Iowa Debate Discussion Thread

So, last night, I watched as a group of unpleasant people, which included a token black man and a woman, bickered and argued and went after each other, occasionally banding together against a common enemy, but otherwise remaining fractious and annoying the entire time I watched them.

Which is to say I watched Predators on one of the HBO channels. But I understand some of you watched that Iowa Republican Debate last night instead. So for those of you who want to chat about it, here, have a thread. Be polite to each other whilst you chat, please. Otherwise, have fun.

127 thoughts on “Iowa Debate Discussion Thread

  1. There would have had to be some pretty horrific personal consequences to not watching this, to get me to watch it. i do however still have a sense of wonder about how the Republicans have managed to put together a group of candidates that is actually worse than the group the Democrats put together to go after Bush in 2004. Although i don’t wonder about it too much. I’m a Republican who will vote for Obama again, because I think he’s doing about as good a job as anyone could with the shit storm this country is in right now. Any of those idiots pictured above would just pull us all down deeper into the river of shit.

  2. “I watched as a group of unpleasant people, which included a token black man and a woman”

    Racism AND sexism in one sentence. Way to go Scalzi, you’re pegging the Bigot-o-meter!

    In truth, the GOP doesn’t pick people because of having an overabundance of melanin nor of lack of a Y chromosome, that’s the DNC. The GOP likes any candidate, regardless of race or sex, if they’re competent. But I understand your confusion seeing that the biggest argument for Obama was that he was the first black president. too bad you guys couldn’t find an actual COMPETENT black man in your cultish rush to elect him.

  3. Dan @ #1 – I’d have PAID to watch that. As it is, I was stuck with what they actually aired.

    And tuned it out when they all raised their hands to agree that they would not accept a mythical 10-to-1 budget cut and tax proposal because it had that tax word in there.

    You know, it used to be that we were annoyed with politicians because they always tried to ride the fence, remain uncommitted and retained the ability to jump on the winning side.

    It is ironic that these days we’re annoyed with them because they have handcuffed themselves to a (unreasoning? unreasonable?) position.

    I want politicians with principles and stated goals, but not ones that put their hands over their ears and mumble “lalalalalalala” all day long.

  4. The fact that any one of these lemons is even considered a serious contender for the nomination is an indication of how far off the tracks the GOP has gone. I could only take it for short periods of time.

    The fact that the winner of this process has a better than even chance of being the next President of the United States is depressing beyond words as well as an indication of how far into the weeds our political process has gone.

  5. Since the only Republican I have any interest in at all is Gary Johnson, I didn’t bother watching the debate.
    I’m unsure whether to be very happy, or upset, that Gary has received so little mention so far by most of the media.

  6. Scorpius- “The GOP likes any candidate, regardless of race or sex, if they’re competent.”

    Empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

  7. Scorpius – the biggest argument for BHO was that he was not GWBush. After 8 years of the disaster Boy Blunder created even a ham sandwich would have looked good. But never let facts or reason get in the way of your opinions or you might have to give up this blind passion for a party that left the realm of reality 2 decades ago.

  8. I always love the line; I am a … but I am going to … Its so blatantly obvious a fiction that I wonder why people even bother saying it. If you are claiming to be a republican that voted from Obama once, it is because you are a republican in name only, have a serous case of white guilt (if you are white), or just wanted to see a black man president whatever his politics might be.

  9. I couldn’t watch. The current state of the GOP is really just a bunch of people who get together and flog each other, after they have flogged the rest of America, that is. I find it interesting that they have a black man running for the nomination of a party that is over overwhelmingly racist and even more sexist. I did read the news the next morning about the debate and understand that is was business as usual, that is the deeply fractured party took shots at each other last night, instead of taking shots at the other party. The only difference from last night is that they had good reason to be going after each other, but as of yet have not had a good reason to go after the other party.

    All I can say is that the Dems may not have elected the best man for the job, but when you compare him to this bunch of…jokers, he is certainly the better man for the job.

  10. The only Predator movie that ever was starred Arnie in the jungles of central america. Its a shame they never made a sequel.

    also, Scorpious: you think they picked Palin because of her overwhelming qualifications???

    um, OK.

  11. I did watch most of it-I missed a bit at the beginning. there were no buzz words for a descent drinking game, so I had a drink every time they didn’t answer the question asked. Michelle was responsible for a whole bottle of beer all by her self. she hasn’t actually accomplished anything-except for possibly starting the lightbulbs for choice campaign. I live in Minnesota and have hated Tim Pawlenty for a long time. He sounded great next to her. Actually the only time he sounded great was when he was bashing her.

  12. Scorpius @ #3 How in the world does listing the fact that a group included a token black man and a woman equate to racism and bigotry? You’re reaching even farther than usual.

  13. I’m saving any Alien(s) vs. Predator(s) for the 2012 election debates for similar reasons.

    Whoever wins, we lose.

  14. Wait – Paul (10) – you’re arguing that no one who voted for Obama could legitimately consider themselves a Republican? Seriously? There were plenty of reasons why even devoted Republicans might object to McCain/Palin and might choose not to vote that way. In much the same way that even my mother, who is a fan of the Tea Party, has noticed that she finds Michele Bachman…disturbing.

    Party affiliations are principles and preferences, not required to be utter devotion. Voting Democrat once, or liking a particular Democratic politician (even Obama!) doesn’t make one not a Republican. That’s silly.

  15. So, Paul, you’re saying that a Republican who voted for Obama is either a liar or a racist?

    Classy.

  16. @Scorpious

    Ah yes, the Republican party who did do one thing great, namely free the slaves, and has since then done everything they could to keep people with enhanced melanin from rising above the level of second class citizenry. Trust me, I live DEEP in the heart of REpublican country. If a person isn’t a W.A.S.P. they have no use for it.

  17. I have been unhappy with President Obama, and have said several times that I wouldn’t vote for him again. But the Republican party seems determined to make me do just that. The little bit I saw of that debate didn’t offer much hope for an alternative.

  18. Paul @10: Did somebody hijack your account? Because it looks like you are insisting that white people who voted for a black guy could not have any race-neutral reason for doing so.

    And I’m pretty sure that whatever Mitch McConnell says, the official GOP platform does not include the phrases “we do not vote for Obama under any circumstances” or “Paul on Whatever is the One True Arbiter of who is and isn’t a Republican.”

  19. JJS:

    Yeah, that. At this stage I plan to hold my nose and vote for Obama simply because the alternative will almost certainly be worse. My state will still vote Republican.

    #include “US_political_system_broken.h”

  20. I was about to launch into a defense of Predator, instead I saw the ‘s’ at the end.

    I saw that back in the theaters, and I came away thinking that they did a great job with the “mood” of the movie, but failed to deliver compelling characters.

    The first Predator delivered on both counts. I loved those commando guys.

    “You’re bleeding, man. You’re hit.”
    “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
    “Oh… Okay… You got time to duck?”

  21. @Paul
    Yet I knew of several life log Republicans who chose to vote otherwise because they couldn’t deal with the fact of a ditz being one failed heartbeat away from having access to the nuclear football. heh.

  22. I respectfully suggest that you all consider Ron Paul. While not perfect, he is the only candidate who is actually a classical Republican.

  23. Doug:

    I disagree with Paul on several things, but I respect him for being principled, and for actually giving a tinker’s damn about civil liberties.

  24. @25 Digital Atheist

    Yep. That’s what finally ruled out voting for McCain for me, too. I was pretty torn until he announced his running mate. Then the more I found out about her, the more I realized that the thought of her being one step from the Presidency scared the proverbial feces out of me.

    Of course, I guess the joke’s on me, ultimately, since it looks like Bachmann is even worse.

  25. Think of how much money you could have made betting someone back in 1987 that Predator (or The Running Man, same year, take your pick) would feature not one but two future governors.

  26. #26 – I do respect Paul for his principles. He alone amongst the Republicans actually has some.

    As a youth, I believed the Libertarian line was best for economic growth which was in turn best for the country. But now I think a libertarian hardline is bad for the country. We need some laws restricting the rights of businesses and the wealthy in order to protect the weak and discriminated. We need some measure of wealth redistribution to prevent the rich getting rich and poor getting poorer to continue until the poor are left with nothing. Ron Paul’s constitutional views come out against those types of measures, and even though I respect the ideological reasoning behind those views, I think that the welfare of the weak need to be more heavily weighted in the calculations.

  27. Paul@24:

    best line ever: the guy is going up the hill and getting hot and dumping his gear while going through the lyrics to the song they played in the helicopter:

    I’m gonna have me some fun. I’m gonna have me some fun.

  28. Doug @26, respectfully, no, he isn’t a ‘classical Republican’. Merely wanting the government to be tiny is not the same thing as being a ‘classical Republican’.

  29. I couldn’t watch it. I get to hear enough delusional thinking at work on a psych unit. Of course, listening to the current legislative branch is no better nor is the “Corperations are People” judicial branch.

  30. Doug@26: wasnt Ron Paul the guy who said anti segregation laws were unduly intrusive about who a business could serve and thought child labor laws hindered business?

    I think he was one of the few politicians who has taken issue with the Patriot act, but that seems like a trojan horse delivering a whole peck of stupid. Even a broken clock is right two times a day. and he seems to be more of a broken clock than a reasonable set of principles with which to lead a nation.

  31. I used to respect Ron Paul, but to be honest, he is a little old now and also has some past baggage that is too toxic in a general election. Those are a few reasons I support Gary Johnson – as far as I know, he has no baggage and actually has 2 terms (Governor of NM) of executive experience. He seems pretty close to Ron (policy wise) in most respects. Close enough that fans of Paul ought to really think hard about why they don’t support him.

  32. Joyce:

    Yeah, “corporations are people, my friend!” is a classic line from Romney. I can see it playing over and over again in attack ads.

  33. Don’t forget, “Money equals free speach”. Heh… I wonder what would happen up in this place if everyone was limited to the exact same amount of funds with no corporate donors allowed… period.

  34. @ladypeyton,

    Because it’s implicitly saying that Michelle Bachman nor Herman Cain would not be up there except they happen to be a woman and a black man. Never mind that Herman ran businesses and fixed them and that Michelle is a highly competent tax attorney who is a Tea Party leader, no they’re there because of their gender and race. That’s simple bigotry. How would you feel, assuming you are a woman, if someone said you were in your position only because they wanted a woman hire to thwart sexism charges? that’s what the accusation of “tokenism” is.

    And what’s wrong with “predators” ? It was a good movie if you know what it is going in, namely a stupid action flick.

  35. One of the CNN reporters today said it’s going to be a crazy weekend in the race for the White House. Weekend? Try the entire campaign season! The GOP is so far off base these days, most sane people can’t help but think they’re nuts.

    I’m kinda glad we’re without cable right now. I get to miss the spew they’re going to run as campaign ads. Thank God.

  36. Everyone is equal under the law. “The law in its infinite majesty forbids the rich
    as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal
    bread – Anatole France”. OTOH he was little better than a Frenchman, and you
    know what strange ideas they have, what with all that Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
    stuff.

    Will

  37. Digital Atheist @37

    We’d see a lot more creative attempts at effective political advertising other than the stuff we get now which amounts to “THEY’RE BAD AND YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR ME!” Personally, I love your idea and would support it in a heartbeat.

  38. @ #37 – they’ll just game that some other way. The way things are set up now money=power (or, in the event of legislation designed to curtail that power, money=manipulating the system = power).

    I think Jefferson was pondering the fact that any system is eventually going to get “gamed” to the point of non-functionality/negative results over time when he talked about the need for regular revolts.

  39. Kevin:

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the “Corporations are people” reasoning in judicial decisions, it is absolutely true in the context that Romney used it. He was talking about not wanting to raise taxes on people when somebody shouted out of the crowed to raise corporate taxes. I don’t believe that I can name any business that will just swallow a tax increase without passing it directly on to its customers, who just happen to be people.

    You may argue whether or not its necessary to raise taxes, but its hard to argue that raising taxes on corporations isn’t the same thing as raising taxes on “people”.

  40. I haven’t seen the new “Predators” movie (I should, I know), but the original was classic. Arnold and Jesse were great. The only thing I didn’t like was that the music was too loud and too frequent. You’re in the middle of a jungle, unknown things are stalking you….LOUD PUMPING MUSIC!!!!!!!!

    Way to throw me out of the mood, guys. Jungles don’t have music, honest they don’t.

  41. Scorpius @ 38

    I think you’re misreading our host’s original post. He isn’t saying that Cain and Bachmann are “a token black man and a woman.”

    He’s saying that Nolandand Isabelle are. He’s playing on your expectations (that he’s referring to the Republican debate) as a source of humour. See John @ 12.

  42. Bryan:

    Not necessarily true. They could absorb the tax increase by not paying their C?Os an obscene amount.

  43. @37,

    The problem with allowing only public-funded campaigns in our system is that it will lock out people not in either of the two major political parties and those in the parties who don’t toe the party line. The officials in charge have to make a line below which you don’t get funding, or they’d have to fully fund every crazy who wouldn’t get more than a handful of votes. The problem with that is that it would draw the line at how many percentage points that candidate got in the last election or the candidates current standing in the higly-unscientific political polls. And that would lead people like Ralph Nader, Ron Paul and governor Gary Johnson being left out in the cold and not being able to affect the debate.

    And please, people on the left are as committed to the idea that “speach equals money” as the “right” is. Up in Washington in 2004 a couple of radio Jockey’s got sued for endorsing a GOP candidate on their show. The Dems argued that the endorsement was an ” in-kind” campaign donation with real dollar value.

  44. Michelle Bachman is a competent homophobe and potential theocrat. That she is the great hope of the Tea Party says more about the Tea Party than about her.

  45. As an “Obamunist”, disappointed in the alacrity with which the Democrats run to surrender, I find myself even MORE disappointed in the fact that the Republicans can’t seem to come up with even ONE viable candidate. Is there NO Republican of presidential timbre??

    “Pawplenty” left a mess in MN, which is still playing out. Cutting taxes without raising revenues or lowering expenditures, guys, makes a mess, didn’t you know.

    Perry — fine, he thinks that the First Amendment only applies to Christians. Now look just at the currency: Washington was non-conformist; Jefferson was a Deist Heretic; Lincoln a humanist; Hamilton actually Jewish; Jackson — well, a savage; Grant — religious about his whiskey; finally, Franklin, a Theist Heretic.

    Gingrich — left his wife when she got sick.

    Bachmann — completely nutcase, sex has nothing to do with it.

    Then there are the others, president of a pizza joint, an illiterate former governor, the ever-evanescent Mitt Romney, the empty-suit called Huntsman, and so on.

    It speaks reams about the upcoming “selection” that there’s not one Republican who’s willing to bravely stand up to the nutcase “litmus test” of lowering taxes on the rich, continuing to export jobs, and eviscerating pension plans and safety-nets for the poor.

    Come on, Republicans; can’t you even get ONE viable candidate, ONE who has an original idea in his or her head??

  46. “And that would lead people like Ralph Nader, Ron Paul and governor Gary Johnson being left out in the cold and not being able to affect the debate.”

    most would consider that a feature, not a bug.

    The gist of your argument is standard libertarian approach to everything: the math is too complicated to understand. It’ll be much easier if we just dont have any regulation. And history is too long to remember. I’m sure there arent any lessons there to explain why we are wrong. successful businesses are beyond my comprehension. CEO’s must be powerful gods in human form walking among us mortals. Better not make them angry. Government can abuse power. we should only let government regulate physical violence. Thatll solve everything and Im sure it wont create any harmful consequences.

  47. @49 There are plenty of viable Republican candidates, there just weren’t any who were also dumb enough to think that a) They stood a good shot of getting the nomination before the Tea Party burns itself out and b) They had a good shot at beating Obama in 2012 even if they got the nomination due to the antics of the rest of the party the four years prior. No one even halfway decent, except maybe Romney, even bothered showing up this time around; I suspect that if Obama is reelected we’ll see a much stronger field on the R side in 2016 when they feel they have a better shot. Remember that running and losing tends to hinder your chances if you run in the following election.

  48. PS, the illusion of Ron Paul holds some sort of talismanic power over otherwise sane folks. Paul’s son, a doctor, said it best, when asked if medicare subsidies should be cut: “no, because doctors deserve it”. Paul is like the guy in the burning theater, who thinks, “It’s best if everyone ELSE has to walk, and I get to run!”. That’s the selfish reconstruction of Kant’s morality, sauve qui peut and let the devil take the rest.

    Paul, like Perry and like the rest of the Republican leading lights, wants to end Social Security and has the temerity to say so. This is not going to fool old folks, who are notoriously selfish about the pensions they have earned; they are not going to fall for the hogwash that their pensions are safe if they just eliminate Social Security for younger folks. This alone makes them unelectible, not to say stupid.

    If you enjoy the illusion of Ron Paul and his “back to the gold standard” selfish ideology, remember that it was the gold standard that hamstrung President Hoover, who felt unable to increase liquidity in the financial system, largely seen as exacerbating the horrors of the Great Depression.

    Overall, we now see what the future is: 16% unemployment, importing goods we can’t pay for, and not making things of value that we can export. We send $700 million PER DAY to OPEC alone for oil that leaves only pollution, money we have to borrow from other countries. Lots of unemployables/untouchables, a servant class and a technical class both serving the rich, and a very much richer class of Rich Republican Banksters.

  49. Digital Atheist @25

    et I knew of several life log Republicans who chose to vote otherwise because they couldn’t deal with the fact of a ditz being one failed heartbeat away from having access to the nuclear football. heh.

    Um. We got Biden. How is that better?

    You should have went for Clinton. I could have voted for her. But Obama was and remains impossible. Clinton likely would have run re-election. Obama had no experience going in and seems to not have learned much, so he will likely not be re-elected.

    You may lament the Republican field, but it remains true that the Democratic field is worse. The difference this time is that more people know it now.

    I had hoped for Cain, but he has displayed some, um, undesirable characteristics. I can vote for Romney but I’m hoping Perry is going to show me something. I don’t have much affinity for the rest of the field but I’m pretty sure the race is between Romney and Perry.

    And I’m OK with that. One of these guys will likely be our next President.

  50. @Scorpius There’s no realistic reason that publicly funded campaigns should have to even recognize political party, let alone limit candidates to the big 2. Yet I keep hearing far right commenters repeat this line of bull pucky. Ya’ll, as a group, should try debating without a Faux News provided set of talking points.

  51. Frank @ 53:

    Be careful what you wish for: having lived with him as my governor for the last 12 years, I feel confident in my ability to assert that Rick Perry is a complete douche. The only reason you aren’t aquainted with this fact (yet) is because he’s been playing coy with announcing so no one has really gone after his record or personal beliefs on a national platform.

    Perry is a lifelong politician who coasted into office on the coattails of GW Bush, who despite being a terrible president was actually a pretty good governor. Most everything positive about the condition of Texas was either in place before Perry took office or completely outside of his control- but that won’t stop him from taking credit for all of it. On the other hand, his fanatically pro-business policies have gutted every sector of public service in the state: education, health care, roads, elder care, environment, you name it. All so he can say our unemployment rate is 1/2 of 1% lower than the rest of the country. Yay.

    Perry is a hypocrite who screams and gnashes his teeth about “states rights” with every federal rule, until he wants some money from the feds and then screams and gnashes his teeth when he doesn’t get it or it comes with strings attached. See: Hurricane Ike aid; Medicare payments; wildfire disaster relief; drought relief; highway funds; energy development incentives.

    Finally, Rick Perry is a master practitioner of quid pro quo: there’s no appointed office he can’t subvert by giving it to some like minded fundamentalist (free-market or relgious, take your pick) crony… but in fairness I guess all politicians to this, he’s just better and more blatant about it.

    Can’t wait for you to come to know and love him just as well as I do.

  52. @47

    There are more alternatives to limiting/eliminating union and corporate funding to political parties and candidates than only allowing public funding. For example, here in Canada at the federal level donations by unions and corporations are not allowed but individuals are allowed to donate up to $1000/year to the party or parties of their choice.

    (Parties also receive an annual per vote subsidy if they obtain more than certain vote threshold. I think it is currently valued at $2/vote in the last general election, and is in the process of being phased out.)

    In other words, citizens can always fund their parties; the public purse needn’t be involved.

  53. Scorpius: “It was a good movie if you know what it is going in, namely a stupid action flick.”

    This is generally my thinking when I watch any GOP debate…

  54. Is it really possible to get a floor that shiny or are those remarkable and distracting reflections some kind of post-added special effect? It’s disturbingly slippery-looking, like a sheet of water on old rink ice.

  55. #51: There are plenty of viable Republican candidates, but …

    For example? (Honest question — not just snark)

    Of the current crop, Romney and Huntsman are the only ones that don’t come across as totally batsh*t insane. They’re both unelectable — I simply can’t see evangelicals (the GOP’s core constituency) voting for a Mormon.

  56. @43 I don’t believe that I can name any business that will just swallow a tax increase without passing it directly on to its customers, who just happen to be people.

    That’s a popular talking point (that taxes get passed on to the consumer), but it’s untrue. Or rather, some percentage of that cost will get passed on to the consumer and some will be swallowed by the company as reduced profits and exactly how it all shakes out depends on the price elasticity of the product, the degree and type of competition, substitutability, and various other factors.

    Consider movie theaters. Movie goers tend to be very price conscious and, if the tickets get too high, they stay home. Increase taxes on movie theaters and they really can’t respond by raising prices – because they will drive away all of their customers. They have little choice but to keep the prices the same and cross their fingers.

    Cigarettes are different. A pack a day smoker is a pack a day smoker and the only risk you have in raising prices is that they will move to a cheaper brand. They aren’t going to cut back unless things get really out of hand. So tax increases on tobacco will likely be passed on to the consumer.

  57. AlanM

    They have little choice but to keep the prices the same and cross their fingers.

    Unlikely. They will find other ways to cut costs to maintain profits. Like lay people off.

    There has to be a certain return on investment to justify the time and expense of having a business. If it becomes more cost effective to just take the money and invest it elsewhere, the business business goes out of business and the workers get look for a new job.

  58. @Scorpius

    I’m sorry, but if you look at the ballot access structure as it stands now, in many places it is already restricted to Republican’t/Democraps (just to be fair with mud slinging… for once). In many places ballor access for a party is restricted to either percentage in last election–in which case if you didn’t get in the last election you won’t get in the next one–or a number set number of signatures which can be set either high or low. As it stands, the party with the most cash to toss at a place is the one most likely to win, and while I will admit that I’m a Democrat, this means that in some places highly qualified Republicans or other partyliners get left in the dust… and yes, that means that Republicans get elected when there are Democrats or others who would do a much better job.

    Trying to play the “only D’s/R’s will get public funds” card is disingenuous to say the least. I will admit that public financing would have to make up some kind of threshold–percentage of population signing petitions maybe (or other if you have a better idea)–to see who gets to receive money. And to make things even more fun (especially in a jerrymandered place like my state, or say Texas), make it so that every state has to follow the same set of rules, outlaw drawing up districts that don’t follow some kind of actual boundaries, and hold all primaries on the same day nationwide.

  59. @Pete #56

    That’s okay, I don’t think public funds would be the do-all/end-all solution, but as it stands here now, corporations have more rights than citizens. They have the right to dump as much cash as they like. As for unions, down here the the Grand Ol’ Corporate party–hencefoth called the Republicans–has been on a tear to dismantle unions, workers rights, corporate taxes, environmental regulations, privacy laws, funding of essential services (such as Fire, Police, Ambulance and other emergency services), although they are up for a good war here and there… never mind the cost in lives or sanity. (And before any of my honorable opposition tries to call me names, I spent 9 years in the Army and by the hair on my chest I will speak my mind and have my say when it comes to this stuff).

    Personally I don’t care how equal spending comes about… we already have campaign donation limits (which corporations/PACs side step), and the ballot access laws vary from state to state. Sigh, maybe some of the Founding Fathers were right: we should have eliminated states as such from the get go and been one true nation instead of 50 fiefdoms.

  60. @Frank 62
    and just how many nurses would you like them to lay off?
    we’re working longer hours with sicker people and less staff. and we’re doing a damn fine job. but work place injuries are getting more common and more serious. at some point higher profits aren’t just greedy, they’re inhumane.

  61. @Frank #62: Sure, there’s a minimum return below which business will be forced to close up shop. But corporate profits are running at record highs right now, so we’re well above that minimum. Companies won’t close up shop just because they’ve now become “somewhat profitable” rather than “wildly profitable.”

  62. @Frank 62: There has to be a certain return on investment to justify the time and expense of having a business.

    Sure, but most successful businesses aren’t teetering on the edge (most businesses probably are teetering on the edge, but most businesses fail and lower taxes wouldn’t help many, or even most, of them) sure that a minor tax increase is going to force them to lay off people (a major one, perhaps). If I get a pay cut I will have to reduce either the amount I spend per month or the amount I save per month or (most likely) both. It’s almost never just one or the other.

    The blanket statement that businesses pass the costs on to the consumer is simply not true. It depends on the business, the business climate, the consumers, and the nature of the tax and, as with most things in the world, it ends up being a little of this and a little of that.

  63. AlanM:

    It’s easier for some people to latch onto blanket statements because they’re simple, black-and-white. If this, then this. No uncertainty.

  64. The Other Keith @55 Can’t wait for you to come to know and love him just as well as I do.

    Garh!!!… Just hope Perry doesn’t manage to hide out for the next year so non-insane republicans will think he’s someone reasonable. He did this in the last run for gov. Just stayed low, refused to debate his opponent at all and put off the budgeting process until after the election to hide a huge shortfall.

    Now that’s the texas miracle.

    Seriously, Perry has a terrible record of actually governing.

    I’m expecting when he gets up with his archetypical drawl, and general good ol’ boy shtick (think W x10) the country will be appropriately horrified.

  65. @43 Consider movie theaters. Movie goers tend to be very price conscious and, if the tickets get too high, they stay home. Increase taxes on movie theaters and they really can’t respond by raising prices – because they will drive away all of their customers. They have little choice but to keep the prices the same and cross their fingers.

    Have you ordered any snacks to go with that movie yet?

  66. Um. We got Biden. How is that better?

    The difference between being a highly experienced Senator and a governor who couldn’t even finish out her first term is self-explanatory (and no, Obama not serving out his first term is not the same, as he was promoted).

    In another difference, they also seem to be successful parents.

  67. @70 The economics of movie theaters is extremely wierd. I’m surprised that no one raised the example of 3D, which has allowed movie theaters to raise their prices and not drive their customers away. Still, movie goers are pretty price sensitive, something which theater owners are well aware of. Just as there is a cost of business beyond which it is not reasonable to remain in business, there is a cost beyond which it is not reasonable for me to patronize a business. Passing the costs on to me may be the incentive I need to stay home and watch a movie on my big screen tv.

  68. What is with this class warfare thing. For people who seem to be zealots in the religion of
    ” fairness ” it seems fairness only applies to you.

    Why shouldn’t a corporation not make huge profits, why shouldn’t a man or woman be filthy rich. Why do you feel that being so, suddenly makes them villains?

    People ARE NOT poor because other people are rich, This country is not going broke because there are people out there who know how to make money, and are willing to take a risk to make it ie; poverty rate 13% since the beginning of time, despite the fabulously “fair” social programs we are spending trillions on. This country is going broke because of SPENDING.

    Politicians SPEND to get re-elected, both Republicans and Democrats. Hey, spending is great when you have money..we don’t.

    SPENDING must be CUT. Taxes ie; Revenue ie; Investments, are not going to put a tiny dent in it here folks, unless you are an ostrich living with your head in the sand or someplace else more unpleasant. Have you looked at the actual debt per household lately?

    Look, I’m sorry if you public and union people have to actually contribute to your own healthcare and save for your own retirements, but I don’t really feel that bad for you. Everyone in the private sector does, and by the way they are making quite a bit less than you do, and working quite a bit more hours as well. Get over it.

    Just because you were able to squeeze every profitable dollar out of whoever you worked for up to this point because you resent their being ” rich ” doesn’t make it right, nor does it last. We all have to pay the piper sometime.

    Contrary to a couple of comments on here. Corporations DO NOT pay taxes. They most certainly DO pass it on to the consumer. There are no exceptions unless they are government subsidized, and then the burden STILL falls on the tax payer.

    Business exists to make money, when they stop making money because regulations are too strict, taxes are too high, or unions are bankrupting them, they raise prices first, then they layoff workers, then they move to where they can make more money.

    This does not make them evil, it just makes them more profitable. I, for one need them to be profitable or I won’t do very well with my retirement investments, and neither will you.

    The only problem we have here is weak, greedy politicians who have no convictions and are not held accountable. Americans, rich or poor do not need to pay more taxes.

    These candidates have convictions, they spoke plainly not in platitudes. I think this is cool. I think it is a welcome change. See.. I’m for change too… it just has to be an actual good change.

    Most had a plan for addressing the issues. Cut spending/Lower taxes on corporations, small business and individuals. These are the only measures by which we can even begin to create the amount of revenue we need to get out of this hole we are in.

    The question is who will actually have the balls (or the eggs) to do it. I am looking forward to finding out.

  69. [Deleted for being a long, rambling thing only nominally related to the topic at hand, as well as being a pseudo-advertisement for someone else's blog -- JS]

  70. @74

    Why yes, it IS his strawman. I’m sure the Trickle Down hypothesis of economics is still considered as a valid course by some people also.

  71. It’s really weird how any sort of increase of government revenue is now getting labeled as a tax increase. For example, currently the most profitable company in the world is Exxon-Mobil. It’s federal income tax last year was $0. Yet proposing tightening of loopholes so that Exxon-Mobil actually paid tax has somehow become an unconscionable tax hike in some quarters. Heck , even cutting government subsidies to the world’s most profitable company is , since ending subsidies is a revenue increase, and revenue increases are the same as evil, evil taxes. It’s just nuts that all of the Republican candidates at the debate agreed that they’d walk away from a budget deal that included 10-1 spending cuts to tax increases.

  72. @#77

    That is because the Republican party of today has been taken over by the corporate sponsored Tea-Party Loons after being co-opted by the “(a)Moral Majority”. I bet if I as a private citizen who isn’t rich decided to set up a mail drop in the Bahamas and declare my income as tax free, they would go off the rails claiming I was trying to cheat (and rightly so!) my country out of my fair share of the taxes. However, let one of the corporate sponsors do so and all of a sudden it is legal and their “god” (choke choke) right to do so. Mind you I have my share of gripes about the Democratic party, mainly that even when they have a majority the let themselves become eunuchs and let the Crazies (Tea-Party/PNAC/Corporatists) bring up any legislation they like, debate it endlessly and even allow a vote on it.

  73. Personally, I think that Mitt Romney (of today) would be a reasonable candidate for the 1992 Republican Party before they completely descended into madness. Today I think fear of the extremists within his own party would keep pushing him from the reasonable comprimises that he was willing to make as governor. I don’t see any possibility for a sane republican to get through the primaries which means that they either have to pander to the madhouse inmates or worse yet actually believe the crazy idea that all government except the military is illegitimate and that the lowest taxrate in generations is abusively high.

  74. I do find it incredibly frustrating that roughly half the country seems to think that trickle down economics works, and that wealth concentration is somehow not a very bad sign. I would be far happier if roughly half of us thought it a bad sign, and roughly half thought it a necessary evil, since then we could at least start trying to negotiate a compromise without the wing nuts. Politics is the art of the possible, but good grief!

  75. Frank@62: They will find other ways to cut costs to maintain profits. Like lay people off. There has to be a certain return on investment to justify the time and expense of having a business

    Right. Cause if Exxon-Mobil makes one dollar less next year than they did this year, then, by God, they’re going Galt on us all. And we can’t let that happen…. That argument is so disconnected from reality that it boggles the mind.

    tv68@73: when they stop making money because regulations are too strict, taxes are too high, or unions are bankrupting them

    Well, Fox Network certainly seems to think these are the only reasons any business will ever stop making money, so I guess it must be true.

    I’m trying to remember why exactly the market crashed in the Great Depression, but weirdly enough, I don’t think it was any of those three.

    Oh, yes, a highly unregulated market that led to wild speculation by investors whose feeding frenzy sparked off a bubble of grossly over inflated stock prices. And then when everyone realized they were over their heads, it became a race to sell off faster than everyone else so they could recover some of their money before stocks all became worthless. The resulting crash caused major institutions to collapse, including banks, and when people who had put savings into those banks realized they might lose all their money they had deposited if their particular bank collapsed, people panicked en masse and withdrew their savings from banks. The panic became another feedback loop which only made the situation worse for banks, which only fueled more panic. By the time the market hit bottom, multitudes of corporations were wiped out, so unemployment soared. Because unemployment soared, consumer spending dropped like a rock. Because consumer spending dropped like rock, companies sold less and made less profit so they required fewer employees.which raised unemployment, which lowered consumer spending. Which was another feedback loop that spiraled things into even worse conditions.

    Now, let me see, what was it that fixed the Great Depression…..

    Was it getting rid of all those pesky regulations? Getting rid of high taxes? Getting rid of unions?

    Regulations? There weren’t any. It was practically a laissez faire economy at that point. High Taxes? Hardly. Taxes just before the crash were some of the lowest ever. Unions? Right because after Teddy Roosevelt took on the great robber barons that were the gigantic corporate monopolies, his next target was going to be the all-powerful unions….

    Well, if that wasn’t the solution to the Great Depression, I wonder what was…. Hm. Oh, yeah.

    Increase Taxes to allow an increase in government spending. Keep people from starving and get people working, restore consumer confidence, which would get people spending again, which would then get businesses back in business.

    Market Regulation to prevent speculators from creating market bubbles that can cause crashes.
    Market Regulation in the form of FDIC so that people who have money in banks know their money is protected even if that bank goes belly up, preventing panic, and a run on the bank.

    Funny how that facts of history are so readily ignored by the Right.

  76. I loved it when Bentsen said to Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Best debate ever!

  77. Yeah, “corporations are people, my friend!” is a classic line from Romney. I can see it playing over and over again in attack ads.

    Unfortunately, the Dems don’t have the balls to do it and risk offending corporate donors.

  78. Funnily enough, Corporate American would not roll over and die out if taxes were raised for them. Instead, they would look for some old school accountants, get them to dust off their books, and get back to some old-school tax dodging.

    “What is this of which you speak?” I hear you asking. Well, in the old days–pre-Trickle Down AKA Flood-Up–corportations wanted to lower their tax liabilities. There were no off-shore mail boxes in those days. The only way to drop brackets was to lower the amount of spare cash you had on hand. The most common means of doing this were to reinvest the money back into the company by doing things such as a) buying new equipment, b) expanding facilities, c)increasing employee wages or benefits, and d) any other thing(s) they could think of.

    So, in an effort to not have to pay that 90% tax rate, companies did the smart thing by divesting themselves of cash assets by plowing it into company, which in turn raised their workers standard of living, allowed an increase in effeciency, production, distribution.

    “But what about the stock holders, what about their dividends?” Yes, companies did have stock holders, who knew that most likely the stocks weren’t going to pay an awful lot in dividends unless they had some serious holdings. The days of great big dividends were behind them, yet to come, and really, who wanted much in the way of dividends (lottery money), when you would have to pay taxes on them, just like anyone else who earned money. No, the biggies were in it to drive the direction of the company, or to trade. (Yes this is a simplistic view of the stock market).

    Enter Flood-Up economics where companies no longer have to pay taxes or creatively divest themselves of cash on hand. Now they can just keep the money, workers go for years with no increase in income while their standard of living bottoms out, Big Money Stockboys are running around trading left, right and center hell bent on aquiring that next big stock that they can sell two seconds later and walk away with more cash than the poor shlub working at the company will see in years of work… and during all of this, the rich get richer, get to pay lower and lower taxes and spend their time stockpiling cash that will never see its way back into the U.S. economy. Instead it will be spent in places like China to build big factories, skirt environmental protections, and take advantage of a labor market that dares not fight back.

    Yeah, thanks, I really want to keep living under this silly “trickle down” voodoo economic hypothesis of economics. It caused no end of grief during the Age of the Robber Barons, and seems to be hell-bent on creating no end of grief in the modern world.

  79. Scott @80: I’m not sure they really care whether it works. Trickle-down economics is one of those political beliefs that’s a philosophy, not a conclusion; taxes are bad and wealthy people (corporate or otherwise) should be allowed to keep all their profits whether or not that pays for their use of common goods and infrastructure. And the reasoning goes backward from there, to prove the already-arrived-at conclusion. That’s why it’s so bizarre. But if you’re extremely wealthy, or want to be extremely wealthy – and by that I mean you’re really trying to be, not just daydreaming about how cool it would be to be rich – that philosophy is very attractive.

    Digital Atheist @76: Remember we’re addressing someone who thinks “corporation” refers to a size of business rather than a particular business structure, and that public employees never contribute to their own retirement while private employees always do. This is not a position out of which one can be reasoned.

  80. @mythago

    Yeah I know… as a member of the Army I never had to pay for my own life insurance or uniforms… oh wait. I DID! My brother retired from U.S. Customs years ago. He had to pay into his own retirement fund. Sadly he is a Limbaugh Republican who thinks that every program should have its spending cut or be canceled… well except for the one that paid him that is.

  81. My immediate reaction to that photo at the top was a bit different from Our Gracious Host’s. He thought bad scifi; I thought bad fairytale:

    Snow Whiiiiiiiite and the Seven Dweebs

    Yes, it’s demeaning. But I’ve met and had professional dealings with some of them. IMNSHO, it’s accurate.

    The real problem with modern American politics is that what little integrity it had was destroyed by Jimmy Carter’s only lasting achievement: Getting elected in the first place. (That’s not to say that I think his policy preferences were poor, or great, or indifferent — only that he was largely ineffective in implementing them, and was the only President that century who did not put a Justice on the Supreme Court.) And ever since then, American politics has been almost solely about posturing for electability among party activists, with panicked rushing toward center-right electability memes shortly after winning nomination. Upon taking office, the first thing a modern American politician does is not review the responsibilities of his/her office, but form an “exploratory committee” for reelection.

    As Emmanuel Goldstein said:

    THE OBJECT OF POWER IS POWER.

  82. @78

    I find the explanation of capture by business interests inadequate. In the past Republicans have been willing to hold their nose and make the deal of lowered rates combined with tightened loopholes, most notably in the famed Reagan tax cuts. The S&P downgrade was explicitly due to a fear that the Republicans will block any future attempts to increase revenue, so there are at least some business interests that are strongly in favor of higher revenues. Given those facts it’s bizarre that the GOP is refusing to even consider higher revenues of any sort as a possibility.

  83. @Bryan: “I don’t believe that I can name any business that will just swallow a tax increase without passing it directly on to its customers, who just happen to be people.”

    Whenever I hear this, I have to ask this question: do you believe in the law of supply and demand? I think most conservatives will say they do. It says that the marketplace will determine the price. So, if gas is $3.59 a gallon, that’s what the consumers are willing to pay relative to the available supply. Changing the tax rate does not change the supply, nor does it change the consumers. I read recently someone who said they had their local taxes increased, so he just passed the increase on to his rental property tenant in the form of a $50 per month rent increase. I have to ask: if the tenant was willing to pay $50 more per month, why didn’t you just raise it earlier?

    And, you want a real example? When the FAA shut down, the airlines decided to keep the taxes that would normally have gone to the FAA. If they were just passing them on, why didn’t they drop the price? They had the price where the market would bear it, and dropping the taxes didn’t effect the market, it just provided an opportunity for increased profit.

    “You may argue whether or not its necessary to raise taxes, but its hard to argue that raising taxes on corporations isn’t the same thing as raising taxes on “people”.”

    There is a big difference. I live off of what is left AFTER I pay taxes. Companies pay taxes on what is left after they do business. When I earn my salary, I’m allowed to deduct some amount per child, some taxes I pay, and a few other items, then I pay taxes on what is left over. I can’t deduct what I paid for my house (even over 7 years), what I pay for groceries, what I pay for gas, or any other normal costs of running my household. I pay taxes on my gross income. Companies pay taxes on their net income. They deduct everything, some over years in the form of depreciation, other right away. If they buy groceries for a company picnic, they can deduct it. If they pay rent, they can deduct it. I don’t think many of those talking about business taxes realize this important difference.

  84. @#91 Charles:

    Exactly. In the old days when corporations (in the legal sense) were required to pay taxes on what was left over AKA “profits”, they were willing to spend money in the form of pay raises, new equipment, expansion, etc., in order to lower their tax liability. Nowadays for some reason, Republi-turds for some reason think that paying taxes deducts from the corporations bottom line. None of them every understand that investing in the employees or in new equipment is actualized as “real” property. At the end of the day, “real” property is much more valuable than “supposed” value (for an example look at the over-inflated values that led to the crash of housing prices). Corporations (at least in the old days) understood that there was only so much of a price increase they could pass on to consumers before said consumers said “fuck you!” and moved on to other alternatives. Nowadays, with the laissez-faire system that Corporatism has paid for in elections, it isn’t how much can the consumer afford before they revolt, but what corners can I cut, what screwage can I pass on to my workers, and how many people can I fuck over before some one decides to sue me. Republican AKA Tea Punk idiotology holds that Corporations hold more power, rights, and privileges than you or I as an American citizen hold. In other words, Tea-Partists (sarcasm font in double bold) believe in good old Facism even though they might publicly denounce the policy. Corporations should be the ones to decide who and what is worthy, and anyone who says different is/am/are mud-people who don’t really count and should be shut the fuck up by any means necessary.

  85. Charles @ 91:

    In re that, I saw a news item several days ago that the next agenda item for some of the Congressional teabaggers is to repeal the federal fuel tax.

    I’m trying but I can’t think of a whole lot that’s more counter-productive than that.

  86. @93 Kevin Williams:

    Oh that is just rich. I hope they are also planning to end subsidies to the fuel companies at the same time they repeal the gas tax?

  87. “Now, let me see, what was it that fixed the Great Depression…..

    Was it getting rid of all those pesky regulations? Getting rid of high taxes? Getting rid of unions?”

    How about looking at the policies that prolonged the Great Depression instead, and how they’re being repeated today?

    Andrew

  88. Personally, I think that Mitt Romney (of today) would be a reasonable candidate for the 1992 Republican Party before they completely descended into madness.

    Perhaps I’d feel better disposed towards Romney if he wasn’t so determined to pretend every remotely sane thing he did as a (fairly moderate) Governor just didn’t happen. Whatever else you say against Bachmann and Ron Paul (I’ve got a lot), at least I can believe they believe the batshit insane crap that comes out of their mouths. Romney, I suspect, would call his mother a crack-whore on national television if there was a poll point in it.

  89. @81 Greg: Well, if that wasn’t the solution to the Great Depression, I wonder what was…. Hm. Oh, yeah.

    Actually, it was World War II. Conservatives trumpet this as if war had magical vital powers, but the way World War II fixed the Depression in the US was essentially through an unbelievably huge government stimulus (combined with the fact that the US was, by and large, not the place that was being bombed into rubble).

    The New Deal mitigated the pain quite a lot, though.

    @97 Andrew: How about looking at the policies that prolonged the Great Depression instead, and how they’re being repeated today?

    FDR’s ill-advised turn toward deficit-cutting in 1937? Yeah, that was a mistake being repeated today.

  90. Matt, WW2 was a huge booster rocket to the economy, but the New Deal did actually improve the economy on its own. government stimulus is government stimulus. the only difference was scale. Repubs fought the New Deal which limited its stimulus. But WW2 was bipartisan, so the government spending soared.

  91. Pawlenty just dropped out because he came a couple thousand votes short of what the two leaders got.

    If he’s going to drop out at the first sign of trouble, dress him up in drag and call him Sarah.

  92. Didn’t Governor Perry advocate in favor an independent Texas? I would certainly support his candidacy for Presidency of that Republic.

  93. kevin @95… no, I expected Bachman to win. These partisan caucuses and straw polls attract the most committed of the party. They mean nothing in terms of the support a candidate can attract in reality because they DO attract such a narrow, extreme sliver of a party. Despite that, the media foams at the mouth about them.

    It will never happen, but god I wish we could limit the presidential races to 6-9 months.

  94. Kevin Williams @ #99:
    cf. John McCain in 2000 vs. 2008.

    Must I? Just makes me sad remembering the ugly murder-suicide of McCain’s credibility and my respect for the man. *sigh*

  95. rickg @104: Don’t you mean “the members of the party who should most be committed” — for both parties? I’m old enough to remember McGovern…

  96. Jeanine @103

    Last year Gov Perry joked about Texas suceeding. Seems our annexation agreement into the US back in 1845 (as we were a sovereign Independent Republic at the time) included language granting us that right after annexation). He joked about it. A fair number of us Texans sighed, wishing he were serious considering the state of the nation. Not my fault, as I have never voted for Perry since he began runing for political office soon after escaping Texas A&M with a university degree. He was a C- and D student there.

    Hey all.

    The Republican candidates of all varieties are talking a lot about balanced budgets as this presidential campaign heats up. Even a constitutional amendment. I like the idea of revenues equaling spending (save in time of declared war). A letter writer to my local Sunday paper today proposed a self-enforcing mechanism to make a balanced budget amendment actually work. I quote a Midland, Tx, citizen, Gary Thurman, from his letter. The amendment should include, “for members of Congress a disqualification from re-election if receipts have not exceeded expenditures three out of the preceding five years during which they have continuously served. Because the disqualifications would equally apply to congressional classes of Democrats and Republicans, both political parties would be lashed to the oars of the same fiscal boat.” I take Thurman’s use of receipts to mean tax revenues, not proceeds from borrowings. Would this not work? Seems to me it might. What think you Whatever commentators? (Talk, unless this is too off-thread from the posted thread topic above.)

  97. @107 :) So am I….

    @108 – or Perry wasn’t joking. See http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/04/17/0417gop.html

    “There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

    Typical Tea Party silliness – we love this country so much we might want to leave it.

  98. rickg:

    I have to wonder how much of that was pandering to teabaggers (who IME tend towards nationalism) and how much was pandering to Texan exceptionalism and states-rightsers.

    Gary Willis:

    In general terms I like the idea of getting the national debt paid down and keeping the books balanced. It’s the specific implementations that worry me, and the drive to do it when the economy’s in the shitter, and the unwillingness to breathe the word “taxes”.

  99. I think it is entirely possible that the next Republican candidate is not even running.
    Consider 1940. The conservatives would not support either tax increases or deficit funding to increase defense spending. They sponsored a law to restrict aircraft construction to 56 per year. That’s per year, not per month, week, or day. In May of 1940 the Germans put four armored divisions through four roads through Luxemburg and around the French and British and Belgian and Dutch armies to the north. After Dunkirk and the surrenders, the only thing standing between the Wehrmacht and the US army (seventeenth in the world, after Portugal) was the British navy, with elements of the British establishment in favor of negotiating.
    When the Republican convention met, Wilkie, in fourth place, was elected by delegates who had pledged to support the leading candidates, in a near riot.

  100. Kevin @110
    Agreed. Keynesian stimulus does work. And we have tried that with George W. and Barrak just recently. I think our current national unease about the Federal debt level is that even everyday Americans recognize a limit to the total debt our nation should carry as a percent of our GDP. We see where Greece has gotten itself and see our nation on the same path to disaster. I think the current up-roar is our attempt to get off the path Greece has already trodden. I am rather proud that our last national annual surplus took place during the Clinton admin. Obama should take the same tack: spending not one dollar more than our tax revenues this year, next year, and the out years of a second administration, if he enjoys same. And hey, raise my middle class taxes to make it happen.

    David @112
    Hmmm. I think you may well be right. I have heard all my life here in Texas that we Texans, being a Republic at the time we became a State did not surrender our right to voluntarily change our minds to become a Republic again, when we joined the US. We still do retain the right to fly the Texas Lone Star Flag at the same height at the US flag and often still do. I’ve seen it.
    There are many who think the US Constitutional silence on seccession among the Federal enumberated powers, means that the right to voluntarily leave the US Union is a power reserved to each and all the States by the 10th admendment. I think I could live with that view. Who knows? Here in the Southwest come a century from now we may all mostly be Hispanic and Spanish the language we speak. I could see several southwestern States deciding come 2150 or 3000 that they have too little in common with the US to remain a part of the US. Then all our talk of the right of the governed to decide their government might become a hot issue.
    I do wonder if Texas Gov Perry will have to eat his words (joke or not) about Texas succession during his presidential campaigh run? I am thinking he will need a nice side of frijoles with them, our Texas equivalent of H. Lector’s favored fava beans.

  101. Andrew Tobias mentioned in his blog that Karger (the openly gay Republican candidate) polled higher than Santorum but that Fox changed it’s criteria to keep him out of the debate. Palin wasn’t there, etc. It’s way to early to call the candidate.

  102. I really liked Predators. Thought it was a very entertaining film. Really liked the crazy Laurence Fishburn character.

    You made the proper viewing choice, IMHO.

    KC

  103. The problem with any balanced budget bill, ammendment, etc, is it will never affect government spending across the board. republicans have absolutely no problem collecting taxes to pay for military operations. taxes and govrrnment spending is not their issue. their issue is taxes and government spending on things they dont like, at which point they scream about lowering taxes and decreasing spending.

    but hey hows about we invade iraq and the generals say it will take half a million men and ten years??? Then the Republicans are all for taxes and spending.

  104. Greg @116

    but hey hows about we invade iraq and the generals say it will take half a million men and ten years??? Then the Republicans are all for taxes and spending.

    No, no, no, no; If the generals say that, then they get fired and replaced by ones who say it will take about a hundred thousand men who will be greeted as liberators, will be over in six months, and will pay for itself. The fact that the previous generals were telling the obvious truth is something that you just don’t say out loud; it would be, I dunno, impolite or something….

  105. There are many who think the US Constitutional silence on seccession among the Federal enumberated powers, means that the right to voluntarily leave the US Union is a power reserved to each and all the States by the 10th admendment

    There was a small event from 1861-65 that settled that question in favor of the federal government.

  106. heather @65

    and just how many nurses would you like them to lay off?

    None. But the biggest threat to hospital profits is government-run health care. Right now, medicare pays hospitals less than the cost of services. Right now this is compensated by cost shifting to private insurers. You eliminate private insurers and your looking at either lowering wages (which is how Europe and Canada does it) or getting rid of people and having those that remain work more.

    So good luck with that.

    Jon Marcus @ 66

    But corporate profits are running at record highs right now, so we’re well above that minimum. Companies won’t close up shop just because they’ve now become “somewhat profitable” rather than “wildly profitable.”

    Surely you must understand that profits are different from return on investment. So while Exxon made billions of dollars in profits, as was widely touted, typically their return on investment is only in the 8 to 10 percent range. Respectable but not obscene.

    Alan M@67

    The blanket statement that businesses pass the costs on to the consumer is simply not true.

    I agree. But it is also true that taxes are treated as an expense on the books. Expenses and income have to be balanced towards a decent return on investment.

    If expenses get too out of line with income, somethings gotta give.

  107. David @ 118

    Agreed it did at that time. Not by rule of law, but by force of arms.

    President Lincoln took many an un-Consitutional action to make it happen that served to make a joke of the “rule of law.” Just because the US Fed government of that day acted badly does not mean that 150 years later we cannot agree to abide by the “rule of law” in favor of the ancient “might makes right rule.”

    Lincoln chose to use force to deny the States their right to voluntarily leave the union (a reserved power to the States by the 10th amendment.) Just because Lincoln acted unconstitutionally does not mean we must all this time later grant his action any precedential value just because he won by force of arms.

    In other words, might does not make right just because might won the day by force. Right is only made by respecting the rule of law would be the counterargument. Put another way, Lincoln cannot launch and win a war to amend the Consitution to take away a right of the States reserved to them by the 10th amendment. The Consitutiontion has an amendment process, and fighting a war is not on the list.

    All that said, I am glad the union remained intact due to the war. I just don’t think the fact that the war happened and the North won means we must respect the result of the war as holding any precedential value. At least not now.

    If some State or States want or wish to leave the union. Let them. The right of the governed to decide who shall govern them trumps all other concerns. Isn’t that what the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolutionary War was all about? Lincoln blew it on that count as well. He had no respect for why the US even existed in the first place–voluntary consent of the governed to be governed by the rulers of their choice.

    The cynical view is that Lincoln is a great President because he won and then was promptly shot to death before he had to deal with the aftermath of the victory.

    One other thought. I learned in contract law that a contract is not a valid contract when one of the parties is forced to sign under durress. Every State readmitted to the union post civil war was admitted under duress, so one could argue that the contracts of readmission are all invalid on their face. Hmmm. Where does that leave us now?

    And, too, I wonder why the Southern states all rushed to jump through those hoops of duress to be readmitted. Why if they had done nothing to be readmitted, doesn’t that mean they would have achieved victory, separation, through the back door after the war was over.

    Just thinking out loud here. No harm meant to anyone. Just because I typed this train of thought does not mean I agree with it. Only that it may be worth thining about as an alternative understanding to the current idea that no State may voluntarily leave the union now because we once fought a war over the issue. I am attracted to rule of law over might makes right, I think. Hmmmm.

  108. Gary, the notion that each state had a right to secede despite having entered a contract with the others is, well, relatively lacking in support. And I mean this both logically and popularly. The 10th amendment does not permit the states to do EVERYTHING, only things that are beyond the scope of other rules.

    If Secession were to be done properly, a constitutional amendment to institute a process would have to be passed. Without this, the right of a state to secede would be highly dubious at best. Proceeding anyway (especially but not only on counterfactual, nigh-delusional grounds, in defense of pure evil) without even having the meaning of the constitution on the matter settled in the appropriate venue – the supreme court* – is something which the executive certainly has the right and may have the positive responsibility to oppose. If this opposition is to mean anything at all in the face of utter unresponsiveness, it must be acceptable to enforce it.

    * though to be fair the issue would probably lack justicability on grounds of being overly political, though they might come up with an excuse to address it if asked really nicely and knew it would prevent thousands to millions of deaths. After the war, they certainly addressed the issue, though of course the outcome of the war made the issue sufficiently less political.

  109. Drachefly @ 121

    I concede the idea that all States have a right to voluntarily leave the union is not a popular view. As for logic? Arguments from silence are always a bit dicey and that is the foundation of the argument. All the enumerated powers of the Federal government listed are dead silence on the issue. Arguing from that silence leads to, well, the States reserved all other rights and powers to themselves not listed as the province of the Federal government in the tenth amendment. Leaving the union voluntarily could, logically, be considered one such of the reserved rights and powers.

    That said, I was reacting to David’s post saying that the Civil War settled the issue. In counterpoint, I tried to suggest–no, a war cannot amend the Constitution that was and is silent on the issue. Plus, Lincoln violated the Constitution several times over conducting the war, so its result solves nothing as a rule of law.

    So I wonder, what if several Southwestern States in 2100 want to leave the union to be their own Spanish speaking nation state. You would think the people in those States through their State legislatures could decide such a change in their government. Give notice to the US government of their peaceful departure. Then just leave the US on some date certain that year. That would not be “insurrection” and why ever would they need the consent or permission of the other States or Federal government? The silence on the issue in the US Constitution means there is no item in the enumerated list of powers requiring such consent.

    Do we or do we not have the fundamental right to decide who will rule over us? Isn’t that what the founders fought the American Revolution against the British to establish? The right of the governed to consent to who governs them.

    I do agree with you on the Supreme Court issue. They would declare the issue too political for their consideration based on their past operations and rulings. And if they did rule, how could they find in silence a right of consent by the other States or Federal government to the departure of a State or States? Silence is a void, an absence of any grant of authority. For the justices to see a right of consent in silence would be clearly an irrational ruling based on other concerns than interpretation of the document. Or in other words, such a ruling would be a clear abuse of power.

    We Americans pride ourselves on peaceful transitions of power. I would hope that if the day ever comes that some State or States wish to leave the union, that the transition of power from the US Federal government to the State(s) regaining their independent sovereignity would be peaceful. Looking back at all of recorded world history, I think it highly likely that day will come, when some State or States desire to voluntarily leave the union. Empires come. Empires go.

    And for the last half century, the United States has certainly been much of an empire on the world stage. China next, don’t you think? And we may all well live to see China become the world empire that replaces us.

  110. That said, I was reacting to David’s post saying that the Civil War settled the issue. In counterpoint, I tried to suggest–no, a war cannot amend the Constitution that was and is silent on the issue

    A war can settle on a constitutional issue, as the Civil War did with secession.

    The silence on the issue in the US Constitution means there is no item in the enumerated list of powers requiring such consent.

    Sigh. You ignore the fact that there is quite a lengthy history of Supreme Court jurisprudence on the issue (Texas v. White, most obviously); the body that is tasked with explaining the Constitution has weighed in, and not on your side.

  111. David @ 123

    In an earlier post I agreed with you that the civil war settled the question of voluntary secession from the union. I only added the provisio, “at that time.” I then proceeded to argue, that the result of the war and its settlement of the issue then, should not be granted any validity for settling the issue now. We can now choose to follow the rule of law, not the idea of might makes right (or Consitutional law).

    Oh yes, I agree the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue. Try this one from White vs Texas that you cited.

    “…Our conclusion therefore is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union.”
    — Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700, 703 (1868)

    Texas never left the union per the court. Never stopped being a State in the union. So why, two years later did the President grant Texas re-admittance into the union (as if it had left the union)? Who was wrong? The Court or the President? You cannot have it both ways.

    My point? The nineteenth century rulings by the Court also can be overruled to follow the rule of law now should the issue ever be raised again by some State choosing to voluntarily leave. After all this time I do not see the Amercian people demanding that their President and Military fight a civil war to keep a State from leaving. Not now, not in our time. If we wake up tomorrow and, say, New Mexico wishes to leave to rejoin Mexico. Could you really see us fighting a war to keep them in the United States. I sure hope not.

    David, I think you see the question a settled one due to the history. I recognize the history, but think calm minds willing to bow to the rule of law in our time could choose to not allow that history to control the present. We could reconsider the issue allowing for the peaceful transition of power from the Federal US government back to a State choosing to voluntarily reasume its sovereign independence.

    Such things do happen. The Supreme Court in 1964 quit following the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy vs Ferguson overturning the precedent unanimously in Brown versus the Board of Education. We are not obligated to follow precedent blindly, I think is my point. We could let a State voluntarily leave here in the present, in our time in history, should one wish to do so. We could choose not to make them stay, resorting to war if they did not. Overule the precedent of history, let them go if that is their desire.

    Why does the idea of voluntary secession from the US by a State or States so bother you? Doesn’t bother me. I like the idea of any State’s citizens having the ultimate say over whether they remain a part of the US or not, for that to me is “consent of the governed to those who govern them.” What is wrong with that?

  112. In an earlier post I agreed with you that the civil war settled the question of voluntary secession from the union. I only added the provisio, “at that time.” I then proceeded to argue, that the result of the war and its settlement of the issue then, should not be granted any validity for settling the issue now. We can now choose to follow the rule of law, not the idea of might makes right (or Consitutional law).

    I know what you argued earlier; you might also argue that the Court will revisit Marbury v. Madison.

    As to your last sentence, I would imagine that the British crown would like to reopen the issues of 1776. After all, we wouldn’t want might to make right, correct?

  113. David @126
    If we just let a State leave and go its own way, the Court would not need to be involved. I am no fan of Marbury vs Madison; the language of the Constitution did not grant the power of judicial review to the court. The court just took it in a power grab in that paradigm shifting decision. I lean to the Loyalist (Tory) side of the American Revolution as the patriots/founding fathers were mostly quite wealthy landowners who did not want to pay their lawful taxes to the Crown. Government has always been about protecting the interests, property, wealth, and control of the upper elites of societies. Still is today. Even the Democrats look out more for the wealthy than the poor. See Obama’s bailout of the banks and Wall Street. Time to let this thread wind to a close?

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