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Posted at 8:32 AM ET, 12/ 3/2010

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Facts of life: The reality is that it's increasingly obvious that all the Bush tax cuts are going to be extended. The only real question at this point is what Dems get in return. The reality is also that the left is going to continue lashing Obama mercilessly as weak if the White House walks away with a bad deal and doesn't find a way to negotiate from a position of strength in future standoffs with the GOP.

Sure, the usual suspects will say it's good for Obama to get attacked from the left. But the drumbeat encouraging the perception of Obama as weak and prone to capitulation -- which is beginning to gain traction in the mainstream media, fair or not -- could in the long run could become the narrative and result in a real political problem that stretches beyond the base.

* To wit: Another interesting "compromise" in the making on the tax cuts: Senate Republicans are open to a deal that would exchange an extension of unemployment benefits for an extension of all the tax cuts if Dems agree to cover the costs of the UI extension with spending cuts elsewhere.

But as Chris Van Hollen notes, this deal would mean finding a way to pay for roughly $13 billion in unemployment benefits, but not $700 billion in tax cuts for the rich.

* Fears mount of White House capitulation: With behind the scenes discussions continuing, Democrats on Capitol Hill are bracing themselves for a "compromise" in which Dems get little in return for giving the GOP its way.

* But again, the public clearly sides with Dems on Bush tax cuts: Still another poll finds this, with a majority, 53 percent, support letting just the tax cuts for the rich expire, while barely more than a quarter agree with the GOP that all the cuts should continue.

Also: Less than half of Republicans, 46 percent, support the GOP position.

* The left keeps up "weakness" drumbeat: Paul Krugman's column today alleging White House "moral collapse" is particularly brutal.

* More "weakness" drumbeat: Eugene Robinson is deeply dispirited about the Dems' inexplicable tendency to telegraph weakness even in standoffs where the public is on their side. And he asks a good question:

What is the Democratic Party's bottom line? Who knows?

* Ethanon wars! Red State's Erick Erickson hammers Senator John Thune for supporting continued ethanol subsidies, insisting that if he "doesn't say no to BP and the ethanol robber barons, then he has no business getting near the White House." Look for more anger from the right on this.

* Takedown of the day: Mark Blumenthal skewers John McCain's latest quixotic attack on the Pentagon DADT repeal report. Bottom line: McCain will stop at literally nothing to blind himself and others to the increasingly obvious reality that servicemembers favor repeal.

* McCain becoming erratic: Indeed, McCain's increasingly erratic approach to this issue is becoming so obvious that even his good friend Joe Lieberman has now called him out on it.

* Jon Kyl, all alone: Nearly three fourths of conservatives support ratifying New START.

* Filibuster reform update: Kevin Drum has a good explanation of Jeff Merkley's filibuster reform proposal. Key point: The Senate should always allow and encourage open debate.

Also: For those of you who like going deep into the policy weeds, David Waldman explains why Merkley's proposal is largely workable.

* The left is wrong about everything: Without fail.

* And the Tea Party rubes are going to get very, very angry: They aren't going to like it when reality sets in about how difficult repealing health reform will be in the real world.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | December 3, 2010; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, gay rights, taxes  
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Next: Would the GOP prefer a judge overturn DADT?

Comments

"The Obama administration is holding out for an extension of unemployment assistance and of a variety of expiring tax breaks for low-wage and middle-income workers as part of a deal with Congressional Republicans to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts. But it is unclear how much leverage the White House has in the tax negotiations, given the drubbing Democrats took in the midterm elections, the tight Congressional calendar and a threat by Senate Republicans to block any legislation until the tax fight is resolved."

One word: v-e-t-o.

Time to face reality: Obama is an epic failure as president. Time to consider alternatives. In the short run, Congress can refuse to pass anymore sell-out legislation the White House concocts behind closed doors with Republicans. Obama can "negotiate" all he wants but the Congressional Democrats don't have to follow his orders. And they should not. Now is the time for a Democratic Caucus insurrection.

Longer term, someone must wrest the Democratic nomination from Obama in 2012 or the Democrats will make 2010 look like a victory lap.

How in the world did this happen to us?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/us/03cong.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&src=igw

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Greg. I have Kevin's Troll Hunter installed and just now, after a brief short circuit in the noggin, nearly put you on "ignore". Which would be rather like telling the waiter to forget the food and to just bring a plate.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

It's sort of astonishing to me that so many from the left spend day after day calling the White House weak in 100 different ways...then seem so shocked when the White House has no political capital to negotiate with - leading to more capitulation.

It's a wonderful little downward spiral. One that I'm sure the GOP, and their pals in the media, are relishing to watch.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It's sort of astonishing to me that so many from the left spend day after day calling the White House weak in 100 different ways...then seem so shocked when the White House has no political capital to negotiate with - leading to more capitulation.

It's a wonderful little downward spiral. One that I'm sure the GOP, and their pals in the media, are really enjoying.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

"The reality is that it's increasingly obvious that all the Bush tax cuts are going to be extended. The only real question at this point is what Dems get in return. The reality is also that the left is going to continue lashing Obama mercilessly as weak if the White House walks away with a bad deal and doesn't find a way to negotiate from a position of strength in future standoffs with the GOP. Sure, the usual suspects will say it's good for Obama to get attacked from the left. But the drumbeat encouraging the perception of Obama as weak and prone to capitulation -- which is beginning to gain traction in the mainstream media, fair or not -- could in the long run could become the narrative and result in a real political problem that stretches beyond the base."


I love ya, Greg, but that is weak tea. For weeks you declared that extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest would be, and I quote, "capitulation." Nothing less. But now that it is happening we are getting excuses and next-time-I-really mean-it. This is what enables the destruction of the Democratic Party. Don't sacrifice your own credibility for Obama's sake. He doesn't deserve it and he won't be president come 2012.

This morning I telephoned my Dem senator and Congressperson. I told them NOT to vote for any legislation that gives tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. I also told them I would not vote for any Democrats as long as Obama is the standard-bearer.

Primary challenge! Start now!

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

It's sort of astonishing to me that so many from the left spend day after day calling the White House weak in 100 different ways...then seem so shocked when the White House has no political capital to negotiate with - leading to more capitulation.

It's a wonderful little downward spiral. One that I'm sure the GOP, and their pals in the media, are really enjoying.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please. We call Obama weak because he IS weak. He made himself that way, not the Left. Stop blaming the victims and put the blame on Obama where it belongs. He is way over his head and has no business in the White House.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@BBQ - Bullies usually win. Which brings up Greg's point...

"could in the long run could become the narrative and result in a real political problem that stretches beyond the base."

Particularly in times of stress and fear (as now under the poor economic conditions and constant demagoguery from the right wing media mechanisms) people can be moved to think and behave irrationally. It is precisely within conditions such as these where seriously bad people can gain the sort of foothold and influence not normally available to them. And often merely on the basis of modelling or projecting a loud, angry and simplistic image of "leader".

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

From today's NYT article:

"Congressional Democrats expressed deepening frustration with the White House, which they said had made numerous missteps that gave Republicans the upper hand. Some Democratic aides said that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had been asked to attend a caucus meeting to defend the White House negotiating stance. A spokesman said Mr. Biden had a previous commitment."

Does this mean that the Democratic Senate Caucus is also making Obama weak?

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

@BBQ - Bullies usually win. Which brings up Greg's point...

"could in the long run could become the narrative and result in a real political problem that stretches beyond the base."

Particularly in times of stress and fear (as now under the poor economic conditions and constant demagoguery from the right wing media mechanisms) people can be moved to think and behave irrationally. It is precisely within conditions such as these where seriously bad people can gain the sort of foothold and influence not normally available to them. And often merely on the basis of modelling or projecting a loud, angry and simplistic image of "leader".

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Bernie, I am aware that you, like Greenwald, equate presidential leadership with totalitarianism. So now we've had a presidential void for 2 years. You got your wish. How's that working out?

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

Congrats, you sound more like the right-wing trolls on this blog daily. You're even using their rhetoric now.

When you go full-Beck, and start thinking everything Pres. Obama does is some massive conspiracy to destroy America...it should be quite entertaining.

To quote you: "How's that working out?"

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Noted at end of last night's discussion, but I'll toss it here too.

This is what Assange is up to and why a broad spectrum of entities are frightened by him...

https://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/julian-assange-and-the-computer-conspiracy-%E2%80%9Cto-destroy-this-invisible-government%E2%80%9D/#

Another, not unrelated point. Mullen, yesterday or the day before, sought to portray Assange and these leaks as potentially resulting in the deaths of a US soldier or an Afghan family (thought there's an extant AP story quoting the CIA that no such has happened). It is a profound moral wrong, Mullen is implying, to put lives at risk.

And in a theoretical or conceptual sense, that's true.

But in the real world, somewhere between a hundred thousand and a million people have been killed as a consequence of the instigation of these two wars.

That second part (the actual real part) has been effectively disappeared, hasn't it?

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

This Yglesias post seems most relevant:

The administration’s rational fear about a hardball approach to any issue is the inevitable cavalcade of whining from Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, unnamed Blue Dog House members, etc. Should the administration fear Evan Bayh? Maybe they should. After all, the very next step is John Boehner talking about how the only thing bipartisan about this administration is opposition to its agenda. What you have is a situation in which the very most superficial observer of politics—and keep in mind that swing voters observe politics in a manner that’s far more superficial than you can imagine—sees that on the one hand is the President and some liberal Democrats and on the other hand is the entire Republican Party plus many members of the Democratic Party. Now if you’re a Democratic member of congress from an even slightly Republican-leaning district or state you need to ask yourself “am I the kind of Democrat who wants to be on the leftwing side of intraparty divides?” Many of them will say “no, I don’t” and now to the superficial observer the White House’s position has shifted even further to the left.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/12/the-balance-of-power/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

Congrats, you sound more like the right-wing trolls on this blog daily. You're even using their rhetoric now. When you go full-Beck, and start thinking everything Pres. Obama does is some massive conspiracy to destroy America...it should be quite entertaining. To quote you: "How's that working out?"

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

What is your point? Do you even have one, other than attacking those who criticize this feckless failure of a president? Maybe if Liberals stopped rolling over they'd get treated with some respect. The TeaPartiers wrecked health care with a bunch of stooge rallies. But all Democrats ever do is bemoan their fate and rationalize their failure. Democrats are losers. And Obama is the loser-in-chief. Face reality. Or it will never change.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

TPM has it that the multiple tax vote strategy (which was moronic) deal has fallen through.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/senate-tax-cut-deal-falls-through.php

Now it appears that the Senate will vote on 2 things:

1) Extention of the Middle-Class tax cuts (passed by the House)

2) Schumer's $1 mill-brack "compromise" tax cuts (which is also stupid)

I really don't understand why the Schumer plan is even getting a vote. Not only is the plan itself dumb, but the trial ballon for it really seemed like it crashed and burned.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

But the drumbeat encouraging the perception of Obama as weak and prone to capitulation -- which is beginning to gain traction in the mainstream media, fair or not
.............

not only fair, but exactly what liberal detractors said about him in 2007.

all you had to do was look at what he said about the "war"... and then how he voed.

weaked kneed and no private parts

Posted by: newagent99 | December 3, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, thanks for that wikileaks link on the previous thread, fascinating stuff. I read the two pieces in Forbes over the weekend as well and one of the themes I was most interested in was the idea that exposing the less than ethical standards of one or more corporate entities enables the more ethical entities the ability to compete on a more level field. We have some experience here professionally with this idea and are reaping some of the rewards financially finally for sticking to our business integrity. It wasn't through any leaking of internal emails or anything but rather through the power of consumers communicating directly with other consumers.

Greg

I think wbgonne has a valid point re your previous posts calling a "compromise" on the tax cuts a capitulation. Isn't that moving the goalposts a little on your end?

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

@wb - not quite sure what's in your noggin there. My point was that if you witness the President or the administration or the press or others behaving as if they've been beaten down by bullies, then it is probably the case that they've been beaten down by bullies.

I've argued before that none of this is understandable unless we place it against the fact that we are primates and that we organize on dominance hierarchies. That is, we tend to. Most of our institutions were designed precisely in order to mitigate against the injustices and suffering that arise from such social arrangements.

The modern right very nakedly seeks - first and foremost - dominance. Winning is the thing.

Go ahead and yell at Obama and the left for behaving as if they have succumbed to such bullies. I yell about it too.

But don't pretend that the way out of this is easy. Or that some other magical leader waits off in the wings somewhere.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The administration’s rational fear about a hardball approach to any issue is the inevitable cavalcade of whining from Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, unnamed Blue Dog House members, etc. Should the administration fear Evan Bayh? Maybe they should. After all, the very next step is John Boehner talking about how the only thing bipartisan about this administration is opposition to its agenda. What you have is a situation in which the very most superficial observer of politics—and keep in mind that swing voters observe politics in a manner that’s far more superficial than you can imagine—sees that on the one hand is the President and some liberal Democrats and on the other hand is the entire Republican Party plus many members of the Democratic Party. Now if you’re a Democratic member of congress from an even slightly Republican-leaning district or state you need to ask yourself “am I the kind of Democrat who wants to be on the leftwing side of intraparty divides?” Many of them will say “no, I don’t” and now to the superficial observer the White House’s position has shifted even further to the left.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/12/the-balance-of-power/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

ARRGGGHHHH! Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. Obama should have CRUSHED Lieberman and Nelson and Lincoln the instant they got out of line. No committee chairs. No bennies for their states. No money. Nothing. It is the use of power. It's why power is granted to a president. Democrats are engaging in willful blindness to the detriment of their party and, far more importantly, the nation. Democrats are, in their own way, behaving as irresponsibly as Republicans. In fact, the Democrats may be worse because they had the power to change things and they have squandered it entirely.

Later.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@bernielatham: "Particularly in times of stress and fear (as now under the poor economic conditions and constant demagoguery from the right wing media mechanisms) people can be moved to think and behave irrationally. It is precisely within conditions such as these where seriously bad people can gain the sort of foothold and influence not normally available to them. And often merely on the basis of modelling or projecting a loud, angry and simplistic image of 'leader'"

Like when Obama and the Democrats won in 2008? Or like when Clinton won with "it's the economy stupid" and categorizing our dismal and grim existence under Herbert Walker Bush as "the worst recession in 20 years"? Those kinds of bad people? Because, given the economic implosion leading up to the election in 2008, by your assessment, people could only have been behaving irrationally when the elected Obama (with coattails).

Or perhaps voters always act somewhat irrationally, and vote out whoever is in when they feel the economy is out-of-sorts and hope a quick reboot will fix everything right up.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Greg

I think wbgonne has a valid point re your previous posts calling a "compromise" on the tax cuts a capitulation. Isn't that moving the goalposts a little on your end?

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca: Greg no longer acknowledges me which I take to mean I have worn out my welcome here at PL. That's OK. I have other things to do.

Best to all.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 3, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

I don't feel a need to attack those that criticize Pres. Obama. I criticize his administration all the time.

I do have a desire to ridicule those on the left that criticize the White House in brain dead, short sighted, counter productive ways using the same nonsense vitrolic rhetoric we see from the most ignorant of right-wing trolls - in this case, that's you!

Seek help, because you've gone 'round the bend.

However, in the meantime there's no point in me responding to you anymore. It'd be like engaging with the likes of Bilge and quarterback...as useless as yelling at the clouds to rain.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Brutal jobs data out this morning...

Funny now that generally ignored "left" is responsible for Obama's failed Presidency. Yeah thats it, we destroyed the President we got elected. We beat back the Clintons just so we could undermine our guy, makes perfect sense.

Obama's inability to capitalize on the fact that the Republican agenda is not popular is appalling. The Ds got crushed last month because of what they did not do, not because people think Republicans are going to do the right thing. But lets not forget, the only thing that can save Obama is retail sales.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Some Assange updates from NPR with links to other news.

— Britain's The Independent says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is "expected to be arrested in the coming days after Swedish prosecutors filed a new warrant with British authorities." As we reported yesterday, Assange is thought to be in the U.K. and the Swedish warrant isn't about the leaks. It's about an alleged rape. Assange says he's innocent.

— But Assange may be "live" on The Guardian's website starting around 8 a.m. ET. He's supposed to be in the comments thread at that link. That is, says the Guardian, "if he can get access to the Internet. ... a big if at the moment." (Update at 8:05 a.m. ET: This probably shouldn't surprise anyone, but the Guardian's webpage where Assange is supposed to join the conversation isn't loading for us at this moment. Perhaps it can't handle the traffic?)

— And about Assange's access to the Internet ... the website's domain name system provider withdrew service from WikiLeaks.org yesterday because of hacker attacks that had "threatened the rest of its network," the Associated Press writes. WikiLeaks moved to a Swiss provider, changing its url to wikileaks.ch.

— The New York Times says some of the leaked cables "depict heavy Afghan graft, starting at the top." NPR's Jackie Northam reported on Morning Edition that the messages highlight "two pervasive challenges the U.S. faces in Afghanistan: corruption and dealing with President Hamid Karzai. ... The cables clearly show how pervasive, corrosive and just how far up the political ladder the corruption reaches."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/12/03/131777400/assange-arrest-expected-in-days-but-he-may-be-live-on-web-today

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

We have some experience here professionally with this idea and are reaping some of the rewards financially finally for sticking to our business integrity. It wasn't through any leaking of internal emails or anything but rather through the power of consumers communicating directly with other consumers.
----------------------------------------
That is sort of an interesting analogy in light of our recent discussions on capitulation. Democrats seem terrified to do much of anything for fear that it turns out badly and they lose their seat. As your anecdotal experience shows, courage (ethical, political or otherwise) to do the right thing and act on your beliefs will often end up with you being rewarded. You just may have to take a few hits in the interim. It's just sad that so few people are willing to take those hits in order to do what is right.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@bernie: "Mullen, yesterday or the day before, sought to portray Assange and these leaks as potentially resulting in the deaths of a US soldier or an Afghan family"

Well, certainly he is--but, of course, the policy which gives low-level folks access to such data is complicit. Yet, if they didn't, it would become that much harder to connect the dots.

Still, irregardless, it's technically treason, and that's not a novel idea or something that should surprise him, and he's a big boy so I suspect he knows what he's in for.

That being said, I hope he lasts long enough to leak the banking documents and what not, but I'm still a little dubious about his "vetting" of the documents. Does information want to be free, or not? Apparently, no, only the information Assange thinks needs to be disclosed should be free. I understand the principal of the Wikileaks position, but I am curious: who watches the Watchmen?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"Like when Obama and the Democrats won in 2008? Or like when Clinton won with "it's the economy stupid" and categorizing our dismal and grim existence under Herbert Walker Bush as "the worst recession in 20 years"? Those kinds of bad people?"

No, no, no. Because those people are not bad people, therefore by definition even when they are doing what appears to be the same thing as bad people, they are doing it for good reasons, not bad reasons. See, the key here, obviously, is to determine first who the bad people are, and then you know that what they are doing is bad. And the easiest way to know whether they are bad people is to check whether they agree with TWAB (The World According to Bernie).

For example, if they agree with TWAB, then ginning up fear (as Bernie so often does) is a good thing in that it is informing the people of something to be legitimately feared, so they will take appropriate action. If they do not agree with TWAB, then by definition when they are ginning up fear they are doing it in order to make people "stupider", thus getting them to act irrationally for the benefit of the bad people.

TWAB is the key, here. It really is pretty straight forward. ;)

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I think you're illustrating a fundamental failure of the left, wbgonne. You seem to think that the entire party should take orders from the deep blue base. All those DINOs out there made Pelosi Speaker.

Nothing better illustrates this than your characterization of HCR. Look at the history of Social Security. It was a far more modest program at its start. Nothing ever ends, but it has finally begun.

As for Obama being a weak failure, contrast the legislation passed over the past two years to the first two years of Clinton. You may recall he came into office with the big idea of a carbon tax. Clinton had to bend over for Herb Kohl to even get a modest increase in the gasoline tax. DADT was passed under Clinton. It'll be repealed under Obama.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 3, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I hope everyone is sufficiently shocked and surprised that the "war on terror" did not change the Afghan spoils system. Years ago I wrote a piece about how the opium market could easily have been cornered with a tiny US investment (compared to the war), thereby defunding the Taliban and giving us the leverage to alter the Afghan economy and government....but did anyone listen? Nooooo, of course not. Now, all these dead people later, we send in the tanks, though just a small fraction of the number the Soviets used. Yeah, shock and awe, that really works to combat terror.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Kevin - Come on. Obama's win was not significantly affected by the crash. Had it not happened, he would have won by the margins he did. Yes?

The fears that people had are now much worse than two years ago as the reality of the downturn is affecting more peoples' lives more deeply than then. Yes?

That's just a start on what you fail to differentiate. the 1930s and the 1950s were different. Today and three years ago are different. Obviously, irrationality is a huge factor in how people vote (and think) and if anyone other than myself has been posting on and linking the research on exactly that, please name the fellow or fellowess.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"But the drumbeat encouraging the perception of Obama as weak and prone to capitulation -- which is beginning to gain traction in the mainstream media, fair or not -- could in the long run could become the narrative and result in a real political problem that stretches beyond the base."

So obviously the solution is to capitulate more. Gotcha.

Posted by: stonedone | December 3, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

As US unemployment gets worse...what do we get?...more "free" trade!

"The United States and South Korea have resolved most major issues blocking approval of a free-trade deal that had been stalled for three years, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said on Friday." Reuters

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"I understand the principal of the Wikileaks position"

No, I think you don't. I certainly didn't until I read the link I noted near the top.

And "treason" might apply if he was a Yank, which he isn't.

And you absolutely fail to mention the complete moral idiocy of Mullen's complaint given the real "blood" on other hands. This is a pea sitting beside the Empire State Building and you only see the pea. The horrible pea.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 3, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

@bernielatham: "Kevin - Come on. Obama's win was not significantly affected by the crash. Had it not happened, he would have won by the margins he did. Yes?"

I'm not sure. Clearly, it was an issue. If anything is an issue now, it's that people expected change (indeed, that's what Obama campaigned on), and things did seem to improve markedly between November 2008 and November 2010.

My point is that there is no direct evidence that people were any less rational then than they were in 2010. Unless one considers the election of Republican prima facie evidence of irrationality. Then, of course, the truth of the assertion is self-demonstrating.

"The fears that people had are now much worse than two years ago as the reality of the downturn is affecting more peoples' lives more deeply than then. Yes?"

Were you scared into voting for a conservative recently?

And, actually, I'm better off. Of course, I work for the government now. ;)

"the 1930s and the 1950s were different."

But just by a single digit. Swap that 3 out with a 5 and they were practically the same. ;)

"Today and three years ago are different."

Yes, this is true, but that difference offers no evidence that outside circumstances should provoke more or less irrationality amongst the great unwashed. The only evidence you present that people are voting more irrationally now than in 2008 is that your side (such as a citizen of the word can be said to have a
"side") lost this past November.

I am not sure I find voting for an amorphous "hope and change" or for lowering the sea levels or the powerful transformative abilities of one messianic leader is any more rational than voting for a part whose only solution to any problem does often seem to be further tax cuts for the very wealthy.

To whit, your positing of irrationality is assumed, rather than demonstrated. Irrespective of the difference between the 1930s and the 1950s.

:)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"The left is wrong about everything: Without fail."
---------------------------------------------

Oh, cry me a river. Or better yet, try considering that there may be times when a little discretion might just be the better part of valor. In practice, you get a lot more of what you want through compromise than by issuing manifestos and ultimata. If you you begin with the proposition that everything you want is sacrosanct and therefore ~any~ willingness to give so much as an inch on anything to get anything else = weakness, spinelessness and general moral turpitude, you're probably going to spend a lot more of your time sulking than celebrating. And you don't actually win many converts that way. Nobody likes a whiner.

Posted by: CalD | December 3, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Not one article about the threat of the nuclear option.... The Dems are a bunch of sissies...

Posted by: soapm | December 3, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"Come on. Obama's win was not significantly affected by the crash. Had it not happened, he would have won by the margins he did. Yes?"

No. Obviously we can never know for sure since one cannot run a test by changing history. But in September of '08, just prior to the Lehman collapse, McCain was leading in the polls. His reaction to the shock of Lehman pulled him back under, and he never recovered. And Obama went on to make the economic situation a highlight of his campaign strategy.

http://www.nysun.com/national/mccain-palin-surging-in-the-polls/85458/

"The fears that people had are now much worse than two years ago as the reality of the downturn is affecting more peoples' lives more deeply than then. Yes?"

No. Uncertainty is generally much more fear-inducing than reality. There are, perhaps, more people today who are actually feeling the real effects of a downturned economy. But in September and October of '08, the uncertainty about the future, especially the immediate future, was much greater for many more people. The housing market has collapsed and essentially stopped working. There was almost no lending taking place. Fear over the collapse of the banking system itself was rampant. Between September 19 '08 (just before the Lehman collapse) and October 27, a few days before he election, the stock market fell almost 3,000 points, shedding almsot 30% of its value. For those employed, the prospects of remaining so were far, far less certain then than now.

Frankly, to suggest that there is more economic fear today than in the 2 months prior to the '08 election, or that the economic collapse of '08 had no impact on the result of the election, seems to be ( not to put too fine a point on it) sheer idiocy.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

@bernielatham: "'I understand the principal of the Wikileaks position' . . . No, I think you don't. I certainly didn't until I read the link I noted near the top."

Given that you did not explain or in any way demonstrate to me how I did not understand it, I'm going to continue with the presupposition that I understand it just fine.

"And 'treason' might apply if he was a Yank, which he isn't."

Fair enough. In the case of Assange, he is guilty of espionage?

"And you absolutely fail to mention the complete moral idiocy of Mullen's complaint given the real 'blood' on other hands."

Well, I wasn't explicit, but it certainly seems evident to me in my context. I didn't realize I had to spell things out for you, Bernie. ;)

"This is a pea sitting beside the Empire State Building and you only see the pea. The horrible pea."

You see what you want to see, Bernhard. Unsurprisingly, it's a viewpoint most flattering to one M'sieur. Latham. ;)

I made no statement dismissive or minimizing of the crimes and moral abrogations covered by Wikileaks. I also did not expound on the ultimate waste and futility of the Peloponnesian War. Doesn't mean I approve or disapprove of it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I thought the economy would turn around when the Republicans took the House because it gave the business sector some certainty that no more regulations would come down the wire.

What happened?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | December 3, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@ScottC3: "No. Uncertainty is generally much more fear-inducing than reality. There are, perhaps, more people today who are actually feeling the real effects of a downturned economy. But in September and October of '08, the uncertainty about the future, especially the immediate future, was much greater for many more people. The housing market has collapsed and essentially stopped working. There was almost no lending taking place. Fear over the collapse of the banking system itself was rampant. Between September 19 '08 (just before the Lehman collapse) and October 27, a few days before he election, the stock market fell almost 3,000 points, shedding almost 30% of its value. For those employed, the prospects of remaining so were far, far less certain then than now."

But, as you have yourself confessed, the electorate voted for the right candidates and politicians in that election cycle. That is overwhelming evidence of rationality on the part of the electorate. While 2010 elected numerous conservatives and Tea Party sorts, which proves (beyond a shadow of the doubt) that the electorate had become irrational. Although returns suggest that Democrats, liberals, and young people didn't turn out in nearly the numbers they did in 2008, so the argument is essentially that anyone who had something better to do than pick between two corrupt (or at least, certain to be hugely disappointing) politicians on election day was behaving "irrationally".

If they had an opportunity to get laid or, perhaps, just eat a very tasty burrito, they may have in fact been behaving with greater rationality than those of us who took time out of our day to vote. Given the results locally, the folks I voted for either won overwhelmingly or lost overwhelmingly, so it's not like the time I took out to vote had any influence on the outcome whatsoever.

In my case, I neither had an opportunity to get laid or eat a tasty burrito, so I was still behaving rationally, to my mind.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@mikefromarlington: "I thought the economy would turn around when the Republicans took the House because it gave the business sector some certainty that no more regulations would come down the wire."

Um, that's not going to happen. Uncertainty about what the government is going to do is a minor concern. Companies are concerned more about where their next sale, and their next customer, is going to come from. If they see customers pounding on their door, they hire and spend and expand, no matter what "uncertainty" there is in regards to future tax policy.

That being said, if that was the problem and electing Republicans was the fix, it would still take a year for that to show up in the economy. Economic cause and effect is not instantaneous.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"No. Obviously we can never know for sure since one cannot run a test by changing history. But in September of '08, just prior to the Lehman collapse, McCain was leading in the polls. His reaction to the shock of Lehman pulled him back under, and he never recovered."

As you point out you never know, but what would we be debating if we didn't know? That said, I think your point is important to make periodically as posters on both sides often tend to just assume that had history run differently they would have been right.

As for the role of the economy, I'm not sure if it was the fact that the economy collapsed as much as it was McCain's incredibly poor timing in making "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" comment. Maybe that's a distinction without a difference.

@Kevin-
I think you are being a bit disingenous, perhaps purposefully so, in your painting of why people voted for Obama and your portrayal of why Bernie thinks people are irrational. When people complain about Death Panels and urge the government to keep its hands of Medicare I think questioning their rationality is fair. However, I would guess irrationality is spread pretty evenly across the political spectrum (see 9/11 conspiracies).

As for the motivation for votes for Obama, while I'm guessing you did it purposefully, you committ the same offense bernie does in assuming voters based their votes on something other than agreement with Obama's policies.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

MORE TRANSPARENCY FROM OBAMA'S PEOPLE AT THE FCC ON NET NEUTRALITY


Mr. Genachowski's draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped "non-public, for internal use only" to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for "openness."

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

It's been known the Republicans would take the House for some time. The markets anticipated this clearly and are now tanking.

And Greg, why have you been virtually silent on the wikileak docs?

There's some explosive material in there that should be covered that have huge political ramifications. This is a politics blog right?

Plus, the U.S. Govn't using its force to shut down sites that post TS documents should worry WaPo and NYT, both who have published Top Secret anonymous information. What happens when you're next.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | December 3, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

All's I can say is that the way WB is acting and the "conversation" between KW and ScottC are the reason why people get turned off from politics.

More policy. More compromise. Less ideology.

Election reform.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | December 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

All, good post by Adam Serwer on the GOP and don't ask:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/would_the_gop_prefer_a_judge_o.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 3, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@politifact:

John Boehner says "the American people spoke pretty loudly. They said stop all the looming tax hikes"

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/dec/02/john-boehner/john-boehner-says-american-people-spoke-pretty-lou/

*** FALSE ***

Posted by: Ethan2010 | December 3, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I share wbgonne's frustration, which has now probably turned to anger, about Obama's passivity in the face of a GOP who wants to drag this country down to a Third
World status.
Greg is correct, Krugmasnis brutal this morning about Obama, and also is on the mark.
I, naively, thought back in 2008 that Obama had the makings of a transformative President in the nature of FDR, but I was wrong.
These next two years will offer nothing more than wacky GOP ideas, gridlock, bogus investigations and a veto pen.
Looking at this landscape I can only conclude that this is a country in an irreversible decline and the rich, with the help of their hired guns in the GOP, will loot everything before the final collapse. Despite all the guns floating around this country, the public is just too supine to go out and take their country back. Besides, as the Tea Party has shown, the rube public are easily punked into focusing on the wrong enemies.

Posted by: filmnoia | December 3, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I suggest that disaffected Democrats do like I am starting to do: advocate within the Democratic Party for election reform. If the national GOP is too much of a barrier for reform then start pushing election reforms at the state level. Like the current crop of Democrats or not, the unavoidable truth is that it is the political SYSTEM that is functionally broken and needs massive reform. Election reform. Campaign reform. Senate reform.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | December 3, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I used to wonder whether left-wing trashing of O as a closet conservative was delusional or tactical. Since the attacks have become so patently stupid, I conclude it is all tactical. Sheer propaganda intended to obscure his leftism.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 3, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Just when you think things couldn't get more discouraging, they do. I would like to address what I believe are some incorrect numbers, however. Most likey, we'll see an extension of high earners tax cuts, which I think are estimated at $60B a year. So, while it is ludicrous that those cuts should not be offset versus the unemployment benefits - $13B - that should, the $700B number is the wrong one to use in this context.

Posted by: petersg | December 3, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I used to wonder whether left-wing trashing of O as a closet conservative was delusional or tactical. Since the attacks have become so patently stupid, I conclude it is all tactical. Sheer propaganda intended to obscure his leftism.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 3, 2010 11:05 AM


Of course, because everyone knows that he's a socialist/communist/nazi/kenyan usurper trying to kill granny, euro-ize the country and steal candy from rich kids to give to "urban" kids, terminate every pregnancy and turn the entire country over to the UN bicycle brigade.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Ethan2010

I agree that election reform is crucial.
In an ideal world, there would be a set amount given to an incumbent and their challenger depending on the size of a state's population. In a Presidential election the nominees would be given, through a public fund each the same amount to run a campaign. However, to change it at the state level up to the Federal level I think would take decades even if you had the players acting in good faith. An office holder's self interest mitigates against true reform - it ain't going to happen. We're screwed.

Posted by: filmnoia | December 3, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Except, peter, the unemployment extension is proposed to sunset by its own terms while the tax cut bonus sought for income over $250,000 is proposed by the GOP to be permanent. Hence, the cost of the unemployment extension can be accurately calculated for its specific duration at $13 Billion while the millionaire's tax bonus is actually infinite but the calculation covers the first 10 years at $700 Billion.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"the "conversation" between KW and ScottC are the reason why people get turned off from politics."

Right. Discussing Bernie's consistency is turning all kinds of people off politics.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"...propaganda intended to obscure his leftism."

Dang it, these wing nuts aren't as stupid as we thought, they saw right through our elitist plot to give everyone a pony.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

prag:

"Of course, because everyone knows that he's a socialist/communist/nazi/kenyan usurper trying to kill granny, euro-ize the country and steal candy from rich kids to give to "urban" kids, terminate every pregnancy and turn the entire country over to the UN bicycle brigade."

Is that really a good description of what it means to be a leftist?

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"quarterback1

I used to wonder whether left-wing trashing of O as a closet conservative was delusional or tactical. Since the attacks have become so patently stupid, I conclude it is all tactical. Sheer propaganda intended to obscure his leftism."


Lol. That's almost on Beck's level of fantasy land right there. Next those complaining will all be on Soros' payroll.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | December 3, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

no, s/he forgot the part about the pony that comes with a free lunch

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Dang it, these wing nuts aren't as stupid as we thought, they saw right through our elitist plot to give everyone a pony.

Posted by: shrink2
---------------------------------------
Wait...on top of not getting my astroturfing blogging check I'm also missing my pony and lunch?

That's it Obama has officially lost my support.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"...those complaining will all be on Soros' payroll."

Shhhhhh who do you think you are, Julian Assange?

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

"Dang it, these wing nuts aren't as stupid as we thought, they saw right through our elitist plot to give everyone a pony."

Kind of amusing to find someone who thinks America is being "looted" in some mysterious way (so mysterious, in fact, that even he doesn't know what it means) implying that others are conspiracy loons.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"Kind of amusing [attempted insult omitted]."

Good. I don't want people to think reading my posts is a waste of time

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Re: Facts of Life. Americans, whether the Democratic liberal base or the Republican Right, DO NOT like WEAK Presidents.

The STRONG Republican Right are making Obama weak. Obama is accommodating them. The Left is making the obvious, obvious.

Even Bush at his weakest moments, still played hardball; he never weakened.

Posted by: dozas | December 3, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good one:

Boehner blamed President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package and Democratic tax policies for the high unemployment rate, which rose to 9.8 percent in the government's latest monthly report issued earlier in the day.

"The lame-duck Congress should do the right thing and vote immediately to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes," he said in a written statement.

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/12/republicans_seize_on_unemploym.html

Yep, the GOP's lone policy proposal (tax cut bonuses for rich people) will certainly generate all kinds of employment and then we can just shut down the Congress and reap the rewards while they trickle down on the rest of us.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Yep, the GOP's lone policy proposal (tax cut bonuses for rich people) will certainly generate all kinds of employment and then we can just shut down the Congress and reap the rewards while they trickle down on the rest of us."

You forgot about their proposals to freeze federal hiring and cut all sorts of federal departments which will also lead to more....employment???

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Doggone it ... first I forgot all about the free lunch and pony from the left now I completely missed the GOP's full employment program.

Thanks for the corrections, shrink and ashot.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Looting for Scott

X purchases a piece of property and Y loans X the money for said property with questionable terms of interest or re-payment and then the industry Y represents receives a bailout (corporate welfare) from the Treasury for engaging in a ponzi scheme while also filing faulty (illegal) documentation of said loan and X still loses his investment while Y keeps both the property and fees collected during the process.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the problem, lms. I think we also need to give Y a bonus tax cut so he can ... ummmmmm ... trickle down on X.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"I don't want people to think reading my posts is a waste of time"

Reading and posting to a comments board is just as much a waste of time as this:

http://www.k2xl.com/games/boomshine/

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"trickle down on X"

More commonly know as tinkle down on X.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

This guy from the Financial Times has a pretty good post of where Obama went wrong in regards to the economic policies deployed to combat the recession. It's time to give progressive economists a chance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Now, the administration is sinking under failure of its economic policy. That failure is due to its attempt to revive a 1990s paradigm that never worked as advertised and can only deliver stagnation. Painful though it is for Democrats to acknowledge, the reality is the economic policies of President Clinton were largely the same as those of President Bush. On this the record is clear for those willing to see. The Clinton administration pushed financial deregulation; twice reappointed Alan Greenspan; promoted corporate globalization through NAFTA and China PNTR; initiated the strong dollar policy; spoke of the “end of the era of big government”; contemplated privatization of Social Security; and struck down a core element of the New Deal by ending the right to welfare.

The main difference between the Clinton and Bush administrations was the former’s willingness to offer some helping-hand policies to cushion the harsh effects of the invisible hand. Differences in outcomes were not policy driven but reflect the fact the Clinton administration enjoyed the good fortune of the Internet investment bubble. It also benefitted from the beginning of the housing bubble when American families had plenty of untapped home equity and credit.

President Obama’s fateful decision to go with Clintonomics meant the recession was interpreted as an extremely deep downturn rather than a crisis signaling the bankruptcy of the neoliberal paradigm that has ruled both Republicans and Democrats for thirty years. That implied the recession could be fully addressed with stimulus, which was the same response as the Bush administration to the recession of 2001."

http://www.thomaspalley.com/?p=179

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

All, my latest on the DADT hearings:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/can_we_please_have_some_nuance.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 3, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh good thank you Imsinca for taking the hand off. Now you can get interrogated about how crony capitalism works and the meaning of simple words. Enjoy.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments here amount to the internet version of the tearing of hair and the gnashing of teeth.

Expressions of anger from the lefties is a good thing. It means that they have progressed beyond denial. The next step is bargaining, which it seems that Obama has already achieved.

In an effort at offering a ray of hope (remember hope?) right after bargaining comes depression. I know that sounds ominous but hey, thanks to the free market health care system in America there are a veritable plethora of medications designed to help cope with the disease. I wonder what kind of SSRI's the soviets developed.

there is a simple (but not easy) way out for liberals. Admit that you're nostrums have failed, that human nature cannot be changed by policies created in DC and the liberty and capitalism, while not perfect, clearly work better than centralized crony capitalism.

Or you can got on tearing your hair and gnashing your teeth.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

No problem shrink, I threw in the X, Y factors to be reality based. He and I have done this before and you deserve a break, it's Friday after all.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

lms:

"X purchases a piece of property (etc)..."

Really? This is what you consider "looting"?

So who, in this scenario, had something stolen from them, what was stolen, and by whom? Please be specific.

It seems to me the only people who had anything taken from them at all were taxpayers, and that was taken by the government...precisely the entity that you would give more power to, for the purpose of taking even more. Very strange.

Describing the your scenario (even with all of its questionable premises and ill-defined terms) as "looting" is just as stupid as describing Obama as a communist. The left's infidelity to language never ceases to amaze me.

Oh, and BTW, since when are welfare recipients required to pay back their welfare receipts? Corporate welfare does exist, but the bank bailouts to which you refer are not an example.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"Now you can get interrogated about how crony capitalism works and the meaning of simple words."

I didn't interrogate you over the meanings of the words you used. I asked you to provide concrete, specific examples of what you were talking about. You couldn't/wouldn't.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"and that was taken by the government"

And given to Y to save their as...es. Of course it's looting when you consider all that followed, massive job losses, home foreclosures, state budgets decimated, tuition increases, etc. etc. The taxpayers, ie Government, were repaid (mostly) but X may never recover while Y's shareholders and CEO's continue to reap the rewards of their less than sterling stewardship of the country's wealth.

The continued corporate welfare in the form of essentially zero interest rate loans as well as the dumping of toxic assets on the backs of taxpayers is what is "stupid" in my opinion.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Chinese crony capitalism works better than our chaotic, still almost surreptitious crony capitalism, the one Republicans call the "free" enterprise (pay to play) system. Citizens United will help, now no one has to know whose money is in the bag. Not knowing used to be illegal.

Meanwhile, all of China's top companies are government owned and operated. All are increasing market share. They have tremendous productivity in China (not per worker of course, only we cares about that), measured simply in terms of labor costs.

We will loose Cold War 2.0 unless we understand that no matter how corrupt we get and no matter how productive the remaining American workers become, we will never outperform China's version of state capitalism.

China is not our friend. But they are not going to destroy America, they intend to own it.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

ah shrink, if you substitute Japan for China in the above and think about the early 80's you will realize that we've heard this all before.

the Japanese were going to own us, at least the parts of us not owned by the Germans. We should all learn japanese we were told, because their "system" was soooo much better than ours.

and where is Japan now? So I'm not worried about the new yellow peril. China has some significant problems of its own, we just are so focused on ours that we forget them.

I'm not saying that we should stand pat. Not at all. America needs make a major course correction right now. but I don't believe that even as we are we will be overrun by chinese slaves and their government masters.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The (il)logic of the right:

It seems to me the only people who had anything taken from them at all were taxpayers, and that was taken by the government...

So, the government steps in (remember this was Paulson/Bush) to rescue the economy from an impending doomsday collapse resulting from the ponzi scheming described in lms' scenario and Scott's theory is that the only problem was ... wait for it ... taxes were too high!

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 3, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Remember "audit the Fed". And where are all those MBS sitting now?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.

We also learned that the Fed's multi-trillion bailout was not limited to Wall Street and big banks, but that some of the largest corporations in this country also received a very substantial bailout. Among those are General Electric, McDonald's, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon.

Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks -- Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse -- which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed's purchase of mortgage-backed securities.

Deutsche Bank, a German lender, sold the Fed more than $290 billion worth of mortgage securities. Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank, sold the Fed more than $287 billion in mortgage bonds."

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

lms:

I see that you are as reluctant to actually respond to direct questions as is shrink. Apparently you cannot identify who got "looted" from, what got "looted", and who "looted" it, either. Hence, it is safe to assume, your claim is empty of substance.

However...

"And given to Y to save their as...es."

No, not given, but lent.

"Of course it's looting when you consider all that followed, massive job losses, home foreclosures, state budgets decimated, tuition increases, etc. etc."

Uh, no, not "of course". Job losses, foreclosures, state spending, tuition...none of these things have anything whatsoever to do with the concept of looting. Really. Look it up.

"Y's shareholders and CEO's continue to reap the rewards of their less than sterling stewardship of the country's wealth."

It is not the job of shareholders or CEOs to be stewards of "the country's wealth", sterling or otherwise.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Scott- You can get caught up on the word "looting", but I would like to think that the use of hyperbole would not distract you from addressing the situation as it was accurately laid out by imsinca. Do you disagree with the chain of events laid out by imsinca (specific word choices such as ponzi schemea aside)?

And if you think calling Obama a "communist" is as stupid as shrink's use of the term "looting" then the right has shown the same infidelity (interesting word choice). Either that or your expectations are too high.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

skip:

"ah shrink, if you substitute Japan for China in the above and think about the early 80's you will realize that we've heard this all before."

You beat me to it. Japan Inc.,. remember?

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Japan = China

You are joking right?
The list of differences is endless. The racist similarity you referenced is irrelevant.

One of the most important differences is the form of government. Do you think that matters? China is one huge austerity program. They can build schools that fall apart in earthquakes because the people have no power. The fact that the government keeps all the money makes the country so fundamentally different from Japan it makes no sense to debate that. Also, we were different, we are much weaker now than we were then. Year after year, America's share of the world's economy is falling.

Yeah yeah, we're still #1, but I am talking about no effort at all on the part of either political party to understand the nature of our decline and do something about it. The are both so concerned with owning and operating the spoils system, what you call the "free" enterprise system, they just can't stop helping themselves to the money.

The course correction is going to involve a process Republicans will never undertake and a process America's poor and working people don't deserve.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Corporate welfare?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Sales of mortgage-backed securities aren't likely soon. It is also possible that the Fed won't signal its intentions on the matter in its post-meeting statement Wednesday. But markets are on edge because its mortgage bonds holdings are so large. At $1.1 trillion in holdings of mortgage debt guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, the Fed owns roughly a fifth of all these outstanding instruments."

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

prag:

"...and Scott's theory is that the only problem was ... wait for it ... taxes were too high!"

You are obviously, and perhaps intentionally, mis-representing my post.

My comment was not a "theory" about the problems that led to the economic collapse in '08. It was an observation about the specifics of lms's scenario, which she described as "looting". In her situation, the only people to have anything taken from them - a necessity for the term "looting" to be applicable - were taxpayers. This is not a "theory" about anything at all, much less a theory as to what led to our economic problems.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Scott, if you want to play a semantics game, one I know you enjoy, that's fine. I am repeating the meme that exists here in real time, with real people. "The banks and wall street were saved, we got screwed". It may not technically be the Webster definition of "looting" but that's what it feels like to the people I know who have virtually lost everything.

Why don't you ask all those investors who bought the MBS what they think of the shareholders and CEO's, the greater percentage of which the Fed hasn't purchased.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: "As for the motivation for votes for Obama, while I'm guessing you did it purposefully, you committ the same offense bernie does in assuming voters based their votes on something other than agreement with Obama's policies."

I know I'm late to reply but that's exactly the point. People vote based on lots of things. Numerous factors, from who friends are voting for to how well the candidates make their case to how deeply they consider their party loyalty to what region of the country they are in to how much they like certain policies and dislike others and on and on. It's a big mixed bag, and to suggest that in one case it's especially irrational, and to offer the evidence that Republicans won more elections in 2010 than 2008, suggest that somehow *outside circumstances* are *so exceptional* that they made voters *much more irrational* in the space of 2 years is simply unsupportable.

It's also selectively picking and choosing what constitutes "irrationality" and "irrational decision making" in regards to making election decisions.

You can think that's disingenuous if you like, but I don't mean it to be. And, yes, "death panels" might have been overblown hyperbole (but Krugman actually came out and said we need them, and used the word, so . . . who knows?) but are you suggesting there was profoundly more hyperbole in regards to Obama and the Democrats than in 2008? Or that, because people are more scared because outside circumstances are so much worse (not a demonstrable claim), they were more receptive to irrational or hyperbolic arguments?

I'm not buying it, myself.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "All's I can say is that the way WB is acting and the "conversation" between KW and ScottC are the reason why people get turned off from politics."

Indeed. If only someone made some sort of tool for these forums that others could use to ignore folks they didn't want to read . . . oh, wait. Someone did. It was me, in fact.

WaPo Troll Hunter. Still hunting trolls (and people whose tone of voice you just don't like) and still free. :)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 3, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Scott

Just because I don't answer your questions to your satisfaction doesn't mean I haven't answered the question. I may not be an economic insider like you but I know what the results were of the risks taken in the housing market and what the future looks like to the rest of us who participate in economics.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca wrote: "...and Y loans X the money for said property with questionable terms of interest or re-payment..."

Why are the Loan terms questionable? Were the terms hidden from X?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 3, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"The banks and wall street were saved, we got screwed"

Not only were they saved, but they get to foreclose on people's homes. Homes of taxpayers who had just bailed them out. But let's talk about whether or not that meets the dictionary definition of "looting".

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

ashot:

"You can get caught up on the word "looting", but I would like to think that the use of hyperbole would not distract you from addressing the situation as it was accurately laid out by imsinca."

The use of words like "looting" is not simply hyperbole. It implies a specific nature, or intentionality, that is, I believe, entirely misleading. It confuses rather than clarifies. Saying, for example, that hundreds of people died in a hurricane when in fact it was 15 people....that is hyperbole. Saying that 15 people were murdered because the government failed to protect them from the hurricane is not simply hyperbole. It is an attempt to imply a certain quality to the nature of the event.

Oh, and BTW, let's not forget that lms jumped into this thread for the express purpose of legitimizing the use of the word "looting". So whether or not it is indeed hyoperbole (or something else) seems to be rather the point, not an extraneous one.

"Do you disagree with the chain of events laid out by imsinca (specific word choices such as ponzi schemea aside)?"

Well, word choice is no small thing, which is precisely why such leading and prejudicial language is so often used. Obivously lms is modelling her scenario on real events, but one could easily describe a scenario based on precisely the same events using entirely different language, lending an entirely different character to the events.

Having said that, it is certainly true that some people (X) purchased property via loans from banks (Y) which they ultimately could not make good on. It is also true that many banks such as Y received injections of money from the government following the collapse in '08. It is also true that some banks such as Y had problems with their loan documentation, making it questionable whether they could legally foreclose, even though the person who owned the house wasn't making loan payments anymore. Lastly, it is also true that some banks such as Y ended up with properties formerly belonging to people X (who lost them due to their inability to pay on the loans) in their portfolios that are now worth far less than the money they were owed on the loan that bought the property.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

McWing

Yes, in many cases they were obscured from people inexperienced in finance and home ownership. I remember having numerous conversations with refinancing "specialists" during the boom years offering 1%-1 1/2% mortgage rates, and of course there was always a catch if you could find it. Many times they even said they were calling from my bank. The various charges of fraud and mis-representation have been documented and are piling up but I'll let you do your own research. Naked capitalism is a great source.

Also, at the other end of selling these AAA (yeah right) investments they're finding more and more instances of fraud. Call it looting, theft, or a free market, the results were the same.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Ims,

Some people agree to terms the don't understand. I'm guessing that a certain percent of foreclosures are based on that. Some companies packaged bad loans and sold them as a commodity and the buyer of those commodities didn't examine them carefully. Why are they more guilty than the original home buyer who agreed to terms they did not understand?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 3, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, and BTW, let's not forget that lms jumped into this thread for the express purpose of legitimizing the use of the word "looting"."

I'm not sure that's true, I'll leave insimca to vouch for why she (??) jumped in.

"Lastly, it is also true that some banks such as Y ended up with properties formerly belonging to people X (who lost them due to their inability to pay on the loans) in their portfolios that are now worth far less than the money they were owed on the loan that bought the property."

That just leaves them in the same position as everyone else who had money invested in real estate. No everyone got bailed out for the losses they suffered. Y also likely received a couple years worth of mortgage payments on the property which would help offset the loss of value on the property.

And that doesn't even get into the whole derivative market aspect of the mortgage issue.


Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

lms:

"Scott, if you want to play a semantics game..."

I don't. Indeed, I am trying to get you (and shrink) to stop engaging in just such a game. You may not even know you are playing a semantic game. That is, you may actually believe in your mind that describing what happened as "looting" is perfectly legitimate and clarifying. Which is precisely why I asked you what I did, hoping that your inability to come up with a coherent answer might get you to question your opaque presumptions.

No such luck, apparently.

"Just because I don't answer your questions to your satisfaction doesn't mean I haven't answered the question."

That is true, and perhaps it is applicable in this case. Maybe I am too slow to see your answer. So maybe you can help me understand. I asked:

"So who, in this scenario, had something stolen from them, what was stolen, and by whom?"

An answer I can understsand would go something like this:

"[Insert victim] had something stolen, that something was [insert thing here], and it was stolen by [insert looter here]."

Maybe you could formulate your answer in such a way so that a dense guy like me might understand better.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

TrollMcWingnut
"Why are they more guilty than the original home buyer who agreed to terms they did not understand?"

We don't hold all people to the same standard. The level of sophistication of the lender plays a role in assessing guilt. That isn't to say the person taking out the loan doesn't have any responsibility, just that I don't think it is laid out equally.

The other aspect is that many of the people who offered these loans then sold the loans so the risk wasn't spread evenly across the two parties that were at the bargaining table.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | December 3, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

McWing,

The banks, loan servicers and sellers of MBS duped their customers at both ends of the transaction. Of course there were some investors on each end looking for a quick profit and even some who were just plain crooks, but that doesn't absolve either the banks or wall street from selling a faulty product, especially when it contributed to the financial collapse of people involved in none of it. The majority of Americans losing their homes now are caught in the cross hairs of job loss and depleted value through no fault of their own.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh come now. Where's the description of the ponzi scheme? Are we to simply accept that there is a ponzi scheme simply because lmsinca says there is?

Where?


don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that we should not have bailed out the banks. Further I believe that the financial sector in America is both powerful and self interested. And, like a lot of powerful and self interested special interests, they have snuggled up to the Democrats in a big way. I wonder how the public service union bosses and the trial lawyers found room for these wall streeters.

Most liberals, though, cling to the mistaken belief that the financial industry is solidly behind the Republicans. Yet if you look at donation patterns and hiring practices in DC it is easy to see that this just ain't so.

As for the deal between X and Y, well on one hand it is, after all, a private contract. If X didn't like the terms of the deal, X didn't have to sign it.

And here is an example of how government intervention in the affairs of the citizens leads to no good. Among the motivations for acquiring a house is the fact that mortgage interest is tax deductable. So Americans have an incentive to make a bad deal because it will have beneficial impact on their taxes. it is a sure fire winner for home builders and banks. That's why the home builders are already out in force against any effort to abolish the mortgage deduction.

We'll see a lot more of this as various sacred cows of the Federal system are held up to scrutiny. About time too.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ims wrote: "but that doesn't absolve either the banks or wall street from selling a faulty product,"

Agreed, fraud is wrong and illegal. However, the original borrower in this example signed an agreement without proper diligence and was not "duped". Argueabley the purchaser of the MBS was defrauded if the rated committed fraud. But what if the rated of the MBS knew, from previous examples, that Fannie and Freddie would backstop allmloans? Is the AAA rating not valid then? The MBS in this scenario is garaunteed 100% regardless of the quality of the loan because the government has always backstopped them. Who then, is the guilty party?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 3, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Ims wrote: "but that doesn't absolve either the banks or wall street from selling a faulty product,"

Agreed, fraud is wrong and illegal. However, the original borrower in this example signed an agreement without proper diligence and was not "duped". Argueabley the purchaser of the MBS was defrauded if the rated committed fraud. But what if the rated of the MBS knew, from previous examples, that Fannie and Freddie would backstop allmloans? Is the AAA rating not valid then? The MBS in this scenario is garaunteed 100% regardless of the quality of the loan because the government has always backstopped them. Who then, is the guilty party?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Scott

By implying that I think you are dense, which you know is not accurate, you are simply challenging my argument that I do indeed believe that American citizens have had their financial security stolen by the banks, wall street, mortgage servicers and underwriters due to their risky, reckless and short-sighted, and in many cases, criminal behavior. Apparently I wasn't being clear enough for you. We obviously disagree, as usual.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

ashot:

"That just leaves them in the same position as everyone else who had money invested in real estate. "

Yes...a loser.

"No everyone got bailed out for the losses they suffered."

Banks that foreclose and end up with a property worth less than what was lent on it are not getting bailed out of those losses any more than an individual who suffered the same losses. The bank bailout in the fall of '08 consisted of funds injected directly into the banks to provide them with liquidity during a time of an enormous restriction in access to credit. It was not "covering" specific losses. And, BTW, the asset purchases that the Treasury has engaged in do not protect the sellers from incurring any losses. It simply creates a market where none existed previously. But that market may well be (indeed almost certainly will be) below what the bank paid to buy the assets in the first place.

"Y also likely received a couple years worth of mortgage payments on the property which would help offset the loss of value on the property."

Not really that significant. That is just the ordinary, expected income stream that is the business of banks. Whatever lending spread it got on the interest will most likely have been dwarfed by the equity loss on the property.

"And that doesn't even get into the whole derivative market aspect of the mortgage issue."

That is certainly true. That is a whole different aspect than the scenario lms was talking about.

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

skip

The term ponzi scheme has been floating around for years regarding the housing bubble. This is from 2005 projecting that the bubble may indeed be viewed as a ponzi scheme in the not too distant future.

http://themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com/2005/08/biggest-ponzi-scheme-ever.html

"If, on the other hand, home prices do collapse, today's housing bubble will most likely be called The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever."

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I think Social Security may be the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, not that that is a point worth debating, it depends how it is handled.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

lms:

"By implying that I think you are dense..."

I was just trying to be a little self-depracating, that's all.

"...I do indeed believe that American citizens have had their financial security stolen by the banks..."

OK. Let's focus on this specifically. Can you give me a concrete example of an actual person having their financial security stolen by their bank, and explain how the bank went about stealing it?

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

lms:

Do you consider Social Security to be a Ponzi Scheme?

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

" think Social Security may be the biggest Ponzi scheme ever..."

Agreement at last!

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 3, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Kumbaya

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Scott

Since I believe the banks, in collusion with wall street, aided and abetted by the Fed, not only created but capitalized on a housing bubble that was unsustainable and doomed to collapse, while knowingly pulling short term profit out of the scheme, then in my book most Americans who have lost equity, jobs, credit worthiness, retirement security etc. have had their financial security stolen by the above.

In some ways I suppose SS could be viewed as a ponzi scheme because the new generation of taxpayers is putting into the kitty for the retiring generation, but that would be the end of the comparison. It is actually an insurance program and since the older generation paid into it all those years there is no profit incentive anywhere for someone to game the system. The people who live the longest enjoy the most benefits but I wouldn't call an average SS income of $14k per year a perverse incentive to scam people out of their money.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

how to spot a weak argument: The words are like this:

"Japan = China

You are joking right?"

Or like this:
"The fact that the government keeps all the money makes the country so fundamentally different from Japan it makes no sense to debate that. "

Both these statements seek to dismiss the opposition without provided a shred of evidence that they themselves are valid.

How does what you say make a difference? How does that difference insure that what you predict will come true this time while the predictions about Japan did not?

For how long do you think that the chinese will have no power?

What about the structural issue with chinese demographics?

What are the changes you believe must be made that the Republicans will block. I'm all ears.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

the term ponzi scheme has a specific definition. This is from the SEC's web site:
"A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors."

What went on in the real estate market doesn't fit that definition.

The analysis by the stalwarts here is interesting. Basically it boils down to this: the folks in the banks and on wall street did wrong.

OK. But what is always missing in such "analysis" is background into how the situation which lead to the "wrongdoing" arose. In this case we cannot ignore the role of the government in the housing market.

A baseline belief for conservatives is that government intervention in the free market will lead to trouble. This situation is no different. While we can play the partisan blame game, or even do the "but the intentions were noble" shuffle, the simple fact is that our government contributed mightily to the bubble and the collapse.

Given that simple fact it is clear to me that the dastardly bankers and wall street fat cats are fundamentally no different from the welfare fraudsters. In each case people seek economic advantage by working a system created by the government.

The conclusion to be reached from the sad facts noted above is that greed is a fundamental flaw in the human character. It is far, far older than mere capitalism. And no amount of social engineering will change human nature.

As the progressives seek to herd Americans toward a socialist dystopia among the promises they make is that they will curb the greed of the nasty corporatists (whoever they are). Given the dismal economic performance of strongly socialized economies that is easy to believe. But greed itself will not be eliminated when arrive at the liberal end point (assuming of course that there is one).

No, what will happen is the folks who can excersize their greed will change. It will no longer be the private citizens working in businesses. Rather it will be the politicians and their sycophants in the nation's capital. Once all the control and all the money is flowing toward DC the opportunities to rape the few remaining taxpayers will just be too tempting.

Here are two examples. First we witnessed the scandal in the Brittish Parliament where members were billing the government for all manner of personal expenses. We didn't hear so much about that in the US and we can ask ourselves why.

next is Chollie Rangel. Maxine Waters is up next on this rouge's gallery.

Liberalism won't end basic human nature. But it will, given the chance, move the majority of the greed to different group of people.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Here is another reason SS is like a Ponzi scheme.
It is doomed (unless it gets fixed). The people taking money out if it live longer and longer so the people putting money into it have to always be increasing in number, or start working earlier in living wage jobs etc. in greater proportion than the increasing longevity of the recipients. It needs to get fixed.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"Given the dismal economic performance of strongly socialized economies..."

Like China? Germany? USA? How about the performance of economies that are weakly socialized, where the market place is truly free of gubmint? Want some specifics on that?

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Skip

I still disagree with you re ponzi scheme. I think the profits being made during the housing boom fueled the fires of steering further and further away from what had previously been solid lending standards and underwriting in an attempt to keep the scheme going as long as possible.

Re greed. It is perverse and widespread both within and outside of the government. A government well run with consumer protections and lots of transparency would be the ideal scenario for me but alas the corporations either control or are trying to control the levers of power with money, lots of it. That is where IMO the problem lies, not with either liberalism or even conservatism per se. This is the reason I'm disappointed with Obama, I thought he got it, but I don't know if he does and he's as secretive working behind the scenes with moneyed interests as any other government official has been. There are both good government employees and good corporate entities but most of them are not running the country.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

shrink

SS fix #1, aphrodisiacs.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

A very fair answer lmsinca. Very fair.

Our congress is simply too enamoured of intervention in our lives to make your ideal workable without significant changes in how we the people view our government.

Theat's the problem businesses don't exist to do social good. The exist to make a profit. If they can do that by influencing people in DC instead of influencing the market, they will. As regulation becomes more intense the ability to use levers in DC gain an advantage at the expense of others is just too tempting. The people spending the money on lobbying are doing so because they expect a return on that investment. We need to change that paradigm.

to me the bottom line is freedom. And that includes freedom from interference from a well intentioned but inept government.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Skip

I really wish both sides, the people not politicians, could at least agree on moving toward campaign finance reform and truly outlaw pay to play in all it's forms, both obvious and not so obvious. As it is the political sphere is so littered with the weight of special interests and downright bribery it's difficult to even have an honest policy debate. One thing I will say is in this economic climate people are waking up to both the dereliction of duty from our politicians and the corporate entities who bought them, although it remains to be seen where it will lead.

Posted by: lmsinca | December 3, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Tax cuts are NOT going to help as long as there is corruption and stock market manipulation. See the movie "Stock Shock-The Short Selling of the American Dream" for a look at how things really work. If you are on a budget, buy the movie at the site www.stockshockmovie.com and save a few bucks. It is an education we all need.

Posted by: DeniseHubbard | December 4, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse


Mortgage refinancing is an outstanding plan particularly as the home mortgage rates are imminent downward. Under such state of affairs it will be beneficial for you to refinance your home as you’ll be able to obtain a lower interest rate thereby reducing the amount of your monthly payment. Search online for "123 Mortgage Refinance".

Posted by: rosageorge | December 5, 2010 2:49 AM | Report abuse

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