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January 28, 2009 04:32 PM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • 58 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

–George W. Bush

Comments

58 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

        1. And why is that so? Because your boy fucked up the economy so badly and denied it was fucked up for so long, that we now find ourselves in dire straights with no other real alternatives.

          Let’s not play revisionist history, okie dokey?

          Thanks!!

            1. wanting to be part of W’s “ownership” society that caused all this.  

              “I want America to be an ownership society, a society where a life of work becomes a retirement of independence.”

              “To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society.”

              MSNBC

              Damn poor people wanting homes.  

              Well, surprise, surprise, its not poor people buying homes that are causing this–its middle class people and wealthy people buying more than they can afford that caused the housing crisis, along with the GOP shoveling off public wealth to their corporate benefactors rather than reinvesting in America.  

              Here’s a little breakdown of the average value of foreclosed homes–yeah, lots of ‘starters’ are in the $250k range (for CO for instance).

              Why do Republicans hate America?

              1. Nice try framing it that way.

                Private banks should never have been forced to lend money to people that couldn’t or wouldn’t pay it back.

                That’s not the role of government, and it’s the key to this particular recession.

                1. I think it’s a BS meme.

                  I actually lived through the last 12 years… I remember the lending frenzy.  To call it forced.  To ignore derivatives, to ignore the rank corruption, then to blame it on the poor is just despicable IMO.

            2. Learn to fucking read, dude. That would be a start. And then learn from history or you and your dumbass, irrelevant party are going to be doomed to repeat it.

              1. No disrespect coming from me.

                I can read just fine, and through my lenses, massive government spending to stimulate the economy is not a good idea.  

                1. Because tax cuts alone don’t do shit, either. Never have. And never will.

                  I know we are all in this together but lately it feels like politics are more important to some folks than getting us out of the worst economic rut we’ve seen since the Great Depression.  

                2. There is no indication that tax cuts ever have or can get a nation out of economic doldrums.  I believe Hoover tried that, although I grant that I’m not positive.

                  When people are unemployed, tax cuts mean NOTHING, they have no paycheck to be bumped a bit.  

                  And if someone is bringing home another $50 a month, to pull a number out of thin air, what can they do with that?  Buy a Yugo? A couple of CD’s?  OTOH, a well run program of stimulus creates new jobs and many of the jobs will have lasting consequences, upgrading our educational and physical infrastructures. Seventy years later and we are still reaping benefits from the CCC and WPA programs.  

  1. from Roger Simon

    Barack Obama has been president for more than a week now, and nothing has changed. Nothing. The stock market is still way down, layoffs continue, and we still don’t have universal health care.

    Where is the change we can believe in? Nobody told us it was going to take more than a week.

      1. .

        But are you still going to be joking about this if we still have 50,000 soldiers and Marines in Iraq in 2011 ?  

        How about if the Government says they are trainers, not combat troops ?  

        How about if the rate of casualties (US) is way down ?

        How about if they are mostly stationed on posts, camps and stations away from the big cities ?

        How about if they only go on combat missions after coordinating with the Iraqis ?  

        The President has said he will pull out of Iraq IF …

        then he gave himself 100 different ways to back out of that quasi-commitment.  

        Your snark is based on a confidence that Obama will do the right thing.  My skepticism is based on a careful parsing of his statements.

        .  

        1. I understand what you are saying 100%.  I do think there may be some scenarios where some troops do stay for a defined period of time.

          Ironic, eh?  Sort of like Viet Nam in reverse.  “Advisors”, soldiers.  Soldiers, “advisors.”

          1. .

            The Iraq war, fundamentally, was to prove GW Bush wasn’t a coward, despite his record of cowardice.  

            Ignore the trappings and trimmings where he tried to make it about terrorism or defending Israel:

            the war proved that he didn’t shirk his duty in Vietnam; God was saving him for something bigger, his special purpose.

            .  

        2. then, while it certainly isn’t ideal (mostly due to the expense), it’s not the same as continued overextended combat duty.

          As for the president and promises, give me a break. He has been far more active far more quickly in a far more concerted effort to fulfil his promises than anything we’ve seen in quite some time.

          And, just between you and me, I really don’t want my president to feel too obligated to fulfil his campaign promises. I’d rather that his obligation to do the best job possible, informed by a complete analysis of all available and attainable information, remain his only and uncontested priority.

          The natural selection of political strategies has pretty much eliminated complete candor and honesty as a viable option for national office, and particularly for the presidency (it may be possible in some congressional races, though that’s iffy). So we KNOW that our elected officials had to say what they had to say to get elected. It’s a given. Some do their best to minimize the degree to which they must make this concession to political reality, while others just have no shame, but all first run for office, and then some, hopefully, govern responsibly. I don’t want the latter obligation to be compromised by dogged adherence to the noise produced by the former necessity.

          Call me crazy.

          1. .

            You may be crazy.  I’m not in a position to judge.

            But as for the occupation of South Korea being completely benign, other than the cost,

            there are South Koreans that want to run their own country.

            I was there in 1980, with the US Army, and there was another military coup (or coup attempt, I don’t recall.)  

            We were ordered out to the field immediately, and stayed there 2 weeks, improvising some training, waiting for things to sort themselves out.  

            Those of us on bivouac had no idea about the coup, but in retrospect, it appears that we were deployed to bolster one side or the other.  

            .

            As an infantry vet, I do care about the strain on soldiers.

            But I care more about the nation straying from its ideals enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.  

            .

            Steve,

            nothing posted here is “just between you and me.”  

            Alva reads every post.

            But I have to make another concession:  

            I, too, want my president to do the best job possible, and not feel too obligated to fulfill campaign promises.

            Thing is, I already know the best course going forward in Iraq, and it doesn’t involve protracted hostile foreign occupation.

            .

            1. I agree with you completely on the underlying value you are identifying. I believe America has become far too quick to pursue a strategy heavy on military intervention. But the devil is always in the details, and I am not inclined to say that there is an absolute ideological principle of specific action which should blindly guide national policy in every instance. America should get out of Iraq as quickly and completely as it can, but it should do so intelligently and with foresight as well.

  2. I’ve always been a proponent of free trade and the logic behind it has always made sens to me. But from Harold Meyerson we have:

    A few months ago, Robert Cassidy found himself pondering whether trade actually benefited the American economy. “I couldn’t prove it,” he says. “Did it benefit U.S. multinational corporations? Yes. But I cannot prove that it benefits the economy.”



    What Cassidy offered yesterday was a more full-throated version of a critique that has begun, tentatively, to emerge from the Obama administration: that the U.S.-China economic relationship is flawed, in part, as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said, because China manipulates its currency to make its exports cheaper and ours unsustainably pricey. That’s a clear shift in policy, since currency manipulation, which generally has a far greater effect on the price of internationally traded goods than tariffs do, was a wrong that the Bush administration was loath to right.

    1. but rather,

      1) whether particular trade relationships that are generally less than free are good

      2) with what time horizons in mind

      3) with how local or global a focus

      4) with what degree of “laterality” (eg, bi-, tri-, or how multi-?)

      5) with how many issues under consideration?

      Obviously, you don’t get everything you want all at once, so politics is the art of making some concessions while gaining some concessions by others. I’m not arguing one way or the other in this particular instance, but just setting up the framework for analysis. The more issues and more actors you can conflate into the political exchange, the more the outcome comes to resemble a market outcome (applied to the exchange of political concessions rather than goods and services), approximating pareto optimality.

      So, to illustrate 4 and 5 above in the simplest scenario, if country A is willing to concede X to country B in order to get Y from country C, and country B is willing to concede Z to country C in order to get X from country A, and country C is willing to concede Y to country A in order to get Z from country B, then the three countries bargaining over three issues can arrive at a multi-lateral agreement that could not have been arrived at with fewer participants or fewer issues on the table. The more parties and issues that can be conflated in a negotiation, the more mutually beneficial outcomes that can be reached.

      As for 2 and 3 above, personally I think we would be wise to place more emphasis on global long-term outcomes than we currently do (not to the exclusion of local near-term considerations, but just shifting the balance a bit).

      I think some of these considerations are often implicit in bilateral agreements. So we don’t just consider whether our current trade relation with China is in our interest, but also how it feeds into the larger global systemic order, and whether we favor our view of the long-term anticipated consequences of those systemic effects.

      “Engagement” itself is highly valued, because it brings more actors to the table, and more ability to exploit the international political market that that entails. So one consideration is not just whether we gain economically in the short run, but also whether any economc loss is off-set by other gains, such as cultivating engagement.

      Having said all that, it may well be time to put some issues back on the table vis-a-vis China’s trade policies, and try to arrive at preferable outcomes.

      1. You’re not defining what “economic outcomes” means. If it means high GDP, you get one set of policies. If it means full employment and/or high wages, you get a totally different set. If you want to maximize one, you’re almost certainly not going to maximize the other. It seems to me that’s where most of the debate takes place, rather than around time frames or locale: it’s not a matter of incorporating all the variables, it’s about different parties really having different and incompatible priorities.

          1. while lots of people want high employment. So that’s not quite what I’m thinking of.

            GDP seems to be the most common measure of how well off a country is, from what I’ve seen. High GDP usually means the wealthiest are doing great, and often means workers are doing decently (but not always). If you measure how well you’re doing in terms of how well average (or the worst off) workers are doing, which is almost never done, you’re probably not maximizing GDP.

        1. is more of the real complexity involved, and thus moving the model in the direction of being more accurate, but also (as I had done in my original post) in the direction of being less manageable. I don’t think it’s “either/or,” but rather a matter of multiple dimensions. So, yes, different parties have different priorities, and that is part of the dynamic of the exchange involved (in fact, if it were otherwise, no exchange, political or economic, could ever take place). In reality, as I think you are indicating, there are actors other than nation-states, both within and across their borders, that are involved in defining what is being sought. And a good, comprehensive model needs to incorporate that into its framework.

          What I’m talking about isn’t strictly “economic outcomes,” but rather the broader microeconomic concept of “utility,” which is a subject value placed on given outcomes. Each actor is trying to maximize their utility, as they see it. The fact that different actors pursue different outcomes is a factor in the bargaining process.

          In my post above, I’m not strictly talking about what does happen, but am also indicating what I think would be useful to happen. I really don’t know to what extent it is already incorporated into international political negotiations.

        2. my original post was a response to the question of whether our trade relation with China is in our best interest, not what the nature of the current debate it. So I was, in part, outlining how I think we need to analyze “best interest,” though I didn’t go into the questions you raised, but rather the issues of time horizons and scope of analysis. To address your issues, I think that a balance between long-term sustainable local and global GDP growth and equitable local and global distribution of opportunity is a fair approximation of the goals that should guide political-economic policy choices (the word “sustainable” being of crucial importance).

  3. Just tell them it won’t cost anything. Oh sure, it might cost a few bucks at first, just the change in the couch maybe, but then it’ll all be paid back by a grateful and more productive public. It’s simple: yes we’re spending money, but stimulus results in greater productivity which leads to extra government revenue! And by sxp151’s law of political math, any positive number cancels any negative number. We might even end up ahead!

    Hey, it worked for the Iraq war, didn’t it?

    I hope I’m not too late!

    1. The War on Economic Meltdown and not budgeting for it at all, like the Bush administration did with the War in Iraq?

      After all, how can we know the unknowables or separate the knowable unknowables from the unknowable unknowables or whatever Rumsfeld’s excuse was? In fact why budget for anything at all?

      Why not just declare it all unknowable and keep asking for supplementals and threatening to declare that anyone who opposes whatever funding is requested is refusing to support America. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

      1. Ever since “War on poverty” and such things, Republicans no longer instinctively support it.

        How about World War IX or whatever we’re up to? (I think the Soviet Union was III, the war on terror is IV, the war on the unpatriotic fifth column is V, the war on Bill Kristol’s unemployment is VI…)

        We get the neocons first, and then since they’re the only ones who can get on TV to analyze policy, they’ll help convince everyone else.

        1. They still love freedom, right?  And patriotism?  Maybe throw in something about turrrists too.

          “The Patriot Economic Freedom Act.”  or, “The Defending America from Economic Turrrists Act.”

          How can you be against freedom and turrrism?  🙂

          1. I thought those were unions. Actually we should probably claim that word before the other side does. Most of the words have been kind of debased: it won’t be long until Republicans are denouncing Obama’s gestapo Patriot Act polpottery, for example.

            How about FLAG BOSS? Freedom to Let America Grow By Opening Stimulus Sources

            Get Bruce Springsteen behind it, can’t fail.

  4. Westword is passing on speculation that there trouble in the Post as well and that’s why the Rocky has yet to be shut down.  Plus a lot of other possibilities.  It will be interesting to find out what is actually going on with the Denver Newspaper Authority when it finally comes out.

  5. in opposing Supermax for Gitmo prisoners…

    From Sentinel:

    John Salazar joins Supermax terror opposition

    Posted @ 10:54 am

    PUEBLO – Republicans who oppose moving terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay to Colorado’s Supermax prison now have a Democratic ally: Rep. John Salazar.

    The Western Slope congressman says prisoners at the Cuba-based U.S. Naval detention center should not be sent to the high-security prison in Florence.

    Already the administration has received a letter opposing any detainees in Colorado from Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, whose district includes the prison.

    Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter has said Supermax should be an option for housing detainees if needed.

    Salazar says the terror suspects should be held at a military prison, not a civilian one such as Supermax.

    Consider this my being critical of a Democrat and my congressman.

    1. …except that since it doesn’t involve Stem Cell research or her other medical issues, I’d only get the same spam reply I’ve gotten to my 200+ plus other emails and phone calls.  

  6. While this post is about 1 month old, it has the most comprehensive info on the scandal. Sen Claire McCaskill is current investigating…but she wants the website shut down.

    That’s a mistake – the website is amazing in that it’s a great web portal for letting people choose how they want to help the troops.

    But alas, it might get fragged along with the greedy scumbags who Bush appointed….

    “Exclusive: Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions, Report Says”

    While the Pentagon preps for a new administration, a scandal from an earlier era is rearing its head.

    A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support U.S. troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief. The “America Supports You,” or ASY, program was led in a “questionable and unregulated manner,” according to a Department of Defense Inspector General report, obtained by Danger Room. At least $9.2 million was “inappropriately transferred” by the project’s managers. Much of that money served only to further promote ASY, instead of assisting servicemembers.

    http://blog.wired.com/defense/

    1. yours is just another really good example, SXP.  

      From not participating in Bidens’ stupid mockery of chief justice Roberts, to going to the hill to lobby the Republicans, from calling Hu Jintao after Geithner’s comments about currency manipulation, interviewing with Al Aribiya, the guy is taking great pains to reach out to people he needs to, and is setting a tone of mutual respect.

      I hope people appreciate how much discipline it takes to rise above all the petty crap and check your ego at the door.  He’s doing it exceedingly well- I hope he keeps it up.

  7. From the New York Times article “The Epidemic That Wasn’t”:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01

    When the use of crack cocaine became a nationwide epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, there were widespread fears that prenatal exposure to the drug would produce a generation of severely damaged children…

    But now researchers are systematically following children who were exposed to cocaine before birth…So far, these scientists say, the long-term effects of such exposure on children’s brain development and behavior appear relatively small.

    Salon.com weighs in:

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/broad

    “We need a paradigm shift,” said Dr. Deborah Frank, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, when I spoke with her. “Prosecution for a medical problem is ineffective, unjust and a misuse of resources that could better be spent in providing care.” Dr. Harolyn Belcher, director of research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Family Center, agreed: “Rather than using funds on punitive incarceration approaches for individuals with drug dependence (especially women with children), resources should be used to provide these individuals and their children access to comprehensive evidence-based supportive treatment services.”

  8. The LA Times reports:

    Tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, hospital patients and prison inmates cast ballots today in a special round of voting in advance of Iraq’s nationwide provincial elections being held Saturday.

    What kind of democracy allows prisoners to vote?! Not the one I’m familiar with! Haven’t the Iraqis learned to selectively disenfranchise people yet?!

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