Four More Years, With Head Held High


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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324 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Good stuff. Though to quibble I still give more credit (and blame) to Pelosi and Reid than Obama on the PPACA.Report

  2. Avatar James B Franks says:

    You got the date wrong at the first mention for the PPACA vote. But I agree with North, good stuff.Report

  3. Avatar Scott Fields says:

    Excellent post, Tod. I’m with you almost 100% of the way.

    However, though you actually touch on it, I think you give too little weight to this…

    And if he is elected, chalk him up as an easy two-termer. The economy is coming steadily back, even if it is doing so slowly. In four years middle class voters will be fat and happy regardless of who is in power, and that will put whichever party controls the White House in the catbird seat.

    This little tidbit, which I think is undoubtedly true, is enough for me to buy somewhat into the whole “election of our lifetime” hype. Where the credit goes for the recovery that’s coming has the potential to set the tone for American politics for the foreseeable future. Any credit going to the un-creditworthy theory of “trickle down” prosperity is a bad thing IMO.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Scott Fields says:

      Totally agree with kudos and the point on the failure of trickle-down economics.

      And I want to quote Krugman’s column today on the tainted suggestion that folk ought to vote for Romney because he could work with Democrats whereas Obama obviously cannot work with Republicans (though he’s proven to be a master at co-opting their policies, much to the dismay of liberals like me who wanted single payer or a public option):

      But are we ready to become a country in which “Nice country you got here. Shame if something were to happen to it” becomes a winning political argument? I hope not. By all means, vote for Mr. Romney if you think he offers the better policies. But arguing for Mr. Romney on the grounds that he could get things done veers dangerously close to accepting protection-racket politics, which have no place in American life.


      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to zic says:

        That argument would work better if we weren’t hearing about how those awful Partisan Politics make it Impossible To Get Anything Done.

        “We should do something about those intrasigent Republican bastards who keep blocking everything!”
        “Okay, we’ll do something! We’ll elect a moderate Republican with a history of including Democrat ideas in his policies!”
        “No! That would be giving in!Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Where’s the moderate Republican? You mean that former governor of Massachusetts who may hold a record for being the most vetoing (and most veto-over-ridden) governor of all time?

          Severely Conservative, moderate; or sketchy?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

            The flavors of Republican:

            Really, really, really, really partisan
            Really, really, really, really, really partisan
            Really, really, really, really, really, really partisan
            Really, really, really, really, really, really, really partisan

            So even if you think you find a moderate… WATCH OUT! He’s still really, really, really, really partisan!Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              You’re making a joke (of course!) and I think I know the direction of it (I think!).

              Uhh. No. I don’t know what you’re trying to say here.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, let’s put together an ideal “Moderate Republican” and see what we come up with.

                Social issues, he’d have to be one of those “safe, legal, and rare” types. Someone who has said that he’s not going to pursue legislation on abortion. That sort of thing. With regards to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he’d probably say “you know what, I’m not going to do anything about that”. Maybe have his Vice-President say “it’s time to move on”. Something in that flavor.

                Fiscal issues, he’d probably have to be someone who believes more in “cutting spending” than “raising taxes” but has a five year plan or something that he can wave around and say that he’s going to save Social Security and Medicare rather than get rid of it. Nothing *AUSTRIAN*.

                Foreign Policy, he’d want to be a “Mister Me Too” to whatever Obama’s doing. Sure, there are things that you can get away with when you’re a democrat that you won’t be able to get away with when you’re a Republican with regards to making war, but anything around what Obama is doing would qualify, more or less, as moderate pretty much by definition.

                If I tried to come up with a description of a moderate republican, that’d what I’d come up with.

                You’ve a better one?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                You forgot “Couldn’t get through a GOP primary” to the list. 🙂 I’m all for moderate Republicans. Used to be one.

                Then, sadly, the Texas GOP exported it’s crazy. 🙁 I apologize for my state.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think a moderate conservative is pretty much what you get with Obama. Moderate “republican”? I don’t know what that is anymore, since the party has gone completely insane.Report

              • Avatar Morzer in reply to Jaybird says:

                You’ve missed out gay marriage, guns and immigration. Without those issues, you’ve just played Republican fantasy bingo.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Morzer says:

                Create for me a Moderate Republican using gay marriage, guns, and immigration, then.

                Here’s my attempt: “I support lifetime pair-bonding which is why I support civil unions that give all of the benefits of marriage! We should have less gun crime and that’s why I support enforcing the gun laws we have! Also, we need more H1-B visas and we need to deport around the same number of illegal immigrants as my predecessor!”

                Too conservative?Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s a great description. Depending on who zie was running against, I might vote for such a person.

                Alas that it seems we won’t get that chance for at least a decade.Report

            • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jaybird says:

              All of the defenses of the Mittster I’ve seen scream “Really, really, really, really, really, really, really partisan!!!!!” to me.

              But I’m really, really, really, really, really, really, really partisan, so I guess that doesn’t count.Report

              • So, where would Bush be on the scale?


                What would a moderate republican look like to you? Please try to temper your partisan instincts and describe *NOT* someone that you would vote for (that’s crazy talk) but someone that you could see a principled person who disagreed with a handful of your premises voting for with there being no hard feelings.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                George Bush Senior? Ronald Reagan? They’d both be excellent democrats today, assuming Ronald was just race-baiting for the votes back in the day.

                They both decided to tackle budget problems with a mix of tax hikes and budget cuts (Obama’s position, but anathema to Republicans). I don’t know their position on universal health care, but given Obamacare was basically the 1994 House GOP Plan it was probably pretty ballpark to what we got.

                Like I said — used to be a moderate Republican. Now I’m a flaming liberal in a world where I keep hearing people yell “Socialism” and can’t decide if they’re idiots or the very definition of “socialism” has been severed from it’s philosophical and idealogical roots.

                ‘Cause if Obama’s a socialist, then every one of our big allies is some sort of socialist squared.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Depends what you mean by “partisan”. Bush clearly advanced the agenda of those people he was actually representing. His was a most successful Presidency. I mean, he got everything he wanted except for privatizing SS. (And that’s next up!) He didn’t give a shit about gays and abortions and rolling back the devils weed. He let in illegals. He drove the country into massive debt, sold out regulation to the Big Players…

                He didn’t do a single thing that could be identified as “partisan” except use our military to “liberate-with-flowers” a country that didn’t have anything to do with 9/11.

                Yet, everything he did was very, very, partisan!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Here’s what I mean by “partisan”. “Unable to be described as ‘bipartisan’.”

                It’s measurable, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s measurable, anyway.

                But very context sensitive. I think “Republican” is defined, in today’s discourse, as “opposing whatever the Democrats support, updated daily.”Report

              • Avatar Morzer in reply to Jaybird says:

                Lincoln Chafee? Chris Shays? Jim Jeffords?

                There’s a common factor in there somewhere. Ah yes, they’ve either left the GOP or been primaried out by the GOP. In sum, moderate Republicans – ain’t none left at the politics store.

                And no, Snowe and Collins weren’t moderates, despite huckstering themselves around to that effect.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Morzer says:

                Is there such a thing as a “liberal Republican” or is that absolutely crazy?

                So Lincoln Chafee, Chris Shays, and Jim Jeffords are the moderate Republicans.

                Who are the liberal ones?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                All the liberal republicans are Democrats.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jacob Javits was a liberal Republican.

                He lost the 1980 Republican Primary to Alphonse D’Amato and could not win the general election on the liberal ticket.

                He is dead now.

                Fun Javits trivia: His wife absolutely refused to leave ManhattanReport

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jaybird says:

                First see above. but as far as “moderate but I wouldn’t vote for”, it’s hard to say. I would vote for Richard Riordan in a heartbeat if he was running against Antonio Villaraigosa. So I may not be the person to ask. But I have some thoughts:

                1) Have a REAL plan for the budget. If they increase the deficit, fine. If they decrease the deficit, but show where they’re going to make it up (military hardware is a good start), fine. If they’re going to cut services, but have some idea of what that means to the average schmoe, fine. just show your work.

                2) Be consistent. If they have a policy, they stick to the policy. None of this pro-FEMA, anti-FEMA crap.

                3) Give some real thought to world affairs. I may not agree with them, but I want to believe that they’ve studied what’s going on in the world, that they know the Major Players and how they connect.

                Above all, be serious and be courteous. When the jihadists start acting up, damp them down hard and fast. Give Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh their walking papers — the candidate doesn’t take orders from either of them.

                That’s just a rough sketch.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                Works for me.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’m from Maine, you know, the land of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

              And in today’s GOP, even they can not cling to the rent garments of ‘moderate Republican.’

              And I actually worked for the State of Massachusetts.

              And I don’t think partisan is the right word. Ideological? The mechanism through which things trickle down? A Confederacy of Dunces?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

              I thought the favors of Republican were vanilla and…um…vanilla.Report

        • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Eliminating FEMA is your idea of a “moderate”?

          Abolishing abortion (maybe, we don’t know for sure) is your idea of a “moderate”?

          Supporting the Ryan budget (more like Ryan joke) is your idea of a “moderate”?

          A career of using Federal dollars (As Gov., at Bain, in SLC) then saying that he built it is your idea of a “moderate”?

          A career of killing small businesses is your idea of a “moderate”?

          Thanks, but I’ll pass.

          (Gov. Christie is another matter but he’s not the “moderate” running)Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

            If you think we should go back to Roosevelt-era tax rates, then you should be willing to go back to Roosevelt-era disaster management. FEMA is younger than most of the posters here.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to DensityDuck says:

              And do you think transferring disaster management to the states would be cheaper? I don’t. Something to do with the size of the risk pool. . .Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

                What if we just shrunk FEMA to about 50-100 personnel that would just allocate money to pay back state expenditures for disaster emergency response and recovery & reconstruction efforts?

                (the Nat’l Guard can and would keeps its role as a force provider for any required boots on the ground)Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe says:

                I don’t know; there are folk with a lot of highly-specialized training; not sure most state’s would want to fill those positions; it would require more of those people, and I’m not sure that national guard would work since (unless deployed) they’re essentially part-time.

                I also have some serious concerns about the condition of the National Guard (and Reserves) because of a decade of deployment; takes a serious toll on units, and an even greater toll on families who don’t have the benefit of a base for support.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Enough with the false equivalence, Tod!

    With that out of the way, I’m now gonna read the post.Report

  5. Avatar Michelle says:

    Bravo Tod. I may have qualms about Obama but I think he’s done a decent job with the circumstances (and opposition) he’s been given. And I do think he has more political courage than he’s generally given credit for. So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’ll be voting for him.

    But I’m also voting against the alternative. Romney is the smart, and therefore much more dangerous version, of Bush II. While it’s hard to say what, if any, Romney’s core beliefs are, I don’t think they’re moderate, especially when it comes to taxes and foreign policy. And women’s issues. His choice of Ryan as a running mate, as well as his endorsement of Ryan’s ridiculous Randian economic policies, signal a willingness to play ball with the far right. His 47 percent comments, made to an audience of his peers, are probably about as close to the real Mitt as we’re ever going to see. And I think that’s pretty close.

    I’m not holding my nose to vote for Obama. I think he’s been a decent president and remains a far better, more reasonable, more moderate choice than Romney.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Michelle says:

      I agree completely with your first paragraph.

      But I’m a likely Romney voter.
      I think we have two fairly good candidates, and things won’t change much one way or the other.
      Clinton was the only president that I was really happy about, and then for only about the first two years. After Waco, I saw him as Satan (actually, Reno was Satan, Clinton was Igor).

      Realistically, it’s a veritable certainty that my state will go for Obama no matter what, and so I will likely vote for every R with a pulse on the ticket as a means of protest.

      But I do agree with your first paragraph.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Will H. says:

        “But I’m a likely Romney voter.”

        Other than “he’s not Obama”, why? What positive values does he bring to the table?

        “I will likely vote for every R with a pulse on the ticket as a means of protest.”

        Because Tod Akin and his kin are surely worthy of a protest vote.Report

        • Avatar Morzer in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          Let’s be fair: Will H. could be endorsing Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Vitter, Cain, Ensign, Cheney, or Mourdock. He has such a wonderful range of choices in the virtuous Republican stakes!Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          I don’t think Obama’s a bad president.
          I think Romney would likely make a better president.
          But I think we have two fairly good candidates.

          As for Akin:
          Were each and every candidate to be disqualified were they to say anything which is a) stupid, and b) demonstrably false, there wouldn’t be many people left to vote for.
          And I think that anyone who would refuse to vote for someone on the basis of, “But he/she said _____,” is rather foolish, and the country might be better served by removing voting rights from that person.Report

          • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Will H. says:

            Wow. You don’t see False Equivalence stated so boldly nor in defense of the undefensible that often.Report

            • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

              Re-stating a fact does not amount to false equivalence.Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Will H. says:

                Re-read what Akin has said (or Romney, for that matter) and say “it’s just well, kinda dumb, but everyone does it”. That’s False Equivalence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                Here’s the deal, Jeff. These candidates, both of them, have proven they’ll say anything to get elected. Romney’s changed his opinions more often than his socks over the course of this election. Obama hasn’t demonstrated any ability to transcend the partisan divide and it was stupid of him to say he could, back in the days of Hope ‘n Change. The very idea that he thought he could transcend that divide shows how naive he was at the time.

                Well, Obama learned a thing or three between his incarnation as Hopey Changey and today. He’s pretty much given up on any semblance of bipartisanship and he never did run the sort of open government he promised. Samuel Adams once said no government ever gave back a right it took away and that’s where we stand with President Obama. Congress gave Bush the Dumber all that mandate and Obama’s using every last joule of it.

                And so will Romney, if he gets elected. With the exception of his SCOTUS appointments, I don’t see Romney getting much of what he wants, either, any more than Obama did. And Romney won’t have a significant mandate as did Obama when he was elected.

                Akin isn’t stupid. He’s making an appeal to the intrinsic dumbassery of the Votin’ Public. It’s hard-core populism, an appeal, not to conscience but to outrage over the Librul ‘Bortion Agenda. So what? They’ve been doing this for decades. And yes, everyone does it because there are a lot of Kinda Dumb people out there with the franchise. It’s a populist sop and nobody should take it as anything but.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Just to say that I object to the use of metric units to measure presidential power-grabs.

                Use of metric units is appropriate (in my field, anyway) at a 10x magnification or greater.
                When zooming out, metric units are uncalled for in American politics.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                I don’t believe you have demonstrated sufficiently that the equivalence is false, either generally or specifically.

                I remember when anti-freeze didn’t have chemicals in it to deter house pets from eating the stuff. There was a Congressman (I don’t remember who) that was stating on the record that he was unaware of the problem, where I had thought this was common knowledge for years.
                Private citizens have no monopoly on misinformation; even misinformation which could be fairly characterized as ‘stupid.’
                See “Iraq War.”Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will H. says:

        “Realistically, it’s a veritable certainty that my state will go for Obama no matter what, and so I will likely vote for every R with a pulse on the ticket as a means of protest.”

        Why is this a good protest? Especially since you imply that you would not do it if your state would not go for ObamaReport

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to NewDealer says:

          Illinois is going for Obama, period. Doesn’t matter how I vote.
          And yes, were it otherwise, I would carefully select who I thought was the best candidate for each position.
          On the county level & lower (where I am, at any rate), political party is negligible.
          Think of how every Yooper you come across feels neglected by the Mitten (D), and you have a pretty good idea of how the rest of Illinois feels about Chicago (D).
          And I would rather see the R’s with more influence in Springfield.
          Granted, the R’s at the state level tend to leave much to be desired, but remain a better option nevertheless.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michelle says:

      Intelligence does not mean dangerous. It means smart. And smart people know a good deal when they see it. This is why Nixon made a better president than George W. Bush, who NOBODY was sure wouldn’t have us in WWIII with Iran (and this includes the military, which did NOT want it), or completely destroy the value of money as we know it.

      That said, I’m not voting for Romney. He’s a coward, it’s true… but he seems genuinely incapable of being a politician. He’s a grifter and a person who’s not done anything with his life.

      Enough already.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Kim says:

        He came from money and made a whole lot more. The American dream personified, if you don’t mind the way you make it. Mitt Romney–bringing vulture capitalism to the Oval Office.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    by and large he’s done exactly what I would have wanted him to do, and then some.

    Which is why I won’t be voting for him! 😉

    But this is a great post, Tod. You make your case well, and you do it without the mindless partisanship that has been flying thick and fast around here lately. Kudos.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out the door.”

    Thing is, it’s a revolving door, and you know what comes in at the same time that Election 2012 leaves?Report

    • Avatar david in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      The end of the Mayan calendar and all life as we know it?Report

      • Avatar Morzer in reply to david says:

        The Maya calendar predicts another cycle (ba’k’tun) after the current one ends. The next piktun (end of a complete round of 20 ba’k’tuns) is set for October 13, 4772, if anyone is interested. Given that the Maya saw the end of a cycle as cause for immense celebration, I think we can safely discard the apocalyptic nonsense of various grifter doomsayers.Report

  8. Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    I don’t think you’ll hear too much about the Fast and Furious “scandal” these days, since Issa has shown himself to be a untrustworthy idiot (but he is a Republican, so there you go). Turns out the White House had good reason for withholding evidence from Issa, who would have wrecked an investigation in its final stages.

    I think you should give Obama credit for not just ending DADT, but doing it the right way — from inside the military itself. No Presidential decree, no Act of Congress, just a “vote of confidence” from the brass and from the rank-and-file. That makes it MUCH harder for any President to roll it back.

    As for “which Romney would rule”? I’d say the one that always has — the one who doesn’t give a crap about anyone but himself and his cronies, who bows to whatever wind blows hardest, and who wants to be Israel’s lapdog so bad…Report

  9. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I have the same reaction to this that I have to most of Tod’s posts: well thought out, well written, and a complete argument that leaves me nothing to add.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Seconded. Except for one thing: a bonus shout-out for mentioning the cost-saving features of the PPACA.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Well-written and persuasive, except for that part about the likelihood of Romney being a good president. I suspect Tod wants to see the best in everyone, but I’m still not buying it. I think a Romney administration would be disastrous for the country.Report

      • Avatar John Casey in reply to Michelle says:

        I agree that if Romney gets 4 years, he probably gets 8. That’s a lot of Supreme Court Justices (and lower courts as well) he gets to nominate. I’d be willing to see approximately 0% of his choices actually take the bench. So there’s that.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    There are many things I like about President Obama. First off, he speaks policy. Truth be told, I often have trouble listening to him — he’s boring! But I read, and have to think deeply about his saying, mostly agree. (The ‘messiah’ and ‘teleprompter’ slurs are nearly as funny as the commie-socialist-Kenyan-Muslim slurs.)

    Important to point out that this has been one of the most scandal-free administrations ever. Solyndra and fast and furious. Benghazi. It’s been a real problem for Republicans. And that’s a wonderful thing.

    Which leads to competency. The federal government is smaller then it’s been for a long time; it’s done it’s job admirably despite obstruction. We get to hear a whole lot of hot air; but I don’t really much substance to it. From stream-lining and eliminating regulation to lowering taxes, to competently handling natural disasters to staving off a great depression, Obama’s done a good job.

    Folks just love to talk about ‘big government,’ as if the size of something is meaningful. It ain’t. But competency, trustworthiness, and dealing with the devils in the details of policy matter. Fairness matters.

    I share you’re endorsement, and will be voting for President Obama on Tuesday; head held high.

    Thank you, Tod.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

      Obama hasn’t sent anyone Important to jail for disagreeing with him.
      I guess this is an improvement.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


      “Folks just love to talk about ‘big government,’ as if the size of something is meaningful.”

      Despite rumors to the contrary, size really does matter…..

      • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

        The conclusion from that paper:

        Crony capitalism is a popular term that has rarely been used in academic literature, but a review of the academic literature shows that the components of crony capitalism—rent-seeking, regulatory capture, political entrepreneurship, and interest group politics—have been analyzed extensively, and the common element in all of them is that people with political power use that power to benefit some at the expense of others. When the government looms large in the economy, through its regulatory power, its taxing authority, and expenditures on transfer payments and subsidies, business profitability depends on the degree to which businesses can get subsidies, tax breaks, and regulations that work in their favor. This pushes businesses to turn their attention toward how to get favorable treatment from the government, and away from entrepreneurial activity that adds to the productivity of the economy. People with political connections get benefits; outsiders do not. This is crony capitalism: an economy in which cronies profit at the expense of outsiders. Cronies support their partners in government in exchange for the benefits those in government provide to them.

        Pro-government, anti-capitalist arguments point to the abuses of capitalism and argue that
        big government is necessary to protect the public fromthe failures of the market, to regulate business so it will act in the public interest, and to stand up to crony capitalism. The problem with the pro-government argument is that crony capitalism is a product of big government. Ikeda (1997) argues that increased government involvement in the economy—the solution promoted by the big-government advocates—ends up increasing crony capitalism, not controlling it, which leads to calls for even more government intervention.

        The more government is involved in an economy, the more the profitability of business will
        depend on government policy. Even those entrepreneurs who would prefer to avoid cronyism are pushed into it, because they must become politically active to maintain their profitability. When 25 the government looms large in economic affairs, businesses push for government policies that can help them, and try to avoid suffering harm as a result of government policies that can work against them. If one’s competitors are engaging in cronyism, avoiding cronyism means that one’s competitors will gain government-bestowed advantages. A well-established body of academic literature stands behind these conclusions. Crony capitalism is a by-product of big government, so small government is the most effective way to control it. More government control of the
        economy is not the solution to crony capitalism; it is the cause.

        This paper mostly focuses on regulatory capture. Which is kind of funny, in a way, because the reverse — regulatory uncertainty — is the other argument against ‘big government.’ So either way, folks who think that size (instead of competency) matters can have their cake and eat, too.

        And the middle paragraph here is pretty much revealed for the BS it is; for it was the lack of regulation of synthetic derivatives that blew up the world economy. For every $1 of money lent for a mortgage, $50 were leveraged for bets.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

          Regulatory capture and regulatory uncertainty are _opposites_? (I assume “the reverse” means the same as “opposite.”)

          I’m a bit skeptical of that.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

            reverse arguments.

            If you regulate, you create opportunity for regulatory capture.

            When you change regulation, you create uncertainty. Or so the conservative/libertarian arguments go.

            My real point here is that the arguments focused on ‘big government’ and ‘don’t regulate’are pretty on a par with the ‘lowering taxes increases revenue’ arguments. They don’t stand up to real scrutiny. Yes, the larger a government is, the more that can go wrong, the more potential for regulatory capture. But that does not mean that the inverse is true; that small government is also not prone to regulatory capture.

            Regulatory capture usually happens after laws are passed and signed, during the rule-making process, or as industries figure out work-arounds (that’s the financial collapse — synthetic derivatives were a work-around the rules; a new, unregulated betting market made possible by removing regulation between standard banking and investment banking). And preventing regulatory, rooting it out, requires government to constantly evaluate the weaknesses in the system, and then plan how to address them. Again, it goes back to my thesis that the weakness is lack of will to plan; to pay for planning. So laws go on the books, rules get made, and they pile up, year after year, without enough review. It’s not big government that’s the problem, it’s government that doesn’t review, revise, and revamp because we’re too cheap to fund that and there’s a lot of $$$ to be made with those nasty layers of regulation.

            I think my mother-in-law trusted that her bank stocks were safe because they were ‘well regulated.’ I’m guessing that folks who invested in BP thought their investment safe because the industry is ‘well regulated.’ So there’s also the argument to be made that a well regulated industry creates certainty; particularly for investors (and so contributes to capital formation. . . )Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:


              “Changing” regulation is not the opposite off regulating. “De-regulating” is the reverse of regulating.

              And the libertarian argument is not that a change in regulations necessarily creates uncertainty. Rather, uncertainty is said to be caused either by a continually changing set of regulations (e.g., New Deal era) or expectation that regulations will change but without any way to predict what the likely outcome is. In each case, the argument goes, businesses hesitate to make capital investments that would expand output and lead to more hiring because they’re not sure what the rules of the game will be in the near future.

              I’m not interested in arguing whether that approach is correct or not, or in arguing for regulation vs. de-regulation. I just want to lay the groundwork understanding of what things are the reverse of what other things.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                I just want to lay the groundwork understanding of what things are the reverse of what other things.

                With regulation there are three options:

                1) don’t regulate; the libertarian choice, and one I’m still trying to wrap my head around, I can only conclude that it leads to the necessity for an activist judiciary to settle wrongs in the absence of regulation;

                2) don’t change existing regulation — which leaves the existing regulatory capture and rent-seeking in place;

                3) competent regulation — which requires enforcement and constant evaluation.

                If you’ve got others, I’d like to hear them.

                But that there are opposites? It’s not binary, yes or no, black or white. There are, in any given situation, a ranges of options, each with a range of potential outcomes, both anticipated and unanticipated.

                For instance: the rule banning congressional pork. Sounds good; we all want to eliminate pork from government. The result, however, took away the grease in the system; the ability of individual members of Congress to bring home a little bacon in the name of compromise. So we end up with partisan gridlock and an unanticipated consequence.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                it leads to the necessity for an activist judiciary to settle wrongs in the absence of regulation;

                I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the common law system referred to as “activist” judiciary before. It’s not a totally inaccurate characterization, though. But in general it’s not libertarians that you hear whinging about activist judges. Whether wise or foolish, they have always tended to like the traditional tort system.

                2) don’t change existing regulation — which leaves the existing regulatory capture and rent-seeking in place;
                3) competent regulation

                That seems to treat the existing regulatory system as incompetent. I’m not sure if that’s what you intended or not.

                It also assumes some meaningful possibility of shifting from a regulatory system that enables rent-seeking to one of competent regulation (by which you presumably mean one that doesn’t enable rent-seeking). I doubt you’d get as much libertarian opposition to that shift as I suspect you think you would. But what you’ll get is a high degree of libertarian doubt about how likely we are to be able to accomplish that shift.

                Yes, to the extent we need regulation we all want it to be competent/non-conducive to rent-seeking. But you’ll need to lay out a path for how we get there before I’m inclined to say you’ve made a substantive argument.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, if that’s the case, then getting rid of regulation seems like the libertarian solution. So zic’s not crazy for attributing that view to libertarians.

                I mean, if regulation is only justified only if it excludes the possibility of capture, then no regulation is justified, right?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think deregulation is subject to capture and unintended consequences too.

                Rules need to be fair, consistent and unbiased. They need to avoid being either too complex, too intrusive or too activist. When the judges start deciding winners and losers instead of just letting the game play out, the game is going to hell.

                That is where I disagree with the left’s tendency to manipulate outcomes in favor of the “less advantaged.”. Once you become activist, the game shifts to wrestling over the rules.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Are the rules determined a priori?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:


                Rules (the rule making process) is where most regulatory capture happens. It is a huge problem.

                Legislation is only half the battle; after it’s signed into law, there’s another public process — the rule making, where the law is turned in to the rules that are followed to implement the law. This is particularly crucial at the state level.

                Most people think of ‘laws’ and ‘rules’ and think federal government. Yet the laws and rules that trouble most folk actually happen at the state level. This was really evident during the debates around health care, where people on blogs would argue stuff, each armed with the problems they faced in their state, and not realize they were comparing two totally different systems; different rules, different requirements.

                Yet at the state level, it’s pretty common to see public interest in the legislative part, lots of input, comment, etc. at the hearings. Then comes the rule making; and the hearings will be attended by the civil servants representing the impacted government agencies, a few legislative assistants, and industry lobbyists. The public is often completely missing here. So one aspect of this is finding a way to bring people back into the entire process, particularly the rule making process, after laws are passed.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Stil, I don’t think that bears on what I was saying.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

                “The public is often completely missing here. So one aspect of this is finding a way to bring people back into the entire process…”

                The Public Choice literature has been stressing this problem for decades. One effect of regulation is concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. The rational response to this is for people to ignore the issue — their individual opinion matters little and their costs of bad rules is low. On the other hand, the rule is essential for the rent seeking profit of the firm, which rationally employs a team of attorneys, lobbyists and throws large sums of cash at the process of influencing the outcome.

                The almost inevitable outcome is regulation which seems plausible to the average person on the street in a five second sound bite, but which over time protects the interests of those spending millions to protect their advantage.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


                Once the government — even a well intentioned, totally benevolent government — becomes the decision force in how things are accomplished, then the rational course of action for people and business is to get ahead by lobbying the government. Why work to please consumers when you can get better returns lobbying government to manipulate the vast rules in your favor? Why work at winning on the field, when the game is determined in the back room?

                That said, you are right that small government can be captured too. It doesn’t take many regulations to build up feudalism — that is why it has been so popular through history.

                Libertarian/liberals are not arguing for no government or no rules. We are arguing for a clear system of fairly consistent rules that establish a level playing field among voluntary, positive sum, win/win interactions.

                Why do you have faith in government to micro manage anything?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

                Why do you have faith in government to micro manage anything?

                I never said this. But I also don’t believe ‘government’ is some foreign beast, some monster, some other thing. Government is the people who get involved in it. Most people working on government are good, caring, and very hard working; they’re my town clerk, who’s amazing at running our local elections; the economists at numbers of state government who tried to explain their data to me so that I didn’t misrepresent it in newspaper articles I wrote; the bio-statisticians who work to understand disease at the CDC. They are not some ‘other.’ And they do their work for lower pay then they could get in private industry because they care. They teach our children to read, they rescue us after disasters. Most of ‘the government’ is not politicians. They’re people pretty much like you and me. Government is the small business owner on Main Street who works on the local planning board or the mill worker who runs for school board because he cares about his kids education.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                Government is also the guy who runs for school board so he can push for teaching creationism. It’s the small business owner who serves on the planning board so he can limit his own competition. It’s the guy who steers city contracts to his friend in the construction business and the cop who hassles people he doesn’t like.

                Yes, government is people. And not all people are good. They’re not all bad, either, of course, but let’s not romanticize them.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to zic says:

                @ James,

                Not if you live in the right school districts*

                *Largely ones filled with Jews and Asians. This describes my school district growing up. Or in really blue areas which might be the same thing.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                ND, and of course those other school districts don’t matter, so we can discount them when considering whether men are governed by angels?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:

                “Most people working on government are good, caring, and very hard working…”

                I started the comment by assuming benevolence. I’m not sure why you switch the discussion to one of whether or not government is a foreign beast.

                The question is whether these good people are capable of micromanaging a complex adaptive system from the top down. Hayek has proven to my satisfaction that this is a concreit. A fatal one at that.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

                Someone who actually understands Hayek and isn’t a raving loon. How refreshing. There is a place for top-down management in Hayek’s scheme but it’s best-implemented through a process of delegation. I’ve added my own corollaries to it. Though they’ve been reduced to simplistic statements, here are a few of them:

                BlaiseP’s Round-Trip Efficiency Theorem: the odds of a wrongheaded decision vary with the length of the round trip to justice. If a smallish issue can be solved at a municipal level, that’s best. If it requires county involvement, less-good. State level? Even worse. Federal level? Well, here it gets tricky. If the Feds had local outposts, such as we see with USDA, things go reasonably and efficiencies are maintained. If the issue has to make it all the way to Washington, you’re screwed.

                Which isn’t to say some issues shouldn’t be handled top-down. Disasters f’rinstance. Especially multi-state disasters. That’s where a top-down and a bottom-up approach are both needed: the top-downers support the bottom-uppers. Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


                I pretty much agree. Oddly. Especially the part about the role of the top down is to facilitate the bottom up.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

                More Liberals ought to read Hayek. It’s sorta like reading the Bible in some ways, not that Hayek is Holy Writ. He isn’t. Here’s the thing: Hayek must be distinguished from his followers and that’s a big problem for Liberals. Again, I hope you can get that far with the argument, for I’ve been urging Liberals of my own acquaintance to put aside their historically-justified prejudices about Hayek and re-read him in the light of how his followers so completely misinterpreted him.

                It’s kinda like Gandhi said about Christianity: “I like your Christ. It’s your Christians I don’t like. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:

          Thanks for reading and commenting Zic,

          Your counter argument is that what was pretty much the most heavily regulated industry on the planet, with implicit guaranteed “too big to fail” market interference, state required loan requirements for people with no business getting mortgages with no collateral, getting pawned off to government controlled lenders of last (and first) resort is that we had a lack of regulation?

          You are also stepping right into the trap that the article pointed out. You assume that an error in judgment on the part of financial firms would have been solved waiving a regulatory magic wand. You cannot assume omniscience or benevolence for government entities.

          When outcomes are not to your liking you ask for regulation. When regulation fails, you ask for more regulation. The more regulation, red tape, and market interference we get the more the industry gets captured by special interest groups. It self amplifies.

          Finance, health care, college tuition, and primary education are the most regulated industries. Death by capture by special interests.

          As a one time insider in the world of regulation, the literature on Public Choice and regulatory capture rings very true to me.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

            Please see my reply to James.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

            Finance, health care, college tuition, and primary education are the most regulated industries. Death by capture by special interests.

            this you’ve got to prove with with citation. Because I’ve spent way too much time writing about government, particularly land use and environmental law, to take it at all seriously. I know in my state, the single most complex law is the shore-land zoning law, which protects water. And I also know that there are a lot of people ready and willing to help anyone who needs to understand the law at no charge, and a whole lot of other people who get paid to help landowners.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:

              You are right. These are not heavily regulated industries. They are actually paragons of free markets. I was trying to trick you.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

                You said ‘most.’ I asked you to show me documentation.

                Each of these things — education, health care, college tuition (actually part of education, not a separate beast) and finance are things crucial for everyone, particularly folks in the lower income quintiles, need to access, and need rules for making sure they’re not short-shifted. So in the absence of rules, how does that work?

                But really bugs me here is evidence that you don’t actually know much about how regulation works. I grew up on a dairy farm, stretching a mile along one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Today, thanks to regulation, you can swim there. Back in the day, you fell in, and you went to the ER.

                I try to pass regulation arguments through the filters of that river. I know the complexity of that regulation; at its most detailed, you need to be well versed in the details of waste-water systems, oxygenation of streams and rivers, sedimentation, organic loads. Those are the details — the science — of protecting the property rights of people down stream.

                How do ‘simple’ rules actually work in this world? They open the door for rent seekers (polluters) who wait for legal action to end their rent seeking; depending not on good laws, good rules, but on an active legal system. I really believe that the judiciary today constitutes an ongoing constitutional crisis; it, more then anything, is stacked toward the richest. So this really worries me. Because you rent seek by dumping shit in the river, lowering my property values and diminishing my ability to pay for legal assistance while increasing your ability. That, to me, is libertarianism in a nutshell.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


                “Each of these things — education, health care, college tuition (actually part of education, not a separate beast) and finance are things crucial for everyone, particularly folks in the lower income quintiles, need to access, and need rules for making sure they’re not short-shifted. So in the absence of rules, how does that work?”

                I am not suggesting no rules.  Rules are essential in markets and human interaction.  I am advocating simple, consistent, impartial, predictable rules. Furthermore, the rules need to be carefully drafted to avoid distorting markets, which act as complex adaptive systems to allow people to prosper in a world of limited resources.  As for subsidizing or protecting the poor, this is best done via a simpler system of direct subsidization rather than by distorting markets.

                The following article explains the problem with the tuition market. It has been destroyed via stupid, though well intentioned or at least well rationalized tuition subsidies and grants. Thus the cost is rising double the pace of inflation. A perfect example of regulatory capture by special interest groups. link….


                On primary education, we have ten thousand local monopolies with a captive audience of citizens that are required to pay for it.  The teachers, administrators and activists of both sides if the aisle (such as creationists) have thoroughly captured the market.  Net result is doubling of cost in past generation with no improvement in quality. Free markets in education are well tested and studies conclusively show they vastly exceed coercive monopolies in cost effectiveness and outcomes. Link available upon request. 

                For health care, please see John Cochrane’s recent piece on how the markets are totally perverted via excessive meddling. 


                In finance, we had government subsidies, guarantees and even requirements that companies provide dumb loans to unqualified people in an obviously bubble market with no downpay or income verification.  It is one thing to have a rule that companies don’t discriminate, or have adequate reserves.  Instead we had regulators micromanaging the industry and the special interest groups thrived and markets suffered. Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:

                Part two…

                “I try to pass regulation arguments through the filters of that river. I know the complexity of that regulation; at its most detailed, you need to be well versed in the details of waste-water systems, oxygenation of streams and rivers, sedimentation, organic loads. Those are the details — the science — of protecting the property rights of people down stream.”

                Excellent point. I agree that this type of detail is required in a practical real world regulation. (Anarchists have work arounds. But they are too pie in the sky for our purposes).  I am fine with scientists working out the details of what constitutes safe water and applying it impartially and consistently in a manner which does not try to manipulate winners and losers in the market. There is a real risk of incumbent manufacturers using their influence to manipulate rules on water quality to benefit themselves and crowd out competitors. Over time they will tend to do this as per Olsen. I would be glad to offer suggestions of how you can get good scientifically sound rules without opening the process to regulatory capture.

                And yes, I am intimately involved in how it works (in the insurance segment.) I was a reluctant part of the sausage making apparatus at one time.  Most of what came out in the sausage was hooves and ears. As it grew in complexity and reach, it became more and more inefficient and captured by special interest groups.

                “Because you rent seek by dumping shit in the river, lowering my property values and diminishing my ability to pay for legal assistance while increasing your ability. That, to me, is libertarianism in a nutshell.”

                WTF? Your concept of libertarianism is that we want to dump shit in your river and interfere with your ability to pursue redress? I assure you that you are misunderstanding us and attributing bad intentions where none exists.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Roger says:

                “Us,” meaning libertarians, are greatly consumed with rent seekers; fear they’re out there, ready to take advantage of every bit of regulation to seek.

                But some folk are not libertarians, they’re just plain greedy, looking for any advantage to get a leg up and piss on the rest of us. Maybe it’s not you, or others of your ideology, ready to do this, but someone.

                I was being hypothetical based on the very real experience of growing up along the Androscoggin River. Apparently poorly — not you, not libertarians in specific — but corporate rent seekers and home owners. Estimates of cleaning up that river, bringing into compliance, are $6 billion. Biggest polluters were the paper industry.

                Did you know, before the Clean Water Act, that streams in many parts of the country were open sewers? As a child, I had to cross a bridge over a brook to walk to school. Every day, I’d stand a minute or two, and watch the turds and TP float underneath. Most towns along the river had to install sewer systems and treatment plants, hugely expensive. The paper industry tried to pick up the bill, being all neighborly.

                They were not allowed to do this. I’ve notes on it, but I actually interviewed George Mitchell on the subject once; and implied this was part of holding everyone accountable, not letting the mill owners buy off the small towns, and so manipulate things.

                That is, in part, how you avoid capture by special interest groups.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


                Your comments keep conflating greedy people wanting to piss on others with libertarians. Either that or you suppose we support pissing on others.

                Pissing on others is a harm. Releasing raw sewage into streams is a harm. I support simple*, fair, consistent, impartial rules which prohibit polluting.

                Not sure if this helps at all.

                * with simple being understandable, not scientifically simplistic.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

                Yet in some respects, Roger, when we Liberals hear the plaintive weeping of the Deregulatory Crowd, we do tend to conflate the rent-seekers with the good guys, whose point about regulatory inefficiencies isn’t given a fair shake.

                Here’s why Liberalism works and Libertarianism never will: we Liberals have a longer view of things. Consider the example given, of farming. Turns out, in the State of Wisconsin, the only effective way to mitigate the problem is to look at the entire watershed, not farm by farm. Obviously, eutrophication is a collective problem by definition. But when some people hear the phrase “collective solution” they start up with the aforementioned Plaintive Weeping and reflexively spout the usual unkind mantras, which just annoys the living bullpiss out of every sensible person who hears them.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Here’s why Liberalism works and Libertarianism never will: we Liberals have a longer view of things.

                Don’t throw your shoulder out patting yourself on the back.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think it’s actually that liberals have a shorter view of things. I think that most thinking libertarians would agree that that (Burkean) sentiment is appropriate.

                I keep wondering what the difference between the two sides really comes down to. I don’t think it’s analysis, to be honest, since a liberal could concede the libertarian analysis and still include other values and considerations that over-ride that analysis. Sometimes the libertarian even agrees with that.

                So, I end up thinking it’s mostly a posture. Granted, one’s that have different end states in mind, but a posture nonetheless.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


                I’m not sure libertarians have a longer view, either. I think the two groups tend to focus on different trends and have different expectations about what futures a more/less regulatory state is likely to produce.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Sure. I don’t disagree with that. Especially wrt more sophisticated libertarians who do lots of analysis, and modeling, and even conceptual stuff. But this goes back to some of our earlier discussions. I don’t think liberalism is really guided by any overriding principles, and it’s very easy to criticize us for that very thing. In particular – and this is what I was getting at up above – because our focus is too narrow. We want to see a resolution to problem X without focusing too much attention to how it gets resolved.

                I think libertarians are thinking with more nuance about policy specifics. Liberals are thinking more about the practicality of getting anything done.

                So, the libertarian: if we’re gonna do X, let’s make sure that A, B and C.

                The liberal: look, getting anything like X is damn near impossible, so let’s just focus primarily on it without all the conditions, OK?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                I don’t think liberalism is really guided by any overriding principles

                Something I’ve yet to be persuaded of. 😉Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Something I’ve yet to be persuaded of. 😉

                Heh. How ’bout this. If you can identify a single overriding principle apart from fairness (which is one I’ve argued for) and can make a compelling case – not a definitive case! – that modern liberals generally accept that principle, then I’ll concede the whole thing.

                Frankly, I just don’t see one. But you used to be a liberal, and maybe you have a better perspective on this stuff than I do.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                And we’re talking about a priori principles, yes?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                See, there’s where we end up talking past each other, on that whole thing about what an a priori principle is.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m happy to not talk about it anymore, if that’s an option on the table.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Ahhh, that was wrong. Sorry.

                how bout this. You want to say that liberals have an ideology, and that it’s a priori determined, and that they’re policy prescriptions derive from those a priori, ideology. (In that sense, you think that libertarians and liberals are all square (I disagree, as I’ve argued to you before, of course).)

                My question to you is: name one principle that’s a priori determined (or even a priori held!) that US contemporary liberals generally employ to the point of being determinative of their views in deriving their policy prescriptions?

                Is that better?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                And thinking about this some more, James, the interesting thing about this challenge is that you’re the one who thinks liberals don’t have overarching principles which define their views.

                So it’s a repeat of what we’ve been arguing over for all these months now: that you think liberals don’t have general principles circumscribing their policy views, and I concede that point, and then you challenge me on conceding that point.

                As I’ve said so many times in the past, it just seems odd to me that you would argue with me for conceding to you your view.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Not really interested in fighting it out again, especially since when I say I’m not persuaded you turn around and put the onus on me. I’ll just leave it at me not being persuaded.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                you’re the one who thinks liberals don’t have overarching principles which define their views.


              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Fair enough, James. If you don’t like the onus, do you want me to take it? I can link to previous argument that I know you’ve read on that topic. Arguments already made. I mean, you can assert that I’m wrong, but I just don’t know what would constitute a resolution to this issue short of you finding a principle that liberals generally hold that’s determinative of their policy views. Personally, I think you both want to attribute an ideology to liberals, and criticized them for a lack of ideology whenever it suits your argument. And I don’t mean for that to sound like a criticism. I just think you’re wanting to have both sides of the cake on this one: eating it and having it too.

                Liberals aren’t that confusing. You pretty much get what you see. Warts and all.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                you’re the one who thinks liberals don’t have overarching principles which define their views.


                Do I need to dig into the LoOG archives where that specific criticism is what generated the debate we’re still having?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Still, I can’t ask you to prove a negative.

                And, yes, I’m curious where I said liberals don’t have principles. But please clarify for me whether a priori principles and overarching principles are the same thing or different?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:


                I am not aware that libertarians are opposed to collective solutions or long term solutions. I am surprised the guy that studied under Ostrom hasn’t already disagreed with this.

                Would you care to clarify how we tend to be short term focused? I don’t see it, but might be missing something.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

                I’ve just gottten tired of arguing the point. But of course “collective” and “top-down” don’t mean the same thing.

                I had a libertarian friend in grad school, which is where I began shifting libertarianism, who lived two houses diwn from me. We bought a lawnmower together and shared it. I didn’t realize we were being bad libertarians because we’d devised a collective solution. It was his idea, so I guess he was a socialist at heart.Report

  11. Avatar Will H. says:

    Hey, my portfolio went from sh!ttier to sh!tty!
    Life is good, man!Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

      That’s the beauty of blame Will. You can lay it anyone and there’s nothing they can do about it.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Will H. says:

      Well, I bought a house at the bottom of the housing market. And am now picking up a 3% unsecured loan to improve said house (80% return on investment projected).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kim says:

        Yeah. In our area, prices didn’t drop that much (it’s sorta a recession proof economy, for some reason – Boulder and all) and they’ve rebounded to just about where they were 8 years ago. And on the rise. I know a few people who’ve sold recently and each of them got offers above asking price.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Will H. says:

      Well, the trouble is that under Obama the portfolio will remain “shitty”.

      One in six Americans are now living in poverty, and Obama isn’t going to improve that by any significant amount, because he can’t without changing his energy policies, and he’s never going to change those because they’re part of his core beliefs.

      I read an interesting economics paper from several years ago that did an excellent job of establishing that the post WW-II unemployment rate could be statistically explained with only two variables, oil prices and interest rates, even pointing out that it explained the rise in unemployment in the middle of Bush’s presidency, which was otherwise an economic mystery. Interest rates have been fine, so if you take that paper as a given, the continued high-unemployment (and people dropping out of the workforce, to put the true rate at 10 to 11 percent) throughout Obama’s term is almost purely the result of high energy prices.

      The problem with another Obama term is that he’s going to actively maintain high energy prices as part of his policy, because green energy can’t compete unless market prices for energy are very high. His energy secretary, Steven Chu, has even said he’d like to see European energy prices for the US ($9 a gallon fuel) . Obama will continue his war on coal, upping electricity prices, and has already put new nuclear construction off the table. So we’ll get four more years of 10 to 11 percent real unemployment, mostly affecting women and minorities, and roughly another four or five trillion added to the debt.

      I’ll also add that many conservatives like myself aren’t that opposed to an Obama victory, because it carries a large helping of schadenfreude. A large body of conservative thought holds that the only thing that will cure people of socialist desires is to have them fulfilled until their own suffering wakes them up. The first Obama term obviously wasn’t quite enough, so the country does need more of it.Report

      • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) in reply to George Turner says:

        “The worse, the better.”Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

        Exactly. There’s also the knowledge that to get us out of trillion dollar deficits, which are projected (even by Obama) to continue almost indefinitely under Obama, very painful and unpopular cuts are going to be required, and whoever makes those cuts is going to be extremely unpopular. So have people despise Mitt Romney, or have Obama at the helm as the ship goes down, or at least as it continues to founder? Choices choices.

        Of course Democrats could try to convince Obama that “hey, gas prices are the cause of all the misery and unemployment,” and get him to open up federal drilling again, along with dropping his war on coal, but even his own people say he doesn’t listen. But if he would, the economy would almost certainly coming roaring back and millions and millions of new jobs would appear, which he could claim credit for. But he’s probably more likely to switch parties than become an Exxon convert.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to George Turner says:

          There are things about Obama’s energy policy that I like, and a number of things that I dislike.
          I like the idea of reverting unused federal leases back to the public domain.
          There are an awful lot of wells that aren’t producing, and I really don’t think any more drilling is really necessary. Part of this is that to drill a test well is free– all the costs are deductible. To produce from the well requires forfeiting that tax break. So, there are a lot of wells not producing.
          I don’t like the idea of running pipelines through protected areas, and I don’t see anything wrong with re-routing them. It’s a guarantee that every one of them will leak at least some. A simple judgment call– good planning is better than poor planning. This is high-sulfur Canadian crude that requires some beefed-up piping we’re talking about here.

          I think that targeting output from renewables is sort of foolish.
          I like the idea of stronger regulation, but it has to be phased in properly, and they have to be reality-based. Figuring carbon units doesn’t cut it. A gasification system shouldn’t be seen in the same way as a blast furnace from a mill.
          We have a lot more advanced technology at our disposal that what is seen on the ground. Implementation takes time and money.

          There’s a bit of energy party that I disagree with both parties about, but I tend to disagree with the D’s more.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to George Turner says:

        That’s right. Mean Old Mister Obama is deliberately keeping oil prices high. Uh-huh.

        He’s colluding with OPEC, I know it. And preventing people from drilling in the United States and offshore. Any numbers that may seem to contradict that are government lies, coverups by the same people that covered up the Truth of Fast and Furious.

        Sorry, can’t do it. “obama as socialist” was just too freakin’ funny. I mean, is it that you don’t know what socialism IS, or has the definition somehow changed in the last few decades?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Morat20 says:

          Yes, he is. He said he would, and repeatedly said he would. He said that energy prices would necessarily skyrocket. His Energy Secretary likewise said prices should be high. He is preventing people from drilling offshore.

          From the Washington Post

          Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday afternoon that the Obama administration will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as part of the next five-year drilling plan, reversing two key policy changes President Obama announced in late March.

          From the House Natural Resources Committee

          WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2011 – After imposing a nearly three-year moratorium on new offshore drilling by discarding the 2010-2015 lease plan that allowed for new development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Obama Administration announced a draft plan today that closes the majority of the OCS to new energy production through 2017. The Administration’s draft five-year plan prohibits new offshore drilling and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. The draft plan includes lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic – leaving portions of Alaska and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts off-limits to new energy production and job creation.

          He’s also trying to shut down fracking for oil and natural gas via the environmental route (and hasn’t been successful yet because it’s just about impossible to plausibly claim natural gas contamination in water is a health hazard, given how much natural gas our tummies churn out).

          And of course the whole point of keeping energy prices high is to switch us away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. The side effect is the staggeringly high unemployment rate.Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to George Turner says:

            Prices need to be high to stimulate domestic production.
            Drop the price by half overnight, and unemployment would spike.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to George Turner says:

            Amazing how GT really seems to think that allowing domestic drilling to begin again (assuming it was stopped in the first place; I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this) on Friday, the gas would be in the pumps down the street by the next Wednesday. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that fast.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DRS says:

              There has been some reduction in oil production on public lands during the Obama presidency. That’s primarily a consequence of two things–a moratorium on Gulf Coast drilling after the Deepwater Horizon blowout (perhaps George thinks that wasn’t an issue worth reacting to by slowing things down and figuring out how safe that deepwater drilling is) and……low gas prices during the recession. Yes, despite George’s claim that Obama’s keeping gas prices high, the recession reduced demand for gas, which led to reduced domestic production. Now that the economy is recovering–painfully slowly–gas prices have crept up again and domestic production is trending back upward.

              But here’s the other part of it that George doesn’t grasp–American domestic oil production does not translate directly into domestic oil consumption. Oil is a commodity, whose price is set in the international market, and which is shipped wherever there is demand. The U.S. is a net oil importer, but it is also an oil exporter (and some of that is importation of crude, which we refine and export as finished fuel products, like gas and diesel). Even if we could drill a well today and have it producing oil tomorrow (and DRS is right that things don’t work that quickly), it’s not certain that new output would be available in the U.S. or affect gas prices in the U.S. in any appreciable way.

              I’m no big fan of renewable mandates (voting no on Michigan’s measure 3, which would require 25% of the state’s energy production to be renewables by 2025). But the idea that expanded oil drilling provides either an immediate boost to energy supplies or is a long-term solution is clearly wrong. It’s a medium-term solution at this point in time, something we do need to make use of, but but not rely on.

              And, I’d like to point out, since in the long term oil prices are likely to rise, it might be good public policy to reserve some of our public lands oil for the future.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to George Turner says:

        Obama is the Kenyan Soshulist!!!!


      • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to George Turner says:

        FYI – wishing continuing economic suffering on the US populace in order to vindicate your ideology is not called schadenfreude. I don’t know what the German term for that is, but I believe Americans call that douchbaggery.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

        I’m not the one voting for it, Democrats are.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to George Turner says:

        ” large body of conservative thought holds that the only thing that will cure people of socialist desires is to have them fulfilled until their own suffering wakes them up.”

        So you’ll vote for Obama, yes?Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

        My vote wouldn’t make a difference, but if I lived in Ohio I would consider voting Obama, in part because the opportunity seldom arises to set back the poor, minorities, and women to this extent, and being an evil conservative, I’d like to be a part of that. To look at their dismal job prospects, their rising home heating costs, their rising insurance costs, their collapsing net worth, and think, “Ha! I did that!”

        Just keeping us following along on the bottom curve in this chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis would be joy enough. It’s like exploring uncharted territory in a universe of failure.

        The other day I was asking my 8th grade neighbor how he was coping with Michelle’s new calorie limits for schools, which are leading to protests and boycotts. He said he didn’t care because he can hit the candy machines. Trying to find some sympathy in his soul, I asked “But what about the poor kids who can’t afford to hit the candy machines?” He said, “F***’EM, THEY’RE POOR!” and laughed hysterically. I thought, “I had my doubts, but this kid’s gonna turn out okay – for a kid who numbers his girlfriends.” Last I checked he was dating #63. His count started in first grade.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to George Turner says:

          Wow, that’s an inspiring story. Glad I’m not related to that kid.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          Two years ago I was trying to get him a job as a poster-child for Planned Parenthood.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

            But he turned out OK, right? Nothing like a little scarcity to make a person turn mean.

            Oh yeah, I forgot. Everything is scarce. You’re prolly right about that kid. He’ll be a survivor in your world. But, is that a world where Jedi mind tricks don’t work, or is that world a Jedi mind fuck?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

              {{Not that Jedi’s are evil mind you. I’m going for an analogy here!}}Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Has Turner recently become our most vile conservative? Or is it just a comedy act that he lacks the skill to really perform well?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think it’s a combination of the two. He’s a pretty vile conservative and he has the skill to perform it really well.

                It’s Genius dripping into the pages of the LoOG, if you ask me.Report

              • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to James Hanley says:

                “…just a comedy act”

                Why is it that so many of the staunch conservatives around here ultimately come across as caricatures? Do those instructions come with the party registration?Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Scott Fields says:

                It’s called Poe’s Law. There is no parody of far-right conservatism so extreme that at least some people (conservatives and liberals alike) will not become confused between it and a real conservatism.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to James Hanley says:

                Not only does our party registration come with instructions on becoming a caricature, it also comes with coupons for sweet, sweet Iraqi crude. ^_^

                It’s actually a skill we cultivate because it’s easier for liberals to relate to us that way, and they seem to enjoy it, so it’s like entertaining a cat, and besides, without us evil conservatives under foot most liberal discussions either devolve into outraged pitty parties or get as boring as a Victorian Quaker knitting circle. Frankly, most liberal boards need a straight man who can set them up for a good riposte now and then.

                Anyway, what’s the point of going to the web to interact with people if they’re bland, boring, and ordinary, and what good is it to encounter nothing but agreement and familiar viewpoints on every topic? You might as well hang out on the porch of the Cracker Barrel and play checkers all day.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                There is some point to going to a website and interacting with people intelligently and thoughtfully. It’s not actually boring if you’re capable of doing it well.

                And therein lies our doubts about you.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to James Hanley says:

                Yes and yes?Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            Well, he and his sister were adopted by my neighbor, and he had been in a group dorm of some sort, where the state had stuck him after removing him from an extremely abusive household. The violence might be genetic (when he’s off his Adderall, watch out!)

            On the bright side, he’s stopped constantly beating up his sister (who started first grade this year), and no longer shoots at me with a cap gun.

            But yes, he’ll be a survivor, and is the backbone of his football team because he makes all but one of them look like midgets.

            I was asking him about the school lunch program because the calorie cutbacks are severe, and bigger or more active kids are fainting from hunger. Since he’s toward the maximum end for an 8th grader (185 or 190 pounds), and certainly not above punching schoolmates in the face (which he’s gotten away with), I figured he might have some interesting tales about taking other kid’s lunches due to hunger and poor impulse control. I suspect the coaches are making sure he gets more than his share of the limited food.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

              You know his parents could pack hm a lunch, right?

              And you’reaware that some studies have linked school lunches to childhood obesity, because they tend to be too fatty and high calorie?

              But, hey, Fox News told you Michelle Obama is starving children and you swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, don’t you?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, one of the reasons liberals should vote for Romney is freedom, specifically the freedom to oppose policies they’d bitterly oppose if a Republican was in office. When Reagan declared ketchup a vegetable, liberals went ballistic. When the Obama’s (Marie Antoinette included) decided that the federal school lunch program should have hard and fast calorie limits, even though high school kids can have about a three-to-one weight variation, liberals nodded like plastic dashboard chihuahuas. John Stewart had a field day making fun of anyone who thought an 850 calorie lunch wasn’t enough for an athlete in a growth spurt.

                The federal school lunch program was put in place to make sure poor children have enough to eat (and many of them used to be given extra food because we knew they weren’t getting enough at home), and the new calorie limits apply to both breakfast and lunch, so a child who might need 3,000 calories a day can only get about 1,400. Parents of vegetarians are complaining that their children can only eat 300 calories out of the 850 calorie lunch. But screw ’em. They’re vegetarians!

                My aunt was a school cafeteria worker (I used to see her every day in the lunch line). My mother was a dietitian. They’d agree, this is just immoral. If the idea hadn’t come from the highest, most-disconnected levels of coffee sipping liberaltopia, if it had come from Barbara Bush or Nancy Reagan, it would’ve been dead on arrival.

                What Obama has done, as Darth Bush’s young apprentice, is to complete the work Bush couldn’t hope to accomplish in eight years, namely getting liberals to acquiesce to all of Bush’s policies, and even defend them. Prior to Obama’s ascension, liberals thought a 5% unemployment rate was unforgivable. They thought handouts to companies with close connections to the White House was criminal. They thought sky-high energy prices were a sign of corruption and collusion. They thought indefinite detention, assassination, warrantless wiretaps, and enhanced interrogation were unjustifiable. They thought that executive branch power grabs and signing statements were an unconstitutional centralization of authority. They thought $500 billion dollar deficits were disastrous. They couldn’t even have imagined a federal child starvation policy in the name of fashion (the fat kids can still bring Snickers bars by the box, but poor kids can’t).

                Bush could never have gotten the other half of the American public on board, but Obama could, and did, and together they now rule unopposed by anyone. At least under Romney, liberals can go back to bitching about all the policies they hate instead of screaming “racist” at anyone who dares question Obama’s latest enhancement of a once-despised Bush policy, and they’d at least have a chance of getting Congress to stop some of those policies, perhaps throwing backing behind things like the No Hungry Kids Act.

                Hungry children are staging school boycotts and protests all over the country, and you laughed at them and defended Michelle, the person directly responsible for their hunger. Liberalism is truly dead, and Obama killed it.Report

              • Avatar Morzer in reply to George Turner says:

                Wonderful parody, George. I just wish you could give us the expanded version.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Well, I blew an italics somewhere.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                Child starvation policy? Really? Because parents can’t pack school lunches? Because it’s better to promote over-eating and contribute to childhood obesity than try to promote healthier eating habits?

                Child starvation policy…next Obama will have the storm troopers kicking down my door making sure my kids are sent to bed without their supper.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to James Hanley says:

                If all the parents could pack lunches, we wouldn’t have created a federal school lunch program. That’s like saying we can end foodstamps just by making people buy their own food.

                As I said, liberalism is dead.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                You’re suggesting mass student protests–do you really think there’s that many parents who can’t afford to pack their kids’ lunches?

                Anyway, you need to back up your “starvation policy” claim. We’re talking about 850 calorie lunches. Now I’ll say that a single standard for K through 12–if that’s what the law actually says–is pretty stupid. But let’s look at what kind of caloric intake kids need.

                The USDA estimates that boys ages 9 to 13 need 1,600 to 2,000 calories if they are sedentary, 1,800 to 2,200 calories if they are moderately active and 2,000 to 2,600 calories each day if they are active. Boys ages 14 to 18 require about 2,000 to 2,400 calories each day if they are sedentary, 2,400 to 2,800 calories if they are moderately active and 2,800 to 3,200 calories if they are active. (Source.)

                So the sedentary middle schooler needs 1600-2000 calories. An 850 school lunch then is 42-53% of their daily need–and that’s just one meal. The active high schooler needs 2800-3200, so 850–just one meal–provides 26% to 30%. Given that for most people supper is the largest meal of the day, that’s not really that bad.

                So providing 1/4 to 1/2 of a student’s caloric needs in a single meal is starving them? Hardly.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Middle schoolers only get 650 calories. 850 doesn’t cut in until high-school.

                You also falling into the blind thinking evident in the USDA’s position. You quoted them saying “The active high schooler needs 2800-3200 calories”. You probably remember your high-school classmates. Did their weight only vary by 14%? Did they only range from 110 to 125 pounds? If your high-school was like mine, there were more than a few football players pushing 250. I weighed 120 back then, my brother weighed 220. By the USDA’s claim, we had almost the same calorie requirements.

                It’s absurdly stupid, and even liberals should know it’s absurdly stupid. The Huffington Post ran an article on it and even half of them said that the school calorie limits were not enough to eat. And of course kids are picky eaters, and wasteage has skyrocketed because a lot of what’s being served under the new menu is being thrown in the trash (generating complaints from the school budget folks), along with the calories those items contain.

                How about this for a simple liberal school lunch policy. Let the cafeteria workers, who are the on-the-ground government employees directly interacting with their public, serve the government food according to what they think the kids need. “No extras for you, tubby!” “Have two mystery meats today, Cleon. You’re as skinny as a rail.”

                Of course a dose of common sense isn’t that common in the schools these days. My housemate complains that his mega-sized high-school was so poorly planned out that his class right before lunch was all the way across the vast building, and by the time they could make their way to the cafeteria they only had 10 minutes for lunch, including going through the line, so instead they started running to the parking lot and driving to a nearby McDonald’s, which did a thriving school-lunch business. The workers there knew all the lunch-skipping kids by name. Of course he later got suspended for three days for leaving the campus, because whenever the government screws up, children have to be punished.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley says:


                Are you seriously suggesting that it is school lunches that are causing childhood obesity? If school lunches aren’t the problem then why do we need Barry’s social engineering?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


                I’m not arguing they’re “the” cause, but that they’re highly correlated, probably a contributory factor. The problem is that too many schools are serving very unhealthy–high fat, high salt content–foods in their lunches.

                It’s not something I’m making up. Here’s a report on the research.

                New research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that children who eat school lunches that are part of the federal government’s National School Lunch Program are more likely to become overweight.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Scott says:

                James, your link also said:

                The same research study found, however, that children who eat both the breakfast and lunch sponsored by the federal government are less heavy than children who don’t participate in either, …

                So the children who get more calories from the program aren’t as fat as the rest, which should throw most of their conclusions into doubt.

                We’ve had the federal program for 70 years, with few serious changes for most of that time, but the obesity “epidemic” is recent and by no means limited to school kids. Does anyone think that if we had schools cafeterias go back to their 1950 menus, we’d get 1950 obesity rates? But wait, if the menus really are responsible, and since we know what the 1950 obesity rate was, wouldn’t it make more sense to do exactly that?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                Yes, George, there are still more questions to be answered. That’s why research continues.

                As to your question about the 1950s, what makes you think that they were offering the same foods back in the ’50s as they are today? Americans eat more today, and lots of our various menus have responded to that. School lunches probably aren’t very different.

                Again, nobody’s saying it’s the sole cause of obesity. But given the correlation, it’s probably one of the causal factors.

                Anyway, I noticed you picked on the part that’s easy to pick on (and, I hasten to add, fair to pick on), but you don’t respond to the information about how many calories kids ought to be getting. You did this the other day in our long discussion, too–at each successive refutation you shifted ground to focus on some other objection, without ever returning to defend the point you’d started with.

                I don’t like arguing with slippery eels, Mr. Hunter. If you’re just looking for purchase to attack a politician you dislike, and not making a principled policy argument, I have little interest in you.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Scott says:

                How many calories should a kid be getting? It answers itself. As many as they need. The government banned that solution, with severe penalties for violating their North Korean style dietary dictates. From now on, the workers’ daily ration will be cut in half – because the Emperor’s consort thinks her thighs are too fat.

                If American school kids have an obesity problem stemming from the dietary habits – how about teaching them about diet and nutrition? They’re sitting in a school building all day, so it seems like a reasonable idea. How about focusing on the kids with obvious weight problems, trying to find a balance between hurting their self-esteem (which is why the school systems probably abandoned the comon sense solution for fadish nonsense) and correcting a growing problem?

                I’ll also mention that one of the body’s natural responses to prolonged hunger is the activation of signals saying that food has become scarce and should be stored as fat, which is why so many people on fad diets have their weight yo-yo all over the place. We’ve thrown “Do No Harm” out the window in an experiment to see if every kid can end up on the roller-coaster.

                Another way to look at this policy is that it’s making the kids very, very hungry – until 3:15 when school lets out and we turn them loose in the mall food-court, somehow expecting them not to eat like pigs.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                How many calories should a kid be getting? It answers itself. As many as they need. The government banned that solution,

                Eh? I think you’re conflating “need” with “want,” and in so doing you’re missing the concept of overeating, which we know empirically does happen. Are you really going to argue that kids never consume more calories than they need?Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Scott says:

                “the Emperor’s consort thinks her thighs are too fat.”

                Wow! I haven’t seen that many slurs packed into 9 words in a long time, maybe never.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                Of course what’s really funny here is that we have a conservative arguing for more generous government handouts!Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’ll bet George is against SNAP, too.

                Some kids are getting too few calories, but some kids don’t need any at all.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

              Well, I’m not even gonna try to top that. Genius, my man. {{Golf claps}} I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

              I hope you stick around.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Will H. says:

      You’d rather it went back to sh**tier (I thought we had a comment policy — hence the “fish” — around here?)?Report

      • no policy. fish is purely voluntary.Report

        • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Okay thanks. I recall that there was a discussion of it, but obviously forgot what the ultimate decision was.Report

          • My own personal policy is that I prefer the swearwords to be somewhere after the 140 or so characters involved in the comment preview.

            I mean, hey. I understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can call a son-of-a-bitch but a son-of-a-bitch and that’s just the way it is. “If you can’t keep it Latinate, keep it off of the sidebar.”

            I have only edited the posts (by replacing letters with asterisks) when someone opens with “BAD WORD YOU!” directly to someone else, though. No call for that. Close with it if you must but certainly don’t open with it.

            Note: this policy of mine should not be assumed to be representative of the managementReport

            • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

              I typically use the closest special character that resembles a letter; eg “sh!tty.”
              My apologies.

              I’d probably feel better were the original comment duly altered.

              I just thought it was a funny comment, and posted it before I thought about it too much.
              Call it: Delayed Vowel Appropriation due to Mirth.
              Sh!t happens sometimes.Report

  12. Avatar DBrown says:

    Let us not forget Clinton’s deregulation of banks under the urging of old ex-republican party fat cats and how most all the democrats and many thugs then voted together to create the mess we are still, slowly, climbing out of after all the billions of taxpayer money that saved wallstreet and the banks. Nice – profits for the 0.01% and all the risk for the 99%.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    As good an argument for Obama as I’ve seen.Report

  14. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    The scandals that are paraded in front of me by the opposition are mostly ones that I find either uninteresting, uncompelling or unhinged.

    Less “scandals” than “policies”, but what about: the use of drones to kill American citizens without publicly offered evidence or trial (including killing one 16-year-old American who we have no evidence did anything at all, other than be related to the wrong person), prosecuting whistleblowers, retaining a mass surveillance program set up by Bush, and worsening the drug war?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Prefer private action to fix shit like that.
      I’ll put my money where my mouth is on that one, too.Report

    • Avatar James B Franks in reply to KatherineMW says:

      This is the one issue I have major problems with, but then how can he fix it? In order to do it properly he would have to get a change to the FISA court through Congress. How many here think the Republicans would not try to derail that. If he tries to get it though Congress and fails yet continues to prosecute the war using drones he leaves himself open to impeachment. If he stops conducting the war in the best way, as he understands it, he fails in his oath of office. Gotta love catch-22 situations.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James B Franks says:

        Gotta love catch-22 situations.

        I agree with that. He can’t just unilaterally stop prosecuting the WoT, cuz he’d be violating his oath of office. He can’t keep prosecuting the WoT because he’s violating his oath of office.

        The same would apply to Bush’s – or any President’s – actions in Af/Pak as well. The Iraq Fiasco on the other hand…

        Fiasco ?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to James B Franks says:

        He could refrain from executing Americans without trial. Congress isn’t stopping him from doing that, and it certainly doesn’t violate his oath of office (adhering to the Constitution cannot be a violation of an oath to uphold the Constitution). The security state is one thing that’s almost entirely under the control of the executive rather than the legislature.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to KatherineMW says:

          He has an imperative as CinC to defend the US from all enemies foreign and domestic. If the evidence says that a US citizen is aiding our enemies, or is one of our enemies, it seems like a pretty clear cut case.

          Why think that killing a US citizen has a higher burden to meet than killing some random wedding-goer in Af/Pak when it comes to defending the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic”?

          I don’t mean this flippantly, btw. I’m seriously asking. I just don’t get it.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

            I always point out the “WITHOUT TRIAL” thing because I think that that’s a pretty important clause but every time it feels like people are arguing as if the argument was “I don’t think that Obama should ever kill anybody, ever, anywhere, because he has a Peace Prize” even if you say “without trial”.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              But let’s take AA as an example. In order to get him to trial, you need to either a) impose such an onerous burden on him that he feels compelled to show up, or b) that he flees the judicial jurisdiction of the US criminal system and holes up where we can’t “bring him to trial”.

              Now I get that this scenario is constructed in a pretty uni-directional way. But it’s also built right into the laws and etc of the system we live under. So, it seems to me a criticism of the way things are isn’t a criticism of Obama per se, but that the institutional structures ought to be revised. And Obama failed us (sigh) by not advocating for that revision.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Also, I’m not sure what would constitute a workable revision of the status quo. I know you like to talk about a trial in abstentia, but that’s really just surface dressing, innit?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                that’s really just surface dressing

                I see it as “better than not having a trial at all”. I mean, sure, it’s not the idealest of the ideal choices before us… but it’s better than saying that a trial isn’t necessary to kill American citizens.

                I mean, Treason is pretty much defined in the Constitution and, yes, the death penalty is mentioned:

                Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

                See? It’s right there.

                Have the trial.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes. Sure. I see that. I have to admit, my formalism side sometimes lags behind…

                But that’s a good argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                In order to get him to trial

                Have it in absentia.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

                There’s precedence for that. E.g., Ira Einhorn. The Constitution requires that you allow the accused the opportunity to confront their accusers. If they choose not to show up, that’s their choice. But this “Oh, the President has a procedure for determining who to kill,” simply begs the all important question of what process is, constitutionally, due.Report

              • I still think this was met in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama/Panetta/Gates, where the court basically decided Al-Aulaqi wasn’t interested in exercising his right to confronting his accuser.

                OTOH, note that the standing issue doesn’t matter for Aulaqi-Khan v. Panetta.


                Wittes more or less mirrors my thoughts on the initial suit.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                I’m sorry, Nob. When did the trial, with a state appointed defense attorney take place? Because I seem to have missed it.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think that’s still a violation of due process.
                Due process (FRCP 12b) requires service or waiver of service.Report

              • Avatar Mike Drew in reply to James Hanley says:


                I’m not up on my Lawfare reading like I once was, so I assume Wittes has returned to the question since July, but doesn’t it seem odd that in that post he skips from the various jurisdictional questions to a hypothetical where the court reaches the merits, except it’s to the merits of the part of the suit that treats the death Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, whose killing is alleged to have been unlawful by virtue of the government having not exercised proper discrimination (i.e. apparently conceding that he was not targeted), while skipping over the merits of the targeting for death of Anwar al-Aulaqi, where the question on the merits, were they to be reached, would be the legality of his targeting and killing?Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mike Drew says:

                Not really. It’s likely that any court would defer to executive branch decisions on the merits of Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Chesney tackled that question with regard to state of armed conflict issues, and I’m inclined to agree that his choice of locales put Al-Aulaqi into a battlefield where capture was infeasible.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Drew says:

                and I’m inclined to agree that his choice of locales put Al-Aulaqi into a battlefield where capture was infeasible.

                Well, that’s been the argument all along, hasn’t it? The question is whether the impossibility of capturing him renders his right to a trial moot. So, one issue is that his actions didn’t pose an imminent threat but rather a continuing one. If it were the case that he presented imminent danger to the US, his right to a trial in advance of the use of lethal force against him would have been overridden by the exigencies of the moment. But that wasn’t the case. (I think people agree on that, yes?)

                So on what grounds is the rejection of a trial in advance of the use of lethal force justified in this situation? It seems to me that an appeal to his location doesn’t suffice to answer that question since the only way a right to trial in advance of the use of lethal force could be overridden is because that individual presented an imminent threat.

                So I’m inclined to think that formal charges ought to have been made in a court of law, with a defense attorney appointed to represent AA’s interests in abstentia, culminating in a ruling sufficient to justify the use of lethal force in advance of that use of force.

                Purely formal. But arguably required by law.Report

  15. Avatar MaxL says:

    +1. I don’t think I have ever been more impressed with a politician, and definitely not a President, as I was in the Spring of 2010. Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

    In 2007, something similar happened during the primaries that led me to support Obama early on for the election in 2008. It was a trivial thing at the time, but I thought it showed something about his character and I think it has been replayed under different circumstances many times since. During a routine Iowa stump speech and mini town hall, then candidate Obama was asked about health care reform by a well spoken young woman whose MS made it impossible for her to work enough hours to have employer provided insurance and she was falling through the cracks of the status quo system. Senator Obama answered her question somewhat technically, impersonally even. But afterward, Michelle Obama talked with the young woman at length and was joined after some time by her husband. They offered her a job on the campaign, heading up outreach to the disabled.

    It sounds like such a minor incident, but it struck me then, and now, as the exact opposite of ordinary politics. I had never seen a politician in a similar circumstance resist the temptation to play for every ounce of drama and sympathy and false sincerity. This question and questioner in a town hall had to be the sort of moment every politician prays for – it’s easy to picture Bill Clinton biting his lip and having her sit in the audience as a prop from then on. But, none of that happened. She asked a question, was given a direct and matter-of-fact answer and then, very quietly, was offered a job. No drama.

    With head held high.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to MaxL says:

      That’s kind of what they’ve been doing with military families. Working behind the scenes for the most part (there was a special wherein Michelle hosted a number of families who talked about what they needed), and getting things done.Report

  16. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “Obama fixed healthcare!”
    “By passing a law!”
    “What does the law do?”
    “Fixes healthcare!”


    It is interesting that both the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency have shown the same thing: That America increasingly believes that the President is the Government, with the other two branches just his backup dancers.Report

  17. Avatar MFarmer says:

    “In four years middle class voters will be fat and happy regardless of who is in power, and that will put whichever party controls the White House in the catbird seat.”

    What makes you think this will be the case? So, regardless of whether Obama’s policies and plans are passed or Romney’s it won’t matter — things will be good either way? What an odd statement.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

      Is it? I’m not so sure.

      Leaving aside for a moment that I don’t believe Romney’s policies in practice would differ much from Obama’s (which in turn did not differ much from Bush’s, which didn’t really differ that much from Clinton’s) – I’ve never seen evidence or heard a compelling argument that the President is the driver of our economy. Rather, I think Presidents tend to act as a totem to whom we give thanks or blame.

      I know that I am clearly in the moronity here on that score. Most people here (and everywhere else on the intertubes) blame the recession on either Obama or Bush. Me, not so much.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        “I know that I am clearly in the **moronity** here”

        I think you might want to have that fixed (unless that’s what you mean!)Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I don’t believe Romney’s policies in practice would differ much from Obama’s (which in turn did not differ much from Bush’s, which didn’t really differ that much from Clinton’s)

        Well, it obviously depends on what you mean by “much” but I call shenanigans on that, Tod.

        I mean, sure Clinton was Hugo Chavez socialist. And Bush wasn’t Ron Paul libertarian. And Obama isn’t Stalin. But the policy preferences of Democrats and Republican presidents are greatly different (but the policies implemented are only very different, because any president needs Congress too, and they have to moderate somewhat to get things passed)

        The Iraq war alone is not the sort of thing Clinton would’ve done, nor Obama. Clinton (and Gore) balanced budgets. Bush broke budgets with tax cuts for the rich. Clinton didn’t torture (except Vince Foster). Bush tortured. Obama didn’t.

        There are areas of agreement between D and R presidents: education policy (sadly), a lack of gun control (sadly?), an over willingness to use drone attacks, air strikes, and various covert forms of violence and to support dictators abroad (badly!). There is some agreement on the size of government and tax policy, but a lot of disagreement and a lot of difference in D and R presidents policies.

        And a big difference is the nature of the Supreme Court appointees of D and R presidents. The D presidents appoint sane people. The R’s appoint others. Etc.

        I know I sound partisan, but my point stands even if you think Bush was better than Obama in every sense. They were “very” different in the policies they were disposed to implement and quite (though somewhat less) different in the policies they actually implemented.

        IMO, anyway. Am interested to hear Tod’s response.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Shazbot3 says:

          I should be clear that when I talk about policies being similar, I’m talking about economic policies – my point being that supporting a 37% marginal tax rate or a 39% marginal tax rate is not the difference between Lord of the Flies libertarian anarchy and a Stalinist wasteland where the government controls your every action by putting chips in your head like we like to think.

          Recessions aren’t caused by presidents, and we are not saved from recessions by presidents.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            No, Presidents are perfectly capable of causing depressions.Report

          • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            On tax policy and levels of spending for the safety net, I’d distinguish between the policies a president is disposed to implement (if he or she gets a Congress entirely of their own party, with no party-traitors, with a fillibuster proof majority) and the policies a president actually implements with the Congress that they actually get, which will certainly be at least somewhat hostile.

            Romney are pretty far apart on what they are disposed to do economics and social policy. Romney is disposed to lower taxes on the wealthy further. Obama is disposed to move in the opposite direction. Romney is disposed to gut the ACA. Romney is disposed to turn medicare into a fundamentally different program. Romney is disposed to gut medicaid, causing serious, serious damage to the social safety net. I think a few percentage points here or there in income tax and a cutting medicare and medicaid spending 5%, or raising taxes a few percent are pretty big differences. But, I guess that depends on how you define “big.”

            I vote for a presidential candidate based on what the president is disposed to do for two reasons. 1. You never know if the president will get a more favorable Congress after 2 years. 2. The president will take his preferred policies into negotiation with Congress and try to get as much of them as possible.

            But I understand your problems that presidents end up enacting pretty “stay the course” economic policies. I believe this is a consequence of the form of government we have. The president’s power is weak on economic policy. It would be steonger if we had a prime minister with power to pass legislation through his own majority with out having to get a consensus with others in the other party or those n the edge of his party.

            Indeed, I here people say around here that all the presidential candidates are the same. No they aren’t. But the American system of government makes them act more similarily than they should be acting. Let’s switch to a parliament!Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              In fact, what would Obama done if he had been Prime Minister of the United Commonwealth of America instead of POTUS.

              Public option? Second stimulus? Jobs act? End of Bush tax cuts. Phased in tax cuts on the wealthy to reduce future budget problems.

              What would Prime Minister Romney do? Or Prime Minister Bush on social security and taxes?

              I think its wise to vote for president as if you are voting for a PM come election time, but when you are evaluating how succesful a president was at achieving his agenda (good or bad), you need to remember that he (hopefully she in 2016) is a president and not a PM.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              Romney are pretty far apart on what they are disposed to do economics and social policy.

              That may be the best comment on Romney’s flip-flopping that I’ve yet seen!Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Presidents can help or harm an economy by how they use the power we have given them regarding their influence over our statist system. That’s why I propose a limited government, because we are the mercy of an interventionist government and how they use power. Obama has misused power. It’s ridiculous to say that Presidents can’t affect the economy — that’s sophomoric.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to MFarmer says:

          If I had a nickel for every time you use the word ‘statist’ I’d be a wealthy woman.

          Do you prefer anarchy? Just what authority should the government hold? And who/how should rules for civil society be made, how should individuals be held accountable, equitable rules be enforced? What does ‘limited government’ mean? Is it an ideology, a size, a measure of competency?

          Because you use that word a lot, like a cuss. Like government is some ‘them’ out to get you (which reeks of a certain level of paranoia) instead of us. Rather reminds me of the view of some environmentalists that humans are outside of nature rather then part of it. Maybe comforting for nursing you pet peeves, but essentially sophomoric.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

            A nickel? Like, fiat currency? Statist!Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to zic says:

            A republic[an] is about assuring negative liberty; the statist positive liberties. Not complicated: The D of I vs. FDR’s “Four Freedoms.”Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


            Read the link I suggested for you above. Currently comment 71 I think.

            An effective central state is essential to many of those of us that lean true liberal. It needs to be constitutionally limited though, or it will be captured by powerful interest groups. Hence the downfall of all great nations.

            Though I may be in the “moronity” for believing this.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

              I’m in the moronity about so many things it’d be a comfort to find you in that group with me Roger.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

              Hence the downfall of all great nations.

              I don’t think a nation can become great – on any measure – without the state playing a proactive, interactive, special-interest-favoring, coercive role in achieving that greatness. I think the problem is that once a great nation has tapped out, it needs to scale back along libertarian lines or risk contributing to it’s own demise. That’s the trick and the challenge, I suppose. But politics and perception lag behind reality. Even when that reality is constructed by the state.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater says:


                Well I certainly agree with the latter half. As for the beginning, I think a constitutionally limited government which plays the role of an impartial referee is the safest bet.

                Long term, I suspect Mancur Olsen is greatly correct. Nations (actually all institutions) are like organisms, and they grow old and sclerotic over time. The sad truth is we need to replace the old with new, or we will all go down with the old.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                As for the beginning, I think a constitutionally limited government which plays the role of an impartial referee is the safest bet.

                maybe it is. But every nation which has risen to “greatness” has used state power to achieve that end.

                I suspect Mancur Olsen is greatly correct.

                Personally, I’m reluctant to disagree with anything Olsen has said about these types of things. Maybe that’s an unjustified prejudice…Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:


                How are we defining greatness? Perhaps the particular form of greatness is not what we should be pursuing?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Fair enough. I’m just working with what I’m given here, brother. Roger said “greatness” in relation to Decline and Fall. There are certainly conceptions of “greatness” that don’t include anything remotely like supremacy, or ascendancy, or empire, or even material wealth.

                At some point, tho, thinking that a materially poor nation could also be a great nation isn’t consistent with the type of libertarianism you and Roger seem to advocate. (Or so it seems to me.)Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to James Hanley says:

                Yeah, the whole discussion on defining greatness is kind of interesting.

                On the prosperity thing, it seems plenty of countries establish semi free markets and thrive, and even that the freer their markets the more so they thrive.

                The more interesting point though is that there have always been cutting edge leaders and lots of followers. In the Renaissance they were in the Italian city states, then the Netherlands, then GB, and then the US. In every case, Stillwater is right that the states were coercive and proactive agents. To some extent they needed to be for survival in a world of predator states.

                Internally though, they thrived and achieved greatness by being less rather than more centrally planned. In Acemoglu’s terms, they were inclusive rather than extractive, and they allowed creative destruction rather than succumbing to cronyism and incumbency.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


                One of the other blogs I read likes to complain that American doesn’t do great big projects anymore–like transcontinental railroad, TVA, etc. But my take is that those types of projects tend to be done by countries trying to prove themselves–for example the battle for supremacy in the world’s tallest building sweepstakes occurs entirely among developing countries these days. And much of that spending doesn’t really pay off. The Great Northern Railroad (iirc) demonstrated that government subsidies weren’t necessary to build a trans-continental railroad. The TVA has been a colossal money loser (even though beneficial for local energy production ad flood control). The great dams on the Columbia River can’t even pay their operating costs, much less pay off their capital costs, and the economic losses they’ve caused to the fishing industry outweigh the economic benefits they’ve produced for agriculture and shipping.

                And I think we’d be in agreement about the value of our vast military spending.

                That’s why I ask “what does great mean?” Not to be snarky, but because I really have qualms about what most people think constitutes greatness for a country. I think a country where people were pretty much left alone, and that provided needed infrastructure without wasting vast sums of money would be pretty great.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to James Hanley says:

                Let’s be great like Australia.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Stillwater says:

                ” I think the problem is that once a great nation has tapped out, it needs to scale back along libertarian lines or risk contributing to it’s own demise. ”

                This is austerity policy, no? When a great nation is in trouble, cut the government spending.

                You can argue austerity spending works in places where the economy or the nation is in demise (examples would be nice), but it has failed all over the place, too. And the opposite action of the government becoming more involved has saved more nations, especially the U.S. in the depression.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Maybe. But then there’s the math. I think it’s pretty obvious that government is required to spend more money in the near term than it can generate in projected revenues, even if we increase revenues on the wealthy. So we gotta cut some spending. (Personally, I’d like to see the lion’s share of those cuts come from the military.)Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Stillwater says:

                Clinton ran deficit neutral.

                We can go back to Clinton.

                The only obstacle (and it os huge) is healthcare costs driving up medicaid and medicare and all sprt of other spending. But healthcare costs could be returned to levels below the Clinton era by instituing some sort of dreaded Euro-Canadian-Foreign healthcare system.

                So two plans:

                1. Return to Clinton era levels of spending and taxation with the old sociulism medicine.

                2. Austerity (federal and local) i.e. cutting medicaid, medicare, social security, teacher police and all government employee pensions and healthcare and pay, vouchers, the whole shebang.

                Count me as preferring 1 over 2, but the idea that we need to do 2. because of the debt or the deficit or because of math is not true. It is certainly not proven by math and there are lots of smart, well-informed people who prerfer 1. as a solution to 2. (Granted, anyone who prefers 1. is a hippy and should be punched.)Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic says:

            Do you prefer anarchy?

            They don’t want chaos. They do want the bare minimum of government.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

              Thank you.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Hrrmph. I’m not happy about the ease with which I could say that, James. You damn libertarians, with your sound reasoning and all…Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, it’s not really granting us very much. But it’s about 90% of what I’d like the League liberals to grant us.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, I can’t blame League liberals for not underastanding a more sophisticated version of libertarianism. I mean, most of these folks haven’t read any Nozick, or von Mises, or Hayek. They pick up what libertarianism means by reading random comments on the intertubes, or at the bar. That’s probably not the best source for what a mature, well-thought out libertarianism looks like.

                By the same token, I had a run recently at Balloon Juice with the entire commentariat where I criticized liberals for unfairly attacking a 72 year old conservative for being representative of the GOP. It made me re-think what the hell’s gone wrong with liberalism that we’re willing to attack an old man’s character because he holds what even I would admit are ridiculous views.

                There’s a caricature of liberals in there that I don’t like. But it’s probably not all that far from the truth.Report

              • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Stillwater says:

                If 72 year-old white men are not representative of the GOP, who is?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yeah, that’s just it. How could he not be!!?? It’s just so obvious!!Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

              (wasn’t a ‘they’ question so much as a ‘MFarmer in specific question; he seems a bit more strident then ‘they.’)Report

            • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Stillwater says:

              Yes, but what constitutes that bare minimum”. That’s where you get “into the weeds”, as the kids say. Does it cover regulation? If so, how does this bare minimum government avoid capture? Does it include a safety net? If so, how big a net and for what? Does it include protection from harm (not just bodily harm — Jefferson never had to deal with bullying)?

              If the answers are anything other than no, no and no, then liberals and libertarians only differ on matters of scale.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to zic says:


            Do I prefer anarchy, no not really. I know this sounds crazy but there is a vast distance between a statist gov’t and anarchy though you imply that the absence of a statist gov’t will mean anarchy.

            IMO, gov’t should hold just enough power to get the functions of gov’t done and no more. No gov’t regs about what size drink I can buy and no gov’t telling what I have to buy a la obamacare. How hard is that?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer in reply to zic says:

            What’s sophomoric is conflating statist with government itself. If you don’t understand the word and the history of its use, then you should stay out of the conversation — it will be less embarrassing that way. There is a legitimate debate surrounding the role of government in the economy (now in our lives in general), but if you don’t understand the debate, then I guess the word statism does seem simply perjorative.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to MFarmer says:

              Well, “statist” is pejorative. When I’m feeling expansive I write “communitarian,” but frankly it’s just too big a chore to type over & over. I’d be more than willing to use a compact term of the left’s choosing if they could settle on one.

              Since “liberal” is at stake here, classical liberals vs. statist liberals, something else is needed. OTOH, “classical liberal” is a retronym, like “acoustic guitar.” In common usage, “liberal” is fairly synonymous with “statist,” at least if we’re being honest about it.Report

  18. Avatar Morzer says:

    A gentle linguistic note on the claim that Barack Obama had enough “cajones” to pass the PPACA. I suspect Tod meant “cojones”, as in “testicles”. Cajones means “drawers” as in: of a desk or dresser.Report

  19. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Tod, Too bad Benghazi doesn’t interest you. It didn’t interest the president either. Benghazi could turn out worse than bad when the info gets out on the admiral and general removed from command for wanting to save Americans in harm’s way. Fortunately there is no way the press will want to talk about this until he is safely re-elected, then it can be buried like everything else.

    You don’t care about failed companies and point to spurious math from CNN (a LOT of your sources seem to be CNN, apologists in chief for the commander in chief). I guess it is /one/ kind of math to point to a thousand penny ante investments (many less than $50k) so you can ignore billions lost in sweetheart deals to entities associated with “campaign bundlers”. But that isn’t of interest either I know.

    Fast and Furious I’ve previously documented at length (and won’t here to avoid moderator purgatory) and Obama claiming executive privilege is beyond obscene but naturally you aren’t compelled.

    This is all uninteresting to you, and I know why. Obama is your man, he gives you the liberal bona fides you covet and he hasn’t been caught in bed with a dead woman or live boy yet (and seriously would that REALLY change your mind?) Ultimately, none of this matters anyway, your vote is meaningless, you live in Portlandia and all your neighbors think the same way for the same (non) reasons. Dissembling is not a substitute for analysis. Smart as you are, you wave away all contrary evidence as uninteresting, uncompelling or unhinged. I’ll grant you /your/ examples of unhinged and you’ll be uninterested or uncompelled by any I could counter with.

    Your vote would have /some/ meaning if you’d voted for Johnson, it wouldn’t make any difference in the outcome (voting for Obama won’t in OR either) but /might/ have caused some needles to move on graphs someplace meaningful. Maybe leaders of /both/ parties would show some concern and modify their bad behavior. Or not, YMMVReport

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

      Benghazi could turn out worse than bad when the info gets out on the admiral and general removed from command for wanting to save Americans in harm’s way.

      That would be devastating to Obama, no doubt. Good thing he’s got the entirety of media under his thumb. What the hell ever happened to the “free” press?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

        Free….. break like the wind. Zoom! Free from citation, freedom from facts or the lack thereof. You’re just an old party-pooper, Stillwater. Info is whatever Fox News says it is.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Stillwater says:

        You should be careful when people like David Ignatius begin turning — it means that honest liberals, the few left, have had enough.Report

        • Avatar Morzer in reply to MFarmer says:

          Except that David Ignatius doesn’t see any evidence of conspiracies, despite the usual conservative tantrums on the issue. Will you tell him to expect re-classification as a dishonest liberal, or shall I?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Morzer says:

            No, my point still stands. Just because you stated what Ignatius didn’t do or doesn’t believe, doesn’t change what he did say and what he did do. He turned on the MSM and the WH and demanded that the WH tell the truth about what happened before the election, whatever that truth might be. I think this makes him more honest than all the other punk-ass liberals defending the indefensible behavior of the administration.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

              Ignatius writes intoday’s WashPost:

              It’s a story of individual bravery, but also of a CIA misjudgment in relying on Libyan militias and a newly formed Libyan intelligence organization to keep Americans safe in Benghazi. While there were multiple errors that led to the final tragedy, there’s no evidence that the White House or CIA leadership deliberately delayed or impeded rescue efforts.

              They screwed up, badly, and people got killed. They had better get it fixed before it happens again, in Libya or elsewhere. I’m not seeing a scandal beyond that.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I just think that you guys are missing the importance of this, for partisan reasons or whatever. It’s going to turn into a nightmare for Obama and all else involved in maintaining silence. Any MSM journalist who wants to maintain any integrity at all had better get on the ball and cover this.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                And by “silence” you mean the detailed CIA timeline Ignatius discusses in the linked column?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                No, I mean silence over the conflicting accounts that make the administration look as if they are covering something up, but you knew that, didn’t you? And, of course, we should take the CIA’s account — they’d never lie.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

                No, I mean silence over the conflicting accounts that make the administration look as if they are covering something up,

                True. Far better t0 make strong, unqualified, statements now while everything’s still confused. What’s the point of waiting until they get the conflicting accounts sorted out so that we have a clear idea of what’s happening before making a definitive statement about what happened?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to MFarmer says:

                the conflicting accounts that make the administration look as if they are covering something up, but you knew that, didn’t you?

                Is it because the conflicting accounts are presented in such a way as to make the Administration look like they’re covering something up, or that there are accounts that can’t be neatly reconciled which contributes to the supposition that the Admin. is covering something up?

                But if the only evidence for a cover-up is that there are conflicting accounts, what are the adding to?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to MFarmer says:

                Yeah. Fortunately Obama’s conducting a long and thorough investigation to find out what Obama said – in a room wired for audio. In fact, none of the people involved seem to be able to figure out what they did, or even where they were, what they saw, and who they were talking to.

                I suspect what’s really being investigated is how Agent K and Agent J managed to get into the White House and zap the President and the entire National Security Council with one of those red blinky things.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to MFarmer says:

                Indeed. All pointing towards the conclusion that Obama wanted those US ambassadors killed to further his double-secret, reverse Mobius jujitsu on the media and the US electorate.

                Dude! I’m on board!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                “The administration needs to say something, but whatever they say will be a lie.”

                Yeah, no cognitive dissonance there.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:



              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                . Fortunately Obama’s conducting a long and thorough investigation to find out what Obama said

                And here I was thinking the important question was what led to those people dying. I should have known better.

                Actually, I know this one. He said “Die, colonialist scum!” Happy?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to MFarmer says:

                They can’t seem to find that out, either, because what led to American civilians dying was the failure to respond to a string of warnings and requests for more security, and a complete failure to respond with any of a vast array of resources on hand, including counter-terrorist rescue forces staged but an hour or so away.

                And we still don’t know why, who, where or how these decisions were made, even though all the people who made those decisions certainly know the answers.

                Contrast that with what we know about 9/11, Pearl Harbor, or any other attack, where within days we knew where the President had been, who he’d talked to, what he ordered, what was recommended, etc. We [i]think[/i] Obama was in the White House, we don’t think he met with the National Security Council (but nothing certain is known). We know he didn’t convene the Counter Terrorism Task Group. We don’t even know who was making the decisions. Basically, it’s as close to an information black-out as you can get.

                My suspicion, which is shared by many, is that they watched a terrorist attack unfold and among their first thoughts was that American soil had not only been attacked, but occupied, on the anniversary of 9/11, two months before a Presidential election, and that any strong military response would make it an even bigger story than it would otherwise be. If it was just a protest that got out of hand and overran a minor US compound, it all might blow over. If they turn it into a ground-battle with air support, it will stay at the top of the news cycle for months.

                Then they started lying, and once that started it was out of their control. We’ve still got people claiming that the drone didn’t arrive till the last hour of the attack, so Washington couldn’t have known what was going on. That was a lie. The first drone arrived at 11:11 PM local time and immediately began a live video feed to Washington. It continued to provide video until it was relieved by a second drone which stayed until the events were over. 24 days later, 24 days, we sent in an FBI team.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                Pretty strong stuff from someone who believes that Pat Tillman died from enemy fire and Jessica Lynch fought back.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to MFarmer says:

                And someone who’s best work here at the League is George Lucas spoofs.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

                My suspicion, which is shared by many

                Well,who can argue against that?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                Contrast that with what we know about […] Pearl Harbor

                That FDR was behind it?Report

            • Avatar Morzer in reply to MFarmer says:

              I think you need to move to reality, at some point. Right now you are just working yourself up into a tantrum over GOP fantasies that have been debunked by – among others – David Ignatius.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to wardsmith says:

      “could turn out worse than bad when the info gets out on the admiral and general removed from command for wanting to save Americans in harm’s way. ”

      OFFS you ignorant hack twit look at a gorram map and get your fishin’ facts straight before you further shit on the memory of all who have died and all who have and are serving.

      Figure out where that damn battlegroup was on September 11 before you open your piehole again. It’s out there, in the public domain. release by Chinfo and corroborated by every other media source except for your hack Republican rags that wouldn’t know national security if it screwed them in the ass with the lights on.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to wardsmith says:

      ” it can be buried like everything else.”

      Like the fact that the moon landing was fake.

      “CNN, apologists in chief for the commander in chief”

      Uh huh, wait here, sir. Ativan! Stat!

      “Your vote would have /some/ meaning if you’d voted for Johnson, it wouldn’t make any difference in the outcome… but /might/ have caused some needles to move on graphs someplace meaningful.”

      Is this some place the same place where everything (like Obama’s Kenyan citizenship) is buried? Or are they different places?Report

  20. Avatar aaron david says:

    Job – lost spring 2009
    House – lost summer 2010
    Health insurance – had to scale back plans massively to keep costs at former level
    Fish Obama – I was a registered democrat, voted R straight down the lineReport

  21. Avatar Scott says:


    You may be better off but unemployment is higher today than when Barry took office. And frankly it would be even higher if the stats accounted for all the folks that aren’t even looking for a job. Not to mention the national debt is at record levels. Barry has been more interested in passing obamacare than fixing the economy. Remember that Barry promised 5.6% unemployment if his stimulus passed? Barry’s policies have put more folks on the food stamp roles than into jobs. Whenever he asked about any of this, Barry either avoids the questions, says he needs four more years to fix it or blames Bush.

  22. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Bottom line, I don’t think Obama has earned re-election, though he’s not that far off from having done so. His economic performance, though good considering the nature of the economy, in the throes of a deep financial crisis-caused recession, he inherited, is not good enough to offset his glaring failure to deliver on his promise to restore the constitutional order that governed the relationship between the war powers of the president and the powers of Congress and the people – as cardinally demonstrated respectively by the lawless war against the Libyan state and the arguably lawless but certainly oppressive killing of Anwar al-Aulaqi and his son. His delivery on his promise to end American involvelment in Iraq is offset by his unwise overcommitment to an undefined conflict in Afghanistan. (I say this last openly as one who thought a recommitment to that fight was the right course in 2008. I, and he, were wrong.)

    But my view is that it is important that he be re-elected nevertheless because of the nature of the social vision that the other side has articulated (with the help of a private campaign event made unintentionally public, the unintentionality of whose publication does not change reality that the vision was articulated, initially embraced by the candidate, and rightly made central to the campaign by the opposition), for which vision that political coalition will have won a right to have respected its attempt to govern according thereto if it wins over one branch of government. This is the case because of the fact that there are no indications from that side that they have even a notional or rhetorical interest in the restoration of the aforementioned constitutional order. If they had, my view would be different. It matters what we say our elections are about, even if that fails to control our governors’ actions.

    If George W. Bush trashed our constitutional Republic, Barack Obama was too weak or distracted to restore it, and Mitt Romney and the Republican Party now offer only a vision of a pure material politics of the rich against the rest – and that is where we stand – then so be it. The battle is drawn. Pick a side, or not. I have.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …if it wins over one branch, and retains partial control of another, I meant to qualify. Which it will.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Michael Drew says:

      “Bottom line, I don’t think Obama has earned re-election..”

      Me neither. Obama’s strongest asset is that he is a good figure head. He is a good symbol of the presidency. With him on office, the media tries to spin optimism, and that is in general good for the nation. Other countries love him too. He is like a walking talking PR spot for America.

      That said, I think he was the worst person for the job in the time of entering a deep recession. His instincts and undertanding of free enterprise are missing. He should have done more to unleash free markets, rather than foster the cronyism and favoritism that got us into this mess. The stimulus was an embarrassing handout package to his cronies and allies, and thus almost totally wasted. Obamacare took a sickly health care system and did everything possible to make it worse and more sickly. The fact that he focused on this issue rather than economics and despite the fact that it adds uncertainty, regulation and cost to hiring and business expansion in the midst of an economic trough just reveals how clueless his administration is.

      Obama — great as a hood ornament.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Michael Drew says:

      ” the rich against the rest”

      This talking point is very weak. You would do better to give a deeper analysis of Romney’s five point plan, because a battle between the rich and the rest doesn’t make sense. The rich are not out to conquer the rest of the country. The rich would love nothing better than to see widespread prosperity and peace (except for government crony defense contractors) if for nothing else but selfish reasons. The rich have nothing to gain by preventing the rest from making as much money as they possibly can, and the rich will be better off if the rest are as happy as they be.Report

      • Avatar Morzer in reply to MFarmer says:

        How can you give a deeper analysis of a vacuous series of wishes on a star? Romney doesn’t have a plan – he has some unsupported assertions about the impact of his Romnitude and that’s it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to MFarmer says:

        Well then it’s a good thing I didn’t say that the rich are out to conquer the country (though actually, I think they kind of are, but I’d agree they’re not out to get the rest of us). What I said is that the rich against the rest is the political vision – the governing vision – currently offered (somewhat despite themselves) by Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.Report

  23. In explaining Obama’s re-election in 2012, historians may point to the thoughtful endorsements of General Powell, Governor Christie, Mayor Bloomberg, and Mr. R. Tod Kelly.Report

  24. Avatar zic says:

    Tod, I thought you’d find this poll of writers for“>The American Conservative amusing.

    A few Romney votes, cast with distaste. A few Obama votes, one almost a fan-vote, but most also cast with distaste. More support for Johnson then there actually is amongst the general public, and even support of Virgil Goode. (None, I notice, for Vermin Supreme.) Most revealing, however, is that many decried they will not vote. I suspect we’re going to see this in the election too; a bigger Obama win then folks suspect as conservatives cast a 3rd party ballot, vote for Obama, leave the top of the ticket blank, or simply stay home.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to zic says:


      Thanks for the link.

      I loved Sheldon Richman’s response:

      “For every reason I come up with for preferring that Romney lose, I can come up with an equal and opposite reason for preferring that Obama lose. For example, Romney is a Republican, and Republicans, despite the fact that nearly all of them are champions of plutocratic corporatism, inevitably speak free-market lingo. Therefore, if the economy goes south during a Republican administration, the media—which can’t distinguish rhetoric from reality—will blame the free market. And the public will believe it. George W. Bush’s free-market anarchism gave us the Great Recession, right?

      So score one for Obama—except, as we’ve learned this past four years, when a warmongering Democratic progressive occupies the Oval Office, the peace and civil liberties movement evaporates. It wouldn’t have done so had McCain won. As the heroic Glenn Greenwald points out, the progressives’ priorities during the Bush 43 administration—anti-imperialism and the Bill of Rights—fell off the agenda the day Obama, the soon-to-be Nobel Peace Prize-winner, was inaugurated. Healthcare and the economic status of the middle class were all that mattered. Too bad for the distant and impoverished brown people who live under constant threat from Obama’s drones.


      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

        Nonsense. American money is funding my old refugee camp, Jalozai, now full of refugees fleeing the Taliban in the Swat Valley, as they fled the Taliban in Afghanistan. When the USA invaded Afghanistan and drove the Taliban from power, 1.6 million such refugees, people I know, voted with their feet and returned to live under the Imperialist American Thumb. And now they’re fleeing the Taliban again. And again, it’s the USA who’s feeding them.

        When it comes to Constant Threats to Brown People, I’ll go with the opinion of those Brown People. Everyone else can STFU. If Obama is taking his war to the air and striking the Taliban, he’s doing so on behalf of those Brown People: the Taliban murders schoolteachers and any girl student with the temerity to say they do such things.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to zic says:

      Thanks, zic. That was an utterly fascinating (and, I think, kind of surreal) read..Report

  25. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    I’m happily voting for Obama, not because I agree him on all things (after all, I’m a social democrat and he’s a center-left at best technocrat), but because he represents a shift. In terms of policy, he’s not the Democratic Reagan as folks like Andrew Sullivan proport, but the Democratic Nixon. Nixon passed liberal domestic policies, but he framed his arguments in conservative terms. The same thing is happening today. In many way, Obama is passing conservative or centrist domestic policies (ACA, Dodd-Frank, the Buffet Rule, etc.), but he is framing them in liberal/progressive/collectivist terms.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      In other words, we’ve gone from Democratic President’s saying, “the era of big government is over” to “you didn’t build that” and for this commie Dem socialist, that’s a good thing.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      As a social democrat, you like this – selling the nation on center-right policies by labelling them center left?

      I obviously don’t disagree that this is what he’s done, and as not a social democrat but a liberal center-leftist, I pretty well like it given the background reality in this country. But it pretty much means this is as far left/social-dem as we go for a good while, because the center has been bamboozled into thinking we’ve made major strides to the left. Again, I’m okay with that. And I can see voting for it on balance as a social-dem, but I’m having a harder time seeing how to be happy with it as one.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m happy because I see this as a first essential step to a more liberal/leftist/whatever you want to call it America. Also, this is all about domestic policy. Civil liberties and foreign policy is a whole other ball of wax.

        First, you have to get people to believe in your arguments before you can sell them on policies. The GOP continued to be a center-right party for decades while inoculating people with right-wing ideas so when they moved to the right, they still got 47% of the vote guaranteed.

        Second, the policies you enact actually have to work. What allowed the right to move farther right is that the basic Kensenyian policies Reagan employed to boost the economy (government spending + tax cuts) gave them the wiggle room to start moving right on the little things like regulation and such. So, if in 2016, Obamacare is working, the economy has improved, and so on, the 2016 Democratic candidate can be farther to the left than Obama.

        I agree with you this is as “far left” as we can go for a while. But, I’m OK with that. I look on the long term, much like the conservatives who backed Goldwater in ’64 and Reagan in ’68 thought. I’m not going to go off in a huff every time Obama says something nice about a right-leaning idea or person. I’m going to do the work of electing more liberal Congresspeople, Senator’s, school board members, and city councilpeople.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          I think, though I’m not sure, that our Conor would argue that by taking this approach, Obama has precisely not sold the public on very many left/social-dem, or even moderate left-liberal, arguments. He’s sold them on center/center-right arguments that have been helpfully caricatured as hard left by hacks. But I’m not totally sold on that view myself – I agree that he has done a bit of what you say. And if that’s enough for you, great. It’s enough for me too. But I wouldn’t be too sure he’s set the stage for very much in the way of further movement. That’ll be entirely determined by, well, people in the future. And we’ve already see the kind of reaction that the little bit of movement he (or, his coalition) completed can produce in this country.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michael Drew says:

            On the first part, I’d disagree on that. I mean, can you imagine any other Democratic candidate of the past thirty years making the Osawatomie speech, the ‘you didn’t built it’ response, or even going as strong on Romney on the 47% stuff as he did? I mean, there’s a reason why liberals in the early 90’s loved Mario Cuomo so much. Now, I’d admit he did spend the first year or so almost begging to be post-partisan bridge builder, but that seems to have passed.

            To your second point, I think Obama, if he wins, has set a certain minimum standard of liberalness that no Democrat will be able to go under and in all reality, will have to go beyond to win a primary. Whoever wins the 2016 Democratic primary, if Obama wins, will have to be for a public option, gay marriage, major immigration reform, union-friendly, and for climate change legislation in order to win the primary. Now, you say may that’s not a big deal, but before ’08, people like Mark Warner or Evan Bayh were being sold as the parties future.

            Also, yes, demographic changes will be a big part of it. When you can win an election with only 40% of the white vote, you can stop chasing the median male white male voter, who quite frankly is richer, more conservative, and worse on a whole lot of issues that the Democratic Party needs to be good on.

            Yes, Fox News and the right has acted like Obamacare, DADT, and a slight increase in taxes is the end of the world. In twenty years, they’ll be playing ads touting themselves as the true defenders of Obamacare and claiming Ellen DeGeneres was a secret Republican.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              As I said, I agree he has advanced some leftish arguments. I’d be interested to hear Conor’s take on how much so in context.

              On your list of new Democratic Party litmus areas, I have to say that I only see one position that this past nominee, as well as his main rival, didn’t already hold. I’m not at all sure that Mark Warner or Evan Bayh wouldn’t have campaigned on essentially the same health care plan that Hillary and Obama did, including a public option, had they been the nominees in ’08, for example. I think it’s likely they would. The point on gay marriage is fair and important. But I have little belief that future Democratic presidents will push for single-payer at any moment before they are forced to by costs, nor be any firmer with the banking industry than Obama has been, or more hands-on with things like foreclosure relief at key moments that directly hits financial firms’ bottom lines than Obama has been. But the point is that, even if they do, it will be a departure from Obama’s example, not a building upon his foundation.

              (Okay, in the unlikely event Obamacare leads, not based on pressure from the economic fundamentals but based on independent political initiative, to a movement for single payer or even the establishment of a universal public option in the near future, then what you say will be true in that case, but I’m basically foreclosing that. I don’ think it’s going to happen. We’ll see.)Report