Monday Open Thread

“The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.”

–Sigmund Freud

46 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Yuge news.  All those billions of Hispanics and Latinos who absolutely love themselves Hair Drumpenfurher . . .

    . . . aren't the Mexicans in the judiciary.

  2. Zappatero says:

    In case no one noticed, Obama just endorsed expanding Social Security and acknowledged cuts and privatization are both bad ideas.

    Research from just a few months ago found that the median family has only $5,000 saved in their 401(k) retirement account. And lower-income Americans are unlikely to have access to any retirement plan at all. Social Security was not designed to become a national retirement system by itself, but that’s what it’s become for Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution.

    Related: The Retirement Revolution That Failed — Why the 401(k) Isn’t Working​​​ 

    Despite all this, the initial impulse from the Obama administration was to use Social Security cuts as a bargaining chip in a larger deal with Republicans. Grand bargain talks from 2011 to 2013 repeatedly invoked a different way to calculate the consumer price index (known as “chained CPI”), which would have resulted in $1,000 less a year for the average 85-year-old. Obama put chained CPI in his fiscal year 2014 budget.

    Contrary to some after-the-fact snickering, this was a very credible threat, and it allowed Republicans to point to a Democratic president favoring entitlement cuts. Only the Tea Party’s unwillingness to consider anything resembling a compromise saved retirees from cuts.

    Udall was all for cuts, too. So is Bennet, best I can tell. Only he's afraid to say so

    Michael believes we need to work together and start making the tough decisions necessary to put our nation's fiscal house in order. 

    What are those tough decisions, Michael?

    The reason Social Security expansion was a wedge issue waiting to be wielded is that it’s massively popular.

    I know Democrats consider populism icky these days. But should people like Trump be the only populist in the race?

    People recognize the unfolding retirement crisis in their own lives, whether with their parents’ finances or their own. Expanding the program consistently rated as a 75-25 issue, taking in even a majority of Republicans.



    Polls. I know someone uses them.

    …even when introducing the concept of paying for it with higher taxes on the wealthy (typically by scrapping the payroll tax cap that has a $100,000 a year worker pay as much into the Social Security program as LeBron James).

    I know many Dems would rather shoot their mother than propose higher taxes. But we can not keep starving the beast of our very government, that which Republicans claim is the greatest ever to be, to the point that we can't fix roads, we can't teach our children, we can't take care of our elderly. 

    This may seem like a tough decision that Bennet so relishes…..but actually I think it would be quite easy to follow Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Warren and Atrios.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      I think developing a plan that would be actuarially sound would be a winning proposition, showing maintained or increased benefits AND sufficient revenue to cover the costs. Campaigning on "security" of the system and being willing to say "we get what we pay for" would strip away some of the Republican ground of "responsible reform" and "if we don't do something, the entire system will fail."

    • Voyageur says:

      So 401ks don't work?  Does that mean I have to give mine back?  Sad!

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Zappy is the far left version of Moderatus on the right. Both live in some sort of fantasy, never-never, land. They drop in their points and the fact that their opinions are generally off-the-wall never fazes them.

        More interesting is the article in the weekend Wall Street Journal where there is a proposal for a UBI; universal basic income; of $13,000 per person, with 3K required to be spent on health insurance. The UBI would replace social security, Medicare, medicaid, food stamps, SSI, housing subsidies & all other welfare, plus agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare. Even those working will get the UBI, with a phase-out to a limit of $6,500 once one's income reaches $60,000.

        Way too long to summarize here, but those with library access ought to check it out (if you don't have a subscription, which also allows access to the online WSJ). 

        One aspect the author covers is the likelihood of many trades and professions disappearing in the next several decades; as in, what happens to workers when jobs are lost to automation (driver-less vehicles, 3-D printing advances, etc.). 

        Zappatero and his fellow far lefties won't like this because they wouldn't get to do a Sanders-style soak-the-rich taxation; and the government is removed from its current paternalistic role. I neither support or oppose a UBI, but I do find it interesting. 


      • Pseudonymous says:

        Not really, no (transcript).  Or Forbes; CNBC;, calling it the "dumbest retirement policy in the world."

        As Paul Krugman noted:

        The trouble is that at this point it’s clear that the shift to 401(k)’s was a gigantic failure. Employers took advantage of the switch to surreptitiously cut benefits; investment returns have been far lower than workers were told to expect; and, to be fair, many people haven’t managed their money wisely.

    • kickshot says:

      The swiss just rejected the idea by 3-1:

      Swiss voters reject proposal to give basic income to every adult and child


      • BlueCat says:

        They rejected the idea of a guaranteed income of about 30K US. What is the idea presented here of which you claim that decision to be a rejection?

        • Voyageur says:

          Analysis of the Swiss vote made it clear that most voterskilled it because they feareditwouldkick off a wave immigrants coming solely for the dole.  They would have been eligible after five years.   Hell, for $30k a year  I could feel the Berne myself!

  3. thumper says:

    In other news, Frazier released his first commercial, I didn't know that he was a zombie hunter.

  4. Voyageur says:

    Well, I was able to draw on my 401k Last year to deal with a medical emergency and again this year to help my son buy a home.  Put aside a little money every payday. to deal with unforeseen contingencies, what a concept.  The truly poor find that almost impossible.  But people driving SUVs, taking fancy vacations and eating out at fancy restaurants –and I know a lot who do — don't have my symphathy when they end up living on social security alone.  

    • BlueCat says:

      But like all private investments they are vulnerable and will be more so if the deregulating GOP has any choice in the matter. Pensions were really solid back in the day.

      My mom who still has a nice income at 90 from my stepdad's long ago retirement along with his excellent medical coverage and my uncle, the retired fire fighter who, at 87 collects more from pension than he ever made on his best day (lots more) and retains gold plated heath insurance can attest. His son is also a retired fire fighter who is now an instructor at NIPSTA, also is in good shape but not nearly so much as his dad, coming from a later generation of fire fighters who didn't get quite such a great deal. Our little Jewish fire fighter dynasty.

      Oddly, my uncle, the family black sheep Fox viewing rightie, would never attest to any such thing and is in the front line of he anti-tax, anti-universal healthcare, anti-social safety net coming out of his pocket , cut government spending hardliners even though he spent his life working in the public sector (his wife too as a secretary in public school) and every penny in his substantial savings, every penny of benefits he now enjoys, was brought to him by…. the Gub'mint and tax payers. Here's a guy who buys all the hate and has nothing to feel hateful or resentful about on the financial front, is doing just great. Go figure.

  5. BlueCat says:

    After New Jersey alone HRC will already have the required number of delegates, being only 19 short as of now. Bernie is claiming she will still not be the presumptive nominee because the supers, the unpledged, might still switch and she won't reach the magic number with pledged delegates alone. 

    Rachel Maddow pointed out that Trump was declared the presumptive nominee not after any one specific win but after reporters started contacting the unpledged delegates and ascertained that enough of them would be supporting Trump  to reach and the magic first ballot number.  

    After Tuesday the same could be done in the HRC/Sanders contest. The party could do it themselves without waiting for reporters.

    Poll the super delegates and when the magic number is reached via supers who are willing to state that they will definitely stick with HRC, declare her the presumptive nominee. Period. With her large majority in pledged delegates, a sufficient number of technically unpledged but declared for HRC supers willing to state they will not switch shouldn't be that hard to get to reach the magic number and would remove the fantasy grounds for Bernie's claim that there is any real possibility of getting almost all of the "unpledged" supers to switch at a contested convention.

    Obama is ready to endorse HRC. So will Warren when the math is indisputable. That could be made to happen before Wednesday morning the same way it happened for Trump. 

  6. Voyageur says:

    Pension experts have long advocated that retirement should be a three legged stool:

    Social Security

    An employer paid pension plan (which I have, praise the AFL-CIO!)

    Private savings, which I also have primarily in the form of my former 401k, now an IRA.

     The employer provided that framework but practically all the money I invested was my own because there was no employer match until the last few years, when it was a mere 3 pct.   I put 14 percent of my income in every payday.

    I was forced out of my job whenI was 63 1/2 in the middle of the Great recession of 2008.  Reluctantly, I took Social Security early.   Happily, my company pension was fully vested at 62.  From those two sources, I was able to maintain my previous standard of living, when adjusting for the lower tax rate in  retirement — where you don't pay social security tax– and the fact that I no longer put 14 pct of my income into the 401k.  So I get by.

    Since turning 70, I am required to take some money out of the IRA every year.  Last year I used it to handle a medical emergency for my adult daughter.  This year I helped my son buy a home.   In a three-legged stool retirement, the 401k (which becomes an IRA when you retire since you no longer have an employer) should be used as an emergency fund, or perhaps to provide copious amounts of craft beer whenDuke and I finally get together.   It shouldn't be built into your base needs.

    The problem is not 401ks, which are god's gift to those willing and able to provide for themselves.  The problem, as Krugman noted, is that so many employers are using them to replace their pension plans.  That in turn reflects the near destruction of the labor movement in the private sector.  I was a penniless small farmer's son who earned a good living and a secure retirement because of the trade union movement.  Now, workers without that shield face the desperate hordes of what Marx called "the reserve army of the unemployed."

    So, don't eliminate 401ks.  Make them mandatory and require employers to deposit 10 percent of wages into them, plus whatever share the worker can match.  The three legged stool is down to two legs and we need to make those two as sturdy as we can.

    • slavdude says:

      Make them mandatory and require employers to deposit 10 percent of wages into them, plus whatever share the worker can match.


      Well, then they'll try to get around that by doing the vesting thing and getting rid of employees before the employer has to start matching the contribution.  So, kind of like what many do now.

      • Voyageur says:

        Well, if I had my way, there is no vesting,   From Dat one, employers have to contribute to a 401k just like they have to for Social Security.   Unlike private pension plans, 401ks are portable and travel with you as you change jobs.   But you nailed it Slavdude,vesting would allow cheating.  Maybe10 pct is too high, maybe 7 pct employer minimum requirementwoulddo.   But it's day one, just like Social Security.

    • notaskinnycook says:

      V, that's only funny because I don't believe he'll have the opportunity. However, it ought to inspire us to work all the harder to make sure he doesn't.

  7. Voyageur says:

    NBC to Voters: Who Needs You?

    NBC has proclaimed Hillary Clinton Presumptve Nominee

    An AP survey of Superdelegates now shows HRC with 2384 delegates.  Bernie is furious and even Hillary fears premature declaration will reduce turnout in CA, possibly giving bernie one last, albeit meaningless, win. 

    Premature or not, this is the same methodology to annoint Trump.  And thus, for the first time in history, a major American party has nominated a woman.  Somewhere in heaven Victoria Woodhull, the first woman ever to run for president, is sharing a bottle of champagne with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and my mother.

  8. mamajama55 says:


    Premature or not, this is the same methodology to annoint Trump.

    And you don't see anything wrong with that?

    • Voyageur says:

      There is a lot wrong with Trump being the nominee.  There is nothing wrong with documenting the inevitable fact that he will be   Frankly, I regret AP calling endgame when she has just a two delegate margin.  Tomorrow, she will win at least 400 more and at that point, her victory will be indisputable.  But I don't find language in the first amendment saying that bernie sanders, donald trump, or any other politician gets to tell the press how to do its job.  Either way, it's damned exciting and a historic victory for for those who hold up half the sky.

      "Women hold up half the sky."  –Mao tse tung

      • mamajama55 says:

        Of course your ludicrous straw man is not in the Constitution. However, the Society of Professional Journalists has a guiding principle about how ethical journalists should "Report the story, not become part of it"

        • Voyageur says:

          And that means slanting the story to make it look as if Hillary didn't beat bernie when in fact she had 3 million more votes than he did?  On what planet?  Bernie's claim that supers don't count until the convention ignores the fact that pledged delegates don't vote intil then  The fact that bernie is a whining poor loser doesn't change the fact that he is a loser.  Bernie lost.  The press reported that fact.  End of story.

        • mamajama55 says:

          I'd love to see your take on this if the shoe was on the other foot. Outrage wouldn't begin to describe it.

          Comcast now owns NBC, MSNBC’s parent company; Comcast is in the tank for Hillary. It’s CEO, Cohen, ran a $2700 / plate fundraiser for Hillary, and its lobbyist is one of her influencers bundling more than 5 million in “dark money” for her campaign.

          Comcast hates the idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will not be puzzling to any consumer who has ever tangled with Comcast over weird charges and fees and insane cable rates. I’m editing, and doing the html is too hard, so here’s the raw links:

          I’m out, V. You’ll have to froth away all by yourself.

          • Voyageur says:

            The shoe was exactly on the other foot eight years ago.  We manned up, congratulated the winner and, after a good drunk, made history by electing the first black president.  There are three measures for victory

            1 Who got the most votes?  Hillary, by three milliion.

            2.  Who won the most pledged delegates.  Hillary, by almost 300.

            3.  Who got the most delegates overall.  Hillary, by about 800.

            So tell me again why bernie's desperate spinning is anything but the graceless whining of a bitter old man who can't accept that he was beaten fair and square by a woman who worked her heart out for 25 years for a democratic party that he didn't even join until a couple of months ago.  Yes, Bernie.  You lost to a woman.  Deal with it.

            • BlueCat says:

              And for you HRC supporters in 2008 it was a tighter shoe. She was much closer to Obama in both pledged and super delegates when she dropped out to unite the party than Bernie is to HRC now.

              Of course she's a Democrat  and Bernie only became a nominal Dem to run for president so it's no surprise he's less invested in party unity. But I'm confident he is invested in what's best for his country and will come round to fight Trump  and support HRC no matter what the diehard or Busters do. I can understand why he doesn't want to disappoint and piss off his volatile, emotional base by what they would consider giving in too early and before today's results are in would certainly be deemed by them to be too early.  

              After tonight, there will be little point in hanging on to the fiction of any way forward that depends on killing it with the supers. Polls are already showing movement toward a closing of the gap between HRC's projected victory margin in head to heads with Trump ad Bernie's. That they need him to beat Trump was Bernie's only remaining argument to be made to the supers in the face of HRC's clear victory with the pledged delegates and the fact that she wins the popular primary vote by 3 million. It was never likely to be persuasive to Dem supers and is even less so now.

              You get the comfortable shoe on the appropriate foot this time, V.

          • Voyageur says:

            That's quite a broadside for one who accuses me of "Frothing."  I won't read them.  Anyone who thinks Brent Bozell is an objective source is too far gone to rescue.  Next, you'll cite Trump.

  9. BlueCat says:

    I'd just like to ask mama if she actually thinks the call  is going to have any effect on who wins the nomination.

    I don't see how. R voters gave Trump his victory, not the call.  Likewise the D voters have already made HRC the presumptive nominee. In neither case was there anything like a razor thin a margin that could conceivably have been tilted one way or the other by an early media call.

  10. I think everyone would have liked the courtesy of holding off until tomorrow's primary votes were in. It doesn't help either campaign or the party as a whole to chop the race short based on the incessant pressuring of leanings of super-delegates.

    Another reason to neuter the super-delegate power: deny the media feeding frenzy.

    • Voyageur says:

      Yes, PR, I would have liked them to hold off.  But when did it become the duty of journalists to make politicians happy?  Even both sides?  Facts is facts.

    • BlueCat says:

      In a system without supers the magic number would no doubt be lower, taking into account only pledged delegates and, in that case, the  media would have called it even sooner, just like they call any election.

      It would be nice if they observed fig leaf courtesy but it's a competitive business and everybody wants to be first to call. In a close one it might affect the outcome by suppressing late turn out but this isn't close. Much as we all, including both political camps, may not like it, hurt feelings and disappointment in having the drama of a big announcement following a particular landmark victory stepped on aren't the media's concern. We all know what the outcome is going to be with or without a big balloon drop to herald it.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        "In a system without supers . . . "

        Like the system that's worked so astoundingly well for the GOPers this cycle, eh? . . .

        . . . it's time for the Berning arsonists and pyromaniacs to grow the fuck up!

        (Present company excepted, . . . of course!).


        • BlueCat says:

          They have some but not nearly as many as we do. They did have unpledged. All of Colorado's, for instance. But I get your point. It is quite different and, yes, look what they got. But then they've been filling their ranks with racists, bigots and xenophobes for decades so…..

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