Re: "I was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's body double in the 1976 Boston Marathon." "Oh, really? What did you do?" "I ran!"

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I say again: Had Al Gore taken office in 2000, he would have gotten zero credit from liberals for not invading Iraq, and Obama was likewise destined to get zero credit for the non-war with Iran. As appalling as Obama is in many ways, it's really important that he be re-elected.

(Plus, wasn't that a nice speech by Michelle last night? I continue to have a hard time regarding the Obamas with the level of contempt that is objectively appropriate.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:50 AM
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Yeah. That really annoys me about the "Of course Gore would have invaded Iraq" argument. There is no credit at all for the eight years under Clinton of talking belligerently but nonetheless not actually starting a major war. It's like Democrats just get lucky when they avoid disasters, rather than actively taking steps not to cause them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:05 AM
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That really annoys me about the "Of course Gore would have invaded Iraq" argument.

People say this?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:06 AM
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I've heard people say Gore would have invaded Afghanistan, but not Iraq.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:10 AM
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wasn't that a nice speech by Michelle last night?

I'd never seen a candidate's wife own the crowd like that before. She's very, very good at her job. And oh man, but the camera does love her.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:11 AM
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3: I say it (though 'of course' is too strong) and argued it here at length, maybe about a year ago. Someone told me at the time that dsquared is of the same opinion.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:12 AM
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She has great legs a real connection to the audience.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:12 AM
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6: Huh. You're bonkers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:13 AM
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Heh. I had a dream last night that Bush and Cheney did an Internet broadcast to the nation (something short and fluffy like endorsing Romney), but not realizing the webcam also picked up and sent out 3 minutes of prior bickering, in which Bush blamed Cheney for starting the torture program and having an affair with Valerie Plame.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:15 AM
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3 Scott Ritter used to say it regularly.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:15 AM
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(And also on the personal liking for the Obamas. He is awful in so many ways, but (a) he is better than the alternative, and (b) he and his family are really personally appealing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:16 AM
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I've heard people say Gore would have invaded Afghanistan, but not Iraq.

Me, too. But if we're going for counterfactuals, I say go all in: 9/11 gets prevented under a hypothetical President Gore and then there's no unwinnable war in Afghanistan, either.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:17 AM
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I continue to have a hard time regarding the Obamas with the level of contempt that is objectively appropriate.

This seems really misguided to me. A lot of the stuff Obama gets criticised for from the left is in my opinion mostly the fault of 1) deep structural problems in our political system, and 2) the bloodthirsty, self-spiting American electorate itself. This is not to say that Obama is blameless, but he would not even be in the top 1000 of my "What's wrong with America" list.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:18 AM
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the level of contempt that is objectively appropriate

???

Disappointment, maybe. But contempt? Really??


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:19 AM
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If the "Gore in Iraq" counterfactual stems from 9/11, I have zero regard for it: linking Iraq and the attacks was a huge stretch, not demanded by the public, so very much a choice. If it's based on Iraq becoming more of a threat, I still doubt it, but it's at least conceivable.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:20 AM
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12: Yes! That's the one!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:21 AM
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8: Sorry, can't do anything with that.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:21 AM
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Confusingly, I find 6 wildly misguided and 13 almost entirely correct.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:22 AM
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13: His failure to bring the fucked up expansion of our claimed power to maltreat people for national security back under control is pretty contempt-worthy. There's other stuff I'm unhappy about, but most of the domestic policy issues I can believe that this stuff is just really hard. But the foreign policy/national security stuff has been treated as within the President's arbitrary power for long enough that he could have fixed it without any other institutional player being in much of a position to stop him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:24 AM
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19 forgets the single most powerful institution in Washington.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:25 AM
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19: I get that, but there just isn't any real viable political constituency in favour of doing the right thing here. I would wager that public opinion on this ranges somewhere between indifferent and "kill and torture as many as possible U-S-A U-S-A."


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:28 AM
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20: Antisemite.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:29 AM
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On the other hand, the Washington Post recently produced this report on what looks like some serious Guns of August shit (averted) in 2007.

It was postponed a week and did not in fact start a war so perhaps was not that serious.

As for Todd it seems likely her troubles stem from her personal relationship with a man the USG was out to get. Todd was clearly nervous about passing information outside of channels but no evidence is presented that it actually caused her any (external) problems.

And for Cabelly, what happened to him? He was indicted in 2009 and the article makes a vague reference to sentencing. Was there a trial, plea deal?

And none of this has much of anything to do with Bush who certainly could have started a war with Iran if he really wanted to.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:30 AM
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19.last seemed more plausible to me before Congressional Democrats decided to hamstring Obama's attempt to close Guantanamo Bay lest Congressional Republicans call them terrorists. (Not that this lets off BHO off the hook for being as cowardly as the rest of them.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:31 AM
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22: no, silly, the reptilians.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:32 AM
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24: mm hm.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:32 AM
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I mean "cowardly", maybe? But the M-I-C has a fuckload of juice. I'm not really sure how much of a dent any single president could make. Have they even successfully killed any weapons programs yet?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:33 AM
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19

... There's other stuff I'm unhappy about, but most of the domestic policy issues I can believe that this stuff is just really hard. ...

What's so hard about prosecuting financial malefactors? There was clearly a policy decision not to which I have never really understood as it would have been politically popular. Is it just a bleeding heart liberal reluctance to prosecute anybody for anything?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:37 AM
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Is it just a bleeding heart liberal reluctance to prosecute anybody for anything?

No, it's that this administration is still in Wall Street's pocket.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:39 AM
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28: Is it just a bleeding heart liberal reluctance to prosecute anybody for anything?

Nope, it's pretty obviously the clout of the finance industry.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:40 AM
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Confusingly, I find 6 wildly misguided and 13 almost entirely correct.

Maybe the mismatch is explained by the "bonkers" thing heebie identified.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:41 AM
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Prosecuting financial malefactors really is very very hard; I've done some civil defense work, which is a much easier standard, for people in roughly the category of malefaction that you'd like to see prosecuted and I'm stunned anyone ever gets convicted of anything white-collar. I don't have individual specifics, but I find it very easy to believe that the decision was "We're not going to get convictions, so we don't want to bring prosecutions and lose."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:42 AM
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Also 29 and 30 -- I'm not saying they're not in Wall Street's pocket -- but prosecutions are also very difficult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:43 AM
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Prosecuting financial malefactors really is very very hard;

Is this because the system is working and this is preventing some abuse that I'm not recognizing, or because lobbyists have written the laws under which you can't bust bad people?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:48 AM
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I'm not really sure how much of a dent any single president could make. Have they even successfully killed any weapons programs yet?

Bush was actually quite good at this; he killed Land Warrior, Crusader and Comanche. Obama killed the B-3 program (aka Next-Generation Bomber).

Carter killed B-1, because he knew it was going to be useless and obsolete once the stealth fleet came on line. Then Reagan taunted him for killing it and weakening America. Carter couldn't come out in public and say "I only killed it because we're getting super secret invisible bombers instead", but he got Lockheed to brief Reagan on the stealth programme and what it could do, and why it made the B-1 useless and obsolete.

And Reagan listened to the briefing and went straight back out and said "Carter's killing the B-1 and it'll weaken America!" again, of course.

And then, when he got into power, Reagan brought the B-1 back.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:50 AM
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Largely it comes down to state of mind. To get a criminal conviction, you have to prove that the defendant (generally) knew what they were doing wrong and meant to do it. With shady but not Madoff-class fraud activities and sophisticated defendants who don't put express confessions in writing, it's awfully hard to prove who meant to do what.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:50 AM
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I find it very easy to believe that the decision was "We're not going to get convictions, so we don't want to bring prosecutions and lose."

You make more money from having the banks settle out of court anyway. A criminal case would cost millions and wouldn't bring in much more cash.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:51 AM
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To build on 32, I think federal prosecutors have been taking more risks and getting more black eyes in white-collar cases over the past few years than was generally the case previously. Getting a deferred prosecution agreement or or even a plea from a corporate defendant is easy. Taking an individual defendant to trial is not.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:52 AM
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Contemptible:
1. Civil liberties (surveillance, whistle blowers).
2. Expansion of drone program.
3. Failure to take legal action against massive financial fraud.
4. Failure to take legal action against torturers.

Disappointing:
1. Healthcare reform slanted toward handing corporations a big slice of the pie.
2. Focus on deficit reduction (mitigated somewhat by Republicans' refusal to go along).
3. Failure to shut down Gitmo and try terrorists in U.S. courts.
4. Failure to appreciate the size of the economic slump, causing a failure to even ask for sufficient stimulus.
5. Weak efforts (improved somewhat lately) at reframing the entire discussion around government.

That's how I'd slice it up.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:54 AM
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You make more money from having the banks settle out of court anyway. A criminal case would cost millions and wouldn't bring in much more cash.

Is that the point? As sensible economists never tire of pointing out, governments can print as much cash as they want, provided they're happy with the consequences. I thought the point of prosecuting was to bang up a few billionaires pour encourager les autres.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:58 AM
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Prosecuting financial malefactors really is very very hard;

At the risk of being disrespectful of genuine knowledge, the decriminalization of large-scale financial fraud strikes me as a political decision. Heads rolled during the S&L crisis. Holder could have at least lost a case or two before they surrendered.

(And the S&L crisis happened in Reagan's term. It cracks me up watching James trying to reconcile Obama's deference to Wall Street with Fox News talking points, but yes, Obama has been a less responsible corporate watchdog than Reagan. That's contemptible.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:00 AM
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33

Also 29 and 30 -- I'm not saying they're not in Wall Street's pocket -- but prosecutions are also very difficult.

The government has enormous resources and is hardly helpless when it comes to such prosecutions. Particularly when it can sift though many potential cases and select the easiest to prosecute.

There was an enormous amount of fraud connected with the housing bubble. It stands to reason that this means that there were some really egregious cases that you could pick out. Maybe the top level guys were fairly good at covering their tracks but there are also lots of low and mid level people you could go after. In the lawless atmosphere that prevailed some of them are bound to have done things that were really blatant and incriminating.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:00 AM
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5. Weak efforts (improved somewhat lately) at reframing the entire discussion around government.

A testimonial to him being a better campaigner than leader - he seems to have only realized he needed to take this route in connection with the election, not when he was actually trying to make budget deals.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:06 AM
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The government has enormous resources

The government generally? Sure. Specifically, funding for investigation and prosecution of financial crimes has been drastically insufficient for a long time. That's a bad decision, and one that locks the government in to being very conservative about which cases to bring, but it's not one specifically directed to ignoring fraud in the housing bubble.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:06 AM
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I can't give too much identifying information about this one, but I sat in a courtroom not long ago (for reasons that didn't involve representing a party) and watched what'd looked like an very solid white-collar criminal prosecution against an individual fall apart as an unsympathetic judge just cut the government's case to pieces one evidentiary ruling at a time.

A lot of the rulings were wrong, mind you (I have no hesitation saying that) but what were the prosecutors going to do? There's no appeal for the government after a jury trial in a criminal case.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:07 AM
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it's not one specifically directed to ignoring fraud in the housing bubble.

But clearly directed at ignoring fraud among the type of people who commit financial crimes (rich people), though, wouldn't you say? Considering the huge resources devoted to drug (poor-people) crimes.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:07 AM
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42: In the lawless atmosphere that prevailed some of them are bound to have done things that were really blatant and incriminating.

And those are the people who HAVE been prosecuted -- small-scale, quasi-independent fraudsters who didn't have any major corporation backing them up and were stupid enough to leave incontrovertible paper trails behind. So there's a bunch of people doing 3-5 year sentences for frauds in the 7-or-8 figure range, who were basically just along for the ride but easy to prosecute.

Again, this comes down to regulation vs. court cases: What should have happened was the incoming Obama administration, which had recourse to the torches-and-pitchforks mood prevalent at the time among the electorate, making deals with the big banks to put through Depression-level regulations of all of the various financial instruments & derivatives markets. Instead we got a couple of fall guys going to jail, some fake regulations that didn't change anything, and the government doing the work of kicking people out of their homes on behalf of the banks. That's not all Obama's "fault", but it's hardly a point in his favor either.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:11 AM
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46: Certainly. Resources for prosecution of financial crimes were cut to the bone under Bush, and I don't believe they're recovered under Obama, and both of those are deliberate decisions. I just have trouble wholeheartedly blaming Obama for failing to increase the government resources directed at any particular worthy endeavor, given the position he's been in. I can blame him some, but not without reservation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:11 AM
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Yesterday I was very upset to see a former student passing along a Fox News opinion piece arguing from secret evidence that cannot be disclosed that Obama is planning to facilitate a second Holocaust. She said she was undecided before reading it, but now she knows the truth.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:12 AM
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49: The white man truly is the Jew of liberal fascism.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:14 AM
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36

Largely it comes down to state of mind. To get a criminal conviction, you have to prove that the defendant (generally) knew what they were doing wrong and meant to do it. With shady but not Madoff-class fraud activities and sophisticated defendants who don't put express confessions in writing, it's awfully hard to prove who meant to do what.

Ebbers was convicted under Bush and is serving 25 years after a "conscious avoidance" jury instruction.

Conscious avoidance, sometimes called "willful ignorance," or "willful blindness," has helped prosecutors get convictions against several high-profile white-collar defendants, including Bernard Ebbers, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. (This theory is often used in federal drug-related cases as well.) This theory, in the form of a jury instruction, allows jurors to find that defendants commited securities fraud with intent even absent proof of knowledge of the specific illegal acts if "the evidence would permit a rational juror to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of a high probability of the fact in dispute and consciously avoided confirming that fact." The Second Circuit affirmed Ebbers' conviction on these grounds, ...

Also the above link begins:

A few years ago I wrote an article that compared the powerful tools of the prosecutors of white-collar crimes against the obstacles civil litigants face in trials surrounding the same bad acts. ...


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:16 AM
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50. Presumably this translates as "Obama is going to stand by and do nothing while Iran nukes Israel". In AWB's shoes I would mainly be upset that any student of mine was so lacking in critical faculties as to be convinced by evidence free assertion from a notoriously partisan source.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:18 AM
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Whatever, Shearer. If you think getting convictions against defendants you can't individually identify and whose individual conduct you have no idea about would have been practical, I'm not going to change your mind about it. From the limited amount I know about this stuff (which is, certainly, fairly limited) I think there's an excellent chance that there are significant difficulties that you're underestimating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:20 AM
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From the limited amount I know about this stuff (which is, certainly, fairly limited) I think there's an excellent chance that there are significant difficulties that you're underestimating.

Oddly, this was exactly my reaction to 19.last, except that I have no actual expertise whatsoever, and have merely read one book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:21 AM
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I just have trouble wholeheartedly blaming Obama for failing to increase the government resources directed at any particular worthy endeavor, given the position he's been in. I can blame him some, but not without reservation.

That seems overgenerous in this particular situation. If he'd quadrupled the relevant law enforcement budgets in his first budget request, or in the stimulus, I think he could have made it quite hard on Republicans trying to oppose, even in their current mode of deaf intransigence.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:24 AM
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48

Certainly. Resources for prosecution of financial crimes were cut to the bone under Bush, and I don't believe they're recovered under Obama, and both of those are deliberate decisions. I just have trouble wholeheartedly blaming Obama for failing to increase the government resources directed at any particular worthy endeavor, given the position he's been in. I can blame him some, but not without reservation.

Yet the Bush administration somehow managed to convict Skilling and Ebbers among others. The DOJ has a large budget. Obama ultimately decides how it will be allocated. Are you claiming the entire budget is being spent on more important things? Presumably including the prosecution of Bonds and Clements.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:24 AM
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54: I've only read one book, too, but it was this one, which portrays the MIC as trundling along doing what it pleases, largely indifferent and impervious to whomever's in the Oval Office.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:26 AM
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I don't have any "contempt" whatsoever for Obama and think he's our best President since Truman, but letting his DOJ off the hook for not prosecuting more financial crime is nonsense. The Reagan administration was far more aggressive -- don't forget that Reagan's DOJ took down Drexel, which was the most powerful investment bank in the country at the time. Part of it is that the administration inherited the mess that Bush II had made of DOJ, part of it is that prosecutors had gotten lazy and moved away from white collar cases, part of it is that the sophistication of the regulators had been left in the dust by the banks, part of it is the total fail that is the SEC. But the failure to have more prosecutions and investigations stemming from mortgage fraud and the like (not to mention things like LIBOR) is inexcusable and stems directly from the attitudes of the people in charge of DOJ, who are more used to defending banks than aggressively regulating them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:28 AM
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Conscious avoidance can be easier to prove than straight-up specific intent, but you still need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was aware of a high probability of the relevant fact and "consciously avoided" confirming that knowledge. Which cashes out to a written communication saying (or implying -- but the implication has to be beyond a reasonable doubt) "don't tell me about X because I don't want to know about it" or to a witness who can credibly testify to a conversation to the same effect.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:29 AM
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I have only read one book in my life, and that is 'White Fang.' It's so frightfully good I've never bothered to read another.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:30 AM
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I don't really disagree with 58; I'm mostly just arguing that prosecuting financial crimes isn't as straightforwardly easy as people are claiming it is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:31 AM
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"I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"


Posted by: Opinionated Sergeant Schultz | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:31 AM
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They got that shady Martha Stewart character but good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:32 AM
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53

Whatever, Shearer. If you think getting convictions against defendants you can't individually identify and whose individual conduct you have no idea about would have been practical, ...

I am not sure it is a good idea to start discussing named individuals in this forum but I can think of one person off the top of my head who seems to be on the way to getting an undeserved pass. And I expect I could come up with others. Anyway if you want to believe Obama has done all he could I am obviously not going to change your mind either.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:33 AM
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I have read only two books. One of them is The Great Transformation and the other isn't.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:34 AM
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Anyway if you want to believe Obama has done all he could I am obviously not going to change your mind either.

I'm not sure the claim is "Obama has done all he could" so much as "it's plausibly difficult enough to try these cases that a reasonable person could decide their resources are better deployed elsewhere".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:36 AM
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64: You're getting squeamish about identifying public figures who you think should have been prosecuted for financial fraud in blog comments? Why? If you've got an opinion about anyone specific, presumably it's because you read it in some publicly available media, not from knowledge privately available to you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:37 AM
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67: he means nosflow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:37 AM
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55

... If he'd quadrupled the relevant law enforcement budgets in his first budget request, ...

I don't think he had to involve Congress at all. If in fact Bush cut financial prosecution resources in favor of other stuff (like voter fraud) Obama could cut other stuff in favor of prosecuting financial crimes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:38 AM
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61 is definitely true. Prosecuting these cases is very hard, they require massive discovery and efforts to flip witnesses and the like. The FBI used to do a fair amount of this kind of investigation in the 1980s and DOJ was staffed to handle it, but that hasn't really been true since Bush II and the Obama DOJ didn't make much of an effort to reverse the trend.

AFAICT the allocation of resources in the USAOs offices are still heavily weighted towards "terrorism," large scale drug crime, immigration offenses, and examples of really blatant low level fraud, and there just hasn't been much of an effort to put time and money towards difficult cases.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:40 AM
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66

I'm not sure the claim is "Obama has done all he could" so much as "it's plausibly difficult enough to try these cases that a reasonable person could decide their resources are better deployed elsewhere".

Ok make it "all he reasonably could".


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:40 AM
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67

You're getting squeamish about identifying public figures who you think should have been prosecuted for financial fraud in blog comments? ...

Ok, let me put it this way. I don't understand why Edith O'Brien can't be prosecuted.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:43 AM
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70

... but that hasn't really been true since Bush II ...

So how did Bush II convict Ebbers and Skilling?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:44 AM
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It probably wasn't hard to get people to talk after the bankruptcy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:48 AM
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Of course, Lehman had it's own bankruptcy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:50 AM
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Both Ebbers and Skilling, believe it or not, were relatively "easy" cases in that the key evidence and horrible documents came out almost immediately (they still took forever to prosecute, but DOJ didn't need a huge amount of sophistication to figure out the basic facts). But even so recall that those cases were relatively early; my understanding is that most of the resources that were put into those cases even in the Bush II years had been shifted to other things, the relevant prosecutors had left, etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:51 AM
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She's a fair pick -- not really 'the housing bubble' or 'the financial crisis', but certainly a situation where it looks as though someone should have been prosecuted, and it should have been either her or someone above her she was testifying against. And I'd agree that MF Global seems like a case where prosecutions could very plausibly have been fruitful.

But again, that's not 'the housing bubble.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:52 AM
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Obama was likewise destined to get zero credit for the non-war with Iran.

Maybe that's because he did not renew any negotiations or diplomatic talks with Iran, and let Israel manipulate us to the brink of war with Iran? Conceptually Obama has laid the groundwork for war even if he was/is too smart to pull the trigger. But he has teed things up very well for the next wingnut to get into office, just as Clinton did with his Iraq sanctions. The dialectic of ineffectual Democrat giving ground right to the point of surrender and then the Republican pushing things over the edge works perfectly for the conservative agenda.

I do think it hurts the left that people are unable to face up to what a truly mediocre president Obama has been. This administration actively lobbied behind the scenes against Congressional liberals to weaken financial reform, health reform, and the stimulus. Then he almost gave away big chunks of Medicare and SS in the budget talks and was apparently stopped only by the Senate Democrats. Pretty lame.

Based on Obama's first term performance, in a policy sense he's disturbingly similar to Bush I.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:54 AM
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52 is exactly my worry. She is one of the smarter students I've had in my career--really creative thinker, hard worker, but, like many of my Zionist students, has exactly zero critical faculties whenever someone says "Israel." The whole piece is just absurd. There is no information in it, just untellable secrets and fearmongering.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:57 AM
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Based on Obama's first term performance, in a policy sense he's disturbingly similar to Bush I.

This is true in the same sense that Nixon was a moderate. I suppose it was inevitable that we'd reach the point in the electoral calendar when you'd begin to say things like 78, but it still annoys me unduly. I suppose that's my problem and not yours, and I should just be grateful that you haven't yet begun to shill for the great Ron Paul.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:03 AM
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I could multiply examples. Obama is more similar to Hoover than Roosevelt -- elected simultaneously to an economic crisis, smart technocrat, tried solutions that were on the progressive end of conventional wisdom but failed to make a real dent in the problem. The reason we're getting Japan II instead of Great Depression II was the willingness of Bernanke and Geithner to step in aggressively to save the banks, (Bernanke in particular was willing to bend the rules and take an aggressive position -- he has his problems but IMO deserves most of the credit).

I don't see Obama as any more admirable or likable as a person than Romney either. They both seem like decent human beings to me.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:04 AM
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I meant to say, "I suppose further" that second time. Oh well. Being annoyed gives me aphasia.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:05 AM
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There is no information in it, just untellable secrets and fearmongering.

Add some bodice-encased breasts and sell it to HBO.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:05 AM
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Mozilo should have gone to jail for the housing bubble.

The failure to address the incompetent bond ratings agencies is a problem, and the freedom that banks have to lie about what they are selling to clients should change.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:07 AM
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This administration actively lobbied behind the scenes against Congressional liberals to weaken financial reform, health reform, and the stimulus.

And not just behind the scenes; a fair amount of that lobbying occurred right out in the open.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:07 AM
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Obama is more similar to Hoover than Roosevelt

Were we having this discussion? If so, I must have missed it. And yes, Obama has pursued or continued some policies that are similar to Bush I's, but the two are not "disturbingly similar" any more than Nixon was a moderate. Also, it bears mentioning that Bush I looks like a centrist Democrat these days and couldn't possibly be nominated by his own party.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:11 AM
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Obama should have a dam named after him instead of an island near Manhattan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:13 AM
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I don't see Obama as any more admirable or likable as a person than Romney either. They both seem like decent human beings to me.

Yes, Mitt Romney is a grand person. I mean, he's no Ron Paul, it's true, but not everyone can cure the sick.

Anyway, as I said above, your comments about politics get under my skin more than they should. And it really is my problem. You're entitled to believe what you want to believe, no matter how wrong I think you are, and I'll shut up now.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:15 AM
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I don't think there's much evidence that the Obama administration was more moderate than the median vote in the 111th Congress, which is what matters. In fact, there is considerable evidence that Obama was well to the left of the 60th vote in the Senate in that Congress. Note that this is perfectly consistent with "lobbying against Congressional liberals"; Congressional liberals are a constituency but were not sufficient to pass legislation in the 111th Congress, so insisting that they compromise is not an insane position if what you care about is actually getting legislation out that can pass. The question is not whether Obama reflected the preferences of the most liberal member of Congress, it's how much he left on the table, and I don't think there's much evidence that he left much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:16 AM
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The conversation has moved on, but istm that if the 9/11 attacks had happened, President Gore would have been impeached for ignoring the CIA briefing, (and the failed Noriega-style effort to get Bin Laden), and President Lieberman (with his appointed unity VP Dick Cheney) would have invaded Iraq.

I don't know much about such things, but suspect that neither Treasury nor the political people thought a jihad against Wall Street malefactors would be a good idea, just as I think the national security establishment* and the political people agree that pursuing lawbreaking related to the war is a bad idea. I suppose that Obama is convinced by the arguments concerning the effects on the economy in the one case, national security and morale in the second case, and the politics in both cases, and has chosen the 'disappointing and immoral but arguably in the short term national interest' course in both. And maybe they are right about the politics.

*We are talking about people who did not vote for the president, do not support the agenda he ran on, and have the power to not only sabotage that agenda, but to inflict broad and deep damage well beyond it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:17 AM
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The idea that Obama has even close to all that reasonably could have been done to fight financial fraud is laughable. He very explicitly positioned himself as a friend of financial executives, the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks, a reasonable guy looking to work with them to craft a reasonable response to help appease public anger. You can't take that position and then start throwing people in jail.

(And of course he positioned himself as their friend; he'd just taken buckets of their money.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:18 AM
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President Gore would have been impeached for ignoring the CIA briefing, (and the failed Noriega-style effort to get Bin Laden), and President Lieberman (with his appointed unity VP Dick Cheney) would have invaded Iraq.

This seems really, really, astonishingly, wildly, implausible to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:19 AM
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12 et al.: Presdient Gore would not have started a war with Iraq. He would have been impeached for his actions on 9/11: personally ordering the arrests and indefinite detentions of seventeen individuals, most of them in the United States legally and all without criminal records, in pre-dawn raids at various airport hotels. The detention of the "born again 17," as they came to be known after Chuck Colson met with them in prison, represented a horrific abuse of power and both parties supported the impeachment.

So no war in Iraq or Afghanistan. President Leiberman would have started a war with Iran.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:20 AM
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semi-pwned but a different twist.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:21 AM
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Are 90 and 93 actually intended to be serious guesses at what would have been likely to have happened under a Gore presidency, or are they just bitter jokes about how there's no possible way to win? I can't process thinking of either of those as remotely plausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:23 AM
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The impeachment thing is unnecessary. I think President Gore may simply have invaded Iraq. Washington had been full of centrist Democrat wankers (a group which includes both Clinton and Gore) wanting to do this or something like it since the end of the Gulf War.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:23 AM
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Further to 89, in (domestic) areas that I know about, the Obama administration, when it's been able to act unilaterally through administrative regs or whatever, has done pretty much exactly what you would expect a relatively liberal Democratic administration to do. So I just don't think the idea that the administration is significantly to the right of his own party holds water.

suspect that neither Treasury nor the political people thought a jihad against Wall Street malefactors would be a good idea

Yes, that's clearly right. It's not even that unreasonable a view, though I disagree with it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:23 AM
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I agree wholeheartedly with 89.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:23 AM
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Washington had been full of centrist Democrat wankers (a group which includes both Clinton and Gore) wanting to do this or something like it since the end of the Gulf War.

During which time Clinton was president and Gore was VP for eight years and they didn't invade. Doesn't that mean anything?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:26 AM
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Washington had been full of centrist Democrat wankers (a group which includes both Clinton and Gore) wanting to do this or something like it since the end of the Gulf War.

Oh, what nonsense. Really. Clinton had been wanting to invade Iraq ever since 1991, but, somehow, during the eight years he spent as president, he never quite got round to it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:26 AM
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In an alternate universe, I would be impeached for pwning LB.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:27 AM
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99, 100: Obviously there wasn't political capital to do so prior to 9/11, but there were crippling sanctions and missile and air strikes throughout the Clinton administration. Evan Bayh, Joe Liebermann, and Bob Kerry were senior members of the CLI, a group openly advocating regime change.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:30 AM
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See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Liberation_Act


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:32 AM
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The dialectic of ineffectual Democrat giving ground right to the point of surrender and then the Republican pushing things over the edge works perfectly for the conservative agenda.

This wildly understates the mountains Bush had to move to get us into Iraq. Clinton didn't tee it up for him. Even in the fantastically paranoid environment that followed 9-11, Bush spent more than a year placing enormous pressure on the war bureaucracy to provide a false rationale. Absent 9-11, Bush's task would have been much more difficult - maybe impossible.

That same bureaucracy rebelled and torpedoed the Cheney plan for war against Iran. A more determined president with more time could have gotten around, say, a National Intelligence Estimate that said that Iran wasn't pursuing nukes. Fortunately, a very determined John McCain wasn't given the opportunity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:33 AM
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I don't really disagree with 58; I'm mostly just arguing that prosecuting financial crimes isn't as straightforwardly easy as people are claiming it is.

Honest question, have there been significant fraud prosecutions for wealthy bankers in the UK or any European country? If there haven't been it makes me more sympathetic to the argument that it's a difficult case to win, since I have no doubt that fraud was going on in other countries.

On that note, I don't know whether to find this encouraging or depressing:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/09/04/was-the-decline-of-american-unions-inevitable-ask-canada/


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:36 AM
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102: The elision between 'advocating regime change' and 'planning to bring it about through invasion' is completely unwarranted. There's a list the length of your arm of countries which the US would like to see regime change in, but we're not planning to invade most of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:36 AM
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Honest question, have there been significant fraud prosecutions for wealthy bankers in the UK or any European country?

Honest answer, in yer dreams, mate.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:38 AM
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The idea that Obama has even close to all that reasonably could have been done to fight financial fraud is laughable. He very explicitly positioned himself as a friend of financial executives, the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks, a reasonable guy looking to work with them to craft a reasonable response to help appease public anger. You can't take that position and then start throwing people in jail.

Oh, sure you can. If the financial executives themselves can respond to their dearest friend and pitchfork shield by uniting behind any and all efforts to first give Mitch McConnell veto power over everything he wants and then try to replace him with Mitt Romney, he can do what's necessary to keep a new Great Depression from occurring and still prosecute some people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:41 AM
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106: The elision between 'advocating regime change' and 'planning to bring it about through invasion'

It was able to transition from one to the other because of 9/11. The MIC wanted it. The GOP wanted it. Half the Democratic party either wanted or would be willing to go along with it. After 9/11, the American public wanted it. Why shouldn't it happen, then?

There's a list the length of your arm of countries which the US would like to see regime change in

And Iraq was at the top.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:41 AM
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89 is an astute comment. I mean, sure, one could say that Obama should have pulled the center further to the left -- heck, I would say that -- but ignoring the state of play, as people so often do, is silly. [Insert caveat here about all the horrible and disappointing things, of which there are many, that Obama has done.] [Insert boilerplate here about the military-industrial complex (though Jetpack and others have beat me there, I see).]


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:41 AM
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Note that this is perfectly consistent with "lobbying against Congressional liberals"; Congressional liberals are a constituency but were not sufficient to pass legislation in the 111th Congress, so insisting that they compromise is not an insane position if what you care about is actually getting legislation out that can pass.

The criticism is that he did a poor job of placing the blame for what couldn't pass on the Republicans, and a poor job of using the tools he did have (outside congress). What happened to the idea that strong financial reform would pass because otherwise the industry would be prosecuted out of existence? What happened to the idea that the energy industry would come begging for congressional action on cap-and-trade because the alternative would be much worse rules from the EPA? What happened to the idea that our torture regime would be repudiated and its perpetrators held to account? Etc. All of these things were subverted at each turn because Obama consistently wanted to present himself as the most reasonable person in the room.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:42 AM
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110 sums it up nicely.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:43 AM
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because the alternative would be much worse rules from the EPA?

I'm pretty sure the Republicans are not particularly scared of this.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:50 AM
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You don't think Gore would have been impeached? I think that's the most plausible part of my counterfactual.

The Iraq Liberation Act was imposed by wingnuts, and Clinton could allow it because it didn't commit him to do anything serious.

91.2 -- It's not just the money. You have to decide who you want as enemies, and how active you want them to be in their enmity. O caved, completely, to the national security people in April 2009, and even when they are obviously wrong about something (Afghanistan, Yemen) he doesn't interfere. The politics probably is sound on this: a terrorist attack would probably be fatal to the entire agenda, including reelection, and a terrorist attack after having overruled the national security people on anything at all would definitely be fatal. You end up backing into 1% solution territory, even when you know it's wrong.

I can imagine the same sort of thing on the economy. You want big money to lay low while you're trying to do a stimulus, get health care, get some kind of reasonable regulation. They may have underestimated how whiny and entitled the do-nothing money-changers really are, but then maybe they didn't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:53 AM
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111 -- on the part of that story I know most about, which is the EPA, the administration has pushed forward with carbon regulation and setting fuel efficiency standards and the like, in ways that are pretty tough and consistent with what pretty much any President would do. I don't think that cap and trade failed because there wasn't effort by the administration; it passed the House in the 111th Congress, with administration support, and then failed in the Senate because there weren't close to 60 votes for it, regardless of arm twisting.

Also, a gigantic financial reform package did pass, and was enacted. Was it tough enough in all areas? Probably not, but I'm not sure tha a threat of future prosecutions by the DOJ related to the mortgage crisis would have made that bill stronger.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:53 AM
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"any liberal democratic President"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:55 AM
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Apparently, local sewers here put so much shit in the rivers, that the Bush EPA found time to force us to court about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:55 AM
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All of these things were subverted at each turn because Obama consistently wanted to present himself as the most reasonable person in the room.

To be fair, this is the strategy he campaigned on. One can argue that it was a futile effort (and the GOP did everything in their power to ensure its futility), but I don't fault him for trying. And given unwavering Republican obstructionism, I'm not sure he gotten much more in terms of actual results had he adopted a take-no-prisoners approach from day one.

Further to 89, the main hurdles Obama faced in terms of getting anything done legislatively in the first two years were Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman. The compromises that he had to make in order to get their votes may be distasteful in the extreme, but I can't see how a more combative and strident hard-left approach would have been more effective in getting their votes.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:57 AM
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114.1: There may not have been the stomach for two impeachments right after the other. The GOP would probably be content to hammer Gore on the weakness of his and the preceding administration, which invited 9/11, yadda yadda yadda, then defeat him in a landslide in 2004.

To avoid this, Gore would behave very aggressively. He may even have invaded Iraq.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:57 AM
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117 -- You mean they went after a Democratic city to force it to enter into huge construction contracts with big players? I'm shocked!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:57 AM
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Obviously there wasn't political capital to do so prior to 9/11, but there were crippling sanctions and missile and air strikes throughout the Clinton administration.

So, just to be clear, there was enough political capital to put US troops into Bosnia and Kosova and Haiti during the Clinton administration; and there was enough political capital to put two CBGs in harm's way in the Taiwan Strait when the Chinese were firing missiles at Taiwan in '96; and there was enough political capital to back the Kurds in '96 and bomb Iraq in '93 and '96 and '98, and enough to keep the sanctions in place; but there just wasn't quite enough to actually put ground troops in?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:58 AM
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118 -- We know that Max Baucus told Obama early on that there were not 60 votes for a public option, and I'd bet that historians will prove, years hence, that he told him there weren't 50. Could Obama have gotten it up to 50? Maybe, but at very substantial cost. To 60? No, thus making the cost of getting over 50 an unwise expenditure.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:00 AM
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121: I'm not sure you appreciate the difference in scale between the things you listed and full-scale invasion and regime change.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:01 AM
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120: I hear what you're saying, but it's apparently just that much shit after a heavy rain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:01 AM
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All of these things were subverted at each turn because Obama consistently wanted to present himself as the most reasonable person in the room.

I know this is a popular perspective -- offered up by, among others, Ryan Lizza -- but again, it seems to ignore Halford's 89. What if, instead of the above, Obama just didn't want to fail, understood that he was dealing with an unbelievably intransigent and conservative Congress, and thus pursued policies that he thought had a snowball's chance in hell of succeeded or becoming law?

If that's the case, then, looking at your points individually, Obama might have recognized that he actually didn't have the apparatus necessary at Justice to prosecute all the financial bad guys; that the EPA under Obama has actually been either pretty or very good, but that pretty or very good doesn't come close to equaling the pressure necessary to get something like Cap and Trade through the Senate; and that the center of his own party tied his hands on Guantanamo and his stated desire to prosecute accused terrorists in New York City.

Again, there's an argument to be made that Obama, recognizing his own mandate and the mood the country, should have spent more political capital trying to pull the center of the Democratic caucus to the left early in his term, but that's a much subtler argument than, "He's addicted to being seen as reasonable and is actually weak."


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:01 AM
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114.3, .4 get it right. So does 118.last. So does Vee Dub, of course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:07 AM
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109: After 9/11, the American public wanted it.

Are we just letting this stand? No, they didn't. PUblic polling was quite clear, right up until the bombs started falling, the American public opposed war with Iraq. Despite the administration and the party that controlled 1.5 houses of Congress going all-out for war (assisted by innumerable wankers/sociopaths in the media), they were unable to convince the American public to get on board until it became a live war, at which point the flag was duly rallied around.

It's pure revisionism to claim that President Gore would have been forced into war against Iraq, let alone that he would have chosen it (since we obviously needn't speculate on what he would have thought at the time - he had an election stolen, but he wasn't assassinated.).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:15 AM
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The elision between 'advocating regime change' and 'planning to bring it about through invasion' is completely unwarranted.

Please note that in our own, non-counterfactual universe, Al Gore opposed the invasion of Iraq, and he did so without recanting any of his previous positions. I offer this in case any more evidence is needed beyond Clinton's non-invasion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:17 AM
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I'm pretty sure the Republicans are not particularly scared of this.

They were supposed to be. For years and years we were told that can and trade was a better/more realistic option than a carbon tax because the fear of the EPA regulating carbon would get the GOP on board. Then, when they didn't get on board, poof, that claim vanishes - and now we're apparently to believe that no one would ever have claimed it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:18 AM
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Except, the EPA is regulating carbon, right now, and is in fact doing so fairly aggressively. Yet Republicans don't seem particularly inclined to go for a cap and trade regime. So, we now have evidence that regulating carbon will not suffice to get Republicans to agree to a cap and trade regime.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:23 AM
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129: who said that nobody would ever have claimed it? Of course people claimed it. It just turned out that they were engaging in wishful thinking as they underestimated the discipline of the Republican and the conservatism of the Democratic Congressional caucuses, not to mention the power of big business in American politics.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:26 AM
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How has this conversation gone so far without anyone uttering the acronym HAMP?

Obama owns Geithner, Bernanke, and HAMP. He also owns 2 vacant seats on the Fed Board and hundreds of vacant judgeships.

Yes, the GOP would have fought him on lots of judges and did fight him on Diamond to the Fed, but he spent zero effort, let alone political capital, in those areas prior to 2010.

Also, too, we were told during the Bush admin that security pros opposed torture, that it was coming from Cheney and his cabal, but now that Obama's in charge, it turns out that the security pros would sabotage the entire nation rather than permit a torture prosecution or three.

Look, I'm not strongly anti-Obama - I don't think I should feel contempt for him - but let's be real here, people. Do you really want to fight on the ground of "Obama has been the most effectively liberal president that anyone could conceivably have been over the past 44 months"? Because that's pretty much what I'm hearing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:27 AM
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Also not to mention, optimists about getting Cap and Trade through Congress underestimated the credulousness of the American electorate. Sadly, it turns out that not everyone was persuaded -- or even saw -- An Inconvenient Truth.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:28 AM
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Fucking polar bears.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:29 AM
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132.last: then you're hearing the voices in your head.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:30 AM
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Maybe hearing bob's voices?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:31 AM
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127 is right. The invasion of Iraq was testimony to the ability of a president to shape public opinion. Bush was in no way pushed into it.

I would also push back on Charley's assertion that a counterfactual post-911 Gore impeachment is plausible. Gore would certainly have satisfied Americans' thirst for blood in Afghanistan, and there's not a chance in the world that we'd impeach a war president, especially a war president involved in an extremely popular war.

Sure, Gore would have received different treatment from Bush, but not that different.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:32 AM
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Please note that in our own, non-counterfactual universe, Al Gore opposed the invasion of Iraq

Well...yes? And if events had been different people would have done different things. This is the whole idea of the exercise.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:34 AM
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"Obama has been the most effectively liberal president that anyone could conceivably have been over the past 44 months"?

I don't know that I'd go that far, but I would say that I think Obama did approximately as well as you'd expect any mainstream Democratic party liberal to do.* Which doesn't mean that I agree with every decision he's made, by a long shot, including HAMP. But if you're looking at "effective liberal presidents" in US history you've got pretty slim pickings, and by those standards Obama did reasonably well with the hand he was dealt. I'm supportive of attacking Obama from the left, but I also think that the rhetoric of "contempt" and the like goes way too far. As I say, I think he's our best president since Truman, which doesn't mean he's perfect.

*I hold a romantic notion that Hillary would have realized earlier that the key to getting out of the rescission was to funnel more money to state and local governments, and that she could have done so. But this is basically speculation and fantasy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:36 AM
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who said that nobody would ever have claimed it?

113 is awfully dismissive. To me it's revisionist to treat dismissively what was once conventional wisdom. CW is of course often wrong, but to dismiss it treats it as obviously wrong, something that no one could have ever taken seriously (rather than something that, in retrospect, shouldn't have been taken seriously).

We now know that it was absurd ever to think that the USSR could keep up economically with the US, but to dismiss it - to say, in the context of Cold War geopolitics, "I don't think the Soviet Union had much chance of out-producing us" - is to radically distort the actual geopolitics of the Cold War era.

Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding history, and it's actual best practice to write things like, "Since the North would obviously outproduce the South, secession was doomed from the start."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:36 AM
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139 to 135. Thanks, Rob.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:37 AM
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137.2 -- Republicans would have been against nation building, and in favor of a limited strike (which the military establishment would have supported also), which would not have worked. A failed war president, they'd say. They'd already been howling about wagging the dog the last time the US ineffectually went after AQ. Jeffords doesn't defect, so there's control of both houses, and a Republican investigation, with the same committee chairs as did the Clinton impeachment in charge. And this time they are determined to get their scalp, and what with 3,000 dead Americans, and OBL laughing, there's no "move on" sentiment.

JRoth, I think O could have and should have stood up to the national security establishment. It would have been very rough, and maybe he'd have been sunk over it. I can't say that his advisors who told him it wasn't worth the risk were wrong on the politics. That's not the same as saying he's the most effective anyone could have been.

We're an immature polity. Leadership that panders, and lies (cakewalks, mushroom clouds) can work, I suppose. But not in the face of determined opposition that (a) wins the Village and (b) actually has a blocking position in our political system.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:41 AM
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JRoth: in the specific context of cap and trade, what are you talking about? There was a claim that, the threat of EPA aggressively regulating carbon emissions, including shutting down coal fired power plants, would have been sufficient to build a political coalition for cap and trade. The Obama administration came in, and said "pass legislation, or we'll resolve this through aggressive regulation by EPA." The legislation did not pass. EPA went forward, and has now put out aggressive carbon regulations. There is still no momentum for cap and trade legislation.

I don't see why Obama should be held accountable for the fact that some people had a wrong belief about the politics of cap and trade.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:41 AM
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And just to repeat, I'm not that down on Obama, although Pelosi deserves more credit for ACHA than he does. I just think Halford's position washes away a lot of detail*.

* it's killing me that I can't recall the incident: about a year ago, there was a top-down directive through the EPA or another environmentally-engaged agency that was really shitty, and not forced by the GOP at all. I suspect it was a Salazar-driven extractive thing. But anyway, I recall the existence of it, even if I can't recall the specifics, because I forwarded to Megan, who had written at one point that she was seeing great stuff in the agencies from Obama's people, and this was a stark contrast with that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:42 AM
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141: Are you reading my comment as confirmation that people are saying that Obama was unquestionably as effective as anyone possibly could have been? That's not what I, or anyone else, am saying. What I am saying is that, taken as a whole, he was about as effective as you'd expect from a mainstream liberal Democrat, and looks pretty good by historical standards.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:44 AM
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143: Yeah sorry, I should be clear: I'm not blaming Obama on this at all. I'm purely reacting against the dismissiveness of 113. Obama was acting within the (liberal) CW and proceeded as best he could. But I read 113 and was thrown by its blithe handwaving of what everyone (left and center at least) thought at the time.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:45 AM
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145: I'm reading your comment as being closer to reality than "voices in my head", which was pretty fucking dismissive itself.

Obviously there's daylight between your 139 and my (intentionally overstated) 132.last, but they're a lot closer than 132.last and pure fantasy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:47 AM
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I don't think O's people can really be faulted for failing to anticipate the extent to which Republicans could repudiate their own prior positions and pay no price whatsoever for it. They surely expected to co-opt someone somewhere, at least so that someone could avoid looking completely ridiculous. Turns out, though, no.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:48 AM
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And now, swimminglunch and work.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:49 AM
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141: I think there's a fair amount of daylight between Obama has been the most effectively liberal president that anyone could conceivably have been over the past 44 months and I think Obama did approximately as well as you'd expect any mainstream Democratic party liberal to do, but maybe you don't see it that way.

Also, I can't tell if you're trolling in most of 140 and especially there at the end, but it certainly reads that way to me. Which is often the case when you and I (or PGD and I) get into it about politics. I say one thing, I have the sense that you respond by putting words in my mouth or ascribing positions to me that I don't actually hold, I then assume that you're trolling, and we're off to the races. To be clear, I'm sure you think the same or worse of me. Regardless, in the end, it's just not worth it. Believe what you want to believe. We're both voting for the lesser evil. It's the stuff of folk songs.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:51 AM
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Before I go I'll endorse 148. I think Obama was a fool to believe his own bipartisan bullshit, but I don't think he was a fool to expect something resembling the traditional rules of American politics to hold. As Ezra Klein noted the other day, Ryan's speech was breathtakingly less honest than Sarah Palin's, but, as Krugman noted, the Village is swiftly flushing that down the memory hole in a chorus of "both sides".

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm liking Obama more because I've liked his campaign better than almost anything he's done (including his first campaign). They've been savvy, tough, and way ahead of the opposition (without trying too-cute 11 dimensional chess shit).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:52 AM
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I'm purely reacting against the dismissiveness of 113. /i>

I actually meant that comment in a pretty different direction than you're taking it, and I also was talking out of my ass, since I don't know many particulars about this particular issue. You can chill with the worrying about my dismissiveness.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:53 AM
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I'm not sure you appreciate the difference in scale between the things you listed and full-scale invasion and regime change.

Haiti was a full-scale invasion and regime change. It was unopposed because the junta gave in when the 82nd Airborne Division's lead elements were actually in the air on the way to their drop zones.

And the US was fully prepared to do the same in Kosova if the Serbs hadn't folded. It was the threat of a ground invasion that prompted them to fold.

Seriously. "I'm not sure you appreciate the difference in scale." Christ.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:54 AM
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VW, you and I haven't discussed politics in 3 years or more. Are you sure you're thinking of me?

I like you, and while the last line of 140 was a jab, I was making a serious point. I think there's a big difference between "Proposition X turned out to be false" and "Proposition X was always obviously false". Do you seriously disagree with that?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:55 AM
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I hadn't seen 147 or 149 before posting 150. On the one hand, sorry. I don't want to be dismissive. But on the other hand, I also have a hard time with what I perceive as your longstanding tendency to (perhaps willfully; this is why I see it as trolling, but it could just be that you're hearing me say thing I'm not saying or that, more likely, I'm not communicating clearly) misread what I write. Again, though, it's not worth getting our blood angried up over this sort of thing.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:56 AM
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152: Fair enough - it certainly occurred to me that you didn't mean nearly as much as I was reading into it. Probably because I did follow the particulars, it struck me strongly.

Comity!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:57 AM
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Do carry on with worrying about that dismissive bastard Von Wafer, though.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:58 AM
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Republicans would have been against nation building, and in favor of a limited strike (which the military establishment would have supported also)

No, this is wrong. Read Steve Coll, "Ghost Wars", or Richard Clarke "Against All Enemies" or Jason Burke "The 9/11 Wars" or "On the Road to Kandahar" or Wes Clarke's "Waging Modern War" or Rupert Smith's "Utility of Force" or essentially any book about the US making war over the last 20 years, and find me one example of the military establishment not wanting to go in massively mob-handed. Rumsfeld had an uphill struggle getting them to agree to his lightweight plan for Iraq and his SOF-and-bombers plan for Afghanistan. The US army likes to go to war in strength.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:59 AM
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154: no, I'm thinking of the last time we did this. I've actually found myself in political fights on the Internet very infrequently through the years. But when I have, it's almost invariably been with you, PGD, or sometimes politicalfootball (the fights with bob don't count, I don't think, for reasons that should be self evident).

And for what it's worth, I like you too (quite a lot, actually), which is why I these discussions are silly. For reasons that I don't really understand, it seems like we (and PGD and I) consistently see the other person as arguing in bad faith.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:01 AM
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155: Again, I didn't think we had a thing - I'm a Lincoln man, for crying out loud. But maybe I've consistently been a dick to you in these discussions without ever noticing that you were the target. There are people I have a conscious negative reaction to when I read their (political) comments/posts, but you're not one of them.

Seriously, I'm going to starve* if I keep this up.

* so over the past few months I've pretty convincingly confirmed what I've long suspected: that, counter to what everyone says, skipping breakfast really is a good weight loss strategy for me. But it does mean that I'm eating earlier lunches.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:02 AM
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counter to what everyone says, skipping breakfast really is a good weight loss strategy

Now THERE's a fight in which I will gladly take up arms. You are wrong!!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:03 AM
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Do carry on with worrying about that dismissive bastard Von Wafer, though.

I know, he's the worst!

I've actually found myself in political fights on the Internet very infrequently through the years. But when I have, it's almost invariably been with you, PGD, or sometimes politicalfootball

Well, I'm sorry to have gotten under your skin so.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:04 AM
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Obama was a fool to believe his own bipartisan bullshit, but I don't think he was a fool to expect something resembling the traditional rules of American politics to hold

I'm down with this, though I feel like he should have realized much, much earlier that the GOP had thrown away the rulebook and was just going for full-bore obstructionism. Now I wonder whether the Democrats will have the discipline to deal the same hand to President Rubio in 2017-2020, rather than just reverting to their traditional ratchet effect role.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:05 AM
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I think there's a big difference between "Proposition X turned out to be false" and "Proposition X was always obviously false". Do you seriously disagree with that?

Since I haven't disagreed with this at all, no, I think it's fair to assume that don't seriously disagree with it. You see? This is the sort thing I'm talking about.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:06 AM
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Well, I'm sorry to have gotten under your skin so.

You have nothing to apologize for. As I said above to PGD, I'm quite convinced that it's my problem and not yours.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:08 AM
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158 -- Yeah, when they're actually going to war. I don't think it was required that the response to 9/11 be an attempt to conquer and 'nation build' Afghanistan. It could as well have been extractive, along Noriega lines, and I'm guessing that in the politics of my counterfactual, that's the direction it would have gone.

I wonder if Iraq and Afghanistan will be seen as the end of the use of armies, with future wars being more along the lines of Pakistan/Yemen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:09 AM
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I can't believe you're claiming that any missteps on the part of the Obama administration are the fault of PGD and JRoth, VW.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:14 AM
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I wonder if Iraq and Afghanistan will be seen as the end of the use of armies

So long as we insist on having the biggest fucking hammer on the planet, I'm sure the U.S. will have no problem eventually finding something that looks sufficiently like a nail.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:14 AM
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I think Obama did approximately as well as you'd expect any mainstream Democratic party liberal to do

I'm mostly on Halford's side here. The thing that gives me pause is that I've come, over time, to feel something similar about Clinton -- that as much as I feel disappointed by many of his policies I have a difficult time imagining another Democratic politician who could (a) have been elected and (b) would have been a significant improvement.

I don't know if that belief is incorrect (and I'd argue for it pretty strongly), but it is a reminder that it's a very psychologically convenient position to hold (as an alternative to anger) and for that reason it may be easy to limit the range of one's imagination to reach that conclusion.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:15 AM
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168: yeah but will it be a flying robot hammer? ("Flying robot hammer" is a fascinating google search.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:16 AM
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yeah but will it be a flying robot hammer?

Largely so, I imagine. Why die for your country when you can make the other son of a bitch die for his at no personal risk?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:30 AM
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Further to 89, in (domestic) areas that I know about, the Obama administration, when it's been able to act unilaterally through administrative regs or whatever, has done pretty much exactly what you would expect a relatively liberal Democratic administration to do. So I just don't think the idea that the administration is significantly to the right of his own party holds water.

The issue is not that Obama is well to the right of center in the Democratic party, it is that he actively attempts to pull the party to its center-right. So he acts against the left wing of the party and aids its center/right. He does not exercise leadership to make more things possible or pull the party in a new direction. Comments like 139 seem to more or less give up on the possibility of effective liberal leadership, in favor of just continuing the rear-guard action against R radicalism. What is going to turn things around? Are people going to just wake up?

I wouldn't count your chickens on the EPA carbon rule yet either by the way. It is proposed and not finalized. After seeing what Cass Sunstein (a horrible Obama appointment) did to the particulate rule, I would not be totally confident even on the carbon rule which granted has a lot more political momentum behind it. The combination of the appointment of Sunstein and various executive orders Obama has issued on cost-benefit analysis has worked to further undermine Federal regulatory capacity.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:31 AM
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153: Haiti was a full-scale invasion and regime change.

Haiti is Haiti. Good lord.

And the US was fully prepared to do the same in Kosova

Maybe. There was significant (opportunistic) GOP opposition to the war in general, to ground troops in particular. The appetite among the American public for any real sacrifice in Kosovo was exactly zero.

Seriously. "I'm not sure you appreciate the difference in scale." Christ.

Fume if you like, but I wasn't the first to go rude.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:36 AM
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You are wrong!!

All my pants that didn't require belts 3 months ago, but now do, disagree with you.

It's not the only change I've made - I've significantly reduced carbs, frex - but it's succeeded as a calorie reduction method that I don't struggle with.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:36 AM
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Oh, sure you can. If the financial executives themselves can respond to their dearest friend and pitchfork shield by uniting behind any and all efforts to first give Mitch McConnell veto power over everything he wants and then try to replace him with Mitt Romney, he can do what's necessary to keep a new Great Depression from occurring and still prosecute some people.

Right, sorry if I was unclear. Yes, you can absolutely do this (and Obama should have), but you can't do it while credibly maintaining your position with the finance industry as the most reasonable person around. The framing would have clearly become that (1) Republicans want to protect us, and (2) Democrats (or at least the administration) want to fight us. (And the sad part is that's how the framing turned out anyway.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:37 AM
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I should say I definitely do not feel contempt for Obama, at all. He is a competent and gifted representative of a particular caste (Ivy liberal elites). I do think he sees himself as constrained by political circumstances. But we elect Presidents to change the political environment -- to lead, in other words. I think there was and even still is space to start to turn liberalism away from the globalization/finance box that Clinton led it into in the 90s, but Obama has not had the aggression, drive, imagination, whatever to come up with a way to do that. As a practical matter, I think there was also space to assist the economy in 2008-2010 and even afterwards that Obama was not able to use. He spent a great deal of effort and time during that period on HC reform instead -- but if he is not reelected that will all go for nothing as it will never be implemented. (And he was only bailed out on HC reform by Nancy Pelosi, after Brown's election torpedoed his painfully slow 60-vote Senate strategy).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:37 AM
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164: Your reaction to 140 was so strong that I assumed you had a substantive disagreement, rather than just feeling affronted by my tone.

Honestly, I expected you to agree with me and therefore to take the Civil War reference as more joke than jibe.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:38 AM
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it is that he actively attempts to pull the party to its center-right. So he acts against the left wing of the party and aids its center/right

This, I think, is bullshit. Or, at least, I haven't seen anything close to a convincing case made.

After seeing what Cass Sunstein (a horrible Obama appointment) did to the particulate rule

Talking about details, and with no offense to you, I'm pretty sure you don't have a clear sense of what happened there. I really hate Cass Sunstein and agree he was a terrible appointment, and I agree that the administration's environmental record is far from perfect. But having lived through the first 1997 implementation of the particulate matter rules (which are way way way less than what the Obama administration has sought), I have a hard time faulting the administration too much here. Issuing regulations is easier than getting things through Congress, but it's very far from a simple matter of Presidential diktat, either. In any event, we'll get particulate rules, though it took a court order to get there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:40 AM
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But we elect Presidents to change the political environment -- to lead, in other words. I think there was and even still is space to start to turn liberalism away from the globalization/finance box that Clinton led it into in the 90s, but Obama has not had the aggression, drive, imagination, whatever to come up with a way to do that

I think we probably just have a fundamental sense of what Presidents do, and what they can do, but is there any other remotely qualified member of the Democratic party who you think would have been able to work that transformation?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:44 AM
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I feel like he should have realized much, much earlier that the GOP had thrown away the rulebook and was just going for full-bore obstructionism

I'm not sure how much was failure to realize and how much was deciding that he couldn't switch rhetorical horses midstream. Some of it probably also comes back to the whole "can't be an angry black man" thing. Bill Clinton, faced with that sort of intransigence, would have had latitude to go on TV and get righteously angry, outraged on behalf of the American People*, but that route was foreclosed for BHO.

That said, if he'd gone into things without believing his own BS, then he would have had a Plan B in place all along, since he would have known that Plan A could never succeed.

This, of course, is part of why I was a HRC man. She talked (and acted) bipartisan as well, but I didn't (and don't) think that she actually internalized it. She was playing the game. If I may extend the analogymetaphor, every coach pays lip service to fair play and sportsmanship, but a smart coach is prepared for gamesmanship, if not outright cheating. A coach who genuinely believed in fair play and sportsmanship, while facing Bill Belichek, would be dooming his own cause. But mouthed platitudes isn't strong evidence as to which kind of coach you have.

* not saying would have, saying could have


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:46 AM
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actively attempts to pull the party to its center-right. So he acts against the left wing of the party and aids its center/right

I'd say that it's more the case that he needs his party's center-right, and therefore he had to make concessions to them. I'm not sure what sort of pressure (other than thumbscrews) he could have applied to pull Nelson and Lieberman and further to the left. When you absolutely need the support of senators who won't hesitate to join in a filibuster of their own party's legislative agenda, it places severe limits on what is legislatively possible.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:55 AM
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I don't see Obama as any more admirable or likable as a person than Romney either.

That does it. Turn on the webcam, we're going to be administering field sobriety tests through teh internets.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:55 AM
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This, I think, is bullshit. Or, at least, I haven't seen anything close to a convincing case made.

Seriously? Have you not been paying attention? On single payer, on principal reduction for housing, on a whole range of stronger financial reforms, on a whole range of foreign policy and civil liberties issues, in the budget negotiations, on trade, even on some tax issues, the left of the party couldn't even get into the room. He spent zero effort pushing for even a watered down version of card check.

Obviously Obama is way better than Romney but spending all this time justifying him as the only left we can have is a real problem for building the left we could have. At this point this is an argument for the post-election period I guess.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:55 AM
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Cheese it, the fuzz!

No officer. I wasn't making bafflingly wrong-headed assertions about presidential politics. I was just enjoying a couple brewskis with my friend Chair, here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:58 AM
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I don't see how anything you mention in 183 is reasonably described, even if true, as an attempt to pull the Democratic party to the center-right. Again, failing to acquiesce to the wishes of the most liberal members of Congress is not moving the party to the center right -- it's how politics works.

If you can describe a scenario in which the 111th Congress, through Obama's intervention, would have passed single payer, principal reduction for housing, much stronger financial reforms, better civil liberties reforms, or card check, I'm all ears, but from what I know none of those things were ever remotely close to being on the table in a realistic sense, and not through any fault of the President.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:02 AM
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I'm sympathetic to PGD's perspective, and yet.

172: The issue is not that Obama is well to the right of center in the Democratic party, it is that he actively attempts to pull the party to its center-right. So he acts against the left wing of the party and aids its center/right.

Isn't that all about the composition of the legislature, as well as the extent to which corporate interests have us by the balls?

He does not exercise leadership to make more things possible or pull the party in a new direction.

It's a Sisyphean task to shift the Overton window at this point. My tired cliches are intentional. Nonetheless, health care reform did pass, albeit in emasculated form, which is still, frankly, better than the status quo. I don't like to see that dismissed.

But we elect Presidents to change the political environment -- to lead, in other words. I think there was and even still is space to start to turn liberalism away from the globalization/finance box that Clinton led it into in the 90s, but Obama has not had the aggression, drive, imagination, whatever to come up with a way to do that

PGD, I just don't think we elect Presidents to do that, necessarily, when the organized opposition is so strong, the economy is in the tank, and half the nation has drunk the capitalist kool-aid.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:03 AM
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On single payer, on principal reduction for housing . . .

I'm convinced by subsequent events that (a) single payer wasn't happening and (b) the idea of "start with single payer and bargain from there" only works if the people you're bargaining with believe that there's any chance that single payer would happen.

I'm inclined to think something similar about principle reduction -- it's a policy which is politically unpopular, expensive, and which is potentially the perfect response to the problem, but has to be carefully implemented. I don't think the political system is good at delivering those sorts of solutions.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:03 AM
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principle reduction

Heh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:05 AM
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They both seem like decent human beings to me.

Fuck, I missed that bit first time around. You clearly have a very broad definition of "decent human being", which is much to your credit. Personally I would place Obama in the category of possibly tolerable work associates, and Romney in the category of people I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:07 AM
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is there any other remotely qualified member of the Democratic party who you think would have been able to work that transformation?

But surely part of the point is that this is precisely what the Democratic primary electorate voted for him to do? I mean, the swirly eyes were a little vague on precisely what change they were hoping for, but the primary was pretty clearly about old vs. new, or establishment vs. outsider, and the outsider won. So for him to turn around and essentially say that the old establishment was right, and that the new outsider was never a realistic option, seems... disingenuous?

I mean, I'm not sure if I even disagree with your narrow question - since we don't want to contemplate an Edwards win, then there was not a more effectively liberal option in 2008. But that's partly because Obama occupied that spot on the spectrum. His supporters wanted him to change the political environment in a lot of directions, but the only one he really put a lot of effort into was bipartisanship (and let's be clear: that effort was a lot more quixotic than closing GTMO, prosecuting Wall Street, shutting down CIA drones, or a carbon tax). Not even Fantasy Obama (the one who really is liberal, not centrist) could be a Liberal Dream President, but he had a mandate to do more, in terms of Democratic self-identification, than he attempted (or wanted to do).

Have I made myself at all clear? Let me try it this way: there are two ends of the argument. One is that no president, no matter his personal beliefs or political savvy, could have gotten significantly more liberal legislative outcomes than BHO did (I think this is substantially correct, with a few exceptions). The other is that no truly liberal president could be elected and use the tools of the Executive Branch (including appointments) to accomplish more liberal goals (including rhetorical ones). But I think that Obama himself disproves this, because, to much of the country, he was truly liberal. Yes, with a moderate tone, yes, with lip service to bipartisanship, but he did not run against HRC from the right, and the country as a whole views (or viewed) her as substantially liberal. Furthermore, as a practical matter, the Democrats were going to win in 2008. It was a big win even with Obama giving up several percentage points to the racist vote. So American could have elected a more liberal president in 2008 and, indeed, mostly thought that they had. So the limits on BHO are personal and institutional, but not electoral. So when I see him holding back from the liberal edge of things on issues where he doesn't need 60 votes, it's not coming from external forces, it's coming from himself.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:11 AM
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Have you not been paying attention?

Just so we're clear, you're the guy who called Nixon a moderate, insisted that Mitt Romney is as personally laudable as Barack Obama, and wants us all to embrace Ron Paul as our personal savior.

JRoth, I really am sorry that I lumped you in with PGD. I meant to say that above.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:13 AM
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186 before seeing 183.

In a different direction:

180: Some of it probably also comes back to the whole "can't be an angry black man" thing. Bill Clinton, faced with that sort of intransigence, would have had latitude to go on TV and get righteously angry, outraged on behalf of the American People*, but that route was foreclosed for BHO.

Yeah, the angry black man thing could be problematic.

Funny moment last night when watching DNC speeches: every speech-giver was formally saying "President Barack Obama" (not just Barack Obama or President Obama). After a period of speech watching, my housemate asked, "What's his middle name, anyway?" Honest question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:14 AM
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Obama did reasonably well with the hand he was deal.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis he could've nailed the bankers to the wall and ridden a populist wave to bury the DLC and the conservatives for a generation.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:16 AM
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What I'm honestly frustrated by is Obama's failure to shoot lasers out of his face.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:17 AM
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Again, failing to acquiesce to the wishes of the most liberal members of Congress is not moving the party to the center right -- it's how politics works.

Set aside that this is not how politics work when Tea Partiers pull the GOP towards them - we've had that argument a million times. How does any negotiation work when you start out by explicitly excluding any ground to your left? That's what you do when you publicly shut down those to your left and privately keep them out of meetings. We keep talking about where the median vote is in Congress. Well, when the median negotiator is John Boehner, with McConnell, Reid, and Obama to his left and Cantor, Ryan, and Toomey to his right, I think we know where the negotiation will end up, don't we?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:18 AM
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It would have been neat to build a space elevator, and great stimulus. What kind of fucking asshole doesn't do that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:20 AM
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Set aside that this is not how politics work when Tea Partiers pull the GOP towards them

Setting aside the setting aside for a moment, how's the Tea Party doing in actually putting candidates in office?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:21 AM
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part of the point is that this is precisely what the Democratic primary electorate voted for him to do?

I dunno. The democratic primary electorate was pretty split. There were certainly some people who were passionate Obama supporters in the primary because they thought he'd represent a fundamental break in a policy sense with Clinton-era centrist democrats, and I hoped for some of that myself. But there were plenty of others who just wanted a charismatic leader but were fine with the centrist-dem policies, and of course he actually ran, both in the primaries and in the general, on a centrist, not a far left of the Democratic party platform. I think people thought that having a black president would be transformational; whether people wanted him to move to the far left of the Democratic party is much less clear.

So the limits on BHO are personal and institutional, but not electoral.

I think that a somewhat to the left of Obama democratic candidate could run and win in a presidential election, but probably not much to the left. And that person would then still have to deal with Congress.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:24 AM
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196: First we need to start a war with some country located on the equator, right? Can't build a space elevator on someone else's territory, that'd just be weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:24 AM
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194 is making me laugh, like, terribly, by which I mean to say that it's excellent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:25 AM
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199: nah, we got this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:27 AM
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201: Damn. All right, he's got no excuse. For failing to build a space elevator, Obama truly is history's greatest monster.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:29 AM
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201: Dammit, I was all set to launch the flying robot hammers!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:30 AM
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This, I think, is bullshit. Or, at least, I haven't seen anything close to a convincing case made.

Why were the center-right Bowles-Simpson "reforms" rejected? Because Obama's support wasn't enough to get them through.

And note that I am calling Bowles-Simpson "center-right." At the time the proposal was made, it was properly characterized as "right-right." Obama has helped move the framework of the debate* so that he can now support significant cuts to entitlements without losing his liberal cred.

*I used to know a phrase that described this sort of shift in the parameters of debate, but I can't remember it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:30 AM
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how's the Tea Party doing in actually putting candidates in office?

Or, for that matter, getting any legislation passed at all?

"Ask high, and compromise in the middle" is a good strategy in a two-person haggle. It's not a very effective move if everyone knows that your more liberal position will never, ever, be enacted. Asking for, for example, single payer wouldn't have done a thing, because everyone would have known that it would never be enacted. The extremists in the Tea Party are good at using extreme positions to muck up legislation and make sure that nothing works, but are terrible at actually getting legislation enacted.

To be clear, I'm not saying Obama's political moves were perfect, and I've criticized them here, and I'm not saying that maximal compromise is always the best move. Just that in a legislative context, moving to an extreme position in the hopes that this will extract a better bargain doesn't really make theoretical sense as a bargaining move, and hasn't really worked in practice, either, so the argument that he should have tacked extreme left to extract better bargains has never been very convincing to me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:31 AM
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JRoth, I really am sorry that I lumped you in with PGD. I meant to say that above.

Ahem.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:34 AM
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Asking for, for example, single payer wouldn't have done a thing, because everyone would have known that it would never be enacted.
It's a good idea and it's easy to sell. Maybe it doesn't pass this time (likely), and the centrists are forced to run with a their counter proposal, but at least people and the media now understand it's a serious plan supported by serious people, not just DFHs.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:35 AM
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It's a good idea and it's easy to sell.

Are we living in the same universe?! (This time I do mean to be dismissive!)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:38 AM
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I will say, though, that as a matter of general principle, I'm entirely comfortable being lumped in with PGD - despite the fact that I pretty regularly disagree with his outlook on politics.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:38 AM
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208: Medicare for all. Of course you'll get called a socialist and a communist, but that's going to happen regardless.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:40 AM
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I'm not sure what sort of pressure (other than thumbscrews) he could have applied to pull Nelson and Lieberman and further to the left. When you absolutely need the support of senators who won't hesitate to join in a filibuster of their own party's legislative agenda, it places severe limits on what is legislatively possible.

He only absolutely needed them because he framed the whole negotiation that way. He made clear that he wanted 60 votes, and would do anything to get them. An alternative would have been to strip all party support from Nelson and Lieberman and figure out what he could get done with "only" Senate votes (far more than most presidents have had). I'm not sure he couldn't ultimately have gotten 51 votes for a better and more liberal bill, and jammed it through in reconciliation. (Are you?) And, if in the end he couldn't, at least he'd have had a solid basis to make a hard push for filibuster reform. And the base would know where he stood.*

*The problem, of course, is, this is all a counterfactual: at this point the base mostly does know where he stands. He didn't do any of this because he didn't want to. He's a conservative centrist Democrat. That's fairly obvious. He's miles ahead of the competition, which, wonderful. I'll sure vote for him. But it makes the continued hagiographic excuse-making pretty annoying.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:41 AM
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169:The thing that gives me pause is that I've come, over time, to feel something similar about Clinton -- that as much as I feel disappointed by many of his policies I have a difficult time imagining another Democratic politician who could (a) have been elected and (b) would have been a significant improvement.

I don't know if that belief is incorrect (and I'd argue for it pretty strongly), but it is a reminder that it's a very psychologically convenient position to hold (as an alternative to anger) and for that reason it may be easy to limit the range of one's imagination to reach that conclusion.

Bear repeating in full as about the only interesting comment.

Exactly how are expectations lowered, hopes diminished, possibilities foreclosed in an ever increasing compliance and dilled passivity over time? How do we get to Sheldon Wolin's managed democracy and inverted totalitarianism? What does it feel like to those it's happening to?

Inverted totalitarianism reverses things. It is all politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash.[9]
...Wolin at Wiki.

Carry on, you are not doing politics, you are doing therapy. Keep making excuses for yourselves and that contemptible son-of-a-bitch that I wouldn't piss on if I were on fire. Or something.

I no longer even think a 1980 would do any good, liberals, as seen above in this thread, can do nothing, want no more than to wallow in victimization and self-imposed futility, precisely like some poor fuck in Eastern Europe during the 50s. Woe is us, we are all gonna die. But ain't the Fuhrer just awesome.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:41 AM
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210: So I guess we have different definitions of "easy to sell."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:42 AM
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Setting aside the setting aside for a moment, how's the Tea Party doing in actually putting candidates in office?

You can put candidates in office, or you can scare the hell out of existing officeholders and get them to do your bidding. The right-wing nuts have been very successful in the latter, despite being notable failures in the former.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:42 AM
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207 -- you mean, like exactly what happened when Truman proposed single payer health care in the 1940s? That strategy can't fail.

Ok, that was dickish, but actually passing health care reform counts for a lot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:43 AM
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"Ask high, and compromise in the middle" is a good strategy in a two-person haggle.

And of course "be willing to walk away" is a necessary precondition to any bargaining strategy. This is much easier to arrange when you don't care if anything works and, in fact, would prefer that nothing happened at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:43 AM
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208: Medicare for all.

I think it's a good idea to push as well but I also have to confront the reality that I live in a country that stood by while GW Bush stole an election, watched him in action for four years, and then re-elected him by a comfortable margin.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:44 AM
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I realize 216 just reiterates what Halford said, but I thought it bore repeating. And I'm repetitive, and repeat things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:46 AM
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213: Try and come up with a pitch for Obamacare (you can do it for a few parts, like extended stays on parents' plans, that could've passed on their own, but the whole?). Sure, there's massive resistance to the very idea of socialized insurance, but that's all the more reason the argument needs to be made.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:47 AM
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The extremists in the Tea Party are good at using extreme positions to muck up legislation and make sure that nothing works, but are terrible at actually getting legislation enacted.

This is silly. They're not getting legislation enacted nationally only because their party is deeply in the minority. Even so, they've managed to effect a significant rightward lurch in the national conversation.

And in red states, where their party isn't deeply in the minority? They're getting legislation enacted.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:49 AM
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What I'm honestly frustrated by is Obama's failure to shoot lasers out of his face.

And analyze the vaporized material with Chem-Cam eyes. He could incinerate little bits of Romney and prove through spectrographic analysis that the man is made of evil.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:50 AM
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So wait, it would have been better to push for single payer over what actually passed because it's less likely that single payer would have passed?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:51 AM
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215: We failed once, when the problem was much less salient? Oh, then we should definitely not try again.
I do agree that the actual legislation was (maybe, sorta) good, but we could've gotten it without making it the leftmost acceptable position.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:51 AM
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221: on the other hand, if Romney is made of evil, he can be expected to push for lasers, 8 o'clock, day one. So that's a conundrum.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:53 AM
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I'm not sure he couldn't ultimately have gotten 51 votes for a better and more liberal bill, and jammed it through in reconciliation.

I don't think this would have been possible from a procedural standpoint. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but the only reason they were able to use reconciliation for the final bill is that the House passed the Senate version which had earlier overcome the filibuster with 60 votes, and the reconciliation rules limited them in terms of how much they could deviate from the original bill. Long short, reconciliation did not remove the 60 vote hurdle, it just removed the need to jump that same hurdle twice.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:54 AM
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So wait, it would have been better to push for single payer over what actually passed because it's less likely that single payer would have passed?

It would have been better to push for single payer over what actually passed because it's more likely to have created pressure for something better than what actually passed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:54 AM
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224: You know, back in the 90s when Gingrich was running Congress, I consoled myself by thinking that at least he'd get NASA cloning tyrannosaurs to ride across the Martian desert. Did he? He did not. You can't trust people made of pure evil to do anything fun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:54 AM
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s/b Long story short


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:55 AM
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206: I assumed that since you and I actually agree on everything, and since we've been in contact, albeit intermittently, since 2008, you understood that I didn't mistake you for either an acolyte of Dr. Paul or a stealth Romney operative.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:56 AM
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220: They're not getting legislation enacted nationally

Not nationally, so far, but in various states, they are.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:56 AM
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because it's more likely to have created pressure for something better than what actually passed

Do you have a projected timetable for when that would likely have happened? Or just some vague "later"?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:57 AM
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because their party is deeply in the minority

You do know the Republicans have a sizable majority in the House and are poised to take the Senate, right? (I don't think they'll actually take the Senate, mind you, but that's largely because a Tea Party candidate has fucked things up for the GOP nationally).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:58 AM
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Further to 230: Sorry, I hadn't read 220 through. Yeah, they're getting legislation enacted.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:59 AM
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||

Hey, so this seems like a big deal.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:59 AM
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It would have been better to push for single payer over what actually passed because it's more likely to have created pressure for something better than what actually passed.

I am sympathetic to this argument, though I reservedly disagree. I think the changes in the ACA such as the end of "pre-existing conditions" were significant enough that it was worth taking what we could get for now.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 11:59 AM
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225: See, e.g. It's not clear whether this would ultimately have worked better, but it's a game that wasn't even played.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:00 PM
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The ACA does nothing for the vast majority of Americans, other than raise their taxes. It's unpopular for a reason.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:03 PM
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You know, back in the 90s when Gingrich was running Congress, I consoled myself by thinking that at least he'd get NASA cloning tyrannosaurs to ride across the Martian desert. Did he? He did not. You can't trust people made of pure evil to do anything fun.

Haven't you heard about the banality of evil?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:03 PM
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234. Fuck yeah!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:04 PM
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I just found this list from Kevin Drum of Obama accomplishments that he thinks are, "all big deals."

Looking at it, I think part of why we don't celebrate many of those accomplishments is because either they seemed like obvious actions or, in many cases, seemed like they were actions taken in an obviously good direction but with a smaller magnitude than the problem demanded.

That said, it is worth taking a moment to remember that, however obvious they may have been, none of those would have happened without effort and without somebody actively advocating for them. It's easy (and depressing) to imagine an alternate world in which those items did not happen.

So that's the reason that "I think Obama did approximately as well as you'd expect any mainstream Democratic party liberal to do" isn't empty praise.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:04 PM
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They're not getting legislation enacted nationally only because their party is deeply in the minority. Even so, they've managed to effect a significant rightward lurch in the national conversation.

Well, their purity standards mean they're also shooting down right-leaning legislation that Pres. Obama would have passed. They're rather gleefully shooting themselves in the feet.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:08 PM
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You can put candidates in office, or you can scare the hell out of existing officeholders and get them to do your bidding. The right-wing nuts have been very successful in the latter, despite being notable failures in the former.

My general sense is that this is right, but I'd like to see a thoughtful national analysis on how many TP'ers won primaries, got elected, passed or stopped legislation, etc. They've certainly been successful in Texas at both the federal (say hello to new U.S. Senator Ted Cruz) and state levels.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:08 PM
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Also, what 220 said.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:09 PM
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240: Right. It's also why Drum's not a bad read.

I don't know what to make of 237 at all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:10 PM
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But, successful at what? Successful at obstructionism, yes. But they aren't passing their own legislation, and are even stopping Pres. Obama from caving from time to time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:11 PM
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The ACA does nothing for the vast majority of Americans, other than raise their taxes. It's unpopular for a reason.

I wholeheartedly disagree. The first part is true only in the same sense that "insurance does nothing for the vast majority of people who have insurance" is true. It's unpopular because half the country still thinks it's "a government takeover of health care." And given how negatively people react to the mere mention of a "government takeover," I can't see how an actual government takeover would be such an "easy sell."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:12 PM
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234: At least 80 percent of it is active and needed.
This is cool and all, but it now seems significantly less likely that I can reactivate some junk genes and become an eggplant-dinosaur hybrid.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:12 PM
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The ACA does nothing for the vast majority of Americans, other than raise their taxes.

This strikes me as exactly the kind of "it couldn't happen to me" thinking that a lot of people probalby have before they, say, develop a condition that makes them uninsurable, or hit the lifetime limit of their insurance coverage.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:13 PM
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This is cool and all, but it now seems significantly less likely that I can reactivate some junk genes and become an eggplant-dinosaur hybrid.

Well, there's still the remaining 20%.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:16 PM
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237: What's the "raise their taxes" bit about?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:16 PM
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This strikes me as exactly the kind of "it couldn't happen to me" thinking that a lot of people probalby have before they, say, develop a condition that makes them uninsurable, or hit the lifetime limit of their insurance coverage.

Those things only happen to a minority of people.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:16 PM
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And given how negatively people react to the mere mention of a "government takeover," I can't see how an actual government takeover would be such an "easy sell."
Medicare is popular; it gave grandma a new hip. Wtf is Obamacare?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:16 PM
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Right now Obamacare is the fact that your kids who can't get jobs out of college can stay on your health care until they're 26. It'll mean better things later, but just that is important to a lot of people.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:18 PM
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248: I believe that if you break down the bill into its parts, people tend to like the pre-existing conditions coverage, or the ability to keep their kids on their insurance, or, &c.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:19 PM
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They happen to enough people that everyone knows someone it's happened to. And skyrocketing premiums have happened to pretty much everyone. If you haven't felt the insurance squeeze, you are a privileged person indeed.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:20 PM
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Let's see:

Passed Health Care Reform: 7. Not bad, could do better, but OK, this was hard;
Passed the Stimulus: 5. Bullsheeeet. Even DeLong, an old Clinton hack, knew it wasn't enough;
Passed Wall Street Reform: 3. Really?
Ended the War in Iraq: 3. For Americans only;
Eliminated Osama bin Laden: 3. He was a busted flush years ago;
Turned Around US Auto Industry: 9. The boy done good with this;
Repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": 8. Yeah. Sooner would have been better, but OK (-1 for delay);
Reversed Bush Torture Policies: 1. Fuck that;
Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program: 7. Hard to score, how many people did this really help?
Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: 6. So I should think;
Passed Mini Stimuli (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011)
Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants: 4. Conditions and $2 will get you a cup of coffee;
Achieved New START Treaty: 9. Needed to be done, in other times it would never have been an issue, but OK.

Average score: 5. Report: AVERAGE.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:20 PM
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250: Here's a rundown*. Mostly, the taxes just hit high-earners, unless you count the mandate itself as a tax.

*WARNING: link autoplays a video advertisement with sound.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:21 PM
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And skyrocketing premiums have happened to pretty much everyone. If you haven't felt the insurance squeeze, you are a privileged person indeed.

Yes! I agree! Unfortunately, the ACA does almost nothing to help with this.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:22 PM
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Look, you're not going to convince me that passing nothing for the sake of a murky advantage at some undefined future date could be preferable to the concrete ways the ACA will help people now.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:24 PM
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Those things only happen to a minority of people.

As does unemployment, but that doesn't mean unemployment insurance doesn't help the broader population.

I agree the ACA's provisions have major publicity problems due to visibility and implementation schedule, but 237 is still dead wrong - it is going to greatly improve the quality and affordability of insurance for everyone not in a self-insured plan, which is to say a large majority of the public.

Also its broadest taxes happening anytime soon are the individual mandate and raising the Medicare cap.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:26 PM
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257: Well, I'm not going to look at an autoplay video advertisement with sound.

Mostly, the taxes just hit high-earners

Color me chagrined. Earlier, in 237, you said the taxes of the vast majority of Americans would be raised. No.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:28 PM
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Or at least, quality and/or affordability. Mostly just quality in the case of non-self-insured-employer plans.

It does about the most that could have been done to control premiums - throw as many experiments as possible against the wall and see what works. Remember single-payer countries are better off but still have not solved the problem of undue cost growth any more than we have.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:29 PM
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I would actually be fine with the ACA if it had even been rhetorically positioned as "an important step in the right direction and the best we can do right now". But, because of the way the debate was framed, it's generally understood to be the great liberal healthcare solution. When it doesn't solve the problems (which it won't), we'll next get to try the conservative healthcare solution and see if that works better. Half-solutions discredit themselves. C.f. insufficient stimulus and subsequent austerity.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:31 PM
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And you know, to 258: you work for a law firm, right? Any skyrocketing premiums you're seeing pale in comparison to what those with individual coverage, or who are self-employed, are seeing. Please don't cry poverty.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:35 PM
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263 is my fear. The PPACA has been wildly over-demonized by the other side, but just as wildly oversold by ours. It's some minor tinkering around the edges of the industry that does almost nothing to address the long-term unsustainability of our health insurance system.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:37 PM
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264 is right, at least for every state with which I'm familar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:40 PM
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And while I really do understand the legislative limitations the administration was confronted with, I have a sneaking suspicion that, in a decade, it will be the Republican's poster child for "See, government solutions don't solve problems."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:40 PM
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I admit I'm baffled by 264. My complaint isn't that the ACA does good for those with individual coverage or who are self-employed but where are the benefits for well-off people like me me me?, and honestly I'm not sure where you'd have gotten that impression. My complaint is that the ACA doesn't really solve the problems facing those with individual coverage, or who are self-employed. It solves some of the problems*. It may exacerbate others.

*It hugely helps those people with serious preexisting conditions, granted. And that's very important. But it's also a minority of the population, which was my point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:41 PM
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I love it how these arguments always devolve into people making transparently false claims about how little the ACA does. "Passed the biggest piece of progressive legislation since at least 1966" is pretty good, but if you're on the left and determined to claim that Obama was a failure you can always (a) either compare it to something perfect that had no chance of passing or (b) make false claims about its effects, and people usually aren't shy about busting out both arguments.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:41 PM
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I am incensed at everything Obama's done related to civil liberties, and in many domestic issues like his willingness to erode Medicare eligibility, but specifically in health policy, I think right now, there is no good solution no matter what anyone does, and I'm happy to see significant forward motion of any kind.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:44 PM
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237 - So the ACA is meaningless because most of the country has health insurance, but it raises most people's taxes because if they don't have insurance and can afford it they're penalized for not buying it? I hear that it also has a date with your girlfriend and kicked your dog.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:45 PM
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"Passed the biggest piece of progressive legislation since at least 1966"

What would be the second-biggest piece of progressive legislation since 1966?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:46 PM
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264, 268.1: Yes, please note, parsimon, that urple said nothing whatsoever about his own premiums, directly or by implication.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:47 PM
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I don't think it's true that half-solutions discredit themselves, at least if the history of other nations and healthcare coverage is any judge. Most of those were incremental legislations, iirc.

268: It can be very difficult to impossible for someone with a run-of-the-mill pre-existing condition to get coverage. Like, visited a psychiatrist once in grad school? No coverage for you (as happened to a friend of mine.) It's not like it takes something rare.

And we'll have to see how it plays out, but my mom just had to take a job she doesn't like because my dad's individual coverage plan for the two of them is no longer affordable. Anything that gives them the purchasing power of a group plan is an improvement over the status quo.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:47 PM
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272 - Just taking a stab at it, but the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, aka Title IX?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:48 PM
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275: That's a good answer. It was a serious question, not a rhetorical one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:49 PM
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But they aren't passing their own legislation

Again, you've got to look at the state level. Forced transvaginal ultrasound in VZ & TX, SB 1070 in AZ; voter suppression all over the place. They also raised money and knocked on doors in Wisconsin (here's where I'd like to see some good analysis on their effect) to save Walker's ass.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:51 PM
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267: And while I really do understand the legislative limitations the administration was confronted with, I have a sneaking suspicion that, in a decade, it will be the Republican's poster child for "See, government solutions don't solve problems."

I have that fear as well, but if we had not passed the ACA and had instead held out for some better law in the future, the Republican argument would have been "See, the liberals talk a good game but they can't get anything done. Might as well elect us instead." I don't think any course of action is a shield against mendacious Republican counter-attacks.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:53 PM
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I would have said the creation of the EPA.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:54 PM
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275 --That's a good one. I'd also go with some of the environmental statutes from the early 1970s, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and maybe SCHIP.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:54 PM
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I'm quite sure that there were not, and could not have been with some exercise of Presidential bully-pulpitting, 51 votes for a significantly different and better health care solution. And it was a new run thing in the House as it was.

Republicans are assholes, and have been grossly abusing the filibuster, it's true. But it wouldn't have been a violation of the old rules to filibuster genuinely big ticket items like a trillion dollar stimulus, or single payer for all. These are big deals.

I'm also quite sure that the President's people told him that asking for too much stimulus, or for too much of a 'government takeover' would doom even an effort to get half a loaf. And I think this is right, in a lot of contexts. In health care, if they really pushed the single payer point, they'd have lost everyone in the caucus who is afraid of insurance companies.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:55 PM
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(But I probably wouldn't have the ACA as #1.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:55 PM
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The other thing is that we've seen the Overton Window on health care reform move continually to the right for decades; Nixon's proposal in 1974 -- which Ted Kennedy torpedoed because he felt that it was inadequate -- was worlds better than anything on the table since, and in fact closely resembled Medicare-for-All, albeit with a means-tested fee; Clintoncare was better than the ACA. The advice that people like Harry Reid were giving was that the ACA was dead after Scott Brown's election and Obama (and Pelosi) should target something providing close-to-universal coverage for children.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:57 PM
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280 - Oh, the Clean Air Act of 1970. Good one, better than mine.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:58 PM
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I thought the EPA was created pre-Nixon, but I am wrong wrong wrongy wrong.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 12:59 PM
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Republicans are assholes, and have been grossly abusing the filibuster, it's true. But it wouldn't have been a violation of the old rules to filibuster genuinely big ticket items like a trillion dollar stimulus, or single payer for all. These are big deals.

But gigantic big ticket items are the only laws that can even come close to being passed, because Republicans grossly abusing all the other procedural minutiae slows everything down indiscriminately.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:15 PM
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Forced transvaginal ultrasound in VZ & TX, SB 1070 in AZ;

I know Texas, but what's the other one? If it's "Vagina Zone", well, most of the laws there are like that.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:17 PM
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I would put the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) ahead of Title IX or the FMLA, but I'm less sure about comparing it to the Clean Air and Water Acts. Kind of an apples and oranges problem.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:30 PM
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283: Right, so if we wait another ten years, we likely get something on the level of universal high-deductible plans with health savings accounts (Singapore model, not that it worked there), and that's the liberal solution.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:33 PM
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My general sense is that this is right, but I'd like to see a thoughtful national analysis

Sorry, I don't do thoughtful, but here's my take:

People can rightly point to some key Senate defeats (Angle in Nevada, O'Donnel in Delaware and soon, Akin in Missouri) and say that these would have been victories, were it not for Tea Party extremism. But I think that misses the point. The Tea Partiers aren't interested in promoting the Republican Party. They are interested in promoting mayhem, and find the Republicans to be congenial fellow travellers.

When Nader says he finds Bush and Gore functionally indistinguishable, he means it and acts accordingly. The Tea Partiers are the same, except they've had the good sense to mainly contest only primaries, where they can move the party in their direction. If it costs the party a few seats, too bad. As long as the party moves in their direction, they'll have their day.

Is Romney a Tea Partier at heart? Does it matter?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:36 PM
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Once again, it bears mentioning that the Tea Party, other than the on-the-ground rubes and mental defects who go to the marches but have no actual power, is the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and some heavy-hitting Washington insiders (PGD among them). The idea that these people aren't promoting a particular vision of the GOP is beyond silly. Again, when they enable a halfwit like Akin, they're riding the tiger, but that's beside the point.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:40 PM
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I suppose I could and should have been specific about the Washington insiders: Dick Armey and his co-travelers at FreedomWorks (which, of course, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers) and the like.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:42 PM
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I wish I could find the Frank Rich column that lays all this out. Oh well, the NYT doesn't need the hits anyway.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:42 PM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/opinion/29rich.html


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:44 PM
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There has only been 1 national election since the Tea Party came into existence; the fact that this one election did not result in absolute dominion of the governmental apparatus of the US strikes me as weak evidence that they've been ineffective.

Claims of ineffectiveness that rely on things like the debt ceiling debacle misunderstand the Tea Party's goal: did taxes on the wealthy go up? No. Did the American public respect the Federal Government more? No. Did Obama's odds of getting reëlected go up*? No. Was SocialSecurityandMedicare made more sustainable? No. Those are all wins for the TP. And they still have plenty of time to torpedo entitlements later.

Claims of ineffectiveness that rely on electoral failures in the Senate misunderstand why Angle and O'Donnell lost. They didn't lose due to ideology (which is, after all, why I brought the Tea Party up; I wasn't advocating for more power in the Democratic Party going to insane people), but due to incompetence. Meanwhile, Tea Partiers got ridiculously rightwing people elected to the Senate from PA, UT, and other states. At this point it looks like Akin will win after all, even though it seems so obvious that he's too extreme to win. But what the GOP has figured out is that, in a polarized electorate, there's really no such thing as "too extreme"; only too stupid.

* as compared with a Grand Bargain that would have had the Villagers singing him hosannas and that would have, ever so slightly, improved economic prospects due to the evidence of an effective government


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:45 PM
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291: Wafer, I don't think this characterization of PGD is warranted, certainly not in the same breath as the Koch brothers, Murdoch et al., so I'd lay off that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:46 PM
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295 before I saw 290 and following.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:46 PM
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Oh, the ADA is a good one, maybe the best.

Note that with the possible exception of the FMLA, all of these 1966-2008 bills had very substantial Republican support (eg, Bob Dole was a big ADA backer and it was signed into law by HW Bush).

The ACA was both a much bigger bill than any of these and a much much harder bill to get passed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:47 PM
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They didn't lose due to ideology ... but due to incompetence.

I don't think this distinction is as clear as you'd like. On some level, their ideology is incompetence - that is to say, they want to make the whole country less effective and stupider. Ends have a way of shaping means.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:57 PM
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Anyway, I don't really see any way to follow the TP model to make the Dems more responsive to liberal concerns: The TP consists of Real 'Muricans who deserve our respect (don't call them teabaggers, even if they call themselves that!), whereas the left end of the Democratic Party is just a bunch of DFHs. The TP wasn't, e.g., Olympia Snowe's constituency, but much of her constituency would have revolted had she signaled that she thought the TP were nuts (or at least, that's the calculation she made).

Actually, I was just contemplating a day or two ago an alternate polity in which you've got 30% Tea Partiers*, 25% DFHs, and 45% Very Serious People (running the gamut from Simpson to Bowles). I can almost imagine getting there socially (that is, how the parties could splinter and recombine, leaving a rump GOPULTRA and driving away liberals who won't share a party with the Frums and Bartletts), but of course it falls down in Congress. Maybe the Pres is always a VSP, but he goes to one combo of legislators for one set of issues (e.g. social) and another combo for other issues (eg fiscal).

Would that be stable (even assuming some magic beans to get there)? We all know why a 3rd party as such can't work, but what about a central party flanked by 2 ideological parties? Also: would the legislative outcomes of this system be distinguishable from what we have?

*and yeah, of course the TP is just bodies for some sinisters, but the bottom line is that the Kochs are not acting like traditional wealthy funders, nudging and persuading; they're acting like insurgents, and having success accelerating the GOP's rightward tilt


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 1:59 PM
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Claims of ineffectiveness that rely on things like the debt ceiling debacle misunderstand the Tea Party's goal: did taxes on the wealthy go up? No. Did the American public respect the Federal Government more? No. Did Obama's odds of getting reëlected go up*? No. Was SocialSecurityandMedicare made more sustainable? No. Those are all wins for the TP. And they still have plenty of time to torpedo entitlements later.

Yeah, one of the most unsettling political events of the past 2 years has been the emergence of "lower taxes for the rich" as a central plank of the Republican Party platform. Prior to the rise of the Tea Party, this was a marginal political issue for the GOP, but now it's arguably their most important concern.

The Tea Party has also made it impossible for the Republicans to do crazy things like accuse Obama of cutting Medicare. Likewise, after decades of declining public trust in most institutions, the Tea Party has managed the remarkable feat of pushing trust in government even lower. Worst of all, they have created a political environment in which the Republican Presidential ticket is made up of a wealthy private equity guy who is laughably bad at relating to ordinary people, and a Congressman who polls terribly in multiple key swing states.

It would be deeply misleading to call the Tea Party a trivial re-branding of conservative Republicans after the debacle of the Bush years. No, this is truly a genius political movement that everyone has a lot to learn from.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:00 PM
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296: I'll tell you what, when I'm ready to outsource my commenting, your shop in Mumbai will be the first place I'll look.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:00 PM
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299 doesn't apply to Toomey at all, though. And he's hardly unique.

I agree that the TP has craziness/incompetence wired into its DNA, but it's not actually incapable of fielding candidates who are competent enough to get the votes of people who will always press the R button, no matter the name. And from there, you just ride the waves of economic fundamentals.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:02 PM
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302: This is getting fun.

I take it back, a 1980 shock Romney landslide would afford me endless hours of hilarity reading liberal comment threads.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:04 PM
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FYI, the ADA is a huge portion of what I (and most architects) spend my time doing, especially on projects where the client is just doing down-and-dirty permit drawings (like the - no shit - Asian massage parlor I did a couple weeks ago).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:04 PM
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The no-shit Asian massage parlor was definitely the better of the two parlors.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:09 PM
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Just in case anyone is wondering, although I find PGD's politics some combination of inscrutable and despicable, I don't actually think he's a Republican.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:10 PM
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306 was one of the better jokes around here recently.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:12 PM
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And from there, you just ride the waves of economic fundamentals.

And as the economic fundamentals get worse, without adequate government help, the electorate gets more disillusioned and moves to the right. With perhaps some small identity politics compensation.

The right may be incompetent, but if you look at Europe or America, you can see that liberals are just clueless and pathetic. They simply can't break up the neo-liberal structures.

They can't go radical. Has always been thus, but used to be possible to go Keynesian, but that now has been rendered radical.

So Republicans will trash the economy and win. Four more years of middling shit, and then Ryanism.

And facing that future, a responsible Democratic President goes Louis Napoleon. The buck stops there, and he does whatever it takes. There are no excuses, there can no moderation facing fascism.

God damn Obama to hell.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:16 PM
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I know Texas, but what's the other one? If it's "Vagina Zone", well, most of the laws there are like that.

That was meant to be VA. (I'm so used to typing VZ for Verizon that it's automatic.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:16 PM
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234. There are indeed lots of regulatory elements in intergenic regions, doubtless including many types yet to be discovered. But good luck finding a false positive rate mentioned anywhere in the work of at least three of the named researchers.

Lungfish, rays, and salamanders all have entire genera with genomes larger than those of any mammal. Even within the mammals, there is huge variation in genome size, and in the accesibililty of putative regulatory elements to experimental confirmation. But of course the place to look for regulatory elements is in the genome of the one species where you can't make knockouts or do mutagenesis.

Michael Snyder's paper is likely good- I haven't read it yet.
Here are a couple of good papers-- evolutionary signatures of functional sequence:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875934

Enhancers with experimental confirmation of predicted function:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22118467


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:17 PM
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what about a central party flanked by 2 ideological parties?

We're practically there. All we need is an ideological party on the left.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:17 PM
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Finally this thread has turned to the real issue, which is lungfish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:19 PM
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Hey girl.


Posted by: Lungfish 2016 | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:19 PM
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Lungfish! Builder of space elevators! Lungfish: laser face! Lungfish: emperor of all creation, golden scion of the senate, destroyer of sorrows. Lungfish: for America.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:25 PM
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308: And yet 314 made me laugh harder.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:27 PM
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Soooo, what are the odds that this is actually legit? I'm guessing pretty low, but keeping a bag of popcorn ready all the same.

A team of hackers claims to have obtained Mitt Romney's tax returns and say the documents will be released at the end of September unless the candidate transfers $1 million in Bitcoins, an online currency. The group allegedly stole the files from Pricewaterhouse Cooper's Tennessee office on Aug. 25. If Romney fails to pay the ransom, the hackers say, "the entire world will be allowed to view the documents with a publicly released key to unlock everything."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:27 PM
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We're practically there. All we need is an ideological party on the left.

Vote Jill Stein!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:28 PM
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313 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:29 PM
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More detailed article.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:29 PM
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I'm rooting for legit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:32 PM
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One million bitcoins!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:33 PM
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The ransom play leans the whole thing heavily towards non-legit. If they had them and wanted to release them, they would. They don't need one million bitcoins. It's the same bluff as Reid's claim that someone "credible" told him that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years, although this honestly seems like a weaker bluff.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:37 PM
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did taxes on the wealthy go up? No. Did the American public respect the Federal Government more? No...Was SocialSecurityandMedicare made more sustainable? No. Those are all wins for the TP

Wins the R's didn't seem to have much problem pulling off for the 10 years prior to the TP's existence.

Worst of all, they have created a political environment in which the Republican Presidential ticket is made up of a wealthy private equity guy who is laughably bad at relating to ordinary people, and a Congressman who polls terribly in multiple key swing states.

Pretty sure they're doing us a favor on this one. I for one would very much rather see Obama facing off against Romney instead of Huntsman.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:40 PM
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322: somewhat less than that at the moment.

323: what? Why not? Lots of people need money.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:40 PM
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Anyhow it almost certainly is fake, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:41 PM
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323: Maybe they just wanted to first get the word out about about Bitcoins (which appear to have the emotional appeal, in some circles, of gold supercollided out of Robert Heinlein's ashes).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:44 PM
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We're practically there. All we need is an ideological party on the left.

Well that's what made me think of it. The main reason that Friedman et al won't credit Obama for being the dreamy centrist of their fantasies is that he has that D after his name. To be clear, the bulk of the existing Dem Party would have to step right to scoop up all the Rs who are sick of the Tea Party, thus alienating enough Dems to drive them away. It might even end up being the Democratic Republicans in the middle, kicking it old school, while the Democratic Party is the liberal rump and the Tea Party actually becomes a registered entity. I'm not having fever dreams of the Greens somehow wrangling 25% ex nihilo.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:45 PM
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I can't believe that hacked returns wouldn't get released no matter the ransom, nor Romney's response. At that point, several people have access to them and several people is too many to keep a secret.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:46 PM
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Also just across the newswire:

A security breach at a purveyor of virtual currency Bitcoins (BTC) has resulted in the loss of very real dollars totaling around $250,000. Bitfloor, a major banking and exchange service for Bitcoins, may be facing shutdown after nearly their entire inventory was stolen.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:47 PM
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If they were serious about the ransom they would have a cryptographic solution in place to guarantee the release or non-release. I think they're kidding around. They got good press, though! Good for them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:48 PM
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330: there was a cute email circulating a while ago (here) about how to corner (and destroy) the bitcoin market, Goldfinger style, that also talked about the problem of theft.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:51 PM
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Huh. Apparently by "also talked about the problem of theft" I mean "didn't talk about the problem of theft, at all, which is easy to determine by reading the two paragraph email before linking to it".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 2:56 PM
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but what about a central party flanked by 2 ideological parties?

For multiple parties you need a different electoral system. In a single round single member FPTP system you will at best get a marginally viable third party unless you have significantly stronger regional identities than we do.

The only way to move things in the US is by primaries. Except that there are immense pressures on rising liberal politicians to move to the right due to the need for money. What's worse, over time the shifts become internalized due to spending time with 'moderates' and a natural resistance to thinking that the new positions they're taking are purely mercenary, see, e.g., B. Obama.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 3:40 PM
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299 doesn't apply to Toomey at all, though. And he's hardly unique.

What? Of course Pat Toomey wants to make the government less effective. He was the freaking president of the Club For Growth for four years.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 3:47 PM
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334

Politically, we have very strong regional identities. The Northeast and West would have unimpeachable Democratic majorities, same for the Republicans in the Plains and South. The Midwest used to be reliably Democratic, but is more of a toss-up these days.

Looking at representatives from just states in the traditional south and the plains states, Republicans would have a whopping 135-45 ubermajority, while the remainder (the West, Midwest and Northeast) would have a comfortable 145-115 Democratic majority.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 4:48 PM
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OK I've seen Denise Juneau give a better speech.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 4:58 PM
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Watching this convention, and hearing NARAL NARAL NARAL, Planned Parenthood Planned Parenthood Planned Parenthood, it's pretty hard to swallow the notion that BHO is pretty much the same as any Republican. What's Ron Paul's opinion of women again?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:10 PM
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I mean, I know that's not the serious stuff. But.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:10 PM
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338 -- I haven't seen Nancy Keenan give a better speech. Yesterday was better than 2008, and better than when she was running for office 88-00.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:12 PM
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Oh huh. Cecile Richards is the daughter of Ann??? I did not know that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:15 PM
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but what about a central party flanked by 2 ideological parties?

I admit I'm flummoxed by this. Why would we want that, again? Doesn't that grant a whole hell of a lot to the Tea Partiers, as actually valid players at the table? I'm sure they're valid citizens and all, but they're not really qualified to sit at the table. Terrible thing to say, but there it is.

Before I apologize for that, we'd need to define who we mean by Tea Partiers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:18 PM
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Sorry, I should have refreshed. I saw Keenan and Juneau earlier; Eldridge Cleaver was good (though I'm not a big fan of prompts to start up the "USA! USA!" chants).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:24 PM
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Eldridge Cleaver? The Soul on Ice guy?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:29 PM
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Oops. Emanuel Cleaver.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:47 PM
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Emanuel was my mayor when I was young. He was a good mayor, really decent guy. Doesn't stop my parents from muttering about cronyism and corruption whenever his name comes up. They can't think of any examples, actually, but, well, everyone knew that's what was happening.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 5:57 PM
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Doesn't stop my parents from muttering about cronyism and corruption whenever his name comes up.

Maybe they thought he was the Soul on Ice guy.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:14 PM
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Elridge Cleaver is giving the keynote in my mind. And it's awesome.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:21 PM
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My parents mutter about cronyism, corruption, and/or drug use when you mention any local Democratic politician to them. "I know for a fact that he went to parties where people were doing cocaine." And they're probably right about half of these mutterings for all I know.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:23 PM
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Hologram Eldridge Cleaver!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:24 PM
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Eldridge Cleaver giving the keynote would be the Democrats fighting Mormon with Mormon!


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:25 PM
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My guess is that for the median RNC goer, there would be almost no difference between seeing Eldrige Cleaver, in a dashiki with an AK slung over his shoulder, and Barack Obama, wearing a suit and thumping the bible, on stage at the DNC.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:27 PM
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I guess the New Yorker covered this with its cover three years ago.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:28 PM
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Maybe adding "God" to the platform isn't really bible thumping, strictly speaking.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:30 PM
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290 291

Akin wasn't exactly the tea party candidate in Missouri. See here.

Fiscal tea partiers have Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer who is backed by Sarah Palin and the national group Tea Party Express, which lends its stamp of approval (and some independent spending) to fiscally conservative candidates. Palin recorded a TV ad for Steelman and campaigned with her outside Kansas City on Friday. The ad, in which Palin calls Steelman a "mama grizzly," is ubiquitous on airwaves in the state.

And for Missouri's social-issue voters, there's Rep. Todd Akin, a Christian conservative from St. Louis who served in the U.S. Navy and since 2001 has represented a congressional district that stretches from St. Louis's suburbs to rural areas northwest of the city. Akin holds a divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and he recently aired this TV ad exhorting Missouri Republicans to vote on Tuesday as an exercise of America's religious founding.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:36 PM
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Hologram Eldridge Cleaver!

I can't imagine that would go over well:

By the 1980s, Cleaver had become a conservative Republican. He appeared at various Republican events and spoke at a California Republican State Central Committee meeting regarding his political transformation. In 1984 he ran for election to the Berkeley City Council but lost.[18] Undaunted, he promoted his candidacy in the Republican Party primary for the 1986 Senate race but was again defeated.[19]

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:38 PM
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I mean, I know that's not the serious stuff. But.

Yeah, we might get cooties in our political discussion! Can't have that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 6:59 PM
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Eldridge Cleaver? The Soul on Ice guy?

Muslim, Mormon, Black Panther, Republican, Soul on Ice guy, but above all that: the dude with those crazy pants.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:02 PM
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|| Holy crap, I just learned from FB that our local hipster grocery store is number 3 in the world in retail sales of PBR. This is a small town with 4 breweries, and a well known aversion to national brands. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:04 PM
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The ACA does nothing for the vast majority of Americans, other than raise their taxes.

You guys missed me, is that it?

Yes! I agree! Unfortunately, the ACA does almost nothing to help with this.

A common misconception, but a misconception all the same.

It hugely helps those people with serious preexisting conditions, granted. And that's very important. But it's also a minority of the population, which was my point.

Actually, according to HHS, half of Americans under 65 could be uninsurable under standard underwriting guidelines for non-group policies. And much of the remainder would be insurable only at exorbitant rates. That's one reason individual insurance covers less than 5% of the population today. And as the ineluctable erosion of employer-sponsored group coverage continues, more and more Americans would have been left with no options. But hey, the single payer fairy was just around the corner, right?


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:05 PM
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125

If that's the case, then, looking at your points individually, Obama might have recognized that he actually didn't have the apparatus necessary at Justice to prosecute all the financial bad guys; ...

You can never prosecute all the bad guys but how about some of them? And doesn't the President ultimately determine priorities within the Justice department? So nothing was keeping him from increasing the effort devoted to prosecuting financial crimes was there?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:07 PM
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360: Thank you. That bothered me, but not enough to do research.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:09 PM
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I think James has adopted teenage girl style uptalk? Like all his sentences are questions? But not really? Omigod.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:10 PM
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362 gets it exactly right. Also, I assumed you would show up eventually.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:11 PM
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363: As if.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:11 PM
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A common misconception, but a misconception all the same.

Is this supposed to be about bending the cost curve, or what?

Actually, according to HHS, half of Americans under 65 could be uninsurable under standard underwriting guidelines for non-group policies. And much of the remainder would be insurable only at exorbitant rates.

I don't disagree with this. It doesn't undercut my point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:14 PM
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366: It addresses 258 pretty much exactly. The people without group policies have been priced nearly completely out of the market.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:20 PM
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I love Elizabeth Warren, but she does not write or deliver a great speech.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:25 PM
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Minivet and others have done a commendable job in my absence, but I still feel obliged to repeat that the ACA improves the quality of insurance for everyone who has insurance, including urple and his family. Covering the uninsured was an important goal, but, we shouldn't forget the plight of the (mostly unwittingly) underinsured. Recall that in the study that revealed all the personal bankruptcies triggered by medical bills, a substantial fraction of the families were covered by health insurance at the time.


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:26 PM
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I love Elizabeth Warren, but she does not write or deliver a great speech.

She's a little too conversational.

Or, rather, she doesn't seem to have a good feel for how to give a speech structure. The individual bits are good, I'm not waiting to hear what comes next, I would be ready to stop after each sub-section.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:29 PM
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367: People without group policies are a minority.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:31 PM
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Let's be honest. The ACA is probably going to fuck over urple and his family, but he should probably take one for the team on this. Lots of people really need health insurance and will get it and urple's only going to be out $142 a month plus $600 in extra co-pays if anybody in the house needs braces.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:31 PM
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Is this supposed to be about bending the cost curve, or what?

The architects of the ACA correctly recognized that unless medical cost inflation could be curbed, (1)guaranteed universal coverage would quickly become politically impossible; (2) employer-sponsored coverage would disappear at an accelerating rate; and (3) the cost of Medicare and Medicaid would eventually consume so much of the federal budget that other liberal priorities would become impossible to fund. That's why half of the ACA is concerned with reforming healthcare delivery and putting the cost of quality care on a sustainable trajectory.


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:31 PM
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371: So are black people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:32 PM
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I'll take 373 as a "yes" in response to 366.1


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:33 PM
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359: I wonder if there's some convoluted geographical explanation there, in terms of not having a local competitor for that exact demographic. Here, of course, we have Grain Belt Premium and Hamm's, plus a bunch of cheap 'Sconnie beers that people have strong tribal allegiances towards. So while certain stores probably sell a decent amount of PBR by world standards, it's probably just a large plurality of the hipster beer market. Also, of course, we have Summit and Surly for the slightly better-off, and a shitload of local microbreweries for the beer snobs. Whereas, someplace like Frisco, for instance, they're probably competing with all kinds of weird shit, plus everyone smokes those funny cigarettes. And in the South it's all bourbon and really, really shitty cheap beer. And Milwaukee and St. Louis and Denver all have big local colosusses, and people back east have no clue about how to drink beer, plus the bodegas are all tiny and stuff. And in Arizona you have to drink some kind of Nazi beer I bet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:35 PM
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77

But again, that's not 'the housing bubble

I originally said financial malefactors. Anyway she is an example of how reluctant to prosecute financial crimes the Obama DOJ appears to be.

A housing bubble example is Casey Serin . He was under investigation as early as 2007 so you can also blame Bush for the failure to prosecute. He is obviously low level but there were a ton of guys like him and collectively they did a lot of damage. And he publically confessed to obtaining fraudulent mortgage loans on numerous occasions. If you don't prosecute guys like him you are basically saying filing fraudulent mortgage applications is now like adultery technically still a crime (at least in many states) but never prosecuted.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:36 PM
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Anyway, people without group policies are disproportionately those without lower paying jobs. If it helps them and does nothing else, it seems like a very idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:37 PM
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People without group policies are a minority

That's simply false. Roughly 150 million Americans, or slightly less than half the population, are covered by group policies, and the trend has been negative for years as group coverage has become increasingly unaffordable for employers.


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:40 PM
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369

... Recall that in the study that revealed all the personal bankruptcies triggered by medical bills, a substantial fraction of the families were covered by health insurance at the time.

Didn't that study define bankruptcy resulting from loss of income from inability to work as medical? Health insurance doesn't help in those cases.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:41 PM
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That idea is so very.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:42 PM
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Also, I'm no fan of the Big Dog, but he sure can deliver a speech.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:42 PM
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369./372: no, see, I actually have shitty insurance, for a group plan. Better than some people, and a hell of a lot better than no insurance, or non-group insurance or what have you, but for an employer-provided policy it's pretty damn bad. And it's hella expensive. (It's a relatively small employer with a lot of unhealthy people.) And I have a good job so I can basically afford it fine--although with an $8,000 annual out-of-pocket limit (on top of premiums; limit applies to in network providers only, so don't accidentally get taken to the wrong hospital, or have your doctor send your tests to the wrong lab), the one year we had expensive medical issues, we legitimately had trouble covering bills)--but there are plenty of people here who make much less than me who have the same plan and for whom it's a real burden. And it gets dramatically more expensive every year. And as far as I can tell, this is not an uncommon scenario in America today. And the ACA does nothing for it (other than getting rid of the lifetime benefit cap, which okay isn't nothing, but again that's something that a relatively small minority of people run up against, and wasn't really the point of "healthcare reform". That change could have been made on a stand-alone basis.).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:44 PM
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379: okay, I should have said "people buying private insurance that aren't on group policies"--that's what we're talking about. The population covered by Medicare and Medicaid, SCHIP etc. don't count for this purpose.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:48 PM
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I guess the point of this thread is that Urple works for a place that is going to stop giving insurance benefits soon because they can't afford it and are already providing barebones insurance anyway. So after Urple's group plan disappears, the new law is a better scenario for him


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:48 PM
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385: they don't pay much for it, as far as I'm aware. The "benefit" is mostly the existence of the group coverage.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:51 PM
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1. Gigantic wealth transfer from the lower middle class to the insurance companies
2. ???
3. Profit! Healthcare!*

*Except for when you don't actually have it


Posted by: Underpants Gnomes | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:51 PM
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And the even more salient point:

after Urple's group plan disappears, the new law is a better scenario for him

Yes, dramatically better compared to the status quo. And yet still pretty objectively terrible.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:52 PM
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47

And those are the people who HAVE been prosecuted -- small-scale, quasi-independent fraudsters who didn't have any major corporation backing them up and were stupid enough to leave incontrovertible paper trails behind. So there's a bunch of people doing 3-5 year sentences for frauds in the 7-or-8 figure range, who were basically just along for the ride but easy to prosecute.

If the Obama adminstration has done a lot of this sort of prosecution they have certainly kept quiet about it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:53 PM
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386: Have you told your employer about the tax advantages of paying for health care benefits instead of salary?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:54 PM
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It's a relatively small employer with a lot of unhealthy people.

Guess what, urple? Your premium might just down as a result of the ACA. Why? Because your state's insurance regulation gives insurers fairly wide latitude to rate small groups* according to claims experience, so companies with sick employees end up with higher premiums that reflect their actuarial expectations. Under the ACA, you will get pure small group community rating, which means that the younger and healthier groups will effectively subsidize you.

* there are slightly tighter rules for groups >25 members


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:54 PM
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Man, that is a GREAT speech.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:56 PM
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392: yup, it's really amazing. Here's another amazing thing: the Democrats don't have to hide the last president from their party who occupied the Oval Office.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:58 PM
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He is almost having too much fun up there. It's indecent!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:59 PM
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389: My sense is that many of the prosecutions were at the state level, and of course it is hardly national news when someone goes to jail for a few years on a comparatively small fraud charge.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 7:59 PM
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Anyway, the reason premiums are high and go up every year is that health care is very expensive in the U.S., and we consume rather a lot of it, in part because there is a high incidence of chronic diseases in the population. The ACA actually does a lot (not enough, but it's a start) to tackle the underlying cost problem: by encouraging more efficient provision of care, more prevention and population health measures, and more sensible tools to manage utilization. That's an underappreciated aspect of the law, because it's in no one's interest to draw attention to it (except when Paul Ryan wants to characterize some of those cost-saving provisions as stealing money from Medicare).


Posted by: Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:01 PM
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394: that's exactly right. He's just enjoying the hell out of himself. He knows he owns the place, and he's going to savor it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:02 PM
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I've been watching Friday Night Lights, and Bill is sounding like an uncanny hybrid between Buddy Garrity and Coach Taylor.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:03 PM
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392: also, I meant to say earlier, I think your point about the stories we tell ourselves (the way we construct memory) to keep from despairing or becoming angry is very smart.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:04 PM
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398: you, sir, are a despoiler of my good mood. PGD sent you, didn't he?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:04 PM
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It's indecent!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:05 PM
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Somebody e-mailed me an article about Clinton earlier today and there's one paragraph that I keep thinking of during this speech:

"Suppose we've been friends for 40 years," Mr. Clinton said, putting a hand on a reporter's shoulder. He continued: "If you came to visit me in the hospital and said something pretty and eloquent instead of saying 'God, I'm sorry. This sucks. I wish I could do more about it,' it's an insult."

That framing makes me really appreciate his ability to frame complicated ideas in a way that feels straightforward. I was impressed by how well he was able to say, "this sucks" in his speech while making it part of a positive message -- very impressive.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:05 PM
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I hope the woman with the Medicare card doesn't get identity-thefted.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:12 PM
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395

My sense is that many of the prosecutions were at the state level, and of course it is hardly national news when someone goes to jail for a few years on a comparatively small fraud charge.

Well I am not going to give Obama credit for state prosecutions. And if state prosecutors can find prosecutable cases I expect federal prosecutors could as well if they wanted to.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:15 PM
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Is it true that the TelePrompTer broke and Clinton's just freestyling?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:16 PM
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404: I'm not arguing that! I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:17 PM
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in part because there is a high incidence of chronic diseases in the population.

In unrelated news, Taco Bell is now serving breakfast.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:25 PM
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Is it true that the TelePrompTer broke and Clinton's just freestyling?

I don't know about the former, but the latter is obviously the case. How else do you get from a 28 minute prepared text to a 48 minute speech?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:28 PM
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407 was me.

408: He did it in '88.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:29 PM
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What? Of course Pat Toomey wants to make the government less effective.

I meant that he isn't inherently incompetent thanks to being a (de facto) Tea Partier. He's competent enough to get elected, competent enough not to get himself driven from office and, depending on the larger political situation in 2016, competent enough to get reëlected.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:29 PM
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407 was me.

We know we can always rely on you for fast-food-chain news.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:33 PM
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There is no Taco Bell by my office, in case anybody wants a business idea. The place where the Wendy's used to be is still empty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:35 PM
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407: Add a couple shots of Everclear to that Mountain Dew A.M. and it would taste almost as good as Four Loko


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:36 PM
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And yes, 394 gets it exactly right.

FWIWm I was pretty impressed with Warren's speech. I don't think I've ever seen a full-length speech from her before, and while it was kind of canned - she's not a natural orator like BillC - I thought it was awfully effective. Anyone who would ever consider voting D would be nodding along.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:37 PM
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41

... It cracks me up watching James trying to reconcile Obama's deference to Wall Street with Fox News talking points, ...

Well I have said I find Obama's actions in this respect baffling. And I don't find 29 and 30 satisfactory explanations. What exactly does Obama is in Wall Street's pocket mean? That they been bribing him for years? Or that they have brainwashed him into believing they didn't do anything wrong?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:43 PM
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Per TPM:

"Folks with a hard copy of the speech tell me it bears little resemblance to what Clinton's actually saying."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:45 PM
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It's a lot easier to dislike Clinton when you haven't heard him give a speech in a while.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 8:56 PM
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Well I have said I find Obama's actions in this respect baffling. And I don't find 29 and 30 satisfactory explanations. What exactly does Obama is in Wall Street's pocket mean?

Jesus, James, you're an asshole. Your alternative explanation is that Obama is just too liberal to want to put people in jail. What the fuck is wrong with you?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:13 PM
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Jesus, James, you're an assholeAngleton.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:16 PM
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There is no Taco Bell by my office, in case anybody wants a business idea.

There's one very close to mine. Plus a huge McDonald's right across the street.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:24 PM
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the Democrats don't have to hide the last president from their party who occupied the Oval Office

Wish you'd told me.


Posted by: OPINIONATED AL GORE IN 2000 | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:24 PM
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Plus a huge McDonald's right across the street.

McDonald's is underrated. I tend to eat there on road trips because they've got good hours and it's pretty easy to get something reasonably low calorie like coffee and a grilled chicken sandwich. Also, their hash browns rule.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:40 PM
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I haven't eaten at a McDonald's in years. I doubt I'll eat at this one much, since there are also lots of actually good restaurants nearby.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:43 PM
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383 so don't accidentally get taken to the wrong hospital

Should read 'don't have a serious health emergency in the wrong place'. I was recently reading the site of a UW grad student who had a nasty compound leg fracture in a climbing accident in the Cascades. She was evacuated to the nearest major hospital. It was out of network and she ran up a very solid six figure bill over the next week, what with the multiple surgeries and ICU charges. Oops. And then there were the lifetime limits.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:46 PM
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Yeah, Al, you really screwed that one up, you moralizing piece of shit.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 9:59 PM
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425 to 421.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:00 PM
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418

Jesus, James, you're an asshole. Your alternative explanation is that Obama is just too liberal to want to put people in jail. What the fuck is wrong with you?

I believe it was ultimately within Obama's power to put a bunch of financial malefactors in jail, that you would expect Obama (like most people) to consider this desirable and that it would have helped him politically. But he didn't do it. I find this curious and in need of an explanation. I haven't heard a really convincing one. Which is to say my "bleeding heart" suggestion wasn't entirely serious. Although it is the case that many liberals are uncomfortable with putting people in jail particularly for white collar crimes. Which could contribute to a reluctance to prosecute.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:04 PM
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Here's the speech. It's really worth watching.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 5-12 10:11 PM
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Although it is the case that many liberals are uncomfortable with putting people in jail particularly for white collar crimes.

You state this as if it were a well-established fact. Speaking as liberal, there's no soft spot in my heart for white-collar criminals, nor have I seen any evidence of this among my fellow liberals? So WTF?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:25 AM
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I do, however, have a soft spot for unnecessary question marks.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:26 AM
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Well, it's partly true and that's good enough.

"it is the case that many liberals are uncomfortable with putting people in jail particularly for white collar crimes" - really?

Well, "it is the case that many liberals are uncomfortable with putting people in jail" -- well, yes, sentences are often too long, jails are inhumane, rehabilitation is often a better idea

OK, but "it is the case that many liberals are uncomfortable" - very true. My shoes are a bit tight. Point to Shearer!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:30 AM
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429

You state this as if it were a well-established fact. Speaking as liberal, there's no soft spot in my heart for white-collar criminals, nor have I seen any evidence of this among my fellow liberals? So WTF?

Perhaps I should have said nonviolent offenders rather than white collar criminals specifically. Here is a NYT editorial favoring less prison for nonviolent offenders:

The enormous strain prison costs put on state budgets has led some conservatives and liberals to do something sensible together. Democrats and Republicans in several states are pushing to reform criminal justice policies based on strong evidence that imprisoning nonviolent offenders for ever longer terms adds huge costs with little benefit to public safety.

I think this is a fairly common attitude among prison reformers who tend to be liberal.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:17 AM
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Christ, what an asshole!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:25 AM
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"nonviolent" in that context is code for "drug possession" right?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:25 AM
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At any rate, I don't think that any liberal has white collar crime in mind when they hear the phrase "nonviolent crime."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:27 AM
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424: right. Our toddler fell and hit his head in North Carolina a few years ago. It was a hard enough fall that my wife wanted to take him to the ER. The bill was absurd, and all on us. (It's a high deductible plan, so it would have been all on us anyway, but it didn't even count against our $6000 deductible.) Hopefully she's learned her lesson and next time she'll know that having traumatic head injuries checked by a doctor as a preventative measure is NOT okay.

And again, as far as I know, the ACA does nothing for this. The private insurance system in America is badly broken, and only a few of the worst problems were addressed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:30 AM
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434

"nonviolent" in that context is code for "drug possession" right?

Drug dealing maybe, practically no one is in prison just for possession. However I am not too sympathetic to complaints that people talking in code have been misunderstood.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:44 AM
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436

424: right. Our toddler fell and hit his head in North Carolina a few years ago. It was a hard enough fall that my wife wanted to take him to the ER. The bill was absurd, and all on us. (It's a high deductible plan, so it would have been all on us anyway, but it didn't even count against our $6000 deductible.) Hopefully she's learned her lesson and next time she'll know that having traumatic head injuries checked by a doctor as a preventative measure is NOT okay.

Do you think running a bunch of expensive tests in a case like this is a good use of society's resources?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:49 AM
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437: It's not talking in code. It's usually in the context of talking about how overcrowded prisons are. Prisons are not overcrowded with bankers, they're crowded with people on drug charges.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:53 AM
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Non-violent also covers offenses against property, and probably public order offenses.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:53 AM
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At least, I assume violence = offences against the person, basically.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:53 AM
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The green rooster arrives at dawn. I repeat, the green rooster arrives at dawn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:56 AM
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Do you think running a bunch of expensive tests in a case like this is a good use of society's resources?

Don't worry Shearer, if I see you go unconscious from a vicious blow to the head I'll argue vigorously on your behalf that society's resources not be wasted on tests and treatment.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:58 AM
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443: that's what his parents argued, and look at him now.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:02 AM
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439

It's not talking in code. It's usually in the context of talking about how overcrowded prisons are. Prisons are not overcrowded with bankers, they're crowded with people on drug charges.

How about identify theft, stuff like that?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:07 AM
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443

Don't worry Shearer, if I see you go unconscious from a vicious blow to the head I'll argue vigorously on your behalf that society's resources not be wasted on tests and treatment.

Being unconscious was not mentioned. Urple didn't seem to think this was a good use of the urple family resources and I don't see why the rest of us should care more than he apparently does about the health of his child.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:10 AM
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429: From the NYT editorial you linked to [w/ emphasis added]:

The enormous strain prison costs put on state budgets has led some conservatives and liberals to do something sensible together. Democrats and Republicans in several states are pushing to reform criminal justice policies based on strong evidence that imprisoning nonviolent offenders for ever longer terms adds huge costs with little benefit to public safety.

So, it's not just liberals but also non-insane conservatives who think that ever-longer prison sentences are not the solution to every problem.

The very next paragraph:

Texas closed a prison last year, for the first time in its history, after reducing its prison population by steering nonviolent drug offenders to treatment and adopting other policies.

Hardly "speaking in code", is it? This is your support for the argument that liberals have no desire to prosecute white-collar criminals?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:11 AM
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437: practically no one is in prison just for possession

Well, there we get into the specifics, don't we? Lots and lots of people go to jail for possession-with-intent, where there is absolutely no evidence, other than the quantity of drugs they are found with, that they intended to distribute.

The largest plurality, perhaps even a majority, of women in prison, are there for some kind of check-related offense, which is just about the most non-violent crime I can think of. I don't think that's really what most people intend to connote when they use the phrase "white-collar crime" though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:14 AM
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practically no one is in prison just for possession

Ten per cent of the convicted prison population is in there for possession. (Add in those awaiting trial and it's more like 15%).

Shearer, you filthy liar.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/pji02.pdf - see table 3.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:14 AM
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The largest plurality, perhaps even a majority, of women in prison, are there for some kind of check-related offense, which is just about the most non-violent crime I can think of.

I didn't know that. I'm not doubting you, but do you have a link? I'd rather like to get the exact figure.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:15 AM
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449: and who knows how many of the "Trafficking" convictions are dodgy possession with intent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:19 AM
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Liberals are generally very sympathetic to "criminals" who haven't actually hurt anyone, and who are only in jail for violating conservative moral judgments. This includes nonviolent drug offenders, prostitutes, etc. People who defraud other people do not fall into this category.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:20 AM
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448: I don't have any links, but I do recall doing a research study that looked at criminal records and I was astounded at how many people (I don't know if they were women) wrote bad checks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:25 AM
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450: I've heard it a few different places, most recently in a presentation from someone who had a huge pile of paper research in front of her, but I don't have a link.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:26 AM
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453: that always amazes me when I look at the US fraud statistics, but for a different reason. I haven't written a cheque for about five years.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:27 AM
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452 to all the stuff before the conversation turned to bad checks. Liberals tend to be sympathetic to that when it's done by poor people, and unsympathetic when it's done by well-off people.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:27 AM
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I think I read once that women were mostly in prison for drugs, and very often the drugs were actually their partner's business, but they lived in the same house, so.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:28 AM
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A quick googling suggests that property crimes and drug crimes are neck-in-neck nationally, so maybe this was California-specific.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:29 AM
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455: I was looking at a population with mental illness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:30 AM
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The link in 449 gives a figure of 14% of all female inmates in for fraud. That's the second-biggest single category; the biggest is drug possession (14.5%). I don't know how much of that is cheque fraud but it makes Natilo's statement look not far off.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:30 AM
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This is not an argument in favor of current drug laws or anything but most of your possession with intent charges really aren't that dodgy. It's a reflection of the fact that people with drug habits often will take up a bit of low level selling to help support their habit.

A hell of a lot of the forgery cases are drug related and there's been a big rise in felony illicit use of a transfer card (basically buying stuff with a stolen credit card). Really though it boils down to that a lot more people need to be routed through a drug court type program if you want to see real reductions in recidivism and incarceration rates.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:31 AM
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Financial fraud is pretty much the poster child for (short but still) incarceration. A planned crime committed for calculated personal benefit? Need to send a strong social signal of disapproval and incentivise law-following heavily? Low likelihood of prison enabling further offending?

Also I am very doubtful of the utility of locking up a petty thief even though he has hurt someone.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:31 AM
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You lot need to hurry up shifting to chip-and-PIN, clearly. Much more secure and cheaper to process.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:31 AM
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A hell of a lot of the forgery cases are drug related and there's been a big rise in felony illicit use of a transfer card (basically buying stuff with a stolen credit card).

I didn't think most drug dealers accepted credit cards. More fool them.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:32 AM
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I think I read once that women were mostly in prison for drugs, and very often the drugs were actually their partner's business, but they lived in the same house, so.

And it's common for dealers to use females to hold drugs in their bra and such.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:34 AM
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A friend had her purse snatched once on the el. Her bank caught the person trying to get one of my friend's checks cashed. The most depressing thing about it was that the purse-snatcher very plainly had zero idea how to write a check.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:36 AM
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The most depressing thing about it was that the purse-snatcher very plainly had zero idea how to write a check.

Must have been a British purse-snatcher. "What the hell are these little bits of paper?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:37 AM
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Also I am very doubtful of the utility of locking up a petty thief even though he has hurt someone.

You don't think there's utility in locking up people with a penchant for hurting others and taking their stuff?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 AM
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Mind you it always weirds me out when I go back to the UK how people use these weird bits of metal and paper to pay for stuff.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 AM
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Vaguely on topic:

The judge reportedly told the offender on Tuesday: "It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve."

As a card carrying leftie, I say the judge is out to lunch.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 AM
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If you think that's weird, you should see how they spell "center."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:42 AM
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468 -- I mean, a non-violent petty thief. Who's clearly hurting people, theft is bad, but not violently.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:42 AM
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One of Rochford's victims, Mark Clayton, of Lingdale, North Yorkshire, condemned Judge Bowers' comments.

[...]

"I don't know anything about the prison service, but I'm sure it's all about rehabilitating people. That's why it's there."

ARGH FFS.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:44 AM
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Finance sentencing depends on the amounts involved.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:45 AM
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449

Ten per cent of the convicted prison population is in there for possession. (Add in those awaiting trial and it's more like 15%).

Part of this is a matter of definition, if someone is arrested for dealing and pleas down to possession I consider them a dealer. And your link refers to the jail population not the prison population which is different.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:45 AM
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it always weirds me out when I go back to the UK how people use these weird bits of metal and paper to pay for stuff.

I know you're more comfortable with your sheep-based barter system, Keir, but you have to understand that it's not just practical for countries whose economies are not entirely based on sheep.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:46 AM
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Personally speaking I reckon good on the judge.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:47 AM
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||
Yay!!! Shut 'em down, shut 'em down, shut 'em, shut 'em down!
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:47 AM
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Personally speaking, I'd be very happy to see anybody who breaks into my house go to prison. Even if they don't take much of value, it's not petty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:48 AM
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We have the greatest faith in our baa-nks.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:50 AM
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Yeah so they go to prison (and I agree it isn't petty) and then what? Come out and do it again? This guy's sitting on a suspended year sentence (i.e if he's done for anything else he'll get a hefty tariff) and might have a chance to make something of himself.

Prison doesn't work.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:52 AM
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Burglary takes a lot more courage over here where there's a better chance of the homeowner shooting you. Anecdata says you guys in the UK seems to have a hell of a lot of burgs but my impression is no doubt being colored by talking to my cousin who lives in Leeds and as I recall Leeds leads the nation in that category.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:54 AM
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We have the greatest faith in our baa-nks.

But if there's another crisis you'll get fleeced.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:54 AM
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We're always in danger of having the wool pulled over eyes.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:55 AM
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466: One of my colleagues had a checkbook stolen from his desk. The criminal mastermind, someone who cleaned the offices at night, had the checkbook for a full week. In that time she wrote one check. For less than $200. To a cable tv company. To pay the bill on service TO HER OWN APARTMENT.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:56 AM
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482: actually the US seems to have rather more burglaries than Scotland or Northern Ireland (bizarrely no statistic there for UK or England). Possibly because guns are a valuable and highly portable thing to steal...

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_bur-crime-burglaries


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:57 AM
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We're always in danger of having the wool pulled over eyes.

By some shady character who then goes on the lamb.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:58 AM
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The US has to have more burglaries (per capita) than Scotland...


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:58 AM
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Personally speaking, I'd be very happy to not see anyone reduced to breaking into other people's houses, whether due to lack of excitement, the need to feed an addiction, general anti-social tendencies, huge disparities of wealth and happiness or what-have-you. I see no evidence that imprisoning people who do break into houses, for whatever reason, acts in futherance of that vision.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:58 AM
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(There are no burglaries in Scotland, of course.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:00 AM
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482: My UK burglary anecdata suggests that one especially effective means for reducing the overall number of burglaries might be to issue more than 4 different keys for the back doors of a terraced housing estate.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:01 AM
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(There are no burglaries in Scotland, of course.)

Very true. Nor any arson. (And no, that's not because everything is too damp to burn properly.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:04 AM
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491. A similar approach to ignition keys by the Ford Motor Company or whatever it's called these day might likewise help with TWOCs.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:06 AM
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(There are no burglaries in Scotland, of course.)

What do they do instead, B&Es?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:08 AM
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Housebreaking.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:11 AM
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Theft with housebreaking, or hamesucken.

Burglary is different because it needn't be theft, just entry without authority + intent to commit crime.

I'm not sure what covers the other bits of burglary off the top of my head.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:11 AM
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Pwning is a civil rather than a criminal offence in Scots law.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:11 AM
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Hamesucken is totes added value. It is up there with plagium in the great archaic Scots offences chart.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:12 AM
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But thanks for using the word "hamesucken".


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:14 AM
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It is almost as good as the phrase ``the court made avizandum''.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:19 AM
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489: Personally, as soon as it's my house, I tend to see why they broke into it as somebody else's problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:19 AM
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Googling "hamesucken" leads me to this:

The punishment of hamesucken in aggravated cases of injury, is death in cases of inferior atrocity, an arbitrary punishment.
Which may be my favourite sentence this decade. What would constitute a superior atrocity?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:23 AM
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Good old Alison.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:24 AM
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What would constitute a superior atrocity?

The Albert Memorial.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:26 AM
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People are apparently still being charged with hamesucken on a regular basis, teh google reveals. I'm glad it hasn't been obsoleted.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:27 AM
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504. The Scott Monument, please. This is about Scottish law.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:27 AM
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Everything he writes is like that. It's not quite as good as Gordon's "The crime in Scots law is sodomy, not buggery, and it is submitted it is not sodomy, or indeed a crime at all as
such, to have anal intercourse with a consenting adult woman
''.

Ladies and gentlemen, that sentence was written by the Sheriff of Strathclyde in the year of our Lord 1978.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:27 AM
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I'm not sure what covers the other bits of burglary off the top of my head.

In Utah it covers several things.

76-6-202. Burglary.
(1) An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit:
(a) a felony;
(b) theft;
(c) an assault on any person;
(d) lewdness, a violation of Section 76-9-702;
(e) sexual battery, a violation of Section 76-9-702.1;
(f) lewdness involving a child, in violation of Section 76-9-702.5; or
(g) voyeurism under Section 76-9-702.7.

So say if neb was to climb uninvited in apo's back window and jack off in front of him then he could be charged with burglary.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:27 AM
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I just looked at our county jail roster and the first 20 women I found were in for: complicity in robbery, drug possession -2 , probation/parole violation -8, forgery/check fraud/credit card fraud - 3, theft/burglary -2, identity theft, promoting contraband, sex abuse, failure to appear

In my experience, which is limited to the families of kids in my home, there are good odds that the probation violations are using a drug (in our community, probably heroin). I'm very surprised there weren't more failure to appear arrests, but that's probably because IME usually people only get held overnight or so for that and so even though there are a lot of arrests for it you wouldn't see as many people on any given day as you would the people who are held longer. Our county only lets you search the people who are currently held, but the next county saves records and mugshots for a long, long time, which is useful if you're trying to make a scrapbook or something.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:29 AM
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76-6-202 1(c) would be hamesucken. Go on, gswift, charge someone with it. Make Utahn legal history. If you're lucky they'll try to nick your baton and you can charge them with deforcement and stouthreif as well.
Mind you, the jury will probably assoilzie them.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:32 AM
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Right --- in scots law theft with housebreaking covers (b), and hamesucken (c) and maybe (d, e, f and g) but I don't know what covers (a).

(I suspect there's statutory provision, or at worst an innominate crime.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:36 AM
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"Hamesucker" would make a fantastic epithet.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:40 AM
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Stouthrief, the musical.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:41 AM
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Innominate crimes are brilliant. The best thing is that in Scotland, strictly, the Procurator can allege that you did x y and z, and that those things constitute a crime, and the High Court of Justiciary can declare that yes, they do, even though there's no precedent to do so. (The declaratory power.) (Do nae wrang is not the whole of Scots criminal law, but there's a reason it has to be denied.)

These days just used to get old crimes in new bottles, but in principle can be used more aggressively.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:43 AM
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Tonight on "Law & Order: Obscure Crime Unit".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:45 AM
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I'm convinced that credit-card fraud played a huge role in the decline in burglary, car theft, and mugging in the UK. But then I've said this before.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:48 AM
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the Procurator can allege that you did x y and z, and that those things constitute a crime

Very useful when it comes to prosecuting genuinely novel human sex acts.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:55 AM
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Catching up, I see that the intrepid Von Wafer has outed me as a Republican plant. So there's really no longer any point to my participating in this thread. (But please don't confuse me with McManus -- my mission is simply to depress voter turnout, while his is to provoke violent criminal activity. I'm a little jealous actually...he gets salary and benefits from the FBI while I'm just an RNC contractor).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:57 AM
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517: like hamesucking.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:01 AM
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Back on the OP, I actually think Lemieux gets it pretty much right.

Historical perspective is important, and is important to consider when entertaining fantasies that throwing one more election to the Republicans will finally restore the Really Progressive Democratic Party that never existed -- but we should also always be expecting more. I don't think Obama should be exempt from criticism for his actual failures any more than LBJ should be given a pass for Vietnam or FDR for the internment. Some disappointment even in better-than-typical presidents is a good and necessary thing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:18 AM
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514: Seriously? Wow. If you could get away with that in the US, no one but the prison guards would be on the outside.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:20 AM
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I do agree that, compared to other actually existing presidents, his record can't be considered disappointing at all
This is true, but as usual with Democrats we needed leadership and got management.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:26 AM
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521: You can't really these days. Like, if there's an innominate crime that has always been charged as ``you did at such and such a place use the telephone to defraud the lieges'', and someone was before the court having used the internet, that's the sort of thing that gets caught these days. And even then only when it is super obvious and clear.

Used to actually be used to chuck people in jail for new things though.

(Scots criminal law is uncodified so there's a lot more flexibility/uncertainty built into the system.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:42 AM
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The comparison to previous presidents is not that compelling to me because the current situation is so unprecedented, on the domestic policy side at least. It creates both dangers and opportunities that did not exist for other presidents. It's a time where marginal improvements on the status quo may not be enough. I don't think Obama has been a bad president, but this is a time when being average may not be enough.

I question things during 2008-10, I think there were demonstrably missed opportunities there, but what scared me the most were the reports from the almost-disastrous budget negotiations in 2011. It turned out sort of OK in the end but apparently only because of Congressional intervention. Really hope Obama learned the lesson for the second term.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:46 AM
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Just out of curiosity, when the High Court of Justiciary exercises the declaratory power, does it explicitly describe itself as making or recognizing a "new" crime or is the convention that the conduct was always criminal but no one ever noticed before? And if the former, was there any particular point at which that changed?


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:53 AM
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All Scots exist in a state of quantum superposition until the High Court observes their behaviour and they collapse into a state of lawfulness or criminality. Even after this, they are normally unable to say both where they are and where they were going.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:57 AM
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524: Yeah, a lot of the "most progressive president since X" stuff relies heavily on the fact that the Tea Party didn't let him dismantle SS, and sort of ignoring that he really, really wanted to. Since he's presumed to have good intentions in the other direction ("if Ben Nelson would've let him, Obamacare would be teh awesome"), I'm not sure why his explicit intentions in the other direction don't count against him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:58 AM
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relies heavily on the fact that the Tea Party didn't let him dismantle SS, and sort of ignoring that he really, really wanted to.

I'm feeling clueless here, but what? I'm sure I'm just not remembering something obvious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:00 AM
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527: Wait, what? Obama wanted to dismantle Social Security, but the Tea Party stopped him from doing it???


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:02 AM
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Simpson-Bowles, I suppose, but turning that into 'really really wanted to' dismantle SS seems overstated, unless there's some statement I'm blanking on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:03 AM
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Even after this, they are normally unable to say both where they are and where they were going.

Yes but that's because of the beer, not the law.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:13 AM
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Not Simpson-Bowles. Reports are that in the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations Obama offered Boehner a budget deal that included significant Medicare and SS cuts in exchange for comparatively minor tax increases. But the Tea Party wouldn't let the Rs take the deal. Gory details here. .

Here's a piece of it...Obama getting outflanked to his *left* by a bipartisan group of Senators (!):

Desperate to resolve the debt-limit deadlock, senators enthusiastically and publicly latched on to the proposal, which included more taxes and stronger protections for the poor and elderly than the still-secret Obama-Boehner framework. Dozens of senators emerged from the briefing praising the group's work, including Republicans such as Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)....At the White House, Obama showed equal enthusiasm....In private, however, he and his aides were alarmed. The emerging deal with Boehner looked timid by comparison. "The Democratic leaders already thought we were idiot negotiators," Daley said. "So I called Barry [Jackson] and said, 'What are we going to do here? How are we going to sell Democrats to take $800 billion [in new revenue] when Republican senators have signed on to" nearly $2 trillion?

One good thing is that reports also were that Obama was sobered by what happened.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:14 AM
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(There are no burglaries in Scotland, of course.)

Well, no true burglaries.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:15 AM
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532: no, nothing in that about wanting to dismantle Social Security. Sorry.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:28 AM
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And the difference between poor negotiation strategy -- although the fact that Senate Republicans were willing to sign on to something doesn't tell you that House Republicans would have gone along (and indeed they would not have) -- is really different from 'really really wants to do' something.

What he evidently really really wanted to do was avoid default.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:31 AM
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[pretend that was grammatically correct]


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:33 AM
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332: have you even read the story you linked? A story that, by the way, pivots entirely on anonymous sources? To be clear, my understanding is that some changes to Social Security were on the table during the Grand Bargain negotiations. But were they, to use your word, "significant"? Who the fuck knows? Certainly not the reporters at the Post. And I'm guessing certainly not you. But if I'm wrong, and you actually know something substantive, you should say so.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:34 AM
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534: did you read the article before snarking about it?

But the major elements of a bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings achieved in part by raising the eligibility age. And $800 billion in new taxes.

The article goes on to explain how the Rs wanted to count new revenues from *lower* tax rates spurring magical growth as additional revenues, and that Obama was apparently prepared to accept that.

The SS COLA cuts are less worrisome to me than the Medicare cuts. To me an increase in the Medicare eligibility age is totally unconscionable, health reform or no.

What he evidently really really wanted to do was avoid default.

And once Congress took the negotiations out of his hands we did avoid default, with a far better deal than the one he was rumored to be offering.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:39 AM
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537: I'm pretty certain that this proposal was the Social Security cut on the table. Even some liberal wonks like this proposal, although I am less enthusiastic I can see it as part of a genuinely good deal -- something that raised trillions in actual real taxes on the rich. As I said the Medicare cut seems like a bigger deal to me.

Look, if you don't believe the many reports on this stuff then I can't convince you, nor do I have any stake in doing so. They scared me though. I hope/believe Obama learned a lesson.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:45 AM
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538, 539 -- I hope he learned a lesson too. But I don't see 'really really wanted to gut SS' (which I realize is not your formulation) in any of that. Should/could the president have shown a little (lot) more backbone in this stuff? I think there's plenty of argument to be made for that (and I don't follow it that closely). But really, this arch-traitor business is dangerous fantasy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:51 AM
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520:LemieuxI don't think Obama should be exempt from criticism

What a guy. Folks, now there's an academic with integrity, who doesn't *think*...wait, he isn't sure that Obama shouldn't be be "exempt from criticism?" There is a possibility that maybe Obama must not be criticized?

Wafer, the rest of these people, whatever, but I think you know that you are now signing on for the duration. God knows we heard that in 2004-05.

You have a pretty good idea what we have here in Barack Obama, and he, his policies, his actions belongs to you now. That is why the lib-Dem crowd is trying to twist his record into something more palatable.

There can no longer be disappointment, only endorsement and complicity. Enjoy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:52 AM
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But I want to be complicit and disappointed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:55 AM
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I'm a liberal who thinks that the potential (and sometimes actual) sentences for white collar crimes are too long while also believing we are nowhere near aggressive enough in prosecuting them. I don't think that non violent crooks should ever get sentences to more than, say, a decade. I also think that the potential sentences for violent crimes are too long, e.g. I don't think that there ever should be sentences of life without the possibility of parole.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:01 AM
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if you don't believe the many reports on this stuff then I can't convince you

If you don't have real sources, just as the "many reports on this stuff" don't have real sources, then no, you can't convince me. Again, I absolutely believe that Social Security cuts were on the table during the Grand Bargain negotiations; I just don't believe that you, or the shit-ass morons at the Post, have any idea what those cuts actually were. Still, as Charley says, am I dismayed that such cuts were on the table at all? I am. Very much so. But -- because I'm a fucking idiot who should know better but apparently doesn't -- I'm not willing to sit here and let you parrot crap that you've heard from strivers in DC or read in an aggressively awful newspaper and gussy that bullshit up and call it fact.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:01 AM
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As I think about it, Biden has stated, flat out, that Social Security is sacrosanct. Now, I happen to think that's probably bullshit, but I find it much easier to believe than poorly sourced nonsense from the Post.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:03 AM
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If the political reporting in the Post is not fact, VW, then DC is built on lies.

Oh, hey, wait.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:04 AM
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Ezra Klein himself:

The Obama Administration Has Cut Taxes

Democrats Are Tax Cutters ...read carefully, Klein is trying to fydge in his headline. Tax cuts for 99%, and huge tax cuts for the rich.

Fine. Then I am no longer a Democrat.

What the Holy Fuck do you expect Republicans to say and do when Democrats are the party of tax cuts?

And what kind of country and nation will we get out of this death-match of tax cutters?

This is enough, all by itself, for me to hold Obama in contempt.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:04 AM
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540: I never said Obama was an 'arch-traitor' or anything even close to it. The most negative thing I said in this thread was that Obama was a mediocre to average President who was too close to the center-right of the Democratic party. I'm genuinely undecided between 'mediocre' and maybe a little better than average -- I know the box Obama is operating in and none of this stuff is easy. But the times call for better. He's obviously infinitely better than Romney but that is not the standard to use between people who already agree about how dangerous the R threat is.

Thanks for noticing that I also never said that he offered to 'gut' social security. But you have to think about context -- the main thing that clearly separates the parties now on economic policy is that the Democrats are willing to tax rich people to defend entitlements. Cutting Medicare and SS in visible ways opens the door to further raids on the programs in a very dangerous way. The very, very least to ask of a Democratic President is that he not cut 65 year olds off Medicare while we're the most undertaxed country in the developed world.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:06 AM
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Apparently Bob Woodward's forthcoming book will have much to say on the topic of the debt ceiling negotiations.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:08 AM
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Huh, I hadn't read that article before, but I must say that the summaries of it by PGD in 532 and 538 are kind of stunningly innacurate. The article itself suggests that there was a budget negotiation going on in which the Republicans would have agreed to substantially higher taxes on the rich in exchange for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, at the same time a negotiation was going on in the Senate. When it seemed as if the Senate negotiation might be more favorable to the Democratic position than the White House view, the White House backed away from the deal and helped to blow it up. Then, there was a little more negotiation, in which the White House said it might have to ask Reid and Pelosi to accept a deal, and then nothing happened. And, finally, the White House concluded that negotiating with the Congressional Republicans was pointless and that the White House should focus on a job-building strategy.

How you get from there to Obama being outflanked by a bipartisan group of Senators or aggressively moving the party to the center is a bit mysterious. The article does play into the narrative that Obama was (unduly) obsessed with deficit reduction, which is something we already knew.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:11 AM
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539: I'm pretty certain that this proposal was the Social Security cut on the table.

That's the impression I've had as well: a shift to a chained-CPI measure for COLA. It wouldn't surprise me if that remains on the table going forward (as they say); if so, we'll need to see a more robust protest against it than we* saw when it first surfaced.

* By "we" I mean "I" -- I didn't see/read/hear much against the notion, myself, beyond the occasional gesture and explanation, worries raised in a somewhat mild voice. That doesn't mean louder protests weren't out there, and I just didn't hear about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:12 AM
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548:Democrats are willing to tax rich people to defend entitlements.

My ass.

When you look at the chart in the second link in 547, remember that they leave out the fact that the numbers are taxable income, meaning after mortgage, charitable and other deductions have been calculated.

So the $350 k or so where the taxes bite is really more like $500 k gross income. And those under $500k means, by any reasonable definition, almost everybody.

You can't have a decent country like that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:13 AM
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549: his best source -- unnamed, of course -- was PGD.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:14 AM
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I was kidding in 553, parsimon.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:16 AM
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So, what I am reading in the SS discussion is that crowd saying very clearly, that whatever Obama signs in the next six months to a year...

Hoocudanode? How the fuck were we supposed to know that Obama would do something like that? There simply was no credible evidence!

Not our fault!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:18 AM
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Hopey-Change will never fail you, will he Wafer, he will never fail to disappoint you.

Delusion is your life.

Narcissism is your defense.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:21 AM
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read carefully, Klein is trying to fydge in his headline. Tax cuts for 99%, and huge tax cuts for the rich.

I wouldn't call them "huge"

Second, it's not quite true that even richer folks would go back to paying the Clinton-era tax rates. Remember that people don't pay a single tax rate. They pay different tax rates on different parts of their income. So a family that makes $300,000 would pay the Clinton-era rate on their income over $250,000 -- which is, in this case, is $50,000. But they would pay the Bush rates on all the income under that, which is most of your income.

Also, VW, I didn't respond last night but thanks for 399.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:36 AM
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And those under $500k means, by any reasonable definition, almost everybody.

It means "almost everybody" in terms of the distribution of the population. I'm not sure it means "almost everybody" in terms of distribution of income.

remember that they leave out the fact that the numbers are taxable income,

Something I learned recently, there has been a tax increase for rich people.

One of the big revenue raisers will be a new Medicare tax on unearned income. This new tax will consist of a 3.8% surcharge on the lesser of a taxpayer's net investment income or the amount that modified adjusted gross income exceeds $200,000 for singles, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately or $250,000 for those filing jointly. (And to add insult to injury, these limits are not adjusted upwards for inflation, so more and more people will find themselves impacted each year.)

This new tax, which will take effect on January 1, 2013, will apply to the following types of unearned income: interest, dividends, annuities, and rental income. In addition, if you sell your home and have a gain that exceeds the exclusion thresholds, that gain will be subject to the surtax as well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:41 AM
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550: Leaving aside VWs passionate denunciation of the Washington Post and all who would quote it, my summary is definitely not 'stunningly inaccurate'. The claim in the article was that Obama was prepared to accept a deal:

So there were issues to work out that Sunday but also reason for optimism. In its counterproposal, the White House appeared to accept the $800 billion tax offer and a lower top rate. The administration rejected the exemption for overseas profits, but Geithner told the Republicans, they said, that he could get most of the way there.

So the claim is that they were on board for the spending cuts in exchange for a tax increase of $800 billion which would involve a lower top tax rate for the rich. $800 billion in unspecified loophole closings over ten years plus a lower top tax bracket is not substantially higher tax rates. There is then disagreement about whether the already insufficient $800 billion could be achieved by bullshit 'dynamic scoring' -- to Geithner's credit this is strenuously denied by the Democratic side.

Halford, your summary is decontextualized and hence misleading:

"there was a budget negotiation going on at the same time a negotiation was going on in the Senate"

yes, but it was an absolutely critical negotiation. Had Obama / Boehner come out with a consensus plan that made concessions in excess of what Senate Democrats would make then this would have cut all Congressional Democratic negotiators off at the knees, immediately. It would have set the minimum D concessions to make.

"Republicans would have agreed to substantially higher taxes on the rich in exchange for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid"

article directly contradicts statement that Rs would have agreed to substantially higher taxes on the rich.

"When it seemed as if the Senate negotiation might be more favorable to the Democratic position than the White House view, the White House backed away from the deal and helped to blow it up."

sure, of course, but if they didn't back off at that point then Obama really would be a horrible traitor, which he isn't. The point is if an Obama/Boehner deal on the reported terms had been made then the Senate negotiation would have been under cut and never happened. Looks like a close call. This article is simply incompatible with the picture of Obama as a good, strong liberal reluctantly dragged to his right by the evil Senate.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:46 AM
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OK, back to my real job now, but one last point: this disagreement will be settled soon enough. If Obama wins, the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations will show exactly what he's made of within months. The sequester agreement plus the expiration of the Bush tax cuts puts all the cards in his hands.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:51 AM
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Your summary suggested that Obama tried to undermine a bipartisan negotiation in the Senate. In fact, the claim of the article is that Obama negotiated, then realized there was a bipartisan negotiation in the Senate (the gang of 6) that offered a better deal, then, when he saw the Gang of 6's move, backed off from and undermined his own negotiations as a result, and then allowed the prospective "grand bargain" to collapse. The takeaway is that Obama was not able to out together a "grand bargain" in part because he wasn't ultimately willing to move substantially to the right of his own party. How you get from there to "Obama is pushing his party to the right" instead of my takeaway, which is "Obama is basically a mainstream liberal Democrat not dissimilar to the Congressional leadership" is beyond me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 10:55 AM
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Or, put differently, what politicians do is cut deals to get legislation passed. Criticizing Obama for the terms of a deal he was negotiating but didn't take is bizarre. And the specific claim that he " wanted" a bad deal but was forced out of it by Congressional resistance isn't at all supported by the article you link.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:01 AM
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Criticizing Obama for the terms of a deal he was negotiating but didn't take is bizarre.

You'd think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:03 AM
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I assume the worry is that if it weren't for the Gang of Six, Obama would have gone forward with his deal. That is concerning.

When that WaPo piece came out and caused a lot of buzz, I tagged it as what it is: a set of rumors which cannot be verified. That doesn't mean it's hogwash; nor does it mean it's likely the truth. It should put us on notice, though, and that's good enough.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:20 AM
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if it weren't for the Gang of Six, Obama would have gone forward with his deal

And yet, that is not supported by this article.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:33 AM
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Well, it is a counterfactual, so I guess we can hypothesize that Obama meant all along to pull out of the deal or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:40 AM
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Dude, if this article is to be believed (and I don't think it has been debunked since) he was in the process of negotiating a worse deal than Senate Democrats. And "higher taxes on the rich in exchange for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid" is a horrible idea, since one side will be permanent, and the other undone at the first opportunity, and the actual described offer was much worse, as 559 explains. I don't see how you get around him being a worse representative of liberal interests in these negotiations than freaking Senate Democrats.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:43 AM
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I think Halford's point is that even taking the story at face value, there wasn't a deal yet to pull out of, there were negotiations towards a deal (or, if it's not Halford's point, I'll make it myself). You can't go from 'these were terms being discussed' to 'this is what the final agreement would have been if circumstances hadn't intervened' reliably -- in plenty of negotiations, preliminary proposals are very different from the end results.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:43 AM
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Let me put it this way, that they were wrong about what was the best deal they could get -- and I'll stipulate this -- doesn't demonstrate bad faith. It does point to a problem, and one hopes that in the next round, after the election, they've found a way to deal with that problem.

IMO, they made the same mistake with the national security establishment. And haven't found a way to climb down from it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:47 AM
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From what I hear, Obama went into those meetings intending to expand social security massively, so that it would cover all Americans at all stages of their life, except instead of cash payments it would consist solely of vouchers to giant videogame arcades, like Dave and Busters, but run by the federal government. However, on the way into the conference he was waylaid by superintelligent squirrels, driven mad by megadoses of synthetic THC, released by a cabal of Senators organized by Dianne Feinstein for her own secretive purposes. In full retreat, the President barricaded himself in the Lincoln bedroom and hastily scribbled out a Grand Bargain in an attempt to trick Boehner into saving him in his helicopter.

N.B. this has not been debunked.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:48 AM
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It does point to a problem

Pretty much, that's the extent of it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:00 PM
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WTF the people, y'all think we are just making this shit up about Obama wanting to reform entitlements?
Every fucking day? "It does point to a problem" "We must watch carefully and push back if Obama moves that direction?" My fucking God, he has had a hard-on for the welfare state since he was in diapers.

Digby Today

Stephanie Cutter, appearing on CNN's Starting Point on Thursday, said, "I think you will hear the president layout his plan of balanced deficit reduction where everybody pays their fair share and we cut what we don't need and that includes entitlement reform."

Jamie Dimon and the Koch's fair share is 90% of income over 1 million. Fair share for everybody else in six figures is 50% of everything, graduated up to 90%. Glad we agree.

Entitlement reform means to remove caps and increase benefits, with a much more favorable inflation index and no fucking chaining. A gradual benefit decrease as a person pushes 90 (chained CPI, remember) is just fucking evil. Slick evil.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:15 PM
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If Obama wins, the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations will show exactly what he's made of within months. The sequester agreement plus the expiration of the Bush tax cuts puts all the cards in his hands.

I could have sworn this was exactly what everyone kept saying the last time the Bush tax cuts were expiring.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:49 PM
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Your summary suggested that Obama tried to undermine a bipartisan negotiation in the Senate.

Uh, that's not how I read it at all. The point wasn't that Obama's intent was to torpedo the Senate negotiation, but that Obama's offer to Boehner was substantially to the right of what a vote-commanding group of Senators was willing to agree to.

If Obama/Boehner had announced an agreement, that would, in fact, have torpedoed the Senate agreement, but that wasn't Obama's goal, nor did PGD say that it was. But it does - and this responds to 569 - suggest that it's BS to claim that Obama's fundamental position is to the left of the decisive vote (or however you want to phrase it). Whether that fundamental position is set by personal ideology or by political miscalculation of his own party is only a little relevant to the question.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:01 PM
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Matt Stoller at Salon reviews the convention

The larger consequences of having two candidates who share similar policy ideas, who both believe in police state tactics to suppress whistle-blowers, who both are driven by their allegiance to a wealthy political class, are not acknowledged. It isn't that American democracy is at risk. American democracy was at risk, perhaps four or eight or 12 years ago. Today, speaking of democracy in America is quaint -- the country increasingly resembles an undemocratic state, with a free wealthy elite and a much larger poorer populace, constrained by monopolistic corporations that collude with the government.

In fact, the lesson of the 2012 election, if we are honest with ourselves, is simple, and disturbing. America is shifting from a democracy into an authoritarian state. This authoritarianism is soft, with some remnants of an open civil society, and there is as yet no violence used against domestic political actors. Nazi Germany we are not.

We are not yet, not until Obama hands the baton to his Republican partners.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:06 PM
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Again, we're talking about a potential miscalculation in a deal Obama didn't take even though (as the article explains) Pelosi and Reid would have backed him on such a deal.

I am still baffled as to how his not accepting a deal that would have moved him to the right of his party demonstrates that he wanted to move his party to the right.

(note also that the Gang of Six deal was not actually "on the table"; that proposal also never would have passed Congress).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:07 PM
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574: JRoth, in 527 you said that Obama 'really, really wanted to' dismantle SS, and the Tea Party stopped him. If what we're talking about is the picture the linked article gave of the budget negotiations, that's nonsense: if he'd 'really, really wanted to' he could have announced a deal that did make the changes in COLA we're talking about as 'dismantling' SS. If the 'really, really wanted to' was pure hyperbole and meant 'it seems likely that he would have accepted a deal including adjustments to COLA', then that's a reasonable argument. But taken straightforwardly, you haven't given any support for your claim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:07 PM
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574: Robert Waldmann

On the 2011 negotiations first not so much harm was done as the Republicans said no. I would like to believe, and sometimes convince myself, that this was Obama's plan. The result is that it is almost impossible for very serious centrists to deny that the Republicans are rigid fanatics with whom no compromise is possible (N Ornstein is as very serious as a centrist gets and works at AEI). My hope was that Obama was securing his base among the well informed commentariate and that he would then move on to win the swing undecideds with a bit of populism (egalitarianism is very very popular). This is what he has done (OK with a very very little bit of populism). Reducing the harping from the very serious centrists who wish he would just try to compromise is worth something. I (sometimes) think it was an OK 11 dimensional chess move.

There are some serious whirly-eyed out there, hoping-against-hope to get disappointed once again. It helps them believe they are idealists with good intentions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:09 PM
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As I think about it, Biden has stated, flat out, that Social Security is sacrosanct.

Yes, he said that 2 weeks ago, in the heat of a campaign when they need all the base voters they can get. I didn't hear him saying that during the debt ceiling negotiations, did you?

Look, I'm the one who said he "really really" wants to cut SS. What's my basis for that? He's been circling around it for 5 years, is all. One of my biggest ever fights on this blog was with stras jones, whose hatred for the Clintons made it impossible for him to accept that Obama's use of the entirely dishonest framing of "SS in crisis" was a problem.

And the chained CPI thing is a BFD - it's the sort of thing that, when proposed by Republicans, leads us to call them "granny starvers". But apparently, when a Democratic president puts it on the negotiation table, that's just a tactic. "What do you mean, honey? I was never really going to sell our son to that man. I was just negotiating."

SS benefits are sacrosanct, period. There is no such thing as a good faith negotiation with the GOP on SS, because A. they will never stop trying to kill it, and B. they will use whatever you agree to as a cudgel anyway. Nancy Pelosi understood this. Barack Obama didn't; maybe he does now.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:10 PM
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Oh, and obviously "wants to dismantle SS" is hyperbole. But IMO all efforts that start from the premise that SS is in "crisis" will grievously injure the program. I do believe that BHO wants to "solve" the SS "crisis" - that he views this as an important part of his legacy (and there have been quotes from his advisors to support this, although I suppose that in this thread someone just say I'm lying about that) - and I think that this desire is anti-Democratic, and will open the door to further weakening the program. Whether it ends up dismantled or merely a shadow of its former self is irrelevant to me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:15 PM
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JRoth, I said that I thought Biden was bullshitting. My point was that it's impossible to know what to make of all of these stories until the history gets written (and even then). I mean, that WaPo piece is a classic process story: a team of reporters was assigned to a what could have been a historical negotiation, they were dusting off spots on the mantle for their Pulitzers, then the negotiations went nowhere. The editors were left scrambling; they'd spent a ton of time and money on what amounted to nothing, which is precisely what they had to fill their column inches. And the reporters were pissed. So what did they do? They wrote a process story! And they didn't let the fact that their sources had gone to ground stand in their way. The authors open that piece (of shit) with a church, they build tension, they whisper of incompetence and betrayals, etc. It's a masterpiece of maybes and couldadbeens-but-we'll-never-know-because-of-the-blind-sourcing.

The whole thing is a huge turd. Which is why I asked PGD if he actually knows anything or if he's just dealing in rumors (which he's already acknowledged is the case), passing along nuggets of information that he's acquired from the DC strivers (of which there's no shortage), and parroting a crappy process story from a crappier paper. It turns out that either he doesn't really know anything, or he's not saying if does. Either way, color me unpersuaded.

With all of that said, yes, I think it's shit that Team Obama (probably) dangled SS and Medicare in front of Boehner's beady eyes. But as others have said, that's how negotiations work. It doesn't really matter what people talk about giving up in the heat of negotiating; what matters is what they actually give up when the deal is done.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:22 PM
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Key statements made by Barack Obama as president and prior to his presidency about Social Security. Needs a bit of updating, but there you go.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:29 PM
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in this thread someone just say I'm lying

Again, it's this kind of thing that really drives me nuts. If someone has called someone else a liar in this thread, please point to the comment. Otherwise, don't escalate the argument into something personal.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:30 PM
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581: Fair 'nuff. I don't see anything left worth arguing about.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:31 PM
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I do believe that BHO wants to "solve" the SS "crisis" - that he views this as an important part of his legacy (and there have been quotes from his advisors to support this, although I suppose that in this thread someone just say I'm lying about that)

In the interests of comity, I'll note that I agree with this. I think the question of what "solve" means here; structural reforms coupled with meaningful revenue gains might be one thing, depending on how those reforms are implemented. Of course, Obama (and most liberal wonks) are OK with limiting the cost growth of Medicare -- that's in the ACA itself. So I'm not, and I don't think anyone really can, claim that Democrats are putting entitlement reform off the table -- it's all about what's given up and what's received in return.

With that said, 581 pretty much sums it up for me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:32 PM
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If someone has called someone else a liar in this thread, please point to the comment.

I did say PGD's summary of the WaPo article was "stunningly misleading" which was over the top. Though I do still think he substantially misread that article and its bottom line.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:35 PM
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586: oh, I missed that. Yeah, that was maybe a bit over the top. But having asked him if he even read that shitshow before posting a link to it, I suppose I'm not exactly the best arbiter of decorum around here.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:38 PM
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Wait! 584 before I saw 583.

I think that ajay's 534 is pretty crappy*, and Halford's "stunningly inaccurate" was also shitty (which he's semi-copped to). Having read those - plus your assumption that articles in the WaPo should be presumed false - led me to expect my reference without citation to be treated as bullshit.

* its only defense hanging on a literal reading of "dismantle"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:38 PM
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You know, bad as messing with the COLA calculations is (and I agree that it's a terrible idea), I don't think distinguishing sharply between that and 'dismantling' SS is overly literal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:41 PM
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585: Yeah, so comity. My whole point in bringing it up was that Obama has evinced an active desire to mess with SS, which IMO is not really acceptable.

I mentioned the Tea Partiers possibly due to confusion over which negotiation was which. More than one Grand Bargain* has been shot down, and at least one was shot down due to the Tea Party (and Cantor and Ryan, who count for these purposes - the TP is their power base in Congress to fight Boehner). Since IMO all of the Grand Bargains were bad deals in which Obama was willing to give up too much for stupid centrist goals, they kind of ran together for me.

* not nec. all including SS


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:42 PM
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I did say PGD's summary of the WaPo article was "stunningly misleading" which was over the top.

FALSE. What Robert Halford actually said was that PGD's summary was "stunningly innacurate" [sic]. Inaccurate and misleading are not the same; calling someone's remark "inaccurate" does not necessarily imply any indent to deceive.


Posted by: OPINIONATED FACT-CHECKER | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:42 PM
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Oh, for fuck's sake, JRoth, I'm not saying the stories should be presumed false (don't put words in my mouth!). I'm saying they should be approached with huge amounts of skepticism, that they're just as likely to be false as true. And I'd say the same about any story about a major controversy that leans entirely on anonymous sources. Also, you do know that if we can't call the fuckwits at WaPo liars, we might as well unplug the Internet. Well, I guess it would still be useful for cat pictures.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:43 PM
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589: Except that "dismantle" was pretty clearly hyperbole. Or so I thought. I mean, Glenn Kessler wouldn't even use it to describe Bush's privatization plan, let alone whatever incremental weakening BHO would prefer.

But when I read 534, I thought that the article must not mention SS at all.

Anyway, this is stupidly meta at this point. Grr.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:44 PM
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592: Honestly, ari, rereading your denunciations of the article, I'm not sure I was exaggerating much. You really went off in 537 and 544. "Shit-ass morons"?

Anyway, I'm just glad that none of you are chasing me up a set of steps and stabbing me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:49 PM
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That's the other thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:56 PM
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Anyway, I'm just glad that none of you are chasing me up a set of steps and stabbing me.

UnfoggedCon 2013!!!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:56 PM
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Even a shit-ass moron's right twice a day when saying "I have a shit-ass and also am a moron".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:58 PM
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UnfoggeDCon MMXIII: The Most Dangerous Game


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:04 PM
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Has Obama's team ever commented on the article? What have they said about the negotiations?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:34 PM
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Who needs sex grottoes when we can go at one another with shivs?!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:44 PM
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Who needs sex grottoes

You pointy-headed liberals really do hate job creators, don't you?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:03 PM
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Can't... fit... in... grotto... head... too... pointy...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:10 PM
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Has Obama's team ever commented on the article? What have they said about the negotiations?

As I recall, it mostly came up on the Sunday talk shows, and underwent a he said/she said treatment.

Republicans: Obama's team shot down the negotiations; we were this close.

Democrats: Eric Cantor wouldn't agree to tax increases, said he couldn't get his caucus on board. He walked out on negotiations at least once.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:45 PM
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525: I am not entirely sure, I think it depends how you look at it. The fiction is that it is a crime at the common law, so if you think of the common law as always being the same then it was always a crime, if you think of it changing then it changed. The idea is that it's new behaviour, so it would kinda be a crime from the first time the behaviour occurred, at least.

Don't know if the courts like talking about it.

But it's all pretty murky and theological really.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:11 PM
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603: So they didn't dispute the reported concessions?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:52 PM
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605: Um. I don't recall any talk of specific concessions at all. I only remember generalized talk about the need for a balanced approach, as well as interrogation over whether to go for a gigantic debt reduction package or just a medium-sized one. (The Sunday talk shows aren't big on anything that gets into the weeds.)

This is just what I recall -- there may have been more detailed remarks somewhere by some administration officials. I feel as though there must have been, and I must just be blanking them out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:15 PM
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The whole squirrel thing is still undenied.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:16 PM
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That's true. I certainly don't recall any disputation on the Sunday shows regarding the squirrels.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:26 PM
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The whole squirrel thing is still undenied.

I heard it was chipmunks, you racist.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:26 PM
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Did anybody with credibility -- someone with real knowledge of the situation but no axe to grind -- ever go on the record to say that Obama put Social Security on the table during the Grand Bargain negotiations? This is a serious question, by the way, to which I believe the answer is no. If that's right, is anybody surprised that no credible official from within the administration has bothered to deny such unsourced allegations?* Honestly, we're heading into goat blowing territory here. I mean, if this was anything like established fact, do you not think that every Romney ad in Florida would be written by Opinionated Grandma, explaining that "PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN WANTS TO TAKE MY SOCIAL SECURITY!"

* For the umpteenth time, I'm not saying it didn't happen. In fact, I expect that it did, but only at the negotiating stage.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:26 PM
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Honestly, we're heading into goat blowing territory here.

They should really post clearer signs warning about that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:27 PM
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611: you're a well-traveled man, but you've never been? I'm told it's lovely.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:29 PM
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609: Chip and Dale's Budget Rescue Rangers!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:33 PM
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Not so many rodents in goat-blowing territory. Too short, even standing on their hind legs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:34 PM
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614: they can't make towers? Lazy little fuckers.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:36 PM
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604: Thanks! I was curious because in the US federal system the courts basically abandoned the traditional fiction of a preexisting common law in the 1930s and today US federal (and most state) judges tend to be quite direct about deciding whether they need to or are going to make a new common law rule. But it's not an issue for criminal law because most US criminal law (or at least the crimes themselves) had been codified long before that. For a court to admit that it was declaring a genuinely new crime would obviously be stickier.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:37 PM
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The goats can't sit?


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:38 PM
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I should be writing a talk for tomorrow, but instead I find myself lost in deep contemplation of whether a prairie dog is tall enough to blow a goat.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:39 PM
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They are so cute when they sit on their hind legs like that. You just want to pinch their cheek.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:40 PM
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It really doesn't really matter what people talk about giving up in the heat of negotiating

Quoted and lightly paraphrased from Veneral Wuhzeez earlier in 581 because apparently this is a thing that people have not internalized (and actually will specifically argue against!) which is fascinating and maybe lonely?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:40 PM
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And unconstitutional, I'd think.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:40 PM
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I mean a capybara could blow a goat, easy, but let's not get crazy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 PM
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whether a prairie dog is tall enough to blow a goat

A pygmy goat, certainly. We have bunches and bunches of these around here. Cute little things. Still, I've never blown one*, so for all I know they're totally selfish in the sack.

* Or have I?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 PM
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621 to 615.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:41 PM
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625

How many times must a prairie dog perch, before he can reach what he wants?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the goats. The answer is blowing in the goats.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:43 PM
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626

I'm finding joy in the thought that somewhere on the internet, there must be a bitter feud between marmots-blowing-goats fetishists and prairie-dogs-blowing-goats fetishists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:44 PM
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620: do you deny that you've ever lightly paraphrased me? No? Then you're a blower of goats. Also, there were two capybaras in the Denver Zoo (The Tick 4evah!). They were astonishingly filthy little fuckers. Their pond was always -- I mean ALWAYS -- filled with poop. Though, as I think about it, I'm not sure I ever saw them poop in the pool, so maybe it was the zookeeper trying to make them look bad.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:45 PM
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I mean, if this was anything like established fact, do you not think that every Romney ad in Florida would be written by Opinionated Grandma, explaining that "PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN WANTS TO TAKE MY SOCIAL SECURITY!"
I can't see why this wouldn't happen if he had just offered it at the negotiating stage. I can't even see why this wouldn't happen if it had never happened at all. I don't even know that it isn't happening to some degree; I'm not on the right mailing lists.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:45 PM
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I think I just, euphemistically, might have called myself a goat.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:45 PM
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Yeah, thanks for nothing, Wolfram.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:46 PM
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Where it counts.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:46 PM
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My wallet is made of capybara leather for at least two more weeks. Then my wallet will hopefully be made of some high tech bullshit they make bullshit high tech sails out of and the capybara leather wallet will be relegated to emergency south pole-trek food stores.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:48 PM
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I've never tried to make my wallet blow any animals and anyhow the capybaras it's made of are dead, so I guess that wasn't hugely relevant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:49 PM
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627: site of the 2008 convention! Coincidence? Hardly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:50 PM
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On the other hand, from a positivist stance every novel criminal precedent is a criminalisation of a previously uncriminal act.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:50 PM
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Oh, plainly unconstitutional in the US, of course -- I meant that I would imagine it would bother judges some even if those constitutional constraints didn't apply, as apparently they don't in Scotland.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:50 PM
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634: NOBODY DENIES THIS!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:50 PM
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I should start reading KSK again, I suppose, now that my book is done and I can hang out on the Internet again.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:51 PM
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Unlike 40% of young girls.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:51 PM
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Goddamnit! How do so many intervening comments keep getting in the way? 639 to 633


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:52 PM
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Is this for real?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:55 PM
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641: no.

HOWEVER, were 641 to 632, the answer would be OH HELL YES.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:58 PM
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Like I say, these days it is super constrained as a power, and only really covers old crimes done in new ways. It is misleading if you are coming from a codified background where the elements are set out clearly and imagine the courts can just expand the scope of crime. It is more that they are deciding that part of the traditional libel is really not precedential, or that one libel is like enough to another to be criminal.

But formerly it was held (Alison) that "every new crime, as it successively arises, becomes the object of punishment, provided it be itself wrong, and hurtful to the person or property of others.''

(And yes! Invasion of home though not for spoilation is an innominate offence.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:59 PM
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Is this for real?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 6:59 PM
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642: thank you for stooping to the level of the fact-checks so I didn't have to.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:00 PM
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er


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:00 PM
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645: dammit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:01 PM
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To be fair 644 is my revenge.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:02 PM
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The declaratory power is defended in Alison as leading to leniency because it avoids harsh legislative response.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:07 PM
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Don't be fooled, dear readers, 649 is explicitly about goat-blowing. You just have to speak Kiwi to understand that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:08 PM
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The desperation to hang on to the purity ring hoocoodenode lily-white innocence, in that we do not have exact numbers, and Obama has never ever put his hand on a Bible and said he will do what probably nothing at all...I believe I believe...to Social Security...

...so in six months you can say What a shock utterly unpredictable nobody could a knowed not really not fer sure 100%...

...so you are disappointed once again...

...is not so pretty as you think. Y'all lost your cherries around the time Geithner first covered for criminal bankers, and now are part of cover-up-torture bail-out rich folk America right along with your Capo in the White House. You too are part of the criminal conspiracy. You love it.

Lie to me. With balloons.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:15 PM
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To be honest, 649 is entirely plausible to me as an practical matter. I mean, the US view that insists that defining crimes is a legislative function is more or less engrained in my bones, but I certainly can't say in its defense that it's helped us avoid the proliferation of vague criminal offenses (often accompanied by harsh sentences).


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:26 PM
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I cannot believe you monsters are libeling the noble capybara.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:41 PM
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653: DSL, snark. D. S. L. Also D. S. whiskers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:48 PM
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655

No way. Carpet munchy L.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:53 PM
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I was wondering if catching up on this thread would be worth the time. It was.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:02 PM
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636

Oh, plainly unconstitutional in the US, of course -- ...

Is that really true? It is my understanding that insider trading law for example has basically been written by the courts.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:12 PM
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The stuff the Wapo article is saying largely lines up with what I remember reading at the time and stuff I've read Obama admin people say since then. I'd be far, far more skeptical of an article that said the reverse, i.e. that Obama wasn't willing to make major cuts in entitlements and other programs in return for fairly modest tax increases on the wealthy. Reading the thread I'm utterly bewildered at the skepticism - what the hell are you guys basing it on?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:40 PM
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If you're reading the thread from the start, could you make a summary of who is evil and who isn't? The only thing I can remember is that bob doesn't like Obama. I may have know that before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:43 PM
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It all culminates in 655, which echoes many of the ubdercurrents in the past 600 comments and is truly full of staggering complexity.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:46 PM
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I missed the carpet munching.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:48 PM
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657: I haven't had time to research in detail, but under federal constitutional law I believe the analysis would be controlled by Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451 (2001). The exercise of lawmaking authority by a common law court was upheld in Rogers, where a closely divided U.S. Supreme Court held that a state supreme court had not violated due process by abolishing the common law rule that a homicide can only be a murder if the victim dies within a year and a day. This was certainly a technical expansion of the existing crime (Justice Scalia's dissent is forceful on this point), but the majority held that the defendant nevertheless had sufficiently fair notice that his actions were prohibited to satisfy due process.

(Rogers is actually a great example supporting Keir's point in 635 that from a sufficiently postivist perspective any novel precedent in criminal law creates a new crime. The majority in Rogers wasn't as postivist as the dissent was.)

In the scenario I suggested in 616, which CC and I further discussed in 621 and 636 -- that is, a situation where a court in the US "admit[ted] that it was declaring a genuinely new crime" and held that the defendant before it was guilty of that new crime and should be punished for that new crime -- the due process requirements discussed in Rogers would not be met and the court's ruling would be unconstitutional.

The insider trading situation is different as criminal liability for insider trading is a form of securities fraud that (as held in United States v. O'Hagan, 521 U.S. 642 (1997)) violates the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Now, you can certainly argue that the courts' interpretation of the Exchange Act and some other statutes (the Sherman Act, for example) is so far removed from the statutory text that effectively the courts are acting as lawmakers, even though they generally don't admit it. And you can go further and then argue that a criminal offense based on a newly-created rule of judge-made law is just as bad when the judge purports to be interpreting a statute as when she says she's making a rule of common law. Some people do in fact find those arguments persuasive.

But, if you made those arguments to the Court, you would lose -- not because the Justices would assert the right to make up new crimes, but because they would say that O'Hagan and similar cases really were interpreting the boundaries of preexisting criminal liability created by the legislature. That's the distinction I was drawing.

How this fits in with the goats, I'm not entirely sure.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:17 PM
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661 But not the low hanging fruit


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 9:18 PM
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664

I think that ajay's 534 is pretty crappy*,
* its only defense hanging on a literal reading of "dismantle"

Shorter JRoth: That's a mean trick, taking a man at his word.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 1:26 AM
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658: I can't speak for anyone else, but the point of skepticism is that you don't need anything to base it on -- you start out with skepticism and use evidence to dispell it. It's not that I find the events related in the WaPo article terribly implausible -- what Obama's said publicly has convinced me that he's not nearly aggressive enough for my wishes in protecting the social welfare state. But anonymous claims about what happened in a negotiation that broke down before anyone got to a deal aren't any evidence of anything at all, in my mind, regardless of the plausibility of the claims.

The other thing that I've been wanting to argue about is that I draw a sharp distinction between 'really, really wants' to do something, and 'doesn't put a high enough priority on preventing that thing from happening'. It's kind of the same argument as "Gore would have invaded Iraq" -- he was one of the most senior members of an administration that had eight years to come up with an excuse to invade Iraq, and didn't, which says to me that whatever the other belligerent things he said or did, invading Iraq wasn't a goal. Same with Obama: while I'll believe that he's not putting nearly a high enough priority on fighting to protect SS and other social welfare programs, I don't believe he's dying to gut them, because if he were dying to gut them, he would have had a very easy time cutting deals with the Republicans to do it.

That doesn't make him a perfect president, being weak and with his priorities in the wrong place can do as much damage as being actively malicious on an issue. But I think that someone who conceptualizes the evidence on what Obama wants to do with SS as actively seeking to fuck it up is mistaken, and that thinking that way is going to make them guess wrong about what's likely to happen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 5:03 AM
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I have to say, the fair warning argument against judicial expansion of criminality has always struck me as laughably flimsy. Crimes is notoriously hard, and many lawyers have a weak grasp of it. Why should we expect the public to? Nobody knows the law as it stands, if we were really worried about fair warning then things would look a lot different.

(The fiction that people know way more about the law than they really do is one I find quite frustrating.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 5:28 AM
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you start out with skepticism and use evidence to dispell it

The history of epistemology is more that one starts out with scepticism, discovers one is utterly fucked and can't really get out the hole one has dug. Elaborate, flawed, and increasingly baroque edifices are built to try and climb out of the hole, all end in failure.* Every so often someone says, 'this is silly'. Repeat.

* I know that's not the sort of scepticism you had in mind.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:04 AM
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666 reminds me of the tale of the 17th century (I think) advocate who was arguing a case in the High Court and referring to the relevant statute, when the president of the court interrupted him and said (from memory), "Do not speak to us of the statute. We understand it better than you, for we made it."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:06 AM
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669

665

... But anonymous claims about what happened in a negotiation that broke down before anyone got to a deal aren't any evidence of anything at all, in my mind, regardless of the plausibility of the claims.

Weak evidence maybe, but no evidence at all sounds like making excuses for ignoring information you don't want to hear.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:19 AM
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670

"Do not speak to us of the statute. We understand it better than you, for we made it."

Diana Wynne Jones loved telling the story of receiving a copy of a student thesis on her own work, which spent several paragraphs summarising one particular interpretation of her books, followed by the sentence "Jones disagrees".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:26 AM
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671

I made this point at the time, and it may be a two-nations-divided-by-a-common-language thing, but my mental model for anything involving a politician sending a controversial issue to a commission is that they want absolutely no change. Commissions come in three types:

the ones that take forever,

the ones that take forever and then deliver a document so anodyne that it supports any or no action,

the ones that take forever and fail to agree on anything.

All of them accomplish the same purpose, which is to stop anything happening for a good long time. An example of this in action is right before our eyes - the Conservative Party is deeply divided about whether to expand Heathrow Airport, or to build somewhere else, or to restrict air traffic. As a result, the prime minister has decided to....

form a commission on airports. The commission will spend the next year or so taking submissions, arguing over it, etc, and everyone will move on to something else. No action will be taken.

If the prime minister was convinced that building at Heathrow was a good idea, we would be able to observe this because a) he'd do something about it and b) he certainly wouldn't fuck about with a commission.

I conclude with the point that Bowles-Simpson didn't, actually, agree on a final report, and therefore was a type 3 commission. And, of course, nothing has been done to abolish Social Security, or whatever.

A commission is a political device to prevent action.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:28 AM
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...it may be a two-nations-divided-by-a-common-language thing

Exactly. What's an airport?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:33 AM
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673

672: soccer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:42 AM
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674

||

Sweden has cancelled an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on accusations of rape and molestation.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:45 AM
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675

Tweet from Jammies:

The DNC narrative arc: Michelle Obama was foreplay, Bill Clinton was pure sex, and Barack Obama was the cuddle in the afterglow. -- The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit)

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:52 AM
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676

674

Why are you linking a story that is 2 years old?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:54 AM
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677

676. Because the BBC site was screwed up and briefly presented it as new.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:55 AM
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Commissions come in three types

No, there really is a fourth type: when politicians want to do something unpopular without taking personal responsibility for it. See here. Also here.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 6:58 AM
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671: a point also made in Yes Minister:

'However, this is an urgent problem and we therefore propose setting up a Royal Commission.' Translation: This problem is a bloody nuisance, but we hope that by the time a Royal Commission reports, four years from now, everyone will have forgotten about it or we can find someone else to blame.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:02 AM
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Further to 678, the sure sign of a type-4 commission is that the commission's mandate formally alters the choice architecture to make implementation of the commission's recommendations the default outcome, or something very close to the default outcome. By that standard, Simpson-Bowles was a type-4 commission.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:02 AM
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681

Meanwhile, only one of those stories is satire:

Chuck Norris threatens '1,000 years of darkness' if Obama wins

Obama: 'Help Us Destroy Jesus And Start A New Age Of Liberal Darkness'


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:08 AM
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Second link in 681 appearing on FB as serious news in 5 seconds...

4...

3...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:12 AM
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671 -- usually, yes, but not always. The BRAC process isn't about inactivity. And I don't know whether the group that came up with the early 80s revisions to SS was a "commission" but it wasn't about inactivity so much as cover.

The Village thinks, and has long thought, that entitlement reform is a mark of maturity. That too might go back to the late 80s, when the experts crafted some revision (I forget exactly) that got passed, and old folks went ape shit, eventually walking Congress back. And the President's political people think it important that he look mature.

People who don't think the opinion in the Village is important in elections ought to compare notes with President Gore.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:13 AM
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I am such a fan of the thousand years of darkness theory. It's like Obama is the Mule from Asimov's Foundation series or something.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:13 AM
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685

pwnt, obvsly. Shouldn't have spent time trying to remember what that thing was that set the oldsters off.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:15 AM
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686

[The 1983 thing was the National Commission on Social Security Reform.]


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:19 AM
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682: More likely it will be this story that gets linked to as serious news.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:20 AM
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688

Dean Baker

"President Obama Calls for Cutting Social Security by 3 Percent, Raising Normal Retirement Age in Acceptance Speech"

That's his headline.

Probably another closet Republican racist, huh?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:22 AM
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That too might go back to the late 80s, when the experts crafted some revision (I forget exactly) that got passed, and old folks went ape shit, eventually walking Congress back.

Actually, the thing they went ape shit over was not a cut to entitlements, but the creation of a new entitlement (long-term care). The geezers went ape shit because they were expected to pay something toward the benefits.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:24 AM
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I heard Rostenkowski had to get a whole new suspension put in that car.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:25 AM
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688. Woohoo! Obama's flying a kite for policies that were actually implemented by Blair/Brown nearly a decade ago (yawn).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:27 AM
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686: No, that's not right. The 1983 commission was a type-4 commission. Its recommendations, more or less, became law.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:33 AM
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692 -- That's what I meant.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:35 AM
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Atrios

agrees with Baker.

I am trying to figure out why some want to fight changes in SS etc, and some people just feel they can't, that they have to protect and defend Obama. I can understand those who say, well Obama is pretty good on LGBT issues, so blacks can just stay poor and in prison, and the old can just die. At least they are reflective enough to explain themselves.

But the ones who take refuge in fine-grained nitpicking and seem to want to call themselves the reality-based community, I don't quite get them at all.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:35 AM
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Bad, bad jobs report.

DeLong has enough sense to joke, but Krugman has lost credibility this morning.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:37 AM
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http://www.npr.org/2011/07/20/138555779/whats-a-chained-cpi

NPR story from last year claiming that Gang of Six process was going to include adoption of chained CPI (which, if true, should have been accounted for above) and explaining what it is. I don't think it's the apocalypse if we adopt more economically accurate measures of inflation for various purposes (leaving aside whether this one really is). But the contribution cap simply has to be doubled. And FICA simply has to be applied to non-exempt (ie, sale of house at a profit under the exclusion amount) capital gains.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:51 AM
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694 -- Because Romney would not be better by any measure, and much worse by many. If this is actually difficult to understand, you should give up talking politics.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:53 AM
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No, "Atrios" didn't.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:57 AM
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Less people are working now than when Obama took office:

400,000 less after what 42 months?

The reason that the unemployment rate is lower is because so many people lost hope under Obama (EPOP)

As big a fucking fail as losing a war. Obama should lose. There are no excuses, like the "a finance/deleveraging recession" Obama enjoys to rationalize the destruction of millions of lives.

One commenter said his kid was in a classroom of 23, is now in a class of 38. This is what fucking Democrats do? Not my party. It left me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 7:58 AM
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I think bob lives in Plano, maybe owns an RV dealership.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:00 AM
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kid was in a classroom of 23, is now in a class of 38. This is what fucking Democrats do?

This makes as much sense as "in Obama's America, white kids get beaten up on schoolbuses".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:02 AM
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694:Okay, Jay Ackroyd.

Last night, when the President committed to the Bowles-Simpson framework for deficit reduction, he made a commitment to cutting Social Security benefits.

Duncan can be quoted as saying the jobs report was "pretty crap"

Uncool, Krugman, this was worse, with a worse trend, in that it looks like more jobs were created in 2011 than in 2012. It is getting worse.

What a fail.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:04 AM
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The reason that the unemployment rate is lower is because so many people lost hope under Obama (EPOP)

Pay no attention to the baby boom entering retirement age! It's the great evil Oz!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:05 AM
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703:About 0.3% a year, or maybe 5% of the total change in Employment population level during the Obamafail.

Keep sinning.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:08 AM
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"Spinning." I think.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:09 AM
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696. The switch from RPI based inflation measures to any kind of CPI based measure is controversial because, whether or not you regard one or other as "more accurate", CPI is lower, so that people on incomes which are tied to inflation lose out. In practice the difference is usually small, but if you're close to the edge anyway, as many affected people are, it can be very nasty.

My main quibble about this is that it distracts attention from the fact that all inflation measures use a sample of prices from all sectors of the market, which is useful to economic policy makers, but people on fixed incomes spend in restricted sectors, and no allowance is made for the fact that prices in those sectors (cheap essential consumables) often rise faster than prices for luxury items, semi-luxuries and durables. So poor people see their grocery bill rising by 6 or 7% a year, while economists calmly announce that inflation is running at 3%. This doesn't inspire confidence.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:09 AM
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I prefer sinning, all things considered.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:10 AM
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Well, now we know why Obama gave such a subdued and dull speech last night, I guess: those are some really, really, really crappy numbers. I still agree with Apo -- the electoral map is good for Obama -- but I fear that I'm going to win that Coke (with sugar, sugar, not corn syrup) from Megan.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:13 AM
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It was a crap jobs report,* I don't think there's much room to doubt that. And I think Reich is right to say that the Admin hasn't done much to articulate a policy to turn that around. I think, though, that in trying to read the tea leaves, you're better of thinking of the president's speech(es) as attempts to present a message that resonates with persuadable voters in swing states.

*There's also, as Reich put it on Wednesday, the anachronisms in how the BLS process works. This report shows a 15,000 decline in manufacturing jobs, but much of this is because (a) auto makers didn't do early summer layoffs to their historical extent which (b) meant that fewer were called back (because they hadn't been laid off) in August. I am a BLS reporter, and you have to wonder how my summer law clerk who left at the end of July -- so she could have a fun little vacation before returning to law school in late August -- shows up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:15 AM
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707: Is there a health club that has both in the same class?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:16 AM
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706 -- I wouldn't be adverse to a CPI that's designed for people in the first and second deciles, for this purpose. Pay for it by extending FICA to capital gains.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:19 AM
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703: CBO says (PDF, page 28) that only about half of the drop in workforce participation 2007-2012 has been due to people retiring.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:20 AM
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(Next month, though, my paralegal's annual raise will show up, so look for an uptick in the income figure.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:21 AM
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709.1: I don't in any way see it as either-or. I think Obama was trying to persuade, sure, but was also pre-spinning a shitty jobs report that he had already seen. He knew that today's bad jobs news was going to eat his good convention headlines. And I have to think that's why he gave a warmed-over speech last night, something that really contained nothing we haven't heard from him already. It was an odd choice, I thought while hearing it, though not at all terrible. Now it seems to make more sense to me. But I could be wrong. I won't be certain until I read the WaPo's coverage of the speech-building process.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:22 AM
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711. I'd be ecstatic about any inflation measure that was designed for people in the 1st and 2nd deciles, but I've never seen evidence of such a thing crossing the tiny minds of policy makers in any party or any country.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:22 AM
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712:Half? I don't buy it.

Calculated Risk employment graphs.

Check out Epop ages 25-54 for instance. If half the change was retirements, that shouldn't be the same crash and flat that total epop is. My intuition says.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:30 AM
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no allowance is made for the fact that prices in those sectors (cheap essential consumables) often rise faster than prices for luxury items, semi-luxuries and durables.

Counterpoint: compared to young people, old people spend more of their income on things like food and non-durable consumer goods, which have tended to run below CPI, and are less exposed to inflation in housing, higher education, and healthcare, which have escalated much faster than CPI over the last two decades.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 8:48 AM
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717 For housing only barely, it's only gone up a few percent in real terms over the past two decades. Food has tended to run below CPI but is also much more volatile.

Pay for it by extending FICA to capital gains.

How about if we just eliminate the tax break on capital gains altogether.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 10:49 AM
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For anyone still looking at this thread Ezra Klein has been working the unemployment numbers hard today.

A previous post thinks it isn't "discouraged workers" that are affecting employment population ratio.

The linked one?:The young are leaving the labor force, the old are flocking to it

To push back on the retirement theory, which is only an estimate.

Namely, the labor force participation rate among young people aged 16 to 24 has plummeted much faster than that of other age groups, even as the participation rate among the oldest Americans has risen to record levels.

And I am afraid this is how the shocker will come in November, young people who in polls say they will vote for Obama, but say "Fuck it" on election day.

It is still damn unlikely, Romney has given up on Michigan and Pennsylvania, and pulled advertising. Looks like a loser to me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 3:14 PM
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What do you mean you're afraid young people won't come out to vote for Obama? Shouldn't you be delighted?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 3:26 PM
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