Friday, May 26, 2017

Americans Today...


Greg Gianforte, Montana's newly elected Republican Representative

A day or so after Montana's sole House seat candidate, Greg Gianforte, physically assaulted a journalist for asking an important question, he became the next Republican Representative from Montana.  Of course, 2/3rds of the ballots had already been cast and couldn't be changed, but that 1/3rd left?  Makes ya' wonder about the people of Montana... well, that's not fair... It makes you wonder about Americans.  Trump won Montana with almost 56% of the vote, well above the national average, but demographically very similar to the rest of rural America, and Montana is very rural - and always controlled by a few powerful resource interests, two essentials for GOP victories, regardless of the species running.

What's happened to us?  We were never the brightest people, Americans.  "The Love Boat," anyone?  But watch a Japanese cartoon for a few minutes and you'll feel much better about yourself.  At least we're sane... but are we anymore?  It would have been unthinkable to me, years ago, cruising down the Jersey Turnpike, listening to Howard Stern and Donald Trump goof around on K-Rock, that one day Howard Stern would be President, and as for Trump, it would have been just acid-trip crazy.

When the movie "Idiocracy" came out, I thought it was kinda clever.  I wasn't surprised that it became kind of the cult classic, as camp.  The way it was made, it was hard to take seriously in any way.  It was no 'Dr. Strangelove' or 'Clockwork Orange,' or even the rather cheesy 'Soylent Green.'  But 'Idiocracy' was more prescient than any of them.  Eventually, we are going to become so stupid, we're simply going to collapse from the weight of the dead brain matter.  If all the great empires eventually die of sin, our fatal sin will be Willful Ignorance.

Here's a story from the WAPO based on a survey from last December.  It's essentially all about Willful Ignorance, tribal identity manifested as ridiculous beliefs.

A boss of mine a few years ago opened a conversation with me by asking, "What church do you go to?"  He assumed I must be a church-going kinda guy because of my personality (in person, I'm very outgoing, warm, and strongly and actively ethical).  I told him, "I don't go to church. I'm not religious."  He said, "Well, I'm not really 'religious' either, but I believe in God," or to that effect - it's a common response to that answer, and sure enough he does attend a non-denominational evangelical, kinda fundy, Christian church and takes his faith very seriously.  Nice guy.  Anyway, I said, "I don't believe anything.  Either I know or I don't.  I'm a big fan of Jesus, but I do not believe in miracles and magic."  And that's exactly how I phrased it.  And he left it at that.

I think the problem we're having these days is a deep insecurity about about the scope and complexity of the modern, rapidly changing, world around us.  So, we pull the blanket up over our heads and hope the scary monster doesn't see us, or goes away.  This is easily on display when you look at the link from WAPO above.  It's the Bogeyman Syndrome.  We're easily distracted by sensationalist Bogeyman stories that keep our attentions away from the serious and troubling real problems we must face.  We need to "man-up" and deal with these issues, but given what many Americans seem to think "being a man" is, I don't think we can.  I think we will become an Idiocracy, if we're not already there.

JMJ

109 comments:

  1. The Podesta e-mails contained NO pedophilia symbols/code? Who knew?

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  2. omg... http://www.snopes.com/pizzagate-conspiracy/

    JMJ

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  3. Replies
    1. Too much cheese for your pizza, JMJ?

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    2. COnfess, that made you hungry, didn't it?

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    3. Just because there's no "invisible man" sitting in a chair doesn't mean that ALL the other objects in the painting don't exist.

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    4. Your liberal metanarative is slipping.

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    5. ps - Hillary says she "beat" Trump. So when is she moving into the White House?

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    6. I can't believe a grown man would be so into this nonsense.

      JMJ

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    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    8. I can't believe that you believe your own meta-narrative.

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    9. "I don't believe anything. Either I know or I don't.

      LOL! All "known unknowns," right? No "roads to Larissa". Everything is traced along the chain of "cause".

      LOL!

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  4. After watching Americans for decades it's crazy behavior in both cultural and political decisions does not surprise me at all. Certainly the level of craziness has heightened, but that seems to be a normal progress along with all its other nutty decisions. Trump winning the election did not surprise me, it just depressed me.

    I can understand mistakes, but voting for Bush a second time after we knew the lies? Voting for Nixon a second when we knew the White House was tied to Watergate before the second election? Voting for "Cut Taxes" for decades while continuing to go into debt? This debt has been built during one generation, the Baby Boomer generation. A spoiled generation who was always out for their own good time no matter what the consequences.

    We wonder why we can't balance national budgets when our taxes are half of what the greatest generation taxed themselves at. Argue the spending, but don't stop paying the bills. Cut taxes, but don't cut spending?

    In my day we settled political differences with a bullet (King, Kennedy, Kennedy, and so many more...)

    Are we worse today? I guess that depends if you think Trump should be assassinated, or dragged kicking and screaming through an impeachment process. This time it won't be about a blow job.

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    1. Half the debt came from Barry Obama in the past 8 years.

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    2. Thanks for that infantile, partisan justification.

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    3. Anonymous, infantile and blindly partisan is what our body politic has grown into. Rather than learning from mistakes and changing our course the GOP plunges ahead with greater intensity. And the 1%'ers continuing to be highly satified and proud of themselves.

      As the Titantic keeps taking on water.

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    4. Thersites, you shouldn't lie. That's not good form.

      JMJ

      JMJ

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    5. On January 20, 2009, when he was sworn in, the debt was $10.626 trillion. On January 20, 2017, it was $19.947 trillion.

      You deny the FACTS, or do you live in an "alternative fact" zone?

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    6. Oooops. I forgot. The Russians "hacked" the National Debt clock and changed the numbers!

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  5. FJ, you said, "Half the debt came from Barry Obama in the past 8 years."

    Really? So, Obama, President Obama, is the cause of the debt, remember what debt is for a moment please, going up 100%? You can really make that assertion? I am to believe you are so unaware, you, of why that debt exploded, that you would honestly believe "half the debt came from Barry Obama in the past 8 years?"

    C'mon man. That's so simplistic and misguided, it sounds like something an 8-year-old would say.

    JMJ

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    1. I wish you'd be serious for a moment. I like playing around too, but at some point I like to interact like a grown-up.

      JMJ

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    2. By ignoring "inconvenient facts" cause they don't fit your "greater" Dali?

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    3. The stupid sleazy cons created this debt mess.

      JMJ

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    4. We didn't create the CRA, thats ALL on you!

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    5. LOL! Yeah, I've heard that one many times. So stupid...

      JMJ

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  6. Look, we've got 10,000 people hitting 65 every day for years now. We have 11+ million people here who are not being properly accounted, for years now. We just now barely "recovered" from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and economists fear we're in for another soon, our growth rate is not keeping up with our death rate, seemingly independent figures, but certainly not. The cost of the wars and the military since WWII has been just insane, ludicrous, beyond anything in history X 1000! And you, you think Obama did all that? You think some decision he made, some bill he should have signed, would have stopped that debt increase from occurring? That had McCain been elected millions of unemployed people were suddenly going to find work? That property values would have soared? That income would have risen like magic from the dust-heap of laizzez faire bubble-exploding and people wouldn't have qualified for foodstamps? That millions of desperate people flooded disability with applications because they'd run out of options (screwing people like me in the process, but I don't begrudge or question them)?

    After the first two years, during which he did some good, Obama couldn't do anything. The GOP had effectively clogged the Hill, and the Red States actively worked against him. It was sad. It was six years of sit and wait. And here we are.

    JMJ

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    1. Oops!

      "That millions of desperate people flooded disability with applications because they'd run out of options (screwing people like me in the process, but I don't begrudge or question them) would not have happened?"

      JMJ

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    2. Yup Jersey. Here we are. Forgive for being the cynic but Trump is here, the great con man, and literally millions think the guy is the national savoir. I am waiting patiently so I can laugh hysterically when Trump balloons the debt with record insane spending on the military, out NATO allies give us the middle finger, western democracies reshape relationships leaving the USA to pick up the crumbs, 24 souls get the boot and return to no insurance, our educational system slides down further behind out her nations in science as we pump the religous, and so much more.

      Oh, almost forgot, the GOP has actually been pushing all out idiocy since Bill Clinton was in the WH. They and the country got Trump as a result. Whoopee! Brace yourself for another great wealth flow away from the middle class to the very top. Trump will make GWB look like a piker.

      We're in deep shit and the pile is going to get much higher.

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    3. Know the difference between Obama and Reagan? Reagan boldly took control of monetary policy by raising rates and despite all the opposition, killed "stagflation" and changed policy creating 30 years of economic growth. Obama, on the contrary, stuck his head in the sand, zeroed the federal funds rate, and stopped passing federal budgets. He then bought up trillions in subprime mortgage loans and threw them all into the FHA risk pool.

      Obama couldn't "raise rates" if his life depended upon it because it would blow the federal budget; $19t at triple/quadruple interest rate).

      Obama's a coward who "ducked" the presidency. We've got no time for more fools like him.

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    4. That's a silly take on history. Reagan "boldly" did what he was told, by the likes of Paul Volker, Milton Freidman, ALan Greenspan, etc. He went after inflation, to appease the rich, by interest rates against growth. He cut taxes too much, and had to throw the whole plan out and start over again in '86. Your story about Reagan did such and such with the FHA, I don't know where you get that from. And feds can't raise rates because we'd be looking at deflation at this point!

      Reagan? Whatever. You and I have very different memories of these things.

      JMJ

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  7. lol! After the housing bubble, deflation sounds like an appropriate "corrective.". Or are you of the "do no harm" cuz the stupid will suffer variety of liberalism?

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    1. People who never should have bought houses will lose their houses.... oh, the horror!

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    2. A government that needs to protect people from the natural effects of the economy is a government that keeps people from mining coal in Newcastle.

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    3. And its perfectly fine for predatory lenders to have their day we suppose. We need more Bernie Maddow's right? Not to fear. If Trump has his way we will likely see another meltdown. But it's all good, the top 1% will be okay.

      Seems the bigger the Fuck up the better the conservatives like it.

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    4. Thersites, when the Mortgage Meltdown hit, I was living down here in FL for about year. My wife was teaching Middle School the in a nearby town. I was just doing odd stuff at the time, thinking about going back to school. The wife had given me a little "me time," because with our bills so low and our credit so good, and her moving from the Catholics to the public schools, she could give me a break from a long stretch in a very stressful line of work. But I get bored easy, and I always have to work, so I got work from a real estate lawyer out of Tampa. It was piece work. Example: Couple has real estate, usually a second home, they're paying in various ways and usually through an escrow, with the insurance, fees, taxes, all out one account. Ostensible time comes to finish the mortgage, they get ready to start the fire, lawyer does the title search, they call the bank, the bank says they don't have the mortgage.

      This used to happen a lot.

      Anyways, my job was to find the mortgage. I would essentially 'take the role' of the homeowner, and track down the mortgage. Usually, they would turn up in the same few states, with certain lax regulation, and with the same few lenders. Whatever the ethics of what I was doing, what they were doing is called, "up to no good."

      After the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the banks, insurers, and investment houses were now one big glom. Accountability for the paper became obscured. One side of the glom could hedge against the other side of the glom so there was no way to lose. Accountability for the paper didn't matter any more, and so the banks, who used to scrutinize paper to death, were just pushing it through. No one went to jail for writing all that bad paper. They kept it away from F&F (but of course F&F took the blame from the sleazy Right, and took the losses just like the entire rest of the country). Of the 2006, the peak year of the bubble, "second tiers" that defaulted, F&F only backed 6%.

      The reason the wealthier older folks, low-risk, often fully paid already, high value mortgages were missing because they were being transferred to branches or sold to other banks in other states where they could be bundled with with greater numbers of second tier, lower value, much higher risk paper. Spreading the risk. But it was fraud. A racket. And it was avoidable.

      Throw in the Bankruptcy "reform" the was passed just before the collapse, and you have a recipe for disaster. You can call it a "correction" if you like, but once again it seems to me you are just once again proving JK Galbraith's assertion about modern conservatism.

      JMJ

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    5. Who changed the laws so that the mortgages could get "bundled". Ahhhh, that was Ginnie Mae, Fannie and Freddie. At first FHA wasn't stupid enough to "buy" any of the paper. But THEY helped establish the system as "pathfinders" that allowed it to happen.

      Also, before CRA, the banks had to hold onto most of their mortgages papers. After CRA they were "penalized" for doing so... and in '97, even Freddie and Fannie started buying subprime securitized loans. After the meltdown, they bought all of it, including private "subprime" paper.

      Why did the system go "south"? Because there was an implicit "government guarantee" that the government and taxpayer would "back the securitized paper up"... which ACTUALLY proved to be the "true" case.

      The taxpayers paid for the Governments mistakes, distorting the entire economy in the process.

      Did Obama try and "fix" it? Nah, he just threw another 20% of the economy onto the taxpayers backs (Obamacare).

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    6. Yes it was a fraud, a racket, and avoidable. A fraud created entirely by politicians in Washington DC.

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    7. A scam developed by HUD with specific lending targets for poor and minority people, to give loans to people who couldn't afford them. Today, the CFPB has the same mission for all "other" credit markets". To get poor and minority people into debt WAY BEYOND THEIR MEANS.

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    8. You believe whatever pleases you. I can see from your responses here that you know very little about the subject, and find blaming the poor and liberals, though they had no power or control over any of this, convenient to assume.

      It is true, from what I've read, that the Bush admin did want to loosen up secpnd tier lending, under the assumption that people tend to become more politically conservative once they become homeowners. But there is zero evidence to suggest they were pressuring anyone to write bad paper, and F&F did not back the vast majority of that bad paper. They simply suffeted the from the equity drop like everyone else.

      JMJ

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    9. I don't blame the poor. I blame the gubmint.

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    10. Yeah, just another simplistic, easy-answer, position.

      JMJ

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    11. Oh my. That says a lot about your epistemology. And "justice?" C'mon man. You fight against justice more than anyone else I know.

      JMJ

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  8. George Orwell would love the CFPB. Newspeak.

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    1. A "Deep State" non-democratic neoliberal economic protection racket established to ensure global capital's survival and to glom onto the private retirement savings of ALL Americans and keep them in perpetual credit bondage.

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    2. Sallie Mae is the next crises... gee, maybe we need to forgive all the student loan debt and make the government pay for universities...

      ...the commie agenda creeps out of the shadows.

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    3. I'd swear you are Satan's PR guy.

      JMJ

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  9. Smart people know their own financial situation AND ability to meet ALL credit obligations. Apparently they are a lot of people that are not so bright and are influenced by predatory lenders to purchase that which they cannot afford.

    Government oversight to insure there are severe penalties for activities you describe FJ is neccessary. Greed lays at the bottom of those unethical and immoral activities.

    As for George Orwell, he was a socialist. An honest intelligent one as well. Imagine that huh FJ.

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    1. The predatory lender for student loans in the USA is the US Department of Education. Imagine that. Parents. don't forget your Parent Plus loans. We can "protect" your kids, but we won't protect YOU.

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    2. "Greedy" Government. Right, RN?

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    3. ps "Where's the "oversight"? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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    4. 50% of people are by definition of "below average" intelligence. Add in "liberals" who think that they know so much more than they do... and we've got enough sub-par intelligence to dominate a "Democratic State".

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    5. Well, if we we REALLY smart we'd be investing more heavily in education at ALL levels. Especially the sciences and math. As well as logic and reasoning skills.

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    6. ?...OR empowering people to be able to make their OWN decisions and experience the "consequences" which stem from them (instead of relying upon government "experts" who "direct" them yet benefit from "never solving" their real problems.

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    7. How far can I kick this debt can down the road before the entire civilization collapses...?

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    8. We could pay our bills. Wouldn't that be nice?

      JMJ

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  10. Thersites, I agree in principle. If conservatives and republicans understood what it means AND what it takes to grow the middle class like Eisenhower did we'd have some common ground. Oh, and the warning he gave about the MIC? He was spot on and America failed to listen. The MIC and will ultimately be the undoing of this Democratic republic if anything will. Almost forgot, Trump's demeaning of our free and independent press and the conservatives embracing his BS is another great threat to our Democratic republic,

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  11. The middle class is on life support and our elected elite don't really care. All they care about is criticizing the other side and taking them to dinner.
    The housing crisis was initiated by the strong arm tactics of clinton/gore and their everyone should own a house policy. They strong armed the banks into accepting trash loans. The housing market imploded and the news media blamed GWB and let clinton/dodd and frank slip out the back door.
    The lack of an economic plan under barry created no growth and massive spending, cash for crap, battery factories, solar power loans and all those shovel ready jobs that never materialized.
    The democrats love to trash Reagan but fail to acknowledge that he took over a disaster from the famous democrat Carter and did spur the economy. Bush took over the mess left by BJ and algore and did a respectable job putting the country on the right track. Had he have been stronger voicing concern about the sub prime market touted by the brain trust of dodd/frank/waters we may have avoided the melt down but congress supported the leadership of fredi and fannie which turned out to be the wrong move.

    The poor will always be poor and require a handout because that is what the government says they need to demand, a handout not a hand up.

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    1. You cons just believe whatever fits your ideology and care nothing at all for the facts. The CRA had NOTHING to do with the MM, F&F carried only a small fraction pf the bad paper of the boom years, and those second tier boom years were during Bush/GOP Hill years. Either you and fj are just perfectly content to lie for your ideology, or just dumb, easily led by the nose by the crooks who are truly to blame.

      JMJ

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    2. JMJ

      You are normally rational and perhaps you are having a Tiger moment and your thoughts are cloudy. You really need to do your research on this and see the impact of the CRA on banking and lending requirements. If you were a banker during this period you would view arm twisting in a different light. There was plenty of blame to go around but it is shared blame pushed during the clinton/gore era and left to rot during GWB.

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    3. Purely partisan ideological BS skudrunner.

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    4. Skud, its a lie for consumption of ideologues like you. There was no arm twisting, save for stopping blatanty racist practices on rare occasions. No on was forcing anyone to write bad paper. And not only is it a lie, it ignores completely all the other areas of concern.

      JMJ

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  12. As Rational Nation USA said, "As the Titantic keeps taking on water."

    The numbers show the Titanic scenario. Party partisanship is assuring there are not enough lifeboats to save most of the people. Flares continue to go up, but no one is seeing them.

    It's sad that petty bickering, greed and thirst for power will be the end of a ship that has been afloat for over 250 years.

    I guess the Captain is intentionally running the ship into the iceberg.

    Trump wants the biggest tax cuts in history, which is like throwing out the anchor while the ship sinks. The anchor won't stop anything, but it will take the ship down faster. But we will get the anchor, because the crew (Republican Congress) agrees with the Captain.

    This nautical comparison is less silly than the blame game.

    Again, we must look to our founders for direction. Their disagreements were much greater than ours, but their goal was to create a union. Seems we cannot even agree on saving our union, so we are content to just watch it sink.

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  13. Americans today... we want it all, and we want it all sans consequences.

    The right pledges loyalty to tax cuts in a way that rivals a guard dog protecting his turf. And no one can show much evidence of tax cuts bringing down deficits. Or to put it another way, the right simply ignors the reality in front of them.

    The left too is unable to be straight with their extremists, because to do so would expose the vapidity of many of their positions. Each and everyday we see evidence of the inability of the left to expect even a hint of personal responsibility from any of their followers.

    Themes like shared sacrifice are no where to be seen as leaders of both sides seem intent on only winning for their pet arguments, so sure they are that they alone have the perfect prescription for what ails America.

    Sadly JMJ, that looks like America and the Americans I see today.

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  15. The right that it can't out-freebie the Left at the ballot box. So it does the next-best thing. It promises the voters that they won't have to pay taxes for the Left's promised freebies.

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  16. Thersites... the right gets, and promises just as many freebies, they just happen to go another group of society.

    Tax breaks, subsidies, etc.

    To claim only the Dems trade in this is simply not being honest.

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    1. A tax BREAK is not a freebie, Dave. Get "honest" with yourself. You're too used to calling a "smaller rate of increase" in the federal budget a "cut".

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    2. As did REAGAN, the rights last hero. So, get honest Thersites or shut the f**k up.

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    3. It is a cut, thersites, in most cases, as is does not keep up with inflation or other changes. In those cases where there are new effiencies, less demand, etc, it may be true that flat spending is not in fact cutting. But usually that is not the case.

      JMJ

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    4. Language doesn't need to resemble a pretzel.

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  17. Americans have voted for and were willing to pay higher taxes for programs like Social Security and other safety net programs, for decades. Then 30 years later they voted for and were willing to pay higher taxes for an increase in those programs like healthcare for seniors. The Republicans have never had the votes in Congress to eliminate those programs even when they had majority. So they cut taxes and starved those programs of money, yet, the benefit checks continued to go out to the people. Drowning the government in a bathtub is exactly what the Republicans have been doing and bankrupting America in the process. If the selfish Baby Boomers want to eliminate the programs of the Greatest Generation, then come up with the votes, don't just be deadbeats that won't pay the bills.

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    1. I am a baby boomer, 1952. Eliminate government waste, and think outside the box to arrive at solutions. Someday your grandchildren will thank you.

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    2. If that means "privatization" I would not support turning over government responsibilities to private, or religious organizations. That was tried before safety net programs were voted into law and they failed miserably. That's when support for government programs became popular.

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    3. California is moving towards passing single payer w/o any intention of paying for it. The business exodus is going to be "biblical".

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    4. The democrats may have the "votes" now. But eventually they reduce everything to Chavezuela.

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    5. Thersites... if CA does go for that, they have to pay for it as they have a constitutional mandate to balance the budget.

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    6. Like I said. Exodus. The locusts won!

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    7. Rational Nation USA,

      I believe I read that you are also a recovering Republican. How long ago? It seems you were part of the movement I was talking about above, which started over 35 years ago.
      Maybe Baby Boomers should have a huge death tax to pay for what they refused to pay for the 35 years.

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    8. Hey dude, I paid every exorbitant federal income tax for 50 years. I still pay my fair share in retirement, withou bitching. So, I have every right to criticize waste where I see it. Now, go back to your mothers basement and think about getting a job.

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    9. Your irrational reaction exposes your guilt. Whatever you paid in was obviously not enough since we are 20 trillion in debt and counting. And also obvious is you supported the "Voodoo" math that started the multi-trillion dollar debts. So if you want to be snide, arrogant and insulting, aim it toward yourself.

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    10. Wanna talk irrational? Doubling the tax load without any means of paying for it is what Democrats do. Doubling down on their Obamacare irresponsibilities.

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    11. Maybe Baby Boomers should have a huge death tax to pay for what they refused to pay for the 35 years.

      Hey, I voted AGAINST Prop 13 AND I voted against all the Democrats "freebie" spending increases. Let those who voted FOR them pay the taxes.

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    12. Did you vote against Bush's unpaid for drug plan? How about his unpaid for wars? How about his tax cuts and checks to Americans while the debt went from 7 trillion to 13 trillion? No doubt you voted for "No New Tax Cuts" while the debt was in double digit trillions. WOW, you are not responsible! Laughable!

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    13. I never voted FOR Bush. Ever.

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  18. Jon, I am not taking about privatization, certainly NOT religious organizations. Thinking outside the box includes reassessing values and spending priorities.

    Thersites, are your knuckles raw yet?

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    1. Your chin is feeling kinda mushy...

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    2. It seems capitalism isn't working considering the debt we are in.

      Corporations won't even pay enough to keep their employees (Walmart and others) from qualifying for government poverty programs.

      Meanwhile corporations have made more profit than ever before and are hoarding cash.

      The government gets their cash from people. The people get their cash from their employers. Employers get their cash from consumers (the people).

      A living wage would be a start, but that would mean tripling the minimum wage.

      Single payer health would help the people, but that would be Socialism. What happened to corporations paying for their employees healthcare? Someone has to.

      The safety net programs of the 1930's were not just a result of the great depression. That debate started decades earlier during the corporate abuses of the industrial revolution. The Great Depression was the last straw. And the people added more benefits in the 1960's. They were willing to pay more for a better life for all Americans.

      The more people, the more costs have to be spread out. Communal taxation has been the accepted way to do that in America for centuries. That's how we built every societal need and infrastructure. Corporations didn't build the roads which allow their customers to get to their stores.

      If the idea is everyone should pay for every thing themselves, then we fail as a society.

      It the capitalistic system is so greedy it cannot meet the basic needs of the people, then capitalism is a failure.

      The Constitution talks about what's good for the people, not corporations.

      Socialistic programs are much more in line (and defend-able) with the Constitution than capitalism.

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    3. capitalism and corporatism are two entirely different things. The State is merely the largest of competing 'corporate' bodies. The "original" (1st) corporation was the Catholic Church, and it gained its autonomy from the State by petitioning tax exemptions, just as corporations the world over do today.

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    4. ps every corporation has its own "constitution". Its the corporate "charter".

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  19. Hey anonymos, AKA TOM, Steve, having fun? Hope so as I'm LMAO at you and your bullshit.

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    1. Having troll trouble, or are you just paranoid. I can imagine you are jerk enough to have many enemies in blog land.

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