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July 27, 2011

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Extraneus

I guess power really is an aphrodisiac.

Janet

From Newsbusters -

"Evangelical blogger Denny Burk today highlighted the relevant portion of the Oslo bomber's manifesto in which Behring Breivik made abundantly clear that he sees himself as a "cultural Christian" not a religious one (emphasis mine):

Contrary to early reports, Anders Behring Breivik is not a Christian. In fact in his 1,518 page manifesto, the perpetrator of the atrocities in Norway has specifically disavowed any real commitment to Christ. In his own words:

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian (p. 1307)."

centralcal

Just catching up with the thread. I, too, caught Shep and Juan during my lunch hour. Dear God!

I am going to set Juan aside for the moment and focus on Shep. Is there ANY news "anchor" on any station anywhere that is as emotionally volatile and verging on hysteria who is remotely comparable to Shep? Again, I stress news anchor, not lunatic lefty opinionistas or bloviating O'Reilly and johnny-one-note Hannity types.

I cannot for the life of me think of one at the moment, that even comes close to the high pitched, panties in a wad, screeching histrionics of Shepherd Smith.

I have to wonder about Ailes, sitting in his office, tuning in to Studio B from time to time and not immediately marching down to said studio and forcefully slapping Shep back into something resembling sanity.

Melinda Romanoff

I don't ordinarily encourage others to pray on this site. but I got a lot of inspiration from this guy this AM.

MarkO

Hi ho Silver, away.

Cecil Turner

Yeah, Shep's hard to watch. Nice chart DoT.

Melinda Romanoff

Jane-

Durbin got caught with a skip in his record repeating his talking points a few too many times. Too pat by half, but then again, I'm particularly attuned to what he mutters vs. does. Lies almost as much as Schumer.

Jim Rhoads a/k/a vnjagvet

The term "Christian" was not some odd term finally brought out of a storage cabinet to describe "born agains". But I do understand that in some groups, in some areas, "Christian" was not commonly used.

Another lifelong Lutheran here, Mark. Your experience was the same as mine. About 50 years ago, while I was in college, someone approached me bible in hand, got in my face, and asked me whether I was saved. My answer to him: "Sure, I'm a Lutheran". He didn't know what to say after that.

JM Hanes

"That's what Wall Street cares about."

Listening to Wall Street is about as useful as reading a Gallup daily tracking poll, and trying to calm its fickle fears (assuming the usual suspects could even agree on how to do it) seems like the least productive use of anybody's time to me. Watching a histrionic administration trying to cover its own ass 24/7 certainly can't help though, per TM's NYTimes:

Thanks to an inflow of tax payments and maneuvering by the Treasury Department, the government can probably continue to pay all of its bills for several days after Aug. 2.

Quel surprise! This windfall was, like, so totally unexpected, I'm sure, but never mind. Lest anyone suggest there's cat back walking going on, let us now praise Secretary Geithner for the deft maneuvering which miraculously pulled us back from the apocalyptic brink of his previous maneuvering.

Extraneus

I always thought they kept Shep because the ladies like him - in that asexual, non-threatening, friend you could go clothes shopping with way. No?

lyle

If there's a giant looming financial apocalypse next week, the Treasury market sure isn't indicating one. Ten year is still under 3%. Wouldn't yields be spiking rising if we were staring into the abyss? Mel? Rick?

Chubby

I posted this link to soopermexican's blog earlier today in the Rage thread, so it's a repeat:

LUN

Oslo Terrorist — Was He a Christian Conservative?


((The Manifesto supports:

Environmentalism

One-Child Birth policies

Nationalization (State Control) of Private Companies

and the Manifesto criticizes:

American Capitalism

American Imperialism

American Intervention

Right-Wing Media Monopolies

Weakness of Christianity))


glasater

I prefer Protestant rather that Christian. More descriptive of the history of the movement.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

Understood what? What does that mean?

Understood the distinction. Janet, back in the '70s it was very hard for mainline protestants to get the overt born again Christian rhetoric. Their only exposure was probably "Elmer Gantry."

Ben Franklin

http://inmedias.blogspot.com/


"My wife rarely gets engaged--must less enraged--by politics. This isn't because she doesn't have any concerns or lacks informed opinions--she has plenty of both--but because it fundamentally doesn't interest, much less fascinate, her; she's just not drawn to investing much of her time and energy into something that she often finds, on the surface at least, both perplexing and frustrating. But sometimes there's an issue which strikes her as so desperate or so obvious or so crazy that she overcomes her usual apolitical stance, and can't help but become engaged. And enraged. The ongoing crisis over the raising of the federal government's debt ceiling--which came to a head with President Obama's and Speaker of the House Boehner both speaking last night at length about why the opposite side hasn't accepted their respective plans--has brought our family to one of those times.

This is what Melissa wrote on Facebook: "I never get political (odd, considering who I am married to), but this whole debt ceiling thing is making me increasingly more disillusioned with the American government. It. Doesn't. Work. I do not believe there's a single elected individual who has anything but his or her own best interests in mind. The greatest country, my a$$. I'd move to Canada in a heartbeat, if I could."

I sympathize with her--in part because, just three months ago, Canada had an election which looks to have meaningful consequences for moving the country (though whether forward or backward or neither depends on your point of view, I suppose). This stands in contrast to the US, which has seemed plagued by ever-increasing paralysis, gridlock, and mutual distrust ever since Obama's election in 2008 (with even the Affordable Care Act, which should have been a game-changer for our country, having instead just left at the very least a slightly bitter taste in almost everyone's mouth, and a constitutional controversy that doesn't seem to have any conclusion on the horizon), and which has now given us, quite possibly, the Worst Congress Ever. But I also sympathize with her because this whole debate over the debt ceiling strikes me as having been taken over by two utterly maddening realities. First, there is a contorted reading of the fiduciary responsibilities which the federal government is granted under that Constitution which is, from what appears to me to be any kind of sound accounting perspective, absolutely bonkers. Second, there is a game of political chicken driven by the mutual incomprehension possessed by two entirely distinct types of parties: the first, the one led by President Obama, being a historically normal American political party, with all its usual problems and dynamics, while the second, the one being led by Speaker of the House Boehner (if he is really in control, which ultimately may not be the case; some Republicans may simply have gotten to the point where they lack "the emotional capacity to accept a bargain that they don't see as a humiliation for Obama") that has apparently committed itself to an fiscal ideology that is, at the very best, seriously half-baked. Let's take them in turn:

1) Here's the basic nonsense with the debt ceiling, as I read the situation. Step one: the federal government passes a budget. Step two: that budget authorizes the federal government to spend a certain amount of money. Step three: the federal government then goes forward spending that money. Step four: as the budget authorized the federal government to spend more money than it had on hand, that money must be borrowed. Step five: the federal government borrows the money. Except wait! We have apparently talked ourselves, over the decades, into a rather bizarre accounting situation: the president, having signed the budget which Congress has passed, apparently has the constitutional authority to spend X amount of money, but he doesn't automatically possess the constitutional authority to obtain the money which Congress has already appropriated for him to spend! It's as if you got a paycheck, deposited it in a bank account, made a budget with your spouse which included plans for spending that money, your spouse agreed to it, but then when you went to pay your bills found that you needed additional approval for the money to actually move from the account to wherever you wanted it to go. Plain crazy.

If you've followed this debate, then you'll recognize that I'm on former president Clinton's side in agreeing with the "constitutional option"; the very idea that money could be appropriated, that a budget could be set, but that the money so approved could not actually be obtained without additional Congressional approval not only appears to me as simply nuts, but also a violation of the president's responsibilities to honor public debts under the 14th amendment. To force the US government into default by elevating a dubious fiscal procedure into unalterable constitutional doctrine is the sign of a people who actually think defaulting is a good idea."

Extraneus

A cautionary tale:

Pa. man jailed after drunken cooking leads to fire

Jane says obamasucks

I always thought they kept Shep because the ladies like him - in that asexual, non-threatening, friend you could go clothes shopping with way. No?

Ugh!

Juicy Lucy

Ready for me, big fella?

Rick Ballard

Lyle,

Where ya gonna go? Bonds from EUtopia? Some nice renimbi denominated Chicom slaver paper? Japanese earthquakers?

While we mull over the fantastic risk free opportunities available we have to give some consideration to Mad Ben with his hand on the throttle of the new, improved Warp XX capable printing presses. He can now vac up $10 trillion at a single pass once he jiggers his models a bit.

Just make sure you're standing next to a really big exit until this silliness passes - everybody may be counting on size of the market allowing them to move to cash if a panic starts and you really don't want to be in the second half of the crowd if that turns out to be true.

Dave (in MA)

Extraneus, here is a PSA cautioning you to be careful while cooking.

Ben Franklin

Bruce Bartlett on Hardball;

"The dirty secret is that Obama is a conservative.....

The R's keep saying tax cuts are the key to prosperity, it's not true.

If we went back to taxes of the 80's and 90's we would be better off.

RR raised cap gains to 28 percent in 1986.

I don't think there's any question that we would have positive effects going back to Clinton era taxes.

I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is plain stupid crazy, or ignorantly craven."

Not verbatim, but pretty danged close

Appalled

Ben --

I see your postings today, and think this, from your ancient almanac:

"Here comes the Orator! with his Flood of Words, and his Drop of Reason."

Belarus Bytes

BF,

I'm curious as to why you posted that particular piece. Are you using it to support or dismiss a particular position? It certainly did not provide any new or unique insight into the debate, as least as far as I was concerned.

Without any explanation as to what you were attempting to say with this piece, the only conclusion I can draw is that you are supportive of the position that Congress has a blank check to spend as much as they want, and that they either can not or should not put any provision in place to try and constrain that impulse. Is that correct?

pagar

"I don't know how anyone could vote democrat."
I'm with you, Janet. Just do not understand how anyone could.
--------------------------------------------
Off topic, but there is a new article explaining MERS. Giving just a hint of the damage done to America by MERS and the incredible damage still to come from MERS.

"what is not legitimate was the industry’s unilateral decision to create a self-serving system that was indifferent to law and the public’s interest."

Sara (Pal2Pal)

I always thought they kept Shep because the ladies like him - in that asexual, non-threatening, friend you could go clothes shopping with way. No?

No, No, No. He is a prissy little whiner. Ditto Jane --- UGH!!!

Ben Franklin

Republicans LOVE,( not just love, but Devotion and Surrender)
Social Security and medicare. They want to protect it. They want to preserve it for me an you. They are the Guardians of all Programs created by Socialists............

http://www.peoplesworld.org/the-republican-record-on-social-security/

The Republican record on Social Security

1935: Almost all Republicans in Congress oppose the creation of Social Security.

1939: 75percent of Republicans in Senate try to kill legislation providing Social Security benefits to dependents and survivors as well as retired workers.

1950: 79 percent of House and 89 percent of Senate Republicans vote against disability insurance to defeat it.

1956: 86 percent of Republicans in Senate oppose disability insurance; program approved nonetheless.

1964: Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan both suggest that Social Security be made voluntary.

1965: 93 percent of Republicans in House and 62 percent in Senate vote to kill Medicare.

1977: 58 percent of Senate votes against amendment to provide semiannual increases.

1977: 88 percent of Republicans in House and 63 percent in Senate vote against increase in Social Security payroll tax needed to keep system solvent.

1981: White House proposes $35 billion in Social Security cuts over the next 5 years. The cuts would have included elimination of student benefits, lump-sum death benefits, and a retroactive elimination of the $122 minimum benefit for three million recipients. (Congress ultimately enacted $24 billion of the proposed cuts.)

1981: Reagan administration begins a wholesale review of the Social Security Disability rolls, resulting in over 560,000 eligibility investigations in 1982 — 360,000 more than the year before. Ultimately, at least 106,000 families were removed from the rolls.

1981: 99 percent of Republicans in House and 98 percent in Senate vote for legislation containing $22 billion in Social Security and Medicare cuts.

1981: Reagan administration proposes three-month delay in 1982 cost-of-living increases.

1981: White House proposes $200 billion in Social Security cuts between 1982 and 1990. The cuts include reduction in early retirement benefit; tightened disability eligibility standards; delay in the 1982 cost-of-living adjustment and a 10 percent eventual reduction in benefits for all new retirees. (The U.S. Senate repudiated the President’s proposals by a vote of 96 to 0.)

1982: The President and Senate Republicans propose $40 billion in benefit cuts over three fiscal years.

1985: Administration backs attempts by Republican Senate leadership to eliminate the 1986 Social Security COLA. Vice President Bush casts the tie-breaking vote to eliminate COLA. (House defeats it – it was never enacted.)

1990s: Efforts to end Social Security took the form of appealing to younger workers to put “their” Social Security insurance payments into the stock market.

2005: Labor-led fight against privatization saved Social Security for the time being.

2006: President Bush, once again, includes privatization of Social Security in his 2007 budget.

lyle

Bruce Bartlett? Please. If there was a bigger "conservative" slut to the press than BB, he'd be named John "my friends" McCain.

Danube of Thought

Or perhaps he'd be called Kevin B. Phillips.

Ben Franklin

BB; which?

Charlie (Colorado)

You don't suppose this adds to Obama's credibility problem, do you?

At this point, no.

Danube of Thought

Republicans, Democrats, Independents and all Americans love Social Security and Medicare. But only one political party acknowledges that both programs must be very substantially overhauled or they will very soon be unable to pay their obligations, and have offered proposals to address that undeniable fact. And it is not the Democratic party.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

BF: So make a law that says the only people allowed to vote on SS matters are those not already eligible and see how it fares. Separate out the question, so that those who have already factored in their SS in their retirement income budgets are protected, but allow those still working to have time to convert their forced SS payins to some other entity or nothing at all. But, no whining later if there are poor, homeless, or starving widows and orphans with no safety net.

The SS argument has been going on as long as I can remember and all my own working life. The arguments haven't changed in the last 40 years and neither have the proposed solutions.

Ben Franklin

"Republicans, (snip) love Social Security and Medicare."

Dweet, dweet, dweet-----Bullshit alert --notice the sincerity.

Belarus Bytes

BF,

My comment was in regard to the imedia article.

I also wanted to ask you about the Social Security timeline you just posted. My impression that your opening comments were sarcastic in nature and that you feel that Republicans do not support Social Security.

In the timeline for 1981, it says that Reagan increased the reviews on Social Security Disability recipients with the result of 106,000 removed from the rolls. Perhaps you could explain to me why it is bad to have ineligible recipients removed from the rolls or do you believe that no one should ever be removed from Social Security Disability because there is absolutely no fraud or abuse?

Also, in 1977 Republicans are apparently castigated for voting against an increase in the Social Security tax needed to keep the system solvent. But then the timeline goes on to be critical of Republican efforts to keep the system solvent in subsequent years. So in your opinion, is the only way to keep the Social Security solvent through increased taxation?

Ben Franklin

"Bruce Bartlett? Please. If there was a bigger "conservative" slut to the press than BB, he'd be named John "my friends" McCain."

Woot !!! You forgot David Stockman.........

Extraneus

"I don't know how anyone could vote democrat."

Surely there are some people whose votes for Democrats are understandable.

  • Those on the dole

  • Those who receive other sorts of government handouts (e.g., "stimulus funds," "Pigford settlements," etc.)

  • Those who pay little or no percentage of their income in taxes

  • Those who have been taught that we're a racist, bigoted, homophobic society

  • Those who have been taught that we're a society who rose to prosperity on the backs of the exploited masses

  • Those who have been taught that we're a society who believes that blacks should either be slaves or treated as 3/5 of a person

  • Those who believe that illegal aliens should have the right to vote

  • Communists, Socialists or Fascists

The categories aren't mutually exclusive, of course, but most of these people are either on the dole, Democrats in Congress, or the President and his wife, many of whom have benefited greatly from Affirmative Action.

Charlie (Colorado)

The Delaware voters shouldn't be held up as exemplars of making wise choices.

CH, there's a lesson here you really have got to learn. Some states, for whatever reason, aren't as ideologically pure as others. Maine, Delaware, and Massachusetts are among them.

Those states are simply not going to elect the pure, "correct" Goldwater-was-a-squish candidates you want.

None the less, if these states elect Evil RINOs who still caucus with the GOP, we win.

If the people of, say, Delaware are idiots but they elect someone who caucuses with the GOP, we win.

Now, I think the majority of the blame with MacDonnell was that the Ruling Class Republicans decided they'd rather see the Democrat win than one of Them.

In this, you're acting exactly like the Ruling Class Republicans; you've just redefined "them".

The lesson you need to learn is that ideological purity is no excuse if the result is four more years of Obama and a Democrat Senate.

Threadkiller

Shep's purpose is the keep "The Five" from being the worst show on Fox. Sadly the competition is too close to call.

Charlie (Colorado)

The Boehner-now-Reid plan will be returned to the House for a vote. What then?

Then Boehner amends it back and they go to conference.

Charlie (Colorado)

See? why links? Irrelevant.

Well, one significant difference is that you seem to be able to successfully include a link.

matt

the situational problem at the moment is not tax hikes per se, but rather tax hikes in an environment where the economy is in decline.

We are still not out of the recession and may well be falling into the post-stimulus reality of a long term slowdown. No jobs = no tax income. 5,000,000 more people working means improved government revenue.

Right now, we need to stimulate long term sustainable jobs. The green economy, which we do need once it is economic, is a scam.

We need manufacturing, building trades,and natural resources jobs. No offense, but everything else comes from that. We cannot afford to do each others laundry or accounting or health care as a nation unless we are creating wealth.

I am stunned by the opacity of the thinking of McCain, Bartlett and others. They are right, but for the wrong reasons.Even Boehner isn't addressing root causes. We are simply kicking the can down the road.

One of the sidebars to the global economic discussions these days is that America is exporting its inflation.The correlary is that as India and China rise, demand increases there and elsewhere. Tin was $2700/ton a few years ago. Now it's at $24,000 or thereabout.

The real argument is about whether we will be hit by inflation or deflation. Either way it's going to suck.

August 2 is a psychological Rubicon but underlying this is the fast approaching implosion of the global economy if a lot of countries don't get their houses in order tout suite. What's the likelihood of that happening?

We can deal with the issues or they will deal with us. We have yet to hear a plan forward, and that is what I fear the most.

Jane says obamasucks

Shep's purpose is the keep "The Five" from being the worst show on Fox.

I blame that entirely on beckel who may be the most boorish person on TV.

centralcal

Threadkiller: Fortunately "The Five" is a temporary interim placeholder until Ailes comes up with something better. If reviews and ratings stay the way they are (pretty close to your opinion) that should happen sooner, rather than later.

Shep's news show isn't the "worst" on FNC (pretty damned close, though) - but, by golly, he is the worst "anchor" on any channel. He would fit right in on MSNBC - Contessa Brewer and Princess Smith - I can see it now.

Charlie (Colorado)

Speaking of, Narcisco, it's actually easy. It's like this: A link, which is formally known as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator, will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have this form:

http://example.com/a/path/to-a-page

- it will always start with the letters HTTP followed by a colon ":".
- it will never have a semicolon. Never. Not even once.
- it will have no blanks. Never. Not even one.
- it MAY have odd sequences like %20 or %2E in it. Those are needed.

It is easiest to cut and paste the URL in order to get it correctly.

- there is no computer in the world on which you can access the Web through a web browser that doesn't also allow cutting and pasting.
- if you think yours does not, you're mistaken.
- if you tell us the exact computer, operating system, and browser combination you are using, we can tell you how to do the cut and paste.

Ben Franklin

BB;

If you want me to document the History, it will be tedious for me and I don't have time for a tutorial. But here are a few contextual bullets.

Republicans have vociferously opposed SS since inception (FDR)
see Wiki.

At every turn Safety Nets (Socialism) R's have consistently pulled all the stops to derail and circumvent (Medicare 1965)

Ronald Reagan began the first series of successful salvos to kill SS.

How? Well, certainly not directly, but as per usual, the backdoor.

By instituting the Reaganomic, 'Trickle-Down, Supply Side Philosophy, and using the Cold War as cover, the Pentagon Budget was bloated, taxes cut and Social Programs were left with little to work with. "borrowed" future revenue was taken to current
programs so they could continue with Funding.

I don't know how old you are but at one time payroll taxes were about 3 percent. Now they are 12%, but guess what? If you make more than $200K (agi) you are capped on payroll taxes after that point.

Now we have something. If taxes (cap gains/ordinary income) go down for Fed withholding, it's a win for the wealthy.

So the strategy for switching the burden from trust fund babies and Hedge Funders and placing it on the working stiff was fabulously successful.

I can go on...........shall we talk about post Reagan Republican SS Shenanigans?

Extraneus

This does seem ripe for corruption, or at least political manipulation.

S&P Official: Proposed Deficit-Reduction Plans Could Preserve Credit Rating

Standard & Poor's President Deven Sharma told a congressional panel on Wednesday that previous reports indicating that Congress would need to achieve $4 trillion in deficit cuts over 10 years to retain the country's top credit rating were inaccurate.

Sharma refused to be specific over how much deficit cutting would be needed to win S&P's approval. But he said some of the plans being discussed were in the range of what the credit agency believes would be necessary for a credible attack on the country's deficit problems.

anduril

It is easiest to cut and paste the URL in order to get it correctly.

I always COPY and paste--is that OK, too, oh Freemasonic guru?

Charlie (Colorado)

I,( choke) chose to discard unnecessarily inflammatory pieces from my posts to facilitate the discussion in the past days. See how that worked? Yet, here you are stinking up the rhetoric........

The question is whether you're getting more of what you want. Narciscolate DoT if you want. Personally, I think there has been a degree of sucker-punching to this -- you said "no mas" and they're coming back to blind side you.

The cuts-and-pastes have been somewhat interesting, but as with Anduril, a single graf and a link would be better. Or set up a blog of your own. But here the more closely optimal strategy is to say something of your own making.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

We have the largest block of humanity in the history of the country moving thru the system. The Boomer numbers have been affecting everything since the late '40s. We've needed more schools, more scout leaders, more durable goods, more food, etc, etc. Now we need more money for SS and healthcare. For the most part, the boomer generation was a financial boom for everybody. But, the Boomers forgot that for everything to work, we needed to replace ourselves and we didn't. We lowered the birth rate to dangerous levels and there is just not a big enough workforce, even if everyone were working, to support a top heavy system that depends on a newer generation's input at the same numbers as the retiring generation.

And I don't know about the rest of you, but I hardly know any seniors who aren't helping to support their kids or grandkids. And the Boomers, for the most part, left home either after high school or by the time they graduated from college. Today, kids think you owe them until they are in their 30s and even 40s.

Ben Franklin

anduril;

chaco asks because he actually likes to READ the links, so bugger off.

Charlie (Colorado)

If the SS Trust fund reduces its assets, that raises the (net) indebtedness of the US. Just as if I take money out of the bank and spend it on beer, unless I spend it to pay off other debts, my net asset position is diminished.

Jimmy, they're being treated as different classes of accounts. The Trust Fund isn't counted as part of the public debt, it's a creditor that holds part of the public debt, in the form of magical trust fund bonds. Cash in those bonds, and give the money to the Trust Fund for disbursement, and you've paid off part of the debt. It's just like paying $1000 against your credit card: now you're below your credit limit and you can charge another $1000.

Ben Franklin

It was a strategy that I suspected. But gave it a chance so chalk it up to experience and move on. I recognize that originality is preferable, but i would rather give a taste of something noteworthy (yes, the SNARK, too) with a link so you can read for yourself. But, when I have the wherewithal to stick with expressing my thinking, I don't hesitate.

Ben Franklin

But, but , but..... more proofread

Sara (Pal2Pal)

Just for the record, I like "The Five." I wouldn't say it is in my top five, but it certainly comes nowhere close to being the worst show on Fox. I particularly like it this week with Monica Crowley on.

Charlie (Colorado)

I used to believe investing meant more than just money in, money out, and I still believe it should be,

Why?

Charlie (Colorado)

Dot, can you find me a link to that chart? That's exactly one of the things I keep trying to tell people.

Danube of Thought

It appears that BF assumes that any vote to reduce the outlays of DD and Medicare evidences antipathy to the programs. It is that line of thought that has led to the current $66 Trillion in unfunded obligations, concerning which neither he nor any Democrat has exhaled a single constructive breath.

And I note that my assertion that the Democratic party has proposed no solution remains unchallenged.

Who is surprised?

JM Hanes

Belarus Bytes:

"I'm not able to get the CBNC link to work...."

It loads, though slowly, from the link for me, but here are your particulars.

Belarus weighs in at #9:
Per capita alcohol consumption: 15.13 liters 
Recorded consumption: 11.22 
Unrecorded consumption: 3.91 

Per capita consumption by type (recorded) 
Beer: 1.84 liters 
Wine: 0.80 liters 
Spirits: 4.08 liters
Other: 2.67 liters

Perhaps you can get there from the Intro page. I'd have laid odds on Russia for the win, but little Moldova took top honors. The one that really surprised me, though, was South Korea in the #11 spot.

Ben Franklin


I don't know if anyone is keeping up with this, but you should...

http://www.spaceweather.com/

BIG SUNSPOTS: After more than a week of quiet, solar activity is picking up. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring two big sunspot groups now emerging over the sun's eastern limb. Click on the image to view a 40-hour movie:

DrJ

Today, kids think you owe them until they are in their 30s and even 40s.

You mean it does stop? Really? I'm relieved, though we're not there yet.

Belarus Bytes

BF,

I have no idea how old you are or who you are, nor do I care. I am old enough to remember Nixon, Carter, and Reagan all quite well. I'm also a beneficiary of Social Security payments so I have a vested interest in its existence and its solvency.

My impression is that you believe everything a Republican does or says is with the ulterior motive of weakening and eventually destroying or cancelling Social Security. If I am wrong, I hope you will correct me.

JM Hanes

Not sure what happened to the formatting, but to clear up the confusion (though what "unrecorded consumption" means is anybody's guess):

Belarus weighs in at #9:

Per capita alcohol consumption: 15.13 liters 

Recorded consumption: 11.22 

Unrecorded consumption: 3.91 



Per capita consumption by type (recorded)

Beer: 1.84 liters

Wine: 0.80 liters

Spirits: 4.08 liters
Other: 2.67 liters

Ben Franklin

"My impression is that you believe everything a Republican does or says is with the ulterior motive of weakening and eventually destroying or cancelling Social Security"

I hope you don't think the 'cure' for my thinking is bleeding me slowly. I'm alert to the 'strategy', now so i'll be watching.

For now, my answer is No.

Ben Franklin

I doubt that King is the reliable source for this story....

http://www.newsmeat.com/news/meat.php?articleId=104510205&channelId=2951&buyerId=newsmeatcom&buid=3281

"The Somalia-based Shebab terror group linked to Al-Qaeda is actively recruiting Muslim Americans for terror strikes on the United States, a US lawmaker warned Wednesday.


"We must face the reality that Al-Shebab is a growing threat to our homeland," said Republican Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee.

Wednesday's hearing was the third in a controversial series looking at possible threats posed by homegrown Islamist extremists.

Critics charge that King's focus on Muslim Americans plays into the hands of extremists who say Washington is wrongly targeting Islam in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.

Tens of thousands of Somali immigrants and their US-born children live in places like the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, in the midwestern US state of Minnesota.

According to King, senior US counterterrorism officials told the committee they fear that a Shebab fighter "may attempt an attack here."

King mentioned Shirwa Ahmed, a Minneapolis resident who is "the first confirmed American suicide bomber in our history," as well as Omar Hammami, identified as a Shebab commander "who was raised a Baptist in Alabama, and who has repeatedly threatened the US homeland."

Charlie (Colorado)

2006: President Bush, once again, includes privatization of Social Security in his 2007 budget.

Dana, the problem with this list is that in fact a lot of those steps are indeed intended to save Social Security.

Like any annuitized sort of plan, social security has one major problem: keeping the total revenue coming in at or above the expenses. Mathematically, that's a very difficult proposition; it leads to a whole lovely piece of mathematics called "actuary science". But the basics are simple: you have some amount of assets, and they're realizing you some revenue through investments; you have some direct revenue in premiums; and you have what you have to pay out as people get to retirement age or die.

Social Security has a special problem, though -- it started out actuarially sound, but politicians realized they could give away more money and the governors of social security couldn't stop them. As a result, Social Security was rapidly made actuarially unsound.

When it becomes actuarially unsound, there are only a few things you can do:

- charge more
- reduce expenditures
- make more on the investments.

If you can identify one of those things on your list that doesn't have one of those three effects, then you'll have found something that doesn't at least attempt to save social security.

Danube of Thought

"For now, my answer is No."

Only Dana knows what the question was.

And we still await his disclosure of the Democratic proposal to address the unfunded obligations of SS and Medicare.

For now, his answer is " ."

Belarus Bytes

JMH,

I've got a relatively slow connection here so that was probably my problem. My experience is that anytime you go to another's flat for any reason, or if they visit you, it is reasonable to expect to consume at least .25 liters of vodka. So even at one get together a week, that's 13 liters the average man consumes a year.

But from what I've seen on the street, I think Belarus has plenty of above average men. :)

Ben Franklin

"Social Security has a special problem, though -- it started out actuarially sound, but politicians realized they could give away more money and the governors of social security couldn't stop them. As a result, Social Security was rapidly made actuarially unsound."

Please elaborate.....

Captain Hate

If the people of, say, Delaware are idiots but they elect someone who caucuses with the GOP, we win.

I know you like to invent a one-dimensional strawman to argue with, but in the quoted sentence I was referring to Biden, whose seat it was before Castle ran to serve the remaining time in the term in a special election. And LOL that I act "just like" the country-clubber spawn of Rockefeller who couldn't stand the thought of a parvenu like Christine O'Donnell winning. I certainly wouldn't have groused if OMG SURE THING MIKE CASTLE had won like Rove and the rest of the Repuke grandees did about COD on national forums until Michael Steele, of all people, told them to zip it.

You can jab me about ideological purity all you want; neither side seems to be serious about climbing out of this hole of debt we're in.

Ben Franklin

"For now, my answer is No."

should read, 'No, that is incorrect BB'

Is that clear?

Belarus Bytes

BF,

No, I'm not trying to play games as I'm too old for plus not clever enough. I try to speak, and write, with carefully chosen words so that I can convey exactly what I am trying to communicate. I realize that I'm not always successful in this regard but, like everyone here, I'm only human.

All I am trying to do with you is to understand what you are trying to communicate. If it is not that Republicans are intentionally set on destroying Social Security, then what is it?

Sara (Pal2Pal)

BF: I, for one, prefer a link, a brief paragraph or two to give the gist of the link and a line or two to give us an idea if you are presenting the link because you agree or because you don't and wish to debate the idea.

And I prefer blockquotes to set off the linked copy to separate it from your own remarks. Or at the very lease, italicizing the quote to set it off.

If you have said, I don't recall, what type of system you are on. Mac, Windows, IE, Firefox, ??? There is no reason to not format properly using the HTML toolbar addon in Firefox. I don't know about the rest.

I post links occasionally with no explanation, but they are usually clear from the title or they are informational such as a death, an arrest, a vote tally, etc. Sometimes I throw something out there just to try to change the subject or get a new discussion going. Anything but the sniping and snarking, IMHO, is a good thing. But, I don't think, even with unexplained links, that there is any doubt where I stand; with you, it is more mercurial.

I do know that you've engaged with Hit privately and that others have attempted to engage with you thru emails that have been ignored. What do you want from JOM? It is hard to believe you want the constant vitriol that gets directed your way.

All that said, if you change to a handle with the "C" word in it again, you will have lost at least one more person willing to go to bat for you. Don't do that!

Ben Franklin

"If it is not that Republicans are intentionally set on destroying Social Security"

That's not what you said;

"My impression is that you believe everything a Republican does or says is with the ulterior motive of weakening and eventually destroying or cancelling Social Security"

Tell me BB. 1. Do you think medicare and SS are Ponzi schemes?

2. Are they Socialism?

3. How do you feel about socialism?

Belarus Bytes

BF,

You changed your answer while I was writing my previous reply, so my apologizes for not refreshing before posting.

Again, I'm not interested in playing gotcha or any other rhetorical games, I'm simply interested in understanding what your point is.

I've been a longtime lurker of this blog but can not say that I've read every post or comment, so if you feel this is something you've already addressed, feel free to point me in the right direction.

Charlie (Colorado)

Republicans have vociferously opposed SS since inception (FDR)

Dana, there's a sort of meta-issue here: if we're going to start ascribing specific motives to current republicans based on things that happened 70+ years ago, then it's certainly fair to point out the powerful southern Democrats who were the major opposition because, quoting the Wikipedia article, they "wished to avoid legislation which might interfere with the racial status quo in the South" and suggest that modern Democrats also want to keep black people in their place with social security and such.

There's also a little problem that your wiki citation doesn't actually support your argument that it was Republicans who were the major opposition -- which could also be easily seen by looking at the relative strength of the parties during FDR's first term.

But let those pass. The objections, from the start, were economic. It was taking money out of an already sickly economy. That money wasn't invested, it just want into the Treasury. By the time benefits started being paid, the people eligible for benefits included lots of people who were't on the list when it started, so that even by 1942, Social Security was already actuarially unsound.

Ben Franklin

BB; If they are socialism, why would conservatives want to strengthen them?

You see the dilemma. They must eradicate the vermin, and SS is part of the pest problem. To pretend otherwise just boils down to politics.

They know it's the Third Rail of Politics, so they protest, vehemently, when the truth of their real affections is borne out by behaviors.

I don't listen to what people say. I watch what they do.

Chubby

((Why?))


because I like believing that loyalty to useful and constructive ideas, as well as money in and money out, matters

if it's just money in money out, the idea part doesn't matter at all

Charlie (Colorado)

You can jab me about ideological purity all you want; neither side seems to be serious about climbing out of this hole of debt we're in.

CH, you're not serious about climbing out of the hole unless you're serious about delivering winning candidates.

Charlie (Colorado)

if it's just money in money out, the idea part doesn't matter at all

Nope, wrong. The ideas are what make the money in and money out work.

Cecil Turner

Anyone who thinks SS and Medicare/caid are solvent is too dim to have a rational discussion with. Unfortunately, that includes practically all Dem politicians (and about half their base . . . the other half knows they're not, but won't admit it).

Charlie (Colorado)

Please elaborate.....

the Wiki article on Social Security does it pretty well on its own. Scroll down to the section on 1939 amendments, where it says:

One reason for the proposed changes in 1939 was a growing concern over the impact that the reserves created by the 1935 act were having on the economy. The Recession of 1937 was blamed on the government, tied to the abrupt decrease in government spending and the $2 billion that had been collected in Social Security taxes.[31] Benefits became available in 1940 instead of 1942 and changes to the benefit formula increased the amount of benefits available to all recipients in the early years of Social Security.[32] These two policies combined to shrink the size of the reserves. The original Act had conceived of the program as paying benefits out of a large reserve. This Act shifted the conception of Social Security into something of a hybrid system; while reserves would still accumulate, most early beneficiaries would receive benefits on the pay-as-you-go system. Just as importantly, the changes also delayed planned rises in contribution rates. Ironically if these had been left in place they would have come into effect during the wartime boom in wages and would have arguably helped to temper wartime inflation.

Oh, and in answer to one of your questions to Belarus, yes, Social Security is technically a Ponzi scheme. Again to quote the Wiki:


A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going.

Charlie (Colorado)

I always COPY and paste--is that OK, too, oh Freemasonic guru?

Skillful computer people know that the phrase "cut and paste" is generic.

Danube of Thought

In my view neither program is "socialism," a term that means many different things to different people.

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme in that, from the outset, current claimants have been paid out of current receipts from others. It was absolutely doomed to ultimate insolvency by demographics from the day it was enacted. The hysterical responses to any and all efforts at forestalling that certain insolvency gave rise to the "third rail" meme, which one hopes has now disappeared from the conversation.

I believe Medicare is indistinguishable from SS in that regard. And if it is notl substantially reformed it will collapse.

Belarus Bytes

BF,

I agree that the words I used are different but I fail to discern any difference in the meaning. To me, saying that Republicans have an ulterior motive of destroying Social Security and saying that Republicans are intentionally set on destroying SS are the same thing.

I guess one could argue that saying Republicans have an ulterior motive means that they are trying to do in under the radar while saying that they are intentionally set on destroying SS would imply that it is a public goal. But, to my mind anyway, the statements are identical as to the end result.

As to your questions, 1. Yes, SS and Medicare are Ponzi schemes in the sense that the continuation of benefit payments is contingent upon having ever greater number of participants and/or receipts.

2. I dislike labels because one person's understanding of something can be quite different from anothers. As I understand socialism, SS is currently not socialist because all payments are being with receipts paid into the SS Trust. At the point the ponzi collapses and payments have to be made out of General Funds, then I would say it becomes socialistic in nature.

3. Again, I'm not comfortable commenting on this because of the nebulous nature of the word "Socialism". I can speak of my experience living in Belarus which some consider to be an example of socialism. It is not working very well right now and I would not recommend trying it elsewhere.

If you want to define the term "socialism", I will try to be more specific in my response.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

You mean it does stop? Really? I'm relieved, though we're not there yet.

I don't know if it stops. It hasn't for me yet.

Chubby

((Nope, wrong. The ideas are what make the money in and money out work.))

nope, in the markets it's sales and financail reports alone that make it work. unfortunately, the better of two competing ideas isn't always the idea that generates the best reports and sales

Ben Franklin

Yes Chaco, political parties change over time, Lincoln was a Republican, which mirrored Democratic in 1932.

Reagan was a Republican, but maybe not by today's standards.

Democrats in the South were in favor of segregation. Blue Dog Dems......well, you know the story.

Yes, the cover story in the 30's was 'spending' is out of control,
In truth, the Depression probably was extended because of the New Deal with WPA, SS etc.

The Conservatives during his heyday waxed the same apocalyptic
doom we hear about Obama today. "he's a communist" He's gonna spend us into the poor house. The fact that the depression was extended does not change the fact that it was done to soften the landing for the little guy.

The same crapola politics was fully engaged in the 30's, as it is today.

http://benedum.wikispaces.com/message/view/Jacksonians/9791702

"offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent."

As for the Ponzi scheme; SS doesn't seem to qualify, unless you think 1-2% return makes it 'consistent'

Ponzi schemes generally rely on the gullible to believe high returns in a short time frame, That's not SS.

Juicy Lucy

unless you think 1-2% return makes it 'consistent'

That's what early and current recipients have received, just as the early participants in a Ponzi scheme enjoy nice returns. No one starting out in the system today has any hope of such a return. If there's a moral distinction between a false promise of quick money and a false promise of a return in one's retirement years, it escapes me.

Ben Franklin

"I guess one could argue that saying Republicans have an ulterior motive means that they are trying to do in under the radar while saying that they are intentionally set on destroying SS would imply that it is a public goal. But, to my mind anyway, the statements are identical as to the end result."

Well, I'm accustomed to working in a mine field without many friendlies to assist, so I am cautious. To you they sounded the same but you extrapolated my pov with the graf above.

They are desperate not to appear opposed to SS. They HAVE to go under radar, or lose their jobs, (which is ABSOLUTELY to be avoided)

As to the Socialism question; I was not asking for the definition, but your emotional response. Just a hint; If you plan an extended stay at JOM, I suggest you form an exact opinion of the subject and then keep it to yourself, if it doesn't reflect the majority opinion.

Cecil Turner

Seriously, that's the best ya got? It would be a Ponzi scheme, if only the return didn't suck? Brilliant.

Janet

Sorry, I can't get this out of my head -

"I'm not a Christian, I'm a Presbyterian."
That statement says a lot about the sorry state of a lot of the mainline denominations. They've become secular clubs that do nice things but rarely stress their #1 purpose for existence - to connect people to Almighty God.

...it was very hard for mainline protestants to get the overt born again Christian rhetoric.

How is "overt" bad if you are spreading the Gospel? ...and born again just means that we've asked Jesus to be our Lord & Savior. Years ago I would have assumed that most Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists,etc. were born again.

No church can save anybody. Only God can.

JM Hanes

Sara:

BF knows perfectly well how to engage constructively. The idea that he responds to positive reinforcement like an errant child or cares whether or not you go to bat for him is just charitable wishful thinking -- which he doubtless finds amusing, not edifying.

Respond, if you find a post or paste of interest, but don't mistake any ersatz civility for genuine rehabilitation.

Ben Franklin

Yeah Cecil....and you'd be a picnic if you weren't shy a couple of sandwiches...

Ben Franklin

Sara;

Kids these days and their parents have a life-long co-dependency.

What spoilers, we are.

Cecil Turner

And this is his good behavior. Do yourself a favor BB, don't waste time on the troll.

DrJ

Sara,

I don't know if it stops. It hasn't for me yet.

We have moved one off the dole and onto my payroll, so at least we are getting something of value for the cash. I don't think you have that option.

Ben Franklin

Sara;

Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain (raincoat?)

I do appreciate your sincerity and compassion. I 'grok' Sara and Chaco.

Chubby

((They are desperate not to appear opposed to SS.))

similar to how Democrats appeared to be against increasing the debit limit when Bush was prez?

wtf does your side always fight it out on crap that impugns character of yoru enemies, but never addresses the actual issues

jimmyk

CH, you're not serious about climbing out of the hole unless you're serious about delivering winning candidates.

That's kind of circular if you undercut the candidate who wins the Republican primary. People like Rove who stabbed O'Donnell in the back made sure that she wasn't a winning candidate. And then they have the nerve to come lecturing others about ideological purity.

Ben Franklin

btw; I do not mean to embarrass...The Oxford definition is less so.

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Wilson/Plame