Re: Can't Anyone Here Play This Game?

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In this thread at Ian Welsh there is some good advice and links to the expatriate community. Those who can emigrate should start soon, it can be a very slow process.

$100k can get you nine acres in Southern Costa Rica, the less developed part. Don't need AC or heat, have a garden, slow way down and lower expectations, and it can be very nice. Uruguay is pretty.

Ezra Klein has turned the corner to despicable.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 5:34 AM
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Sorry, this is long, and linked provisionally from Thoma's. My first impression is that the payroll tax holiday covered from general revenues is a horror. I will of course wait for Bruce Webb at Angry Bear to comment. Anyway, one commenter's opinion:

urban legend said...

The payroll tax reduction is an absolute, unmitigated disaster, and it's mind-boggling that so many progressives don't get that. It only proves Obama's obliviousness to the history of the program. This is an epochal assault on Social Security as a self-funded program that is not welfare support subject to the whims of the electorate and its representatives. How is raising it back to 6.2% going to go over? Not well, of course -- who will have the guts to allow taxes to increase on anything when unemployment is still very high, which, of course, it will be? Hey, the liberal Keynesians will be making just this argument.

This means the 4.2% will become institutionalized, which means the program will henceforth be funded in part out of general revenues. In another crisis, that part will be dumped to protect against bigger budget deficits, and benefits will have to be reduced accordingly. You know, another round of "ending welfare as you know it." FDR and Frances Perkins, who understood what they were doing and actually were the smartest people in the room, are rolling over in their graves.

I really have come to suspect that Obama either does not comprehend the situation (although I'm sure he thinks he does better than anyone else) or -- for reasons I cannot fathom other than a desire to please the Washington pundit class -- actually is determined to find some way to "reform" (i.e., destroy) the Social Security program. I have seen recently that he made more right-wing establishment-approved noises about the "crisis" in 2007 than the ambiguous ones I remember that he quickly seemed to take back during the primary campaign. This just happens to be a really sneaky way to do undermine the program disguised as an attempt to "help" ordinary American taxpayers. I hope Democratic legislators will push back big time. Otherwise, they will be accessories to the worst domestic policy crime of the era.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 5:43 AM
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There's nothing wrong with his strategy if you assume that Wall Street knows what's best for all of us.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 5:46 AM
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1 - Here's the takeaway per Ezra:

In reality, the politics of the compromise might mean more to the market than the specifics of the policy: The two parties actually have the ability to sit in a room and come to a compromise. That has implications far beyond yesterday's tax cut deal. It suggests that we may see more get done in the next two years than many of us thought, and there'll be more capacity to respond to crises than some feared.

This is so dumb it could be on TV, or on the Post's op-ed page or something.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 5:56 AM
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It suggests that nothing will get done until after the 2012 election and that the upcoming session will be one long campaign unconnected from the actual governance of the country, or from actual needs of those who do not hail from the same backgrounds as those in government, and that to the extent that anything will happen it will be as a series of poorly thought out responses to a series of preventable crises. But I'm just being optimistic.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:27 AM
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Why would something get done after the 2012 election?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:29 AM
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Because 2098 is after the 2012 election.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:32 AM
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5 -- Right. That's what was at stake in 2010. Too bad so many of the people most likely to be hurt by it all didn't vote (or voted against interest).

I still don't see how 2011 would have brought a better deal than this, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:48 AM
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And extension of unemployment is a big damn deal to a whole lot of people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:49 AM
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It seems like the Democrats could have demagogued the Republicans with each of the three parts (UI, payroll, lower tax breaks) they got out of this deal separately. Instead the Republicans were able to make all of them disappear and get some unpopular extras, all without paying any price. I don't know why I still have the capability of being surprised, but I do.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:52 AM
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The most difficult negotiation is the one with the foregone conclusion.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:53 AM
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The best case scenario is that this is an attempt at stimulus aimed at getting the economy into good shape for the 2012 election in the hope that Obama will be able to get the House back into the hands of Democrats. Then the same fight takes place under more favorable conditions and the Bush tax cuts are ended for high income earners. Cutting payroll taxes is certainly more stimulative than cutting taxes on the filthy rich.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:54 AM
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I was thinking about Obama the other day and the words "empty suit" came to mind.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:54 AM
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Cutting payroll taxes is certainly more stimulative than cutting taxes on the filthy rich.

Too bad there's only a little of the former and a whole lot of the latter.

Extending UI is a huge deal, granted. I'm still dispirited.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:06 AM
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Louis Proyect:

Just as Chamberlain was a willing enabler of Adolf Hitler against a workers state, so is Barack Obama the enabler of a war against trade unions, "safety net" provisions such as Medicare and Social Security, and all other obstacles to creating an economy that resembles the late 19th century when robber barons held sway.

Most people don't understand that Obama has a commonality of interests with the Republicans because they are accustomed to seeing the Democratic Party as the party of FDR. However, it is far more useful to see the New Deal and LBJ's Great Society as brief interruptions in a close to two-century rule by naked capital. The Democratic Party, after all, was the party of slavery.

There is another source of confusion over the role of the Democrats. Most liberal critics of Obama are not willing to give up on the party because of the presence of elected officials like Dennis Kucinich or Barbara Lee. They reason that the only "practical" course is to expand the number of such politicians in the party through patient and persistent hard work. The notion that such politicians can ever make policy for the party is utopian at best.

What we have been facing for the past 40 years or so is an ever-escalating attack on working people and the poor in the U.S. carried out by alternating Republican and Democratic Party presidencies. The Democrats have been quite clear about their aims in policy papers directed toward the elites. When Obama chose Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to head up a commission on entitlement reform, there was no clearer statement of his aim to roll back the New Deal.

Over the next couple of years, the U.S. ruling class will be forced to sharpen the blades and become more aggressive in the class war. At a certain point, the appeals to Obama to stop acting so "wimpy" will ring even more hollow than they ring today. He is not spineless. He is not cowardly. He is not an appeaser. And he is no George McFly. He is rather a bold, combative and fearless fighter on behalf of the class that funded his grubby rise to power and nothing will stop him except a bloody nose--metaphorically speaking. It took class power to stop Hitler and it will take class power to stop Obama and the rest of the ruling class politicians in their tracks.

Emphasis mine.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:09 AM
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And he is no George McFly.
Damn right. Obama would have offered to break his own arm, so Biff wouldn't strain himself.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:13 AM
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It took class power to stop Hitler

The Red Army? This is beyond insane.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:13 AM
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Yeah, that wasn't class power so much as Great Power power, but I agree with the rest.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:15 AM
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5 see 4

Whatever I might think of EK, he is smart, connected, and serves his DC masters well. Ezra is implying that deals, probably pretty big deals, are going to be made.

The last sentence may be a hint that more "Shock Capitalism" is expected, or being planned. They may not need one, but a black swan is likely, and will be used opportunistically. More Ian Welsh.

The past 30 years, and the past 10 years in particular, have been a huge experiment in tax-cutting, and for ordinary people, the result has been stagnation and now an absolute decline. Because ordinary people do not have pricing power, either as workers for their labor (since there are plenty of people who need jobs) or as consumers (because the oligopolies who sell food, energy, telecom and so on know you must have their services) every single red cent of tax cuts which go to the middle and lower class will be taken away by corporations and the rich. Those corporations and rich will then use that money to either play leveraged financial games or to offshore jobs to low cost, low regulation domiciles. Not only do tax cuts not do any good, they accelerate the loss of US jobs. No, this isn't what you've been told, indeed propagandized, for the last thirty years. But how has trickle down economics worked out for you? Are you going to believe your lying eyes, or the talking heads who tell you that tax cuts create jobs?

Economists like Krugman, who is crunching multipliers this morning, have still not worked oligoploy/monopoly. globalization, and financialization, the last always two of the weakest areas of macroeconomics, into their models. This deal is nothing but bad. We have reached the point where money injected into the system, rather than direct gov't goods and services, always increases inequality. Which is why healthcare reform gave subsidies to buy insurance rather than healthcare. And we know who benefited from the mortgage innovations.

It's pretty cold, but the dogs must be walked. And I couldn't sleep last night.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:16 AM
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It took class power to stop Hitler

Middle-class power, in fact, if my impression of the typical Fighter Command pilot is accurate.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:17 AM
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Mr. Kyl, along with Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, was a chief architect of the version of the estate tax in the agreement with Mr. Obama.

Gawd, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ms. 36.9%


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:18 AM
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15: Well at least no ones rhetoric is getting overheated, so we have that going for us.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:19 AM
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21: I am unsurprised to learn that parts of this were included to get the votes of Democrats.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:21 AM
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However, I do believe, stimulative or not, the payroll tax thing will morph into a significant weapon in the attack on Social Security. Really quite bad. I'm starting to think that Obama does think he needs to be the one to "fix" Social Security following the demented "only Nixon could go to China" narrative.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:24 AM
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Slightly OT: I'm curious to know if there is any evidence that credit easily available to the masses is at all beneficial. I suppose there might be some indirect benefits (a few extra businesses are started), but how much just gets eaten up by inflation and reductions in the upward pressure on wages?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:25 AM
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And I realize I'm probably showing my economic and financial ignorance.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:26 AM
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24: Yeah, the payroll tax thing terrifies me. Most of the commentary seems to be that it's a Republican concession and will be stimulative, but when I read it the first thought was "oh shit, Obama's letting them strangle Social Security"....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:31 AM
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I'm curious to know if there is any evidence that credit easily available to the masses is at all beneficial.

I think it depends both on what you mean by "credit easily available to the masses" and by "beneficial". There haven't ever been restrictions on extending credit to members of the "masses". There were, however, laws against usury. Has eliminating those been beneficial? Sure, if by beneficial you mean "has it increased profits in the financial sector?" Other than that, it's mostly just led to an explosion of working class indebtedness.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:32 AM
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re: 20

I don't think those middle-class fighter pilots would have flown very far without people making and maintaining* the planes.

* somewhat close to my heart since my (working-class)** grandfather was an RAF flight mechanic in WWII.

** my other (working-class) grandfather was in North Africa and Italy, rather closer to the sharp end.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:34 AM
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25

... I'm curious to know if there is any evidence that credit easily available to the masses is at all beneficial. ...

As with many things a little is good, too much is bad.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:36 AM
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28 -- Right, but the indebtedness represents, in some senses and to some extent, benefits to the debtors. I'd rather we had a full on state plan for prescription drugs, but one shouldn't think that credit card debt run up to pay for medicine is only bad. The borrower hopefully got something from the medicine.

The question is what are you replacing 'credit for the masses' with. Loan sharks? Unavailability of money?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:37 AM
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28: I was thinking of technological advances like credit cards and programs like home loan subsidies.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:38 AM
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The question is what are you replacing 'credit for the masses' with. Loan sharks? Unavailability of money?

No, the question is what did "credit for the masses" replace, and the answer seems to be "rising wages for the working class". (Obviously the story is a lot more complicated than that, and I don't even think that's a directly causitive relationship, but that's still the right answer.)

"Unavailability of money" really just means "unavailability of loans when there aren't assets against which the loans can be secured." With usury laws in place, people could still buy cars or houses or major applicances on credit. That's not everything, of course--there's still major car repairs, medical bills, etc., but it's really not clear that having access to very-high-interest credit to pay for those sort of things has been helpful to people, in the aggregate.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:48 AM
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31: Certainly there are benefits to being able to trade future income for present consumption, and I don't know what could replace the current system, but I'm wondering to what extent the supposed flexibilty of credit ends up forcing people into debt.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:49 AM
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32: credit cards as a payment technology have been a significant benefit, IMO. Credit cards as a means to access what would formerly have been illegal, usurious loans haven't.

Home loan subsidies are bad for a whole separate set of reasons.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:51 AM
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That the left hates this is a feature not a bug. If the left supported it, Obama wouldn't be able to present himself as such a reasonable moderate.

Still I'm not sure it's going to work for him -- if he'll wind up just seeming wimpy and defeated instead of grownup and bipartisan.

At the time I remember thinking Clinton was coming out looking useless and defeated when he signed welfare reform and the Defence of Marriage Act. But somehow it worked out well for him in 1996.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:51 AM
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Speaking as someone who thinks Obama and the Congressional Dems totally bungled a winning hand on taxes before the election, I think this deal looks...not so bad!

Consider:

$900B of fiscal stimulus (or avoided fiscal contraction, in the case of the Bush tax rates) over two years (thoug obviously the upper class tax breaks aren't very efficient stimulus). Nothing is more important to working families right now than stimulating aggregate demand. And with monetary policy pushing on a string, I'll take what I can get on the fiscal policy side.

Extension of unemployment benefits. For sheer relief of economic misery, nothing else comes close.

A poisoned chalice for the GOP on the estate tax. The extension of the exemption to $5M or something like it was always going to happen. Now that it's in place, there is very little chance that the rate goes back to zero, and a non-trivial chance that it creeps up past 35% in future years.

Social Security funding shifted (partially and temporarily) from regressive payroll taxes to the more progressive general revenues. What's not to like?

Tax battle punted to the 2012 election. Obama, whose instincts on this back in the fall were better than the Congressional Dem leadership, will have every incentive to draw a contrast in the campaign with his GOP opponent on this issue, whether the Congressional Dems want to or not. And a president fighting for re-election can be counted on to do what's in his interest.

So overall, the sugar to shit ratio is less favorable than I would have hoped, but much more favorable than I feared.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:52 AM
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That the left hates this is a feature not a bug. If the left supported it, Obama wouldn't be able to present himself as such a reasonable moderate.

Present himself to whom? Matt Bai?

Still I'm not sure it's going to work for him -- if he'll wind up just seeming wimpy and defeated instead of grownup and bipartisan.

Oh, you figured it out.

At the time I remember thinking Clinton was coming out looking useless and defeated when he signed welfare reform and the Defence of Marriage Act. But somehow it worked out well for him in 1996.

Hopefully for Obama the 2014 economy will be like the 1996 economy.

Also on the point that elections are determined by the economic situation, I think CharleyCarp's "The ignorant masses are getting what they voted for" position is ungenerous.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:54 AM
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Social Security funding shifted (partially and temporarily) from regressive payroll taxes to the more progressive general revenues. What's not to like?

The prospect of SS being cut when Republicans inevitably start complaining about the deficit, a significant part of which is caused by those upper class tax breaks that you acknowledge aren't very efficient stimulus.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:56 AM
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33.1 -- Oh, sure, looked at that way. I think there was a gap between the end of rising wages for the working class, and easy credit for the working class, in the 70s.

33.2 -- I don't think you can untangle the stimulative effects of consumer spending from the aggregate benefit of easy credit. Tight money isn't exactly all that good for the working class either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:57 AM
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Oh, and the sniping from Congressional Dems about not being on board, not being consulted? Finally, they've gotten a clue about how this game is played! You don't commit to the deal up front; you retain some leverage and look for a second bite at the apple. "I can get you behind the wheel of this beautiful new SUV today...but at this rock bottom price I'm going to have to check with the manager..."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:58 AM
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KR makes a good point in 37. It's widely noted that after the despressing fight in 2010 over the Bush tax cuts, it's not super hopeful that we get to do that again in two years. But Obama's position wasn't the same as the congressional Dems the first time around, and if he takes the same position again and sticks to it (b/c his own fate is on the line this time), he can win the argument.

And yes, I know, he could've won this time by picking up his veto pen. Not 100% confident that things will go well, but there is reason to hope.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:59 AM
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KR makes a good point in 37. It's widely noted that after the despressing fight in 2010 over the Bush tax cuts, it's not super hopeful that we get to do that again in two years. But Obama's position wasn't the same as the congressional Dems the first time around, and if he takes the same position again and sticks to it (b/c his own fate is on the line this time), he can win the argument.

And yes, I know, he could've won this time by picking up his veto pen. Not 100% confident that things will go well, but there is reason to hope.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:59 AM
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Togolosh in 12 is also what I've been telling myself to avoid getting too depressed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:59 AM
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The prospect of SS being cut when Republicans inevitably start complaining about the deficit

If the Republicans run on cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit, I might start going to Church again, I'll be so thankful to Jesus.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:00 AM
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I don't know shit about economics, but I do know one thing: that you guys are the BEST!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:00 AM
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I should mention the reason I brought this up in this context was I was wondering what percent of that payroll tax deduction was going to be skimmed of by credit card companies.
As for 33.1, I don't think there is a direct causal relationship, but shouldn't easy credit reduce the upward pressure on wages?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:02 AM
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I think CharleyCarp's "The ignorant masses are getting what they voted for" position is ungenerous

Granted; I'm not feeling very generous. If your reaction to a problem is to get rid of the people trying to solve the problem, and replace them with people who (a) caused the problem and (b) show no sign whatsoever of interest in solving the problem, well, maybe you're going to get what you're asking for.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:04 AM
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45: they don't have to! Our socialist president's own Bipartisan Deficit Commission is doing it for them!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:04 AM
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Someone probably has a better analysis about this, but, according to the fellows on that reality show about the pawnbrokers in Las Vegas, pawn shops used to be the preeminent form of consumer credit in the US. What did that mean? For one thing, the pawnshops weren't all headquartered in Delaware to take advantage of lax corporation rules. A lot more of the profits stayed in the community. Also, people generally had things they could pawn. What kind of loan are you going to get on a $50 DVD player made by our Communist friends? But if you had a few really nice things as a hedge against rough times, you could actually pawn them and get some real money. Not that I support pawnbrokers, but everybody knows pawnbrokers are out to screw them. Some analyst at a credit card company gets to pretend he's not actually engaged in usury.

Did I already mention that I'm going to write a Teapocalypse novel? In the tradition of The Monkey Wrench Gang it will be both an exciting work of fiction and an instruction manual for fomenting revolution and living in a post-revolutionary society.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:05 AM
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And one other thing about fears over the payroll tax cut burrowing in and starving Social Security, and the Bush cuts going on longer--it seems to me that Obama is marginally more likely to stand up for his own deal in 1-2 years than he was to stand up for Bush's deal 10 years later. Any such burrowing-in will have to pass both houses and his veto, after all.

What we have is just a several-hundred-billion-dollar second (third?) stimulus. Not ideally targeted and not big enough, but UI and the payroll tax cut are both effective. That's not a terrible thing to get in exchange for the temporary tax cut extension.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:07 AM
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50: And if you get really desperate you can kill the pawnbroker and take all her money. That wouldn't work with a credit card company!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:07 AM
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37 -- I can see Obama thinking he'd like to have taxes off the table in 2011. It might not work. Would you be surprised if Boehner starts campaigning against the death tax, and to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, in early 2011?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:07 AM
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If your reaction to a problem is to get rid of the people trying to solve the problem, and replace them with people who (a) caused the problem and (b) show no sign whatsoever of interest in solving the problem, well, maybe you're going to get what you're asking for.

Ding ding ding ding! Turns out that wildly spinning the steering wheel back and forth isn't helpful when slowly pulling out of the ditch.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:10 AM
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Did I already mention that I'm going to write a Teapocalypse novel? In the tradition of The Monkey Wrench Gang it will be both an exciting work of fiction and an instruction manual for fomenting revolution and living in a post-revolutionary society.

Slightly tired of revolutionary posturing now. stop pls.

Violent revolutions almost never result in a sustained improvement in conditions for most of the population, even if you ignore the inevitable deaths and damage caused by the revolution itself.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:11 AM
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52: Stop mocking me, peep!


Posted by: Opinionated Raskolnikov | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:15 AM
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Would you be surprised if Boehner starts campaigning against the death tax

Of course not. But the death tax isn't a vote-getter for the GOP. Even less so with a $5m exemption (notwithstanding the widespread ignorance of the population about the actual application of the estate tax). It's a contribution getter for the GOP, arguably the single most important motivation for the super rich to funnel their gazillions into the political process. From that point of view, the GOP actually benefits from having a resurrected Death Tax to demonize (though its still a fight I'm happy to have and win).

...and to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, in early 2011

Yes, let's have that argument from now until 2012. One of these times the Dems will have to get the messaging right if only by accident. On the merits they cannot lose. And Obama, not the most marginal Blue Dog congressman, will determine the Dem message in a presidential election year.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:19 AM
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51 What we have is just a several-hundred-billion-dollar second (third?) stimulus. Not ideally targeted and not big enough, but UI and the payroll tax cut are both effective. That's not a terrible thing to get in exchange for the temporary tax cut extension.

I'm worried that Krugman is right on this; if the (small) benefits of this stimulus expire around the time the election campaign is heating up, this could be worse than useless.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:20 AM
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The End of Social Security ...Nancy Altman at FDL

That 2% means $120 billion every year out of the General Fund, in addition to interest and redemptions of the SSTF. $120 billion to compete with defense, food stamps, SCHIP, and tax cuts for billionaires.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:20 AM
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Violent revolutions Supporting government almost never result in a sustained improvement in conditions for most of the population, even if you ignore the inevitable deaths and damage caused by the revolution government itself.

Well, actually, I'm not talking about a "violent revolution" -- I'm talking about what people are actually doing. The far right is ascendant. The suburbs are closing in on themselves. People in the inner cities are realizing that if we want things done, we're pretty much always going to have to do them ourselves. Even if we ignore the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine; even if we don't really care about the US-funded reaction to the social democratic resurgence in South America; even if we are not alert to the precariousness of the CCP -- we still can realize that the western governments are all failing. Working class institutions that have been around for a scant century are being dismantled at an ever-more-rapid pace. What are the workers going to do about that? I would like to write something that posits that they won't just sit around with their thumbs up their asses, but rather they'd start taking matters into their own hands. Not killing pawnbrokers, but opening free clinics. Not (just) lobbing molotovs, but planting fruit trees in public spaces. Not listening to the corporate media lies, but telling each other their own stories.

I'm getting a little sick of all of this "Gawd Natilo, stop being such a Jacobin!" stuff. Pls stop.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:22 AM
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notwithstanding the widespread ignorance of the population about the actual application of the estate tax

That notwithstanding is covering a multitude of sins. Over half the country believes that Obama already raised their taxes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:24 AM
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Seriously. The state murdered 100,000,000 people in the 20th century. It looks like it's on track to do the same or worse in the 21st. What's the body count for anarchists? Minuscule. And most of it was clearly in self-defense. You want bloody hell? It's right there on your precious flags, in your voting booths and printed on the money in your wallet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:26 AM
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Please be my friends. I'm so lonely.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:28 AM
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It looks like it's on track to do the same or worse in the 21st.

Are you insane?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:29 AM
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62: Powerlessness does tend to lower death counts.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:30 AM
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Come on, please?


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:31 AM
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For me, the most frustrating part is that we have to raise taxes. By quite a bit. I get that there are reasons to think that doing so now would have been a political risk, but it seems like it would have been at least arguably spun into a victory for the Democrats, which is better than you can say about a big tax increase at almost any other time. In fact, when the Democrats first announced that they were pushing the tax cut decision until after the election, I had a faint glimmer of hope that they were hoping to force exactly this standoff, in order to either let all the tax cuts expire without them being obviously to blame for the outcome. But of course, they never had that in mind. And so, instead of the increased tax rates that we need, we get even more tax cuts. Hooray?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:33 AM
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Not killing pawnbrokers, but opening free clinics. Not (just) lobbing molotovs, but planting fruit trees in public spaces. Not listening to the corporate media lies, but telling each other their own stories.

Have you read any of Kevin Carson's stuff, Natilo? He seems very up your alley, esp. his newest two books.

It looks like it's on track to do the same or worse in the 21st. / Are you insane?

On the Annelid's side, large-scale total war between great powers doesn't appear to be on the agenda, nor large-scale genocide--but then, did it in 1910? In Natilo's defense, much (most?) of the 20th C's murder-by-state happened via somewhat more indirect means--Stalin & Mao's collectivization famines, etc.

It's not at all crazy to think state action or culpable inaction will be responsible for somewhat analogous things--most forseeably, stuff related to environmental catastophe.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:37 AM
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It is a wee bit tricky to take someone seriously who regards the Chinese Communist Party as some sort of bulwark of the working class.

Well, actually, I'm not talking about a "violent revolution"
Just lobbing molotov cocktails, blowing up churches, "terrorism is the surgical strike capability of the oppressed", TOTALLY AWESOME mortar attacks on civilian targets, etc, etc.

I appreciate almost all of what you say and I agree with a lot of it, but all this glorification of violence stuff really rubs me the wrong way. Also, it makes you sound like a fool, which you probably aren't.

I'm not calling you a Jacobin: the Jacobins actually did stuff. And this whole "well, governments never did anyone any good"... weak. very weak.



Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:38 AM
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who regards the Chinese Communist Party as some sort of bulwark of the working class

I believe you misread his comment.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:40 AM
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67 -- Are you insane?

KR, while for the reasons apo gives, I can't say I welcome the fights of the estate tax and the tax rates for the rich, I do agree that Obama's position is better now than if the Bush tax cuts had expired. Dems are going to be playing defense over the next year, Defending what they can defend, and falling back from positions likely to be overrun. What would Robert E. Lee do?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:41 AM
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58: this could be worse than useless.

Politically, maybe. Even if he's inflating the claim of "millions of jobs," though, it'll certainly be hundreds of thousands. Combine that with the millions of people who benefit from the UI extension, and this deal, for all its noxious elements, helps a lot of people over the next two years. I can't get too angry at a guy who is willing to take a political risk to make a disaster-mitigating (even if not -averting) governing decision.

I know, it can all get much worse after 2012 if he plays is political cards badly enough to introduce us all to President Pence. At some point, though, you've got to try to help people today instead of people in 2-6 years, and then be prepared to defend your choices when the time comes.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:42 AM
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70: No, don't think so - he mentioned "the precariousness of the CCP" in the same breath as a whole list of other things that are bad for people (Iraq, Afghan, Palestine, "the US-funded reaction to the social democratic resurgence in South America").

Also, since when has the Chinese Communist Party been "precarious"? This is very much a minority view on Chinese politics.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:43 AM
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71.1: Can you explain that a little more? 67 didn't look nuts to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:44 AM
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What's the body count for anarchists? Minuscule. And most of it was clearly in self-defense.

YEAH! SELF DEFENSE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GAVRILO PRINCIP | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:45 AM
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74 gets it exactly right.

Politically, maybe. Even if he's inflating the claim of "millions of jobs," though, it'll certainly be hundreds of thousands.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs? Doing what? Where? Why?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:45 AM
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73: The 'precariousness of the CCP' (which, I'm not personally aware of, but say it was generally recognized as precarious) would be worrisome even if you agree that the CCP is a Bad Thing. If it goes away, it's likely to do so in a messily disastrous kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:46 AM
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On the Annelid's side, large-scale total war between great powers doesn't appear to be on the agenda, nor large-scale genocide--but then, did it in 1910?

Yes, it did.

Lots of people saw a general European war coming. "The Riddle of the Sands" was published in 1903, and it was part of a great wave of Invasion Scare literature. HG Wells published "The War in the Air" in 1908. There was a massive naval arms race going on in Europe, Britain and Germany were building dreadnoughts as fast as they could, and German naval officers were openly drinking toasts to "Der Tag". The French army had been swearing to retake Alsace-Lorraine by force for the last forty years. There were crises almost every year in the Balkans over the breakup of the Ottoman Empire's European possessions.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:48 AM
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Okay, here is a slightly better explanation of my thinking in 47.2: If the main purpose of credit is to move future earnings to the present, one can accept lower wages today and still have an acceptable lifestyle (under the assumption that future wage increases will cover the gap). This reduces the bargaining position of employees on average. Unfortunately since everyone does this, and continues to do this, those future raises never materialize. Is this nonsense?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:48 AM
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73: What happens when the 400,000,000 people who are currently living on less than $100/month in China* decide that they're more angry about being left out in the cold than they are scared of the Communist Party? I'm not saying the CCP can't pull this off, they've proved to be fairly resilient in the past, but now you're talking about the makings of a class war in China that dwarfs the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. I'm hardly a supporter of state communism. I just think most people in the west are vastly underestimating the potential for a real disaster in the very near future.

*I don't know the exact figure, but it's something like that.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:49 AM
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he mentioned "the precariousness of the CCP" in the same breath as a whole list of other things that are bad for people

"even if we are not alert to the precariousness of the CCP -- we still can realize that the western governments are all failing"

I read that as lumping them in with the rest of the failing governments. I think it's safe to assume that an avowed anarchist has no love for the CCP.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:49 AM
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Spinning a tax increase as a Dem victory is magical thinking. Ok, not on the order of people who can't be bothered to show up to vote instead rising up and taking control, but still. Millions of people think Obama raised their taxes. Replacing 'well, that's not true, and I just cut them again' with 'damn right, and I'd do it again' is political suicide.

Oh, right, all those people 'concerned' about the deficit will greet Obama the tax increaser as a liberator, with flowers and sweets.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:50 AM
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78: I liked Saki's When William Came. The climactic Boy Scouts/civil disobedience moment was very goofy. Didn't Wodehouse have a very early German invasion book or story as well?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:50 AM
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Spinning a tax increase as a Dem victory is magical thinking.

Thinking that we can keep running the country forever without raising taxes is much more magical thinking. Someone, at some point, is going to have to raise taxes, and so finding a moment when it would be less politically damaging than otherwise is a political victory.

The inability of Democrats in power to follow that argument is, I think, a large part of our problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:53 AM
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82: I didn't think urple was saying that a tax increase would be a political victory, but instead that it would be good policy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:54 AM
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OK, now I'm confused. Wouldn't the collapse of the CCP be a great thing from an anarchist point of view? After all, governments apparently almost never bring about any improvements in people's lives, and they're apparently going to kill over a hundred million people in the next ninety years. Now he's saying that it would be some sort of massive disaster.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:55 AM
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Erm, 85 doesn't quite make sense for the way 67 was phrased. LB explains more clearly in 84.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:55 AM
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Mass Die-Offs, What's On the Agenda:

Direct consequences of global climate change (floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, severe winter storms, etc)

Nuclear weapons proliferation

Nuclear energy 'accidents'

Famine due to GMO crop failures/successes

Conventional multi-lateral wars (India/Pakistan, China/India, China/Taiwan, US/Colombia, US/other S. American nations, Russia/various former provinces, multiple front African wars)

Conventional civil wars (many places in Africa, India, China, Russia, S. American countries, Central American countries, Indonesia)

General non-nuclear pollution (acid rain, heavy metals, etc.)

Health care rationing (Like, in places that don't already have it)

So not all of these are specifically programmatic responsibilities of states (although some definitely are). But we live in an epoch where there is increasingly little difference between a blunder by diplomats and an externalized cost of corporations. Corporations are, in many senses, in control of the government. Any solution which fails to address that issue isn't much of a solution at all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:58 AM
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Is the deficit an actual problem in 2010? It is not. Are the tax cuts more stimulative than tax increases would be? Yes they are.

Look, I'd like a different option too: end of tax cuts at the high end, another big stimulus package. The latter, though, is completely gone as a result of the elections. Completely gone.

The inability of Democrats in power to follow that argument is, I think, a large part of our Walter Mondale's problems.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:58 AM
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Hundreds of thousands of jobs? Doing what? Where? Why?

I imagine they will be doing all kinds of stuff in many places mostly for money.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:00 AM
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Lots of people saw a general European war coming.

Sure, but most of those didn't think it would turn out anything like it did (in terms of body-count/awfulness). Maybe they should have, but they didn't.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:01 AM
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Is the deficit an actual problem in 2010? It is not. Are the tax cuts more stimulative than tax increases would be? Yes they are.

Tax cuts on the rich, and on corporations which are already hoarding money rather than investing to an amazing degree, stimulative? Compared to tax increases on the rich, which the government needs in order to employ people and provide people with stuff?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:01 AM
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86: NP can answer for himself, but if you read the entire comment and the comment to which it was replying instead of pulling out random bits and pieces to hold up for ridicule, I read it to say:

Governing structures are crumbling globally, so what next? "I would like to write something that posits that they won't just sit around with their thumbs up their asses, but rather they'd start taking matters into their own hands."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:02 AM
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84/85: well, yes, 84 gets it right. Although even on a political level it's still not self-evident to me that "we wanted to cut middle-class taxes, but Republicans held your tax cuts hostage to tax cuts exclusively for the wealthy that we can't afford" is a political loser. It's not clear that it's a winner, but I have an easier time believing it might be a winner (or at least provide adequate cover) than 'damn right, and I'd do it again', which is what the tax increase that we're going to need eventually may ultimately involve.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:02 AM
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86: I'm not in favor of mass die-offs. The CCP has resisted most attempts to moderate its brutality, in favor of embracing counter-revolutionary capitalism. So you've got the worst of both worlds: no political liberty, no economic liberty. If there's a huge meltdown in China that leaves millions of people dead, (a) it will be primarily the fault of the CCP, (b) it's unlikely that a new anarchist era is going to dawn, because the fascists will likely step in and seize power. Now, I don't expect the CCP to just devolve power peacefully back to the peasantry, that would be the ideal solution. No, they're going to cling to it as hard as they can, and get millions killed in the process. (Very likely. Obviously I would be happy to be proved wrong.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:02 AM
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Tax increases solve a real long-term problem. But economically, independent of politics, there are serious short-term problems that can possibly be addressed with deficit spending until employment becomes normal. Also, as CC says, any tax increase under the democrats is political suicide for them. Looking at 2012, people will vote their pocketbooks again, so an improved economy is good for the incumbent.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:03 AM
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Wouldn't the collapse of the CCP be a great thing from an anarchist point of view?

Anarchism's a big tent, and I dunno about NP, but it's certainly easy to deny states any sort of moral legitimacy, and work towards less authoritarian political settlements, while still recognizing the dangers of violent breakdowns of political order--even wicked orders.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:03 AM
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Is the deficit an actual problem in 2010? It is not. Are the tax cuts more stimulative than tax increases would be? Yes they are.

Will the deficit be an actual problem, in terms of the political capacity to maintain the provision of governmental services in the near future? Yes it will be. Will raising taxes be any politically easier then? No it won't. Is there any actual stimulus effect from cutting taxes on the upper middle class and the wealthy? Not a significant one. Would the Democrats have been in a much stronger political and policy position for the next fight if they'd held the line this time? You betcha.

Can we stop imitating Rumsfield now? I will if you will.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:04 AM
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78 gets it right. Not everyone agreed that war was inevitable, but a lot of people believed it, and worse yet, a lot of them welcomed the prospect, because they thought they would win. A fictional account of the humiliating defeat of France and the dismemberment of the French Empire (Das Ende Frankreichs) was a best seller in Germany. Not so surprising, right? But an English translation created a minor sensation in Great Britain, too (albeit for more complex reasons).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:04 AM
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Look, I'd like a different option too: end of tax cuts at the high end, another big stimulus package. The latter, though, is completely gone as a result of the elections. Completely gone.

Completely gone? Republicans just proved they were willing to bargain in exchange for tax cuts. I have a hard time believing that another, better package of tax cuts/stimulus (that was better policy both on the tax end and the stimulus end) couldn't have been negotiated next year, if the D's had forced the Republicans to blink.

And if it hadn't? On a policy level, we'd still have ended up in a better position.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:08 AM
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Also, as CC says, any tax increase under the democrats is political suicide for them. Looking at 2012, people will vote their pocketbooks again, so an improved economy is good for the incumbent.

People voted with their pocketbooks this time, and it had no relation to whether their taxes were raised or lowered, it was related to unemployment and their housing wealth being destroyed. Also, when people's perception of your actions is unrelated to your actions, isn't it a sign that you won't be punished for doing the right, "unpopular" thing any more than you'll be punished for doing the wrong, "popular" thing? Doesn't it give you some freedom to do what you want to do? In for a penny, in for a pound.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:10 AM
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Republicans would probably have agreed to stimulus just in exchange for the cuts to the damn estate tax.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:11 AM
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Also, I know this was the other thread, but if you wanted a great demonstration of how 'lack of standing' can just mean 'we don't want to take this case': the D.C. District Court just found Al-Awlaki (Al-Aulaqi)'s father lacks standing to bring the case challenging US targeted killing policy. (Via @de/viatar)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:11 AM
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I dissent from the view that funding a piece of social security through general revenue rather than the social security tax is a bad thing. General revenue is income tax, which is at least a bit progressive, even after this round of tax cuts.

AS we all know, social scurity tax on interest income is 0%, social security tax on capital gains income is 0%, social security tax on earned income above $107,000 is 0%, social security tax on estates is 0%. Unlike income tax, everyone pays, even those who make minimum wage. It's completely regressive.

For the next two years, for the first time millionaires will contribute more than $6,500 to social security. Working stiffs will contribute 2% less, a modest pay increase beyond inflation that undoes the pay freeze for federal employees and everythign else who isn't getting a raise. It also represents a 19% tax cut for the lowest income earners, who don't pay federal income tax.

I don't know if this deal will continue after the two years period, but if it does, income distribution in the United States will remain less unjust.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:12 AM
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104: I agree with you substantively, but I think the worried reaction is about the political fallout -- the sense is that Social Security is untouchable because it has this earmarked fund dedicated to it, and if you pay for it out of general revenues, it's suddenly vulnerable. I'm not actually sure that that's how the politics would play out, but I'm not sure that it isn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:14 AM
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105: It could also be the opposite. The problem with social security is that it runs out of money as long as it's limited to payroll taxes. Once you set a precedent for paying out of general funds, it will never run out of money.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:18 AM
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I sort of think you're right, but not confidently -- I think getting through the transition from dedicated taxes to the general fund would be very politically shaky and dangerous, but that if the transition were made successfully, then Soc.Sec. would be more secure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:21 AM
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"How many divisions votes, electoral and other, has the Pope Left?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:22 AM
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Possibly lots, if we just sing loud enough? You got to sing loud if you're gonna end war and stuff.

I'm going to go drink a lot now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:25 AM
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108: Hundreds of thousands!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:29 AM
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Lots of people saw a general European war coming.

Sure, but most of those didn't think it would turn out anything like it did (in terms of body-count/awfulness). Maybe they should have, but they didn't.

They definitely should have. I mean, the protracted awfulness of the Thirty Years' War, various Napoleonic shenanigans, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, among other things pretty capably demonstrated the scale of destruction attainable when nation-states went to war with significant entanglements (and later the toll of industrial-age warfare).


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:30 AM
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98: Will raising taxes be any politically easier then? No it won't. Is there any actual stimulus effect from cutting taxes on the upper middle class and the wealthy? Not a significant one. Would the Democrats have been in a much stronger political and policy position for the next fight if they'd held the line this time? You betcha.

Politically easier, maybe not. But economically, it makes sense to raise taxes when times are relatively good--as Clinton did last time a dem was in power while times were good--and what we should be doing now is working to make the next recovery come as soon as possible so that we can work on raising revenue when doing so won't blow a hole in the economy, reduce revenues, and make the budget outlook even worse. The upper-class tax cuts don't help, I agree, but if they're instrumental in getting the higher-multiplier stimulus (UI and payroll taxes) passed, then that's the price you pay.

I know the politics of it won't be easy, but again, this looks to me like an attempt to govern rather than play for political gain.

Let me say again that I'm not in love with the details of this deal either. I'd sure love it if they'd extracted more good stuff at the expense of less bad stuff, but not having been in the room I can't tell if that could've been done. What I am happy about is that they were at least working on actual good-for-the-country stuff in exchange for the concessions they gave up.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:31 AM
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91: most of those didn't think it would turn out anything like it did (in terms of body-count/awfulness).

True. Some did, though; some thought it would be much worse, such as HG "You damned fools, I told you so" Wells, who thought it would lead to the complete collapse of civilisation.

I don't expect the CCP to just devolve power peacefully back to the peasantry, that would be the ideal solution. No, they're going to cling to it as hard as they can, and get millions killed in the process.

This didn't happen in pretty much all the other former Communist countries in the world. It didn't happen in East Germany or Hungary or Czechoslovakia or Albania or Russia or Poland or Yugoslavia or Bulgaria or Chile. It happened to a very limited extent in Romania, but the fighting lasted days, not weeks, and casualties were nowhere near the level you're talking about (and the technocrats of the Central Committee are miles away from lunatics like Ceaucescu). After that you're stretching to include vaguely red-coloured military dictatorships like the Derg and Siad Barre that have almost nothing in common with the PRC other than branding.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:32 AM
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I'd sure love it if they'd extracted more good stuff at the expense of less bad stuff, but not having been in the room I can't tell if that could've been done.

I wasn't in the room either. But I've handled negotiations (on an insanely smaller scale, but you take my point), and if this mess led to the Democrats extracting anywhere near what they could have gotten for the same concessions, I'm Marie Antoinette.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:34 AM
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If you want more employment and less misery in 2012, getting benefits for the unemployed definitely helps. I do not know how to think about the payroll tax cut yet; it seems reasonable, but I'm concerned that poorly regulated banks will wind up absorbing the money and that the credit crunch for businesses will continue.

Monitoring bank lending to businesses is difficult, I don't know of good sources. S+P has a new commercial paper index, but volume is what matters rather than return.

Regarding a persistent deficit: The US, Europe, Japan, and China are all racing to devalue currencies without a crash. Cheaper currency means factory jobs come back. I have no idea what's reasonable, but being the only one without deficits means being Switzerland, not viable for the US.

Controlling bank leverage and housing prices in the US hasn't happened yet, but should.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:34 AM
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111: well, the most recent of those in 1910 was the Franco-Prussian war, which was probably the worst possible example to take because it was a) mobile b) decisive c) dominated by the offensive and d) brief. Germany went into 1914 thinking "this is going to be easy, we can just do 1870 again" and France went in thinking "this is going to be easy, we can do what the Germans did in 1870".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:34 AM
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114: Fair enough. Two things are worth complaining about here: 1) that their priorities are only imperfectly aligned with yours or mine, so that they are somewhat misguided in what they're seeking, and 2) that they're probably pretty crappy negotiators even at that. I still resist the conclusion that the deal as a whole is worse than nothing.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:37 AM
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I don't think it's the special fund that bolsters the political viability of SS (after all, we've been spending it away for ages) but the fact that it's financed by payroll taxes, meant to be viewed as insurance payments coming out of people's paychecks, and making people cling to benefits as their entitlement. I don't know if that's still necessary - people also value SS for what it is - but it is how it was designed in 1935.

How are people's "contributions" going to be reckoned by the SSA if no payroll tax is being paid, I wonder?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:43 AM
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Yes to 116 - people knew that war killed a lot of people per day, but they thought it would be over one way or the other soon enough, and not turn into a meat grinder. That it wasn't was, I was taught in IR class, largely the result of interaction of different new technologies with each other.

(Really, the Thirty Years' War?)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:46 AM
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Or is it just a cut to payroll taxes, not a full holiday?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:47 AM
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114 -- I had no idea you'd survived the beheading.

I don't think the Republicans were particularly afraid of going into 2011 with Obama having raised taxes, and I think you're vastly overstating his leverage. Accept, arguendo, that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire in their entirety would be a political disaster for Obama, and now tell me how much better a deal you could have gotten. Oh, and factor in that McConnell will have a working (but maybe a vote or two shy of filibuster-proof) majority for cutting taxes on the rich.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:48 AM
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that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire in their entirety would be a political disaster for Obama

I agree that it would have been a disaster for Obama, but that is the crux of the argument, isn't it? LB disagrees, so she thinks Obama could have been a lot tougher.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:51 AM
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116: The F-P war was included because it should have shown how much potential industrial-revolution-type tech was going to improve our ability to poke holes in one another.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:55 AM
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@ 118: as best I can tell benefits are tied to salary, not taxes paid. The FICA decrease won't change the benefit calculation, but will just create a larger unfunded actuarial liability. (see 42 USC 415(a), delineating the benefits formula which is tied to 90% of average monthly wages subject to the cap on benefits)


Posted by: jpe | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:55 AM
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119: well, it almost was. The Germans came very close to Paris, and if not for First Marne - if Joffre and French in 1914 had been as braindead as Napoleon III and MacMahon in 1870 - then the war really might have been over by Christmas. The technological elements - barbed wire, rifles, shell-firing artillery, even machineguns - were all present in some form in 1870.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:00 AM
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The technology being present doesn't mean the potential for meatgrinding was fully understood (or at least disseminated).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:03 AM
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126: I would direct you to "should have been" in my above. And the Thirty Years' War was a mess of allegiances and entanglements, was it not?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:05 AM
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128

Also, the American Civil War brought quite a lot of it together. Resources of nation-states being put to war, industrial tech emerging, etc: the results were pretty clear.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:07 AM
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The technological elements - barbed wire, rifles, shell-firing artillery, even machineguns - were all present in some form in 1870

Let's not forget railways, which were partly present, and a serious industrial base, which wasn't. You need a lot of factories humming along to produce materiel at the scale and rate it was being used up in WWI. That and a powerful modern state to administer the de facto planned economy necessary to coordinate everything.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:08 AM
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122, to 121, which strikes me as a textbook example of question-begging. "Vote or two shy of filibuster proof" is the whole thing, isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:09 AM
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Should have, OK. Certainly it was more jingoism than honest cognitive biases affecting people's judgment.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:13 AM
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124: Yes, I suppose so. And with just a 2-point cut it probably won't decrease the putative contributions notably. Still, it is a theoretical reason to be wary of switching from payroll to GR.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:14 AM
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129: good point, though North and South in the American Civil War both managed to produce materiel at a fair rate.

Annelid: I should make it clear that "the Franco-Prussian war, which was probably the worst possible example to take" wasn't a criticism of you but of the people (on both sides) who took it as an example in 1910.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:16 AM
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If only Bismarck had still been managing things in 1914, they would have managed a nice tidy little war like he did in 1870.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:18 AM
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104.last: [SS development is a good thing] I don't know if this deal will continue after the two years period, but if it does, income distribution in the United States will remain less unjust.

Independent of politics, I agree. Just like the fact that independent of US politics, I think some means-testing of Social Security would be a good thing--but if I wanted to quickly kill SS deader than a doornail in today's (and many other days) political climate I would propose the latter.

Actually, now that I've been partially-lobotomized by half a day at the office, I like this deal a bit more. It is a high-stakes gamble on the economy improving enough by 2012, but it was going to be that anyway, and this actually helps a bit. I guess there will be continued brinkmanship with Social Security over the next 30 years in any scenario--and the best thing for it is economic growth.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:22 AM
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133: Indeed, I misread you there.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:23 AM
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134: In fact, it is critical when you go to war that you have the best Helmuth available.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:24 AM
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109 I'm going to go drink a lot now.

At this time of day? Impressive.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:25 AM
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136: my fault, it was a bit ambiguous.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:26 AM
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Somewhere on the web, sometime, someone has to have posited a law of comment threads along the lines of "Any discussion of the First World War shall end with the use of the term 'industrial' or a derivative."

These conversations always seem to get hung up on ironweights and howitzer firing rates, but some hungry young historian must have come up with a new route or two through the trenches.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:27 AM
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At this time of day? Impressive.

Luckily, it's already 7pm here. Woo! (And don't ask about the trip to Frankfurt.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:27 AM
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130 establishes, to my satisfaction, that you are swaggering about* based on a pretty serious misperception of the political realities. Enjoy it.

* 'Marie Antionette' certainly fits that description.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:30 AM
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138: Well, I was lying. But my intent was to convey that I'd been reduced to getting drunk midmorning.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:30 AM
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I'm rereading "August 1914" and it really brings home what a deeply screwed-up man the Kaiser was. He's like some sort of Batman villain.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:30 AM
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The thirty years war has little relevance to thinking about modern wars, either politically or in military terms. Most of the armies that fought were not especially well-organized or well-armed, and the "nations" that fought were poorly-integrated sets of duchies.

We could use a man like Waldstein again, and a Richelieu versus Cheney duel waged with secret police would be great television.



Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:31 AM
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142: I will leave any analysis of where the swaggering began to other readers. You enjoy your own rhetoric as well, hear?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:32 AM
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144 may be seen as a desperate attempt to forestall the outcome described in 140.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:32 AM
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I don't love the deal either, but it's politically easier and economically better to raise taxes when the economy is out of the hole and Democrats are in power, which is why priorities 1, 2 and 3 need to be getting the economy out of a hole. I don't like tax cuts for rich people either, but the cries of "OMG what about long term tax policy for the deficit" are about as silly as "OMG what about the long term effects" of any other stimulus. I realize this has already been said better by others.

Maybe the amount of stimulus won't do much, or be badly timed, but what else was on the table? And UI benefits are huge. This also gets them extended now rather than having a huge fight and delay over the next year, a huge benefit to the people who need money now. And getting SS off of a regressive payroll tax system is a good thing, full stop.

This isn't even on my top 30 "Barack Obama has betrayed us" list. The big problem I see is the administration being unwilling to push things they could do by executive branch administrative action -- cough EPA on carbon pollution cough.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:33 AM
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Somewhere on the web, sometime, someone has to have posited a law of comment threads along the lines of "Any discussion of the First World War current politics shall end with the use of the term 'industrial' or a derivative a discussion of either a World War or Mao Tse-Tung or both."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:33 AM
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145: and yet the interdependencies of the wee kingdoms and princes and external organizations were sort of important both then, and come 1914.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:35 AM
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144: I recall, dimly, a mess of fantastical conjecture suggesting that, had Edward VII survived another five or six years, he might have prevailed upon his royal cousin not to, in a word, ruin everything for everybody. Is that a Niall Ferguson-ism?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:35 AM
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142 130 establishes, to my satisfaction, that you are swaggering about* based on a pretty serious misperception of the political realities. Enjoy it.

Why don't you 'splain all these political realities to the rest of us muddleheaded swaggerers?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:37 AM
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and the "nations" that fought were poorly-integrated sets of duchies.

We resemble that remark.


Posted by: Opinionated Christian IV of Denmark, Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, Louis XIII of France | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:37 AM
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We should talk about the Vasa and aircraft carriers!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:39 AM
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I have theories!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:40 AM
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149: All roads lead to Hitler.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:43 AM
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Richelieu versus Cheney duel waged with secret police would be great television

I've been pushing for a cage match between Putin and Teddy Roosevelt.

The main problem that has been raised to me about this is that Putin would have Roosevelt poisoned before the match.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:46 AM
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We could use a man like Waldstein again

Give Erik Prince his head, and you've got it.

151: unlikely. The existence of Edward VII was one of the main irritations in the Kaiser's life. He couldn't stand the fact that Edward VII was known as the First Gentleman of Europe, was effortlessly charming, had a huge navy, got invited on state visits to Paris, shagged actresses, won races at Cowes etc. The envy consumed him. He desperately wanted to be taken seriously and/or feared by Edward, but instead, he thought, Edward looked down on him - very politely - as this wee ridiculous neurotic Prussian nephew in a silly hat.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:50 AM
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152 -- I'm not surprised if Obama thinks he's not going to get a better deal in 2011, or if he thinks that allowing taxes to go up across the board (and then leads his party to filibuster a bill with some significant Dem support that cuts taxes of middle Americans) is bad politics. Maybe, as urple suggests, he's wrong about one or both of these propositions. I don't think he is, and I think you'd have a hard time finding much non-fringe opinion for that. More important, I guess, is that I don't see how, from a risk reward perspective, it would make sense to gamble on the conventional wisdom on this being wrong.

LB's 'if he thinks his non-fringe position is correct, then I'm Marie Antionette' is, I think, over the top.

My views on this subject are well known though, and expressions of them long past even zero marginal return, so I'll drop out of the discussion.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:52 AM
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Putin's in better shape than Teddy ever was, the man's a judoka.
No, I think you have to get him in a duel with Abraham Lincoln, in a pit with cavalry broadswords.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:55 AM
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Say Putin's barehanded, and Teddy has a big stick?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:58 AM
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For the next two years, for the first time millionaires will contribute more than $6,500 to social security.

Gotcha! The payroll tax cuts are totally deficit-financed. So no, the millionaires won't contribute any more this year, or the next. But I'm sure they'll be more than happy to pony up their fair share when the bill eventually comes due.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:59 AM
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But I'm sure they'll be more than happy to pony up their fair share when the bill eventually comes due.

And anyway, even if they aren't, their victory on any political issue they choose to contest is inevitable, so there's no sense making a fuss about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:00 AM
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160, 161: This is turning into a really awesome pitch for a video game, I think.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:06 AM
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161: and Teddy has a big stick?

Right, and then when Putin bends over close and says, "Eh? What's that you said? Speak up!" Teddy nails him.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:08 AM
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As for the economic stimulus built into this deal? Rortybomb raises a very good point:

1. No Raising of the Debt Ceiling. This should be a no-brainer and a deal-breaker for liberals considering supporting this bill. No Democrat should support this compromise without this issue being addressed. The debt ceiling is going to be hit sometime early next year, between February and April. Alan Simpson is already bragging about how this vote will be a "bloodbath", forcing the austerity agenda into action. It would not surprise me if the new Congress moved to cut back on the stimulus program and force deep cuts at that moment when this new stimulus is getting going, and the idea that Obama will show leadership in averting this crisis can no longer be assumed.... If the GOP come back for those struggling to get back into productive work in this weak recovery with slashing the budget (and of course leaving the high-end tax cuts in place), liberals will have been rolled.

The whole post is well worth reading, as they say.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:09 AM
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166: Maybe this is Obama's strategy -- he's hoping to have a fight over spending cuts, and daring the Republican to shut down the government over that.

Probably not, but it's a thought.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:15 AM
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162: As long as tax revenue is greater than zero, tax revenue is paying for some amount of everything that gets paid from the (tax revenue plus sale of debt instruments) pot. For the first time, social security is getting something from that pot.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:17 AM
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168: I guess that's one way to look at it, but it doesn't seem like a helpful way. Millionaires will be paying no more for social security than they paid before. (In fact, if they're wage earners, they're paying less, like everyone else.)

But on your basic point: if there's some new government spending, and the level of tax revenues are totally unchanged, and some new debt instruments are sold in the exact amount of the increased government spending, in what sense does it make sense to say that "tax revenue is paying for some amount of everything that gets paid from the (tax revenue plus sale of debt instruments) pot"? Only in a very tendentious sense, I think.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:27 AM
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164: "Cage Match: Absurdly Macho World Leaders Edition." Who else should be in it? Mussolini?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:37 AM
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169: The basic point isn't that there's some new government spending and that the level of tax revenue is unchanges. The basic point is that there's a new tax cut for wage earners, and government spending is unchanged. But the result is that additional debt will be incurred.

If there is a new tax cut that goes disproportionately to lower wage earners, in what sense does it make sense to deny that this decreases income inequality in the United States? Only in a very tendentious sense, I think, or might think if I was sure of what "tendentious" means.

[I have a vague recollection that I looked up "tendentious" right after I took the SAT's and decided I had blown that question.]


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:44 AM
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170: Old Hickory? You could probably do an installment with just U.S. presidents.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:46 AM
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I don't have to mention how many goddamn dicks George had.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:47 AM
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And does Grant get to bring the Army of the Potomac? Or at least his faithful steed Cincinnati?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:51 AM
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He gets to bring his booze.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:53 AM
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If there is a new tax cut that goes disproportionately to lower wage earners, in what sense does it make sense to deny that this decreases income inequality in the United States?

I don't deny that at all. I deny that millionaires in the next two years will contribute more than $6,500 to social security, which was your claim.

I'd be happy to fund SS entirely out of general revenues, if we ignore any risk that benefits will be cut.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:54 AM
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175: Throw in some cigars, and I'm there.


Posted by: U.S. Grant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:56 AM
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US President cagefighting ranking (based upon first day in office)
1. George Washington (per 173)
2. Teddy Roosevelt
3. Abe Lincoln
4. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
5. Andrew Jackson
6. Richard Nixon (he'd cheat somehow)
...
last-1.William Henry Harrison
last. FDR


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:57 AM
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178.4 -- is that based on the day she married Woodrow? and what's make you think she could take Andrew Jackson?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:03 PM
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last-1.William Henry Harrison
last. FDR

Is this meant to imply that these two will always be ranked as the last two, no matter how many presidents we ultimately have, or just that JP doesn't know how many US Presidents there have been?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:05 PM
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178: I have to think Abe takes the 1 spot: biggest reach, catch-as-catch-can wrestler, and an experienced brawler.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:05 PM
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179: I don't know, day of his stroke or whatever. I think she'd "want it more" and she'd "play within herself"--that kind of thing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:05 PM
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Drunken Grant up against three generations of Kims simultaneously would be awesome.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:06 PM
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183: If there isn't a videogame here, surely there's a South Park episode.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:07 PM
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I think she'd "want it more" and she'd "play within herself"--that kind of thing.

I'm sure there's another Edith Wilson sexual fetishist out there, Stormcrow -- you don't have to give up on your dream of being loved.



Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:07 PM
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How do you have Teddy taking out Abe, unless we're assuming differing levels of armament? And from contemporary reports, I'd take Abe over George in unarmed hand-to-hand as well: George was a general and Abe wasn't, but Abe gets described frequently as uncannily strong (see, e.g., stories about his holding an axe at arms length.) And Abe was younger than George at inauguration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:08 PM
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Ford might get 7th; I assume he still had some of that old gridiron mojo.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:09 PM
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James Madison was all of 5'4" and of delicate health. I might put William Henry Harrison above him on the list.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:09 PM
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Taft is the wild card there. If he can get the quick takedown, he could probably lay-and-pray his way to a decision over anybody, but any fight that stayed on the feet past a minute or two would seriously expose his horrible cardio.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:09 PM
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I could see Ford as a dark horse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:09 PM
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Also, President Obama might come in near the bottom: he won't fight, our liberal friends tell us.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:11 PM
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Also, either Dole or McCain would have gotten destroyed, so maybe those losses were all for the best.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:11 PM
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President Bush the Younger also was a well-known exercise enthusiast. He'd probably be in the upper reaches. Unless he choked. On something. Mouthguard? Turnbuckle?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:12 PM
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Taft had a fairly successful college wrestling career (heavyweight division), so don't count him out. Also, Zachary Taylor belongs on that list somewhere.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:13 PM
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186: I'd take Abe over George in unarmed hand-to-hand as well

Jesus fuck LB, you were the one bringing up all the goddamn dicks. Oh, I guess we're doing Reality Presidents in a Pit now rather than Fantasy Presidents in a Pit.

As for TR, I assume he still had some of this going for him.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:13 PM
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186: What can we do to get that axe to Obama? If he is able to lift it, I'm certain it could bestow some sort of powers.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:14 PM
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I can't get too worked up. The cut to the social security taxes is probably a good idea. Unemployment benefit extension is definitely a good idea. Is that worth giving up on taxes for the rich? who knows? This could be the best deal they could get.

They definitely should have gone with the strategy last year of saying "after the bush tax cuts expire here are the obama tax cuts." where the obama tax cuts are more generous for the lower 98% and less generous to the top 2% than the bush cuts.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:14 PM
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185: I'm sure there's another Edith Wilson sexual fetishist out there, Stormcrow

It's all because my parents done raised me wrong. The fuckers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:14 PM
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Maybe we can get eric and ari to proxy-fight for FDR and Lincoln.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:16 PM
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Does Eric have to stay seated through the fight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:17 PM
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189: I was just searching for someone to take on Taft in sumo, and Google fatty-blocked me with this: "Showing results for hottest world leaders. Search instead for fattest world leaders".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:17 PM
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I hate Andrew Jackson, but he's got to win the ultimate presidential personal combat badass prize. From Wikipedia:

Jackson fought 13 duels, many nominally over his wife's honor.[citation needed] Charles Dickinson, the only man Jackson ever killed in a duel, had been goaded into angering Jackson by Jackson's political opponents. In the duel, fought over a horse-racing debt and an insult to his wife on May 30, 1806, Dickinson shot Jackson in the ribs before Jackson returned the fatal shot; Jackson allowed Dickinson to shoot first, knowing him to be an excellent shot, and as his opponent reloaded, Jackson shot, even as the bullet lodged itself in his chest. The bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could never be safely removed. Jackson had been wounded so frequently in duels that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles."[53] At times he coughed up blood, and he experienced considerable pain from his wounds for the rest of his life.

I mean, that's pretty hardcore.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:17 PM
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199: Sucks to be me then.


Posted by: Abe Lincoln | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:17 PM
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. s/b ?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:17 PM
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(I have just come to the realization that my firm conviction that Abe could take out all the rest of the presidents with one hand behind his back probably has its roots in the episode of Star Trek where aliens recreate Lincoln to freak Kirk out. This may not be the best source of historical information.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:23 PM
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OK, so Taft moves into the list ahead of Nixon, and Andrew Jackson up to #2 behind Lincoln with TR duking it out with Edith Wilson. And James Madison down to second to last. But this shows why the BCS sucks.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:24 PM
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205: This episode?

Kirk, Spock, Abraham Lincoln, and Surak are pitted in battle against four notorious villains from history for the purpose of helping a molten rock creature's understanding of a concept he does not understand, 'good verses evil'.

Or is there another one with Honest Abe?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:27 PM
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That's the one. IIRC, Abe does some rasslin'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:28 PM
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What about hottest First Lady? I think Jackie O wins in a heartbeat, obviously, but Angelica Van Buren is underrated. Plus, that's just a sexy name.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:29 PM
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205: I prefer this Lincoln.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:29 PM
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I'm sure there's another Edith Wilson sexual fetishist out there, Stormcrow -- you don't have to give up on your dream of being loved.

Stormcrow is still the only citation for this.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:31 PM
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Too hard: I don't have a sense of what hardly any of them look like, once you get before Rosalynn Carter. Jackie O, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolley Madison off the ice cream package, and that's it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:32 PM
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212: Aren't you going to get all angry and feminist about this? All that matters about women is how hot they are, right?

Anyway, Martha Washington was one tough broad. She could probably have taken all those guys.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:36 PM
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Someone's given it a stab, though it inexplicably excludes Frances Cleveland and includes Laura Bush. But I rather fancy Ellen Arthur.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:37 PM
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You've clearly mistaken me for someone with a consistent position on objecting to talking about people's looks. You'll know when something makes me cross by the high-pitched ululation as I leap for your throat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:38 PM
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You'll know when something makes me cross by the high-pitched ululation as I leap for your throat.

I thought that, "scream and leap" wasn't the best strategy.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:40 PM
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213: But this was so flagrant! We're talking about men, so we discuss how tough they are. Then someone brings up women, so of course we talk about how hot they are.

No one mentioned ranking the guys by hottness!

I, for one, am deeply offended.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:41 PM
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211: And it came up on a very similar topic. I'm going to find that freaking reference some day. We need the memoirs of some well-known ladies man (could be a Hollywood-type) from that era (I saw it referenced in some magazine article). Beyond my limited fictional abilities to come up with it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:41 PM
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217: But in the thread referenced in 211 we were talking about which First Lady could kick ass. So it's all good.

As for male hotness, if I had to suck presidential dick, I'd go for Obama's.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:44 PM
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219: Ok, I guess I'll calm down now then.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:46 PM
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2199.2: Maybe Kennedy, but other than those two, it's not seriously in question. Amirite or amirite?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:47 PM
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I've never been anywhere near Clinton, but reports say he's magnetic in person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:49 PM
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Apropos. (Presidential cage match, not the OP.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:53 PM
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209: Jackie O loses to Laura Bush. Librarian beats socialite every time. I don't like her politics, but bookish women get automatic bonus points on the hotness scale. On the male side it's harder to judge, but I think Bill Clinton has to score pretty high thanks to the flirty eyes thing he does.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:53 PM
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224: Jackie O worked in publishing! And so much hotter!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:56 PM
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Plus, Jackie doesn't have those vacant eyes.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:57 PM
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Jackie O loses to Laura Bush.

Toggles is clearly losing it.

I did meet Clinton in person twice, and he was pretty unbelievably charming and mezmerizing. Hard to tell if it just was the glow from the power of the office, though. Anyhow, if I were to take off my pants for any President, he would be the one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 12:58 PM
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Edith Wilson is the only first lady to inspire an Unfogged commenter to have a realistic dream about her sexual exploits which he insists is an actual memory, so that's something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:00 PM
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No one's standing up for Michelle Obama?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:00 PM
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225: OK fine. I am biased against her because I can't stand her voice. I'm switching to Dolley Madison then.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:01 PM
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229: Probably not quite as prettier than Jackie O, but maybe as more attractive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:06 PM
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225: Jackie O worked in publishing!

A relative of mine worked with her in that role on occasion. The only anecdote I recall was that in reference to her investments she once enthusiastically said to the relative, "I like it when the numbers go up!".


Posted by: Andrew "Badass" Jackson | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:09 PM
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Young Betty Ford was smoking hot.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:12 PM
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I did meet Clinton in person twice, and he was pretty unbelievably charming and mezmerizing.

Same experience here, though only one meeting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:13 PM
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This is an excommunicatable offense, it seems, but I don't find Jackie amazingly attractive. She was tall and beautifully dressed and (in my opinion) kind of funny looking. And if I had to listen to her talk in that baby voice I'd jump out a window.
Michelle O., however, is smoking.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:14 PM
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As for male hotness, if I had to suck presidential dick, I'd go for Obama's.

George W. Bush's. But only if it could be done on hidden camera, shortly before the 2000 election.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:16 PM
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236: Knecht is a true patriot!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:18 PM
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Laura Bush, no thanks. Prefer Grace Coolidge.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:20 PM
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Rosalynn Carter was awfully pretty. Also, c'mon, Nancy Reagan.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:21 PM
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Please let me in the clubhouse! I'll do anything you ask!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:26 PM
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Charley, your argument doesn't make any sense. If voters already think that Obama raised their taxes, then there is no political cost to raising their taxes. What are they going to do, double-pinky-vote against Obama?

I hate to say it since I want to hate this deal, but I guess I agree with KR. If the economy picks up, then the conditions for raising taxes will be better in two years than they are now. The payroll tax cut should be pretty stimulative, as well as the UI extension. The big flaw is that the stimulus runs out before the 2012 election.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:29 PM
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I'd agree with 241.2 if I thought the compromise included enough stimulus to improve the economy over the efforts of the Congressional Republicans over the next two years to keep it in the tank. If I'm wrong, and it does, it's not a terrible deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:32 PM
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Ellen Arthur looks like Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress in that picture.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:38 PM
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I forgot to click "Post" when I originally wrote my comment an hour ago, and I see that since then the thread had utterly moved on to the topic of Obama's dick.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:39 PM
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244: This is what happens with Democratic Preznits.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:51 PM
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"Cage Match: Absurdly Macho World Leaders Edition."

Cage matches are for Monday nights. For a pay-per-view, the Railsplitter demands ... Hell in a Cell.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:54 PM
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Surely someone has linked to the definitive treatment on badass presidents, right?

Also, I'm not sure what's up with 203, but it seems mean.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 1:56 PM
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203 seems mean, but not 200?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:01 PM
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200 was just insisting on historical accuracy.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:07 PM
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Plus, 200 isn't mean to ari.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:08 PM
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With ari, ben and Pauly all here, I'd like to note what a breath of fresh air Pauly is. His upbeat attitude really brightens my day, and it brought a tear of purest joy to my eye when, over at ari's blog, he wished everybody a Happy Hanukkah! What a guy!



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:16 PM
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Abe e-mailed me the following explanation for 203:

"Sucks to be me" because I easily could have bested that citified cripple, whereas I judged ari and eric to be a more even match. Well ... plus Jewish."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:22 PM
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I don't have a blog any more, pf.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:26 PM
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FDR was reputed to have incredible upper-body strength. IIRC, didn't he swim a significant distance daily? (Which is no mean feat without functioning legs.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:28 PM
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You can't shed a blog like your epidermis or your citizenship, ari. A blog is forever.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:28 PM
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TPM is reporting that Elizabeth Edwards has shuffled off this mortal coil.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:32 PM
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I believe 256 is the first death announcement I've read on this blog in 3? 4? years that didn't include some variation of the word "masturbate".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:34 PM
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I guess that means the ban has been lifted.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:36 PM
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FDR was reputed to have incredible upper-body strength.

You develop that if you drive your own chair a lot. I don't use one now, but I have and it's true.

No love for Frances Cleveland?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:36 PM
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257: Really? You aren't including the middle class, or America's manufacturing sector or...


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:36 PM
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Elizabeth Edwards is dead. I shall refrain from the usual formula in this case.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:37 PM
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214 to 259


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:40 PM
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What are the workers going to do about that? I would like to write something that posits that they won't just sit around with their thumbs up their asses, but rather they'd start taking matters into their own hands.

Most of the "workers" I encounter, if they "took matters into their own hands," would have a lot more God, guns, and Glenn Beck and a lot fewer gays, libs, free clinics, and pansy-ass tree plantings. So maybe the first thing this manual should address is how to get a better class of worker remove the shackles of false consciousness.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:43 PM
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257 to 261.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:44 PM
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261: That's so sad. Damn.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 2:45 PM
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261 oh my goodness. So sad, yes.


Posted by: ptl | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 3:25 PM
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You can't shed a blog like your epidermis or your citizenship

Tell me about it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 4:31 PM
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To the OP.

I just got in after driving through DC rush hour. Right before the top of the hour, the all-news station here (WTOP) teased the story saying "Now that President Obama has compromised with the GOP over taxes, there will be less uncertainty and hiring should increase." I switched from yelling at other drivers to yelling at the radio.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 4:49 PM
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1: I could easily move to Canada, since they recognize domestic partners as married under common law. I could get landed immigrant status (the equivalent of a green card) pretty easily. The thing is that I don't really want to live in Canada. I like Quebec and the Maritimes fine, but that's not where the jobs are. Drug companies have been shutting down research facilities in Montreal for a while.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 5:38 PM
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Is the deficit an actual problem in 2010? It is not. Are the tax cuts more stimulative than tax increases would be? Yes they are.

On NPR the other day I heard a piece about the need to rein in the deficit. They gave due credit to the Bush tax cuts for increasing the deficit, but then they said that Obama's "giant stimulus" had increased it. The stimulus was not giant by any means. Ugh. A really big stimulus package would have been a lot better. No hope for that now.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:27 PM
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270 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:27 PM
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then they said that Obama's "giant stimulus" had increased it. The stimulus was not giant by any means. Ugh.

I'd take issue not with the word "giant" but with the idea that the stimulus necessarily increased the deficit ( over some reasonable time frame--perhaps 5 or 10 years). A major economic crash might do more to increase the deficit than Obama's stimulus, so if one played a part in preventing the other, then it's not really fair to blame the deficit on the stimulus.

Come to think of it, there must be numbers on something like this, although I don't recall ever seeing them. This is probably too murky for the CBO, but have any similarly respectable organizations done any analyses laying out: (1) where the economy was projected to be with and without the stimulus, (2) what the effect of that would have been from a tax revenue perspective, and (3) what the net effect of the stimulus on the deficit was (measured in terms of the cost of the stimulus minus the additional tax revenues it generated), over something like a 5-year period?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:45 PM
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Actually, I'd probably also take issue with the word "giant".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:46 PM
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How much is the payroll tax cut? I just see $120 billion, but what does that amount to in percentages? Does it apply to the employer portion only or to the worker's bit. It wouldn't be stimulative for me, since I'd throw it all into paying down my student loan or a cash cushion. For me to start spending significantly more, I'd really need to make about 20-30K (70-100%) more than I do now, because I'd want to put about $20K per year above the minimum into the loan.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:49 PM
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The thing is that I don't really want to live in Canada.

It's okay, BG: you don't really have to move to Canada. That's just something that liberal Americans like to threaten once or twice every electoral cycle.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 6:57 PM
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I was impressed with the way that interest rates on 10 year treasury bonds shot up 22 basis points on news of the Obama tax cuts. Looks like the markets do care about deficits after all. Those higher interest rates are going to take a nice bite out of the recovery.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:15 PM
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I liked my visit to Canada. Mountains are pretty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:15 PM
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272:Probably NBER or BIS or BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis). I have certainly seen those exact three analyses, but as linked at blogs. Jim Hamilton and Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser have been studying the simulus vs potential output all along amd are mathy.

Looking at these charts from today credit is given to various Feds and Universities.

(Karl Smith's bottom line, scroll to bottom. Cash is still being hoarded. We don't need no, none, freaking tax cuts Obama you sumbitch.)

There is a ton of econ info out there, if you know how to do the search.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:19 PM
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276:Take this as you will, without a link. See 278.

At present low interest rates, half of Federal revenue is being spent on interest on the debt. Roughly 400 billion.
If interest rates go up even a point or two, we are utterly fucked.

We are going down, next year. The Shock Crisis is being engineered.

Naked Capitalism

Congressional Republicans appear to be quietly but methodically executing a plan that would a) avoid a federal bailout of spendthrift states and b) cripple public employee unions by pushing cash-strapped states such as California and Illinois to declare bankruptcy. This may be the biggest political battle in Washington, my Capitol Hill sources tell me, of 2011.

That's why the most intriguing aspect of President Barack Obama's tax deal with Republicans is what the compromise fails to include -- a provision to continue the Build America Bonds program. BABs now account for more than 20 percent of new debt sold by states and local governments thanks to a federal rebate equal to 35 percent of interest costs on the bonds. The subsidy program ends on Dec. 31. And my Reuters colleagues report that a GOP congressional aide said Republicans "have a very firm line on BABS -- we are not going to allow them to be included."

In short, the lack of a BAB program would make it harder for states to borrow to cover a $140 billion budgetary shortfall next year, as estimated by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The long-term numbers are even scarier. Estimates of states' unfunded liabilities to pay for retiree benefits range from $750 billion to more than $3 trillion.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:26 PM
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82

Spinning a tax increase as a Dem victory is magical thinking. Ok, not on the order of people who can't be bothered to show up to vote instead rising up and taking control, but still. Millions of people think Obama raised their taxes. Replacing 'well, that's not true, and I just cut them again' with 'damn right, and I'd do it again' is political suicide.

I guess it depends on what you are willing to fight for. Do you think the Democrats should never do anything unpopular like ending torture or controlling greenhouse gas emissions? If not one suspects your opposition to higher taxes for the rich might contain an element of self interest.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:33 PM
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At present low interest rates, half of Federal revenue is being spent on interest on the debt. Roughly 400 billion.

So Federal revenue is 800 billion? Not even close. It's over 2 trillion. Even the worst BS detector should have been set off by this.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:34 PM
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Moby, parts of canada are lovely. I just find Toronto even more expensive than Boston, and I don't care for Ottawa where all the nice government jobs are.

MC, It isn't the typical liberal threat that would have me going to Canada. Every now and again my BF freaks out that he'll lose his job and won't be able to get another one in his field before he can get a green card. So, if we wanted to stay together at that point, I'd have to go to Canada or marry him straight away.

And I hate the wedding-indistrial complex, but I'd still like to be able to save up for a decent-sized party, so I'd almost rather move to Canada than have a greencard-shotgun wedding.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:34 PM
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279.last: Pittsburgh's pension plan is down half a billion and we barely have over 300,000 people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:34 PM
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Interest on the debt has held steady at just below 3% of GDP. Meanwhile, Federal revenue is at an all time low of 14.5%. 18% is the long term average.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:38 PM
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106

It could also be the opposite. The problem with social security is that it runs out of money as long as it's limited to payroll taxes. Once you set a precedent for paying out of general funds, it will never run out of money.

But is anything actually going to be paid out of general funds? If the money is coming out of the trust fund then this will worsen social security's financial position and increase pressure for "reform".


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:40 PM
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281:OK, how about interest as half of discretionary spending, not counting defense? Is that better?

Whatever, the point still stands that the low interest rates are keeping us afloat. It is a tightrope act that Bernanke is performing.

You know I was right about the Bush tax cuts being extended, and everybody laughed at me then. It wasn't a wild guess.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:41 PM
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Higher mortgage rates, and they are rising quickly, will certainly hurt housing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:43 PM
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Interest on the debt is not discretionary.

It is true that low interest rates are saving us, but believe it or not, interest on the debt is lower today (as %age of GDP) than it was in 2000.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:48 PM
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Ahh, I've just been delving into the budget at Wikipedia, and debt interest is not that high.

Heres 2010

Yet. The 2010 budget page makes the point that the debt will double to 20T by 2015. What are the interest curves on 20T, from zero to say 5%

We can't afford a strong recovery.

I want taxes! More taxes!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 7:58 PM
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I want taxes! More taxes!

So do I, Bob.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:06 PM
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What would Robert E. Lee do?

(The fruit, it beckons.) Betray his nation!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:20 PM
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"AP - Elizabeth Edwards lost her hair to cancer, her son to an accident, her husband to another woman."

I kind of want to hit whoever wrote this headline. Or just wait 'til he dies and sum up his life in a trite, cheap parallelism.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:38 PM
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292: That's grotesque. Jesus Christ.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:39 PM
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I really don't get this blog's obsession with Robert E. Lee, who displayed an admittedly brilliant but brief-lived in its brilliance (until he overreached) military strategy in the service of an absolutely ignoble cause.

Also, those chichi food[ie] products from the Stonewall Kitchen always make me think of Stonewall Jackson, which is highly unappetizing.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:40 PM
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Did Forrest Gump make you think of the KKK? There's arguably a more direct connection there.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:44 PM
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294: You could always think of the riots instead.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 8:56 PM
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WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE RIOTS?


Posted by: OPINIONATED Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 9:21 PM
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You could always think of the riots insteadHomophobe.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 10:41 PM
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bob, interest rates on government debt are fixed, not floating. If interest rates go up, that only affects future debt, not existing debt.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:14 PM
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299

bob, interest rates on government debt are fixed, not floating. If interest rates go up, that only affects future debt, not existing debt.

This is silly, the government doesn't issue perpetual bonds, it is constantly rolling over its debt. So if interest rates go up the goverment's interest expense will gradually rise to reflect the new rate as the various maturities of government debt come due and are rolled over.

Also some of the rates do float.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 7-10 11:32 PM
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300: "gradually" is doing a lot of work here. Average US debt maturity is about 4.4 years or so, and rising - so rates have to go up and stay up for a long time before it affects more than half the total debt stock. (Though the US still has far shorter-term debt than any other industrialised country; the UK has over 12 years.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 2:15 AM
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2011 is returning to 5 mil exclusion plus 35%, but is 2010 staying ludicrously tax-free?
signed,
nervous in narnia


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 2:58 AM
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alameida, did your granddad die in 2010?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 4:40 AM
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The one that always got me (a child of privilege I know) is that my grandmother left her money to her grandchildren for their education. She also had some watercolors which had been gifts of the artist, so I think that there was maybe $500K in the whole estate, but then these paintings were worth a lot, and once you hit the $600K mark you were starting to pay hefty taxes. We could have used all of the cash to pay the taxes on the paintings, but the executor decided to sell them instead.

People used to give stuff to grandchildren as a way of getting around estate and gift taxes so they passed a special generation skipping tax where you're taxed at 55%. In my case, my family did this to protect the grandchildren from their children who were all inept with money and/or seriously mentally ill.

Not really a great injustice, but I cried bitterly over losing those watercolors which were an important connection to my grandmother and family history.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 4:46 AM
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sorry bostoniangirl, that sucks. obviously this is in the range of "problems that most people wish they had" but nonetheless I sympathize with you wanting to hang onto the paintings. I was crushed when my father sold my grandmother's house in savannah in 2000. I would much rather have had the house than the money; I have a picture of it on my wall now. he asked if I was going to live in it right then, and I said no, so he had a point, but he could have just hired a property manager to rent it out! he partly sold because he hated the house (alcoholic childhood) and partly to hurt me.

my grandfather died in 2010, and I do actually think the prospect of no tax kept him going at a certain point in 2009 when he might otherwise have checked out. I'm genuinely unclear on whether the tax fix is retroactive. lord knows it should be, but I think not; there's at least one billionaire family ready to go to court forever.

just so we can all get the world's tiniest violins going, my doctor dialed back my other psychiatric medication and I'm almost back to normal sex-wise. I don't think about sex as much, which I find weird, but once I get to actually having sex everything seems fine. I know everyone was really worried about me for a while there.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 5:20 AM
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God bless you al. Your tiny violins are just the thing to start up a morning.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 5:42 AM
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When my grandfather died in 2007 he managed to promise rather more than his extremely limited assets would allow to various churches and church charities. I believe my dad had to make up the difference, but I'm not sure.

When my other grandfather died, I don't think he had much money (he made a good amount of money (was a lawyer) but blew it on an extravagant lifestyle with his trophy wife) but I wouldn't know, since he gave it all to the trophy wife, along with all the family heirlooms (which, as best I can tell, consisted of ugly silver and a bunch of hunting prints). The trophy wife is not well-liked among my mom and her siblings, it's fair to say, but honestly if she wants a bunch of prints of gouty English twits puddinging up for a fox hunt more power to her.

You should try being unencumbered sometime! Does wonders for the sex life.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 5:53 AM
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307.last is a touch off, since of course I'm hardly unencumbered. Rather, it's public school that does wonders for the sex life.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 5:56 AM
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A friend of mine revised his will for 2010 and now, I suppose, will revise it again. I wish he'd stop asking me about the Rule Against Perpetuities.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 5:58 AM
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private schools can be fine for the sex life too, in my experience.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:00 AM
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309: he could move to New Jersey.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:02 AM
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I should write a will sometime. I'm finally meeting with an expat attorney, but since I wasn't in any one of the united states I could never figure out quite how to do it before. I don't want it to be under local law, so...but I'm hardly alone in this, there are lots of expats in the world. I don't mind thinking about my inevitable death, I'm just lazy.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:03 AM
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311: jeez, sifu, what's this guy ever do to you? harsh, dude.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:04 AM
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Reading the wikipeda page on the rule against perpetuities further convinces me that there are few things I'm less interested in understanding in detail than property law.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:23 AM
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But wow, just on the face of it dynasty trusts sound pretty profoundly dickish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:26 AM
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You rule, perpetually.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:27 AM
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checking email, new york state just hit us with an 807,000 tax bill. snap! my uncle's going to pay it and we'll pay him back later. I think when they figure out who's going to be first against the walls when the revolution comes, I'll be in the first thousand. I love me some prints of gouty English twits puddinging up for a fox hunt. especially the one with the fat guy in the hat falling off his horse as they go over a hedge, with an incomprehensibly not-funny caption sucking funny out of the most "ow, my balls!" situation. I love that one!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:43 AM
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In the one I'm thinking of they're literally eating breakfast. O, the drama! It depicts an ancestor of mine, who makes a strong case for the title of doughiest-aristocrat-in-the-room.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:48 AM
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Art 204: Protestant Art of the Early Modern Period: Why did they stop drawing the pretty people?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:53 AM
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319: Ruskin and Mrs. Turner burned those drawings.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 6:57 AM
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flabby ancestors actually eating breakfast, that's awesome. the ones I was thinking of are just prints, various "humorous" situations that might arise while hunting, such as stopping to secretly drink huge quantities of whiskey, or visiting ladies whose repute is not all that it could be, considering, IYKWIMAITTYD. everyone pictured is hideous in a punch magazine way, and everything is unfunny in a painful, screeching to a mental halt, falling into a null pit of anti-humor way. actual ancestors tend to be ugly but just sitting there, no breakfast in sight. and then there is a run of 1870s-1930s hotties, painted by noted portraitists such as I. Will Makeyouhott, and others. early photography shows some legitimate hotties, to be sure.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:05 AM
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My grandma recently painted portraits of all the grandkids, and mine hangs in the living room. As a result there's often an awkward moment when a new guest does a double take back-and-forth from the painting to me.

I've yet to convince anyone I'm an aristocrat, though.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:06 AM
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You need a horse in the painting. Nothing says "aristocrat" like a horse at the breakfast table.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:11 AM
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I hear stanley's good with the horses.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:12 AM
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Nothing says "aristocrat" like a horse at the breakfast table.

NOW YOU TELL ME.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CALIGULA | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:14 AM
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Here, I found a picture of the picture online.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:18 AM
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Of course, in our current era of democracy and $2 well drinks, being identified as an aristocrat might not help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:19 AM
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Well, to be accurate, a picture of a print of the engraving of the painting.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:19 AM
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327: au contraire!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:21 AM
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326: Cavalry whiskers for all!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:21 AM
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Care to come up to my apartment to see my woodcuts.... laydeez?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:21 AM
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I hear stanley's good with the horses.

I do what behooves me.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:21 AM
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327: Is your ancestor the one holding his coat closed or the one straddling the man in the chair?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:24 AM
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I'm glad I'm not an aristocrat, as I would be perpetually mocked for my inability to grow muttonchops.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:26 AM
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OT: People in Pittsburgh need every little thing explained to them:

And the chair says, 'Don't park here.' But what it did not say is, 'There's a giant hole that my car is about to run into here,'" said Kyle Wang, the driver of the car that got stuck in the sinkhole.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:28 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: kciH yboM | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:30 AM
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I've always heard that my mom's uncle painted some of the murals inside Coit Tower. Fine anti-aristocratic fare, that. Wikipedia does not confirm this story, however.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:38 AM
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More topically, this morning I saw a bumper sticker reading "Russ Feingold, President 2012." It wasn't one of those guys with 80 stickers and this was one of them. Of all of this guy's opinions, the only one he was willing to share with people driving behind him was his support of Feingold.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:43 AM
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333: by the one holding his coat closed, do you mean the one with the serious case of male cameltoe? In any case, no, he's neither of them. I'd forgotten how formidable the doughy competition is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:44 AM
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Other things being equal, the average 21st-century American has no right to point a doughy finger or cock a doughy eyebrow at historical midsections.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:49 AM
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In reaction to the Obama tax cut deal, a technocratic liberal mind-meld (or spontaneous convergence on a blogospheric stylistic device):

Knecht: "I think this deal looks...not so bad!"
Drum: "This is....not too bad."
Yggles: "the tax cut deal is . . . not as bad as people feared it would be"

Ellipses in the respective originals!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:51 AM
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Is the guy with the top hat rehearsing an early version of "Dick in a Box"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:51 AM
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Flip, we really can, w/r/t eyebrows. Consider the magnificent specimens in the Presidential portraiture.
Modern eyebrows are but a weak, pale, hothouse, variety, compared to their ancestors. Except Sam Waterston. DAH DUNKH.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:52 AM
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We can mock how smelly they were, though. Right?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:52 AM
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343: A minister at a local church, when I was a kid, had eyebrows that, truly, stuck out at a 45-degree angle from his head for, at their longest, about two and a half inches. It was a demonic look, to say the least.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:54 AM
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344: I smell like lilacs and self-confidence but am opposed to historical aroma-snarking, because I'm a feminist.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:55 AM
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What does self-confidence smell like? Different lilacs?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:58 AM
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Victory.*

* Or low-hanging fruit.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:58 AM
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Lilacs and napalm, then? Remind me not to get too close.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:01 AM
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You should try being unencumbered sometime! Does wonders for the sex life.

Oh god, are we really having the debate about whether parents should encumber their sons again?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:03 AM
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Speaking of low hanging fruit:

For Obama, Tax Deal Is a Back-Door Stimulus Plan.

I didn't write the headline, that's all the Times.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:08 AM
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I don't thing the Times is ever funny on purpose.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:09 AM
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But, they have copy editing and I don't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:37 AM
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351: On this one, Obama probably wishes the Times adhered to Don't Ask Don't Tell.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:38 AM
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So we've covered Obama's dick, his "giant stimulus" and his Back-Door Stimulus in this thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:45 AM
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The spacing of the ellipses is different for the various quotes in 341; apparently, Y (or KR in transcribing) included extra spaces. This is a way to indicate emphasis that was used in fixed-width font "typesetting" in Europe but not in the US.

Aristocratic ancestors who predated typewriters would probably have underlined for emphasis. Old corrrespondence is interesting for handwriting-- one branch of my ancestors looks practically typeset, except for the insane flourishes which oddly are not used for emphasis (maybe the same attitude that prevails now to emoticons has a history), while the peasants really do write like kids.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:45 AM
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You guys are so smart, it's a bit intimidating. But I'm hoping a bit will rub off on me. You guys are the best.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 8:51 AM
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Mike Konczai and Rortybomb is becoming one of the best big econblogs out there. (Big being defined as someone Mark Thoma highlights on his sidebar)

The above post is terrific.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 9:43 AM
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The end of the rule against perpetuities in South Dakota is pretty messed up. It means that on addition to trustees they have this new thing called a trust protector.

The $500K was split between 8 grandkids. Some of them, the Californians who went to UC schools, were able to put payments down on cottages in sparsely populated parts of California.

Those of us who went to private colleges still wound up having to borrow money. Not sure whether I'd have gotten pretty enormous grants from Harvard given how low my parents income was.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 7:26 PM
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I hear stanley's good with the horses.

Especially horses of ill repute.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 10:32 PM
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Those of us who went to private colleges still wound up having to borrow money.

Horrifying.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 8-10 11:01 PM
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