Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, May 8, 2010 12:06 am

Deficit reduction: one more scam.

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 12:06 am
Tags: , , ,

I could walk you logically through all the facts that explain why the Pete Peterson-backed Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission is a bad idea likely to produce way more screwing of ordinary workers than it is to truly solve our long-term entitlement problems on fair and equitable terms.

But that would take years and cost hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent lives.

So I could just point out instead that Pete Peterson stands to make a boatload of money directly off the likeliest outcomes from that commission.

Whichever. Really; I’m easy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:29 am

Odds and ends for 1/29

I’ve already called for impeaching Obama. Looks like we can now add Holder to the mix: A draft report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility that originally found that Bush officials Jay Bybee (now a federal judge) and John Yoo (now a “law” “professor” at Berkeley) committed professional misconduct (which would constitute grounds for impeaching Bybee), the final version was cleaned up to say they showed “poor judgment” only. Granted, fabricating a legal justification for torture out of whole cloth does show “poor judgment,” but it shows criminal intent as well.

Well, OK, it’s a first step: Pravda, of all places, reports that Francis A. Boyle, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champlain, Ill., has requested arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court in The Hague for the arrests of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Rice and Gonzalez for “crimes against humanity” under the Rome Statute, which established the court. For all I know this is an Eastern Hemisphere version of an Onion article, but, hey, a citizen can dream.

Well, this bites: More than 30% of Triad mortgages will be under water by 1Q2011, Deutsche Bank estimates.

Historians finally weigh in Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.” Only two years after the fat, lying putz laughed his way to the bank. Thanks a ton, guys.

Banksters organize protest of their treatment … indoors, because it was too cold to go outside. Power to the people!

Bloomberg’s David Reilly asks a good question about this week’s bankster-related developments: Where’s the anger? (Besides Chez Blog on the Run, of course.)

Major-league media?: The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Malcolm keeps using the phrase “discretionary spending.” I do not think that phrase means what he thinks it means.

Every little bit helps: Somali “pirates” pledge aid to Haiti. (Somali pirates’ est. 2008 income: $150MM+).

Possibly the most entertaining appeals court ruling of the year, and it’s still only January: Gender discrimination in the workplace as manifested by rude language (Oh, so NSFW, by the ruling’s own standards).

What’s stopping the Senate from ramming through a public option in reconciliation? I’m just askin’, on account of 51 breathing senators are on records as supporting one. Seriously, Joe Lieberman can go to hell.

Party of fiscal responsibility, my butt: Every single Republican senator voted Thursday against a new pay-as-you-go rule. Every single Democratic senator voted for it. Remind me again, please, who the grownups are. Quoth commenter Chad N. Freude at Balloon Juice: “They are opposed to pay-as-you-go because they are opposed to go.”

Whoux Dat?; or, There’s a reason they call it the No Fun League: Because you can’t abbreviate No Brains League as NFL. No Frontal Lobe, maybe. (h/t: DivaGeek)

The U.S. economy shrank 2.4% in 2009, the worst calendar-year performance since 1946.

California Senate approves single-payer health-care system; the Governator vetoes it on the laughable grounds that the state “can’t afford it.” Dude, you pay either way, and with single payer, there’s an excellent chance you’d pay less.

Terrorist convicted: The jury deliberated only 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder guilty of first-degree murder for shooting abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in the head at point-blank range. Roeder admitted the shooting and also testified that he considered only chopping off Tiller’s hands instead of killing him. What a great humanitarian. Memo to New York: If Wichita can try a terrorist, so can you. Memo to the Republicans: Americans are beyond tired of government by incontinence.

I’m probably the last person to find this out, but the free audio-editing program Audacity can record streaming audio from, apparently, any Web site. This makes me insanely happy.

So Obama got together with some Congressional Republicans today. And it’s John Cole of Balloon Juice, who, despite humerus- and-clavicle- and scapula-scraping surgery a couple of days ago, is flying without painkillers, For The Win: “If Mike Pence really is regarded as one of the deep thinkers for the GOP, I’m beginning to understand why they refused to admit Terri Schiavo was brain-dead.” Although the prez himself does nicely with the runner-up: “I would have implemented those ideas had I found a credible economist who agreed with them …”

Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:14 pm

Odds and ends for 1/28

The ultimate Miller Time: Earlier this month, Harriet Ames turned 100 and then scratched the last item, getting her college diploma, off her bucket list. The next day, that sheepskin in her hand, she died.

To the best of my ability, I will never again say a bad word about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conflict of interest?: The New York Times isn’t commenting on a report that the son of its Jerusalem bureau chief is serving in the Israeli military. I understand the problems that publication of this fact, if fact it be, is likely to create for the editor and the paper, as well as the possible security threat for the son and his unit if in fact this is the case. But this isn’t something the Times can ignore or stonewall.

Sen. Judd Gregg: PWNED!!111!!: Gregg, who has been pimping this idea of a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission to shield Congress from the political liability of making tough decisions, shows why he needs the shield when MSNBC’s Melissa Francis, whose work will never keep the Peabody Award people up nights, asks him to name something he’d cut from the budget and he refuses to answer. (To say nothing of the fact that he hems and haws around the question of cutting education spending when that has practically been Job 1 for the GOP since Reagan. Brother, please.)

But you don’t want to reward them, either: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says we not only need a lot more stimulus spending, we need it targeted where it will provide a decent rate of return if we’re going to be able to reduce our debt long-term. And where would that be? Technology, infrastructure, education — all the things the Republicans have been trying, by and large, not to fund. Even a ROI of 6% will help pay off long-term debt. But the ROI on spending on banks is 0%. You listening, Mr. President?

Conservative victimization: Obama calls out the Supreme Court for its wrongheaded, wrongly reached ruling in a wrongly accepted case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the wingnuts accuse the president of trying to “intimidate” the conservative activist wing of the Court. Questions, for the wingnuts (which is most of ’em) who spent eighth-grade civics out back smoking dope: How, exactly, do you go about intimidating someone who already has been confirmed to a lifetime appointment? And how easily intimidated do you have to be to hold such a job and still be intimidated by … well, pretty much anything?

The cops lied, and fortunately, 12 of 14 jurors were willing to do something about it. I’ll say it again: I have too much respect for good cops to have any tolerance for bad ones.

George Stephanopoulos asks a good question. NewsBusters has a hissy fit, spouts objectively false claims. (“Liberal media” = “They won’t tell the lies we WANT them to tell.”)

In many important ways, the United States sucks compared to other countries, and it is important to remind ourselves of that. On the other hand, we — alone, I believe, among industrialized countries, and I’d be sad to be wrong about that but not for the reason you probably think — have given corporations more rights and fewer freedoms than people, so we’ve got that going for us.

Bigotry in Malawi: A gay couple in that country are being held “for their own safety” in jail. Where they’re being beaten up.

“I’ve never actually played FarmVille, but any game worth playing has to have Pork Knights”: How to Suck at Facebook.

The Great American Interrogation Disaster, from the man who may know more about interrogation than anyone else alive.

Memo to Andrew Breitbart from the Universe: Payback’s a bitch.

You may be a mansplainer if …: Consider me warned.

Freeloaders: In Moscow, stray dogs use the subway. For free. For real.

Britain’s libel laws are much stricter than America’s. There’s just one problem.

America loves Brett Favre: How much? More than anything that wasn’t a Super Bowl since the “Seinfeld” finale in May 1998.

Huge loss: Journalist Joe Galloway is hanging up his notepad. In recent years, Americans who have worn the uniform and those who wear it still have had no better friend.

Huger loss: J.D. Salinger, RIP.

I have just found the one college course even cooler than my employer’s “Ten Greatest Pop Songs of the Past 50 Years”: ZDI.001: Introduction to Zombie Defense. I forwarded this to several friends, one of whom said she also would post it and added, “I’m also going to read closely for practical purposes.”

And in that vein, I love people who think like this: Seated with Michelle Obama during the State of the Union was 18-year-old high-school senior Li Boynton, who’s researching ways to test water for purity. After reading Life of Pi, a novel about a guy stranded in the middle of the ocean, Boynton designed a solar-distillation device in case the same thing ever happened to her. She was in fifth grade.

And, finally, this is genius: Dante’s Internet:

Monday, January 4, 2010 6:03 am

Odds and ends for 1/4

Methinks the ladies doth protest too much: No one could have predicted, say U.S. anti-gay activists Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, that our gay-bashing in Uganda could have led to (literal) Ugandan gay-bashing.

Brit Hume: As bad at counseling as he is at journalism.

Just say no to a special commission on the deficit. Because the last thing we need is another way for Congress to avoid responsibility and accountability.

Lessons from California: “What happens when one of the two major parties does not see a political upside in solving problems and has the power to keep those problems from being solved?” We’re going to find out.

DougJ on Ann Althouse, FTW: “To paraphrase Winston Churchill, yes, Ann, the president is tired, but tomorrow he will be rested, and you will probably still be drunk.”

Forget everything I’ve said about the Panthers’ likely off-season personnel moves: That’s because I forgot that 1) there’ll be no salary cap in 2010; and 2) there’ll probably be a lockout in 2011. More to come in a separate post.

Not that guy: For the record, I am not the Lex Alexander mentioned in this article. He and I have never met. But we both grew up in Charlotte (when I was a kid I used to get his overdue notices from the public library) and, because I’ve spent a lot of time in the Triangle and have lots of family and friends there, we know some of the same people.

I like our dog well enough, but I wouldn’t clone him for even 0.01% of the price.

Pete Peterson and the deficit scolds government destroyers are seeking people to appear in their documentary propaganda.

Shorter Matt Taibbi: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bad, it is true, but there is still plenty of blame to go around and those who argue otherwise are trying to make off with your money. (Or: to paraphrase “The Incredibles,” if everyone is  guilty, then no one is guilty.)

Afghanistan: Where the American economy goes to die?

Monopoly by any other name: Cable TV industry’s “TV Everywhere” is just one more bad idea from an industry with a long line of bad ideas and a long history of resisting good ones. In a country with a functioning Federal Trade Commission, it also would be ruled collusion on its face.

Thursday, December 31, 2009 2:13 am

Odds and ends for 12/31

Enough already: GMAC wants another $3-4 billion from the taxpayers. Just. Say. No.

Our arrogant national culture is letting our soldiers/marines die unnecessarily: “Indeed, off-the-shelf solutions [to military problems in Iraq and Afghanistan] were there for the asking within Coalition partner states, but no one asked.”

Some good news for a change:Q: Obama says America will go bankrupt if Congress doesn’t pass the health care bill. A: Well, it’s going to go bankrupt if they do pass the health care bill, too, but at least he’s thinking about it.” So we’ve got that going for us.

A question: If the guy accused of being the pants-on-fire would-be terrorist on Flight 253 is “cooperating” with investigators, as investigators say, then why are people calling for him to be tortured?

News flash: U.S. corporate governance sucks, at least at publicly held companies.

Another news flash: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., send the president a letter asking him not to release six Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. Just one problem: too late. A big deal? Of course not. But imagine how this would have been played if three Democratic senators had done this with George W. Bush still in the White House.

The Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein, unlike McCain, Graham and Lieberman, is NOT too late. Not that it helps: Indeed, he warned us a year ago that Obama’s choice of Mary Schapiro to run the SEC would suck. And it has come to pass as it was foretold.

Well, at least we’re going to have a national election contested on a clear issue: Newt Gingrich has been calling on Republican Congressional candidates in 2010 to pledge to repeal health-care reform (should it finally pass) if elected. Now the White House is double-dog-daring them to do it, too.

How to keep your recently deregulated, greedy, rapacious, out-of-control industry from being intelligently re-regulated: First, get the majority party to assign a bunch of politically vulnerable rookies, who will therefore be desperate for lots and lots of re-election campaign cash, to the committee that oversees you.

Worst financial footnote of the year: By the time this post sees the Interwebz, results should be posted.

Dennis Kucinich may see flying saucers, but he also sees some incredibly bad policy (if not actual crime) and is calling it out.

From the banksters’ own fingers: Some internal AIG e-mails are finally being made public. We need many, many more, and we need many, many people to go through them looking for evidence of crime.

Sigh. More Calvinball*. Better journalists, please.

Newt’s getting predictable.

Memo to Andrew Sullivan: There’s a difference between accountability and kabuki, and John Cole, being smarter than you, explains the difference. Pay attention; this will be on the exam.

*Term explained here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 11:01 pm

And now, a word about spending like a drunken sailor, from an authoritative source

Filed under: Fun,You're doing WHAT with my money?? — Lex @ 11:01 pm
Tags: ,

My longtime friend and neighbor Fred e-mails:

I’ve been a sailor. I have been drunk. I have spent money as a sailor, while being drunk. I have extensive experience spending like a drunken sailor. I could qualify as an expert court witness in “spending like a drunken sailor.”

As an expert in this field (O.K., I qualified myself, but I feel it is justified), I am offended by those that say Bernanke, Obama, and Pelosi are spending like drunken sailors.

Drunken sailors STOP SPENDING WHEN THEY RUN OUT OF MONEY.

This conservative attack must END!

I blame George W. Bush and global warming for the spending.

Bonus documentary evidence of our source’s authority:

Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:13 pm

Odds and ends for 12/12

It ain’t just me: The AARP also apparently has sussed out that this proposed bipartisan deficit-reduction committee is just a stalking horse for gutting Social Security and Medicare without Congress standing in the way.

Jackasses du jour: Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Summit (Colo.) Daily News Publisher Jim Morgan, Katz for defrauding his customers and Morgan for firing one of his journalists for writing about it (i.e., doing his job). May you both rot in bankruptcy early in the New Year and learn the joys of seeking a job in the Bush-league Depression.

It ain’t the climate they’re worried about: In a vacuum, an Ipsos/McClatchy poll finds, a bare majority (52%) of Americans supports cap-and-trade. But 60% support it, even if it would raise electric bills an average of $25 a month, if it also creates “green” jobs. My takeaway? Jobs are Job 1.

Quote of the day, from commenter “liam” at PlumLine: “If we go to clean renewable energy, and it turns out that the global warming claims were wrong, we still end up with cleaner air and are not dependant on foreign oil. … If we heed the skeptics, and do nothing, and they turn out to be wrong, then our planet will have become a complete disaster, and it would be too late to reverse the damage.”

Quote of the day runner-up, from David Dayen: “This is the worst possible time to put on plastic armor and go into your backyard and yell “Wolverine!” in arguing for cutting the deficit. It’s not a matter of being resolute, it’s a matter of being foolhardy.”

Friday, December 11, 2009 6:21 pm

Odds and ends for 12/11

Memo to BoingBoing.net: Rick Warren has not “done the right thing.” Rick Warren has merely done the only thing that might stave off a PR disaster for himself and what he laughably passes off as a “ministry.” There’s a difference. “Doing the right thing” would have required Ranger Rick to immediately, loudly and repeatedly denounce state-sanctioned murder of gays (and imprisonment of their families/friends for not reporting them). Now study up; this will be on the final.

Why don’t we have a health-care bill yet? Here’s one reason.

Success! Because why in the world would we want to regulate the financial instrument that almost destroyed the global economy?

Aetna’s solution to Robert Steinback’s health-insurance needs: “Die, Mr. Steinback.” As the brother of two guys with Type 1 diabetes, I feel his pain, and I’m still waiting for someone to explain credibly to me why we don’t need at the least a national, robust public option, if not single-payer.

Not exactly giving us what we like: The Senate health-care proposal is less popular than the public option. How much less popular? Seventeen percentage points. That’s huge.

You want death panels? You can’t handle death panels!

And speaking of panels: Digby has a name for the panel Pete Peterson is proposing to figure out a way to balance the budget: the Bipartisan Committee To Destroy Social Security and Medicare So Wealthy People Don’t Ever Have To Pay Higher Taxes. Prolix but accurate.

Facts matter. So take that, Glenn Beck supporters.

The party of responsibility and accountability, which controls the S.C. legislature, has declined to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford.

Another way to get by without health insurance: Yitzhak Ganon just didn’t go see the doctor. For sixty-five years.

We’ve killed al-Qaeda’s No. 3 guy. Again.

The grownups of fact-checking take on “Climategate.” Their findings will surprise no one and enrage denialists.

Shorter Sarah Palin: “Correcting my (many) factual mistakes = making the issue something it’s not.”

Does Fox News want to make us laugh, or is it simply trying to bankrupt Rupert Murdoch?: Even by the rug-burn standards of online polling, this question is so loaded it is leaving big cracks in the digital asphalt.

Green? Shoot!: The number of people shifting to emergency unemployment insurance because their regular coverage had run out topped 379,000 last week, bringing the overall total to a record 4.2 million. At the current rate of increase, the number of people getting emergency payments will top the people getting regular payments (5.5 million) within a month.

Green? Shoot!, the sequel: Independent financial analyst David Rosenberg (via ZeroHedge) says that 1) because of contracting credit and asset deflation, we’re not in a recession, we’re in a depression; 2) the 20% deflation of household assets in the past 18 months — a loss of $12 trillion in value — is “a degree of trauma we have never seen before”, 3) … aw, hell, just go read the whole thing. It’s orders of magnitude more depressing than anything on CNBC, but also appears orders of magnitude more fact-based, unfortunately.

Green? Shoot! Reloaded: Paul Krugman offers some objective criteria by which we might determine exactly what constitutes “good news on the job front.”  Just remember, we’ve got to make up lost ground. A lot of lost ground.

Public pants-wetting: Why do Reps. Trent Franks, Steve King and Sue Myrick hate America?

In news that will surprise exactly zero parents, scientists now say 98% of children under the age of 10 are sociopaths.

And, finally, some good news (h/t: Fred), or, When the Germans say “Prost!”, they mean it: Beer could fight prostate cancer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009 9:36 pm

Odds and ends for 11/29

  • Policy misprescription: Switzerland has voted to ban construction of minarets. No good can come of this. In terms of confusing symptom with illness, it’s sort of like a doctor voting to ban coughing. And the Swiss are going to catch it both from the civil-libertarian community and from Muslims and their friends. There’s a real and growing problem here, but this ain’t the way you fix it.
  • I’ve got your stigma right here, pal: The National Review’s John J. Miller may be the world’s stupidest person with a keyboard.
  • Kinda hard to blame the guy who wasn’t in the room: I’m eagerly awaiting an explanation of how Dubai’s economic problems are the liberals’ fault.
  • Born in the ’50s: Somebody’s got a blacklist.
  • Economics 101: Some deficits are worse than others.
  • Memo to Obama: Keep on screwing your base over and see how you like Congressional Republicans with subpoena power.
  • Screwing the pooch: Gen. Tommy Franks and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld let Osama bin Laden get away at Tora Bora in 2001, a Senate report says. I think this is news only insofar as Franks has been claiming he didn’t even know whether bin Laden was at Tora Bora, but facts matter.
  • Not that it will make a lot of difference to the fact-averse, but MIT economists say Obama’s health-care plan actually will save money. Memo to Mitch McConnell: Bite me.
  • Memo to pundits: Having a clear position on issues does not automatically equate to having a beneficial position on those issues. WashPost’s David Broder and now Newsweek’s Jon Meacham somehow achieved their exalted status without having learned this.
  • Shocker: Lobbyists are lobbying to be able to keep on lobbying.
  • Shorter Devin’s Advocate: The movie version of Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn” must be directed by David Cronenburg. (I heartily concur.) (NSFW) (h/t: Mel)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 8:41 pm

Odds and ends for 11/25

  • Roots: Here’s one good reason not to go looking for your birth parents.
  • Coincidence?: On Tuesday, Obama’s top Pentagon official for detainee affairs, who had long and publicly opposed military commissions for terrorism suspects, quits. Today, late in the afternoon on the day before a four-day holiday weekend (for those who work in or cover the government), the government announces it is filing new charges against a terrorism-conspiracy suspect under the Military Commissions Act of 2009.
  • Thanks for that, Tipper: The jackass lawyer who unsuccessfully sued Judas Priest for supposedly causing a kid’s suicide is running for Congress in Nevada — as a Democrat.
  • The master has learned from the student: Charles Lane, best known (if known at all) as the New Republic editor who oversaw serial fabulist Stephen Glass, has taken a page from the Glass notebook and just made crap up about the recent government report on hunger. To quote a commenter elsewhere, I hope his turkey has tapeworms.
  • Piling on: Connecticut joins Ohio in suing the financial-ratings agencies. Woohoo!
  • Memo to Pete Peterson: We know the difference between being concerned about the deficit and being a concern troll, and we know which one you are.
  • It’s working, at least somewhat: The people who prepare economic forecasts for private, paying clients say Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package has helped.
  • The public: “Stop covering Sarah Palin!
  • I wonder who will be disciplined for this screw-up: Former Bush White House spokesbot Dana Perino tells Fox’s Sean Hannity, “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” Forget 9/11 (she obviously did); what about the anthrax attacks, the Virginia Tech shootings and the D.C. sniper(s)?
  • Why does Rush Limbaugh hate America?: Rush Limbaugh calls for overthrowing the government. This would not be the first time he has done this.
  • Maybe it’s because of his philosophy*: “But if you live in the universe of lies, the last thing that you are governed by is the truth. The last thing you are governed by is reality. The only thing that matters to you is the advancement of your political agenda. And you tell yourself in the universe of lies that your agenda is so important the world will not survive without it and therefore you can lie, cheat, steal, destroy whoever you have to to get your agenda done because your opponents are evil, and in fighting evil, anything goes. There are no rules when you’re in a fight with the devil.”

*Yes, I understand that he thinks he’s not talking about himself.

Monday, June 22, 2009 8:41 pm

A tiny bit of accounting

Filed under: More fact-based arguing, please — Lex @ 8:41 pm
Tags: ,

So a proposed Democratic health-care plan might cost $1 trillion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office says, and that’s too rich for a lot of people’s blood.

That plan is in such a formulative stage right now that I have no opinion on it because neither I nor anyone else — including, for that matter, the Congressional Budget Office — knows what ultimately will be in it. But just for the sake of discussion, let’s assume the $1 trillion figure is accurate.

We’ve given about $2 trillion to banks in the past year — every dime of it off-budget.

And we’ve spent about $1.8 trillion in Iraq since we invaded there six years ago — every dime of it off-budget.

So it’s more than a tiny bit specious to suggest that budgeting $100 billion a year for health care is unaffordable. We can afford it just fine. It’s just a question of what our priorities are, should a decent bill finally emerge from the legislative sausage-making machinery.

And what would constitute a “decent” bill? That’s in the eye of the beholder, of course, but  a large majority of beholders have made up their minds:

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. …

The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed. …

Republicans in Congress have fiercely criticized the proposal as an unneeded expansion of government that might evolve into a system of nationalized health coverage and lead to the rationing of care.

But in the poll, the proposal received broad bipartisan backing, with half of those who call themselves Republicans saying they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-fourths of independents and almost nine in 10 Democrats.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

I know only two things about this issue: 1) The status quo ain’t working. 2) Any plan with 72% support — including 75% of independents and 50% of Republicans! — is a centrist, bipartisan plan. (Nonetheless, my state’s Democratic senator may not be on board, the poll numbers notwithstanding.)

Now, I realize that a lot of people are worried about the deficit. But, interestingly, Americans have a history of being more worried about deficits when there’s less to worry about than they are when deficits are actually at historically high levels as a percentage of GDP.

Why is that? Digby hypothesizes:

The fiscal scolds don’t stop when the numbers turn around. They keep up the fear mongering because it isn’t really about balanced budgets or paying down debt. It’s about keeping government from bringing positive results to the people. As long as they can keep people focused on debt, whether it exists or not, they always have the rationale to stop any sort of government action that could empower average citizens.

That’s not true of all deficit hawks. It certainly isn’t true of me. But those of us who do value balanced budgets (over the long term, at least) do have to be careful not to become tools of the Grover Norquists and Pete Petersons of the world, who do not come to the table with clean hands and pure motives.

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