22 October 2010

Just... hold on a second

I came across a number of weird/wacky news stories this morning, and since I didn't really feel like writing very much, I was going to just post a few links with some commentary to accompany them. Then a friend of mine posted a link to an opinion piece entitled "Just Stop" over on the Mesa Democratic Club's website. Well, I loves me some politics, so I went over to read it. The article started out well enough (read: I agreed with it), but then it lost me. Since this friend of mine and I have agreed not to discuss politics over our social network of choice, I decided to write this post.

The article starts out pointing out that Sarah Palin is not a "political outsider", that the Tea Party is not an independent group, and that John McCain no longer has any discernible political positions outside of whatever it takes to get elected. These are all excellent points with which I could not agree more. It's at this point that our respective positions diverge.
Stop pretending that the deficit we’re all facing is the fault of President Obama and the Democratic Congress. During the Bush administration, we went from a surplus to a massive deficit, largely thanks to two wars that were never (until Obama) added to the federal budget—wars, in other words, fought entirely on credit. We compounded the problem with tax cuts that largely benefited the wealthy, and a huge Medicare increase, and all those were also on credit. When the economy tanked in fall 2008, Bush quickly pushed through the TARP bailout, adding to the deficit (but pulling the economy back from the cliff).
President Obama is not entirely responsible for the deficit. He is quickly adding to it, though. Yes, Obama added the wars to the federal budget, but that does not change the fact that they (along with the much of the rest of the budget) are still paid for on credit. And while Bush may have pulled the economy back from the cliff, he did not change it's direction; it is still headed that way under Obama.
Stop pretending that the near-ruinous economic crash that we’re still reeling from was Obama’s fault, too. The root causes stretch back decades, to a continued process of deregulating financial institutions, allowing them ever more leeway to prey on the vulnerable, to sell mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and to manipulate financial products that were ultimately guaranteed to fall apart.

And stop pretending that Obama and the current Congress should have been able to fix the two above problems in 18 months, when it took eight years to create the first one and literally decades of foxes guarding financial henhouses to create the second.
Again, the author is correct that the economic crash was not caused by Obama, and that it is unrealistic to think that the government would be able to fix it (I would argue, in any amount of time). The author implicitly places the blame on the private sector, however, when he talks about mortgages and financial products. Those mortgages that people couldn't afford were promoted and backed by the government in the form of Fannie and Freddie and FHA and VA loans. Obama has continued this process with the homebuyer tax credit and the HAFA and HAMP programs. For non-mortgage related financial instruments, look no further than the Federal Reserve serving as the "lender of last resort". Even though the Fed is nominally a private entity, it's ludicrous to think that they really are, and when banks get into trouble, the Fed bails them out via the power of "printing" money, a power that Congress abdicated to it long ago.
Stop pretending that saying “No” is the same as governing. We pay our legislators good money to go to Washington and make difficult decisions that keep the country moving. By voting “No” on every bill, by refusing to negotiate in good faith, by deciding that short-term political advantage was more important than the everyday lives of Americans, the Republicans set back our recovery, made needed reforms fall short, and put our lives and our economy at unnecessary risk.
I hate the idea that governing means "doing something". Saying "no" is a legitimate act, one in which all politicians engage because nobody can agree on the exact role of government. In this way, saying "no" is doing something. That is not to say that Republicans are not being obstructionist for political gains; however, the author would be better advised to point out Republican hypocrisy on things like expanding Medicare under Bush but railing against the PPACA, now.
Stop pretending that the economy is magic. You can’t continue to give millionaires and billionaires huge tax cuts, make tiny, cosmetic cuts at the margins of things, and still reduce the deficit. You can’t create jobs without spending money. Tax cuts for millionaires and up are not stimulative because those people don’t spend the money from the cut—it’s not like you’re giving them a wad of cash and sending them to the store. When you put an unemployed person to work or give a tax cut to a poor or middle class family, that’s exactly what it’s like—they go buy things they need and those dollars flow through the economy, creating jobs and wealth everywhere they go.
I'm not sure anyone is pretending that the economy is magic; however it is far more complex than most imagine. Not only that, but the government via regulation or the Fed often arbitrarily moves the market in ways that could only be predicted by magic. The author is correct that tax cuts (to anyone) won't balance the budget. He is mistaken, though, if he thinks that tax increases will do the job, either. Federal spending is out of control, and the only way to save this country's economy, over the long term, is to start cutting Social Security, Medicare, the military, everything.

And stop talking about stimulus. It's too bad that people believe that Keynesian economics preaches deficit spending. Keynes, mistaken as I believe his theories to be, spoke of stimulative spending out of savings. Yes, it takes money to create jobs, but it also takes money to keep those jobs. To think that the government (or anyone) can throw a one-time bucket of cash at the economy to "unstick" it is ridiculous. It will only lead to the government having to throw ever increasing amounts of money at the economy. It's amazing to me that most people agree that easy credit was the proximate cause of the economic conditions in which we all now live and at the same time believe that if the government just borrows more from China that that will fix the problem. We will end up back in this very situation again, only it will be much, much worse.
The things that Pelosi and Reid have supported these past 18 months have been programs that will help America move into the 21st century. Health care reform, in spite of great efforts at pretending, is not a “government takeover” of health care—it institutionalizes, in law, the presence of the health insurance industry, and gives that industry millions of new clients.
Whoa! Stop right there! Did you catch that? The government, under Democratic control, via the coercion of law, just delivered millions of customers to the health insurance industry. It's not just the Republicans that are in bed with big business.
It will, in the long run, reduce the deficit and create a healthier nation, by allowing more people to get preventive care and long-term care and keeping the sick and impoverished from turning to emergency rooms when there’s a crisis.
This entire problem was created by the government in the first place, though.
Stop pretending that “lifelong politician” is some kind of curse. Most people who hold public office do so because they genuinely want to help people, they genuinely want to make government responsive to the needs of their fellow Americans, and they’re willing to put themselves on the line every few years to get the chance to do so.
Here's a thought experiment: If "most" people who hold public office genuinely want to help people and make government better, why hasn't it happened?
Stop pretending that “big government” is the problem. When’s the last time you were seriously inconvenienced or injured by something that big government did?
Gay rights, TSA body scanners, highway checkpoints, the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretaps, extra-judicial assassinations, indefinite detentions, inflation, etc. Don't tell me that (some of) these don't affect me. When one person's rights are trampled, everybody's are, and that's just at the federal level. Not only that, but all of this ignores the fact that every year I have to fill out a number of forms figuring out, on the government's behalf, how much money they want from me, and then send them that amount under the threat of force if I either figure wrong or don't send the right amount.
Stop pretending that anybody’s going to come and take your guns away. [...] There’s no truth to it, there’s never been any truth to it, and if you actually believe it, you just might be so simple-minded that you shouldn’t be trusted with a firearm.
They may not be trying to take them away, per se, but the laws (at least in CA) are clearly not conducive to gun purchases or ownership. One must wait 10 days to purchase any gun, even if one already owns one or one hundred of them. AB962, once in effect, will make the mail-ordering of handgun ammunition illegal and require fingerprints be taken of law-abiding citizens when they do purchase ammunition. It is illegal to actually carry one's gun in a manner that would actually allow it to be used effectively in self-defense, and many counties around the state deny CCW applications to all but the wealthy and connected.

Perhaps the author can explain to me why the BATFE and the state of CA keep records of gun sales if not to retain the possibility of rounding up guns in the future. I realize that that has a bit of a "tin foil hat" sound to it, but it is a legitimate question.

The author goes off the rails at this point with a lot of name calling. He tries to bring it home at the end, though.
Finally, stop pretending that voting doesn’t matter, and don’t let the 2010 Class of Crazy take office and convince you otherwise.
A variation on the previous thought experiment I proposed is apropos here: If voting mattered, why is government the way that it is? Perhaps it's because we've gotten the very government for which we voted. Voting doesn't matter and arguably does more harm than good. A voter is statistically more likely to be killed going to or coming from his/her polling place than to cast the deciding vote in an election. I refer the reader my previous posts on voting and the nature of government.


  1. Wow. Thank you so much for your blog. I am out of time to continue reading tonight, but I have read several of your posts and have been amazed by your great logic. I look forward to continuing to read your political thoughts as well as keep up with your story in regards to the TSA.

  2. I pretty break down debating an author who drinks more Kool-Aid than Koresh's people

  3. My father who just turned 80, was subjected to a Vigorous pat down after he went thru the scanning device. It took about 30 minutes for them to get done with him. it was overboard and no need for it. This was done to him on our way back from Detroit. What I don't get is that he didn't even refuse the scan device and was told to step aside after he got his body scanned and they proceeded with the pat down. I felt so bad for him.

  4. don't blame the TSA. Blame muslim hussein obama and ALL muslims, as ALL muslims are the terrorists, not the red haired freckle faced protestant.

    Fly The Friendly Skies - Fly muslim Free Air Today !!!!!
    Clean up America - Get RID of the muslims.!

  5. While I appreciate your "need" to show the world about TSA, no one held a gun to your head and insisted that you fly. This would be a personal choice that you made and were able to make courtsey of our fine Constitution. Don't like the security methods? Take a bus, train or car. Airlines are businesses and if you don't like how they do business, then take yours somewhere else. That's called freedom of choice.

  6. Thank you for being so brave!

    What next? Are we going to keep allowing people to take away our liberties in the name of safety? The news shows we are no safer -- and now it appears we have more fascist processes in place.

  7. While I respect your objections to the body scan and pat down, I would be more upset knowing that someone was allowed to board a plane that I or a family member was on without going through these security checks. If you don't want to go through these screening checks, don"t fly. In fact, I think you should be placed on the no fly list.

  8. little shady that you are checking airports security checks online to avoid certain ones. Grow up, this is the way of the world and enables the safest way to fly. without them, there would be bigger things to worry about then a pat down screening.

  9. Enjoying your 15 minutes of fame?? Grow up or take a bus next time. We have to make sure people are not carrying bombs on these planes.

  10. This is a publicity stunt that was a set-up. I fly every wek and am glad security is tight. If you don't like it then drive or take a bus. You can across as a baby on tv.

  11. I object to scanning me but more so object to scanning children. No patting down under 12, but a stranger can grope the private parts of a 12 year-old?? Or take intimate pictures of her / him?? Is pediophelia now okay in certain circumstances, e.g., when the government says it's okay??

    I am 71. In 1958 I was 18 and accepted as a clerk typist for the Department of State. I was required to have a complete invasive physical by a stranger, a male doctor -- just to be a clerk typist! I still feel bad about that over 50 years later.

    I am warning you parents that you do not know the emotional harm this type of invasive procedure will have on your children even years later.

  12. One poster here made a good point where to place the blame!

    Yet , why are the people ( radical Muslims) so angry?

    I do not believe they are angry at the prosperity of the United States.

    So why or who really are they angry at?

  13. my husband flys for American Airlines, and I'm very glad we have the security methods that are in place! Just because you didn't seem to be a threat, doesn't give you the right to bypass security! I'm sure you'd be crying a different story if someone made it past security and WAS a threat on your flight! The security methods are to protect all of us, like the other person said, you choose to fly! Take a train or bus next time. I want our flight crews keep safe at all costs! And with your premadonna attitude, you would have been a pain for the crew anyways! Thank you TSA for sticking to the rules!

  14. Just curious - What makes you so Authoritative?

  15. I for one want tighter security, obviously the current process aren't 100% effective. Your comment to empower the people is ridiculous. Do you propose every one be armed and take action when they deem appropriate? I sure hope our society has evolved to something more mature. I'd like to see the TSA suit against you move forward and the $10,000 fine levied.

  16. About time someone stood up to the government!! Maybe this will lead to other revolts against big brother!!

  17. What's next? Do I get screened before I go into church, the mall, or a store?

  18. "'Health care reform, in spite of great efforts at pretending, is not a “government takeover” of health care—it institutionalizes, in law, the presence of the health insurance industry, and gives that industry millions of new clients.'
    Whoa! Stop right there! Did you catch that? The government, under Democratic control, via the coercion of law, just delivered millions of customers to the health insurance industry. It's not just the Republicans that are in bed with big business."

    I continue to be baffled at what passes for health care reform there in the US (I'm in Canada, and pay nothing but taxes to go to the hospital should need arise)-- I don't see how saying "You've all got to go get insurance" makes doing so any more possible than the previous "We don't really care" policy, and I certainly don't get how the former is 'Socialist' while the latter is seen as the stance of the party of the common man.

  19. Bottom line is that terrorists have crated this situation and now they have to do things like this for everyones safety. You say that you didn't set this whole thing up however that is a big joke. If you don't like the screening process, DON'T FLY. Flying is not a right, it's a choice. And if that means they have to do these things to ensure the safety of my family and others then so be it. I hope you'll feel better about yourself if they stop theses screenings and someone gets past and something terrible happens. Will you sleep tight then if it's any of your loved ones..!!!????

  20. John Tyner... No offense intended, but you seem to me to be an attention whore. I hope you get hit with the full punishment available.... $10,000 fine and the maximum jail time for your offense. That will do wonders to stretch your 15-minutes... which I believe is your real motive. Enjoy.

  21. Someone great said once, < If you sacrifice Liberty for Security, you don't deserve any of them, You lose both of them>. What was the beginning of all the dictatorships and authoritarian regimes? The dictators became popular because they promised security and stability. We all know what happened afterwards. Every body was screwed up. The people should not be led like sheep. BOYCOTT FLYING For A Week.

  22. I am wondering, as an old perverted male that I am, is it possible to have the pat down done by a good looking female? I am not comfortable being touched by another male.

  23. I`m an American born and raised in US. 60 years old. Overweight, white, and harmless. Polite to a T. But I live overseas. I live overseas because I like living overseas. I like eating overseas food. I like speaking, reading, and writing overseas words. I like walking around in overseas neighborhoods. And it`s _nobody`s_ business but mine. I especially like living overseas because I don`t have to put up with the jackass, Orwellian, stinking stupidity that has become the U.S. And will only get worse. Much, much worse and gold will be $5000 an ounce and monitoring chip implants will be the "law". Sometimes, however, when I run out stuff I travel to the U.S. to replenish my supplies. A few months ago I transited through Portland. I`d always thought that Portland was kind of laid back and hippie-ish But I was real wrong. As soon as my traveling companions (two Asian ladies one (80+), tiny and frail and her daughter) and I arrived at PDX and tried to process through immigration and customs the Immigration/TSA/Customs uberNazis put on their "you must be a terrorist scum because you live overseas" faces and started grilling us.
    - Why are you living abroad?
    - Why have you been abroad so long?
    - Who are your traveling companions?
    - We need to know where you live overseas.
    - What do you do overseas?
    - What`s the name of your company?
    - What kind of company is that?
    (what is it you don`t understand about "import/export"...stupid)
    - What`s your address overseas?
    - What did you move overseas?
    - I need more information about your company.
    - I don`t need you to interpret for me (neither of my companions could speak enough English to make themselves clearly understood) the foreigners with you should speak English.
    - Get out of line and go over there for a special inspection.
    - Open your suitcase.
    - What`s this?
    - Open this bag?
    - Where are going in the U.S.?
    - Why are you traveling in the U.S.
    and on and on and one with their intrusive, stupid, arrogant, abusive line of white trash questioning.

    All of this because I asked these Nazi bastards why my living overseas was cause for such alarm. Fortunately, I returned overseas and look forward to never traveling back to the U.S. In fact, exchanging my U.S. passport for my adopted country`s passport sounds like the smart thing to do.


  25. Hmm. I'm no lawyer, but isn't your audio/video inadmissible in a court of law because you failed to tell or ask those that were in your presence that you were recording them using an electronic recording device. Their decision to say yes or no (if properly asked, which it seems you failed to do here) is also one of THEIR civil rights.

  26. I believe that some security personnel abuse their power of position and torture people, because they enjoy doing that. My recent experience with security staff at the Munich airport, which claims to be the best European airport, was typical example of violation of the passenger rights. Namely, after harassment they confiscated mini bottles of perfumes I bought on the plane as a gift for my 12 years old daughter and evidently enjoyed doing that in front of her standing beside me. The arrogant “security” man said that 5 x 5 ml mini bottles (i.e. 25 ml in total) exceed the capacity of 1000 ml security bag and that Air Canada is not selling items on the plane in accordance to the security regulations! My assumption is that they did this because I had a typical Niagara Falls tourist T-shirt, which was, for some reasons, too provocative for these guys. Complains to several instances, even to the Bavarian authorities, were without success. So how could we resist the terror of such malfunctioning security when such “security people” are protected by political and bureaucratic authorities?

  27. Just an ever increasing attempt to strip our rights away.....Get Body Scanned or dont fly.....get fingerprinted or dont get your drivers license. Anyone see a communist pattern developing in the USA? The only way to stop this developing tyranny is to refuse compliance. Stand up for your liberties or accept a system of control and slavery...you decide.

  28. America, more particularly, our leaders have lost all common sense. The agencies that protect us didn't do their job pre 9/11 and then we went and gave them all that money after 9/11 to do the job they should of been doing already. I do not want to take away from the the horrible tradegy but in a free society you cannot remain free by removing civil liberties at will. It's like saying we know people will get killed in car crashes........ so let's stop everyone from driving.

  29. You bring up a good point sir. You are correct that OBummer is not entirely responsible for the deficit. Neither was his predecessor. And despite what so many love to say, Clinton *did not* have a surplus. A surplus was achieved by the accounting gimmick of borrowing from SS and Medicare. California is playing a similar game, only doing it across time, borrowing from the year x+1 in order to balance the budget for year x.

    Clinton's predecessor didn't even TRY to stop the federal deficit. And before him - the deficit grew alarmingly on Reagan's watch - Reagan was no fiscal genius though I will readily concede that he talked real tough and sounded like John Wayne.

    When Carter left office the deficit was starting to be annoying. He and Ford had major inflation to contend with.

    Nixon probably was the one who took us with him making that turn on the final road to economic hell. For one year of his administration, there was a surplus, and then it was all downhill from there, when he removed what remained of any hard currency backing, instituted wage and price freezes, etc.

    And Keynes is probably rolling over in his grave right now seeing how his ideas have been abused.

  30. TYLER FOR PRESIDENT 2012 he has the courage to be an American and he knows the government doesnt belong in our underpants.

  31. You are such an ass. You and people like you are only looking to make a name for yourself and increase hits. If you don't like the screening process at the airport, take a fucking train. With millions of people flying, and the current threat from terrorist we as a society have to adjust. So if your family was on a flight that was bombed by a terrorist (because he was able to get around security) you would support that? You and your actions are just as bad as the terrorists because you give them hope. You are the vocal minority.

    Go live in Russia or Mexico there you have many more rights... what a tool

  32. I agree with above anonymous 11/16 @ 5:44pm... yes, what an asshole and a tool this boy is!

    >: /

    As a baby boomer I am sad that this self centered, self entitled, pathetic generation may someday be determining my outcome (benefits,taxes,medical) as a US citizen.

    The reason you have it "so good" in your life now is because of OUR sacrifices to this great USA. Without those sacrifices, YOU would be nothing.

    OMG so someone accidentally brushes up against your precious balls (JUNK) while protecting OUR country! Quick call the presses, except wait... WHO CARES.

    Grow Up.

  33. For all those who keep on saying, take a train or a bus, how do you know that the same groping would not eventually happen there if this is not stopped now.
    I find it ironic that those who reference the consitution and liberty are in favor of violating the freedoms allowed by it.

  34. Thanks for your brave outing of this one incident out of so many. Forget those comments from people who are still asleep to this huge issue of rights being removed from Americans.
    I am an American who has been living outside of the USA (in a couple of places)for almost 20 yrs (not by choice) so I have had to watch the erosion of our constitution by so-called elected government from the sidelines. I am also privy to what the outside world sees and thinks of our once-great country.
    I have had the luxury of not being subjected to all the awful things my countrymen have had to undergo and put up with. The list is so long it boggles the mind really.
    Next summer I will be travelling to the States for the first time since 1996. I am very happy to be able to go "home" after so long as I love my country and have missed it terribly. Sadly, I am also worried because my passport will show my long absence and that I am coming from a Middle Eastern country. I am afraid I will be detained and, though I have done nothing to be worried about, this does not protect me from all forms of harassment as we know.
    I am now an old woman and my nerves are not what they once were. Travel is stressful enough for me these days without reasonably anticipated anxiety from customs and TSA procedures. When I read your post on reddit the other day day I had an idea.
    I would like to run it past you and would appreciate your comment.
    I will be flying Dubai to San Francisco direct if possible or if not, then via Chicago. My idea would be to "opt out" and then, before they touch me, start to disrobe so that they could see that I am not carrying "an incendiary device". As I am old now, it would not be a pleasant experience for anyone within view of me doing this, therefore I would want to do this where as many people as possible could see me. The idea would of course be to create a scene publicly. It would only be meant to be my personal protest.
    As I am in a unique position, being old, an American citizen, yet living outside the country, I might be able to help in some small way to bring more attention to this issue.
    I would appreciate your thoughts on this and if you have any insight into the legal ramifications of my potential actions. If you feel like it of course.
    Sorry I haven't been very brief. I don't want to put my email address here so will watch this blog. Thanks.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Hmmm. So civility includes calls for shipping out all Muslims? Either you don't read reader responses or your standards of civility are pretty low.

  37. These Guys and Gals busting your chops for not getting scanned and not letting people touch your junk are in denial. How long before the statement “if you don't want a scan take the bus or train” is no longer true? Subway systems, trains or buses will be next. We cannot continue to let the government erode our rights in the name of fear and security. Let us look at just 2 quotes from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson to bring home my point.

    “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. The course of history shows us that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”
    “Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

  38. Okay, let's make a correction here - Obama is not adding to the deficit (the amount government spends beyond what it takes in), he's adding to the debt (the amount the government owes in debt obligations). The actual deficit has come down under Obama. I grant, it hasn't been by much ($100B over the last 2 years), but the highest deficit was funded under Bush.

    Now, as far as eliminating the deficit, it will REQUIRE a combination of these 4 things: tax increases, cuts to military spending, cuts to Social Security, and cuts to Medicaid/Medicare. Or it will require one thing - all of the states to opt out of Medicaid and end the program. In fact, some economists argue that Medicaid is where over 70% of the ballooning of the deficit will come from.

    The 5th leg of all this is that we have to get the economy growing, and growing at a pretty substantial rate - it needs to grow at almost 4.5% just to outpace productivity gains and spark job creation. But we really need it to grow at closer to 6%, while keeping the deficits (that is, while keeping the level at which government spends more than it takes in) either level in terms of number of dollars, or having deficits shrink. If we can do that, the national debt as a percentage of GDP will shrink to a managable level - and due to the way our monetary system works, there will ALWAYS be a national debt because we offer treasury notes for investors - and because, even now, treasury notes are considered a very safe investment.

    In truth, though I am loath to admit it, Dick Cheney was right, to a certain point, when he said deficits don't matter anymore. What really matters is the national debt as a ratio to GDP. If GDP growth can be sparked to a significant degree, then the debt becomes significantly less important.

    Still, I agree with your basic sentiments. Although, I wish congress had had the ball to support a real single payer health system, like Sweden's (BTW, the US spends 18% or maybe a little more, of GDP on health care. Sweden and all the other single payer nations (SINGLE PAYER, NOT SINGLE PROVIDER) spend between 7 and 10% of GDP on health care, and are generally more satisfied with their health care and have better health care delivery systems.

  39. OH, and for those who "support" the TSA, nothing the TSA does has been deemed effective at actually preventing terrorism by any reputable security analysts. They all say the same thing - chemical sniffers and Israeli style profiling at airports (which would save hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars) and spend the differnce on intelligence gathering.


Please be relevant, civil, and brief... in that order.