33 Thoughts to “Open Thread Monday, June 28, 2010”

  1. Swooping Buzzard

    New Facebook page for anyone who would like to vote out Corey Stewart for any reason at all: url http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Rid-PWC-of-Corey-Stewart/138708489477455?ref=sgm

  2. Rick Bentley

    I posted this to last week’s thread – but late in the week, so I’ll make note of this again.

    I saw 19 documentaries last week at the Silverdocs festival. When the projector was out of order in the middle of “Freedom Riders” a young woman next to me said to the woman next to her – this is almost verbatim – after we had seen a bus firebombed and people beaten near death for being black –

    “This kind of stuff is still going on today. Like in that Prince George [sic] Virginia, where they have all these militia groups fighting to keep Latinos out of 7-11’s. Really, these militia guys are going around fighting to keep Latino people out of 7-11’s!”. I felt it was my civic duty to have words with her, and I did.

  3. Poor Richard

    1912 – The High Tide of Progressivism: Wilson, Roosevelt and Taft

    “Personalities were important in 1912, but so were principles.
    In speeches accepting their party’s nominations, all three
    recognized that a ‘new day’ had dawned for America and
    it was the duty of government to concern itself with the general
    welfare. Laissez-faire was no longer adequate….”

    Presidential Campaigns by Paul Boller

    2012 will be the high tide of ?

    ( Taft’s 1911 address at the Peace Jubilee is the only Presidential
    speech even given in Manassas)

  4. Rick, I am surprised you didn’t have the big one. However, you have proven our point. Prince William County has a bad reputation from the antics of a few. I am glad you set her straight. Very glad.

    And also, and I know what I am about to say next will make you projectile vomit, but I am glad Eric documented what really happened on video. I would buy a copy of the film and sent it to that woman if I could. 9500Liberty also protects our reputation. We can prove we really didn’t have militia groups fighting to keep Latinos out of 7-11s.

    Thanks, HSM. You all were real bone heads on that one. One rumor can give a story a life of its own. Everyone needs to THANK RICK!

    Perhaps the gang who couldn’t shoot straight shouldn’t have attempted to do their day rider impersonations in cammies in front of the 7-11, picking up cigarette butts as a ruse. That kind of stupid behavior is what starts rumors and lies.

  5. Rick Bentley

    a bad reputation to stupid people, based on misimpressions and bad info. As we’ve discussed, I care much more about my family’s quality of life than I do catering to people’s misimpressions.

    I set her straight in a concise and angry way, probably overdid it. She seemed kind of nice, just young and full of left-wing bias.

  6. Swooping Buzzard

    If you sounded angry, didn’t you validate her perceptions a bit?

  7. I don’t know. I don’t live that far from ground zero and I am not angry–well no more than usual.

  8. What happened to Formerly? I thought he had something to post.

  9. Second-Alamo

    For people who want to get a feeling for what PWC was dealing with, I have the marathon Resolution debate on DVDs. Lets put it this way, todays BOCS meetings don’t require employing an interpreter for hours at a time!

  10. Rick Bentley

    I probably sounded defensive. But for God’s sake, she was an industry person at a documentary film festival, she should have some touch with reality.

    SA, I’d like to see those DVDs. You could make a better film than Byler and Park did!

  11. Formerly Anonymous

    The time has come for me to bid adieu to this blog. I will not go into the specifics of why I am leaving, although it should be fairly obvious from one of my recent posts.

    However, I won’t depart without leaving a going away present. Here are some final observations.

    – The Democrats will retain both houses of Congress in the 2010 elections. Republicans will make substantial gains in the House, but the Democrats will have a 10-15 seat majority in the House. They’ll lose enough seats in the Senate that they will need 5-6 Republicans on any given bill to overcome a filibuster threat. Nancy Pelosi will remain as Speaker but only after a lot of back room negotiations.

    – There will be a flurry of activity during the lame duck Congress. There will be an attempt at Comprehensive Immigration Reform but it will fail. There will be a very controversial effort at immigration reform in 2010 that will be enacted but will start a political Gotterdammerung.

    – The debt will be the signature political issue for at least the next 10 years and is becoming an existential crisis for America. There will be 2-3 more years of arguing similar to today’s debate before serious discussion starts. When it does, everything, and I mean everything will be on the table. Major cuts in defense spending, major reform of entitlements, tax increases and actual cuts in government spending are all going to be on the table as people start to realize the enormity of the problem we face. (Well, everything except YOUR personal sacred cow of course. They can’t touch that, whatever it is.) The average American has no idea of the type of austerity measures that are going to be coming. Think Greece, but for a much longer period of time.

    – The NPV of our current obligations (not including the health care bill passed this year, because the details aren’t known yet) currently stands at $130,000,000,000,000. (Yes, that’s $130 trillion, assuming a 6% rate of return.) That’s more than projected total Federal government revenue over the same period. Also keep in mind that over 80% of that is for Social Security and Medicare, both of which are adjusted at rates higher than that of inflation, so we cannot inflate our way out of this debt. Inflation only makes the bill larger.

    – I do not believe President Obama will be elected in 2012. Rightly or wrongly, voter anger over continued poor economic performance through 2012 will cost him the election. I do not know who will win the election, but I would suspect it will be Romney, Pawlenty, or Perry. (Neither Palin or Gingrich will run.)

    – Despite the GOP winning in 2012, the heath care reform bill from this year will not be repealed. The GOP will not have enough votes in the Senate to repeal it in the foreseeable future and by 2016 it is a fiat accompli. There will be pro forma efforts to repeal it after the 2010 and 2012 elections but they will fail.

    – And just to be snarky: “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a “Tribute to the Troops” breakfast sponsored by The Hill on Thursday morning. I have never served in the military, and because of that some here have stated that I am unqualified to discuss issues that relate to the military. So I look forward to hearing how the veterans here intend to address that issue.

    So to wrap it up, farewell and take care. I will stick around for the life of this thread to answer anyone’s final questions.

    ~Formerly

  12. marinm

    FA, I hope you stay around. I find your posts insightful, accurate and a pleasure to read. I understand your decision but do hope that you can look beyond the few on here that aren’t here to debate but rather hear themselves talk.

    How do you see the Virginia healthcare lawsuit working out? I notice you said that the GOP will fail to repeal it – I don’t disagree with you as I don’t think they have the testicular fortitude to make it happen – but do you see it being stricken down?

  13. I am going to make a special plea to Formerly to stick around and apologize to him for any remarks I might have made to prompt his decision to leave. The other apology I am going to make is to apologize for my failure as a moderator/administrator to redirect some remarks. I had to go back behind the scenes to see what had gone on the past week.

    About once every 5 years I allow Mother Nature, in the form of some virulent, invisible microbe, to knock me flat on my back. Such was the case last week. It was truly a knock out punch and truthfully, I would have cared, at the time, of course, if the black velvets had taken over the entire block….that is how flat on my back I was.

    The only qualifications for being on this blog is non-abuse of Elena and me. Formerly, you have never abused us and thinking about it doesn’t count. I apologize for my words, my inattentiveness to think that mattered, and whatever else it takes to keep you around. I feel you are an extremely vital part of this blog who contributes valuable opinion, based on perhaps more than an opinion.

    And I know I am guilty of the ‘real Virginian’ remark. Anyone who has Robert E. Lee in the living room would have said something like that. I apologize…..my mother is rolling over in her grave because I just said that….

  14. question regarding the predictions…how much of this would have happened before the financial crash of 2008?

  15. marinm

    MH, my personal opinion is it still would’ve happened we just would’ve had a larger cushion and more time to change the course. Clinton’s reductions in the federal workforce we’re a good path forward. Bush lit our house on fire and Obama has pour gas on it and called off the firefighters.

    I remember a few months or a year back saying that we’ll need a national depression to get people back in the mindset that we are writing checks that we just can’t cash.

    But, I’d like to see FA’s comments. 🙂

  16. Poor Richard

    From 1994 to 2002, under Clinton and a Republican Congress, Federal debt
    growth slowed only to surge again under George W. “comfort the rich” Bush
    in 2003 until today. (Note that speakers at the Manassas Tea Party
    meeting in Manassas last week gave the national GOP some smacks for their
    share of fiscal irresponsibility).

    Would like to see a new version of Newt’s “Contract with America” from
    the Republicans — with specifics and supporting data.

  17. Poor Richard

    Not sure what is falling down the well quicker:

    – The stock market – my 401K will turn red again if this keeps up.

    – The sense government can accomplish anything – win a 10 year long war,
    ease a lingering recession, cap a hideous oil spill, slow the growth of
    national debt.

    – The Nationals! I had such high hopes. If you give up leads in every
    game and are swept by the worse team in baseball you become?
    Poor Strasburg may want to be traded next week if not before.

    A long hot sad summer.

  18. Times are definitely tough, Poor Richard.

    I had never made up for lost time with my 401k but I wasn’t still feeding mine either.

    You and Formerly have me totally depressed and Jeff Sessions is making me homicidal. If I could only smack his face…just one little wap. Its the half hidden smirk and the elf ears….

    Ms. Kagan deserves to be made something very important just because she hasn’t slapped his face, turned purple and told him to ES,TB, AD, or burst in to tears and said take this job and shove it.

    She handles herself well. Very well.

  19. e

    doctor hannibal also handled himself very well in public formal settings. that doesn’t mean i would want him to be my primary physician or making policy decisions that will affect my life or my country for decades to come.

  20. Formerly Anonymous

    The financial crisis has significantly exacerbated our debt crisis even though it was not the cause of our debt crisis. The falling revenues and the increased outlays caused by the recession will leave us another $3-4 trillion in debt. The real problem though is the strain it has put on Social Security and Medicare, both of which have been badly hurt by the drop in payroll taxes.

    On the political side of things, the popularity of President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are going to track the economy. That’s not good news if you are a Democrat, because the economy is going to take quite a while to recover. I believe it was Paul Krugman who had a chart that showed the time it took for each post Great Depression recession to recover to peak employment. The bad news is that the amount of time has been lengthening with each recession. And the present recession has wiped out a little over 8 million jobs. Even with very robust job growth of 400k/month, you are looking at three years before you get back to peak employment (factoring in the roughly 100k/month you need for natural growth.) I expect it’ll be 12-24 months before you see unemployment under 8% and years before you get into the 5-6% range. (Again, this is one of those areas that I would be very pleased to be wrong about!)

    Marinm is correct that Obama is not the cause of the current debt crisis. He hasn’t done anything to make it better and has added plenty of new obligations, but George W. Bush deserves most of the blame in my book. With a Republican Congress, he had the opportunity to make substantive reforms. Instead we got major increases in military and domestic spending, huge new unfunded entitlements and tax cuts too! We should have been slightly tightening our belts in the 2000s, accumulating surpluses to use when Social Security and Medicare expenses ramp up. We still would have had to reform them, but having a couple trillion dollars less in debt is always helpful. (Some may consider this to be letting Obama off the hook, but to me, it’s a little like the mouse and the scorpion. I expect a Democratic President with a friendly Congress to spend money like crazy. That’s just their nature.)

    While Bush deserves most of the blame, the Democrats in Congress should hang their heads in shame for killing the debate on reforming Social Security in 2005. They could have opposed Bush’s plan while proposing one of their own. Instead, they reinforced the “third rail” status of Social Security reform and we’ve wasted five years (and counting) to reform a system in need of major structural reform. (Again, I don’t want to reform Social Security for ideological reasons. I want to reform Social Security because I want it to exist and it’s present course is unsustainable.)

    Ultimately though, the biggest problem is that there has been a loss of confidence that either party is serious about trying to balance the budget and tackle entitlement reform. I once asked if anyone seriously thought that the Republicans in Congress would be willing to accept a multi-trillion dollar VAT tax or if the Democrats would be willing to accept cutting several trillion in government spending. I think most people not blinded by ideology would say that they aren’t. And that’s a problem.

    Don’t be lulled by the extraordinarily low interest rates in the present economy. That is going to change as the rest of the world economy recovers and there is less demand for “safe haven” dollars. When interest rates start heading up, the cost of servicing our debt will become more onerous. I don’t think it will happen, but there is a chance that interest rates could rise rapidly, and we could see the cost of servicing our debt double or triple in only a year or two. Even under fairly conservative assumptions (CBO numbers), the cost of servicing our debt will quadruple by 2020. That’s an extra $600+ billion per year that we won’t have to pay for things that actually help Americans. (And that’s without the bills for Social Security, Medicare and the new health care reform bill.) To put that in prospective, $600 billion is more than the annual cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the health care reform bill, combined.

    As for my departure, I appreciate the kind words, Moon-howler but alea iacta est.

    ~Formerly

  21. e

    democracy ends when the people discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. there, brevity is the soul of wit

  22. Maybe you can just take a break? @ formerly

    What steps can be taken with SS and Medicare now to help the situation?

    I propose postponing joining medicare if you can…for a while….that would help some if enough people did it…those who can afford it.

    Do you have a proposal that would ward off some of the horrible financial mess?

  23. ~Formerly,

    Will you leave me an email address at moon.howler07@yahoo.com

    I think the one you left isnt a real one?

  24. Formerly Anonymous

    If anyone wants to email me, you can reach me at formerly.anon@gmail.com

  25. Poor Richard

    “Tomorrow, 877 new laws will go into effect in Virginia.”

    Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star (6-30-2010)

    Warning: There will be a pop quiz in the morning.

  26. Starryflights

    Dollar should be replaced as international standard, U.N. report says
    By Gabriella Casanas and Mick B. Krever, CNN
    June 29, 2010 7:14 p.m. EDT

    New York (CNN) — The dollar is an unreliable international currency and should be replaced by a more stable system, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in a report released Tuesday.

    The use of the dollar for international trade came under increasing scrutiny when the U.S. economy fell into recession. “The dollar has proved not to be a stable store of value, which is a requisite for a stable reserve currency,” the report said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/06/29/un.report.dollar/index.html

    Incredible.

  27. 877 new laws. That’s your conservatives at work. Less government.

  28. Folks, Formerly just left us with some heavy duty financial stuff. Any comments? He caught my attention, for sure.

  29. marinm

    I don’t disagree with much of FA’s assessment (including the part about Congressional make-ups but I do have *hope* that the numbers shift a tad more to the right than the left [excluding RINOs])

    Krugman is calling for a 3rd Depression. I think his logic is flawed (govt should spend out of the downturn but where is this mythical money coming from??).

    I saw a nice article today.. My buddy is an MBA over at a Fortune 50 company and deals with the retail sector. He was in Europe last week and around the table the consensus was our President is being seen as a failure. Anyways, here is an article he pointed me to; its juicy!

    Why Obamanomics Has Failed
    Uncertainty about future taxes and regulations is enemy No. 1 of
    economic growth.

    By ALLAN H. MELTZER

    The administration’s stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and
    unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers
    talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of
    avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are
    responsible.

    But they want new stimulus measures—which is convincing evidence that
    they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S.
    was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting over the weekend, continuing to
    call for more government spending in the face of European resistance.

    The contrast with President Reagan’s antirecession and pro-growth
    measures in 1981 is striking. Reagan reduced marginal and corporate
    tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending. Recovery began
    about a year later. After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and
    it continued to expand above trend rates.

    Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First,
    administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the
    longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the
    administration and Congress have through their deeds and words
    heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is
    the enemy of investment and growth.

    Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to
    long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a
    mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic
    theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on
    spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the
    proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax
    reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms
    this outcome.

    Another large part of the stimulus went to relieve state and local
    governments of their budget deficits. Transferring a deficit from the
    state to the federal government changes very little. Some teachers and
    police got an additional year of employment, but their gain is
    temporary. Any benefits to them must be balanced against the negative
    effect of the increased public debt and the temporary nature of the
    transfer.

    The Obama economic team ignored past history. The two most successful
    fiscal stimulus programs since World War II—under Kennedy-Johnson and
    Reagan—took the form of permanent reductions in corporate and marginal
    tax rates. Economist Arthur Okun, who had a major role in developing
    the Kennedy-Johnson program, later analyzed the effect of individual
    items. He concluded that corporate tax reduction was most effective.

    Another defect of Obamanomics was that part of the increased spending
    authorized by the 2009 stimulus bill was held back. Remember the
    oft-repeated claim that the spending would go for “shovel ready”
    projects? That didn’t happen, though spending will flow more rapidly
    now in an effort to lower unemployment and claim economic success
    during the fall election campaign.

    In his January 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama
    recognized that the United States must increase exports. He was right,
    but he has done little to help, either by encouraging investment to
    increase productivity, or by supporting trade agreements, despite his
    promise to the Koreans that he repeated in Toronto. Export earnings
    are the only way to service our massive foreign borrowing. This should
    be a high priority. Isn’t anyone in the government thinking about the
    future?

    Mr. Obama has denied the cost burden on business from his health-care
    program, but business is aware that it is likely to be large. How
    large? That’s part of the uncertainty that employers face if they hire
    additional labor.

    The president asks for cap and trade. That’s more cost and more
    uncertainty. Who will be forced to pay? What will it do to costs here
    compared to foreign producers? We should not expect businesses to
    invest in new, export-led growth when uncertainty about future costs
    is so large.

    Then there is Medicaid, the medical program for those with lower
    incomes. In the past, states paid about half of the cost, and they are
    responsible for 20% of the additional cost imposed by the program’s
    expansion. But almost all the states must balance their budgets, and
    the new Medicaid spending mandated by ObamaCare comes at a time when
    states face large deficits and even larger unfunded liabilities for
    pensions. All this only adds to uncertainty about taxes and spending.

    Other aspects of the Obama economic program are equally problematic.
    The auto bailouts ran roughshod over the rule of law. Chrysler
    bondholders were given short shrift in order to benefit the auto
    workers union. By weakening the rule of law, the president opened the
    way to great mischief and increased investors’ and producers’
    uncertainty. That’s not the way to get more investment and employment.

    Almost daily, Mr. Obama uses his rhetorical skill to castigate
    businessmen who have the audacity to hope for profitable
    opportunities. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has taken that
    route. President Roosevelt slowed recovery in 1938-40 until the war by
    creating uncertainty about his objectives. It was harmful then, and
    it’s harmful now.

    In 1980, I had the privilege of advising Prime Minister Margaret
    Thatcher to ignore the demands of 360 British economists who made the
    outrageous claim that Britain would never (yes, never) recover from
    her decision to reduce government spending during a severe recession.
    They wanted more spending. She responded with a speech promising to
    stay with her tight budget. She kept a sustained focus on long-term
    problems. Expectations about the economy’s future improved, and the
    recovery soon began.

    That’s what the U.S. needs now. Not major cuts in current spending,
    but a credible plan showing that authorities will not wait for a
    fiscal crisis but begin to act prudently and continue until deficits
    disappear, and the debt is below 60% of GDP. Rep. Paul Ryan (R.,
    Wisc.) offered a plan, but the administration and Congress ignored it.

    The country does not need more of the same. Successful leaders give
    the public reason to believe that they have a long-term program to
    bring a better tomorrow. Let’s plan our way out of our explosive
    deficits and our hesitant and jobless recovery by reducing uncertainty
    and encouraging growth.

    Mr. Meltzer is a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University,
    a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and the
    author of “A History of the Federal Reserve” (University of Chicago
    Press, 2003 and 2010).

  30. marinm

    This echoes a lot of what FA laid out.

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/30/news/economy/fiscal_commission_cbo/index.htm

    WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) — Douglas Elmendorf, chief budget cruncher for Congress, got to play the role of bad-news bear before the president’s bipartisan fiscal commission on Wednesday.

  31. @Starryflights
    The funny thing is that any “more stable” currency will still be managed by the fools that caused the current problems.

    There is no such animal as a “stable currency” when those that manage the economies plunder said economies and spend, spend, spend.

    I noticed that many financial people and foreign banks are QUIETLY buying gold.

  32. @marinm
    “3RD Depression”? When did we get out of this one?

  33. It is all very depressing.

    There are those who would advise against buying gold because it is so expensive already. Other people advise buying silver.

    I have no idea why. Maybe someone here knows.

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