stand it but I really don't want see what happens with a large volume of inexperienced travelers (many of them with kids in tow) meets the checkpoint insanity this year. Ugh.

I will see it of course (God help me I'm even flying out of DC the day before Thanksgiving) but I am not at all looking forward to it.

My favorite part of my linked article is the part where it says: "Following the uncovering of a terrorist plot last month to blow up cargo planes en route to the United States, the TSA has instituted a new type of pat-down of passengers, a move that's part of a general tightening of air security."

So, let me see if I follow this: in response to an attempted sabotaging of airplane cargo (which, by the way, does not yet go through the rigorous scanning that we do) the TSA has decided to ratchet up the passenger security another notch. I'm not quite sure I see the direct connection there. Problem: cargo at foreign locations is at risk of tampering. Solution: domestic passengers will undergo a screening process that, in any other circumstance, would require probable cause.


Posted by: cowhand214 | November 13, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

cmyth4u - What I don't understand is why you took offense at my suggestion that those who can afford to fund social programs (whether public programs or private funds like insurance policies) without immediately taking the money back out in benefits, should do so.

You've never sounded like a Tea Party activist before, but that surely sounds like it to me.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

[@ 4:06 on November 13, 2010 Bob-S Posted: "...(an extremely self-condescending critique of PMcmyth4u's post)...

...not having seen the referred to 'offending' bit, I still find this response offensive.

Keyword here is 'freakishly bizarre'. Bob, what is it that when a decent, well thought out explanation for not favoring the 'tooking' of one individual's things, and the redistribution by third party agency of those things to other individuals, brings out the totalitarian gene in some people?


Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I didn't take offense at that Bob S, and please call me anything but a Tea Party person, even that last part of your comment, "Don't be evil", I can take better than a Tea Party persona!

I think the thing that tick me off was the joke itself, if in fact it was a joke, the whole thing, and none of it. Do you understand? I've seen comments on here where people sort of put people down because they receive benefits from Social Security, and I don't think that's fair or good. I probably didn't read through your comment completely and being full of tears it just hit me wrong.

Just a grieving mother striking out at words that she thought were mocking her, and her situation.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"I'm just not a big fan of working every single angle to suck every spare dollar out of every program within reach to help myself if I don't actually need it at the moment."

The thing is, others will do it for you in many cases, Bob.

I get Social Security disability checks each month whether I need the $$ or not, it's automatic. MrJS and I are exhorted by our doctors to use far more medical services than required, nearly all of which would be paid for with tax dollars. If the visiting nurses had their way, half our living room furniture would be replaced using tax dollars.

Our accountant continuously finds bizarre tax deductions we qualify for simply because we're disabled but still breathing. I suppose I could tell her don't take them, but that would piss her off.

When someone who can afford new furniture can get it paid for by Uncle Sam, or when a one-hour outpatient procedure morphs into a seven-day hospital stay courtesy of Medicare, something's out of whack.

Posted by: MsJS | November 13, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

SpendNomore - Point well-taken. I was making darned sure that it was clear that I was freaked the F*** out by the apparent contention that the world would somehow be better-served if everybody grabs for their piece of the pie as quick as they can, and the bears eat the hindmost.

I was overbearing and condescending in my choice of language to make that point. I am often not the person that I would wish to be, and humbly apologize, and shall continue to endeavor to strive to improve.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

People that can afford to live without Social Security, and have the means to do that without tapping into it, if they choose to do that, it's wonderful. If people can provide a living from their hard earn dollars, meaning a job or business(and not illegal business!) that's great. The American dream is theirs. I have nothing against that. Wish them well. It's what America is about. It's what I talked about in an earlier comment concerning the deficit.

Yet there are those that will not have that dream. They depend on Social Security, and their tax dollars have been invested in that. They work at jobs that don't pay much, yet they raise families on these jobs, and they seldom have anything left over to invest or even savings for that matter. I think people have a tendency to forget that poor people lived through the Bush years in the White House, and still living, trying to make ends meet. There are new members in this criteria, the poor, but there were some already there.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The truth is Bob, the Children of the 'T', will gladly save enough of the Gifts of the Golden Golden Goose to benefit everyone, no matter how bull-headed and stubborn they may be.

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

My take on this (unproductive) conversational thread:

Bob says - "People who can afford to pay for services out-of-pocket should do so, even if group-funded benefits are available."

Cassandra says - "Thanks for rubbing it in that we can't all afford to do that, Bob. What a jerk you are!"

Bob says - "You idiot, I'm the commie here, trying to make the point that those with (insert something) need to help pay for those without (insert something)!"

Sigh. Somehow, I'm pretty sure that those of us with good intentions will muddle through.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Bravo Bob, and I apologize for having to be the one to see it...sooo, can we agree at least, that you worry about your hindmost, and I'll worry about mine? I've found that one or the nearest hindmosts are all anybody has energy for, that's why there are churches and charitable organizations, I think.

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could find a reference to the term that was used to describe the battle between the Sunni and Shia in post-collapse Iraq. The concept was that the two sides have been battling for power and control of that region for hundreds of years, and the true believers on both sides will not give up because they tend to feel that the "big win" is always around the corner. They feel that if they keep doing what they are doing they will eventually weaken and crush the other side. They feel that to cave in to moderates and stop fighting for the whole pie is cowardly and silly.

The two extreme sides of our political system (for the purpose of my rant I'll call them the "government needs to get bigger and we need to raise taxes a lot on the upper income folks to pay for it" as one side and the "taxes need to be made much lower and we need to allow that by halving the size of government" as the other) sometimes seem to be that way to me. Any middle ground to reduce the deficit that would cut spending some and raise taxes some would be seen as pure failure by the two partisan camps. The Dems would never forgive giving up programs. The GOP would never forgive raising taxes.

They want it all, and are willing to play chicken with financial disaster to get it. They both want the other side to blink first.

Both sides are so good at making it seem that catastrophe would happen if we cut spending or raised taxes. Both sides are really good at making everyone feel that somehow they are getting screwed by the system.

Posted by: baldinho | November 13, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

For those who worry about what those in need will do, once progressively progressive protagonists run out of yours and everybody else's money, this is what some people are advocating:


Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Backboodled a tiny bit, and stopped. However, my Zambian bro is here, I'm just about to cook some pasta with a buncha veggies in it for us, before we fall asleep over the newspaper (such as it is). The intercultural bond we have -- on all levels, including age, color, nationality and whatever else one wishes to put into the mix -- makes me simply float with sheer delight. He waves to those of you he has met, and waves to most of you he hasn't.

I may or may not backboodle tomorrow, depending on time and mood from reading the tiny bit I have so far. I'm almost finished (20 more pages) reading Petals of Blood. For those of you who have the stamina for a relatively thin book that packs such power that you may have to put it down a couple of times and read something else before picking it up again, I highly recommend it. If you do read it, do consider it in light of Newt Gingrich's (et al.) spouting off about anti-colonialism in connection with Kenya and why that is apparently bad.

I will start cleansing the palate next week some time with Don Quixote (would that I could read it in 14th century Spanish).

Happy Birthday again Frosti! Fifty is Nifty!

Posted by: ftb3 | November 13, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

The seemingly much-detested Ruth Marcus points out an interesting poll indicating that 71 percent of Americans think it's possible to balance the federal budget just by making a few nips and tucks in spending.

I guess people aren't ready for yelling and screaming over Medicare cost containment, defense cuts, reducing immigration enforcement, federal investment in breast cancer research and the rest of NIH and National Science Foundation, ending manned space flight, cutting back the FDA and CDC, and all the while keeping our bridges from collapsing.

Does anyone want to invest in a private system for certifying food as safe?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 13, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Baldinho, the chicken coop has already been foreclosed on, and this is already post-disaster. Never thought I'd think it but, how could anything (here anyway) be worse? Wouldn't it make some sense to you to use this lull in the pounding we've taken, to take a good look at the damage done to prosperity by allowing a continuation of the illusion that the amended and deemed ratified 16th amendment is anything but devisive, and just go straight back to lawful and fair taxes on no individual except for when he spends?

In other words, take from the income, income declines, take from the outgo and taxes incline.

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

As the great philosopher Ringo opined many years ago - "It don't come easy, you know it don't come easy."

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

[@ 2010 6:24 PM on November 13, 2010 DaveoftheCoonties Posted: "The seemingly much-detested Ruth Marcus...certifying food..."] abbrev. to kewords
= = = = = = =

Gee Dave, what did this country do that got so many of US here and fairly healthy before the FDA, and why is it only now that the good ol' american stock's health and numbers are more in decline with the increase of 'safety' monitoring? Isn't it a fact that since the inception of the CDC there have been more and more hugely hyped disease scares, mostly unfounded. Frankly no, I'd rather takes me chances with the good ol' fashioned flu, and cold.

...and the Poll-Crats always find a way to craft the picture rather than showing what it is.

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

SpendNomore - That's fine, as long as you can figure out how to define "income".

As the recent housing debacle suggests, that ain't always easy. There were folks who laid hands upon hundreds of thousands of cash dollars in bank loans (based upon apparently illusory increases in home values) that wouldn't be considered income in most traditional frameworks, any more than student loans are considered (or taxed) as income.

Simplicity is seductive, but the devil's in the details, and every system will be gamed to within an inch of its life. I'm all in favor of some bad-ass disruptive reform. But don't for one moment believe that there's a simple elixir to be drunk, and expect to wake up without a hangover.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

It's called kosher certified.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - When I mentioned before that my investment conundrum ("wrapped inside a slice of bacon, covered with cheese") was not especially healthful, I meant to add that it was also most assuredly not kosher!

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Time to hit the sack, I'm tired and it's been a long day. Have a good evening, my friends, and the rest of a terrific weekend. You too, Bob.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 13, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse


Thanks, cmythie!

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

[@ 6:55 PM on November 13, 2010 Bob-S Posted: "...devil's in the details..."]
= = = = = = = =

For tomorrow...

Well, not so Bob, and you probably know this: the devil's in the tax system and the devils who support and defend the unlawfulness of it. Take the tax out of their cold dead hands and the system withers away.

Income is Income. Tax is Tax (Taking of a Portion of Income).
The figuring comes in when and where that taking takes place.

Re: Fair Tax

#1 Only money collected at the Local Level has any hope of being employed to the benefit of the residents in need there.

#2 Money taken from an individual by a government which then 'invests' it in what those in government say is for everybody's good, is neither for everybody, or for good. Each dollar taken and used in that manner does ten times more damage to the engine of prosperity than it ever improves.

#3 Money taken as a percentage of what an individual spends does no damage to prosperity, and the remainder multiplies locally the effect of that principle.

#4 Each dollar spent in that manner is partially re-spent many times before it loses it's benefit in the economy.

#5 A government that confiscates wealth ultimately destroys the prosperity that produced it in the first place.

#6 People doing and/or spending ALL their money, as they see fit in the pure pursuit of their dreams, is the naturally/perfecting order.

#7 The truth of the perfecting order is the only remedy.

#7.5 Truth knows no seduction.

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Spendie - Hey, buddy, Bob's your uncle! As long as non-cash income is between you & me, I'm all for taxing that guy behind the tree!

I know which side of my bread is buttered, and you may safely assume that if the government is only taxing the sound of coins dropping into the till, I'll buy felt coin-covers.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

How many localities buy their own aircraft carrier?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Just kidding. Your assumption that non-cash transfers of wealth are unimportant and should be excluded from consideration for tax purposes is unworkable. I refer you back to Ringo.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - You and I both know how it works... Everybody chips in, but one particular state gets taxed. What I don't recall is how it's handled for depreciation purposes if the darned thing gets sunk early. I guess that's why we buy insurance, right?

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Missouri, Arizona...

Wait a minute - Since Hawaii is getting the money from tourists who visit the Arizona, how do they work that out? And does it matter whether a particular tourist earns most income in Arizona, Hawaii, or elsewhere? What if they paid for their tour in advance, to a travel agent in New York City? (NEW YORK CITY!?!)

The mind boggles!

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

How many localities need an aircraft carrier? Surely they could find enough spare change under the sofa cushions to bail out the Navy. We are definitely going to need a Navy after the Globe Trotter-in-Chief finishes his begging tour around the world, it wouldn't be right to dominate any markets, oh no, but they still come in handy if he needs to go to another festival of lights...

...seriously yello, cities and towns will be rolling in cash after the reign of the IRS is over. Look at Las Vegas, the only reason they are in trouble is because, the IRS is running the Bunny Ranches out there...

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

A 30% sales tax hardly seems Fair.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's not be biased in favor of aircraft carriers. Battleships, museums, bridges to destinations of questionable urgency (although I've gotta say I'd prefer not to have to take a bus to a ferry to another bus to the airport!)... All of these things are boondoggles well worth our support or disparagement.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Ok Bob, I'll see your Aircraft Carrier and raise you one F-22, oh, I forgot mine was on order but, the guy I was getting from, lost his yatch to a Somali Hijacker, so he couldn't trade for the F-22, which was just as well, because the Pirates @ 1600 Carpet-Bagger Ave decided we don't need them. in a post=victorious world. So what am I bid for the Carrier? Will you take Kruggerands?

...all good fun but, something simply has to be done about that 16th amendment, amendment ratification deemed passed...

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, yello, but it all depends on what you're getting for the money. Put into good hands and spendt wisely, it might be a heck of a deal.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution (as currently amended) gives plenty of leeway for taxing everything coming and going. There's no real point in spending too much energy trying to fight that battle. Just make your case for a rational (and sustainable) tax structure, and let's see about getting it enacted.

Almost anything can be done with enough steadfast dedication. My daddy told me that cheaters never prosper, but I regularly see evidence that those with sufficient dedication do OK for themselves.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) used to be the Communicable Disease Centers. They now cover a huge array of health and injury concerns. An obviously well-traveled CDC employee was at the first international symposium on rip currents this January. They've done a lot of work on preventing drowning.

It's hard for most of us to realize the communicable disease threat, but most of the historic increase in life expectancy over the past century has been due to controlling communicable diseases, especially those that kill children.

I'm beginning to wonder about the FDA and USDA food inspection programs. Use of pink slime in hamburger and the recurring bacterial problems with chickens and eggs are not encouraging. I assume that lettuce greens are probably better than they've ever been in the past, but the proposal to build an enclosed, highly sanitary lettuce-growing factory at a nearby airport is beginning to make sense.

If I lived in the Northeast, I'd feel a civic obligation to kill and eat deer. In Florida, perhaps feral hogs? For some reason, their numbers are exploding.

In the Kosher (and in fact all meat) department, this interview is interesting:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 13, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

OK, y'all stand in a circle, i'll stand in the middle and on my count of three, you may fire at will, one, two...

Posted by: SpendNomore | November 13, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I have 84 pages left to read of my background document on municipal government, which mainly means municipal financing strategies, infrastructure problems and mandates. I should be finished with it tomorrow afternoon but must be finished by 8am Monday morning, when the real conference work begins. Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday till noon, speakers during meals, all spent working on municipal government.

However you want to discuss gummint, benefits, taxes, etc., municipal gummint is the most basic. I have learned that Oklahoma is the only state which restricts municipalities to sales tax as a primary form of revenue - no property or income tax for them. The one thing which seems clear is that, as good an idea as this might have seemed in 1907, it is unworkable today.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different:

The Boy has shocked me to my core. He tells me that the new video game "Call of Duty: Black Box" has a segment called Nazi Zombies. To fight these evil minions one may, among other choices, be President Nixon. Me, incredulous, "So President Nixon is a freedom fighter?" The Boy - at first enthusiastic, then with increasing diffidence - "Yeah! Well, sort of. He sounds really cool [doing imitation of shaking jowls while talking]."

Those of you who know my obsession with Nixon, stemming from Watergate, may imagine how much this news disturbed me. I told the Boy I may have to take the game away from him.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Obviously Ivansmom, the creators of this game were not alive during Watergate and have no concept of who Nixon was or of history in general. I hesitate to ask who the other choices were.

Had a perfect day today in Provincetown. The weather, food, shopping and sunset were all outstanding.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 13, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The Boy said they were John F. Kennedy and "some guy from Communism". I get the feeling that political affiliation or record is not a big part of the attraction for this game.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Nixon vs. zombies. I like to think of him walking the beach behind his San Clemente house, wearing a suit. Or having fires in the fireplaces at the White House, in August.

Then there was the April 1 edition of the Duke student newspaper that said the Nixon Library would be built near the law school.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 13, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

(Insert wild card)Nomore - I'm pretty sure that if you and any other randomly-assembled five regular commenters to this blog sat down together three times per week for a few months, you all could (after some initial hemming & hawing & harrumphing) hammer out a rough outline for taxation & spending that would be (more-or-less) acceptable to 75+% of the U.S. voting public. (To heck with the non-voters!)

But that would leave many tens of millions of people convinced that you were in league with Satan, no matter how open you were about how hard you worked to overcome vast philosophical differences during the process. And as soon as the details of how your plan would be implemented started coming out, at least a third of the folks who initially supported your plan would start lobbying for your exclusion from polite company (or worse).

Anybody who's not willing to accept policies (and engage in actions) which work against their own short-term interests in order to shape trends that seem collectively favorable in the long term (even granting that we glimpse the future through a glass, darkly) has no place at the table for serious policy discussions.

That doesn't mean that the bewildering array of rants don't need to be sifted for useful suggestions that haven't been otherwise been brought to the discussion, because tens of millions of people have more & broader perspectives than a few decision-makers. And even their less-easily-defensible concerns need to be heard and their reactions considered, because that's data that impacts the real world, no matter what policies are implemented.

But at some point, "I don't like the direction things are headed" just doesn't cut the mustard. You gotta pony up some specifics for where you'd like to head instead, and how you intend to deal with the fields you're gonna trample while you re-direct this lumbering beast.

I'm not afraid of joining you on this quest to crumple up our current newspaper and start producing a new one. But make sure you've got it reasonably well laid out, because you can't compose on the fly without making a hell of a lot of typos. You haven't yet convinced me that you know what you're trying to print.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 13, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Interesting metaphor, BobS.

Regarding the person who has recently been communicating with you: Anybody who thinks that the dissolution of the IRS can, at this point, be taken seriously as a policy proposal; or who thinks that taxation should be handled as sales tax, only; or who despises the FDA, imagines it is a recent invention, and seriously declares that it is nothing but a millstone around our necks that has never done anything good; is an idiot and a fool and is totally and utterly ignorant of the history of this country. The specific taxes that the Founders despised so much were sales taxes on basic staples that were bankrupting for ordinary people. The IRS and its Constitutionality is settled law and it has been with us for many decades now, under both "liberal" and "conservative" court compositions. The FDA exists because, prior to the FDA, "kosher" foods were packaged using pork lard by people who simply lied about what they were doing, food was vile and and unclean (not even counting religiously unclean) and its production involved more lies, and "medicines" were in many cases actual poisons that actually killed people. Need something more recent? I'll ask my German colleague whose mother took thalidomide during her pregnancy whether he wishes that German authorities had acted as quickly as the American FDA to halt the administration of thalidomide to pregnant women.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 14, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

hey, scitim. the cupboard is still hanging on the wall, despite my fear that the cleat you advised me about would hold the mass only temporarily. i'm tempting the fates at the mention of this, hoping that the 3.5 collared and galvanised fasteners are compressing the combined matter consisting of lath, plaster, paint, and sheet rock to such an extent that the combined force continues to overcome that of gravity. i have not considered the error associated with the massive emissions of gamma radiation from the center of he galaxy so recently discovered, however, and will humbly eat my hat on the occasion that the cupboard finally falls.

Posted by: -jack- | November 14, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

laura nyro

save the country.

gonna take a miracle is among my personal top 10. patti labelle got big after that.

Posted by: -jack- | November 14, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

more. wmms (cleveland) used to play entire albums without interruption. this was one of them.

Posted by: -jack- | November 14, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

good take. note the crowd.

Posted by: -jack- | November 14, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

MSJs, your area must be rampant with medical waste. Certainly not the case up here.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 14, 2010 3:06 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Well, one tough day has ended and another one begins. Time for Sunday school and morning worship service. Won't you join me? If not, will you pray for me, and I will pray for you.

According to an article in the Post this morning, folks worrying about Medicare and the like, may not have to worry much longer if the government doesn't reach a continuance, doctors are threatening not to see new Medicare patients and I suspect the ones they have, will not be seen as much. All this will play out in folks dying from lack of medical care, and perhaps this in itself will help the deficit. I'm sure there's someone out there that will cheer this news.

Slyness, have an excellent day. According to the news, they may be near solving the case of the little girl that has been missing since last month. I hope so.

Have a wonderful day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 14, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, it's not going to happen because there are too many of us, and we vote. It is always the same game: the rumors get started, the political pressure sets in, and everything remains the same.

I don't know how many times I have seen that our public transportation system has to be cut by a third because the money is not there, and lo and behold, the money always has been found in the last minute, every time. And bus riders are a much less powerful group than medicare recipients.

You have always been such a beacon of love and understanding that I really can understand that once in a while some cynicism needs an outlet, just to be a little bit more like the rest of us. This somber mood of your's won't last, I am sure.

Posted by: gmbka | November 14, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse


Thank you for the insight and the kind words. I so need them in this life and the situations I deal with a daily basis. I realize it is stressful times for many, and the economic atmosphere keeps many of us in a power clutch, yet I know that this is all vanity. It will not last, and if it does, I will not be here to witness it. And that's the case for us all. I love you guys much, and you just don't realize how important all of you have become in my life. A release, somewhere to come and talk, and that's is so selfish of me. I don't understand many things, and I also realize this, but you are kind, and I appreciate that much.

Yesterday was extremely hard because I so understood that mother looking at that son laying in that casket. And that doesn't go away. It never does, and never will.

Yet that doesn't excuse bad behavior. Please accept my apology to all of you.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 14, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra! You were up early. I hope you feel well this morning. Yes, so sad about that poor child in Hickory. I knew there wouldn't be a good end when the stepmother's daughters pleaded with the court to keep her in jail. I hope justice will be done for that little girl.

No church for me this morning, I'm sorry to say. It's pledge Sunday and I took mine in to the financial secretary on Friday. I always miss it when I don't get to attend. I need the worship and I need the connection to the community which includes my friends.

Wow, Ivansmom. I hope Oklahoma joins the 21st century soon. Obviously the state needs more folks like you.

Posted by: slyness | November 14, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. I just realized that this four-day weekend is just about right-sized. I'll accomplished most of what I wanted to do, yet still had time to walk the dog and do some cooking.

Rough start for the GP of Abu Dhabi. Shumie's Mercedes is wearing a Force India.

Things will get better Cassandra.

I'll be accused by the Witches of running a clandestine rendering plant. They don't like it when I make the suet blocks for the birds. But they are so much better than the commercial types and really I don't mind the smell.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 14, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

The Wife found an exercise in the NYTimes where the reader could try to balance the deficit in both 2015 and 2030. There were prearranged options to cut spending and raise taxes. You had to trust the numbers, but the exercise served its purpose.

The interesting thing was that two options closed both deficits by over half. They were the options to let all the Bush tax cuts expire and index future Medicare/Medicaid spending to inflation +1%.

I found it much easier to check these options when I tried to balance the budget than The Wife did.

It was also interesting that the exercise only let you choose one significant tax increase.. but let you cut with reckless abandon.

Posted by: baldinho | November 14, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I-mom, I'm curious... Does Nixon destroy the Nazi zombies with frickin' lazer beams from his outstretched "victory sign" hands?

I see the NYT continues to pander to the Chicken Little anti-science crowd:


Thank you.

*perhaps-slightly-startled-to-see-I'll-need-a-windbreaker-and-maybe-even-sweatpants-for-the-morning-jog Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, this is for you:

Posted by: slyness | November 14, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all.

Cassandra, many hugs to you. I am so sorry about that young man's death and the funeral. It must have been very hard. I hope being with your church family and doing your regular things today helps ease the pain.

Scottynuke, I'll have to ask the Boy about Freedom Fighter President Nixon's secret zombie weapon. I try to avoid looking at the screen when he plays those games.

The sales tax is not only regressive and unjust, as a primary method of financing a modern government it simply doesn't work. Even if you're just trying to fund public safety and transportation, including roads - two things most people agree are a gummint function - it doesn't work. As I mentioned, Oklahoma municipalities are the crucible for this experiment. We wish they weren't.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 14, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

There was a picture of a gentleman in a death notice in yesterday's paper that caught my eye. He seems like a character I'd very much like to have known.

"He is remembered for his words of wisdom, sense of humor and inimitable personal style."

I hope (alas, without much optimism!) that someday somebody shall have something so kind to say of me.

Here's to Horace W. Brooks, whom I miss without ever having known him before.

(The slightly larger photo in the print edition is better. It's on page B5 of the Saturday paper.)

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Our voice calls — we chat on our cellphones 2.26 trillion minutes annually, according to the C.T.I.A. — generate $109 billion for the wireless carriers."

At about four cents per minute, that's actually not a very good rate. A lot of us are overpaying.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, I have a hypothesis that fumes from outgassing polymers used in electrical and electronic products may be a bit riskier than expected. Which might explain any oddities in cell phone epidemiology studies. Like you, I find it illogical that RF should cause cancers. Or there may be other factors common to cell phone users which have escaped me.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 14, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Neat little piece by Ruby Bridges (she of the Norman Rockwell painting and Steinbeck vignette).

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I remember aching with sadness and flushing with anger when I first read Steinbeck's scene in "Travels With Charley". It's at pp 193-196 here:

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

An interesting theory, Jumper, and one that's at least easier to test -- put a phone in a gas spectrometer and let it run for extended periods, see what shows up and how much.

Anyone else noticing former prime-time TV stars showing up in minor commercial roles these days? Anne-Marie Johnson (most notably "In The Heat of the Night") is visible in a bank ad where a group goes to a Chinese restaurant and one member happens to know Cantonese, setting up a feast. Michael Warren (most memorable in "Hill Street Blues") is a talking head in a TD Ameritrade ad.

I would suppose even actors are taking work wherever it comes these days. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I like Anne-Marie Johnson (another one who turned 50 this year!) and Michael Warren just fine, but calling them prime-time stars might be slightly overstating the case. Even in their heydays you could probably have gotten them to do a commercial for you.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

For a glimpse into Screen Actors Guild politics, here's Anne-Marie Johnson's recent message upon her resignation from a SAG leadership spot, and some comments.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, neither of them have been inactive (IMDB shows they've been working steadily through the 2000s), but in both the cases I mention they're relegated to roles one might conclude they would have turned their noses up at 10 years ago.

Perhaps they're doing a favor for the commercial directors. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Could Oklahoma municipalities start building local toll roads, now that transponder and license-plate camera technologies are available? Nice road home for toll-payers, potholed mess for everyone else.

Orlando's Expressway Authority charges pretty stiff tolls on its beltway and two east-west expressways (it's a large system). That seems to constrain retail development at interchanges, but encourages residential development.

Scottynuke, it's not just cellphones. The local bookstore is selling lots of copies of a book explaining how vaccinations are causing our kids to become autistic.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 14, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I picked your Lions today. Please don't let me down.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 14, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Good morning all. 1:30 time to start the day! Sorry, I've been having all kinds of trouble sleeping the last few nights and have drifted into some sort of weird college kid/zombie sleep schedule where I'm awake most of the night and sleep half the day. Ugh.

I guess I should be on the lookout for President Nixon, eh? Freedom Fighter that he is. Maybe the Nazi Zombies killed Checkers and after Nixon became President he took his revenge. Or maybe he was tired of getting kicked around.

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 14, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Does Freedom Fighter Nixon devise a marketing plan to convince folks in the southern US that the Nazis are trying to take away their guns and freedoms? That is a great mobilizing tool.

Posted by: baldinho | November 14, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Just one more reason for me to *heart* you, Mudge.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 14, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

DaveoftheC - Maybe the news isn't as bad as you think. Perhaps there was a typo, and the immunizations are causing the kids to become altruistic?

Posted by: Bob-S | November 14, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

At this time of year, maybe they're becoming autumnal?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 14, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the Boodle version of Nazi Zombie Freedom Fighter Nixon is more interesting than the one in the game.

DaveOTC, I only wish Oklahoma municipalities could build toll roads. Alas, the state constitution prevents them from using basically any financial method other than sales tax, except to pay judgments and defaults against a city. Those populist folks who wrote our constitution didn't trust gummint as far as they could throw it. I'm sure they didn't envision that, less than 100 years later, most of the state's citizens would live in municipalities rather than on the farm.

It is a beautiful fall day here. I am finishing stuff up before leaving for a conference. I'll try to check in between now & Wednesday. When one is trying not to attract attention it is a lot easier to lurk on the iPhone than post.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 14, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Bookstore Sunday! An excursion to find what's new and interesting. My finds were serious, as was this small booklet that I found on the table just before check-out, but which, ironically, had me laughing out loud in the pay aisle. Small, pocket-sized, $11, it's Michael Pollan's food rules, rules that are short, concise, and pack a punch (to the gut?)

Two food rules, among many, that tickled me...

"If it's served through a car window, it's not food."

"Eat only foods with ingredients that a third-grader can pronounce."

Would make a great, offensive-probably-in- too-many-cases stocking stuffer (Or is it the anti stuff-him or stuff-her?)

Posted by: laloomis | November 14, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the Boodle must have all gone to the Meadowlands and been caught up in the power outage -- the stadium's, not the Giants, of course.

DotC, the absolute idiocy of the anti-vacc people is astounding. I blame the vaccinations they got as kids -- kept the fools alive long enough to spread their stupidity. *SIGHHHHHHHHHHH*

And mah footbul picks dun blowed up reeeeel gud. *SIGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Thirteen overtime games so far this NFL season...

Parity comes home to roost.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Or perhaps parity goes to sleep, like the Boodle... :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -TBG- | November 14, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Didn't make it to the beach today. Here's some of what I missed (disclaimer: my county's beaches don't ever have waves like this. You have to go to somewhere from Cocoa Beach to Sebastian Inlet). This is probably the back yard of a south Cocoa Beach surf shop:

I also didn't drive up to St. Augustine to watch Prairie Home Companion yesterday. Will be there this week.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 14, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Such *friggin'* old news, eh, TBG? Like we didn't all embrace that years ago.

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

Old news, see?

Posted by: Yoki | November 14, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, it is not only parity (though that is important) it is also the new rules after the season's shut-down. It isn't the same game.

Posted by: Yoki | November 14, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Great surfer shots, DotC.

It was a gorgeous weekend in Virginia. Here are some pictures proving it:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 14, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

This video has some nice dancing and some very fancy shooting.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 14, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

In a period when interest in historic houses is fading fast, it's weird to see the much-restored Montpelier. That's a lot of money to put into what might be a lightly-visited attraction.

Florida just does not have those tidy historic-park lawns. St. Augustine grass makes a decent lawn, but just won't make it without irrigation and attention to insects, fungi, whatever.

My legs are in shock from a great deal of kneeling in the yard. Installed 3 dozen pavers to keep a border from encroaching on the grass. Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), a big thyme, and a native heliotrope are fairly aggressive, so they will stay behind their new demilitarized zone. Then there was planting the Easter lilies and amaryllis, some of them rescued from a spot that's become too shady. And making a bed for the little camellias, plus new oregano, lemongrass (a real grass) and a tiny baby papaya, certified to be a healthy female.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 15, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all and it looks like today's weather is to be a glorious continuation of our very special Fall, all yellow and orange and brown and burgundy red with green and the sun shining through.

I enjoyed your all of your Montpelier Set, YJ, and must say we have never been to the Barboursville Ruins or the vineyards there Will try to rectify in Jan. or Feb. when the calendar is not so full. Anyway, right now is a favorite time for all to "do" the tastings and stock up on Virginia wines for gift giving, not to mention touring our historic homes and restored places all over the Commonwealth.

I could comment on the Soc. Sec. and Medicare and mortgage deductions, etc. but could not add much to the discussion, it has been a good one and Mudge, your response to Casandra's questions were just so timely, thanks. I suspect that downsizing on the defense spending and forein aid could lope off a chunk of money. I have never understood why we must come to the aid of folks in other countries while ignoring some core values as respects our disabled and aged and frail and fallen folks right here in the US of A.

I read the editorial on proposed government wording on cigarettes in this country. I remember, while traveling, buying British cigarettes 10 or 15 years ago stating CIGARETTES CAN KILL and being amazed at the honesty of the packaging, but it did not stop me from smoking. Well, I did finally stop, and then when I thought I had dodged the bullet, six months later I was diagnosed with lung cancer, which, with treatment, I am living today.

So, just from my own experience, I think the BEST way to prevent lung cancer is to retrain our farmers to grow something else and then outlaw tobacco in this country. I know there would still be black market trade, but not so much....

Posted by: VintageLady | November 15, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Montpelier was actually doing pretty brisk business. I assume mostly because of the wonderful weather. As a founding father plantation it runs a distant third behind Mount Vernon and Monticello, but it is conveniently located between the two and very close to some prominent Civil War battlefields. But then, where in Virginia isn't near a Civil War battlefield.

Both our tour guides at Chancellorsville and Montpelier (sorry, I forgot to get their full names and bios) were very passionate about their respective subjects.

The park ranger in particular was asking in a roundabout way if Chancellorsville wasn't a Pyrrhic victory for the South. I also found it curious that the museum identified the sides as 'Confederate' and 'Federal'. I had never seen that distinction before.

I had been avoiding Montpelier for many years because of the massive restoration. It isn't many tourist attractions that have to tear down over 20,000 square feet of Dupont additions. If anything our sense of historic preservation is much more acute than it had been in earlier generations.

Also doing very brisk business was the winery we visited. History and grapes seem to go well together.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

In Florida I had bahia grass because it was more drought tolerant and I was very lazy. However, my next door neighbor had St. Augustine, so I suspect my old house does too now.

I'm snorting because I did buy two extra bottles to take to my brother for Thanksgiving. Even mediocre wine makes a great gift if you have a story to tell about it. Like books, I have a bad habit of buying more wine than I can ever get around to.

Kinda for that reason but more as a nod to safe driving, we only hit one winery per weekend outing. Back in October (see these photos: ) we visited Belmont distillery on Saturday since it is closed on Sundays (dang VA blue laws) and the Old House Vineyards on Sunday.

The distillery shouldn't even count since they don't give out samples. I did buy a bottle of both the Kettle Kopper and the White Lightning since (again a weird VA alcohol law) they couldn't sell the 100 proof Moonshine brand yet.

My wife has refused to let me open either bottle yet until our underage son comes home for the holidays. She has a weird working definition of temperance.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Vintage Lady, your idea sound just wonderful concerning the cigarettes and programs for the elderly and disable. A friend of mine discovered she has lung cancer, and she smoked also. I'm hoping her outcome is as good as yours.

Back to water therapy today. I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks Ivansmom, shrieking, and Slyness. The g-girl and my neighbor went to Sunday school with me yesterday. And we had our missionary anniversary during morning worship service.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful here, chilly mornings, warm afternoons, but the clouds are moving in for the rain tomorrow, yet we need the rain.

Lindaloo, I hope you and family are well.

Slyness, hope your week is restful, and without drama, yet I know you like to be busy!

Hope Monday is a good day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 15, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

My In-law's house/farm was occupied by The North during the Civil War. Have never heard reference to Federals occupying that farm. They used it as a hospital. It was called Yellow House Farm. It' still a pretty place, has been maintained by the family. Only a small vegetable garden now, tho, instead of acres and acres of produce plus all those pigs and angus and chickens.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 15, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

According to the NYT budget game, cutting half of all foreign aid is worth $17B towards a $418B goal. Even my top 3 favorites of cutting federal worker pay 5%, firing 10% of them, and laying off 250,000 contractors failed to make a decent dent in it.

Actually, here is my plan and I didn't have to fire any gummint workers:

Hint: Any time you see the phrase 'Clinton level', pick that option.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, and happy Monday. Cassandra, I'm glad to hear that you're still enjoying the water therapy. I hope you can keep it up.

Fall colors weren't great in the mountains a month ago, but they are spectacular here right now! It's surprising. OTOH, I will be glad when all the leaves have fallen and been raked up.

Yes, Cassandra, it's shaping up to be another busy week. I start the drug Thursday to do another peripheral blood stem cell donation next Monday. I'm not looking forward to that, but we do what we have to do.


Posted by: slyness | November 15, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse


yello!! *handshake* :-)

Although the Patriots continue this weekend's trend of blowing up my football picks real good, I can't say I'm disappointed by last night's result.

This morning's dank and dreary weather, however, is highly annoying...

*marching-onward-to-yet-another-wonderful-workweek-or-should-I-say-getting-on-the-hamster-wheel Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 15, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all! The workers are here to begin the concrete staining project in the basement (it will take four days)!

Today's tasks are to mask off what's not being stained (walls, washing machine, etc), and to clean the floor, removing the spray-painted messages on the floor about electrical outlets and cable hookups. We did not do the original basement finishing, so it was a surprise to us when the carpet was removed.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh and, don't tell anyone, but I think the crew chief is Meat Loaf.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Or Mr. Loaf as he is known to the New York Times.

I really can't go into too great a detail about I spent my Saturday night, but it entailed a lot of watching construction workers on their hands and knees and bending over. There is not enough mind bleach in the world to erase the plumber's butt visions I endured. Which is why I'm expensing the B&B I had to stay at because the parent's at Woodberry Forest had booked every hotel room in a 50 mile radius.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

It's all ok. We should make it through... Of course, there may be some things that Obama can do save us ...

"all those rat bastards!"

Perfect morning viewing for the scientists.

"Don't test me Mr. Obama"

Everybody who lives on this planet gets to live with $5.3 Million. ... that's the deal that was cut with the Syrian Ambassador.

Just consider this an early holiday present for jkt, scitim, Snuke, RD_Padouk and of course, the crazy imaginary mind of Mudge.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 15, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Ack. The dreaded superfluous apostrophe. I'm going to have to turn in my copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to have to listen to that rant when I have access to audio, but it just goes to prove that bat-guano-crazy comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. If I'm getting the gist of the captions right, they missed Guy Fawkes Day by one (much like Glenn Beck and his 9/12 Project). What is it with wingnuts and faulty calendars?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

My latest YouTube obsession is Uh Huh Her. You just don't see enough videos with pony unicorns.

I have had a crush on Leisha Hailey for years, long before I knew she was a musician before becoming the center of The Chart as Alice.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

In my family, there's a fair amount of colorblindness and what we call color-challenged, so I find this funny.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 15, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Just looking over the pics I took in P-town on Saturday. There must be some primal urge to watch the sun set. Both the places where we stopped at the West End and at the beach a bit after sunset were mobbed. Of course it was a beautiful evening.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 15, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Vintage Lady, that would be Nathaniel and Bacon Burwell, before it passed to the Browns, right? In Ridgeway, West Virginia? Correct me if I'm wrong.

It must be Civil War Monday, here?

I'm still grappling with the fact that family members were on both sides of the American Revolution. Research before the trip back East yielded one family member who was an extremely historically prominent Patriot (that's all that I'm willing to say at this point, keeping my dicoveries this past trip close to my breast); another family member came to light who was a less-outspoken Loyalist and physician, and who stayed stateside, despite his opposition. This divide prompted me to buy yesterday the recent book by Thomas Allen, "Tories," to follow on the heels, perhaps, of now trying to complete "Oliver Wiswell."

Picked up another new book yesterday titled "Sugar," because it has some material about both European plantations and the maroon movement in the Caribbean. This interst probably stems from having just finished the ONLY fiction book (and the cheapest of them all) that I bought at Brattle in Boston, "I, Tituba, the Black Witch of Salem," translated from French. Really, it's historical fiction, with a far greater emphasis on fiction than history--and I can honestly say that I didn't care for it and couldn't wait to finish it. *sigh*

What killed my interest is when Tituba is incarcerated with (Nathaniel Hawthorne's creation) Hester Prynne, Prynne hanging herself, after having been moved to another cell, and her unborn child in the jail in Salem. After a series of misfortunes, the author returns Tituba to her native Barbados, where she joins, temporarily, a band of maroons. In real- life history, I strongly believe family to be indirectly involved with the real-life Tituba in Barbados.

Cassandra, our health? Husband has to get his annual chest X-ray and tests to make sure his former bout with malignant melanoma has not spread. He's a drug guinea pig for cholesterol medication. He came home last week with high blood creatinine levels, so his doc has taken him temporarily off his latest cholesterol medication. You do recall that once, when he got new meds, he turned extremely bright pink and super hot the night he swallowed new pills and I thought I was going to have to rush him somewhere. He's still vigorous to be up on ladders pruning trees, and we walk 40 minutes about four days a week. (Glad to see you continuing your water exercise, Cassandra.) But I see him age and know he won't last forever. But then, neither will I nor any of the rest of us.

Thinking of Diane Sawyer's reporting from China this week, including a story about the growth of McDonald's there, as opposed to one of Pollan's food rules: Food isn't really food if its pronounced the same in many languages (McDonald's, Cheetohs, get the picture).

On to my day...

Posted by: laloomis | November 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I noticed in that NYT "balance the budget" exercise a little trial balloon for jiggering the official inflation rate to make it seem less. Using tactics that would get them tut-tutted at Wikipedia: "weasel words." Times said "Some economists believe that the Consumer Price Index overstates inflation". It needs the little all-caps "WHO?" tagged to it.

As long as we are fantasizing, I propose with my no-economics-training hubris that we tag capital gains to inflation and then get rid of the special rate, and make it "income." I reckon too that 401Ks throw things out of balance but I'm not ready to call for the tax-free aspect to be eliminated.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 15, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Did see the film "Morning Glory" on Friday. Intersting that Ted Koppel's op-ed and the movie came out about the same time--entirely coincidental, I'm sure. As curmudgeonly as Harrison Ford's character is in the film, I'm still with Ford's character and outlook all the way.

The film? A disappointment...laughs, sure, but a waste of movie dollars.

Waiting for Academy-award winning material to hit the theaters. Could not wait to return home to see the film about Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin at Harvard, though.

Posted by: laloomis | November 15, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse


Be sure to share those sunsets. Sunsets (and sunrises) are very tricky to shoot because the contrast levels are so high and you have such a short time to shoot.

When I went to Cape Cod a few years back, one of the group members was a much better photographer than I was, so I picked up lots of pointers from him. One morning I went bicycling and he went photographing and we met in Chatham in time to ogle, er, watch the beachfront yoga class.

That trip was very overcast and I never got really good sunset shots out of it, but one of my favorite photos of all time was taken at Race Point Beach in the Golden Hour just before sunset. I just love the colors in it:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Yanno, weed, I've had this kinda deja vu-like feeling for years that my mind was imaginary. But I thought maybe I was just imagining it. You can see what sort of tautological condundrum that put me in.

'Morning, Boodle.

It seems someone has discovered large ice floes of plagiarism in G. Bush's new "memoir" (I put memoir in quotes, because the word general means "remember," not "steal"). I am shocked, shocked, I tell you. I may suffer an attack of the vapors. Someone please fax me some smelling salts.

Andy Borowitz seems to agree. From today's Borowitz Report:

Best Plagiarized Lines from Bush’s Book

The Decider Become the Rewriter

After it emerged that entire sections of George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points were plagiarized from books by former aides, The Borowitz Report asked our followers on Twitter to come up with the best plagiarized first line for the book. After a several hours of crowdsourcing, here are the results (and thanks to the thousands of people who contributed):

They were betterer times, they were worserer times.

It is a Truth universally acknowledg'd that Halliburton must be in Want of a Presidency.

Are you there, Satan? It's me, George.

The past is a foreign country; we need to blow it up.

Midway through the journey of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, because I was shitfaced.

A girl got a pet goat. She liked to go running with her pet goat.

All children, except one, grow up.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to do is talk to Cheney.

Goodnight, Kanye.

My momma always said life was like a jar of fetus.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Wow, 'Mudge outfoxed the Wirty Dird Filter! *impressed golf clap* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 15, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Considering my truly breathtaking football picks yesterday, Scotty, I'm surprised my 10:30 post a moment ago didn't mudge myself backward through three kits.

However, since I picked Philly, I can practically guarantee a Redskins win. I mean, it's in the bag.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

If I had paid more attention, Scotty, I would have fixed that. Don't know how it got through.

Interesting, no?

Just for the record, yello (and to prove I'm not still totally asleep at the switch), for reasons unknown, Lynne Truss used an ampersand in her title. Plus a comma. It's "Eats, Shoots & Leaves."

I don't understand why she used the ampersand.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Good to hear that Montpelier is doing good business. My SW Virginia ancestors were Confederate (cavalry), but after the war, one named his son Ulysses S.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Mudge, you of all people should have some Sympathy for GW Bush. Or at least the poor soul who had to edit (or maybe translate, transcribe and edit would be a better description) that memoir. And then they'd have to go back through the proofs made in Crayola later.

Lord help the fact-checkers on that baby, too.

And just for grins, Scotty, let me try this: shitake, er, mushrooms.


Posted by: -bc- | November 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

That's an easy exception to program into the Filter, methinks... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Sympathy for Bush? Uh, not exactly. But sympathy for the poor shlemiels who had to deal with the manuscript he turned in...maybe.

Although I suppose it was a good thing they decided to publish an English language version. It's as hard to find a good Texan-to-English translator in the publishing business as it is to find a bull----to-English translator.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I am amazed that it took year and year for people to forget what it was like to have someone like G. Bush involved in government of their country.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 15, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

If WaPo won't give italics to properly note titles, why should I bother with the punctuation?

And while I can't claim the artistry of the Jackson Pollack of the English language, I can aspire to be the Harold And The Purple Crayon.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

It's like childbirth. The pain is so great people just block the memory out. Otherwise everybody would be an only child.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

HA HA HA!!!!

So, I'm half asleep (not really, but not excited to be on the Metro and heading to a long day of woik) and at the first stop after I board, a guy sits next to me with a copy of THAT CRAPPY BOOK and he is busy fidgeting with post it notes and making comments. I thought I had to know the guy, but your comments here made me check some possible suspects.

It was Dan Froomkin.

When I had three hours, I used to read his daily column. Not always exciting, but they went on for ever with tons of tidbits--often worth reading.

I sat there thinking that I really wanted to make a wise-a$$ comment that it is funny that Bush put a map of Iraq in his book since it seemed to be a novel concept for him to know where things were at the time of his Presidency.

I didn't and I just went on with my own reading on jQuery and moving web page elements around pages with drag-and-drop.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 15, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Weed, even as deeply cynical and despairing as I am, I am unable to explain the behavior of the American people over the past year. It is inexplicable. It is a mystery of biblical proportions. I think I need a good long chat with Hari Seldon, of blessed memory.

I blame Obama.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

My favorite part of the Borowitz Report is on his Contacts page:

///Note: Andy Borowitz does not offer writing or performing services for
free, nor does he grant free reprint permissions. Unless you are
offering money, please do not contact his representatives. Thank you.///

Silly person. He should know that once you put something on the internet it can be copied and pasted with impunity. According to the editor of Cook's Source, anything on the web is in 'public domain' and can be freely copied provided proper attribution is used.

In fact, the editor claims that the person whose article she stole should actually be paying her money because of all the editing she had to do to it.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Found this little gem in the chat of Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the NYT book review section:

"The greatest danger facing literature today is the steady devaluing of the published word, a decline characterized in the culture at large not by 'nastiness' but by indifference and disengagement."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

When did David Broder join the Tea Party?

His rather uncritical acceptance of the Catfood Commission Report is troubling. He declares:

///Everyone and every institution will have to contribute - no, genuinely, sacrifice - if we are to repair the damage to our economic health. No area of government spending will be spared. Not the Pentagon, not ****Social Security and Medicare**** (emphasis added), not a single agency or bureau. ///

I'm glad he is in favor of creating hardship for our oldest citizens because our fixed income retirees clearly have not been pulling their weight. Fortunately catfood companies have been steadily decreasing the amounts per can so that it can remain affordable to seniors that don't have a punditry job parroting conservative talking points to fall back on.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Robert Reich holds that fixating on deficits can backfire if ways to kickstart the economy are being passed up.

The best way to lower deficits is to grow out of them.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Snort-worthy "news" ---

"Virginia Thomas, political activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has decided to relinquish control of Liberty Central, the conservative group she founded less than a year ago, so that the organization can escape the "distractions" of her media celebrity, a spokeswoman said."

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Yello... from what I understand, too, the "editing" Cooks Source applied to the apple tart article was to clean up the 16th century language from the portion that was copied from "A Propre new booke of Cokery: To make pies of grene apples."

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ...seniors WHO don't...

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for that book to hit the remainder bin, myself. Then I'll read it.

As to whether I'll do so on the toilet one page at at time, I have not decided -- though would be nice to save on toilet paper for awhile and I won't have to find room on the bookshelf for it when I'm done.


Posted by: -bc- | November 15, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Cokery"? Isn't that a place where they make the stuff used to fire blast furnaces? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 15, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The internet outcry has forced Cooks Source to delete its Facebook account and take down its website. Instead, it offers a new policy which includes this bold declaration:

///Starting with this month, we will now list all sources. Also we now request that all the articles and informational pieces will have been made with written consent of the writers, the book publishers and/or their agents or distributors, chefs and business owners. ///

Shocking. I'm not sure that business model is sustainable.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I have time on my hands, so I decided to tackle your budget issues, I have brought you into surplus in by 2015 and 2030.

Not surprisingly your new tax structure now resembles those here, I am thinking conservatives would hate my measures.

I did not touch medicare or social security and only tweaked military (reducing nuclear arsenal). Much changes to the tax structure - mostly upper income and implemented a National Tax.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

In which medium is coverage of Virginia Thomas so ubiquitous? Off-hand, I can rule out newsprint and television. Is she perhaps widely caricatured by watercolor artists?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 15, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I really can't nick Dubya too bad for stealing passages from Bob Woodward. For eight years Woodward was just transcribing the notes he took from anonymous Bush apparatchiks and publishing them verbatim. I guess George W. figured that this was how books work, since 'My Pet Goat' is the most complicated book I've ever seen him reading.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

bc, the problem with your idea for that book is that - judging by my admittedly limited exposure to excerpts of its contents - it's already fairly saturated with what you would propose to mop up with it.

Great steaming piles of it, I'd say.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 15, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

To make sure I was not influenced I looked at Yellos' budget after I completed mine, our ration of tax increases/spending cuts is the same, but the way we accomplished is somewhat different.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 15, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Good day, y'all.

Still the same kit? Hmmm. Howz about a rule that states after 72 hours Mr. A posts a guest kit?

VL, regarding your idea. Cigarettes are an addiction, and if 20% of the US adult population needs several fixes a day to get by, it'll soon make the Mexican drug gangs seem like the Brady Bunch. Plus, there will be no monitoring of the product as there is today.

I always liked the idea of classifying tobacco products as drugs that require a doctor's prescription.

Regardless, I am glad that treatment makes it possible for you to boodle. The best man at our wedding is not so lucky. 14 years after quitting, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and is now in home hospice care.

Posted by: MsJS | November 15, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

You people carry on with whatever you are doing. *I* am reading about pingos. So, there.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

That's an insult to water-colorists (a difficult medium) everywhere! For something truly gag-worthy read Ginni Thomas's profile about halfway down the page on this link.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, would these be earth pingos or ones on some far-off planet?

talitha, please, I just ate lunch.

Posted by: MsJS | November 15, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

'She also enjoys motor homing and watching “24″.'

'Nuff said.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

A pingo primer for the perpetually under-pingoed or pingo-challenged.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, whoa, whoa on the cracks about Mexican drug cartels...

I post this link first to an article in Saturday's paper, reprinted from the Houston Chronicle, because this area is the ancestral home of local author John Philip Santos, mentioned, IIRC--and I think I do, in his latest book, The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire" (fire, in the title, meaning the Big Bang):

This link holds only the first three grafs of the story that appeared in Sunday's paper:

Posted by: laloomis | November 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

A pingo ate my baby.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Very cool, ScienceTim. Just a quick google search gave me some basic info on pingos and some great photo images. I especially like the polyhedron surface formations.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I am sworn to secrecy.

Now, now: Ginni has indeed earned some unwanted attention lately that legitimately could be called "distracting." Setting aside my mere distaste for her politics, the only thing that I found truly icky about her capsule bio was the notation that she is "intrigued" by Glenn Beck and is watching closely. Intrigued? There is so much that could be hiding behind such a vague word, and most of it is pretty icky.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 15, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

And I thought this was what Tim was referring to, my eldest used to watch this a lot when she was young.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, MsJS.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I used to love pushing those little blocks of ice around on my Atari 2600.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Tim, once again, you show that you are a very reasonable man. I, on the other hand, believe that Virginia Thomas deserved what she got and so, so, so much more.

Mudge, I tried that line last week and got cut to shreds. I guess it is true to say that our rye humor requires a very thick sea-worthy skin.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 15, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Hi all!

Belated happy birthday wishes to Frosti. I believe that makes us born on the same day, 20 years apart. :)

Posted by: MoftheMountain | November 15, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Mercy, dmd ... those dudes are almost as scary as Barney!

Okay, SciTim! It's either the Far East calling cards or these cartoon characters, then.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The thing about rye humor is whether it is seedless, club or has carraway seeds.

Of course mine, unlike yours, is Jewish rye. (A term I've always thought was somewhat redundant.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Trying to backboodle and should say howdy. SeaSea, the poppy colors? Oh, yes, all lovely. The texture of the flowers, though, a sort of transparent, fluted, watered silk. The Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule) has flowers that are always clear, with brilliant lemon yellows in the mix.

My faves, though, are the shell-like Shirley poppies, which are a kind of corn poppy (P. rhoeas); corn poppies include the Flanders field red-blood poppies....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 15, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Poem moment (to balance the def/SS/spending discussion)
In Flanders Fields, was written by John McCrae, a doctor in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- appeared for the first time in Punch magazine on December 8, 1915.

--Tis my Vet Day post, albeit late.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 15, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Motor homing? Motor homing? What is that? You pull the engine out of your car, throw it into the air, and watch it fly back to its factory of origin?

Posted by: kguy1 | November 15, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Very nice, CqP, but byoolin posted it on Vet's Day in the previous kit. But always nice to have a re-run. Kinda like watching Jon Stewart a day later.

Hey, watcha think about Jack Johnson's arrest? And they arrested three of his cops today.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

talitha, you did warn me. I just didn't take it seriously.

Ginni Thomas stuck her neck out. If one could say truthfully she was trying to keep a low profile, that would be a different matter.

kguy, I envision a grand motor homing day during which engines of all types fly back to the factory. I wouldn't want to be under one with a leaky gasket as it flies by, though.

Posted by: MsJS | November 15, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought motor homing was what bc does. You give him any kind of motor, he'll find an appropriate vehicle to put it in.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Mudge, about JJ? Well, his corruption stink in so many areas, including some school construction stuff, continues to foul the PG waters....our county is ole-timey machine and grease politics....still.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 15, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, to me Jack Johnson mess is just one more carwreck in a long line. We can crane our necks to peer or avert our eyes. This one looks to be a real chain-reaction, doesn't it?

And in just released astronomy news ---

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

That song about the horizon being defeated is pretty sappy, but I wouldn't arrest him over it.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The idea that we're 'witnessing' an event that actually took place about 50 million years ago strikes me as funny.

Posted by: MsJS | November 15, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

talitha, that story about the birth of the baby black hole mentioned its weight, but not its length, and also failed to mention if there's going to be a baby shower (kinda like a meteor shower, perhaps). I'm quite conflicted about the birth announcement, and what kind of present to get it. A silver spoon? A cup? A couple gazillion metric tons of handiwipes?

The very thought of changing the diaper of baby black hole is enough to make me pass out. I mean, ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. The methane alone must be phenomenol, and if it had Gerber pureed peas for lunch I am so out of there.

*sigh* I'll chip in a few bucks for Pampers, but somebody will have to decide what size to get.

On the other hand, the article says baby BH is 30 years old, but that was 50 million years old (this whole astronomy thing is very confusing; I don't know how Tim does it), so maybe we no longer need the Pampers.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

...although it occurs to me that changing the diaper of a baby block hole might not be so bad after all, since the whole idea of a black hole is that the flow of material? going the other way.

Wonder what happens when ya burp it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, MsJS, and I couldn't help thinking that the last paragraph in the black hole article read like a fourth grade Weekly Reader explanation about lightyears. Ain't edgumacation grand?

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Aaawww, a baby black hole. Ain't he cute? Kootchie, kootchie.....

Is it a boy, or a girl? Can't tell without the ribbon around it's little ol' head.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | November 15, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Awwww, Mudge ... I was going to go there but didn't. You did it justice. *grin*

Posted by: talitha1 | November 15, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

" took 50 million light-years for the evidence to arrive so it actually happened long ago."

I made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 15, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

'Afternoon, everybody.

Mudge, tell me where you hid the mind bleach. Is it in the pantry of the bunker kitchen? Baby black hole poop, indeed! *grin*

LiT, you made me laugh out loud with the colorblind cartoon. Hilarious!

So, what's the deal with Jack Johnson? Corruption and/or major stupidity? I look forward to hearing our PG County boodlers' spin on this one.

Mr. T is trading Elderdottir one gorgeous Christmas tree for a used flat screen TV. I hope she found the remote. The switch should take place tonight, and I hope he will be happy.

Posted by: slyness | November 15, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little late to this party, but the NYT had a great feature yesterday that allows people to decide where they want to cut the budget and shows the impact of each proposed cut on both the deficit in 2015 and 2030. It is a great tool for allowing people to understand how minimal (most proposals are actually rounding errors, actually) the impacts are of suggestions like "cut discretionary spending" or "defund the NEA." Even some big, controversial cuts are mere drops in the bucket. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. It's both informative and disheartening.

Posted by: Awal | November 15, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Awal... That is indeed late to the party!!


Posted by: bobsewell | November 15, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad that D.C.-area politicians have the gumption to participate in good, honest big-time graft & corruption. I mean, how disheartening it must be to find out that your mayor engages in such petty venality as ripping off gift cards from the charity fund.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 15, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Why, why, why him? I love Jack Johnson. He's a great singer.

I have great wedges of potiron/pumpkin to fax away. The rodents savagely mauled the Rouge Vif d'Étampes pumpkin I used as Hallowen decor and I have to use it. I'm making Orange Soup (the colour, not the fruit. No citrus were hurt or used in the preparation of this soup) and couscous but the squash was pretty big.

The only thing Congress did to reduce the structural deficit problem is the Health care bill. The one the GOP and Tea party want to kill. It contains a few items, that could be expanded, to control the beast. This is Medicare and Medicaid that are running wild, not Social Security and discretionatory (what?) spending.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 15, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

My bad. I couldn't read all 350+ entries so did a quick boodle search for "New York Times" but that didn't cover "nytimes". I now see that someone already posted.

Mea culpa.

Posted by: Awal | November 15, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

That's OK, Awal... I often can't backboodle completely, so I rely on folks to repost things all the time.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I haven't previously paid much attention to Jack Johnson's musical stylings, but I did get Jack Jones to sign a couple of his albums for me one night long ago.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 15, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Jack Johnson just give Margarito a new face?

I'm confused on so many levels...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 15, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Get out your no. 2 pencils again.

Mistake About Social Security Distorts Sunday New York Times Budget Exercise

Posted by: rickoshea11 | November 15, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

A big green Monroe avocado fell from the mini-tree today, so it must be harvest time.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 15, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse


Who was it said Vick was a scrambler and not a thrower?

Vick just slung the magic bean 60 yards in an absolute BOMB for a Philly TD on the first play from scrimmage.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 15, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Want to know another reason to hate Dan Snyder? Look at all the green shirts in the stands. There's no such thing as a home team crowd for the Redskins anymore.

Sigh. I guess it looks like I can go to bed at my normal time tonight.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 15, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Gee, here I am, all ready to watch a nice game of football and the score is 14-0 after just five minutes. And yes Scotty, I guess 'Wow' was the only thing to say after that pass for the TD.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 15, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

In a joke that never gets old, Yahoo! Sports reported that for the 33rd straight season, the beat writers have named Chewbacca as Wookie of the year.

Posted by: baldinho | November 15, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, Boodle.

Got home from water aerobics and discovered I'd only missed the first 18 seconds of the Redskins game. Of course, I don't have to tell you what the score was. Or is now. I'm gonna switch to "Lie to Me," I think. And for what it's worth, it has already started raining here in Waldorf, and will be raining at Fedex any minute. With any luck, there'll be a flash flood, and one team or the other will drown. Maybe both.

I know the game ain't over, but I think it's probably safe to award bc the tiara this week.

Okay, I need to tell you a story (which apparently you won't read in the WaPo). Today there was a funeral at a church a few miles south of town for a 19-year-old Marine from Waldorf who was killed in Afghanistan. His name is Terry Honeycutt, and the WaPo has a gallery of pix of his burial at Arlington. Here's what you won't read in the news story which was just posted a few minutes ago, at

That whack job preacher, Fred Phelps, applied for and received a permit to protest at Honeycutt's funeral. Our county, Charles County, apparently had no choice but to issue the permit. So the county said, OK, you can protest the funeral. It assigned Phelps and his group a location for the protest...about a 1/4 mile down the road from the church where the funeral service was held. The church is located on Rt. 301, which is THE major four-lane divided highway running through Southern Maryland.

And then the fun began. Word got out, and one of the local fire departments brought a big hook and ladded to the site, and parked it between the protest site (in a field) and the church and church parking lot. Then it put up its ladder, and hung a huge American flag from it. And word went out. And hundreds and hundreds of people came, carrying signs and American flags. There was so much traffic and so many cars jamming the church parking lot and lining the highway the police finally had to block off Rt. 301 entirely, and route all traffic down a side road a mile away to get around the commotion. There were hundreds of people there, all supporting the Honeycutts. The way the firetruck and the people blocked the view, there was no way people at the church could see Phelps protest, and no way Phelps group could even see the church.

So, after the local service, there was a mile-long procession to Arlington, which the WaPo has a gallery of. No mention of the protest in either the news story or the gallery. But I'm told a lot of local TV stations were there, so there may be stories on the 11 o'clock news.

I can't confirm, but my wife says she heard the Phelps group say what was going on, went to a 7-11 and got some coffee, and disappeared. I don't know if they ever showed up to protest or not. But the counter-protest sure as hell did.

Way to go, Charles County!

RIP, Terry Honeycutt.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

That is a good story, Mudge - hope the Post picks up on it. Condolences to the family and friends. Thanks to the good folks of Charles County.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 15, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I think we've got the Iggles right where we want them: over-confident.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to firemen and all those people who came out to support the family. Is it wrong of me that as I read the story I was hoping the firetruck had turned the hoses on those protesting the funeral.

Hubby just came up from watching the Redskin game, not a happy guy

Posted by: dmd3 | November 15, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

That game is your right=called game of the week Mudge. Vick is all over the place.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 15, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

What I wanna know is what happened to all that parity Scotty was complaining about.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to firemen and all those people who came out to support the family. Is it wrong of me that as I read the story I was hoping the firetruck had turned the hoses on those protesting the funeral.

Hubby just came up from watching the Redskin game, not a happy guy

Posted by: dmd3 | November 15, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - Actually, given that you've posted it here, we 'have' read about it in the Post. And given that the Phelps' mean-spirited antics are constant and wide-spread, it's silly to expect that every instance (and the reactions) should be covered exhaustively & immediately unless you truly believe that they are something other than shoe-poo that should be ignored whenever possible.

And I'll be greatly surprised if this isn't mentioned a bit more in some Post coverage fairly soon. You're on the record as holding the opinion that the Washington Post has become a crappy newspaper that isn't worth your time. I believe that you are mistaken.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 15, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

We sell beer at the hotel for $2.00 a bottle.I have a group of painters here and have sold over $150.00 worth of beer since the game started. I guess the extra long first half has added to the sales.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 15, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Great story Mudge. Hooray for the firefighters and other citizens who came out to support the family and block the blockheads. My condolences to the family of Terry Honeycutt.

I am so happy I am not a Redskins fan ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | November 15, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I know, I know... Cassandra was just being a crazy jokester when she thanked me (while accusing me of arrogance and insensitivity) for suggesting that people who can afford to pay for social programs should do so, and 'mudge is just funnin' around when he implies that the Washington Post is unwilling to cover community reactions to jerks like the Phelps.

I'm sure that I'm the insensitive clown here.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 15, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

You're entitled to your opinion, Bob, but the fact that the story contains a major omission of fact is indisputable. That omission actually makes the story misleading. Reading the story carefully I don't think the reporter was ever at the church; I think she only went to Arlington, and somebody told her about the 3,000, which she confirmed by phone. It's OK that the Post didn't send a reporter to Waldorf. It is NOT okay that once they found out what happened down here, the reporter failed to get the full story.

I think the burden of proof is on you to explain why the part about the original protest is missing .. and why that's OK.

Yes, Phelps has been a lot of places...but what you appear not to understand is that this time, Phelps was here in the DC area. That makes it a *local* story, Bob. The Post is supposed to cover local stories. It may not want to cover something that Phelps does in South Dakota, but this happened here inside the WaPo coverage area. Big difference.

You also seem to think the Post story will get around to telling that part of the story sometime down the road. That's absurd. The story was posted at 8:54 p.m.; they had ALL DAY to get it right. And the protest angle should have been high up in the story, although perhaps not necessarily in the lead. But it is missing altogether. You cannot rationalize that away.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 15, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Other pingos.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 15, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

You're the customer, the Post is the purveyor, the news is the product. No burdens fall upon me.

I'm just an ignorant yokel who still believes that the Post is better than the vast majority of my better options. I'm sure that I'll come to regret that optimism.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 15, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I just composed and sent to Christy Goodman (the Post staff writer whose name is attached to the blog post which Curmudgeon finds so offensive because it didn't sufficiently scratch his itch for Phelpsonia) a missive suggesting that the Metro staff should be mindful of, and reporting about, Westboro activity when it takes place in the Metro area.

Having said that, I feel a little filthy about it. Essentially, I just encouraged the Post to cover the activities of the Phelps/Westboro faction, even when they are reduced to ineffectiveness, as related by Mrs. Mudge.

Mudge, are you really sure that this is what you want from the Post?

Posted by: Bob-S | November 16, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

The gospel which (according to 'mudge) should have been inserted into the story about the turnout for the funeral of a local service member:

-- -- -- --
Fred Phelps[,] applied for and received a permit to protest ... about a 1/4 mile ... from the church where the funeral service was held ... located on ... THE major four-lane divided highway running through Southern Maryland.

[O]ne of the local fire departments brought a big hook and ladde[r] ... and hung a huge American flag from it... hundreds and hundreds of people came... all supporting the Honeycutts. The way the firetruck and the people blocked the view, there was no way people at the church could see Phelps protest, and no way Phelps group could even see the church. [An unnamed correspondent] says she heard the Phelps group say, "What was going on?", [and then the Phelps group] went to a 7-11 and got some coffee, and disappeared. "I don't know if they ever showed up to protest or not."
-- -- -- --

Yep, sounds like ground-breaking protest developments to me, and the Post should be ashamed of itself for not making it "high up in the story, although perhaps not necessarily in the lead."

Posted by: Bob-S | November 16, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra thinks that is distasteful to mention that somebody better pay for social programs, and Mudge thinks Phelps deserves all the publicity he can get.

My oh my.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 16, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Suggested headline (a la Mudge):

"Does Fred Phelps draw communities together?"

Posted by: Bob-S | November 16, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Amazing how a mini levee and flood barrier, tastefully designed, can protect a large and important area.

On the other hand, did L'Enfant realize he was putting Pennsylvania Avenue at the edge of a flood zone?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 16, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 16, 2010 5:47 AM | Report abuse

The images in the photo gallery for that funeral are touching and tear inducing. The post article mentions the 3000 who did line the streets as well as the firefighters and truck drivers. Perhaps that is a pointed way of NOT making the story about the Westboro nuts. Once you mention them, journalistically you have to then tell why they are there and why they are not welcome. They protest for the outrage and the publicity. By choking it off from them, hopefully they will wither and crawl back under their rock.

The funeral was in the memory and honor of Lance Cpl. Terry E. Honeycutt Jr. and I'm glad the focus of the article was about him and his service to our country.

Like the story of the biker counter-protesters from a while back, I am glad to see communities finding an effective way to deal with these whack jobs because the families of these brave soldiers really shouldn't have to deal with that extra trauma.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

I think everybody knew Washington was built on a swamp. Blame that wooden-toothed real estate huckster and his Grand Idea.

There is a speculative fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson titled 'Forty Signs of Rain' which climaxes with just the type of flood that levee is guarding against.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Congrats on the tiara. Wear it proudly and respectfully.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Out in Oklahoma, the Westboro bullies get their tires slashed and then the locals refuse to help them out.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

yello, I read what appears to be the latest version of the Honeycutt article on my BlackBerry during Dawn Patrol:

I agree that the lede was correct in focusing on the 3,000 people, the firetrucks and all. I mean, that's the important part, right? If the 3,000 know a little more about any extra incentive for them to attend, that's not necessarily news anymore.

*not-terribly-looking-forward-to-dealing-with-a-particularly-intransigently-biased-but-for-all-I-know-a-fine-person-email-"penpal" Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 16, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how God's love and grace are abused and misused by poor excuses for human beings. Why God puts up with us I will never know, or understand. But I suppose we should be grateful.

Good morning all, hi Cassandra! It was supposed to rain but hasn't yet, so Mr. T and I did our normal walk (after I was all set to sleep in!).

Have a pleasant day, all...

Posted by: slyness | November 16, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

There is a little too much grumpiness lately, some levity is required. Up here, the sad woes of the Toronto Maple Leafs continue, so much so that one paper had fans send in Haikus, here is the winner.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 16, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, raining here all night. Faxing some, set your drip bucket accordingly.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 16, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Funny that WaPo can count the 3,000 people at a funeral procession but has no idea who shows up for a parody news show publicity stunt.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, yello...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 16, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey, who's grumpy? I've been chortling madly!

... whistles while he works ...

Posted by: Bob-S | November 16, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I think the lowest number of google news hits for "Westboro Baptist Church" the better.

I understand why Mudge is upset, but after thinking about it, I believe the Post made a good call.

While the Westboro folks are creating their own "news" that's not worth covering, writing a story about "local people support fallen hero" is nice, but almost like "dog bites man."

Posted by: -TBG- | November 16, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse


I'm listening to a Billy Joel interview and he just said he started learning piano with the same method, book and song I did.

If only I'd known how to read music, I could have married and divorced Christie Brinkley by now... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 16, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Besides... Prince William is engaged! Now, that's news!

Posted by: -TBG- | November 16, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. BobS, I've apologized to you and all the boodlers, so why keep bringing it up? Now if you didn't accept my apology, that's another can of worms, but please, don't keep referring to what you think I said. I, in no way implied that people shouldn't pay for whatever.

I bit you because I thought you were making fun of people on Social Security, and I believe in my apology I said I didn't read your comment through. Let it go. Is this fun for you?

Slyness, it's looking very much like rain here too. We haven't got it yet, but I hope it's on the way. I had the g-girl this morning, so had to make that school run. In water therapy yesterday, I worked. The therapist added two new exercises!

Have a fantastic day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 16, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think it works well for the fire department that there is no mention of Westboro. As it is, it appears the fire company turned out for the man, not the event. Otherwise, someone might come out of the woodwork to point and say public funds/political activity/where's mine. That would be building a slippery slope and then rubbing it down with Crisco. Unless it's a volunteer company, but then again someone might point to their tax status and start yammerin.

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 16, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and bc...congrats on the tiara. Listen, I see the full moon is coming up this weekend. Last time you had it for that, it came back with sticks and I-don't-know-what stuck in it. Can you take a bit better care of it please? Maybe leave it at home after dark that night? If not, can you at least give it a good wipe-down and polish before you give it to ME next Tuesday? Again, congrats.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 16, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

So if Washington DC ever floods because that levee breaks, who is going to fly around looking at it from the air?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Wet leaves are not happy leaves. They turn to muck.

My wife was going to stay up late to watch the Eagles/'skins game, so I knew it was bad news when I heard her go to bed early. That and the muffled sobs.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 16, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Bob, I am absolutely certain that when 3,000 people show up, I want the freaking Post to tell me WHY.

Apparently the Examiner seems to have figured it out.

Now, I grant you, the Examiner has run it as an opinion piece (properly, since it is vastly editorializing). But at least it tells you what happened and why. And it seems to have been able to accomplish this stunning feat by 11 a.m., whereas by 9 p.m., 10 hours later, the Post still hadn't figured it out.

The simple, irreducable fact is that without the Westboro protest, there wouldn't have been 3,000 or 1,000 or whatever number of people at the funeral. It is one thing to withhold a piece of information that some of you find unpalatable. It is entirely another thing to mislead and to allow a major misapprehension to take hold, that these people turned out "just" for the funeral. That's simply not true, and it isn't what happened.

For those of you who think that Phelps has already gotten too much publicity and you want to censor his name: fine. So you tell the story that there was going to be a protest, and you leave out Phelps' name and the name of his church. Down in the bottom of the story you write something like this:

"When it was learned that a small group of people from out-of-state had applied for and received a permit to hold a protest rally at the funeral, a nearly spontaneous counter-protest quickly developed, according to X (there are a dozen people who could/would have said this). He/she said that e-mails and telephone calls went out, urging people to come to the funeral to block the protestors from getting near the church. A local fire company brought a hook-and-ladder firetruck, which was parked between the protestors' site and the church, and a large American flag was hung from the extended ladder. The purpose of the firetruck was to block the view, according to Y.

"The crowd themselves formed a human barrier, blocking the shoulder of the road near the church, and also blocking the view. Many of the crowd carried flags and signs supporting the family.

"American flags as far as the eye can see," said Holly Smith, one of the counter-protest organizers. "They [the protestors]are up at a gas station probably a mile up the road, because they couldn't get any closer. We're in the shoulder for probably ten deep for at least 300 yards."

"The Charles County Sheriff's Department confirmed that there was so much traffic and parked cars on Rt. 301, the major thorofare between Waldorf and LaPlata, that it temporarily closed the highway and detoured traffic over to St. Charles Parkway a mile east of Rt. 301."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 16, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

"[I]t appears the fire company turned out for the man, not the event."

But they didn't. That is simply wrong. But even if there was ambiguity or mixed motives (which I'll grant), you don't omit a key factor. Newspapers aren't in the business of protecting your sensibilities if you think Phelps is odious (which all of us do).

How is a Phelps protest different from 87,000 people gathering on the mall for a Glen Beck rally? Should the Post have not covered it? Or simple said 87,000 took in the sun and the balmy weather, and neglected to mention why they all happened to be there, that they were organized and some traveled a great distance to be there? How is it different from the Stewart/Colbert rally, which I'm sure was odious to a fair number of people uncluding a few Post editors who editorialized that Stewart should cancel it, and who also made the point he was a comedian and not a "serious" politician.

No, the only difference is one of scale: 3,000 people in LaPlata equates to 87,000 people on the mall in the nation's capital. You don't start deciding some kinds of protests are worthy of coverage and others aren't. That's what happened in the south in the early 1960s. It isn't the job of a newspaper to withhold, nor to mislead. Misleading may actually be worse than withholding, being the difference between a sin of omission and a sin of commission. There are rare cases were omission is justifiable (withholding the name of a minor). I can think of no example where wilfully misleading or allowing readers to acquire a false impression is justifiable. If that's the choice, then you simply kill the story, and take the heat for printing nothing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 16, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Based on your 9:16, 'Mudge, we're arguing the degree of INcompleteness in the article. Your version would stop short of naming the glassbowls (an omission of fact), while the Post stops short of a full explanation of why the community came out in support of the fallen soldier and his family (also an omission of fact).

Shades of gray, that's all. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 16, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

But I think there's a journalistic problem there. I don't see some of that info reflected in the story linked to. You'd need a quote from someone at the Fire Department that that was their purpose there, and if they're any kind of savvy at all they won't be coughing that up. (I've seen the fire department at a funeral because the deceased was really active in the community and two children of the deceased were firemen (but not in the same state).

Posted by: LostInThought | November 16, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, LiT -- 'Mudge, what if none of the 3,000 offered any information to suggest they were "counter-protesting?" In that case the reporter would have to make a judgement call about what the facts are, correct?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 16, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't offend my sensibilities.

And really, I don't see how you can say they were there for the event without confirmation of that.

Some of the Westboro clan was in Hagerstown a few weeks back to protest at a high school (because those non-voting kids are just too tolerant of gays doncha know) and it was a huge event there but the Post didn't cover it. While Hagerstown is a bit farther away than LaPlata, neither would be considered a suburb. I'm not surprised the coverage wasn't there.

But I've got to get on with my day. Have a happy one.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 16, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

New Kit.

Boy do the Ethnic Slurs suck.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company