published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Bad Habit

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about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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blackwater48 said...

Boehner won't be quitting any time soon. Three votes he brought to the House floor were all defeated. Can't he count? He must be 1) laziness, 2) stupidity, or 3) indifferent.

I guess I forgot 4) all of the above.

Add to that the sudden resignation of conservative Representative Lee and a one pack a day habit could turn into a three-packer over night.

Not sure he'll be smoking 'Partisanship' brand though. While the Tea Baggers held their ground, they made the Speaker look weak and not at all ready for prime time.

Mr. Speaker has had a bad week and it's only Thursday. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

February 10, 2011 at 1:48 a.m.
hambone said...

It appears the house's version of smaller government is to work less.

February 10, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.
Francis said...

"add that", blackwater?'s a scandal t hat will destroy the republican party.....this is the big many more republican congressman have taken their shirts off and sent photos to women....lets get to the bottom of it. desperation.

blackwater your analysis is as stupid as bennett's cartoon......i knew you libs would jump all over that congressman resigning...because he sent a shirtless photo of himself to if anyone gives a crap...once again, bill clinton lowered the bar by having sexual relations with a subordinate in the white any sexual scandal pales in're so desperate to find something to attack republicans that you jump on that?

that idiot democrat eric masimo(sp)..congressman from new york who was pressuring his staff for gay sex ...what about that, huh, huh, huh????..... according to you that should be devastating to the democrat party agenda...hyporcrite.

obama has not quit smoking.....period. just because michelle says he has. we're supposed to believe it?? he also doesnt' dye his hair darker...just because michelle says he doesn't?..even though the photos prove it.

come on? why should boehner quit smoking? obama isn't evil for smoking but somehow there's something evil about boehner smoking?

i hate cigeratte smoke and don't want my kids to smoke, but the attack on smokers in this country is ludicrous. the government wants the revenue generated by tobacco companies.

tea bagger is an insulting term, blackwater...maybe i'll refer to you as a communist thug or liberal mafia. how about that?

boehner is an unapolgetic smoker. at least he's honest...obama is dishonest...he has not quit smoking, there's no evidence of it. obama gets on tv before the superbowl and states that taxes have not gone up or will not be increased or whatever.......he's not honest...

so, blackwater, you liberal, communist thug, you're grasping at straws.

partisanship is ok for dems apparently, but not for republicans....if anyone believes obama is not partisan anymore, than they're naive. he got his ass kicked and he's just laying low for awhile..that's all.

February 10, 2011 at 5:13 a.m.
woody said...

Going through withdrawal there Francis??

And by the way, just so you'll know for future reference, strict "partisanship" isn't good for anyone..anyone....

TTFN, Woody

February 10, 2011 at 6:14 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

If our President is no longer partisan but our Speaker is, then all the President has to do is change parties and we'll get along fine, eh?

After all, if he can follow Rush Limbaugh's example in a personal habit, maybe he can learn from Rush in other things as well?

Change labels: reaplace "Speaker Boehner" with "Cartoonist Bennett."

Our President has stopped smoking one weed, or our cartoonist has started smoking another?


February 10, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.
EaTn said...

Do we really want a president with his finger on the nuclear button to be in the process of quitting smoking? Having started smoking around age 12 or 13, I have quit smoking many times. The last time I quit was about thirty years ago, but even now I could light up if left alone with an aromatic pack of Winstons. Cigarette smokers don't quit, they are just in the process of quitting.

February 10, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.
jimbob said...

Who peed in your cornflakes this morning Francis?

February 10, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.
najones75 said...

A few items here:

Who cares if the President has quit smoking? I know I don't. That's the problem with the media today. Stellar reporting of the day's major issues.

Also, I wonder if Michelle or the media will report if or when there is a relapse?

What does laziness have to do with having being defeated with votes, BW? Makes no sense whatsoever.

And God willing, he will continue to bring up votes for the issues that the American people care about and want fixed. Look at the polls, my friend. The more the Democratic leadership ignores the will of the people, the more your gonna get your butts kicked (again) next year.

As far as partisanship goes...mocking of Boehner's lack of bi-partisanship, republican leadership compromising and bending on their principles is what got them fired years ago. I doubt they will make the same mistakes again...or they shouldn't if they want to keep their job this time.

Good day, and I look forward to all the name-calling for my counterparts. Flame on!!!

February 10, 2011 at 6:33 a.m.
fairmon said...

The topic is to smoke or not to smoke? It is an individual choice, where you smoke is not. Why is it news if any politician or anyone else smokes in private? A smokers rights ends where common use air begins and people don't have the choice of avoiding exposure. Government over steps it's bounds when it dictates to privately owned restaurants and other establishments where people have a choice to patronizie them or not. Why do potential customers rights that are not required to patronize an establishment and do so only because they want to over ride those of the owners. The government does have a right and should dictate policies that protects all tax paying citizens where people may not have a choice of whether to utilize them or not, such as hospitals, grocery stores, publicly or government owned facilties etc.

Isn't it amusing when a fat non-smoker supports governments interfering with an owner that would allow smoking but objects when government interferes with serving popular high fat content foods. Is it right to tax one product more than others as done with tobacco and alcohol? When will "unhealthy" foods receive the same treatment? Is it wise for people to support the governments manipulation of behavior using taxes?

Subsidies and grants are tools of manipulation. They have the same behavior changing objective as targeted taxing. Government subsidizes a sector of the economy such as farming which shifts taxes to those that pay taxes, an example of government using taxes to interfere in markets and the economy. Farm subsidies are not to keep food prices lower but to prevent prices from varying as a reaction to supply and demand.

You want to smoke, have at it, just don't blow the smoke in my face or contaminate the air I breath. You own a business and allow smoking fine, I have the choice of not entering your place of business.

February 10, 2011 at 6:56 a.m.
ITguy said...


If you wonder why you get so little respect on this blog, your 5:13 post is a perfect example. When a republican is caught displaying immoral and stupid behavior, instead of condemning his behavior, you shout "not as bad as Clinton".

When Michelle says that her husband has quit smoking, you shout "liar, prove it".

Anyone who has any interest in the truth, must be open to the possibility that some of their opinions may be wrong. Anyone who has any pretense of objectivity must be willing to admit fault.

And sir, that is precisely the problem with the partisan politics of the 21st century. There is no effort to improve the lives of the American people, simply the desire to defeat the other party. In a partisan environment NO ONE WINS. For the past two years the Republicans have been hell bent on defeating anything that Obama proposed regardless of whether it was a good idea. You may think that is a good strategy but it is a strategy that will weaken our country.

February 10, 2011 at 7:51 a.m.
Musicman375 said...

Username: harp3339 | On: February 10, 2011 at 6:56 a.m.

Great post!

February 10, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.

Wow, hard driving news there Claydo.

You're on top of it, my man!

February 10, 2011 at 8:54 a.m.
Clara said...

It's clear that the cartoon is an analogy! In any case,unfortunately, the nay sayers have used it to discuss smoking, and not partisanship.


February 10, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
tderng said...

Being a "reformed"smoker myself I know how hard it is to quit. If president Obama can do it under the stress he is under,more power to him! Please remember he has a personal physician at his side to keep him focused.The only way I was able to quit was when I awoke in the hospital staring the grim reaper in the face. I was told quit or die. Everyone knows that the most rabid anti-tobacco advocates are reformed smokers. Personally I don't blame the tobacco companies.I picked up the habit of my own free will. I do believe the government has over-reached by telling an owner of a private business how to run his/her business. If they can do this I don't see why they can't stop them from selling "unhealthy" foods.It is their business and if they want to lose the non-smoking customers, it should be their right. But to be forced to lose their smoking customers,imo, is just typical of how this government seems to work these days. The loudest screamers,even though they may be a minority,seem to get their way.It is no longer a majority rules form of government,its a loudest rules form of government.IMO.

February 10, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
pmcauley said...

Username: EaTn | On: February 10, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.

Good post about the stress of quiting.


February 10, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

Francis, relax. I'm here to help. I think one of your problems may be reading comprehension. You wrote, in response to comment I made about ex-Congress man's Lee affecting the Speaker's smoking habits:

"'s a scandal t hat will destroy the republican party."

That's quite a leap even for you. I made a joke relevant to the cartoon. I didn't predict the collapse of anything. Then you wrote:

"obama has not quit smoking.....period. just because michelle says he has. we're supposed to believe it?? he also doesnt' dye his hair darker...just because michelle says he doesn't?..even though the photos prove it."

So-o-o-o, we're to believe he hasn't quit smoking just because you say so? And the comment about hair coloring is absurd. He looks grayer to me. Compare photos from today with photos from two or three years ago. I think you meant Reagan. Then you went on to write:

"tea bagger is an insulting term, blackwater...maybe i'll refer to you as a communist thug or liberal mafia. how about that?"

Sticks and stones, Francis. Actually, I began referring to those conservative republicans as tea baggers just for you. I noticed that you kept saying 'democrat party' when it's actually the Democratic Party. Small point but I found it insulting. And sophomoric, with no disrespect intended for actual sophomores.

Then you wrapped it up with this observation: "partisanship is ok for dems apparently, but not for republicans"

Actually, and this goes back to reading comprehension, this is what I said: "Not sure he'll be smoking 'Partisanship' brand though. While the Tea Baggers held their ground, they made the Speaker look weak and not at all ready for prime time."

That means Boehner cannot count on all Republicans to vote as a bloc anymore, that "Tea Party" republicans have their own agenda and it won't always jive with the establishment GOP members.

I hope this helped, Francis. Your name calling, by the way, your "communist thug or liberal mafia," was unexpected and nearly caused a double shotgun blast of coffee to shoot through my nose and all over my Mac.

A little warning next time, please.

February 10, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
mtngrl said...

Just a couple of points:

  1. Comparing regulations on smoking in public establishments to unhealthy food is not quite the same. There is no second-hand fat or sugar encroaching on other patrons or employees.

  2. Thank you Francis for providing such an amazing example of ultra-partisanship as usual. You help prove Clay's point quite nicely!

February 10, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

Najones75 wondered, "What does laziness have to do with having being defeated with votes, BW? Makes no sense whatsoever."

The Speaker of the House brought bills to the floor for a vote and didn't even bother to poll members of his own party to make sure he had their support? What would you call that? Remember how often Speaker Pelosi pulled bills from the floor because she didn't have the votes? How did she know that?

The same way a lawyer should never ask a question in court if he doesn't already doesn't know the answer, a Speaker should never bring a bill to the Floor if hasn't already counted the votes. A Speaker of the House should never be surprised.

I guess Boehner didn't bother to reader, "Speaker of the House For Dummies." Again, lazy, but he's a smart guy. He'll figure it out. Actually, blaming it all on Boehner is a little unfair. As Majority Whip, it's up to Eric Kantor to count noses. Boehner just never bothered to ask for the results.

February 10, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.
hambone said...

Remember people, when you respond to a ranting TROLL it gives him what he craves.


February 10, 2011 at 12:58 p.m.
woody said...

Hambone..I humbly apologise..that too is another bad habit I have to fight on a daily basis....

And, made a very valid point earlier. However, whether the subject is smoking, drinking, cussing, playing partisan politics or even "Troll Feeding," let me just say..old habits die hard.

Maybe some day I will be "old habit free", Woody

February 10, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

Hambone noted, "Remember people, when you respond to a ranting TROLL it gives him what he craves. RECOGNITION!"

Irrefutably true, Mr. Bone, but to ignore lies, mischaracterizations, misinformation, and opinions presented as facts is difficult.

In fact, though I ignore as much of it as I can, I humbly plead guilty to feeding the beast. I can only promise to curb my enthusiasm.

February 10, 2011 at 1:55 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

Hambone, you mention not feeding trolls, yet you posted this on the Chattanooga Zoo thread,

"What's a " potcat" ?

And where's Francis?" Username: hambone | On: February 8, 2011 at 5:07 p.m.

Make up your mind.

And btw, you aren't the be-all end-all authority on deciding who is or isn't a troll on this forum, just in case you didn't know. I doubt Francis agrees with you on that topic. (as usual)

Clara, I definitely understood that the toon is aimed at partisanship, but I still thought Harp's post was great. It wouldn't be the first time a thread has been derailed.

February 10, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
canarysong said...


No, no, no! Don't curb your enthusiasm too much! Besides being a great source of information, you are very entertaining. I particularly liked what you did with my reference to The Muppets Show a couple days ago. I will happily serve as your "straight man" and set up your punch lines anytime!

February 10, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
hambone said...

OK! OK! I'll try to do better MM. It's just that you can go back 5 months and read Francis post and it will be the same as today.

Don't try to tell me you enjoy that!

February 10, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

Canarsong, I was trying to make the point of distinguishing between the people lobbing hand grenades and the people making sincere points and stating their opinions.

I've learned a lot from some conservative posters. There have been many honest discussions and differences of opinions. I don't agree with everyone but who does? I know just because somebody has a sincere difference of opinion that doesn't mean they're stupid. It doesn't automatically make them smart, either.

I appreciated your Muppets reference in regard to Francis/Daver. Hadn't thought of old Statler and Hilton in a long time and it made me laugh.

And if you ever see a chance to groove another fast ball, let it rip!

February 10, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.
potcat said...

Hambone you really dont know what potcat is? Recognition is not what i seek in posting.Its fun after working all day to get my two cents in.Francis i got to ask what is it with you and China? China financed two unnessisary wars for the MONEY CHANGERS CULT of America and since we dont produce things anymore not even our Medications we better be nice to that hand thats feeding you.

February 10, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
canarysong said...


I hope that some of our conservative friends here will read your 2:59 post.

I agree. Even though most often I disagree with harp3339 and steve_smith_tn, for example, I always read what they have to say. They are both sincere, often put a lot of thought into what they say, and I feel that we can all benefit from listening to them.

As you pointed out, on the other side of the equation is Francis, who is ignored by many because it is always the exact same acrimonious rant (but you do add color to the forum, Francis). And then there is Indian; scary to think that this delusional and paranoid guy is walking around carrying a concealed weapon! Don't worry Indian, if you can't reach your gun quickly enough, the FBI agents that are following you will keep you safe from all those dangerous commie pinkos that are hiding around every corner!

February 10, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

"...since we dont produce things anymore..."

Are you speaking of manufacturing? If so, we are still the world leader in that field.

February 10, 2011 at 3:50 p.m.
whatsnottaken said...


February 10, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
canarysong said...


Apparently we killed the thread by saying nice things about some of the people that we usually argue with. Oh well.......

February 10, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.
Francis said...

"same acrimonious rant"...wrong libs are such dullards and partisans that it's imparing your vision and comprehension...

you libs are just irritated becuase i don't kiss up to you.

i point out all kind of hypocracy on your end.....and on the republican read what you want to read..........blackwater starts out by bringing up some dumbass congressman who posts a pic of his shirtless chest on democrat bringing up any kind of sexual scandal had no standing or position to do do......if bill clinton can get away with having sex in the white house with a subordinate..then anything goes.

just because it's old news, doesn't mean it's not worth repeating. you've lowered the bar.....why should anyone resign for any kind of sexual mis- conduct.....

i didn't bring that up.....blackwater if it's some kind of huge tsunami that will build and destroy the republican party.....dumbass attempt, black- water.....but no go......

obama has not quit smoking.....i guarantee you......

as i said. and i stand by it, partisanship is fine with you liberals on here, but if a conservative sticks to his guns then it's a bad thing.'re liberal monkey and obama is the organ grinder..... you say i repeat myself all the libs all sound the same to me.....

your libera empire fell apart on november picked a donkey to lead your party........

February 10, 2011 at 5:56 p.m.
canarysong said...


I knew I could flush you out! "canarybrain", that's a good one! PML (peed myself laughing!)

Honestly, when you weren't here for a couple of days I was a little worried that something might have happened to you. In some strange way I think that nearly everyone would miss you if you were gone.

February 10, 2011 at 6:12 p.m.
canarysong said...


That being said, if you want to be taken seriously .....try using you "indoor voice" once in a while!

When you call someone a "dumb ass" they can't hear what you're saying.

February 10, 2011 at 6:23 p.m.
Francis said...

by the way...glad to see mubarak hanging on and telling "leaders" like obama to stick it......anyone with half a brain knows the alternatives in egypt at the moment are no damn good...a military dictatorship or the curse of the world, those islamic's better to have mubarak in there than the alternative. if mubarak should be forced to resign for the good of the world, so should obama...they're equally bad for their re- pective economies and they both have no respect for free speech.

free speech and islam go together like oil and water, or like obama and common sense..or like bill clinton and respect for women..or hambone, blackwater, librul and alprova with the constitution.

also...the contents of that ashtray in bennett's cartoon resemble many of the offerings on this forum by you liberals.

February 10, 2011 at 6:37 p.m.
canarysong said...

And there, folks, is our entertainment for the evening (Francis). Who needs cable?

February 10, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
Clara said...

I hate to break of this stimulating conversation and insert an off-topic I've been interested in that I wrote about a few blogs back. It was about our 1 month old freshman congressman, Hurt, and allegations that he voted to reduce educational funds and the VA by around 40%. I haven't received a letter from him directly, as promised, but it seems the Richmond Times Dispatch, a conservative but fair newspaper, made this comment on Politifact.

I will have to break it up into two segments as it is rather long.

Francis, I'd like to get into the discussion about you but I really don't have the time for your foolishness!

This is why I'm an independent Independent, or POO... (Party Of One)

February 10, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.
dude_abides said...

Francis, don't let 'em play you like that! You're intelligenter than that. They paint this picture of you as a rabid, uneducated, backward, ornery, confused, frustrated, racist, misogynistic hate merchant. I'm speaking, of course, of the keys on your keyboard.

February 10, 2011 at 7:22 p.m.
Clara said...

The Truth-O-Meter Says:

Congressman Robert Hurt has a plan to cut education by 40 percent. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday, January 31st, 2011 in a radio ad.

The DCCC says Rep. Robert Hurt supports a 40 percent cut in education spending

Share this story: Fifth district Republican Robert Hurt has been in Congress only a month, but Democrats are already trying to ensure he leaves after just two years.

The DCCC has launched radio ads against Hurt and 24 other Republican representatives around the nation, part of a "Drive to 25" aimed at putting House Democrats back into the majority.

The ads are similar for each of the 25 districts. The Virginia one says: "Did you know Congressman Robert Hurt has a plan to cut education and research by 40 percent that will cost hundreds-of-thousands of jobs and make America less competitive? Tell Hurt to choose jobs."

Forty percent sounded like quite a cut in education spending. In the spirit of learning, we set out to check the math.

Jesse Ferguson, a DCCC spokesman, said the ad is based on a proposal by the Republican Study Committee, a large group of House Republicans. Hurt is a member of the RSC.

The bill in question is the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, introduced last month by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the RSC’s chairman. The act aims to cut federal spending by $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

The RSC wants to do this by reducing "non-security discretionary spending" to 2006 levels and holding it there for the next decade.

The federal budget is divided into "non-discretionary" and "discretionary" spending. "Non-discretionary" refers to spending required by law to fund entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps. The amount set aside for these programs is not reviewed annually; instead, Congress periodically reviews eligibility requirements for people receiving the benefits.

Discretionary spending is the money Congress controls through annual appropriations. It is used pay for an array of things including the military, education, transportation and FBI investigations.

Ferguson said the 40 percent figure is based on a report by the Center for Budget Policy Priorities. James Horney, director of federal fiscal policy for the left-leaning CBPP, wrote on the think tank’s blog that returning to 2006 funding levels would mean a 42 percent spending reduction by 2021, if 2010 spending levels were allowed to increased each year to account for inflation. Horney told us his source for the information was the Congressional Budget Office.

In the CBO’s latest report on the U.S. budget and fiscal outlook, the non-partisan budget authority said it projects non-defense discretionary spending will be $545 billion in fiscal year 2011. If non-defense spending grows at the projected rate of inflation, the CBO says the federal government would spend $682 billion for that category in 2021.

February 10, 2011 at 7:23 p.m.
Clara said...


The RSC wants a cut to 2006 levels, when non-defense discretionary spending was $409 billion. That is indeed a 40 percent reduction from the projected 2021 spending level, but a 19.5 percent reduction from the 2010 spending levels.

Jim Bradshaw a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education provided us with the spending on all elementary and secondary education programs during the past few year.

In 2006 the department’s budget for those categories was $39.8 billion. The department has requested a $50.8 billion K-12 budget for the 2011 fiscal year. The figures include both mandatory and discretionary spending.

Going from the requested 2011 level to the 2006 level would be a 21.7 percent cut.

But Brian Straessle, communications director at the RSC, said the proposed reductions would not mandate a specific level of cuts for education. He said the bill would simply require that all discretionary spending fall to 2006 levels without specifying which departments would see reductions.

In other words, the DCCC ad assumes a 40 percent cut to federal education spending, when that may not be the case at all.

"The bill leaves Congressional discretion to decide the reduced appropriation funds from certain agencies and programs," Straessle said. "It doesn’t specifically say that the Department of Labor or Education has to go back."

February 10, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.
Clara said...


In short, he concluded, Congress could decide to make a small cut to education and offset it with larger cuts in other departments, so long as the total amount of discretionary spending fell by the required amount.

Here’s another pin that deflated the Democrats’ claim: Federal dollars account for only about 8 percent of the money that ends up in Virginia’s schools. Uncle Sam sends just $1 billion a year to help them.

The remaining $11.8 billion spent on public education this school year will be roughly shared by the state and local governments.

So if Congress cut 40 percent from the federal education budget, it would mean a $400 million cut to education funding in Virginia. That would translate to a 3.4 percent overall loss in Virginia school funds in the worst case scenario.

OK class, let’s review.

The DCCC said Robert Hurt supports a 40 percent "cut in education," based on proposals by the Republican Study Committee. While there is no question Hurt and the group want to quickly implement serious spending reductions, the 40 percent figure actually refers to a reduction of hypothetical spending in 2021 to 2006 levels, not an immediate 40 percent cut.

Furthermore, only eight percent of Virginia’s public education funds come from Washington. So even if all federal money suddenly vanished, the state would not see anywhere near a 40 percent reduction in education spending as the DCCC claims.

The radio attack ad ridiculously overstates the possible impacts of federal spending cuts on Virginia’s education budget.

Because of this major exaggeration we rate the claim Pants on Fire.

February 10, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
Clara said...

I apologise over and over for breaking in, but I had to get it off my chest.


February 10, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.
canarysong said...


Please, you saved us,...obviously.

February 10, 2011 at 7:42 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Is it just me or do the lyrics "banana fana fo Fancis" run through anyone else's head when the troll rants?

February 10, 2011 at 8:33 p.m.
fairmon said...


A lot of information. Thank you for taking the time to post it. The dilemma is difficult and congress does have to deal with it. How to address it is where things get really difficult. No one wants to be adversely affected but have no problem with others taking a hit. Their dilemma is how to get re-elected and do the right thing. You got me thinking about it and as a reformed smoker I may cave in and smoke, in the privacy of my home of course. It does not take an accountant when you look at the budget office data: Individual and corporate annual revenue= $1.1 trillion Welfare programs that assist those qualifying -$400 billion Government employee pensions= -$200 billion Defense= -$700 billion 200 billion short before considering 200 billion annual interest on the debt plus discretionary spending and other cost. When the "off book" and other liabilities are added the debt is much higher than the 14+ trillion advertised. People don't like to hear these facts and some politicians in both parties have no grasp of the severity and eventual consequences.

Social security funds are in the general fund so there is no separate and safe fund as many believe. There is an I.O.U. accounting process that tracks the balances but there is no money set aside. Social security was projected to be "healthy" through about 2050 but with high and under unemployment it is moving back this way fast. Medicare is hard to get a handle on but it has never been solvent and Bush's prescription coverage made it worse but was a well intentioned addition.

People bash big business and their making profits and not paying taxes. Anyone can access their filings at the SEC web site and learn if they do or not. Some pay the 35% rate or more. The fact is congress favors financials, insurers, brokers but sock it to producing companies.

Until congress gets their foot off the throat of those companies that make things and give them the ability to compete and increase exports followed by growth and hiring things either won't improve or improve in slow motion. Corporations have over $2 trillion dollars they want to invest in America but have no justification or need for the production capacity in this country.

I think we will all have to pay more regardless of income level. There is a major difference in management making a rediculous amount of money and the companies earning and taxes. Neither party has a good answer and certainly not the only answer.

February 10, 2011 at 8:39 p.m.
fairmon said...

Musicman, Do you mean we are the leading in manufacturing per capita, number of units produced or the average value of the products. Regardless of the current statistics we have drifted down from 48% of U.S. Jobs being in manufacturing when we were a lender nation with other countries owing us as we and others are now in debt to China. At 48%manufacturing jobs the middle class was growing. We are now around 12% with the balance being in financial and services jobs and we are now the largest debtor nation in the world with a dwindling middle class.

IT IS NOT the wage difference that brings this about even though the resident accountant alprova opines otherwise. Raw materials, equipment, transportation and regulations are much larger per unit cost sources than manpower. Most imported products average about 20-30% less than U.S. produced goods which indicates that if the 35% cost embedded by local, state and federal legislation and taxes were not there and was equal to those with none or little they could not compete with us. Think about the cost of packaging, loading and transporting those products, unloading and shipping, storing etc. That is enough to off set essentially any wage difference. Could that be why countries paying comparable or better wages build and produce here what they sell here?

February 10, 2011 at 9:06 p.m.
potcat said...

The US leads the world in manufacturing.You are kidding i hope.Every man in my family worked in a actual MANUFACTURING FACTORY. Example Carrier has lost thier jobs in the last 10 years to other countries. They now all drive the big trucks delivering what other countrys manufacture.

February 10, 2011 at 9:09 p.m.
hambone said...

I read this week about the Thomas Lighting fixture plant in Sparta, TN being closed soon. This plant is owned by Phillips Luminaires of the Netherlands and the operation is being moved to Mexico.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is the bagaining unit with 130 member of the 300 man workforce. And hasn't had a work stopage in 30 years.

This plant was named one of the top 10 manufacturing plants in North America in 2009 by Industry Week magazine.

This plant is in a county that already has 15% unemployment. The article states that labor is 4% of the production cost.

This makes one wonder what the going wage is in Mexico.

February 10, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.
hambone said...

and francis finish your homework and get to bed!

February 10, 2011 at 10:24 p.m.
Echo said...

Sorry Scribbles, I think Jug Ears smokes Kools.

February 10, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

MusicMan mentioned that the U.S. still leads the world in manufacturing and he's right. I clipped an article from AP that ran a couple of weeks ago. They reported on a United Nations global manufacturing study and then interviewed economists, manufacturers, and academics.

They said that U.S. manufacturers cranked out nearly $1.7 trillion in goods in 2009 and accounted for 18% of global manufacturing in 2008. America has managed to stay ahead of competition in part by getting great productivity of our workers. We make more with less.

Here are a few salient points:

  • U.S. manufacturers have abandoned products with thin profit margins, like consumer electronics, toys, and shoes. They're ceded that sector to China, Indonesia and other emerging nations with low labor costs. Instead, American factories have seized upon complex and expensive goods requiring special labor: fighter jets, computer chips, industrial lathes, and health care products.

  • Manufacturing's fortunes are brightening enough that U.S. factories are finally adding jobs after years of shrinking their payrolls. Not a lot, but 136,000 workers were hired last year.

  • America remains No. 1 in global manufacturing...but China is catching up fast. One economist pointed out that China is keeping its currency artificially low to make Chinese products less expensive overseas and unfairly subsidizing it exporters.

There's more but you get the idea. I haven't tried to google the topic but there's got to be more information out there.

It would be a good time for Obama to pressure Beijing into easing their subsidies and let its currency rise freely.

(Spoiler alert: if you're a Republican DO NOT READ THIS NEXT PART!!!)

We have no leverage, however, because the Bush Administration borrowed nearly a trillion dollars to finance the Iraq War. There is little we can do diplomatically or economically to persuade the Chinese to change policies. They seem hell bent on becoming THE world power so anything they might do to help us out is seen as counter productive.

The President is trying to offer economic incentives to stimulate new green technologies. We need to get in front of the next manufacturing boom, but it's been ridiculed as a looney liberal idea and demonized as out of control government spending. However, If we don't find a way to compete in the emerging global energy market it's only a matter of time before we fall to number 2. Then number 3.

And it's a slippery slope.

February 10, 2011 at 11:13 p.m.
fairmon said...

In most operations wages are around 4% or less of the cost of production. What people fail to realize or accept is that most countries, China included, have little to no taxes on businesses and less regulation. Regulation such as OSHA, Wage and hour and others are good. However, when you realize there are over 35,000 forms that local state and federal agencies that employers may be ask to use and when some of the regulations are not essential and don't protect consumers, some only gather information that is otherwise available and isn't used. When the actual tax rates that many do pay are 34% federal then add some state and local taxes and fees it gets to be significant. Yes, they make a profit if they didn't they couldn't stay in business. The cost of any U.S. product includes the imposed cost of about 35% that many other countries don't have. Some countries that do have embedded cost build factories and produce their goods in America (a local example is VW a German co.) Japan has factories in the U.S. as does Honda. Those companies have taxes and similar government imposed cost in their countries.

So we make the "higher end" products while our education system cranks out low tech capability? There is nothing wrong with less technical production and decent wages to employ what is actually 20%+ unemployed or under employed. All those people working, buying and paying taxes, reducing the welfare roles would go a long way toward fixing an economy in trouble. Quit giving all the tax breaks to the financial, brokers, insurance and other congressional favorites and establish a no deductions after the cost of doing business flat tax of 10% and watch those companies build and grow in America. We need more Caterpillars, John Deere's, Honeywell's and similar businesses to expand and grow here. Their exports would compete and reduce the trade deficit.

Have you ever had a talk with a CFO of a major corporation? The businesses American workers need to do well don't have D.C. connections and lobbyist like the banks, insurance, drug companies and a few others. They are too busy trying to produce while dealing with all the red tape and bureaucrats who are only justifying their government job. The mid-size company sure has a rough life unless they are almost a monopoly.

Like a broken record "the exodus of jobs is not the wage difference".

February 11, 2011 at 1:31 a.m.
floridabb said...

If you believe Obama quit smoking,then you dont think he dyes his hair.

February 11, 2011 at 5:39 a.m.
trburrows said...

if the usa leads in manufacturing, why is it that everything you get, pick up, read the label, etc says.......made in china??????

hats off to buds in brainerd, walk in smoking and smoke anytime. no body under 21 allowed. i don't smoke anymore due to throat cancer 2 years ago but it is legal and a god given right.

francis........glad to hear from you again. i thought you had quit. all the people who post regularly say the same old tired thing over and over. at least you rant in a different tone.

February 11, 2011 at 6:20 a.m.
fairmon said...

Do you think targeting taxes reduces the amount of anything produced and consumed? Do higher tobacco and alcohol taxes reduce consumption? Do you think higher carbon emission taxes will reduce emissions? Do you think targeted taxes like these are a good thing to do? Do you believe those being taxed in this manner maintain their profit margins by increasing the price of their product or service? Farming subsidies are the same principle but inverse. When less is desired people are paid not to produce it. When more is desired subsidize it. Both at tax payers expense.

The political thesis is that if you want less of something tax it more. Therefore would it not be reasonable to think if you want more of something tax it less? Why are there so many new banks being built, sometimes several in or near the same location. Why are there more and more insurance company offices and hiring? Why are there so many new stock exchanges, stock brokers, hedge funds and other financial entities being started? Check their financial reports and actual tax rate paid. Why is a German brokerage company about to buy the New York Stock Exchange, an American icon for years? The tax system favors these activities at the expense of tax payers and other businesses.

Check out the same on the Thomas Lighting Fixture plant that is closing that hambone mentioned reading about. Another example of if you want less of something increase taxes and other cost of engaging in the activity.

Obama told the chamber of commerce he planned to propose revamping the tax system to eliminate deductions and other reductions that benefits a few and lowering the tax rates on businesses to level the playing field and make American producers more competitive. He said this would result in the ability for American producers to be more competitive, to increase exports and create a need for American workers.

A comprehensive and meaningful proposal will reveal to him just how compromised both parties are by special interest and lobbyist. It will reveal how congress prefers to act in a way that increases the chances of being elected again Vs. what is good for America.

February 11, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.
trburrows said...

darn good post harp. i'm not sure i understand the tax less part.

February 11, 2011 at 6:36 a.m.
pmcauley said...

Username: trburrows | On: February 11, 2011 at 6:20 a.m.

While I agree that people who smoke should not be made to feel like pariahs, I doubt it is a “god-given” right. I really don’t believe a deity gives a crap about many of the trivialities we concern ourselves with.

BTW: I don’t smoke, never have. I did side-smoke a few packs a day growing up, though.


February 11, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.
Musicman375 said...

Thanks for your post on manufacturing bw. This is the first time I've had a chance to get back to this thread since my last post, but you summed up my point in your 11:13 post. I appologize to all for not having specific info to post about it in my original statement, but I was posting from work on a quick break, with limited internet access.

February 11, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

Burrows asks, "if the usa leads in manufacturing, why is it that everything you get, pick up, read the label, etc says.......made in china??????"

From my post at 11:13 last night:

"- U.S. manufacturers have abandoned products with thin profit margins, like consumer electronics, toys, and shoes. They're ceded that sector to China, Indonesia and other emerging nations with low labor costs. Instead, American factories have seized upon complex and expensive goods requiring special labor: fighter jets, computer chips, industrial lathes, and health care products."

February 11, 2011 at 10:09 a.m.
Clara said...

My last, lengthy posting doesn't mean I've forgotten what the Bush/Cheney/Corporate/Financial sector has done!!!


February 11, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

Just read a great story by Peter S. Goodman, the business editor at the Huffington Post entitled, "Beyond Left and Right: It's About Reality." I'll include a few highlights and provide the link below. It supports my gripe with modern "journalism," and claims most reporters are just too lazy.

"For far too long, the public has suffered under the tyranny of dueling narratives served up by one or another interest group seeking self-serving shortcuts around nuanced truths, all the while shortchanging the clarity of important debates about the biggest issues of the day -- from health care reform to defense policy to education. Journalists have too often perpetuated the false notion that seemingly any issue can be cleanly divided into right and left, conservative and liberal, because these labels make our work simpler, supplying us with a handy structure we can impose at will on typically uncooperative facts.

"Political hacks trade in the labels of right and left because it allows them to manipulate the public with shortcut phrases that demonize those in the other camp, making it easier to derail whatever initiative needs killing at the moment. Banking reform is neatly pilloried as a leftist assault on free enterprise by financial institutions intent on perpetuating corporate welfare policies. Organized labor too sweepingly dismisses expanded trade -- even foreign purchases of U.S. companies that create jobs for U.S. workers -- while decrying the trend as part of a an assault from the right.

"In the sort of journalism I am interested in practicing here, I want my reporters to reject the false idea that you simply poll people at both extremes of any issue, then paint a line down the middle and point to it as reality."

Anyway, If any of you would like a glimpse of what journalism used to be all about, and what it needs to be in the future, check it out. Ultra left and right wingers won't find any comfort, but the rest of us might.>

February 11, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

ITGuy said: "precisely the problem with the partisan politics of the 21st century."

Thoughtful post and to the point, ITGuy. . . and I agree with what you say.

Too many elected officials have forgotten that they have a job to do, and like you say in your post that job is to improve the lives of the American people – it should be the number one priority of every elected official, but it isn’t, and America is suffering as a result of it.

I think most of our media pundits are suffering from the same disease. As soon an election night is over and the winners of one political election are announced, media pundits start chattering about potential candidates for the next election - what happens in between doesn't seem to matter.

February 11, 2011 at 11:42 a.m.
Francis said...

i see obama got his wish.....mubarack handing over power to the military...

well, funny how he's so vocal and hot and bothered over this uprsing , but not about the one in iran...he was as mute as one the pumpkins in michelle's veggie patch.

i guess obama would feel more comfortable with a hard line muslim regime in there.......democracy and islam don't mix......i don't think that knucklehead understands the military is in charge..and muslims are drooling thinking about the possibility of getting a hold of egypts huge military and nuclear weapons..........mubarak didnt respect freedom...but no group respects freedom less than hard line muslims.

February 11, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Blackwater48 said: "It supports my gripe with modern "journalism," and claims most reporters are just too lazy."

Great link, thanks Blackwater48. I also relate to your gripe about 'lazy journalism." It seems to me that "lazy journalism" only compounds our "lazy politician" problem.

February 11, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Blackwater48 said: “American factories have seized upon complex and expensive goods requiring special labor: fighter jets, computer chips, industrial lathes, and health care products."

I believe the U.S. should be pushing to increase its manufacturing capacity in renewable energy products. From what I’ve read, we are really lagging behind a lot of other countries in this area including Germany, Spain, Japan, China, and South Korea.

February 11, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.

blackwater48 wrote: "Ultra left and right wingers won't find any comfort, but the rest of us might."

You make some excellent points, but I wonder, doesn't your dichotomy of left and right undermine Goodman's point? Using his description, couldn't your dichotomy be seen as "manipulating" the public with “shortcut phrases” that "demonize" those in other camps? It seems like that’s a sort of "beyondist" position and, according to Goodman, it is unhelpful as it "paints a line down the middle and points to it as reality."

I am often guilty of doing what I think you are doing. Sometimes, I think, we distance ourselves from certain public figures, citizens, or arguments for certain political positions because we are socially uncomfortable being identified with them. The people we know or want to know don’t care for “those kind of people or issues.”

Adding the blog-obligatory designations "ultra" and "winger" provides a little zing to the dichotomy It makes it safer to position yourself as above the fray. Terms like "ultra," "extreme," and "radical" are simply political marketing jargon: We pin them on a group whose members have firm convictions that differ with ours. Or we pin them on two opposing groups when we find the arguments, tones, or associations of both groups unsatisfactory. It just seems that "ultra," "extreme," and "radical" are just as slippery and relative as right and left, conservative and liberal.

Labels aren’t inherently bad. We can’t always describe political issues or partisan interests and alignments in detail. We’re forced to use shorthand. If we NEVER get beyond popular labels, or if we apply them carelessly, that’s not good, but we simply can’t avoid using labels. As I’ve said before, I think partisanship and biases are unavoidable and can actually be very good things. They CAN mean (though often they do not) that we’ve thought carefully and consistently about an issue over a significant period of time and advocate for it. If the cause is just, partisanship is a virtue.

Setting up the labels as a rigid, unchanging dichotomy is, by definition “polarizing,” so we should probably use them less than we do. I WOULD say that "right and left," "conservative and liberal" at least provide some historical reference points to which we can make connections and comparisons with issues, ideologies, and political figures from earlier times. I think it would signal an accomplishment if we could simply move away from "red" and "blue," which offer no significant description of anything. It reduces politics to a perpetual horse race or sporting event (i.e. media coverage of elections). Go blue. Go red. I don’t even know which is which.

February 11, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.

Also, I’m not sure there’s value in the idea that THOSE PEOPLE will find no comfort in these ideas "but THE REST OF US might." Again, it’s the "us vs. them" mentality of moralism. ("At least I'M not like THEM.") It poisons discussions by demonizing our opponents so we don’t have to interact with their ideas.

I’m guilty of much of what I’m calling attention to. (By now, you know who I am.) But I still think it’s worth calling attention to. Thanks, blackwater, for your thought-provoking comments.

February 11, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

I can't even begin to interpret whatever Francis is blithering about. All I know is that the non-violent uprising in Egypt which led to Hosni Mubarak stepping down, did more to fight islamic terrorism than anything the U.S. could have accomplished unilaterally.

Radical islamists have been saying all along that violence is the only way to seize power. The U.S. invasion of Iraq helped prove their point which is why their numbers swelled.

Now, however, young Muslim's throughout the Middle East, communicating among themselves through social media, have found a new way, a non-violent and irresistible way to gain their independence.

Take it to the streets.

One image I won't soon forget: The 25-year old student screaming into the microphone, "FREEDOM!"

The military has promised a transition to free and fair elections. If they fail to deliver rest assured the people will return to the streets again. 300 hundred of them have already died and hundreds more injured to get to this point. The first whiff of freedom is intoxicating, though, and there's no turning back now.

As for the rest of the Middle East, here's something I heard years ago that still rings true today: Freedom is contagious.

February 11, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
pmcauley said...

Francis is certainly right when he says "...but no group respects freedom less than hard line Muslims." Allah help you if do his caricature or write an critique of the religion.

I earnestly hope he is wrong when he predicts the military taking things over or a new theocracy.


February 11, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

WWWTW, I appreciated your short essay. I read it twice, so here's my shorthand of what goodman said.

When a reporter has to cover a politically charged story, too often they just call one spokesman from both parties and write a 'middle of the road' story as if that were the truth.

I think you'd agree that you need more than one source to arrive at your own educated conclusion, and that's it possible for two different people to look at the same facts and arrive at different conclusions.

That's why I so often ask posters to please tell me their source material. Maybe I'll learn something that will affect my opinion.

Is it possible to have a bias towards truth that isn't partisan?

February 11, 2011 at 1:34 p.m.
canarysong said...

mtnlrl said: "Too many elected officials have forgotten that they have a job to do".

It seems that one of the few things that people of every political stripe share is a common frustration that most politicians seem to spend their entire time in office working toward re-election, courting votes and securing campaign contributions. This not only leaves precious little time for doing the work that they were elected to do (just look how often the senate and house floors sit half-empty, even during vote-taking!), but perhaps even more importantly, it skews their decisions toward those that would increase their chances of keeping their jobs.

Maybe a drastic revamping of campaign finance regulation and term limits is in order. If elected officials were limited to only one term, which perhaps should then be longer, it seems that most of these problems would be eliminated. An unfortunate side effect would be that we would lose the services of truly dedicated public servants all too quickly. On the campaign finance issue, I wonder how much the recent Supreme Court decision might still influence legislation.

I know these issues come up periodically in the national debate, but little of substance ever seems to get done. Any thoughts?

February 11, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

One man's opinion to eliminate the influence of special interests money:

Outlaw campaign advertising on television and radio. Declare political ads a public nuisance and stop selling candidates the way they sell beer and diarrhea medicine. That's where most of the campaign money is spent.

Open up PBS and NPR for all candidates to debate EACH OTHER without a moderator selecting topics and limiting the amount of time for answers. Maybe we'd learn more about what kind of people we are thinking about voting for if we took a peek behind the curtain.

Elections would change dramatically if candidates didn't have to spend so much time raising millions of dollars from special interest groups just to buy air time.

Too radical?

February 11, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
canarysong said...

bw48, re 1:34 post;

I don't particularly WANT journalists to attempt to be "unbiased" in their reporting, I simply expect them to be factual and transparent. Being truly unbiased is never more than a pretense anyway, since we all come with our own peculiar baggage of experiences that colors our perceptions. Even if true neutrality was possible, I think that I learn something from reading the varied perspectives from those on different sides of an issue. It's OK that Fox is conservative and MSNBC is liberal. Problems arise, however, when facts are incomplete and when sources are misrepresented.

Not only should we all be getting our news from more than one source, as you so rightly pointed out, but we also should make sure that those sources represent more than a single narrow perspective. The architects of our democratic system designed it to depend upon an "educated populace". We are sadly falling short of that very critical component of democracy.

February 11, 2011 at 2:43 p.m.
canarysong said...

bw48, re2:22 post;

I think most people would support your "radical" reform ideas. BTW, doesn't it seem that the political ads often cause us to need the diarrhea medicine?

February 11, 2011 at 2:54 p.m.

blackwater48 wrote: “Is it possible to have a bias towards truth that isn't partisan?”

One person’s truth is another person’s inconceivable, unconscionable belief. Our biases are our biases, and truth is truth. I’m just not very confident in our desire or ability to always pursue or arrive at truth. We must pursue it, but I think history shows we’re not very good at finding it. I’m skeptical of those who say that they embody or have arrived at the truth.

I’m basing my idea that “partisan” is a positive thing on the sense of “partisan” that is not the most common usage. I looked it up (using two sources: Random House College Dictionary and and found that its etymology points in a couple of directions. The root word could refer to a two-edged sword used by a military. That sense gives us the more common usage: “militant, one-sided, prejudiced support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.” There are good uses of that sense – in, say, the military. (In debate, however, it also has the sense of being unthinking or even lazy).

But the root could also merely connote: “devoted, fervent support for a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.” That’s what we’ve seen on the streets in Cairo. That’s the sense I mean.

I’ll have to say that it scares me when “nonpartisan” or “bipartisan” is presented as the granddaddy of all political virtues or goals. Or even worse, as the ONLY legitimate, intelligent, or civilized approach to politics. When you eliminate partisans, you’re either left with ONLY ONE permissible viewpoint (Mubarak’s understanding of how society is to be ordered). Or you’re left with confused, un-thoughtful waffling and apathy which also rears its head when we become too weary of arguing to tolerate partisanship.

Democracy depends on divergent, multiple, opposing views on important issues. It is entirely appropriate that they be vigorously debated. I think the popular sentiment reflected by the cartoon points to the fact that we are becoming too lazy, too soft-headed, and too intolerant to deal with opposing voices.

Amen to canarysong's comment.

February 11, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.

Per blackwater’s 1:21 post on Egypt:

Like you, I’m “extremely” pumped about the developments in Egypt. I’m not as confident, though, that there’s no turning back. We can hope that a wave of freedom travels beyond Egypt’s borders, but I’m not sure Israel is resting easy just yet. I also doubt if it’s a sign that terrorism is on the wane. Whatever anyone thinks of our bipartisan involvement in Iraq, I don’t think that our government – even under Bush – has been more of an obstruction than a conduit for freedom in the region. And I don’t think there is any numerical or moral equivalence between the terrorist goals and activity of Islamists and the goals and activity of any other religious group. Totalizing ideologies - religious or secular - are bad news.

Let freedom ring.

February 11, 2011 at 3:13 p.m.
hambone said...

Francis says Obama is lieing about quiting smoking. I say so what!

Lieing about quiting smoking is not the same as lieing about WMDs.

Lieing about quiting smoking is not the same as making up lies to invade another country!

February 11, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.
Sailorman said...

blackwater and whats-wrong authored some elegant posts. Well done guys (or girls) :) Maybe there's hope for us after all.

Then comes hambone - apparently the yin to francis' yang - oh well.

February 11, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Whats_wrong_with_the_world said: " When you eliminate partisans, you’re either left with ONLY ONE permissible viewpoint . . . Or you’re left with confused, un-thoughtful waffling and apathy which also rears its head when we become too weary of arguing to tolerate partisanship."

Yes, but if partisans are too busy at being partisan, they digress from the reason they were elected in the first place - and eventually the whole country becomes stuck in the mud.

February 11, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Another STUPID clay cartoon. I cannot think of a single thing right now that Obama has done that I would want anyone in Congress cooperating with, especially the Republicans.

Even if their motives are not to protect our liberty from Obama the statist anything they do to hamper him has the same effect.

February 11, 2011 at 6:39 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

Mountainlaurel, commenting on parrtiship, noted that, "if partisans are too busy at being partisan, they digress from the reason they were elected in the first place - and eventually the whole country becomes stuck in the mud."

Congratulations on channeling George Washington, ML. Our first President hated political parties - and by proxy partisanship - and offered this warning in his farewell address:

"They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests."

He didn't see the need for political parties and I admire the way he defined government:

"...The delegated will of the nation...The organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests."

Right again, Mr. President.

February 11, 2011 at 6:42 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

BRP supports all Republican efforts to thwart President Obama, "Even if their motives are not to protect our liberty."

Partisanship strikes again, sadly, and Mr. Patriot probably doesn't even realize how stupid that makes him sound. Or maybe he does and he doesn't care.

Either way, it has "the same effect."

February 11, 2011 at 6:49 p.m.

Mountainlaurel wrote: “Yes, but if partisans are too busy at being partisan, they digress from the reason they were elected in the first place - and eventually the whole country becomes stuck in the mud.”

Partisanship is nothing new. No legislator or president represents his or her constituents as an island. To be successful, he or she builds consensus and makes alliances, and those usually fall along party lines. We will continue to come together in times of crisis. Party positions and memberships shift, as do the views of their constituents. When a legislator’s party shifts too far in a direction that doesn’t line up with the views of her constituents, sometimes she will even switch parties.

I do think it is instructive to consider which party tends to cross the aisle more than the other. I assure you it is not out of the goodness of their hearts. They are not voting against their own convictions or those of their constituents merely for the sake of proving that their side is more bipartisan than the other. It might be that the party which has received more votes from members of the other party over a very long period of time (regardless of who controls Congress) happens to be closer to the mainstream of the American public. Just a surmise.

I’ve also noticed that editorial writers tend to praise representatives for their heroism and nobility ONLY when they cross the aisle in the newspaper’s own partisan direction. (I commented on that issue regarding a Times editorial a few weeks back.)

I’m not sure what “too busy being partisan” would look like. It probably means that certain partisans sense an urgency to enact their agenda when they face major opposition from partisans in the other party. When you’re in the minority, or in a slim majority, party unity becomes more important. Control of the House has changed hands three times in the last nine elections. (If I’m not mistaken, Senate control has changed at about the same rate.) That may or may not be why it seems that partisanship has increased over the past several years. I think it also has to do with our forgetfulness.

Serious issues like out-of-control deficit spending and the national debt are ones that benefit elected officials at our expense and escape our notice because it is on such a vast scale that it doesn’t seem to directly affect us. In his speech at UTC a couple of years ago, David Brooks suggested that the public is what’s wrong with our debt, simply due to the fact that we demand more government than we’re willing to pay for.

And yes, politicians are too beholden to lobbyists and special interest groups who finance their campaigns, but that’s a corruption issue, not a partisan issue.

Sometimes, being stuck in the mud is a blessing, especially if the alternative is driving over a cliff. America is resilient. We have survived partisanship for 200 or so years. I’m pretty sure we will continue to do so.

February 11, 2011 at 7:40 p.m.

BW48, I had forgotten about the Washington quote. He also conceded that it is "probably true" that, "within certain limits, parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty." But he added that party spirit was "not to be encouraged." He thought "there will always be enough of [it] for every salutary purpose." He said that it would require vigilance to keep it from becoming overheated. Maybe a forum like this (on its good days) is an effort in that direction.

This piece about partisanship during the years after Washington was on the website for “The Daily Beast” last year:

(“July 4th's Forgotten Partisan History” by Sean Wilentz )

“[The Fourth of July] stirs a common veneration for the Declaration of Independence and especially its opening passages about the self-evident truths of equality and humankind’s inalienable rights. Americans spend the rest of the year either taking those words for granted or fighting intensely—and, these days, bitterly—over what the words mean in our own political time. But for one blessed solitary day, we give the arguments a rest in order to express gratitude, delight, and even wonder at what Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues wrought in 1776. And many people lament a fancied bygone time when this basic unity pervaded American political life all year long, despite our many differences …

“The nostalgia misreads not just American political history, which has generally been a chronicle of sharp conflicts, but the history of the Fourth of July as well. Independence Day now may bring a break from passionate argument. During the decades after the nation’s founding, though, the occasion prompted furious partisan declamations and fractious rhetoric …

“In a bid to reinforce the Union victory in the Civil War, Congress, in 1870, formally established Independence Day as a federal holiday; thereafter, the Fourth has evolved into the day of national unity is has been for a long time. The evolution has been all to the good. But it should not obscure how the Fourth of July began—or hoodwink us into believing that today’s partisan battles are somehow unseemly, or even un-American.”

February 11, 2011 at 7:58 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

WWWTW observed, "Sometimes, being stuck in the mud is a blessing, especially if the alternative is driving over a cliff."

I think Mountainlaurel had it right the first time. Getting stuck is seldom a good thing. Especially when you're in a race and the other cars are gaining on you. And your're driving a rusty gas guzzler that's stuck in ditch and up to its hubcaps in thick mud.

An elephant and a donkey are arguing about how to get the car back in the race.

E: Did you know we were stuck in the mud?

D: I know. I've been trying to get us out for a while. We're out of gas and we need a tow truck.

E: Is spending money your answer to everything?

D: First of all, we're out gas. Second, we need a tow truck.

E: But we have to cut spending!

D: But you were driving last and you drove us into a ditch!

E: It's your fault for not stopping us.

D: I didn't know you were headed for a ditch.

E: So, you ASSUMED we knew what we were doing, hmmm? Sounds like it's your fault to me.

D: Never mind. Let's call for a tow truck.

E: We can't!

D: Why not?

E: We're broke!

D: Use the credit card.

E: Can't. We maxed that out years ago.

D: But we have to get out of the ditch.

E: I agree.

D: What do you suggest?

E: Tax cuts for the rich.

D: That's your answer? How will that get us back on track?

E: That's my default answer.

D: Why is that?

E: Tax cuts for the rich.

D: Why do you keep saying that?

E: Tax cuts for the rich.

Several cars zoom by leaving the elephant and the donkey by the side of the road still arguing.

D: Come on! We can still catch them.

E: What are we going to do?

D: We need a tow truck and some gas.

E: We can't.

D: Why not?

E: Tax cuts for the rich.

February 11, 2011 at 9:35 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Whats_wrong_with_the_world said: "No legislator or president represents his or her constituents as an island."

Millions of people in the United States are unemployed. Is this a partisan or non-partisan problem? Is seeking a solution to this problem a partisan or non-partisan activity?

February 11, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.

E: Oh yeah. I keep forgetting. History began in 2000, the rich are to blame for our problems, and our grandkids won't mind if we spend their money like there's no tomorrow. D: At last, you've seen the light. Now come on. We're in a hurry. E: Maybe we should look into getting a more reliable car. D: No some duct tape will do. Call the wrecker and charge it to our grandkids' credit card. We're in a hurry. (six hours later) E: Weren't those zooming cars heading in the opposite than you're trying to take us? D: Yeah, but they were full of rich people, and that's just wrong. Now put the pedal to the medal. I think there's a shortcut over by the cliff. E: No. D: Meanie.

February 11, 2011 at 10:40 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Blackwater48's: "Tale of the Donkey and the Elephant in the Ditch"

Marvelous post, Blackwater48

February 11, 2011 at 10:45 p.m.

mountainlaurel asks: "Millions of people in the United States are unemployed. Is this a partisan or non-partisan problem? Is seeking a solution to this problem a partisan or non-partisan activity?"

You seem to suggest that it is a partisan problem. I would argue that it's really not even a political problem.

Partisan politics is the only place you seem to be seeking a solution to the problem of unemployment. I think you fundamentally misunderstand economics, and that playing the class warfare card does nothing to solve the problem.

February 11, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.

Political Science 101 is adjourned.

It's good that you're resting your mind with some bedtime stories. Get some rest.

Economics 101 begins next week.

February 11, 2011 at 11:10 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Whats-wrong_with_the_world said: "Partisan politics is the only place you seem to be seeking a solution to the problem of unemployment. I think you fundamentally misunderstand economics, and that playing the class warfare card does nothing to solve the problem."

Actually, I was thinking of jobs and job creation. Is this a partisan or a non-partisan activity?

February 11, 2011 at 11:30 p.m.
blackwater48 said...

WWWTW, you're 10:40 was disappointing. I was having some fun and I guess you missed the point.

But thank you for butchering my fable about bipartisan governance. You are clearly qualified to write Hollywood screenplays that include the words "Part II" in the title.

They were stuck in a ditch and out of gas. How would duct tape get them on the road again? The cars zooming by were other industrialized countries. You think that the elephant in that scenario would want to buy a more reliable car? He's saying they can't even afford gas. How would that work with their $100 billion in budget cuts?

Let's be honest. Republicans have been the party of fiscal irresponsibility since 1980 and unfunded tax cuts are part of their DNA.

February 12, 2011 at 12:38 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

Mountainlaurel at 10:45

Thanks for the kind words. Coming from you it means a lot.

February 12, 2011 at 1:25 a.m.

mountainlaurel said: "Actually, I was thinking of jobs and job creation. Is this a partisan or a non-partisan activity?"

I didn't doubt your ability to understand that fixing unemployment involves creating jobs. You fallacy is in believing phony campaign promises that politicians are responsible for creating jobs. Invariably, politicians only make the situation worse. In that regard, I guess it's a non-partisan issue. It would be more accurate to say what I said: that it isn't a political activity.

More on that next week. But here is a preview:

There is something called the private sector. It is composed of everyone who isn't a government policymaker. It is the sector that saves, makes investments, creates wealth, and employs workers. Whether you're aware of it or not, you are part of it. You can either participate in it productively, maybe even step up and take a leadership role in it, or you can tie your prospects for financial security to political hucksters who shamelessly promise you what even they know they can't deliver.

Job creation (solving unemployment) isn't a political activity.

February 12, 2011 at 1:49 p.m.
fairmon said...

I finally understand what bipatisan means. Congress members mean you need to agree with and support my bill.

February 12, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.
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