Thursday Open Thread

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”

–George Washington

49 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. parsingreality says:

    According to columnist Froma Harrop, if the dollar hadn’t declined so severely since 2000 against the Euro, oil would be $80 a barrel.  Doesn’t sound terribly out of whack to me.  

    Oil WAS hitting $80 only last September! (“Time to remember….”)

    In other words, the Iraq war, which was supposed to ensure us inexpensive oil, has caused oil prices to skyrocket to due financing of the war by borrowing money!  Another disaster of Bush-o-nomics.  

    How in the hell can ANYONE with a more than a single digit IQ ever have supported this fool and his coterie of fools is beyond me.  Hey, you got what you wanted. Now you – and all of us – are paying for it.

    On the local front, meaning Florida for me, Florida Power and Light will be building three of the world’s largest solar panel installations for electricity.  Cool, right?  Well, it seems that due to a FL law, the ENTIRE $688m cost will be paid for by the taxpayer, directly.  Instead of FPL assuming the usual cost of construction to be paid for over the long term by electricity profits, we will be paying the same for electricity AND almost $1/mo to cover the costs!  

    Once again, the smoke and mirrors of private profits, public responsibility.  Assholes. It wouldn’t surprise me that they were the force behind the passing of the law that permitted this.  Hey, legislator!  Can I get a refund for solar panels?

    • jericho says:

      I thought lower dollar was brought on by interest rates, trade gap, chinese manipulation of their currency, EU ascension, and most importantly -the savings gap.

      National debt is 9.7 trillion. Iraq war has cot 500 billion, or about 5%. Hardly the cause of American debt.

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        But a currency (in this case the dollar) issued by a government with a surplus is worth much more vis-a-vis other countries than a currency issued by a government with  a deficit.

        The United States now has a massive deficit to finance the war in Iraq, and as a result the dollar is suffering.

        Iraq war has cost about 3 trillion and it ain’t over – you are burying your head in the sand if you claim that has nothing to do with the dollar.

        • jericho says:

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/

          That’s projected total cost, not total to date.

          http://zfacts.com/p/447.html

          That’s what I referred to.

          Keep in mind the projected budget for 2008 is somewhere around 3 trillion dollars. The Iraq war has cost 100 billion per year since 2003. That’s 3% of the budget.

          If you’re worried about spending, then cut entitlements, which take up 22% of the federal budget.

          • Fidel's dirt nap says:

            Jericho, you are correct that it is projected total cost, which is a more useful measure when you are making a budget, no ?

            If it is going to cost you $ 1,000 to fix your car and you have paid $ 200 already, which is the most meaningful figure when making your budget ?  $ 200 or $ 1000 ?  

            What you have spent to date is basically irrelevant in the context of the entire cost, meaning you are going to pay $ 1000 at the end of the day regardless.

            And read the quote below from the same WAPO article:

            “By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we’ll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.”

            And you want to cut medicare, medicaid and social security to keep funding a pointless and unwinnable civil war ?  That is typical republican economics.  Screw the ordinary, the infirm, the elderly who have paid their share into the system so we can continue this misadventure in Iraq. Do you see its impact on the economy today ?  Would you say its working ?  Is spending 8 % of our ENTIRE BUDGET just to finance debt a good idea ?

            You’re going to have a tough time selling that.  Voters aren’t buying it anymore.

          • parsingreality says:

            The military-industrial complex feels that they are entitled to taxpayer monies to run a military that is at least an order of magnitude than it has to be, maybe two. We spend more than the rest of the world combined.

            Several analysis show that the military consumes 55-65% of our discretionary budget.

            That, you might notice is 2.5-3 times the amount you fret about that truly serves Americans.  

      • Danny the Red (hair) says:

        causes:

        1. Tax Policy: The policy’s of the 90’s had us running surpluses.  The is not a scenario under which our current tax policy will balance the budget.

        2.  Current accounts deficit: Call it trade deficit, but its actually a little more complicated than that, because what matters is the money flows (current accounts).  A trade deficit matters less if foriegners are investing their trade profits in the US (like the 90’s) because it reverses the money flows.  The US has not been structurally healthy for investing in five years–this makes us double down on current account problems.

        3. Low interest rates: low interest rates, while positive in many ways, makes the $ a poor investment currency.

        4. Iraq:  While you are correct that social security and Medicare are big portions of the budget (that is what you are talking about when you are talking entitlements), there are three points: 1. the social disruption caused by suddenly dropping out of the middle class upon retirement would destroy confidence 2. Europe’s entitlement “problem” is much worse than ours and it doesn’t seem to be affecting the Euro 3.  Social Security and Medicare are supported by more than 70% of americans.  If a super majority of americans think it is within the proper scope of government, it is.

        Iraq on the other had costs 10X a year all the cuts McCain wants to make, is non productive for the domestic economy, and is opposed by 70% of Americans.

        BTW its not the debt its the deficit that matters.  Some debt is actually good for the economy.

        • Fidel's dirt nap says:

          Debt is just the accumulation of the deficit over years, yes ?

          And Danny I agree some debt is good, and can be used to finance a lot of projects just like the private sector.  Right now we are so overleveraged though – we are 8% less efficient on how we spend the government’s money because that 8 is just out the window and won’t be able to be used on anything tangible until the debt is retired.

          Remember the days when we had a surplus and a balanced budget ?  It seems like a lifetime ago – one thing we can thank that lousy tax and spend President Clinton for.

          • Danny the Red (hair) says:

            Debt serves other tehnical purposes as well. (it would be much harder to influence money supply without it, helps liquidity in private transactions).

            I’m for going back to the policies of the 90’s: rational tax levels, strong $, balanced budgets.

            We need some debt to maintain the system, but with generally balanced budgets (surpluses in hot years-deficits during slowdowns) Debt as a % of GNP would decline, as would interest costs as a %.

            The GOP used to be the party of fiscal responsibility, but now they have evolved into the party of the credit card: sad.

  2. parsingreality says:

    Just when you think stupidity can’t get any worse, here’s a guy organizing people to pray for more oil production.  Right, dude, God really cares about your economic pain due to dead dinosaurs under Muslim sands.  

    http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNat

  3. Paraducks says:

    There are basically three paths to wealth in this country at the moment. One is politics. Two is similar to number one. From a welfare or SSI base, build a crack business. And three, make some kind of contribution to the ol’ bi’niss. Only one of these is useful to anyone but the entrepreneur.  

  4. Half Glass Full says:

    And the quarter?

    What the hell were we thinking?

  5. Half Glass Full says:

    Observations:

    1. I love how the more conservative commentators relish the term “Black National Anthem.” You can practically hear “Black Power,” “Black Liberation Front,” “Black Panthers,” etc. Ooohh, scary! It’s actually a lovely, moving song written in 1902, which Marie decided to butcher by awkwardly singing it to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner.

    2. This Marie character should be ostracized by the African-American community. First for the stunt, then for her failure to apologize, then for giving interviews where she talks about how she created her pastiche of a song after visiting RUSSIA (!) and how she thinks America is oh, a pretty nice place to live in but no, she’s not American. And MOST of all – by FAR the most – for herself tying Obama into her stunt by saying she did it in honor of him. Thanks a godddamn lot for setting back Obama’s cause substantially and for giving idiots like Dan Caplis lots of fodder.

    3. Hey Charlie Brown and all you other politicians on stage for the State of the City: yeah, Mayor Hick, you too, and everyone else. Why didn’t at least ONE of you have the sense of a nine-year-old to start singing the National Anthem ON YOUR OWN after Marie finished her silly diversion. Someone should have just taken the mike and said, “Wasn’t that lovely, thank you very much, but NOW let’s all together sing our beloved, actual NATIONAL ANTHEM!” You would have been heroes and the issue would have fizzled out. But nooooo….

    4. You know why I think no one did #3? Because no one was sure they knew all the words!

    5. Of COURSE Alvertis Simmons finds a microphone and gets quoted in the Denver Daily News as how Marie was right because we’re not giving enough jobs to African-Americans, blah blah blah. This guy is such a joke by now…

    • cologeek says:

      For Mayor Hick and his staff, the inappropriate actions of one selfish person is giving Denver bad press.  I think that everyone was probably too shocked at what she did to react well, (hindsight is 20/20) but the administration is taking heat that they shouldn’t on this.  There is only one person to blame for this, and it looks like she wants to milk it for all she can get.

  6. parsingreality says:

    Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) promised primary voters a swift withdrawal from Iraq, in clear language still on his website: “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”

    Not anymore. Heading into the holiday weekend, Obama and his advisers repudiated that pledge, saying he is reevaluating his plan and will incorporate advice from commanders on the ground when he visits Iraq later this month.

    A top Obama adviser said he is not “wedded” to a specific timeline, and Obama said Thursday he plans to “refine” his plan.

    “Change?”  Not hardly.  Same political BS.

    More: http://www.politico.com/news/s

    • Danny the Red (hair) says:

      He’s said “we’ll be as careful getting in as we were careless getting out” for the last 2 years.  He says it so often that I can quote it verbatim.

      He’s also said versions of ‘If for seurity reasons we need to slow the pace of withdrawal for a month or 2 I will do that, but make no mistake the goal will be removal of combat troops from Iraq as quickly as responsible.’

      He’s also said ‘I will listen to my commanders on the ground, but I will set the mission.  And on my first day in office, the mission will be leaving Iraq.’

      This isn’t a change in policy, it isn’t even a change in language.

      • bob ewegen says:

        I for one welcome it.  I still remember the boat people, “re-education camps” and, in cambodia, outright genocide that followed the collapse of Vietnam.  It’s a lot harder to get out of quicksand than to get in it and I’m damn glad Obama is determined to tread carefully.

        • Danny the Red (hair) says:

          it took 2 years to collapse from the end of all US commitment.  By 71 we were down to 1/3 of the troops we had in 67.  We basically didn’t have ground forces after that.  Vietnam was messy, but what was our option?  Stay until 1990?  Risk a broader war like the overreach in Korea?

          There was little long term damage to america’s strategic position other than our confidence.

          Truth is Iraq is going to be a mess as long as we are proping up a weak central government.  It will be a mess whenever we leave.

          Our goals should be 1. prevent a broader war (this may mean keeping some troops in Kurdistan to prevent Turkish incursions) 2. prevent the Saudi’s from funding a proxy war like the one that led to rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda 3. concede that We got suckered into accomplishing Iran’s strategic objectives and try to reverse our strategic position with theirs (ours High cost/Highest influene: Iran’s low cost/High influence).

          Two years from now we will have been in Iraq for 7 years, which depending how you measure Vietnam, is as long/longer than we led offensive operations in Vietnam.  What if the French after helping to win our war with GB?  We had a failed founding organization document and 2 rebellions before this country hit its stride.  The Iraqi’s must take responsibility for their own country: whether it means slaughtering each other or deciding to live under the law in a pluralistic society.

          • bob ewegen says:

            It’s quite another to walk along a wall with the names of 58,000 of your comrades and wonder why their names are there while your’s is not.

            And clinically dismissing the idea of Iraqis “slaughtering each other” as no big deal is the same attitude that allowed the killing fields in Cambodia.

            Sadly, the China Shop rule applies: You break it, you own it. No, we shouldn’t have started this war.  Yes, now we have to try to extract ourselves without causing every Iraqi to believed our promises to be tied up and watch his family raped and murdered before his own throat is cut.  

            Shibboleths are a poor guide to policy.

            • Danny the Red (hair) says:

              My knowledge of vietnam doesn’t come from wiki.  Of course I am too young to remember anything about vietnam (I was born in december of 67).  I do however remember the fall of saigon, and I grew up in minnesota and was friends with many refugees (Minnesota churches sponsored a lot of refugees so there are large vietnameese, Hmuong and other communities) so I know the impact.

              My intent is never to diminish the sacrifice of the war fighters whether it was death, dismemberment, or the simply the disruption of their lives.  However, that has no impact on the strategic necessicity of going to or leaving vietnam.

              Pol Pot is not directly a product of our vietnam policy, in fact the khmer rouge was opposed to ho chi min’s vietnameese communism.

              I disagree with the “you break it you bought it policy”, because we are never going to fix iraq and the appearance we “own” the country is part of the problem.  Should we take steps to prevent genocide: yes. Should we weaken our strategic position: no.

              Iraq is a strategic blackhole sapping away our combat/diplomatic/moral/will power.  If we can prevent genocide we should as long as it doesn’t weaken our strategic position.

              Our first mistake was going, our second mistake was not going with a plan for stability, our third mistake is believing we can fix Iraq.  The people of Iraq must decide they want/can fix their own country and until there is political progress Iraqi’s haven’t decided on anything.

              As long as we confuse our strategic interest with our humanitarian one, we will keep screwing Iraq up and they will be unable to move forward.  

              • bob ewegen says:

                But may I ask what you intend to do with that “strategic position?” and/or the “combat power” that buttresses it?

                Unless you can seriously answer those questions, you’re just trying to mask a Monty Python runaway policy in the language of realpolitik.

                • Danny the Red (hair) says:

                  Combat power–the ability to project force to achieve strategic aims.  

                  By being bogged down in Iraq we are unable to deal with Afghanistan. Today, they just announced the extension of tours in Afghanistan.  Commanders in Afghanistan have been begging for troops for 2 years: no can do–no troops to be had.

                  In addition, the guard is completely hollowed out.  They take their equipment to Iraq and there it stays.

                  Strategic position is merely shorthand for what your strengths and weaknesses are and thus what you must use/deal with when confronting potential/actual enemies.

                  I believe a strong strategic position that allows enemies nonviolent options to address their concerns, but disuades them from acting aggressively, is the best long term strategy. The best use of combat power is to support the perception of your strategic position.  when combat power is used, it is best used when there is a general opinion of the moral superiority of your objective.

                  This is why Iraq is bad and afghanistan is good.

                  Sometimes you can not afford to wait to get opinion on your side–this is not thecase in Iraq.  

        • BlueCat says:

          Most of my friends and neighbors want very badly to get the Iraq misadventure over with but realize that we need to figure out the best possible way to resolve this thing.  We know there is no good resolution but we have to do our best to find the least bad.  

          We can’t even know what the situation is going to be in January 2009 when a new President takes office and neither can Obama or McCain.  Obama can’t realistically be expected to give us a set in stone plan.  The next President will have to adjust any plan to developments on the ground.  

          With Obama the goal still is to find the best way to withdraw as quickly and safely as possible, containing the level of damage, with our national interest being the top priority.    

          With McCain, the plan is to continue indefinitely with the present policy of hoping the Iraqi government will use the time we are buying them with the surge to create a state peaceful and stable enough  so that, while we will maintain a large troop presence there, those troops will be in the same situation as our troops are in now in places like Korea and Germany.  

          So far there is no indication of that becoming the case any time soon or ever, for that matter, and at 10 to 12 billion a month and without a draft, “indefinitely” just isn’t possible. “Indefinitely” is destroying our economy.    

          Obama has the right goal and is only admitting what we all know:  Stuff happens.  Be prepared to deal with it.  

           

          • Barron X says:

            .

            McCain’s thinking on Iraq is to stay there in force

            until the unwashed heathen masses relent

            and accept the government imposed on them by George, Angel of the Lord.  

            The Obama tack is to permit the Iraqis to find their own way,

            and choose their own government.  

            …………..

            One of these alternatives comports well with the core American values enshrined in that birth certificate issued 232 years ago today.  

            “… consent of the governed …” and all that.

            .  

    • ekean says:

      Would you rather he brazenly push the country on a new course, or might it actually be a good idea for a politician to listen to people who know and understand the situation best?

      • parsingreality says:

        …is very good.  I don’t have a problem with it.  

        It’s his change of position, that along with recent others, I’m troubled by.  

        And dare I say for those who still don’t understand me, a thousand times better than McBush’s.  

        • BlueCat says:

          the media and blogoshpere are only focusing on whether or not this is a flip flop and how  Obama fans, assumed to be naive hero worshippers, will react.  Virtually  no attention is being paid to the value of the position itself.  Few would argue Obama’s most recently stated understanding of the situation from the point of view of a potential Commander in Chief is well reasoned and wise.

          But that is so not what today’s media coverage is about.  It’s all about “gotcha” moments, celebrity fiascos and giving candidates a forum for demanding other candidates apologize, reject and renounce in the wake of the blown out of all proportion alleged gaffe of the day.

          We now have 24 hour news but you can watch cable for ten minutes and know that the other 23 hours and 50 minutes will just  be the same couple of superficialities over and over.

          • parsingreality says:

            Being who I am I can see it without someone holding my hand.

            Regardless of the rationale or the wisdom of altering course, it appears too much like politics as usual.

            For a guy promising change, he can’t afford that.  He just should have spoken these sentiments months ago. Also, this comes after three or four other course alterations right after he gets the nomination locked up.  

            • BlueCat says:

              in his approach to exactly how a withdrawal will be accomplished. True, during the primary he emphasized the need for withdrawal and now for the general he is emphasizing the need for CAREFUL withdrawal but he has ALWAYS said we must withdraw with care and without endangering our troops or harming our interests. Sounds good to me.

              I still believe that while we can argue over whether or not he is “flip-flopping” the important factor ought to be about whether or not the position he is taking now is one I support or not. I care a lot more about that than I do about whether or not to call it a flip-flop. Too bad nothing could ever make GW flip flop on any of HIS incredibly wrong positions.

              Every presidential candidate adjusts emphasis between primary and general.  If they don’t, they don’t have the slightest chance of getting elected.  

              Purity is only for issue candidates who don’t actually plan to win, such as Nader. If HRC, had won the nomination she would be doing the same thing because she too is serious about winning.  I’m not particularly troubled by the fact that winning political races involves, guess what, politics!    

  7. Paraducks says:

    Can anyone provide verification of this quote?

    It’s not found in Google except on this site.

    “Between the weak and the strong one it is the freedom which oppresses and the law that liberates.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau  

    • ekean says:

      (and its not, I double checked)

      then it clearly does not actually exist

    • Dabee47 says:

      It’s the translated version of “Entre le fort et le faible, c’est la libertГ© qui opprime et la loi qui affranchit,” which I know Lacordaire wrote (google Lacordaire if you don’t know) and I assume he got from Rousseau.

      I’m not sure where parsing got it but…gasp!…perhaps someone should ask him. duh…

      • parsingreality says:

        I ran across it Goddess only knows where some months ago.  

        Sorry I can’t be more specific.

        But it doesn’t sound out of place for Rousseau.  

        • parsingreality says:

          Well, one problem is that you guys used Google.  I rarely do anymore because they do not have a very extensive search engine of which the algorithms do not favor obscure sites.  

          For instance, “Paul Verizzo” used to get about 120 hits.  As my internet life has slackened, it’s dropped to as low as a dozen.  It’s back up to 49, but many are forum related, here and otherwise. Now, many of those old pages are still out there, but Google ignores them.

          If you use http://www.clusty.com , a mega search engine, you will find 140 hits on the quote in question. (And 102 on my name.)  About half or a bit more are on topic, the others, less so.  Many are from my Pols postings.

          Still, I didn’t see any authoritative source, so who knows.

          But the fact is, it’s true!

    • RadioFreeDenver says:

      I assume you’re talking about the George Washington quote at the top of the page. The quotation comes from the Address of the Roman Catholics of America to George Washington, and His Reply, originally published in Legacies of Washington, Benjamin Russell, 1801, and reprinted on page 197 of The Catholic History of North America, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, 1855. A copy of the McGee book can be downloaded here.

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